Dr WOODRUFF question to MINISTER for RESOURCES, Mr BARNETT
Your office told us that you and your agency of Forestry Tasmania, so-called Sustainable Timber Tasmania, has not had involvement in the Dover woodchip port other than in a signed agreement to lease the proposed site at Strathblane. Correspondence from Forestry Tasmania obtained under right to information shows there has been regular contact on other matters with the proponent about this leaked DA for the project since August last year. Did you direct your office to tell an untruth about the Government's involvement in pushing this project?
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her question. I reject the outrageous slur that she has made against my reputation and that of the Government.
I confirm, it is not Forestry Tasmania anymore. It is Sustainable Timber Tasmania. To make it very clear as a government, we have, on the record, been strongly in support of our productive industries, whether it be our salmon industry, our forest industry, our primary industry or our tourism industry. We do not pick winners. We are backing them all the way.
Let us make it clear: we support jobs, growth and development wherever it is. In the south of the state –
Madam SPEAKER - Order.
Mr BARNETT - This is a result of the land locking by the Triabunna Chip Mill and the port that with $25 million of taxpayers' money, where the former Labor-Greens government aided and abetted the locking up of that resource in the south of the state. We have been cleaning up the mess because you are a part of a party who wants to put thousands of Tasmanians out of jobs by banning native forest harvesting across the state. You want to kill off Sustainable Timber Tasmania. We know the motivation of the Greens. You want to abolish Sustainable Timber Tasmania and all those jobs would be gone.
Madam SPEAKER - Order.
Mr BARNETT - We continue to work with the forest industry. With respect to -
Ms O'Connor - We are talking about James NevilleSmith.
Madam SPEAKER - Order. I wish to hear the answer, just like everyone else in the Chamber. Please proceed.
Mr BARNETT - Thank you, Madam Speaker.
With respect to James NevilleSmith and the slurs that were aimed at him during Estimates, I rejected them then. Those slurs were unfounded and unfair.
This is part of the private sector. They are putting forward proposals and opportunities. We encourage the private sector. This is what helps the world go around. Small businesses, medium businesses, larger businesses are helping creating jobs, growth and development in the state.
Dr Woodruff - It is a lie. It is all here. There is so much more information.
Madam SPEAKER - Dr Woodruff, I have to give you an official warning. I am really trying to hold onto on to my reputation of getting through this first session of parliament without throwing anyone out. Please help me.
Dr WOODRUFF - Madam Speaker, point of order. It is a very important point of order. It was a very serious question, a serious allegation. We respectfully ask the minister to answer.
Madam SPEAKER - Dr Woodruff, I ask you to take your seat. I am ruling against that. We are trying to get a very important answer to your very important question. I do not know what the minister is about to say but I suggest he winds up soon.
Mr BARNETT - Thank you, Madam Speaker. I agree with that understanding. The member for the Greens comes from a policy position where she wants to kill off the native forest harvesting industry in Tasmania. That would put thousands of Tasmanians and their families out of work. They would all be affected. You want to abolish Sustainable Timber Tasmania. It is a disgrace.
We continue to support the private sector. They have put forward a proposal. We will continue to engage with all the key industries and productive industries, whether it be forestry, salmon, the tourism industry, or the like.
Dr Woodruff - Did they lie? Or is it true?
Madam SPEAKER - Dr Woodruff.
Mr BARNETT - I reject those allegations that have been put forward by the member for Franklin. They are a disgrace.
Dr WOODRUFF question to PREMIER, Mr HODGMAN
You and your ministers have consistently said there is no state government involvement in the private Dover woodchip export development proposal and it is a matter for the Huon Valley Council to determine. Our RTI and the leaked development application shows your Government has been involved in discussions around incursions on the World Heritage Area, an MOU with Parks about intense B-double truck traffic to the extent of one every five minutes through the Esperance Conservation Area, the construction of two new roads with plans to widen four more, and that ministers have been deliberately misleading about the extent of their involvement when questioned. It appears your Government is up to its neck in doing everything it can to grease the wheels of this private forestry port. Can you justify that untruth to the people of Tasmania and to your own electorate of Franklin?
