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Forestry Tasmania – Logging in Swift Parrot Habitat


Cassy O'Connor MP

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Wednesday, 9 December 2020

Tags: Forestry Tasmania, Native Forest Logging, Swift Parrot, Forestry GBE Estimates

Ms O'CONNOR - The simple question is it will probably take Mr Barnett's colleagues at a federal level 5 minutes to legislate to further the swift parrot's journey to extinction.

Minister, can you confirm that logging is under way currently in swift parrot habitat in the Eastern Tiers. The coupe that is being logged is T055B, swift parrot nesting habitat. T055H, we understand, is imminently to be logged, and T055E is also nesting habitat which is on the schedule for imminent logging.

Mr BARNETT - I appreciate the question and the detail behind the question. I'll shortly pass to the CEO. With respect to the swift parrot, the Government takes this matter very seriously. The minister for the Environment has responded very positively in recent weeks in regard to this. I have made it very clear that we have a swift parrot public area management agreement for the southern forest. The landmark agreement is now protecting 10 000 hectares of swift parrot nesting habitat from wood production.

That, as I said in my opening remarks, is more than 10 times the size of greater Glenorchy. It is a very significant measure. Regarding the specifics of your question, I will pass to the CEO of Sustainable Timber Tasmania, Steve Whiteley.

Mr WHITELEY - Could you repeat the coupes if that's important, otherwise I can answer you generally.

Ms O'CONNOR - Can I consider this as part of my first question, Chair? I am clarifying the coupe numbers: T055B, T055H, and T055E.

Mr WHITELEY - Thank you. There is a swift parrot important breeding area that has been designated over significant parts of the state. Any harvesting that we undertake is consistent with the provisions of the Forest Practices Code.

In the case of T055B, E and H, they are on the east coast. This is previously harvested dry forest. It is located in permanent timber production zoned land about 18 kilometres north of Swansea. The coupes included in our three-year wood production plan, we have done a detailed operational plan. It has been carefully undertaken to identify special values within the potential harvest area, and to identify specific measures appropriate to protect these values in accordance with the Forest Practices Code.

This coupe is outside the area covered by the Public Authority Management Agreement, which is in southern Tasmania, so it is not associated with that particular instrument that we are using. It is located within the Lake Leake Swift Parrot Important Breeding Area.

There is the Eucalyptus ovata forest community, which is an important foraging species for the swift parrot, is present outside the harvest area, in the stream side reserve and other areas have also been excluded.

Ms O'CONNOR - Can I pull you up there Mr Whiteley and thanks for that. Can you confirm - and I think we can deduce that from your answer so far - that those three coups contain swift parrot nesting habitat?

Mr WHITELEY - As I said, they're within a designated [inaudible] which is a broad-based zone but when it comes to operational planning we need to look at the detail. Clearly, it includes plantations, it includes all sorts of land - so the fact that an area is within an important breeding area zone doesn't imply specific areas contain habitat. What the process we've been following -

Ms O'Connor - You are saying there's no swift parrots breeding there?

CHAIR - Order, Ms O'Connor.

Mr BARNETT - Through you, Chair, I would appreciate it if the CEO - the witness - could have the opportunity to respond before being interrupted by the member.

Ms O'Connor - I am trying to discern, Chair, whether there -

CHAIR - No, you can ask another question. Otherwise this will count as part of your question, Ms O'Connor. Allow the CEO to finish his answer, please.

Mr WHITELY - Currently, selective harvesting is occurring within the certified forest practices plan area.

Due to the level of habitat retention plan within the operational area - in other words, all of the high to medium density nesting habitat which has been excluded from the operational area, and there's no observed nesting or breeding activity in the area - harvesting within the area is currently considered to be low risk to breeding of swift parrots.

Additional monitoring for swift parrots is continuing as we go. When the plan was put in place that what wood was found we know there's potential for swift parrots to occur and that's being monitored. It's an actively managed plan.

Ms O'CONNOR - On that line of questioning. Mr Whitely, so through you minister, you'd be aware of the study that's come out of the Australian National University that was released on 2 December which showed that the swift parrot is down to an estimated 300 individual birds. Now that it's been confirmed that those three coups do contain swift parrot nesting habitat and my reports are that there are swift parrots in the vicinity.

