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Resources – Minimum Sawlog Quota

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 7 June 2022

Tags: Native Forest Logging

Ms O'CONNOR - You said in an earlier answer that your Government's policy is to grow the industry so that relates specifically to the policy around the statutory minimum saw log quota. Can you confirm that Forestry Tasmania has not been able to meet its legislated minimum saw log quota this year and last year?

Mr BARNETT - I do not agree with all parts of that question and the basis of the question. I have talked about sustainable growth, and I have also highlighted the importance of on-island processing value adding wherever possible. Increase in sustainable forestry operations is absolutely a priority. With respect to the 137 000 cubic metres of high quality veneer and eucalypt saw logs, as a government we support that, it is in legislation.

Ms O'CONNOR - That is not the question.

Mr BARNETT - It is the law, and with respect to Sustainable Timber Tasmania, I am sure they would have more to say. I would like to offer a response to the honourable member from Alistair Morton, who can assist you further with respect to the response to your question to add to my answer, if that is okay?

Mr MORTON - Government oversees the policy framework, as has been stated. The government's wood production policy is articulated in the Forest Management Act 2013. As has been acknowledged, it is to make available 137 000 cubic metres of high-quality saw log. Last sustainable yield review completed by STT in 2017 showed that this figure was sustainable into the long term, which is based on a 90-year model, and the next review - as the minister has indicated - will be finalised shortly. The legislated supply figure in the act effectively gives STT the certainty to enter into long-term wood contracts that sit under that high-level figure. The total volume under contract does not always add up to 137 000 cubic metres, so for the 2020 21 period, which is outlined in STT's annual report which is publicly available, STT had an initial target of producing 120 000 cubic metres of high-quality saw log. In the end it reported that it produced - or it supplied to its contracted customers - 115 400 cubic metres of high-quality saw log for that period, which is 2020-21. STT further advised in its report that that volume met customer demand.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you for that. Earlier you tried to make a political point that under the Tasmanian Forest Agreement the minimum saw log quota was reduced, but it is a fact -

Mr BARNETT - Halved.

Ms O'CONNOR - not quite halved.

Mr BARNETT - It was not a political point, it was just a point.

Ms O'CONNOR - It was a point that you were trying to make as if to say that Forestry Tasmania did not have access to enough native forests when they cannot meet the minimum saw log quota. As I understand it, the projection is for that volume to continue to decline. I go back to my previous question, how do the latest sustainable yield estimates compare to actual and planned harvests? I think this is a question of government policy.

Mr BARNETT - Through you, Chair, there are many parts to that question, so I will assist the honourable member and reject the allegation that there is an assumption that it will automatically decline. In an earlier answer I said that the sustainable yield report will be available in coming months. It is a five-yearly report, and we look forward to being better informed about that sustainable yield report for Tasmania. The forest industry, not just us as a government but the industry will be very interested in that sustainable yield review, and there is a lot of work going on there. I would not be making any assumptions from the Greens' perspective, but I do acknowledge that the Greens have a policy position to halt and do away with our native forest industry altogether in Tasmania.

Ms O'CONNOR - We have a policy to protect carbon banks. You would acknowledge, in terms of the sustainable yield and the minimum saw log quota, it was actually the Forestry Tasmania board itself which presented evidence to government that it was not going to be able to meet its minimum saw log quota going forward, and that the volume taken from native forests will continue to decline. Isn't that true? I have seen the correspondence.

Mr BARNETT - I am glad there is confirmation as there has been for some time that the Greens want to put out of work thousands of jobs and you want to stop native forestry altogether.

Ms O'CONNOR - No, we want to protect the carbon banks and you should too.

CHAIR - Order, Ms 'Connor.

Mr BARNETT - It is similar to the Labor government in Victoria and in Western Australia where they have a policy and in fact are now implementing that policy to close down the native forestry industry altogether. The Greens policy is the same, so any questions that you have about wood supply and sustainable yield should be very clearly noted in the context that the Greens want to close down native forestry altogether. As a Government, we support sustainable use of our forest industry.

Ms O'CONNOR - Forestry Tasmania wrote to you as minister confirming the premise of my question.

CHAIR - Ms O'Connor, that is on the public record. The minister has the call and then Mr Wood will ask the next question.

Mr BARNETT - I have made it clear, Chair, that the sustainable yield report will be delivered in coming months.

Ms O'CONNOR - You cannot even confirm a fact that is on the public record.

CHAIR - Ms O'Connor, order.