26 August 2014
of the Legislative Council
(REBUILDING THE FOREST INDUSTRY) BILL 2014 (No.6)
Mr President, despite the public debate, our days and days of
briefings and despite this Government's genuine wish to rebuild
Tasmania's ailing forestry industry, I still have deep reservations
about this bill.
is well known that I supported the Tasmanian Forests Agreement
legislation last year as the culmination of four years of hard
negotiation and compromise. The TFA was far from perfect. The process
seemed to ignore the interest of private forest growers. For example,
all sides of the forestry debate gave up a lot of ground and there
was a hope for an end to the socalled forest wars which had been
going on for more than 30 years. The ENGOs had been fully involved in
the process; they were ready to support the industry in international
markets and they showed that.
we go back to discord, a fact recognised by the Government which is
pushing draconian laws against forest protests. Like other members, I
received many emails supporting the Tasmanian Forest Agreement. I
would like to quote one which seems to sum up the whole argument. I
think it came in this morning. It was interesting and I was nodding
my head in agreement. I will start:
Forestry Agreement was negotiated with all the parties concerned and
an outcome was reached in the true spirit of understanding and
compromise. The real 'winners' of these drawn-out negotiations were
the people of Tasmania - now and in the future.
is the way democracy and community are supposed to work. Everyone not
completely getting what they want but able to listen to the other
side and agree to a give and take outcome. As the last bastion able
to use common and moral sense in this argument, I implore you not to
allow the destruction of the hard work and sensible and ethical
outcomes that have come out from these negotiations.
notion of 'winner' take all in elections needs to be challenged and
dismissed. What message does the repeal of this Agreement say about
good governance? Or would the message say governance is about
self-interest and winner take all, dismissing democracy as a
platitude to be used willy-nilly in any self-aggrandisement?
are also many logical and practical economic reasons to keep the
Agreement, all of which I am sure you are aware of through your
research but seems to have been lost among the rhetoric instead to be
replaced with 'tough' words like 'tear up', 'mandate', and 'keeping
our promise'. The notion of keeping one's promise in today's
fast-moving, changing landscapes while becoming aware of new
scientific outcomes almost on a daily basis, shows a political
immaturity that staggers the imagination.
therefore request that you take these thoughts into serious
consideration in this debate and reject the government's proposal to
tear up this Agreement.
Martin of Mt Stuart.
is from one of the supporters of the TFA that I have heard from and I
am assuming that email also went to all the other members.
Government does not want participation by ENGOs in establishing a
future industry, although the Forestry Industries Association says it
does want them included. I will run through the membership of the
proposed ministerial advisory council. It is made up as follows: the
Forest Industries Association of Tasmania; the Tasmanian Sawmillers
Association; the Tasmanian Forest Contractors Association; the
Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association; the Tasmanian Special
Timbers Alliance; Forestry Tasmania; Private Forests Tasmania; and
the National Centre for Future Forest Industries at the University of
Tasmania. All well and good. As well as the omission of any
environmental representatives, there are no community
representatives. There are no union representatives. Tasmanian
taxpayers, who own the state's forest resource, are not represented
on the ministerial advisory council. The owners of Tasmania's forests
get no say in the future.
are wrestling with this bill against a background of declining native
forest industry throughout Australia. As the Leader said in her
second reading speech:
is no doubt that the native forest industry is at a critical
juncture, from which it could enter an irreversible decline through
the loss of historic markets and increasing competition from
plantation wood. Our historic markets have changed. The Government
recognises that broad-scale wood chipping is not a basis on which the
Tasmanian community wishes to build a forest industry.
aside the blaming of the ENGOs and the Greens, and concentrating on
the loss of historic markets, most recent statistics show that over
the past 10 years the amount of logs produced from Australian native
hardwood forest has collapsed from 10 million cubic metres to only
3.8 million in 2012-13. At its height, last decade, Tasmania was
processing more than 5 million cubic metres of native timber. In
2012-13, as exports to Japan fell dramatically, less than 800 000
cubic metres were processed. An article in The
newspaper on 9 August analysed the decline -
once-dominant native-forest chip export industry has been the hardest
hit. Chips, not sawn timber, has sustained the industry for many
decades. 'I can't argue that there is no decline in the native forest
industry' says Peter Mitchell, an experienced timber man and general
manager of South East Fibre Exports, a mill and woodchip exporter on
the NSW south coast. 'It is not happening because of green pressure.
Not because of someone sitting up a tree. It is happening because of
the market.' International competition from plantations in Vietnam,
Thailand and South America produce cheaper chips with higher yields.
is no reason to see that situation changing in the future.
Plantations and yields in competing countries are only going to grow.
