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Liberals Shuffling Deck Chairs on Forestry's Titanic

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Tags: Forests, Native Forest Logging, Forest Stewardship Council, Freight Equalisation Scheme

Cassy O'Connor MP | Greens Leader and Forests spokesperson

Not known for their transparency, the Tasmanian Liberals are being highly transparent in their desire to create unnecessary conflict over forests in the lead up to the election.

The announcement today that legislation will be introduced next year to enable logging from 1 July 2018 is the clearest sign yet that the Liberals have decided to use the moratorium forests as a political weapon.

The Liberals want to pick a fight over forests in the lead up to the State election and they don't care about the social, economic and environmental cost.  For them, what's important is the politics, pure and simple.

The renaming of Forestry Tasmania to Sustainable Timber Tasmania would make George Orwell proud.  Giving an entity a misleading name won't change the reality.

Ultimately, what we are seeing is the shuffling of the deckchairs on the Titanic.

The public subsidies will continue, embedded in existing contracts, through public funding of road building and other non-commercial functions, and through the $5 million annual allocation to cover FT staff superannuation costs.

Of course, there's also the subsidised shipping through the expanded Freight Equalisation Scheme which will provide about $700 per container for wood products shipped from Tasmania.

Treasury and all Tasmanians know there is no future in logging Tasmania's high conservation value forests.  The product has been overwhelmingly rejected in global markets where there is a strong, evidence-based preference for FSC certified plantation timber.

The downturn in the native forest industry began in 2006.  That is fact.  

Forestry Tasmania's business model hasn't been sustainable since they were established as a GBE in 1994 and became captive to the Gunns' monopoly until the corporation's demise.

Gunns went broke, workers lost their jobs, FT remained unviable and the industry was on its knees because there no money to be made in the logging, chipping and shipping of high conservation value native forests.

Every time an old tree is felled on public land, the taxpayer loses money.  That's why the native forest logging industry is in terminal decline.

The sustainable native forest industry lie is exposed through the continuous plea for more high conservation value forest.  A sustainable industry doesn't destroy irreplaceable natural wonders and then beg for more.

The 357,000 hectares of forest on the Liberals' hit list were independently verified to be of high conservation value.  They are places of extraordinary biodiversity and are critical carbon banks in an age of accelerating climate change.

This is a sad set of circumstances that we are in, and it's come about because the Liberals have so little to offer Tasmania.  They clearly believe a return to the forest conflicts of the past will work for them.

The Greens, the wider conservation movement and all Tasmanians who recognise these forests are worth more standing, will fight this every step of the way.