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The TT-Line

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 16 March 2021

Tags: TT-Line

Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Madam Speaker, if only we saw that passion from Dr Broad on some of the big issues like climate change and raging social inequality.

It is a good thing that respected economist Saul Eslake is such a decent human being. If I were Saul Eslake, I would be annoyed, because in the last Estimates, when his report on the proposed plan to build the Spirits not in Finland was discussed at the table, really terrible language was used by the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport to denigrate Mr Eslake, who has been absolutely vindicated today. This is an entirely predictable reversal of what was a populist idea at the time, and here we are. All those issues Dr Broad raised are highly relevant and very concerning.

I am, however, interested in the fact that there is selective concern for jobs in the tourism sector in this debate on the placement of the TT-Line Spirits. We do not hear anything from either the Labor Party or the Liberals on the impact on tourism jobs from logging burns. I would have liked to make a personal explanation at the end of question time but did not make the opportunity for myself, so I am going to take the Premier on here. He misrepresented our question on the escaped logging burn in the Styx, and I believe he was reckless with his answer. The Styx fire was at advice level last Friday with 25 kilometre per hour north-northeasterly winds growing and the temperature rising to 28 degrees. Advice level on the Tasmania Fire Service website is one level below watch and act, and that is just below emergency level. At advice level, the Tasmania Fire Service says:

If you are not prepared for bushfire, think about leaving for a safe place. If it gets more dangerous, and if your family has made a bushfire survival plan, check it now.

In downplaying the Styx fire and the TFS advice, the Premier was dismissive of a critical emergency tool that can save lives and property, something Tasmanians rely on, for cheap political point-scoring. It was just luck and a turn of the weather that prevented this logging fire from causing more damage. Everybody is relieved it did not go further and it is simply nasty, highly personal and false for the Premier to suggest otherwise.

If we are serious about promoting the tourism sector and growing jobs in the tourism sector, we have to get serious about this rogue GBE that lit a massive fire - well, it was not massive when it started: they napalmed a 30 hectare coupe on the Saturday of the long weekend and by Wednesday that runaway fire had grown to 175 hectares. It threatened the tourism mountain bike event at Maydena. It threatened to taint the grape harvest. Hop growers in the region were apoplectic with rage, and while the Tourism Industry Council has stayed silent on the former Forestry Tasmania's, now Sustainable Timber Tasmania's, conduct over that weekend, I know they are not happy.

If the Tourism Industry Council Tasmania wants to be really effective in this space, we need to hear its voice. We need the TICT to speak for tourism operators who every autumn have smoke impacts on their businesses which in turn impacts on our visitor economy. Let us have some more broad discussions in this place about tourism and the conflict between tourism, agriculture and forestry in this state.

These are not fuel reduction burns, Madam Deputy Speaker, as Mr Whitley tried to tell us, on radio, it had turned into once it ran away. This is a hot logging burn. It was started six days after the end of summer, with a wet summer causing a high fuel load.

We would like to know what kind of risk matrix Forestry Tasmania applied before it lit that fire. We would like to know why Forestry Tasmania breached the terms of its memorandum of understanding with the Tourism Industry Council and the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association.

Our understanding, and it is in writing, is that the first Luke Martin of the TICT heard of this was when he smelt the smoke on that long weekend. We have a rogue GBE, that loves to log and loves to light fires and treats its MOUs, whether it be with the tourism industry, the agricultural sector or the beekeepers, as though it is not even worth the paper it is written on.

The conflict between the tourism sector and Forestry Tasmania will continue as long as you have a GBE which has been unleashed by this Government. It will not secure Forest Stewardship Certification, and is driving the swift parrot and species like the masked owl to extinction. It is damaging the tourism sector in this state, and damaging our brand.

Why is it that every year as soon as summer ends and we have those beautiful autumn days that tourists and Tasmanians love we have to cop this smoke in our atmosphere? There is no accountability, no logic behind it whatsoever. Massive damage to ecosystems. People who experience or see these fires and will tell you they can hear ring tailed possums screaming. That might not matter to other people in this place except Dr Woodruff and me, but it does matter -

Ms Ogilvie - Hang on, we all care about the animals.

Ms O'CONNOR - I would love to hear you talk about forestry burns at some point, Ms Ogilvie. I would love that.