With the shonky, market distorting, managed investment funds system
gone, there is not much planting going on in Tasmania. The Leader is
right in saying, 'this is the time to explore new opportunities, and
not close our minds to what the industry may achieve'. This would
happen just as easily and with more support under last year's TFA,
and with the support of the ENGOs for FSC certification and in
international markets, but that is going to be trashed.
will require great ingenuity under this proposed legislation to
maintain any image of harmony around the Tasmanian forestry industry
- whatever shape it takes - especially if we are to see mandatory
sentencing, and on-the-spot fines of $10 000 for those who protest.
senior fellow at the Australian National University Fenner School of
Environment and Society, Dr Judith Ajani, believes a big issue
hanging over timber is resolving the social conflict between the
environmentalists and the industry. She stated in that Age
'the role of government is critical. Governments own most of the
native log resource'. She argues that -
the growth in plantations and the fundamental market restructure, the
forest industry is already enduring, and Australia is more than 80
per cent on the way to a new model. It will fall to policymakers to
decide whether the final step is taken. It is the government's role
to end conflict in society. And it now has a practical way to do it.
do not see how this bill before us will end the conflict in society.
Please correct me if I am wrong.
would like to look at the proposed future potential production forest
land, the future reserve land under last year's TFA, and we are told
that this will be managed by Crown Land Services. We are also told,
and I quote from the second reading speech, that -
Government has determined that no native forest harvesting will be
permitted on future potential production forest land.
is until April 2020, when it may be converted to production forest.
However, we were also told there will be selective harvesting of
special timbers. The Tasmanian special timbers industry is small but
iconic. We are told the list of specialty timbers comprises
blackwood, myrtle, celery-top pine, sassafras, Huon pine, and silver
wattle. Silver wattle grows rapidly when there is high rainfall and
reasonable soil. Any requirement for this timber could easily be
provided by private growers if the price was right. Celerytop pine
takes approximately 400 years to reach boatbuilding quality, and Huon
pine even longer. Sassafras is usually used for furniture and small
craft objects. All these timbers have different regeneration periods
and different management. I am interested in seeing an explanation of
how the management regime will be put in place for specialty timbers.
potential problem I foresee is that the special species list can be
added to by regulation. What is to stop the minister in the future
regulating to add the three Tasmanian oak eucalyptus species -
regnans, obliqua and delegatensis? That would certainly open former
someone explain the definition of 'partial harvesting'? The member
for Elwick had a query about that. We were going to look at that in
further briefings but I believe it may have been covered privately. I
would like an explanation of that. Is it some point between
clearfelling and the selective extraction of a few trees? Even the
selective extraction of a few trees needs roads - vehicular access -
and they could cause damage to a former reserve with high
would also like to see details of what the special timbers industry
expects to need in the future. Will there be a guarantee that all
special species extracted will be used by the Tasmanian industry and
not shipped out of Tasmania? I am sure there is a strong demand for
Tasmanian myrtle and blackwood across Bass Strait. You could fill the
Design Centre in Launceston with produce from a couple of trees.
am concerned about the ability to convert FPPF land to permanent
timber production zone land for harvesting by Forestry Tasmania. How
does this fit into the proposed six-year delay in harvesting of the
approximately 399 000 hectares of FPPF land? It seems that if this
legislation is approved, Forestry Tasmania can seek approval to swap
land between production forests and the 399 000 hectares of FPPF
land. In the next six years, if any of the FPPF land is found to have
high conservation values that must be preserved, it will take a
two-thirds majority in both Houses of Parliament to create the
necessary reserves, and that is an unlikely prospect.
referred earlier to the numerous briefings we have had. I commend the
Leader for making sure we had those briefings, and that they were
transcribed. That was a revolutionary advance and it has proven very
helpful to me to have those notes to go over, rather than depend on
my memory. It makes it much easier to unravel the intricacies of this
bill, but it cannot help us to understand the long-term consequences
of the bill. As the member for Murchison noted, the unforeseen
circumstances are concerning. This bill needs further scrutiny by
either a full committee of the House or a select committee, but that
seems highly unlikely.
situation has not been helped by a flood of last-minute amendments.
We saw a tranche of them yesterday and there are probably more on the
way. Last-minute amendments smack of legislation on the run. Why the
rush? Why is this inexperienced Liberal Government so eager to tear
things up? Common sense would indicate that when you gain government,
after 16 years in the wilderness, you take things slowly. Like the
budget process. This bill and the whole exercise associated with it
is happening with unseemly haste. Almost every day we see catch-up
changes and there could be more in the pipeline. We should have been
taking a cold, hard look at this bill. Let us give the public a voice
as well as the industry leaders. Perhaps then we might find a way to
evaluate the so far unseen long-term consequences of scrapping the
Tasmanian Forest Agreement and the rush to legislate logging in
President, I do not support the bill