Maybe this is a question for the minister, what is the justification for logging any forests that has Eucalyptus globulous or ovata of a certain age in it, which we know are critical for nesting, breeding and feeding?

Mr BARNETT - The CEO may wish to respond. Let me make it very clear - as the Minister for Environment and Parks made clear last week in parliament in response - this is a very important matter. We are aware of the research. We are aware of the finding of the current population size of the swift parrot could be in and around 300 birds or below. The Government welcomes any new research that is available that increases our understanding of the threatened species. I'm advised that DPIPWE is reviewing the paper and will certainly review it very carefully and will provide further advice on that and in line -

Ms O'Connor - Do you want to answer the question?

CHAIR - Ms O'Connor, stop interrupting, please.

Mr BARNETT - I am still answering the question.

In line with our coordinated and adaptive approach to swift parrot management, the Government will act on that advice provided by the experts. I think the CEO has outlined very clearly the management plans in place, that are very well crafted to ensure the protection of the swift parrot.

Ms O'Connor - No, it's confirmed that the habitat is being logged.

 

Ms O'CONNOR - Minister, I want to go back to those coupes in the Eastern Tiers. We have now had it confirmed that they are within identified swift parrot nesting and foraging habitat. In response to Mr Whiteley's answer, is the GBE saying that it hasn't harvested any swift parrot nesting trees or important food trees?

Mr BARNETT - I will pass to the CEO.

Mr WHITELEY - I think Suzette might have some more operational information around that one if there is any.

Ms WEEDING - Not specific to these coupes, but we undertake a specific and comprehensive assessment of coupes ahead of harvesting and identify the bird equality habitat for the species in relation to those harvesting activities. In this coupe, as the CEO pointed out earlier, we have excluded all of the high and medium density nesting habitat from the operation area and there has been no observed nesting or breeding habitat in the area.

Ms O'CONNOR - Earlier in response to one of my questions Mr Whiteley confirmed that that area of forest in the Eastern Tiers which has identified swift parrot breeding and foraging trees is outside the Public Authority Management Agreement. That is critical swift parrot habitat, a bird that is down to 300 individuals that is not being protected.

I want to take you to a report I am sure you are very familiar with, minister, the Forest Stewardship Council audit report, which has this to say about the Public Authority Management Agreement. It makes the point that -

The audit team concluded that those harvested were indeed potential nesting and foraging trees within sight of identified swift parrot nest sites and thus constituted critical habitat.

That is the auditors saying that FT has harvested critical habitat. That is its trading name, minister; its actual name is Forestry Tasmania. The report goes on to say -

One shortcoming of the public authority management agreement identified during the audit during the audit was that it did not preclude further loss of breeding and foraging habitat for the swift parrot within PTBZ land on the Tasmanian mainland.

The auditors were really clear that the PAMA will not save the parrot, minister. What is your response to the auditor's view that the Public Authority Management Agreement is insufficient to protect the species?

Mr BARNETT - Thank you for the question.

Ms O'CONNOR - I don't think you should fob that off to Mr Whiteley. That's one for you.

Mr BARNETT - It's an operational matter so I'll ask the CEO to respond.

Ms O'CONNOR - No, it's not.

CHAIR - Thank you, Ms O'Connor. The minister has asked the CEO to respond.

Ms O'CONNOR - It's a policy matter.

CHAIR - According to a resolution of the House the minister can ask the CEO to respond and he has done that.

Mr WHITELEY - Again, Suzette's all over this information so if I'll let her answer that question.

Ms O'CONNOR - Passing from one to the other to the other.

Mr WHITELEY - I am happy to answer that but I think this is where you'll get the most authoritative response.

Ms O'CONNOR - I certainly won't get it from your right.

