Forests Minister Paul Harriss faces growing pressure to clarify the status of his stalled review into Forestry Tasmania, with speculation he is intending to roll the Government Business Enterprise into a government department.
“Minister Harriss’ much vaunted internal review into Forestry Tasmania is almost a month overdue with no clear indication when it is expected to be finalised or publicly released,” Greens Leader and Forests spokesperson Kim Booth MP said today.
“The Minister surely can disclose whether he is considering or not rolling the GBE into a government department, and whether public assets sales are on the table.”
“Speculation is growing that the government believes absorbing forestry into a department will help fudge ongoing financial losses, and disguise any future public subsidies as just being part of the departmental budget process.”
“With the State Budget due next month, the Minister’s ongoing silence is also raising questions over whether the Budget will be used as cover for the review’s outcomes or contain further forestry subsidies.”
“There is a very real risk that instead of an actual structural solution coming out of the Minister’s secretive review, it will just be a different look while maintaining the status quo.”
“Don’t forget, this is the Minister who crowed the Liberals had a plan to end public subsidies and grow the forestry sector, yet all we have seen so far is a growing dependency on the public purse and increased secrecy.”
“The Greens have long campaigned for real reform of Forestry Tasmania, and an end to the current broken business model, but the Minister is on notice that the community will not be fooled by just a reshuffle of chairs upon the forestry Titanic.”
“Any meaningful reform of Forestry Tasmania must sever the umbilical cord to the public purse, be based upon a full cost-recovery business model, and retain the public forest estate in public hands.”
“As State Parliament resumes there is mounting expectation that the Minister provides a clear update on Forestry Tasmania’s future, rather than continue to fob off these serious questions,” Mr Booth said.