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Climate Change


Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Monday, 23 November 2020

Tags: Climate Emergency, Native Forest Logging

Dr WOODRUFF - Premier, I want to start by drawing our minds to the fact that we are in a climate emergency. Every report that is received from the United Nations, from the Bureau of Meteorology or from the CSIRO ramps up the more and more dire warnings to leaders, to governments, to take action and to do it as fast and hard as we possibly can. You were correct in drawing us to the fact that our low emissions profile is thanks to the Forestry Agreement and reflects the carbon sinks that we have in our forests. I thought you might like to go back on a little trip to the past and remember this front-page picture of yourself in 2002, 18 years ago -

Mr GUTWEIN - It looks nothing like me.

Dr WOODRUFF - You hardly look any different, just a little bit more hair. The headline 'Liberal breaks ranks on logging'. You called then for an immediate review of Liberal Party policy, 'for the sake of all Tasmanians'. You said that, 'What most people really want is an end to old growth logging'. I know that you were burnt badly by taking that position. I understand that you took that position because you talked to people and you understood the strength of concern then. Do you accept, do you agree, that for the sake of all Tasmanians now we have to retain and further grow and enhance our carbon stores. Therefore we have to end native forest logging and transition workers now.

Mr GUTWEIN - We can both agree that back in the early 2000s the forestry industry had a voracious appetite. Back then I thought of an orderly transition where we moved to a more sensible harvesting regime, which in large part has occurred over the 16 years since I made those statements.

Today we have the tall trees policy. We manage our native forests and we look at selective harvesting as opposed to clear fell, sew and burn to the extent that we used to. I think that we have largely transitioned. My understanding, and I'm certain it's based in scientific fact, is that a new growing forest is better for the environment in the carbon it will use as opposed to an old forest that has reached -

Dr WOODRUFF - That is a fallacy.

CHAIR - Order, Dr Woodruff.

Mr GUTWEIN - There are a range of scientific views on that matter. Tasmania is in a very strong position regarding climate change and climate change policy. I think that we are also in the enviable position where we can have a sustainable native forest harvesting industry.

Dr WOODRUFF - Plantation, it is fantastic and we should be doing it.

Mr GUTWEIN - We have that opportunity. What I have asked Treasury to do regarding emissions profiles is to provide me with advice on what the impact would be on a range of industry sectors under a transition to a new target pre-2050. I want to receive that advice and understand it before the Government makes any kneejerk reaction to change that policy.

 

Dr WOODRUFF - Premier, returning to that comment about emissions from Forestry logging forests and trees, the EU parliament has a scientific advisory council who just a few months ago wrote a report. They have updated the science in relation to how forestry emissions should be counted and this is going into a new emissions counting mechanism for the whole of the EU starting next year. They say now that the best science is that the time frame for cutting a tree down and recapturing that carbon through the regrowth of the tree should be a two-year to five-year time period. The point is there is no time to grow a forest back for 100 years to replace the carbon that is lost when a 100-year-old tree is logged.

Mr GUTWEIN - That would depend on what product that timber is used for. Doesn't that continue to store?

Dr WOODRUFF - That is an idea people try to perpetuate as an argument for continuing forest logging, but the point is that you cannot use the whole product, so much carbon is lost. You might make a chair but you cannot use that whole tree, so the sort of trees that are still being logged by Forestry Tasmania today are 100-, 120-, 150-year-old trees. They are still being logged.

Ms OGILVIE - Is there a question?

Dr WOODRUFF - There is a question, if Madeleine Ogilvie would let me get it out.

Ms OGILVIE - I haven't had a question yet and we don't have much time.

Dr WOODRUFF - Premier, you were talking before about a review which would need to be undertaken before any change in forest logging policy was considered.

Mr GUTWEIN - No, I don't think I mentioned that. I said in terms of a change in our target for 2050 and zero emissions at that date, on the basis that we have achieved four years of zero net emissions already, I have tasked Treasury to consider whether we can bring that date forward and to provide an analysis to me of the impact on different sectors.

Dr WOODRUFF - Is native forest logging part of that?

CHAIR -The Premier will give a brief response and then we will go to Mr Ellis.

Mr GUTWEIN - Sorry, I had someone in my ear.

Dr WOODRUFF - Is native forest logging part of that review and should it be part of that review?

Mr GUTWEIN - In terms of broad industry sectors, that is a matter for Treasury to provide advice for me. Our carbon sink does provide a significant net benefit for the state but I am firmly of the view that we can have a sustainable native forest industry as well.

I want to provide a quick explanation in terms of leases. Agencies lease the vehicles through government fleet management arrangements. We do, however, buy and own some vehicles but LeasePlan manages them as our outsourced manager.