Ms WEEDING - As you pointed out, Ms O'Connor, we had our audit in late May and we were audited against the Forest Stewardship Council Standards for Australia. The audit was conducted by SES Global Services and took about two weeks to assess our estate. It was quite a comprehensive review that included detailed briefings by staff, contractors and stakeholder interviews. Importantly, this was one of the first audits in the country against the new FSC Standards. In terms of the auditors views the -

Ms O'CONNOR - Just to save some time for the committee, Chair, could we ask Ms Weeding to speak specifically to the Public Authority Management Agreement and the comments that were made by the auditors in relation to that?

CHAIR - Ms Weeding is able to respond how she feels she needs to respond. I cannot put words in her mouth. She is responding how she sees fit.

Ms O'CONNOR - It should be an answer to the question.

CHAIR - We cannot pre-empt what Ms Weeding is about to say so I ask her to continue.

Ms WEEDING - Overall, the auditors found that STT had considerable compliance with the FSC national stewardship standards for Australia and met 93 per cent of the indicators applicable to it. The audit report did identify that there are several areas where further action is required before certification can be granted and they are largely related to three complex areas including the management of swift parrot habitat, the retention of habitat trees within harvested areas and reviewing the impact of fire and other disturbances on old growth.

We are considering those complex issues and taking action to address those issues. We are investigating methods to increase the retention of mature forest structures in old growth, giant large trees and habitat features through the increased use of selected harvesting techniques. In addition, we are continuously looking to improve the management of the swift parrot. As an important step, as the minister has highlighted, we have entered into the public authority management agreement for the swift parrot in the Southern Forests which resulted in the exclusion of almost 10 000 hectares of potential habitat on PTPZ land.

Importantly, in terms of the audit and the audit process, the auditors had a preliminary look at the public authority management agreement. It wasn't finalised or signed at that point in time.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you, Ms Weeding. If I could just go back to the minister with the question. This is a policy question, minister. The auditors have made it clear that the public authority management agreement is insufficient to protect the swift parrot. It is there in black and white. What is your response when your Government and you talk about having this agreement in place to protect the parrot when the auditors say it is not protecting a significant swathe of that critically endangered birds habitat? Are you going to tell the committee that you believe the PAMA is enough to save the swift parrot?

Mr BARNETT - I am very happy to advise the committee that we have a public authority management plan that I've outlined with the protection of some -

Ms O'Connor - Have you read this?

Mr BARNETT - Chair, I ask the member to cease interjecting when I am less than 30 seconds into an answer.

CHAIR - She is already on one warning and she will get another if she keeps interjecting.

Mr BARNETT - Thanks very much, Chair. As I was saying, we have on the record support for and consummation of a PAMA for the swift parrot. The CEO has referred to it, Suzette Weeding has referred to it, and I've referred to it in my opening remarks. We take it very seriously. In addition to that the CEO has outlined the very rigorous and important sustainable management regime that applies to all the work that STT undertakes with respect to the way it manages forests -

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Chair. I have asked this one question now twice really clearly. I am able to take a point of order. The minister has simply been asked if this agreement is enough to protect to the species. Now we are getting more waffle and gobbledegook. I know ministers are allowed to say what they want, but there has been no attempt here to answer the question. I bring that to the committee's attention.

CHAIR - Thank you. Your dissatisfaction with the minister's response is now a matter of the public Hansard record. I ask the minister to wind up his answer.

Mr BARNETT - I was attempting to outline my answer in a very comprehensive way to ensure that the member and members of the committee are aware that PAMA is one of those very important initiatives, which has been consummated - 10 000 hectares reserved of production forest. In addition to that, as the CEO has outlined, sustainable management practices are rolled out across our production forests and it is very important that they maintain and meet best practice in that regard. Sustainable Timber Tasmania must also meet the independent and objective assessment and review of the Forest Practices Authority.

Ms O'Connor - We will get to that.

Mr BARNETT - You've asked me a question and I am answering it.

Ms O'Connor - You're not.

Mr BARNETT - That is a very important independent, objective assessment of our forest practices in Tasmania. Sustainable Timber Tasmania meets those rules and regulations by the FPA -

Ms O'Connor - It regularly breaches them.

CHAIR - Order, Ms O'Connor.

