Cassy O'Connor MP | Greens Leader and Forests spokesperson
The Minister for Forests is dreaming if he believes there is a viable future in native forest woodchip or whole log exports without significant economic and environmental cost to Tasmania.
His announcement today of vague details about the EOI process raises more questions than it answers. The lengthy delays and ongoing secrecy points to an exercise in futility.
What is clear is that the Liberals have only short-term fixes for the native forest industry. Contrary to their claims, they do not have a plan to make a mendicant industry pay its own way because it never has and it never will.
Global pulp and paper markets have rejected old growth timber from Tasmania in favour of higher quality, FSC plantation products and no amount of spruiking from Mr Gutwein is going to change that.
The only way he can revive the dying native forest logging industry is through tapping taxpayers who have already poured more than a billion dollars into the Tasmanian industry in the past twenty years.
If all but one undisclosed proposal is now out of the picture how can a range of longer term proposals be available?
Presumably this means these longer term 'solutions' have, at this stage, been withdrawn or rejected?
And whatever happened to achieving Forest Stewardship Certification? It would seem we are still no closer.
In fact, FSC is getting further away with every sentence Mr Gutwein utters as Forests Minister.
The Liberals must be encouraged to understand that the biodiversity, brand, tourism and carbon benefits of Tasmania's high conservation value forests is worth far more than the wood they contain.
Not much of this makes sense whichever way you look at it.
On the one hand the Liberals are inviting the Eden Project to establish a base at Macquarie Point, while on the other, contracting for the export of presumably large volumes of timber from the port next door.
Does this government's left hand know what its right hand is doing?