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Ministerial Statement on Forestry a Sham

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 27 October 2016

Tags: Giant Freshwater Lobster, Native Forest Logging

Ms O'CONNOR (Denison - Leader of the Greens) - Madam Speaker, I give notice that on tomorrow I shall move -

That the ministerial statement on forestry delivered yesterday is a sham.

It is a sham because it misleads Tasmanians over the alleged need to allow loggers into 357 000 hectares of high conservation value forest. It misleads Tasmanians over the fact of ongoing subsidies, because it is a threat to the climate and it is designed to reignite forest conflict in Tasmania.


Leave to suspend of Standing Orders


Ms O'CONNOR - Madam Speaker, I seek leave of the House to move that so much of Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent this motion from being debated forthwith.

This is clearly an urgent issue. The Minister for Resources came into this place yesterday and read out a ministerial statement that was laced with spin and mistruths. We still have not heard from the Minister for Resources, or the Premier, this morning when he was asked: what is the justification for reigniting conflict over forests in Tasmania? Where is the evidence that underpins the apparent need to go into high-conservation-value forests that were independently verified and set aside in a previous term of government to go into reserves?

We know from science that has been updated in the past year, work, which has been undertaken by the company [Bookmark: OLE_LINK50] TreeMod off the back of the forest carbon study that was delivered in the previous term of government, that there is at least 13 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent sequestered in that 357 000 hectares of high-conservation-value forests.

The bottom line is that we are in this situation because the Liberals in government want a fight. The Liberals in government have so little vision, so few actual achievements and so little to offer Tasmanians, the best they can offer is more conflict over forests and ongoing subsidies, because we know the subsidies will continue.

The advice from the Forestry Tasmania board makes it clear that the subsidies are embedded in the contracts with industry out to 2027. The subsidies will continue to go into forestry through the non-commercial arm of the new, perversely and incorrectly named Sustainable Timber Tasmania. The subsidies will continue to fund roading into areas of forest. Taxpayers will continue to underwrite this unsustainable native forest logging industry in Tasmania, as they have for the past two or three decades. The fact of the matter is, Madam Speaker, that every time -

Mr FERGUSON - Point of order, Madam Speaker. My point of order is on relevance and I will share why, if I may - because this happens every second Thursday.

Ms O'Connor - No it doesn't.

Mr FERGUSON - It happens very regularly on a second Thursday, Madam Speaker.

Madam SPEAKER - Order. This is a point of order. Cease the interjections. Can we just have a bit of process here?

Mr FERGUSON - Madam Speaker, we know what Ms O'Connor is doing and it is her right as a member to move for leave, but she has not explained, on relevance she has to be debating right now why this motion - and it has not been distributed, I do not have a copy of it - is so urgent that it must be brought on forthwith and push out everything else on the notice paper off the agenda for the day.

Madam SPEAKER - I have heard the point of order and I direct the member to the urgency motion.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you, Madam Speaker. Unfortunately the Leader of Government Business was not listening because he is deaf to all arguments about how unsustainable native forest logging is in Tasmania. He is deaf to the fact that the planet is cooking. We have been through our hottest months, our hottest summer, our hottest year, our hottest decade on record. The planet is cooking, and a key feature of rising global emissions is deforestation.

Deforestation contributes between 17 per cent and 20 per cent of total global emissions. The forests in Tasmania are massive carbon stores; we know that from credible science that underpinned the forest study that was delivered in the last term of government. There is up to 4 billion tonnes of carbon sequestered in Tasmania's forest estate. The science is clear. These forests are carbon banks and this is an urgent issue, because every single individual, business, government and corporation must take responsibility for bringing down global emissions. In 2016, the notion that a government would wilfully and without need allow for the release of CO2 from forests into the atmosphere through an unsustainable logging program is reprehensible, unethical and immoral. Our children are counting on us. As legislators, policy makers and community leaders, they need to know that governments take the climate challenge seriously.

The forests that Mr Barnett - Corporal Barnett on his donkey, galloping out of the parallel universe - wants to log are globally significant carbon banks. That is the science, that is a fact and that is why this is an urgent issue that must be debated by this House. We have a government that does not have a minister for climate change, a government that took apart the Tasmanian Climate Action Council, a government that has not yet delivered a climate plan, a government that wants to release massive belches of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere out of Tasmania's forests.