Mr BARNETT - and consistently works to those standards. The CEO has outlined the measures that are put in place by Sustainable Timber Tasmania, so in a policy sense, as a state government we are very supportive of the measures we have in place to ensure sustainable management of our forest. I am sure we will get the opportunity shortly to hear from the chair in terms of the importance of sustainably managed forests and to protect threatened species and species such as the swift parrot.

 

Ms O'CONNOR - Minister, I want to take you through some of the auditor's report because I listened carefully to Ms Weeding's answer before. The fact is though that the issue in the audit report is the major non-conformities which are the sticking points for securing forest stewardship certification and the auditors make notes on these major non-conformities like -

Harvest of potential nesting trees and foraging trees happened within sight of an identified swift parrot nest.

This is so damning, minister -

Expert recommendations against harvesting in these areas were given by a swift parrot expert as confirmed in documentation and interviews. These recommendations to STT staff and other relevant Tasmanian agencies were considered but recommendations for no-harvest were not followed.

And again -

Expert recommendations not being taken under advisement or meaningfully applied. STT is not sufficiently maintaining or enhancing swift parrot habitat as assessed during the audit.

The fact is, minister, that the audit report is damning of your government and it is government policy that is doing this to the GBE and its approach to swift parrots.

What is your response to the fact that the auditors found major non-conformities, including the fact that Forestry Tasmania does not listen to experts on swift parrots and continues to log swift parrot habitat.

Mr BARNETT - Thanks very much for the question and the opportunity to provide a response on the important issue of the forest stewardship council, and to indicate that the Government is on the record of supporting the board in its objectives - and Sustainable Timber Tasmania and its objectives - to achieve forest stewardship council. The Government notes that STT in fact met 93 per cent of the indicators that were required to achieve certification at the most recent FFC Audit Report and that's on the public record.

In addition, my understanding is that the audit report identified that STT demonstrated an ethos of responsible management for, and stewardship of, a robust array of values and resources so of course -

Ms O'Connor - Could you point to that in the audit report?

Mr BARNETT - We commend STT and I will ask Suzette Weeding to refer to that. I commend STT for their efforts and their progress to date.

Ms O'Connor - Can I -

Mr BARNETT - Excuse me, I'm trying to answer the question.

Ms O'Connor - You're trying not to.

Mr BARNETT - I will now ask Suzette Weeding to answer that question.

Ms WEEDING - In your response to your query, Ms O'Connor, page 67 of the Audit Report states that -

The audit team notes that STT personnel interviewed consistently demonstrated a high level of commitment to forest stewardship of state lands under their management. The following commendations substantially underscore the positive aspects of STT's forest management regardless of the certification decision.

1. STT personnel demonstrate an ethos of responsible management for and stewardship of an array of values and resources found on state lands under their charge.

2. STT staff interviewed during field audits demonstrated thorough and consistent knowledge of updated and new procedures, reinforced by specific related trainings on the subject matter.

3. As an organisation, STT demonstrated a culture of innovation and adaptive management through dedication to continuous improvement. Significant changes and improvements are recognised from 2014 to 2019 when we had the previous audit.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you, Ms Weeding.

Minister, you avoided the question on the substance of the concerns raised by the auditors. Statements like this -

STT has not provided sufficient evidence to support contentions that harvesting old growth within the state is not a threat at the landscape level. STT has improperly harvested old growth under FSC rules.

We conclude that STT has not appropriately identified and acted in consideration of threats to the critically endangered swift parrot.

STT has not demonstrated that management approaches sufficiently maintain or enhance swift parrot habitat.

The issue here is not with the staff of Forestry Tasmania and the good people working on the ground. This is about government policy, minister. Do you accept that the auditors were damning of STT under your Government and its approach to maintaining critically endangered swift parrot habitat?

Mr BARNETT - I don't accept the characterisation of the remarks that you've shared with the committee and the allegations that -

Ms O'Connor - From the auditor? Which remarks?

Mr BARNETT - Through you, Chair, I am trying answer the question. I don't accept the allegations that have been made by the member. What I do accept and note for the record is the 93 per cent result - 93 per cent of all the indicators required to achieve certification have been met. I say congratulations and well done to Sustainable Timber Tasmania for their progress in achieving FSC certification.

