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Tasmania's Forests

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 1 June 2023

Tags: Forests, Native Forest Logging

Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Mr Speaker, I move -

That the House take note of the following matter: Tasmania's forests.

Today we bring on the matter of forests and specifically Tasmania's forests, which are among the world's most biodiverse and carbon dense. They store up to 10 times more carbon than tropical forests. We are the big trees state. We have the grandest, most beautiful forests in the country and arguably in the world, and it is because of the ongoing threat of native forest logging that so many in the community see that there is a pressing need and a moral obligation to end native forest logging. Today there is full page advertising in the print media with a letter to our Premier saying:

Dear Premier Jeremy Rockliff, i

I's time for lutruwita/Tasmania to follow suit and protect our native forests.

This of course comes off the back of the Victorian government announcing an end to native forest logging from 1 January 2024.

The letter says:

Successive Tasmanian governments have provided over $1 billion in subsidies to the Tasmanian forestry industry over the past 20 years. This money could be invested elsewhere for nurses, for teachers and for new homes.

The majority of Tasmania's native forests end up as wood chips and waste. It is not essential for housing. We use plantation-based pine for housing frames.

Australia remains the only developed nation on WWF's list of global deforestation fronts. Aotearoa/New Zealand stopped logging its native forests in 2002 and today has a thriving plantation forestry industry.

Now is the time to protect Tasmania's irreplaceable native forests and support native forestry workers to move to sustainable industries.

This letter which was put forward by the Australia Institute is signed by some amazing Tasmanians and Australians and to hear the Premier this morning denigrate the signatories as some sort of aloof elite was wrong and insulting. The Premier does not know anything about the background of the people who are the signatories of this letter, including, for example, myself.

We have on this letter Bob Debus AM, former NSW Minister for the Environment; Zali Steggall OAM; Zoe Daniel, Independent member for Goldstein; Christine Milne; Bob Brown; Jane Hutchinson, former Tasmanian Australian of the Year; retired Tasmanian Ombudsman Simon Allston; Professor Emerita Lesley Hughes from the Climate Council; Professor Tim Flannery; our own wonderful Professor Jamie Kirkpatrick; Rosie Martin, the founder of Speech Pathology Tasmania and the Tasmanian Australian of the Year in 2017; Ian Thorpe, the great Olympic swimmer; Scott Rankin, Tasmanian founder of Big hART and Tasmanian Australian of the Year in 2018; Anthony Houston, a wonderful business owner and Tasmanian farmer; Simon French, the owner operator of Maydena Mountain Park; Simon Sheikh, the CEO of Future Super, a major national super fund; author Tim Winton; author Richard Flanagan, who again the Premier denigrated in here this morning when we should be so proud of our great writer; actor Claudia Karvan; actor Miriam Margolyes; Brian Ritchie from the Violent Femmes; and Christopher Lawrence, ABC broadcaster.

These people are among the many who have signed on to this letter because they care about our forests and they recognise that in the twenty-first century there is no moral or economic argument for logging these forests. In the face of the Victorian decision, to have the Resources minister, Mr Ellis, effectively say, 'Not only will we not be stopping native forest logging but we're going to ramp it up', is the language of a dinosaur.

We all have to answer to our children and to be in a position where you could make some real substantive changes to protects forests and do better by our climate is doing the right thing by the kids. It is untrue to argue that native forest logging is carbon positive or carbon neutral. For the past nine years, and we heard it from minister Jaensch today, Tasmania has had net negative emissions. Let me think about what happened nine years ago. Oh yes, the Tasmanian Forest Agreement, so on the one side of this Government we get them crowing about our emissions profile and how terrific it is, and it is, and on the other you have a minister who wants to intensify native forest logging.

It is untrue to say that native forest logging is carbon neutral because once our forests are logged about 6 per cent is stored long-term in timber products. The remaining 94 per cent ends up in the atmosphere, so logging leaves behind about 60 per cent of the biomass in a forest, which is burned, and of the 40 per cent that actually comes out of the forest, 85 per cent is turned into woodchips.

The native forest logging industry in Tasmania, heavily subsidised on the public teat for decades, is a massive carbon emitter. We now have a renewed threat on the part of this Government to go into the so-called future potential production forests, which are in fact the Tasmanian Forest Agreement future reserve forests, which are some of the most extraordinary places in the world.

From the southern forest to Bruny Island, to Tasman, all up through those beautiful sclerophyll forests of the east coast, the mighty Blue Tiers, those amazing forests are completely different from forests in other parts of Tasmania. Then we have forests along the Tiers and up in takayna which has mighty trees which are being felled apace under successive governments. Labor and Liberal governments are ideologically attached to native forest logging when you know the plantations are there for the industry and governments should be facilitating their access.