Tuesday 24 June
Hansard of the
Government Administration Committee B -
(Rebuilding the Forest Industry) Bill 2014 (No. 6)
Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Mr President,
I have waxed and waned with my opinion of where I should go with my vote. I
feel that there needs to be closer scrutiny in a committee. I was against the
last minute committee scrutiny of last year's Tasmanian Forests Agreement
legislation because I strongly supported the TFA. I saw the move for a
committee as a delaying tactic, as I expressed at the time. I believed the TFA
offered an agreed way forward for the industry. Everyone gave up something in
the years of negotiation. It was a long process and the result offered hope.
Here we are dealing with a quickly cobbled together
replacement in which I have no confidence. I believe we need committee scrutiny
this time. There is no hurry; according to the Government we have until 2020.
There are some issues I want to have resolved to my
First, the rationale behind the mechanisms for exchanging
future potential forest production land and present forest production areas.
Second, the additional costs of managing future potential
production forest land in the context of the existing budget framework should
Third, the impact of providing access to regional reserves
and conservation areas for harvesting of specialty timbers should be carefully
examined from the perspective of impacts on conservation values, the impact on
Forestry Tasmania's FSC aspirations and the potential cost to the taxpayer.
Fourth, the adequacy of specialty timber resources from
existing production forests need to be clarified. If reasonable supply was
established by the 2013 agreement, there would be no justification for allowing
access to FPPF land or existing reserves.
Fifth, it would be valuable to establish whether any
empirical data measuring the scope, economic impact and employment benefits of
the special timber sector has been collated.
This bill again throws the Tasmanian forestry industry into
a state of uncertainty. There is uncertainty about the Forestry Stewardship
Council certification, about protest action in the forests, about international
markets, and over production forests in the TFA reserves areas if there is a
change of government. We cannot possibly look at this bill without looking at
our forestry industry in the context of the future of forestry in Tasmania and
we cannot do that until we see the state Budget in August. Here we have a GBE
which, some would argue, is bankrupt. We have a state government which says
Forestry Tasmania will no longer be subsidised with taxpayers' money. Whatever
happens to the state's forestry industry, Forestry Tasmania with its long
established expertise, must play an important role. Hopefully, the delayed
state Budget on 28 August will provide some clarity.
I do not believe that we should vote on this bill until
after that date. I am looking to a mechanism, whether it is this motion, the
one that the honourable member for Mersey attempted to put forward, or the
position espoused by the honourable member for Rumney of 'let us wait and see
after the briefings what occurs and how the members feel during that process'.
During the period until then, committee hearings into the wider implications of
this bill would be in the interests of the forest industry and the Tasmanian
economy in the future. At this time I will support the motion.