Ms O'Connor - No progress.

CHAIR - Order, Ms O'Connor.

Mr BARNETT - In addition I note the very extensive, positive response from the auditors that Suzette Weeding read into the Hansard is now on the public record - I'm sure much to the chagrin to the member.

Ms O'CONNOR - No. Chair, final question on this line of questioning.

CHAIR - Final question, Ms O'Connor.

Ms O'CONNOR - Minister, I'm not sure what statements I made that you don't agree with - other than that I pointed out it is Government policy - because everything that I stated to you before about the failure to protect critically endangered swift parrot habitat has come out of the audit report. I have read the audit report, and yes, the 93 per cent comes from largely administrative processes, compliance with certain standards.

However, the bottom line is the 7 per cent that STT Forestry Tasmania has failed have been major non-conformities and major sticking points. I will remind you, if you need it, that this is the second time the GBE has failed to secure FSC certification. What is your response to the auditors' statements of assessed fact that there is a failure to protect swift parrot habitat and that logging in swift parrot habitat continues.

Mr BARNETT - Clearly we can agree to disagree with the member. I've made it very clear that there's been progress made. Some 93 per cent is not bad - if you get a report card at 93 per cent that's not bad; but of course they are aiming for more than that.

They are putting a lot of time and effort into it, and in terms of the time and effort and resources at STT I know the CEO and Suzette Weeding could outline that in further detail. However, as a Government we support the board in its objectives. We support STT in its objectives and they are progressing. They've made much progress and we commend them on that, and we look forward to receiving further progress reports as the months progress and the work continues.

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order. I need it noted for the committee that the minister has been willfully obstructive to every other question - every question that is not from a Liberal backbencher - and this was a straightforward question he deliberately did not answer.

CHAIR - Thank you, Ms O'Connor. Your comments are noted for the public record. Minister, have you finished your response.

Mr BARNETT - No. I would like to add that I find the remarks of the member offensive. Apart from that I am happy to proceed.

 

Ms O'CONNOR - Mr Whiteley, when you said 'celery top' my ears pricked up. I was at that coupe at Plenty with Tim Morris earlier this year where we saw dozens and dozens of large celery top logs left on the forest floor to burn if we hadn't been there. I will simply make that observation.

Minister, I go back to the audit report. I am going to ask you a really straightforward question. If you can't answer it perhaps you could ask Mr Whiteley to answer it, who's likely to give a more straightforward answer than you. What we would like to know is why does STT log swift parrot habitat against the advice of experts, as pointed out by the auditors on a number of occasions in the audit report?

Mr BARNETT - To commence my answer, I've said earlier that there are very strict and important sustainable management practices that are -

Ms O'Connor - No.

Mr BARNETT - Sorry, you're interrupting again.

Ms O'Connor - You're denying the substance of the question, which has been pointed out by the auditors.

CHAIR - Ms O'Connor, I ask that you allow the minister to finish his response then you can ask another question if you are not satisfied with the minister's answer. I ask that you do not interrupt while he is talking, please.

Mr BARNETT - Thanks very much, Madam Chair. As I was saying, our Government and STT has an objective of implementing sustainable forest management practices, with every attempt to achieve best practice. We are very pleased and proud of our long history of forest practice management that applies that very important objective. With respect to Forest Stewardship Council and the audit report, I have referred to the Government's response, the CEO has referred to the STT's response and Suzette Weeding has outlined areas where the audit has, in fact, commended Sustainable Timber Tasmania for its efforts.

Ms O'Connor - The staff has, not the policy.

Mr BARNETT - The 93 per cent effort to achieve certification, which is a commendable result. Of course there is more work to do. Nobody has denied the fact that there is more work to do. I will ask the CEO and/or Suzette Weeding to add to that answer.

Ms O'Connor - And it was a very simple question.

CHAIR - Ms O'Connor, there is another response coming then you can ask your own question again.

