Ms O'CONNOR question to MINISTER for CLIMATE CHANGE, Mr GUTWEIN
My question is to the Premier and the first Liberal minister for Climate Change. As the new minister, will you be guided by the science? According the peer-reviewed 2013 Tasmanian forest carbon study, this island's forests are expected to sequester around 3 million to 4 million tonnes of carbon every year for the next 30 years. That includes the 356 000 hectares of healthy old forests set aside for protection in 2013. What you have called a wood bank, the science tells us is a vast carbon bank of global significance. This is the science. Do you accept it? If you want to be taken seriously on climate, do you acknowledge that business as usual in our forests is not an option? Will you make a clear, unequivocal statement now that your Government will not only not log the TFA reserved forests but you will commit to ensuring these forests are permanently protected for their natural, cultural and carbon values?
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Clark for her question. It is very clear that the member for Clark wants to use what is a global problem and a global challenge as a reason to shut down our forestry industry.
Ms O'Connor - You could get up and say the short answer is no, I won't listen to the science.
Mr GUTWEIN - That is implicit in that question. Let me provide you with an explanation.
Ms O'Connor - You haven't even tried to be a statesman for 30 seconds.
Madam SPEAKER - Order, Ms O'Connor.
Mr GUTWEIN - Let me explain, for the member who is quite happy to remain blind to this, that we have a very good story here in Tasmania on climate change, an extraordinary story. We were the first jurisdiction to have zero net emissions in 2016. That is something you should be proud of. Right now, we are at 95 per cent below 1990 levels.
Ms O'Connor - It's the forests that have made us a net carbon sink.
Mr GUTWEIN - In terms of our state, the member is right. Around half of our state is locked up and that provides a carbon sink and a net offset, but we also have in Tasmania some of the world's best renewable energy assets. What the member wants - and I am certain of this in my mind - is to use climate change as a reason to shut down industry and cost jobs. That is what the member for Clark wants to do.
Ms O'CONNOR - Madam Speaker, point of order, under standing order 45. I ask you to draw the alleged Minister for Climate Change's attention to the question. The question was about the 356 000 hectares of forest. He is trying to avoid dealing with that question, because he does not want to confess what a Luddite he is.
Madam SPEAKER - As you know, we have a long-standing practice here that ministers are permitted to answer questions as they see fit. I ask the Premier to continue his answer.
Mr GUTWEIN - Thank you, Madam Speaker. As the member well knows, the Government has no plans in place for those future potential production forests. The member also knows that legislation needs to come back to this House before any decision would be made in terms of those forests. I put clearly on the record that one of the best ways we can store carbon is to have well-managed forests. It is a statement of fact. In Tasmania, for every tree we cut down, we plant more -
Ms O'Connor - Do you know it takes a logged forest a century to recover the carbon? It takes 100 years. Do you think our children have 100 years?
Madam SPEAKER - Order, Ms O'Connor, I am very respectful that this is your passion but I do ask you to be respectful of the Premier.
Mr GUTWEIN - Madam Speaker, well-managed forests provide an ongoing carbon sink. The very dispatch box that I am standing at today is timber that has been taken from a forest and will store carbon forever.
I come back to my point on climate change. I wish you could be a little more positive about the very good story we have here in Tasmania in terms of climate change - the first jurisdiction in this country to reach zero emissions; at the moment 95 per cent below 1990 levels. No other jurisdiction in this country will ever get close to us. We have a government that is going to work hard on improving our carbon footprint as well because we intend to drive further investment into renewable energy to ensure that we can become the renewable energy powerhouse of this country, a beacon to the world of what is possible. I ask that the member for Clark be a little more positive about what is a very good story here in Tasmania about climate change.