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Logging of High Conservation Value Forests

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 13 October 2016

Tags: Forests, Environment, Native Forest Logging, takayna / Tarkine, Bruny Island, Wielangta, Tasmanian Forest Agreement


You have announced plans to let loggers into 400 000 hectares of high conservation value, carbon-rich forests in places such as Bruny, Wielangta, the Blue Tier, north-east highlands and the Tarkine; forests that in the last term of government through an independent verification process were found to be worthy of protection in reserves, a fact accepted by industry at the time. Did Forestry Tasmania request that logging be allowed in the moratorium forests? Further, can you name any credible industry participants who support your plan to go into these important contentious forests and restart conflict over forestry in Tasmania?



Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her question. The outline of the arrangements prior to the last election were arrangements established by the previous Labor-Greens government. In fact, those arrangements were put before the Tasmanian people at the last election. Those arrangements were designed to lock up vast parts of Tasmania. They were very far along the track to doing that and guess what? The Tasmanian people sent a message. It was the worst outcome in 100 years for those opposite; the Labor members sitting here were reduced in number, and it was a 40 per cent reduction in support for the Greens. So what did the people say about this grubby deal done behind closed doors between Labor and the Greens and the various environmental groups and others, which locked up large parts of Tasmania and put two out of every three Tasmanian forest workers on the unemployment scrap heap? And do not forget the families that were impacted as a result.

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker. The minister is misleading the House. I ask him if he is going to make a claim like that to please to provide the source and the data and the facts.

Madam SPEAKER - On the point of order, the minister would be well advised, if he is quoting from anything, to say the source. I did not hear a quote but I am not going to put words into a minister's mouth either. The minister can resume answering the question in the time that he has remaining.

Mr BARNETT - Thank you, Madam Speaker. I think it has been said ad nauseam in this place - and in the public arena - that thousands of jobs were lost as a result of the Tasmanian Forest Agreement and the grubby deal done by Labor and the Greens. The job-destroyers are the Labor members and the Greens. The reason for the silence by the Labor members opposite is because they are ashamed. If they are not ashamed they should be ashamed of the jobs lost in the forest sector.

Greens members interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER - Order.

Mr BARNETT - You are guilty through and through. The Tasmanian people sent a message. They wanted us to rip up the Tasmanian Forest Agreement and to say no more lock ups. We took at policy to the election and it is very clear that we have a mandate to grow the forest industry. Guess what has occurred in the last two years or more? There has been an increase in investment in the forest sector. There has been an increase in confidence in the forest sector. What can you do but whinge and whine? We hear the shrill complaint from the member for Denison.

What we are on about is creating confidence and growth in the forest sector. That is what we are doing. With the 400 000 hectares, let us make it clear that this was previously a vast production forest. Under the Labor-Greens government they tried to put it into a reserve to lock it up forever. We tore up that agreement when we came into government. Led by Mr Harriss, as Minister for Resources, it was passed by both Houses of Parliament.

The 400 000 hectares became potential production forests to be made available post-April 2020. That is on the record. That is the answer to the question and I hope that satisfies the member but I expect it will not.