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Incompetent, Divisive Forests Minister Must Resign

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Tags: Forests, Lapoinya, Protest, Forest Stewardship Council, Tasmanian Forest Agreement

Cassy O'Connor MP | Greens Leader and Forests spokesperson

Resources Minister, Paul Harriss, is presiding over a debacle in his portfolio and all of it, his own making.

Forestry Tasmania is in complete disarray. Its hopes of securing Forest Stewardship Certification (FSC) look increasingly like a pipe dream with the resignation of Bob Annells as Chair of the Board, and the loss of other key Board members who supported the principles of the Tasmanian Forest Agreement.

As the Minister who has presided over this debacle, Paul Harriss should take the honourable course and resign his portfolio.

The timing of Mr Annells’ resignation and the announcement that three other members of the Forestry Tasmanian Board will not continue in their roles comes the day after Minister Harriss wilfully reignited the forest wars at Lapoinya.

Minister Harriss has clearly put respected members of the Forestry Tasmanian Board in an untenable position.

He’s ‘ripped up’ the Tasmanian Forest Agreement and set out to log Lapoinya, with no justification, in the face of strong community resistance.

Minister Harriss promised that “mums and dads” would not be affected by the Liberals’ draconian anti-protest laws*. Yesterday at Lapoinya, a retired and respected anaesthetist was arrested, and today a Hobart nurse has been arrested and will face charges. 

Minister Harriss needs to clarify whether senior people at Forestry Tasmania who were working towards a solution at Lapoinya were overruled by him as Minister.  Is the logging of Lapoinya about cynical, divisive politics and a desire to restart the forest wars for political purposes?

Has cynical, divisive politics led to the resignation of Bob Annells and others on the FT Board?

Is this cynical, divisive and highly political approach to forest policy going to destroy any slim chance Forestry Tasmania has of securing FSC?

Mr Harriss is not a fit and proper person to hold a Ministerial commission and he must resign.