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Tuesday, 22 June 2010
Page: 3878

Senator BOSWELL (1:48 PM) —I was not going to participate in this but I could not resist the opportunity to come down and put an alternative to the view that we do not admit native forest offcuts, sawdust or by-products into renewable energy. What do we do with those? Do we bury them? Do we tip them down the creek? How do we get rid of them? When you have a sawmill, when you saw logs, the by-product is sawdust. You cannot escape it—well, there probably is one way you can escape it: you do not have timber. These propositions that Senator Milne has put up have to be answered, because they are so unreliable and so stupid that someone has to put up some opposition to them.

I can recall that, maybe a year ago, a friend of mine had a sawmill at a place called Allies Creek. It was a beautiful little turnout: 14 or 15 houses, a community hall, and 60 to 70 jobs. He was shut down. Some of the people who worked for him, the saw doctors, were on $60,000 a year. One ended up counting koala bears. No-one worried whether there were any koala bears there, but they had to find him a job, so it was, ‘Go out and count koala bears.’ He was degraded. People who had been very proud of what they did were so degraded that they were put on a job that had no meaning. Their self-confidence was destroyed. Their jobs were destroyed. Their way of life was destroyed.

The by-product of that—of closing down that 60-job sawmill—was that there were about five acres, two football fields, which had to be dug up and the sawdust and log shavings had to be buried. That would have run a generator—I forget for how long; for six months or something like that. But, no—it had to be destroyed; it had to be buried. I do not know what the CO2 footprint was for burying that sawdust and those timber offcuts but they covered an area about the size of two football fields.

We have to approach this issue with some balance. There does not seem to have been any consideration by the Labor Party, and certainly not by the Greens, for the jobs of these blue-collar workers. They are completely expendable, according to the Greens. They do not even consider them. ‘Don’t worry, we’ll send the boys out to count kangaroos or koalas,’ or to paint rocks or do something that is meaningless and mentally destroys them. Those are the implications in some of the amendments that Senator Milne is moving. They have to be answered in the Senate. We cannot just let Senator Milne get up and make wild accusations that will lead to the continued loss of jobs without answering them. The answer, Senator Milne, is: what do you do with the by-product of timber? You just do not leave it there; it has to be destroyed or put somewhere. Do you put it in the ground at great extra cost? I would think that pushing tractors and diggers around would increase the level of CO2 emissions. I think these issues have to be ventilated and I hope, as I look to our spokesman on this, we will not be supporting these amendments. Senator Birmingham, can you—

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator Boyce)—Make your comments through the chair, please, Senator Boswell.

Senator BOSWELL —Through you, Madam Temporary Chairman, I ask Senator Birmingham, and he confirms that we will not be stupid enough to support amendments like these.