The Hodgman Liberal government has been exposed as duplicitous with Resources Minister, Paul Harriss, admitting that the public will continue to provide support to Forestry Tasmania despite commitments to end all public subsidies, Greens Leader and Forests spokesperson Kim Booth MP said.
“The Greens have been warning for some time now that it is impossible for the government to remove the contingency fund from Forestry Tasmania by July 1 this year, and not have the taxpayer underwrite the corporation’s logging operations in another form,” Mr Booth said.
“Paul Harriss has to stop talking with a forked tongue and be upfront with the Tasmanian taxpayer exactly how he intends to keep propping up the current unviable operations of Forestry Tasmania, in order to avoid the corporation falling insolvent.”
“Currently Forestry Tasmania is not charging the true cost of its operations for its product, and required the contingency transition fund. Clearly, given the lack of market demand for the product, as acknowledged by Minister Harris in his Ministerial statement earlier this month, the removal of the contingency funding at 1 July this year will leave a financial gap.”
“The sensible way to move to plug this inevitable gap in Forestry Tasmania’s finances, is to require the corporation to charge true value for its product, and operate on a competitive full-cost recovery business model.”
“However the Liberals voted this week against that course of action, and today Minister Harriss had nowhere to go but to admit Forestry Tasmania will still be propped up by the public in some form.”
“The Greens have warned this ongoing support will cost the taxpayer in the form of either asset sales, increased borrowings, or equity exchanges between government owned businesses and companies, and we will continue to warn about this sleight of hand until Minister Harriss comes clean and details exactly how he intends the public to keep propping up Forestry Tasmania’s broken business model,” Mr Booth said.