This is one of the most urgent issues this House has ever discussed, Madam Speaker. Tasmanians do not want a return to forest conflict. The only people in this place who want to send Tasmanians back into the trenches are the Liberals. The Liberals are deliberately and cynically reigniting conflict over forests in Tasmania, and we know that because the proposed date of allowing for logging in the 357 000 hectares is 1 July 2018. Hello? We are not stupid. We know exactly what you are doing here, Mr Barnett. You are wilfully restarting conflict over forests in Tasmania.

Time expired.

Ms WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Madam Speaker, the Mercury today tells us exactly why we have to discuss this issue, and we cannot let this week of Parliament go by with an announcement by this Government of such a divisive, vandalistic thing to do to this state and this planet, to open up 400 000 hectares of globally significant carbon storage.

Mr Barnett - Who by?

Ms WOODRUFF - The minister asked who by? Brendan Mackey from the ANU has found in Tasmania the most substantial store of carbon, world renowned. Our trees have the ability to store more carbon than almost any other trees on the planet. Today in the Mercury we hear great news that swift parrots are nesting in human-manufactured boxes on Bruny Island because there are not enough tree hollows there for them. Thank god that Dejan Stojanovic, the Weetapoona Aboriginal Corporation and the Green Army came together and put them there, because those trees are under the axe of this Government.

There is a temporary moratorium in place, but with the minister's decision to go into the 400 000 hectares, those tree hollows are under threat. We are seeing trees in Buckland being logged. There are fewer and fewer nesting hollows left in this state. The swift parrot is a highly endangered bird, with fewer than 2000 birds left. They come only to Tasmania to breed every year and every single week there are fewer and fewer old native forest trees for them to nest in. It is a fact.

The only thing this Government ought to be focusing on is managing climate change, and at the top of the list is to store up what you have got. The second step is stop reducing emissions, let alone cutting down trees and emitting more tonnes of carbon dioxide to the point at which we have reached more than 400 parts per million globally. This is a fact, Mr Shelton.

Mr Shelton - You've never been out in the bush, have you? The fact is you don't know what you're talking about.

Madam SPEAKER - Order.

Ms WOODRUFF - We are in a severe global runaway climate change crisis. We have to be on a war footing for climate change, not a political stunt to try to get the Liberals re-elected. That is what this is. They need to refocus on the issue of the day, the issue of the planet.

Members interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER - Order. Interjections will cease and the member will come back to the urgency.

Ms WOODRUFF - Our most important issue is our survival, the survival of all the plants and animals and humans, the life we lead and the life we hope our children will have. That has to be first and foremost. It is critical that we have this debate so the people of Tasmania know what this Government is trying to do.

They are endangering the future of our community. They are endangering all of the plants and animals the Government is supposed to be protecting. The Minister for Environment, Parks and Heritage is being called out by the federal swift parrot recovery team group for holding up the process of recovery. The freshwater lobster is also highly endangered, again in areas which would be opened up under this minister's approach for managing the forest industry. It will wipe out the swift parrot and the freshwater lobster. These trees cannot be logged without wiping out these animals.

We have to make a decision. Everyone in Tasmania, except the people sitting on the government benches, has made a decision that we want to go with living things. We do not want to go with dust or pieces of paper. We want to look after the Aboriginal -

Madam SPEAKER - Order. The member is straying from the urgency of the motion again.

Ms WOODRUFF - This is a conversation we need to have and we need to have it every single day. We need to have it until this government realises they are on a losing trajectory. The only way they can change is to support the forestry industry they say they are doing this for. They are doing the absolute opposite. The Premier said, 'We're supporting the forest industry', but they do not think so. That is not what Terry Edwards says. That is not what the woman who rang into Leon Compton last week said. She did not say that. She said, 'This is not a sustainable approach. This is not going to help us.'

