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Tuesday, 7 July 1998
Page: 5194

Senator Brown asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 29 May 1998:

With reference to the answer to question on notice no. 1123 concerning regional forest agreements (RFAs) in Tasmania and Victoria, which states `The Government is well aware that no government, current or future, can bind the Parliament to appropriate monies whether for the payment of compensation or otherwise', this being the case:

(1) What provisions in the RFAs are legally binding.

(2) (a) Who is bound; and (b) to do what.

(3) What are the effects of any breach of these legal obligations.

Senator Hill (Environment) —The Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) Provisions in Part 3 of the Tasmanian and Central Highlands Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) are intended by the Commonwealth and the relevant states, which are Parties to those RFAs, to create legally enforceable rights and obligations.

(2) (a) The Parties to each of the RFAs are bound, that is the Commonwealth and the relevant state.

(b) The Parties are bound to comply with the provisions in Part 3 of the RFAs. For the Tasmanian RFA, these provisions relate to forest management, compensation, priority species, review of sustainable high quality sawlog levels, review of pricing and allocation policies for commercial Government owned forestry operations, financial assistance and termination of the RFA. For the Central Highlands RFA, these provisions relate to forest management, compensation, industry development funding and termination of the RFA.

(3) A breach of the legal obligations may precipitate the seeking of appropriate relief from a court. A breach by the Commonwealth of the financial assistance clauses and/or the compensation clauses in Part 3 of the RFAs constitutes grounds for termination of the RFA by the relevant state.