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Resources – John Tucker Land Clearing

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 7 June 2022

Tags: Land Clearing

Ms O'CONNOR - Minister, the Tasmanian Conservation Trust has confirmed that your colleague, the member for Lyons, Mr Tucker, has appealed against the Supreme Court decision, which found that he could not clear the 1800 hectares of land at Ansons Bay which contains threatened vegetation communities. Have you spoken to Mr Tucker about his case and his appeal? Given that you are prepared to legislate to back the profits of companies like the Chinese state owned company, MMG, or the Brazilian butchers, JBS, will you rule out any legislative change to benefit Mr Tucker's ambition to clear this area of significant bushland?

Mr BARNETT - The court has made a ruling on this matter. If the member is referring to further litigation that may or may not be taking place, I encourage everyone at the table to be alert to the laws of the court in terms of what can and can't be said in terms of litigation. The outcome of that court case is a matter for Mr Tucker and the independent Forest Practices Authority.

With respect to the allegations, which again are unfounded, by the Leader of the Greens with respect to the Rosebery mine, MMG, and JBS in terms of sustainable salmon industry or the processing of livestock in Tasmania, I reject those allegations and say that the Government supports a sustainable salmon industry. We support the growth in our sustainable agricultural sector and we are backing it to the hilt. We do not take with any glee the allegations that have made by the Leader of the Greens.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you. Thankfully, minister, you no longer have responsibility for the primary industries and water portfolio. We are very pleased about that. You talked earlier about respecting the laws of the court. The fact is, as minister, you can introduce laws which change the laws that the courts apply. My question to you was, have you spoken to Mr Tucker about his case and his appeal? Has there been any suggestion that you would make changes to the Forest Practices Act, for example, in order to enable Mr Tucker to clear that remarkable area of Tasmanian bushland and habitat?

Mr BARNETT - I thank the member for her question and note again that it is a matter that has been before the court. It is an outcome for Mr Tucker and the Forest Practices Authority. I am happy to add for context, so I will not be verballed by the Leader of the Greens. Neither will any member of the Government be verballed by the Leader of the Greens.

Mr Tucker wrote to the former premier Mr Hodgeman upon his election, declaring the potential for certain Supreme Court proceedings to cause a conflict of interest. To be clear those Supreme Court proceedings were not brought by Mr Tucker, but by the Tasmanian Conservation Trust. They relate to a matter dating back to 2015 against a Forest Practices Authority decision to certify a forest practices plan before Mr Tucker was elected to this place.

I am advised the plan was on land originally land owned by Mr Tucker's late father and bequeathed to Mr Tucker on his father's passing. The former premier was advised it was unlikely that the minister for resources would have any further decision-making responsibilities in relation to the forest practices plan in question and there is no conflict of interest in relation to Mr Tucker's role in the parliament. Mr Tucker made those points clear in the parliament many weeks ago.

The Supreme Court action has been disclosed on Mr Tucker's parliamentary disclosure since Mr Tucker was elected. That is my understanding and is the advice I have received. The matter was subject to the 16 May ruling in the courts and it is a matter for the Forest Practices Authority, the independent entity and also Mr Tucker.

Ms O'CONNOR - Minister, I don't want to verbal Mr Tucker. We were advised that an appeal was in the offing. I hope Mr Tucker finds the space to give that land over for Aboriginal ownership and natural value protection. Given that it raised issues around forest practices plans which could potentially allow for large scale clearing, will you rule out any changes to the Forest Practices Act that expand the clearing footprint of forestry operations?

Mr BARNETT - It is a sensitive matter. The Government has always supported sustainable forest management. We strive for best practice management wherever possible. We have an independent Forest Practices Authority, which has operated in Tasmania for more than 30 years. The Forest Practices Code applies in Tasmania. We have a range of other policies that protect both our environmental and natural values as well as the Aboriginal heritage values of the various parts of Tasmania that are relevant. We will do whatever we can to ensure that those policies remain and are abided by.

Ms O'CONNOR - You could just rule it out.