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Thursday, 22 September 2011
Page: 6831


Senator ABETZ (TasmaniaLeader of the Opposition in the Senate) (13:08): We are discussing whether or not there ought to be a suspension of standing orders in relation to this issue. The simple fact is that Senator Colbeck did have a motion earlier this week relating to payment, as I understand it, going from Commonwealth coffers to contractors rather than to Forestry Tasmania. That was a matter of urgency. Can the Greens explain why it is a matter of urgency to try to ram a motion through this place which will do nothing for the forest industry, only condemn the coalition? That is all that the Greens motion says. Even your most ardent supporters back in Tasmania would say, 'This is taking it too far.' It is, yet again, Senators Brown and Milne overreaching in circumstances where they have sullied themselves with a $1.6 million donation—the biggest donation ever in Australian political history. They have become soiled and involved in what is occurring in the Tasmanian forest industry.

Apart from the Greens' acceptance of that donation, which has sullied them and leaves them without clean hands, there are other issues at stake. We do not want this money spent in Tasmania, because the timber industry does not want this money being spent for what would be, in effect, their own funeral. It would be their funeral because they have been killed by the policies of the Greens-Labor governments in Hobart and Canberra. The people in Tasmania want our environmentally sustainable, jobs-rich, wealth-creating industry to continue.

Senator Milne: There is no market—1,300 jobs gone.

Senator ABETZ: Senator Milne thinks that by mere repetition she can make a falsehood into a truth. That does not work. You can keep on repeating that there is no market for native forest woodchips, but why is it that Eden in New South Wales is expanding and selling more and more native forest woodchips? What the Greens assert is completely false, but they think if they repeat it often enough it will become accepted within the community. As long as the coalition is in this place, we will ensure that those falsehoods are exposed on every possible occasion.

Senator Bob Brown: You have not run out of puff, have you?

Senator ABETZ: No, in fact I am reading a very good note from Senator Ian Macdonald, who is suggesting to me—and I will make this suggestion—that we are happy to debate the Greens in relation to these matters at any time in this place. What the Greens are promoting for and on behalf of their donor, the biggest donor ever in Australian history—$1.6 million—is the lock-up of 500,000 hectares of Tasmania. They want to lock up not only its forest values, but its mineral values and its tourism values. These are to be denied to future generations for the mere sum of $270 million. Work out what that is per hectare. Where else could you buy land at that price—just the land value, not even including the timber wealth, the mineral wealth and the tourism wealth and potential? That is why Senator Doug Cameron's union in Tasmania, the AMWU, and the Australian Workers Union are in lockstep with the coalition on this—and it is very rare for them to be in lockstep with us—because the workers of Tasmania know, the contractors of Tasmania know—

Senator Cameron interjecting

Senator ABETZ: When Senator Cameron and I are in heated agreement, it must be a rare day and the stars must be aligned. I am not sure, though, that Senator Cameron still looks after the workers' interests as he used to. But that is a debate for another day.

We are a country with a lot of land—millions of hectares. We have a lot of land with a lot of timber and the Greens continually want to lock it up. It is a good natural resource—renewable, recyclable and biodegradable. The Greens say, 'Do not harvest our own.' But do we still need wood products? Of course we do. Where do they come from? As Senator Colbeck said, they come from the Solomon Islands, from Indonesia, from South-East Asia. Because of Greens policies, we have seen a 50 per cent increase in those sorts of imports while they try to close down our industry. It is not economic sense; it is not environmental sense.