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Petition - Krushka Forests

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Wednesday, 9 March 2022

Tags: Forests, Native Forest Logging, Tourism

Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Mr Speaker, I seek the leave of the House to table a petition which is not correctly worded and does not contain a prayer but it is a petition signed by more than 34 000 people who call on Premier Gutwein to protect the native forests of north-east Tasmania.

I can indicate I have spoken to the acting leader of opposition business and I have sought to speak to the Leader of Government Business without much luck yet but I hope that both parties will be fine with us tabling this petition.

Mr Ferguson - Maybe to assist the House, Ms O'Connor no doubt wishes to speak to the petition -

Ms O'CONNOR - I do and I shall.

Mr Ferguson - It would be good if the Government could have a look at it while she does so.

Ms O'CONNOR - Sure. Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER - Sorry, before you begin. Given the circumstances and the size of it, I will allow Ms O'Connor to speak to the motion while the Government has a look at it.

Ms O'CONNOR - Mr Speaker, today and over the next two months the State Forestry GBE, which has been laughably rebadged Sustainable Timbers Tasmania, although we know its true name is Forestry Tasmania, is doing what it does best; that is, flattening forests like no other that exist nowhere else on earth. The Krushka forests, adjacent to the world famous mountain bike trails of Derby are irreplaceable, impossible to log sustainably but they are being logged. They are glacial refugia forests. This means these forests evaded the last periods of glaciation that carved the great valleys of lutruwita more than 10 000 years ago, refuges for the ancient Gondwana forests from the effects of glaciation. This has allowed them to evolve in a particularly special way, with several species genetically different from similar species in other parts of this beautiful island.

The Gondwana forests of lutruwita and Derby are so named because the fossil records show that when the Gondwana supercontinent existed 65 million years ago, it contained forests similar to those living today. They are the homes of endangered and threatened species, such as the Tasmanian devil, spotted tailed quoll, masked owl and wedge tailed eagle. These ancient forests of Tasmania are being slashed and burned by the Gutwein Government while we are in the throes of a climate emergency. They are invaluable and unique carbon stores which are literally being pulped or burned with 80 per cent of Krushka forest slated for woodchips.

Just so we are really clear, these are the forests that encircle the bike trails of Derby, which are a beacon to mountain bike riders from all over Tasmania, the mainland and the rest of the world.

Blue Derby Wild is fighting desperately to stop these remnant forests from destruction. They have written an open letter which I tabled in parliament last year, co signed by more than 200 tourism operators calling for the destruction to halt. Tourism operators who sell the brand of a clean and green Tasmania and today we have received this extraordinary petition of more than 34 000 signatures. I seek the leave of the House to table this petition.

Leave granted.

Ms O'CONNOR - More than 34 000 people have signed this petition because they understand that what is happening at Derby is a sacrilege. They understand that these forests are worth far more standing. They understand Tasmania's future is in sustainable industries, such as genuinely sustainable tourism, mountain bike riding, for example, and not destructive industries, such as native forest logging - 34 000 people, it is an extraordinary result. I acknowledge the work of Louise Morris from Blue Derby Wild in pulling all these signatures together.

Mr Gutwein, will you stand by all of this destruction of ancient natural heritage? You will scuttle the hopes of these tourism operators, all to pander to this antiquated and destructive industry.

I heard this morning from a number of tourism operators who joined us on the lawns for the handover of this petition that the Premier has to date refused to meet them. What is the Premier afraid of? We are talking about tourism operators, like Lou Morris from Blue Derby Wild; Fiona Weaver, Tassie Bound Adventure Tours; Kenna Reid-Clarke, Vice-President of the Tasmanian Wilderness Guides Association; Joe Pickett, General Manager, Spring Bay Mill; Julia Seymour, owner of Pinned Property Management, Derby; Ben Rea, owner of Tasmania E-bike Adventures and a number of organisations, including Inala Nature Tours; Kooparoona Niara Tours; Patagonia; Rare Earth Tasmania; Red Parka; Ben Lomond Alpine Hotel; Blue Mountain Derby; Blue Derby Pods Ride; Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary; Roaring 40s Kayaking; Tarkine Running Co.; Tasmanian Walking Co.; TransTas Enduro Mountain Bike Riding; Rob Blakers from Wild Island; Wild Island Women; Wild Magazine.

All these tourism operators have taken what is quite a courageous decision in Tasmania, where you can be marginalised and targeted by the establishment for stepping up for the protection of nature. All these tourism operators, more than 200 of them, have had the foresight, the conviction and the courage to sign this letter and yet the Premier, so far, will not meet them as the logging continues in and around Derby. This is ideological. It is destructive to tourism, to the climate and to our brand. It has to stop. There is no need for Forestry Tasmania to keep logging. I call on the Premier to meet these tourism operators.