Ms WEEDING - As I mentioned earlier, we've identified that we need to do some further work in order to achieve FSC certification. I'd like to draw the committee's attention to some wording in the same non-conformity Ms O'Connor is referring to, which essentially says:

The auditor acknowledges the considerable effort and amount of protections instituted for swift parrot habitat by exclusion from harvesting. For coupe Southward 34D, STT reported approximately 20 days of field surveying and visits to the coupe were done by FPA experts. The initial area under consideration for planning was 90 hectares but only 47 hectares was included in the final treatment area. There were 256 assessed potential nesting trees in the coupe and STT reports that only 29 were included in the final harvest area, representing a retention rate of 89per cent of potential nesting trees. For the coupe Southward 34A, STT reported ground truthing pre-harvest assessment as confirming the presence of approximately 3.25 hectares of forest containing blue gum, which is foraging habitat, which was retained in a reserve area.

That is in the same non conformity with which you read the following statements.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you, Ms Weeding, but that was not an answer to the question. The question was, in what circumstances, why, does STT proceed with logging in coupes where experts have advised against it? The audit report says:

Expert recommendations against harvesting in these areas were given by a swift parrot expert. As confirmed in documentation of his interviews, these recommendations to STT staff and other relevant Tasmanian agencies were considered but recommendations about the harvest not followed.

It goes on, saying expert recommendations were not taken under advisement or meaningfully applied. As we know, six months after this FSC audit, STT logged critical habitat for the swift parrot in the Denison Valley in December last year and added additional areas of habitat to their plans in July 2020.

Minister, can you answer under what circumstances, why, when we know this bird is down to a handful of birds, is STT logging habitat against the advice of experts? Is the plan here to continue apace until the bird is extinct so it is not in the way anymore?

Mr BARNETT - You have asked a very lengthy question and commenced your question by characterising unfairly, inappropriately and wrongly the answer that has been provided by both me and Suzette Weeding on behalf of STT. I strongly reject the characterisation of our answer by you.

Having said that, let me try to answer the last part of your question rather than the speech that you provided at the beginning of your question, to say that we take this matter very seriously. We have said this publicly. The minister for the Environment said that publicly last week. We appreciate the more recent research -

Ms O'Connor - Why are experts being ignored?

CHAIR - Ms O'Connor, I will have to give you another warning if you insist on interjecting. This is the last time I am going to remind you. I ask that you allow the minister to respond, please.

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Chair. I understand your ruling and I accept it, but you need to understand the frustration of people at this table when we have serial attempts not to answer questions.

CHAIR - That is a matter of public record on the Hansard. Allow the minister to finish his response, please.

Mr BARNETT - As I was saying, we take this matter very seriously. The research that has been received is being considered very closely by the department for the Environment. Roger Jaensch, my fellow colleague minister, is looking at that, as will my department look at it very closely. STT no doubt will also be looking at it very closely. To be better informed is excellent. To make the best decisions possible, having all the information available, is of great merit. We welcome that and the research that has been provided.

Ms O'Connor - What are you saying?

Mr BARNETT - You asked the question and I am answering it. You can ask another question if you want to.

Ms O'Connor - That is not up to you, that is up to the Chair.

Mr BARNETT - I would like to finish my answer by indicating that Sustainable Timber Tasmania is already doing an enormous amount to protect the habitat of the swift parrot. They are already acting. The CEO has outlined that, Suzette Weeding has outlined that. The measures are in place and there is more work to do. They are looking at that work, they are looking at that research and taking advice from the Forest Practices Authority is very important. Other advice from my department and from Roger Jaensch's department, from elsewhere, they will take advice, respond to that advice and implement the best measures possible to protect the swift parrot.

Ms O'CONNOR - Minister, I note that you didn't answer the question.

Mr BARNETT - Are you making another speech?

Ms O'CONNOR - No, I am not making another speech. I've just listened to you talk gobbledygook for two full minutes and I am trying to ask you a straight question. Why would STT ignore the advice of experts and proceed to log in swift parrot habitat? As you know, we've had it confirmed in earlier questions that swift parrot habitat in the Eastern Tiers near Swansea is being logged. Why would STT ignore the advice of experts and log a habitat?

