Ms O'CONNOR question to MINISTER for RESOURCES, Mr BARNETT
Can you confirm the entity you call 'Sustainable Timbers Tasmania' received the Forest Stewardship Council's audit report in early June, nearly four months ago, and that, once again, Tasmania's forestry GBE has failed to secure Forest Stewardship Council certification? No wriggle room in that question, minister.
Madam Speaker, I am delighted to receive the question from the Leader for the Greens, knowing that it is the Greens that are trying to put more than 1000 Tasmanians out of work with a policy to kill off native forest harvesting in Tasmania. Let us make it very clear with respect to Sustainable Timber Tasmania, what we want as a government is a sustainable forest industry and a Sustainable Timber Tasmania and, guess what, that is what is happening under our watch.
Rebuilding the forest industry is a top priority and it has happened, unlike what happened under the Labor-Greens accord when 10 000 jobs were lost and two-thirds of those jobs in the forestry sector were lost. It was taken down to its knees - decimated. We are very proud of the record of the forest industry and what has been achieved over the last two years, and the prognosis going forward with an increase in production, increase in exports and an increase in jobs. The confidence is back, we are rebuilding and we will continue to do so.
With respect to Sustainable Timber Tasmania going forward, we do support, as a Government, the growth of a sustainable forest industry. Half of our state is covered by forest and more than half of our forests are reserved, including 87 per cent or more than one million hectares of old growth forest. Our forest management standards are world's best practice -
Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker. There was one question, no preamble: has Sustainable Timber Tasmania received the FSC audit report and can the minister confirm they have failed to secure certification?
Madam SPEAKER - Ms O'Connor, I share you concerns but it is up to the minister to answer the question as he sees fit. Please, could the minister proceed. It is not a point of order.
Mr BARNETT - Madam Speaker, as I was saying about Sustainable Timber Tasmania and their efforts to achieve forest stewardship certification, the Government supports their efforts. They have been continuing with that effort for a good deal of time. There is a lot of work involved, there is a lot of complexity to that. The level of environmental protection in Tasmania is more than three times the average level of protection across Australia. We are very proud of our forest management practices here in Tasmania. They are world's best class and that is what we are on about: best practice here in Tasmania. More than 30 years of forest practice management and people revere it around Australia and around the world and we are proud of it.
The board of Sustainable Timber Tasmania has a strong commitment to thirdparty forest management certification and the state's public production forestry business. Certification provides confidence to customers and consumers via independent third-party auditing but the forest from which their products are sourced are managed responsibly. I can advise the certification is recognised at an international level by the Program for Endorsing the Forest Certification, PEFC, the world's largest certification scheme. In addition, the Government supports STTs goal to obtain FSC, as I have mentioned, and aim to be dual-certified with two internationally recognised certification groups. STT has recently been audited by SCS Global Services against the new FSC Australian forest stewardship standard and the Government and STT look forward to receiving that auditor's report, and when there is more to report I would be happy to do so.
Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker, relevance.
Madam SPEAKER - Ms O'Connor, I am sure it is not a point of order. I totally understand your passion. I have been practising mindful deafness to your constant interjections because I know it is your passion. You know standing order 45, you know the rules and where I sit.
Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker, I am entitled to be heard when I raise a point of order.
Madam SPEAKER - You are, and I am going to let you be heard.
Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you. Madam Speaker, the standing order 45 on relevance says the minister's answer shall be relevant to the question and it is to be read with standing order 44, such questions not to involve argument. That is why the question was very straightforward: can the minister confirm that we failed to secure FSC certification with a report he sat on for four months?
Madam SPEAKER - Ms O'Connor, since I have been in this Chair you would know of my frustration with standing order 45. It is up to this House to address the way that is handled. This is a standing practice that has been accepted in this House for decades. I do not understand why but it is. I am afraid that is not a point of order.