Madam Speaker, I utterly reject all the assertions made by the member who asked the question. It is a classic Greens question littered with mistruths to make a political point. It is hardly a state secret that the state invited expressions of interest to the private sector to solve a problem you had left us by deliberately ensuring the shutdown of an important piece of Tasmania's forest infrastructure at Triabunna. You celebrated long and hard over it and were aided and abetted by a willing and compliant Labor Party at the time. As a result we have had an issue with respect to residues from the Southern Forests that need to go somewhere. As Liberal governments will often do, we looked to partner to support private investment that delivers good public policy outcomes, and we asked for expressions of interest for that to occur.
We are a government that supports our industry sectors, whether it be forestry, salmon, or our tourism industry. We certainly do not pick winners but we will support and assist those who want to not only deliver good public policy outcomes for our state but also see the continued growth and investment in important industries like forestry that supports jobs and regional development, and we will continue to do so. We will engage with industries. We are not afraid to partner with the private sector when it can deliver positive outcomes for Tasmania, but we will not subvert the planning processes, as you claim.
Dr Woodruff interjecting.
Madam SPEAKER - Order. Dr, Woodruff, you are warned.
Mr HODGMAN - We will not interfere with the responsibility of local governments to discharge their duties as planning approvals authorities. We will not compromise those processes but if we can support sustainable development in a range of industry sectors including forestry then we will.
Dr WOODRUFF question to PREMIER, Mr HODGMAN
You sold 29 000 hectares of public forests to Reliance Forest Fibre. It is now confirmed that your Government is actively helping establish a southern port at Dover for James Neville-Smith Smart Fibre, a company with multiple links to Reliance. Will you show Tasmanians the deed of sale to Reliance to prove it does not include a nod and a wink for this divisive southern port as well? Are you prepared to state it has not been a stitch up from the start?
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for the question. As a government, we will endeavour to support private investment alongside significant public investment into our state's booming economy and growth sectors which, thankfully, now include in this state and under this Government, the forest sector. It was an industry that was in decline under the Labor-
Greens government. It is now seeing restored levels of confidence. The private investment coming forward from James Neville-Smith and his business to sustain growth and to utilise one of great resources in a way that develops our local economies, supports regional jobs and helps continue the strong growth in our state. We will do that.
Ms O'Connor - Point of order -
Mr HODGMAN - I am getting to your point.
Ms O'Connor - Are you?
Mr HODGMAN - We will not do anything to compromise the importance of ensuring that our private sector investors are able to do so in a way that does not subject them to constant political attack by the Greens and others who do not support this growth in our economy, do not and in our forest sector.
All you are endeavouring to do is precisely that.
Dr WOODRUFF - Point of order, Madam Speaker. Standing order 45: the question was, will the Premier release the deed for Reliance Fibre sale?
Madam SPEAKER - It is up to the Premier to answer the question as he sees fit, unfortunately.
Mr HODGMAN - I see fit to not do anything that will interfere in the ability for the state Government, the private sector to invest sustainably in industry sectors that are fundamentally opposed by the Greens. That is all this is about. You are unhappy with any private sector entity that wants to develop tourism experiences of a high quality.
Dr Woodruff - Public forests, public subsidies, syphoning money. It is a stitch up.
Madam SPEAKER - Order. Dr Woodruff, you have your second warning.
Mr HODGMAN - You are against investment into our forest sector. We will support them, we will back them. We will ensure any proposal that comes forward has to tick the environmental boxes, it needs to tick the approvals processes through councils or any other authority that has responsibility. To simply upend the private sector investing in our forest industry, as you are so doing, demonstrates a fundamental opposition to an industry we back.