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Growth Plan for Tasmanian Forests

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Wednesday, 4 September 2019

Tags: IPCC, Forests, Extinction

Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Madam Speaker, if you want a clear indication of how far Labor has fallen, that speech, delivered by so-called Dr Broad, a scientist allegedly, tells us everything we need to know -

Dr BROAD - Point of order, Madam Speaker. I draw offence to the word 'allegedly'.

Ms O'CONNOR - I will make my argument. If Dr Broad takes offence because I have called his scientific credibility into question, I am sorry about that -

Dr Broad - No, you haven't. You have called the University of Tasmania into question.

Ms O'CONNOR - but Dr Broad has made one of the most unscientific contributions that this parliament has ever heard, and that sure is saying something.

It is important, although you would not have known that from Dr Broad's contribution, mangled as it was, to understand that this was an assessment undertaken by a body of scientific advisers to the federal government and the assessment on the evidence is that the black gum and the Brooker's gum are critically endangered trees. What a disgrace when you have a scientist in this place make the statement that there sure is a lot of ovata out there so the species must be fine.

Dr Broad - I did not say that.

Ms O'CONNOR - You basically said that. You knew how unscientific that sounded because of the look on your face. I know you knew that because you smiled immediately.

I listened to this debate on forestry from both the member for Braddon and her colleague, the member for Braddon and, to be honest, I despaired for those kids who came in here to listen to the climate emergency debate and were stricken and in tears downstairs. I despair for the children who will be on the lawns of this parliament on 20 September because they are crying out for leadership, guts and the capacity of their leaders to accept and understand the science on climate.

Australia has one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world and Queensland particularly is deforesting apace.

Dr Broad - What about Tasmania?

Ms O'CONNOR - What about Tasmania, asks scientist Dr Broad. I cannot remember the exact figures but Tasmania now has less than 10 per cent of the original forest cover on this island.

Dr Broad - Rubbish - 10 per cent? You're kidding yourself.

Madam SPEAKER - Order, Dr Broad.

Ms O'CONNOR - Vegetation communities are fragmented across the state and if you Google Earth this island, it looks like a crocheted blanket, so fragmented are the vegetation communities and the forest cover here.

This scientist, Dr Broad, makes that kind of outrageously luddite-like contribution to a debate in here three weeks after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its report Climate Change and Land. That report is really clear about the impact of deforestation on global heating and the potential for forest protection reforestation to mitigate global heating. I am certain Dr Broad has not read even the summary for policy makers. Let the Hansard note that while Dr Broad is sitting here he made no response to that statement. Did you read the report?

Dr Broad - No.

Ms O'CONNOR - No. Thank you very much. Let me read some bits to you, Dr Broad.

Dr Broad - Thanks for that. What about the substance of the motion?

Ms O'CONNOR - What do you mean the substance of the motion? It is utter crap.

Madam SPEAKER - Order.

Ms O'CONNOR - As was Mrs Rylah's. A race to the bottom. A pox on both your houses on behalf of my children and every child who strikes for climate. When you are old and not in this place, I hope you go back and read the garbage you just spouted out then and feel the deepest shame as you crank up the air conditioner because global temperatures have risen two to three degrees by then. Dr Broad is laughing at that statement.

Dr Broad - Your ridiculous hyperbole is what I'm laughing at. You just talk about it.

Ms O'CONNOR - This is from the IPCC's report.

The likelihood, intensity and duration of many extreme events can be significantly modified by changes in land conditions, including heat-related events such as heatwaves and heavy precipitation events. Changes in forest cover, for example from afforestation, reforestation and deforestation, directly affect regional surface temperature through exchanges of water and energies.

Dr Broad, I note that you are not listening to my reading of the IPCC report on climate change and land. Here is another part of the summary for policy makers.

Climate change creates additional stresses on land, exacerbating existing risks to livelihoods, biodiversity, human and ecosystem health, infrastructure, and food systems. Increasing impacts on land are projected under all future greenhouse gas emissions scenarios.

Future land use depends, in part, on the desired climate outcome and the portfolio of response options deployed. All assessed modelled pathways that limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius or well below 2 degrees Celsius require land-based mitigation and land-use change, with most including different combinations of reforestation, afforestation, reduced deforestation.

That is the science. What the science is telling us - at a time when the Amazon is ablaze, as well as the forests of Siberia, as well as the forests of Africa, -

Dr Broad - What about renewable energy? Should we talk about that, or are you avoiding that as a topic?

Madam SPEAKER - Order.

Ms O'CONNOR - is that we must keep the carbon that is in the ground in the ground, and we must reforest in order to draw more carbon down out of the atmosphere.