The Government is not listening. The minister is not listening to the Forestry Tasmania board, he is not listening to the Forest Stewardship Certification Committee. I do not think he is even talking to them any more. These are matters of the utmost importance to Tasmania, more important than anything else we could be talking about today. It rests on the survival of individuals, our clean green brand, and all the things we need to be protecting so we can get more jobs in the future. At the moment, the doors are closing. Unless this Government is prepared to send a signal to international markets, future investors and people who want to potentially set up clean green businesses in Tasmania to tourists from all around the world. At the moment they are getting a very poor value experience in some parts of Tasmania.

Time expired.

Ms DAWKINS (Bass) - Madam Speaker, the ministerial statement yesterday was nothing more than a snarling provocation to the environment movement to stand up and be counted again. It is an absurd notion that those people concerned with the future of human habitation on Earth want this fight. They want nothing more than to go back to their jobs, families and communities and get on with their lives knowing they have a government that understands the challenges of climate change, the importance of biodiversity and a healthy ecology to ensure future generations have the same styles of life and the same opportunities we have in Tasmania today.

I have been on some of those marches and rallies. The sense of when people come together to fight for a common good and fight against a government that would oppress and regress is a strong feeling, but it is not something anybody wants to go back to. When the pulp mill was mooted for the Tamar Valley, 10 000 people marched in Launceston against that. We do not want to have to stand up and do that again but we are being provoked. You know this Government wants to provoke another forestry war, but it is the last thing we want.

I cannot let today go by without speaking about Lapoinya and some of the comments that were made -

Madam SPEAKER - No, no. This is on the urgency of the motion, not the substance.

Ms DAWKINS - The urgency is that there will be a repeat. The lies that were told; in the media it was suggested it had been a successful harvest and outstanding outcomes were achieved. Yet yesterday, we have a minister -

Madam SPEAKER - Order. I am going to pick up the member. This motion is seeking leave. If members succeed with their seeking of leave on the numbers in the House, then we move to debating the substance of the motion.

Ms DAWKINS - I will then go to the misleading of Tasmanians over the ongoing subsidies. It is a threat -

Madam SPEAKER - No, the urgency of the motion. That is the only thing you can address in seeking leave, otherwise I will cut short the debate and put the question, but I do not want to have to do that.

Ms O'Connor - I understand that, but on your ruling, Madam Speaker, Ms Dawkins is articulating the urgency because this Government's policies wants to create multiple situations like Lapoinya.

Madam SPEAKER - No, you are not there to defend Ms Dawkins. Ms Dawkins is quite able to submit that on her own behalf and I am sure she will do that in line with my ruling.

Ms DAWKINS - We will repeat the mistakes of the past if we continue to go down this line. You know we will. The minister stood up in this place yesterday and said, 'We do not want to repeat history, we want to learn from our mistakes'. Yet, here we have the most recent unrest in the forest at Lapoinya. We have John Lawrence standing up and saying, 'The numbers don't add up. There will be no money to be made by FT from this logging operation.' Lo and behold, that is exactly what happened.

The incredulity of this Government, when that was discussed, was profound and it is disgraceful. The people at Lapoinya, their frustration, their anger, their bitterness over what they had to go through to watch that beautiful piece of remnant rainforest destroyed for no money, will continue to be repeated endlessly until this Government stands up and says, enough, we understand. Enough for these communities, enough for Tasmania, enough for the potential carbon sequestration of this forest to protect future human habitation on earth.

Mr FERGUSON (Bass - Leader of Government Business) - This handwritten and scribbled out sham of a motion about a sham, there have been no arguments made by any of the members who have spoken to explain why this sham of a motion, that talks about a sham, is more important for this House today than the matter of public importance, than the Property Agents and Land Transactions Bill and the Gaming Control Amendment, which brings into the community interest test and the Mental Health Amendment Bill. It is a simple attempt to disrupt the House and the Government will not be supporting it.

Mr LLEWELLYN (Lyons) - Madam Speaker, this is a process the Greens are involved in fairly regularly as a de facto matter of public importance.

Ms O'Connor interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER - Order. The member has made her contribution.

Mr LLEWELLYN - If it is an urgent issue, my understanding, from the point of view of the procedures in the House at the moment is, there has already been a matter of public importance called on forestry. That will be debated in a little while. All the issues contained within this urgency motion can be debated within that matter of public importance. In effect, this is anticipating an order of the day, which is the matter of public importance on forestry.

The House divided -