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Matter of Public Importance Debate on Forestry

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 2 March 2021

Tags: Native Forest Logging

Ms O’CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Madam Deputy Speaker, what a breathtaking display of hypocrisy and lack of insight. First, it was only last Friday that Tasmania Police handed down its outcomes report which showed a decade of investigative failures in relation to James Geoffrey Griffin. We did not get one word from Labor on that this morning, not in question time and not now at our first real opportunity for debate on parliament's return. We are talking here about children who were abused by a person in the State Service and we are talking about systemic issues -

Mr O'Byrne - Are you saying we don't care? We made media statements last week. We made our position clear.


Ms O'CONNOR - We came into the office this morning thinking that the matter of public importance debate would surely be about children and the Tasmania Police report.

Mr O'Byrne - This is offensive. Is that the only time you do it?

Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order, Mr O'Byrne.

Ms O'CONNOR - But no, it is not - you have Dr Broad in here talking about playing politics.

Members interjecting.

Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order, Mr O'Byrne and Dr Woodruff, I ask that you allow Ms O'Connor to make her contribution.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. I simply point that out because Labor has demonstrated again today that it is completely out to lunch on the issues that really matter to the Tasmanian people.

Let us educate Dr Broad, who was not here at the time, was not in government, was not in parliament, about the Tasmanian Forest Agreement. The Tasmanian Forrest Agreement no longer exists. The Greens voted somewhat reluctantly for the Tasmanian Forest Agreement legislation because the trade-off was the reserves, the high-conservation-value forest which the Liberals have now turned into future potential production forests which were meant to be reserves. That was the price of our support, and there are no reserves coming out of the 356 000 hectares, so Dr Broad is not only delusional and hypocritical but he is also dishonest.

We support the Bob Brown Foundation 100 per cent with all our hearts. We know that young people are looking to organisations like the Bob Brown Foundation for hope and we know across demographics in Tasmania there are people who look to the Bob Brown Foundation and the forest defenders and they feel thankful because those gutsy people are at the front line of trying to stop deforestation and deliver a safe climate. That is why now, yesterday, last year, the year before and the year before that we supported the Bob Brown Foundation, and we always will.

Speaking of the Bob Brown Foundation, towards the end of last year two scientists who were part of very important research connecting logging native forests to bushfire risk were pilloried and vilified by Dr Broad, Mr Barnett and the mendicants in the logging industry. This attempt to intimidate those researchers failed because the University of Tasmania late last week cleared them of any breach of conduct provisions for research at UTAS. Are we going to hear an apology from Dr Broad or Mr Barnett to researchers such as Dr Jen Sanger, who are doing that research? If they had a shred of decency and any capacity for insight, they would apologise to those researchers, who are doing work that has been backed up nationally and internationally by about half-a-dozen peer-reviewed papers on the links between logging native forests and increased bushfire risk in a time of accelerating climate change.

I call on Dr Broad to stand by his fellow scientists and apologise. They have been totally vindicated by the UTAS review. I might say I was disappointed that UTAS even bothered to do the review because it was brought to them by the native forest logging industry and their political enablers in this place.

In the last couple of weeks the Hobart Clubs and Societies Day at the University of Tasmania was held, and the Young Greens had a stall. Young people know the Bob Brown Foundation is on the right track; they know that politically we are on the right track, and that is why they are signing up in large numbers to join the Greens. They want to see an end to native forest logging. They are desperate to see political leadership that helps to deliver a safe climate. They know that countless species are on the brink. They know that the swift parrot, that exquisite bird, the fastest parrot on earth, is down to around 300 individual birds. We have told them that this Government - enabled and cheered on by the Labor Party - backs the logging of swift parrot habitat.

Young people get it. They know things have to change. They know deforestation is a major contributor to climate change and they want to see some leadership, not the kind of puerile, hypocritical politicking we have seen from Dr Broad and mirrored in so many ways by Mr Barnett. These two men in this Chamber are the two sides of the one dirty little coin. They basically say the same thing and pretend there are differences around the margins. I would bet that within the Labor Party Room, Dr Broad is agitating for Labor to change its position on the anti-protest legislation.

Dr Broad - What?

Ms O'CONNOR - Deny if you will. It will be interesting to see when it comes forward. You people are appalling.