Ms O'CONNOR question to MINISTER for TOURISM, Mr GUTWEIN
On the Saturday of the Labour Day long weekend, Forestry Tasmania set fire to a logged coup in the Styx. It is clear from subsequent events, that the GBE torched the coup then walked away. The fire did what fires do - it took off, threatening the Styx Tall Tree Reserve and the World Heritage Area. As of today, a less than 30-hectare logging burn has spread to around 200 hectares.
A major mountain-bike event was on that long weekend and the wine grapes and hops crops were near harvest. All were threatened by the actions of your rogue GBE, which decided to start a fire six days after summer's end and with a high fuel load on the ground after a wet summer.
I am sure you are aware there is a memorandum of understanding between the forestry, tourism and agriculture industries. Do you agree that Forestry Tasmania breached the provisions of its MOU with the TICT and the TFGA in lighting that runaway fire, during high season for local tourism operators and agricultural producers? It commits the GBE to 'avoiding conducting planned burns where there is a significant risk of adversely affecting the experience of visitors attending the events'. I understand that TICT leadership did not know about it until they saw the smoke.
Do you admit that logging burns make a mockery of your own 'come down for air' promotion campaign? As Tourism minister, what are you going to do to protect the tourism industry from Forestry Tasmania's reckless logging burns?
Madam Speaker, I thank the Leader of the Greens for that question and her interest in this matter. It sounds as though you were a little disappointed that fire did not get away -
Ms O'Connor - It did get away. Wake up: 30 hectares to 200 hectares.
Mr GUTWEIN - My advice is that it was a relatively small fire, around 200 hectares. At no stage did it endanger people, property, infrastructure, the Styx Giant Tree Reserve, roads, or the National Mountain Bike Championships held at the Maydena Mountain Bike track on that Saturday. In fact, I am advised that smoke was not visible during the Maydena event.
On Friday 12 March, while the Greens were calling it an emergency, the official statement from Tasmania Fire Service was 'there is no immediate threat. The fire remains stable, it is not running out of control and no properties are under threat'. That is the official view.
You will do your very best to try and beat this up into something that it is not, but -
Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker. On behalf of the constituents we represent, I really take offence to that statement from the Premier. He is clutching at straws here, and his answer is offensive and untrue. If he could contain himself to a decent answer, that would be terrific.
Madam SPEAKER - That is not a point of order. Are you seeking redress?
Ms O'CONNOR - He is resorting to personal attacks.
Madam SPEAKER - I cannot allow that one.
Ms O'Connor - He started the answer with a resort to a personal attack. It is pathetic.
Mr GUTWEIN - I repeat, so it is on the record: the truth is that it was a relatively small fire -
Ms O'Connor - That was not the question and it is 200 hectares.
Mr GUTWEIN - approximately 200 hectares. At no stage did it endanger people, property, infrastructure, the Styx Giant Tree Reserve, roads, or the National Mountain Bike Championships held at the Maydena Mountain Bike track on that Saturday.
The official statement from Tasmania Fire Service was 'there is no immediate threat. The fire remains stable, it is not running out of control and no properties are under threat'.
I am advised that Sustainable Timber Tasmania will continue to work with all stakeholders, such as wine growers and the tourism industry, to ensure we cooperatively adapt -
Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker. Could the Premier address his mind to the question, which related to the MOU between Forestry Tasmania, TFGA and TICT, and the fact that this MOU has been breached by Forestry Tasmania.
Madam SPEAKER - That is not a point of order.
Ms O'Connor - He needs to answer the question. There is an agreement.
Madam SPEAKER - You know how this system works. That is not a point of order. I can only ask the Premier to be relevant.
Ms O'Connor - There is an agreement. Have your read it?
Mr GUTWEIN - I believe I am being very relevant, Madam Speaker. Clearly, the leader of the Greens does not like some facts about this being placed on the record.
Sustainable Timber Tasmania will continue to work with stakeholders, such as wine growers and the tourism industry, to cooperatively adapt future management and maintain active communication to the mutual benefit of all parties.
Again, I come back to the facts of the matter: at no stage did that fire endanger people, property, infrastructure, the Styx Giant Tree Reserve, roads, or the national mountain bike championships held at Maydena.
Ms O'Connor - Dinosaur.
Madam SPEAKER - That was very unparliamentary.