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Sustainable Timbers Tasmania Additional Coupes

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 25 June 2020

Tags: Native Forest Logging, Forest Stewardship Council

Sustainable Timbers Tasmania Additional Coupes, Cassy O'Connor, 25 June 2020



Your GBE, so-called Sustainable Timbers Tasmania, continued its destructive native forest logging throughout the pandemic emergency. In fact, the evidence points to a significant escalation. After their failed bid to get FSC, it has now come to light that STT is adding new coupes to their current three-year wood production plan, which expires in less than a week. We understand 19 new coupes have been added to Sustainable Timbers' current hitlist, something we have not seen before. We have received information that a coupe that was snuck in less than a month ago will be logged shortly. A number of those 19 coupes are of high conservation value. All of them are critical carbon stores.

Your officers advise that the addition of coupes can occur when there are specific environmental, social or economic reasons. In a climate and extinction crisis there is no environmental or social reason to justify the covert addition of these 19 carbon stores to be clear-felled and burned. How can you justify an economic one? Can you confirm native forest logging has escalated this year?



Madam Speaker, I am delighted to receive a question from the Leader of the Greens with respect to our forest industry, because I am proud of it. This side of the House is proud of the industry for the wonderful work that they do, particularly during this coronavirus pandemic. We have been having our regular meetings, working shoulder-to-shoulder with the industry to drive that industry further, to help rebuild. Of course, all that is on the back of the devastating Labor-Greens government, when it was brought to its knees. We have help to rebuild the forest industry. On this side of the House we are proud of it, particularly in those rural and regional areas, and what they contribute in terms of jobs.

I was asked a question right at the end, with respect to native forest harvesting. That sector of forestry in Tasmania provides 40 per cent of the thousands of jobs in the forest industry -

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker. We expected this response from the minister, where he obfuscates and does not get to the point, and thumps the table. What we need to know is an answer to the question about whether there has been an escalation of native logging, which we have evidence there has been. If you could just answer that up straight-up, that would be terrific.

Madam SPEAKER - It is not a point of order, but I do ask the minister to be relevant.

Mr BARNETT - As I was saying, with respect to native forest harvesting, there is only one party here - and it is the Greens - who want it extinguished altogether. They want a ban on native forest harvesting. Forty per cent of those working in the forestry industry lose their jobs on day one when you impose that. There is only one way it can be imposed and is with a Labor-Greens government, so let us be very clear about that. We stand up for the forest industry and we will not relent.

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker. The minister is continuing to obfuscate and not answer the question and put out propaganda. Could you please draw his attention to the question?

Madam SPEAKER - As you know that is not a point of order, but I draw his attention to trying to answer the question.

Mr BARNETT - Madam Speaker, there are many questions I was asked. I was answering initially the last part of her question.

Madam Speaker, let me address -

Ms O'Connor - Can you confirm, native forest logging has escalated?

Madam SPEAKER - Order, please.

Mr BARNETT - I received a number of questions from the Leader of the Greens that I am trying to answer. The first part of the question, make it very clear with respect to the Sustainable Timber Tasmania and not the offensive words used by the Leader of the Greens with respect to that government business enterprise.

I am proud of the work Sustainable Timber Tasmania has delivered and a profitable outcome under this Government. You have been briefed and know this, and I am putting on the record for all to be aware, that there is no legislative requirement for Sustainable Timber Tasmania to notify the Forest Practices Authority if adding or subtracting a coup under the Three Year Wood Production Plan. Let us make it very clear, additional coupes can be added to the STT's harvest plan after the production of a three-year wood production plan where there are specific economic, social, environmental reasons for doing so.

Madam Speaker, an example for all to hear, bushfires had an impact on the Three Year Production Plan for Sustainable Timber Tasmania. You know that; you have been advised of that by my office. You come in here and ask the same question and you know the answer. Of course bushfires have an impact on the Three Year Production Plan. She is standing on her soapbox, trying to create an issue for her supporters in the public.

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker. I am back on the soapbox. Could the minister please confirm that native forest logging has escalated this year?

Madam SPEAKER - That is not a point of order. I can do my best to ask the minister to answer that question, but I remind you that this is not a family dinner party where we can yell at each other across the table. We are in parliament and we -

Members interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER - There are always good ones and naughty ones at the table. Please be respectful.

Ms O'Connor - No, hang on, the minister has not finished.

Madam SPEAKER - Ms O'Connor, you have given him an extra minute. Please, I draw your attention to the question.

Mr BARNETT - Thank you, Madam Speaker. I am doing my best to answer what the Leader of the Greens has received directly from my office to say those changes can occur where there are specific examples, and I have used the example of bushfires. Of course, it is so obvious additional coupes can be provided on Sustainable Timber Tasmania's production plan over that three-year period. The Three Year Wood Production Plan will be on the website as soon as they are included and will be published in July, next month.

With respect to native forest harvesting, we are proud of the native forest industry and we hope it will continue to sustain and grow because it employs 40 per cent of those in the industry. Under the Greens plan, they want to kill of those jobs, thousands of jobs. They will be gone on the unemployment scrapheap. We are in the coronavirus pandemic and the forest industry is backing our Government's plans for building and construction. It is so important.

I am proud of what they have done and am proud of what they are doing, unlike the Greens. The only way that policy could be implemented would be under a Labor-Greens government and let us hope that never occurs.