Mr BARNETT - I don't agree with the foundation of your question. You make a little speech at the beginning of every single question to put across your green lobby activist policy agenda, which is fine. There's no problem with that. It's called free speech, but we are entitled to respond. So when you make those allegations based on an ill-founded allegation -

Ms O'Connor - Which one?

Mr BARNETT - You are making accusations of the Government and STT which are unfair and wrong. I'll ask Suzette Weeding to respond to the particulars of your question and make it very clear that as a government we take this matter very seriously. We've done a lot to protect and support the environment for the swift parrot. STT, through the measures it has put in place, has done a huge amount. We now have the PAMA in place. I never said that would solve all the problems and you have accused me of that. That's not true. I will now pass to Suzette Weeding to provide further and better particulars to the answer I've provided.

Ms WEEDING - In relation to planning a particular harvest coupe we undertake a comprehensive assessment of natural and cultural values including swift parrot and as the audit report identified, a considerable amount of time is spent in each and every single coupe going out and assessing, reviewing and determining the level of habitat using the range of tools we have available to us and the expert advice that we receive. We receive advice from a range of experts through the Forest Practices Authority and others and that information is compiled and developed into a forest practices plan which designates the rules which we apply in a particular harvesting area.

In terms of the audit report itself, as I mentioned earlier, we have some work still to do looking at closing out those specific non-conformities and we are undertaking habitat trials to look at greater retention of those larger trees within our harvest areas. That's a two-year process that we are working our way through. Importantly, we have to balance up a range of factors in looking at those trials, including whether the area is safe to harvest, whether we can undertake it economically and whether we can regenerate the area. That's the further work we're doing around the small amount of large trees we have within our harvest areas that we have looking forward.

 

Ms O'CONNOR - Minister, how many hectares are covered by the PAMA?

Mr BARNETT - Some 10 000 hectares are protected, 10 times the size of greater Glenorchy, but with respect to further and better particulars I will pass to Suzette Weeding.

Ms WEEDING - All up, 58 000 hectares.

Ms O'CONNOR - So 58 000 hectares have been set aside to protect from logging?

Ms WEEDING - No, 58 000 hectares is the area covered by the Public Authority Management Agreement in the Southern Forests south of Hobart. Approximately 10 000 hectares are excluded from production as a result of the outcomes of the PAMA.

Ms O'CONNOR - Can you confirm that it's actually 9300 hectares?

Ms WEEDING - That's correct.

Ms O'CONNOR - With respect, that's pretty different from 10 000 hectares, isn't it?

This is a question for you, minister. I don't know how good you are at maths but we've had to repeatedly listen to the falsehoods coming out of your Government in parliament and at this table about how many hectares were set aside from logging to protect the swift parrot and you've repeatedly said 10 000 hectares. Then we find out at the table today it's substantially less than that. Ms Weeding has just confirmed it's 9300 hectares. Why would you lie about a number like that?

Mr BARNETT - That's a very inappropriate statement.

Ms O'CONNOR - Why wouldn't you be truthful?

Mr BARNETT - Will you apologise for that?

Ms O'CONNOR - No.

CHAIR -We don't use the word 'lie'. I ask you to withdraw the word 'lie' and use -

Mr BARNETT - Use another word.

Ms O'CONNOR - I'm not big on euphemisms but okay. Why wouldn't you be truthful about the actual hectarage under the PAMA that would be set aside and not logged in order to protect the forest? There's 700 hectares difference between what's come out of your mouth and the Premier's mouth and what we now know to be true.

Mr BARNETT - I will respond and then ask Suzette to add to this. I'm pretty sure that the minister for the Environment, the Premier and I have, in the past days, in parliament and elsewhere talked about 'up to 10 000 hectares'. It may have been said 10 000 hectares around this table today. If that's the case that is incorrect, but certainly up to 10 000 hectares -

Ms O'Connor - You're so brazen.

Mr BARNETT - and I've also said 10 times the size of greater Glenorchy, so I think that's another characterisation of the area that has been protected to support the swift parrot. Suzette Weeding can provide further and better particulars. I would be delighted if she could add to that answer.

