Ms O'CONNOR question to PREMIER, Mr HODGMAN
Can you confirm that Minister Barnett's announcement yesterday that he is moving to let the loggers into 400 000 hectares of high conservation value carbon-rich forest is not based on Forestry Tasmania advice but is cynical and entirely political? Is your Government so short of vision, ideas and actual achievements that the best it has to offer Tasmanians in the lead-up to the next election is a plan to plunder high conservation value forests and respark the forest conflict that has held this state back for decades.
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her question. No, it is not true to characterise this in that way. It is true to say it is a continuation of a government that in opposition had a very strong commitment to restore growth to our forest industry, to undo the damage done by a Labor-Greens government that conspired to shut down and lock up an industry, costing jobs and costing our economy. We have always had a very strong commitment to driving a pro-forestry agenda, to supporting jobs in regional communities that depend on a strong forest industry.
I have been very interested to hear from our political opponents and some media commentators that it would be unusual for a government to get on with the job of doing what is important for our state, like getting critical education reforms through this Parliament to improve our education system.
Green members interjecting.
Madam SPEAKER - Order. Members will cease their constant interjections.
Mr HODGMAN - We are supporting growth in our economy, and key sectors of it including our forest industry. I know that some members opposite, Labor members especially, and some in the media, would rather have politicians arguing about politicians arguing. That is how you like to spend your time. We are getting on with the job, and this is another example of that.
Yes, the Government has received formal advice. It is our obligation and commitment to get on with responding to it and taking decisive action to deal with that, which is exactly what we are doing. Rather than some conspiracy theory claiming this is some sort of distraction, the point is we are not going to be distracted from doing what we are committed to - supporting our forest industry, supporting growth in our economy and supporting more jobs for Tasmanians.
Madam SPEAKER - Order. The House will come to order.
Mr HODGMAN - Madam Speaker, I cannot believe that the member for Denison is already talking about the next election, which is some time away. If people are wondering what the choices are going to look like -
Madam SPEAKER - Order. I do not want to have to start ejecting members.
Mr HODGMAN - only just over midway through the term of this Government we have Labor saying they would be quite happy to get back into coalition with the Greens. They have already said that would be part of the plan to get back into government. The only way that is going to occur is through another Labor-Greens coalition.
We have also said that it will take some time to undo the damage done after 16 years of Labor, and a very unproductive four years as a Labor-Greens coalition when it came to supporting key industries like our forest sector. The legacy of the former government is that it led the way in shutting down the forest industry. The former minister for forestry, known as the minister for shutting down the industry, was conspiring with the Greens to do just that in order to get into government.
We are using every opportunity, taking advice, consulting, engaging, approaching forestry in a much different way from members opposite. If anyone wants to contemplate what the next election might look like, it will be a strong Liberal majority government against a weak, compromised Labor-Greens coalition. There will be three options. Will Labor once again fall in behind the Greens' position and want to shut down the industry entirely? Will there be a combination of both, which ncludes a continuation of the subsidies - $100 million that Labor and the Greens were prepared to put into Forestry Tasmania - or will it be about unlocking an industry that was shut down by Labor and the Greens? Will it be about providing additional resource and support for an industry, without having to subsidise it when we can better put that public funding into schools and hospitals. They are the choices.