Ms O'CONNOR question to MINISTER for TOURISM, Mr ROCKLIFF
As you know, people come from all over Australia and the world to see and experience our incredible forests and wilderness places like nowhere else on Earth. The Monday before last, US Ambassador Caroline Kennedy did something that you have never done, despite all your years here: she went into the threatened Grove of Giants to be hoisted 60 metres up an enormous old eucalypt in a forest your Government plans to log. It brought international attention to our amazing forests and the threats they face.
As Premier and Tourism minister, do you recognise that our forests and big trees are not only critical habitats and carbon stores; they also have extraordinary potential to grow the tourism industry and are unarguably worth more standing?
Tasmania is the Big Tree State. Premier, you might only have two years left in your current job. Are you content with the business as usual that would see the Grove of Giants clearfelled and burnt, or do you have the courage to chart a more socially, environmentally and economically smarter way?
Mr Speaker, we are here by the will of the people and we all stand for election. I did not hear that mumble, Dr Broad, but thank you. I was aware of your experience with Caroline Kennedy -
Ms O'Connor - Isn't she lovely?
Mr ROCKLIFF - An absolutely outstanding individual. I had the great pleasure of meeting Her Excellency, Caroline Kennedy. We had a good half hour discussion about a range of matters, including her experience, which you enabled her to have, which we thank you for.
She also spoke very highly of the wonderful opportunities in Tasmania and our advanced manufacturing sector, maritime, the gateway to the Antarctic, and renewable energy. She had a huge range of knowledge about Tasmania and what a wonderful state it is, and spent some five days here - a significant time for an ambassador to really take the time to visit our wonderful state.
Tasmania has many attributes, Ms O'Connor, as you would appreciate, and people come to Tasmania to experience our wonderful natural heritage, our built heritage, and our beautiful natural environment. We are unique in that sense. That is why we need to ensure that we do protect our environment, manage our resources, our forests as well, across the community, and continue to provide for increasing visitation and, as I have demonstrated today in my question, the yield.
We have fewer people coming to Tasmania but they are spending more per individual - $3.95 billion.
Ms O'Connor - Do you think they come to see clearfelled coupes?
Mr SPEAKER - Order, Ms O'Connor.
Mr ROCKLIFF - They will come to see a range of beautiful scenery, natural environment, wilderness, built heritage. What they are also interested in, as Ms Kennedy was, is the fact that we are a state with 100 per cent renewable energy capacity which, in itself, I believe is an attraction. My understanding is that people are coming to Tasmania to ensure that they have a positive impact, if you like, on our environment as well.
You speak of the Tasmanian giant trees. They are among the largest hardwoods in the world and are of national and international significance, Ms O'Connor. Giant trees can exist in our extensive reserves and protected areas and also in our public production forests.
Ms O'Connor interjecting
Mr SPEAKER - Order, Ms O'Connor order.
Mr ROCKLIFF - Sustainable Timber Tasmania recognises the cultural value of these trees and has well developed policies and procedures in place for the ongoing protection of giant trees and through its ongoing protection of giant trees. Under the giant tree policy, STT requires that all trees at least 85 metres in height or 280 cubic metres in volume are protected and so it should be the case.
STT implements this policy by actively searching for giant trees using the LiDAR technology, conducting field confirmation surveys and by establishing an informal reserve that provides a minimum 100 metre buffer around any identified giant trees. Employees conduct detailed operational planning to identify giant trees and a range of other special values, such as threatened species habitat, soil, water and cultural heritage within potential harvest areas ensuring that we do have these wonderful natural assets and of which all Tasmanians can be very proud.
Yes, people do come to Tasmania from other states and overseas to experience such wonderful assets that we have that you speak of, but we also need to ensure that we manage the resource sustainably. I am very confident that STT do exactly that, as I have demonstrated, Thank you for the question.