Madam Speaker, you do not get much good news in this space, but I found something online last night which is a story of 20 African nations that run across the south of the Sahara Desert. They have agreed, they are committed, to planting a 7000 kilometre green wall, from coast to coast in order to stop the spread of the Sahara and increased desertification. This IPCC report makes it clear that this is part of the answer. Reforesting on a massive scale is part of the answer to global heating, and it is something that we must do.


Member Suspended

Member for Braddon - Dr Broad

Dr Broad - You have to recognise how well Tasmania has done. We are not sub-Saharan Africa. We are not Solomon Islands. We are not New Guinea.

Madam SPEAKER - Order, Dr Broad, I have given you so many hints to be quiet, and you are not getting them, so maybe you would like to take a coffee break for 30 minutes. I will ask you to leave and think yourself lucky it is not 24 hours.

Dr Broad withdrew.


Ms O'CONNOR - Just on his way out, hopefully he is listening, here is another part from the report.

Sustainable land management, including sustainable forest management, can prevent and reduce land degradation, maintain land productivity, and sometimes reverse the adverse impacts of climate change.

Of course we will not be supporting either the amendment, or the ridiculous motion that was put forward by Mrs Rylah, which is full of falsehoods. A number of falsehoods that are repeated by Mrs Rylah and indeed her colleagues on frequent occasions is that the forest industry collapsed between 2010 and 2014. That is just completely untrue. The data are there. From 2006, when you have a look at publicly available data, the forest industry was shedding about 300 contractors a year. The reason industry leaders like Terry Edwards and Barry Chipman at the time came to the government and said, could you please provide us a pathway through to sustainability of the industry was because the industry was on its knees.

One of the reasons the industry was on its knees is because Gunns was collapsing, and Gunns was collapsing long before the Labor-Greens government came to office. The reason the contractors were being shed was because Gunns was falling over. The reason that Gunns was falling over is that it was logging old-growth forests that increasingly the global market saw as being on the nose, because customers wanted timber that was genuinely sustainably harvested.

Gunns collapsed because it was operating on an unsustainable business model. The only reason it survived as long as it did was because of the massive subsidies that the people of Tasmania and the taxpayers of Australia were pouring in to prop up Gunns Ltd. In any industry, in any business sector, if you have a monoculture, you have no safety net for survival. All of Forestry Tasmania and the policies of successive government policies, Labor and Liberal, was to focus subsidies and policy on maintaining Gunns, because it was the primary operator in native forest logging in Tasmania. And when Gunns went down Forestry Tasmania went down.

I am not going to stand here and listen to lies from both members for Braddon, who of whom is apparently a scientist. The reason Gunns collapsed is a matter of historical record. For anyone who has not read The Rise and Fall of Gunns Limited by Quentin Beresford, I recommend it. It is referenced and it documents what happened to that evil corporation.

Ms BUTLER - Point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I draw your attention to the fact that our colleagues are being called liars and that is inappropriate in this House.

Ms O'Connor - Your colleagues, Mrs Rylah and Dr Broad?

Ms BUTLER - Yes, by yourself. My colleague has just been called a liar by yourself. I do not think that is appropriate, Mr Deputy Speaker.

Ms O'Connor - What standing order are you referring to?

Ms BUTLER - It is unparliamentary. It is offensive language.

Ms O'Connor - Offensive language?

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order, I ask the member to withdraw it.

Ms Butler - It is not appropriate, it should be ruled out.

Ms O'CONNOR - Like you bringing the scientific panel that advised the federal minister on critically endangered species into disrepute?

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order, I ask the member to please withdraw it.

Ms O'CONNOR - What am I withdrawing, Mr Tucker?

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - The comment that you made about them lying.

Ms O'CONNOR - Which one? What did I say?

Mr O'Byrne - You referred to Dr Broad as a liar.

Ms O'CONNOR - I said they have told lies.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order, I ask the member to withdraw it please.

Ms O'CONNOR - Sorry, I get up in here like Dr Woodruff and just tell the truth in this place. If the truth hurts, I withdraw the use of the word 'lie'.

We will not be supporting the amended motion. We will always accept the science on climate, and the science on what is a critically endangered species. Even the scientists in a conservative Liberal government have looked at these two eucalypt species and recognised that they are critically endangered.

In the middle of an extinction crisis, you would think a listing of critically endangered might influence a scientist in this place, but apparently not. That is a matter of enormous regret, because we are elected to this place to tell the truth. The truth is that the independent scientific advisers to the federal government determined that these two species - the black gum and the Brooker's gum - are critically endangered.

I am appalled, on behalf of young people who expect better in this place, by Dr Broad's contribution, and I am completely unsurprised by Mrs Rylah's.