Media Release

Labor-Green politics 101: I.G.A spells c.r.a.p for Tasmania

A Liberal Government will not recognise any new reserves contained in the sham, unrepresentative IGA deal.

“This crap deal signed up to by Labor today is not good for Tasmania in any sense,” Coalition Forestry spokesman Richard Colbeck said. “Taking the area of reserves in Tasmania to over 50% is not sustainable and nor is it justifiable.”

Senator Colbeck said Tasmanian Labor members – including Julie Collins, Dick Adams, Sid Sidebottom and Geoff Lyons – had abrogated their policy development responsibilities as elected members to the CFMEU, the Wilderness Society and Environment Tasmania, among others.

“If they are not interested in doing what they were elected to do they should get out and hand the job over to someone who will, Senator Colbeck said. “They have sold out the forestry industry and other sectors for a handful of trinkets. The Coalition will not.

“There are many other parties that are significantly impacted by this sham process, including agriculture, mining, tourism, and furniture manufacture, and they have had absolutely no say.”

Forest industry representatives had been bullied by the Federal and State governments to re-enter the process and negotiate away the promises of timber supply that were made by Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke and Premier Lara Giddings.

The IGA promised 155,000m3 of Category 1 sawlog, 265,000m3 of peeler billets for Ta Ann and 12,500m3 of special species timbers

“Where have these commitments from government gone?” Senator Colbeck said. “Tony Burke promised Tasmania, and I quote: ‘Where you get a clash between the minimum requirements for wood supply and a conservation aspiration, wood supply will win.’ (Kingston Community Cabinet, Oct 3, 2011)

“The word and signature of the Prime Minister Julia Gillard, the Tasmanian Premier and Tony Burke mean nothing”

“Industry has seen supply cut from 300,000m3 of Category 1 saw logs to 137,000m3 and the environment groups’ claim has gone from 572,000ha to 560,000ha. Who didn't compromise?”

“To replace the volumes lost with plantation timber will take decades and also approximately 100,000ha of land, most likely agricultural land, of which there is about 650,000ha in the state. What about the government’s food bowl plans?”

And what chance of durability, seriously?

“Not only will the greens campaign against the conversion of farm land to plantation, they will continue to campaign against the native forest sector”, Senator Colbeck said.  “That is why Bob Brown and Peg Putt have taken up more senior positions in Markets for Change, which opposes all native forest harvesting.

“The Coalition has said all along that this process was a bad idea.

“It started out of a deal between Gunns, the CFMEU and ENGOs to get a pulp mill, but all of the reasons for that deal no longer exist.

“There is an opportunity to get a win win win out of the exit of Gunns from the industry without locking up more of Tasmania,” Senator Colbeck said.

With only 155,000m3 coming from areas currently available, it was possible to reduce the intensity of harvest and extend forest rotations which would give:

• better environmental outcomes
• higher quality timber outcomes
• better returns for sought-after products
• better returns for industry
• retaining employment in regional towns.

“Instead environmental groups are stuck in the past with a view that the only way to retain conservation values is to lock it up and throw away the key,” Senator Colbeck said.

“This theory is completely undermined by the fact that much of what is being caught up in the new IGA is regrowth forest regenerated from clear fell and burn.

“The claims of the environment groups actually prove what the timber industry has been telling us for years – they are very good forest managers.

“Instead of paying to close down jobs, Labor should be working to grow the output of the industry – looking to develop higher-value products, whether it is the next generation of cross-laminated timber from Australian hardwoods, or energy or high value cellulose based derivatives.

“And, of course, continuing to develop our top-end wooden boat and fine design craft and furniture sectors with our unique and highly sought-after special species timbers.

“The really sad thing is that what is left of the industry is being squeezed into a much smaller area which will have the opposite effect, setting the industry up for more problems and making it less sustainable.”

“Let us not forget that even the West report told us that if “any” more forest is locked up supply contracts can not be met.

“I would not be surprised if we are back here doing this all again in five to 10 years, Greens complaining about the intensity of harvest and forest practices, and industry about supply, they are being set up to fail.

Senator Colbeck said: “If Labor weren’t tied to the coat tails of the Greens they would stand up for their traditional supporters not sell off their jobs.”

“The rest of the state, however, is left with the mess, made worse by the sponsorship of the process by Lara Giddings, Julia Gillard and Tony Burke.”