Ms WEEDING - To further clarify that statement, in relation to the specific area of potential nesting habitat identified and excluded from production, that is correct, it's 9300 hectares. The PAMA also provides for a zone 1, which is Bruny Island, and STT with the Government has entered into a precautionary approach around exclusion or continuing a no harvesting regime on Bruny Island in recognition of the sugar glider-free status of the island. As you would be aware from the literature, the sugar glider is identified as a considerable and significant threat - and probably the greatest threat identified in the recent report put out by the ANU experts - and is considerably impacting upon the swift parrot on the mainland of Tasmania. Bruny Island is one of those islands in conjunction with Maria Island which is sugar glider free and therefore STT and the Government have entered into a precautionary approach of undertaking no harvesting on Bruny Island subject to further work being undertaken in relation to the ecology of the sugar glider.

CHAIR - Mr Tucker.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thanks, Ms Weeding. Last question.

CHAIR - You asked three questions in a row.

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Chair. I asked two.

CHAIR - And then you asked a further part.

Ms O'CONNOR - If you have a look at your record, Chair, I know I asked two questions and I have a very specific follow-up to this which is a matter of public interest.

CHAIR - All right, one specific follow-up but I have down three.

Ms O'CONNOR - Okay. We have established that 9300 hectares is the true number of the hectarage that will not be logged. Can you explain why there's been no clear mapping? We haven't seen a map of the coupes that will be set aside. Can you also explain to the committee why you and your Government chose to misrepresent the number in the PAMA by 700 hectares?

Mr BARNETT - Let me clarify for the record my understanding that the total area protected under the PAMA is some 58 000 -

Ms O'Connor - No, we're talking about what's set aside from logging.

Mr BARNETT - I am trying to answer the question and she continues to interrupt.

CHAIR - Allow the minister to finish, Ms O'Connor.

Mr BARNETT - It's quite unparliamentary.

Ms O'Connor - I don't care what you think of me.

Mr BARNETT - Well, stop interrupting, please. P-L-E-A-S-E.

CHAIR - Minister, can you please respond?

Mr BARNETT - I'm trying to. The PAMA covers some 58 000 hectares. That's my understanding. In terms of the swift parrot habitat, 'up to 10 000' were the words that have been used so I'm happy to clarify that for today, and Suzette Weeding has confirmed it is 9300 hectares. So we certainly appreciate that and put that on the record.

In addition to all of those references and initiatives, I have made the point it is not just the PAMA, it's the overarching sustainable forest management practices that STT implement. Suzette Weeding has outlined that very clearly, as has the CEO.

There's been mention of the sugar glider at Bruny Island and with respect to the suppression of the sugar glider, which is clearly a predator of the swift parrot, the Government invested some $150 000 for a pilot program looking at innovative opportunities and a pilot trial to look at management techniques to trap the sugar glider in the swift parrot habitat. The funding of that project was managed through the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment. I am advised that the trial went well with trapping successfully removing 20 sugar gliders from three trial sites within swift parrot habitat. The Australian Government has subsequently invested in further sugar glider management work to be undertaken by NRM South over the next three years. I thank the Australian Government for that commitment. The federal government is committed, like we are, to doing everything we can to provide that protection to the swift parrot.

 

Ms O'CONNOR - Chair, can I get some clarification there quickly. Can Ms Weeding confirm that Bruny Island isn't covered by the PAMA, so when we talk about the hectarage from which swift parrot logging can't happen, it is the 9300 in the PAMA.

Ms WEEDING - Bruny Island is covered by the PAMA, so Zone 1 is a component of the PAMA.

CHAIR - Minister, are there any other answers to questions on notice that you have at the moment?

 

Ms O'CONNOR - To clarify something that was stated at the table earlier, on the threats to the swift parrot. We checked with BirdLife Tasmania and it's been confirmed by Dr Eric Woehler that the single biggest threat is habitat loss, compounded by the effect of the sugar glider.

Minister, I want to talk to you about Ta Ann.

Mr BARNETT - Are you making an observation about the swift parrot? Do you want me to respond?