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Thursday, 11 October 2012
Page: 8104

Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

(Question Nos 2125 and 2126)


Senator Rhiannon asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, upon notice, on 31 August 2012:

With reference to the advice provided on 22 May 2012, that Government responses to the 5 yearly review of Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) in Victoria and New South Wales were being finalised and that discussions were continuing about whether changes to state laws met the required standards:

(1) Are the responses now complete; if not, why not and when will they be complete.

(2) When will the responses be made public.

(3) Given that a function of RFAs is to deliver equivalent protection to that provided under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, what process is used to assess changes to state forest management systems accredited under RFAs.

(4) What specific standards are applied when assessing changes to state forest management systems accredited under RFAs, including the: (a) information required; and (b) methodology used.

(5) Since 2007, what changes to state forest management systems accredited under RFAs have been assessed and, for each case, can details be provided of the: (a) change; (b) date on which it was proposed or made; and (c) date on which the Commonwealth agreed to the change.

(6) For each state and each RFA, what is the process for deciding whether the agreement should be extended.

(7) Has any consultation been undertaken with each state about extending RFAs; if so, for each state and each RFA, on what dates did consultation take place and what issues were discussed.

(8) What steps are required to extend an RFA, at what point does the process begin and what is the timeline.


Senator Ludwig: The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:

(1) The Joint Government Responses for Victoria and New South Wales are not yet complete.

The Commonwealth and New South Wales Governments have made significant progress on the Joint Government Response and have scheduled a meeting to discuss final comments on the draft.

The Commonwealth and Victorian Governments have made significant progress on the Joint Government Response and expect to meet to discuss final comments on the draft.

It is expected that the Joint Government Responses for both States will be finalised by the end of 2012.

(2) The Joint Government Responses will be made publicly available once the ministerial approval process has been finalised.

(3) The RFAs aim to implement ecologically sustainable forest management; establish a Comprehensive, Adequate and Representative (CAR) reserve system; and provide certainty of investment in forest businesses.

As part of the five-yearly review of RFAs, each state outlines its improvements and enhancements to the RFA accredited forest management system over the intervening period since the RFAs were signed or an earlier five-yearly review was completed. The Independent Reviewer evaluates the information provided by the State, and aided by public comments, makes appropriate findings and recommendations on the implementation of the forest management system as well as suggested improvements for the forest management system.

(4) As part of the five-yearly review of RFAs, each State outlines its improvements and enhancements to the RFA accredited forest management system over the intervening period since the RFAs were signed or an earlier five-yearly review was completed. The Independent Reviewer evaluates the information provided by the State.

(5) The information on changes to a State’s forest management system is presented holistically in the Report on Progress with Implementation of each State’s RFAs. These documents are available for each specific agreement at http://www.daff.gov.au/rfa/regions.

(6 - 8) All RFAs contain a clause to allow the Parties to each RFA (the Commonwealth and each RFA State) to jointly determine a process to extend an RFA for a further period.

High level discussions with Tasmania and Victoria have commenced on the timing for the 3rd five-yearly reviews. The third five yearly review provides for discussion on the process of RFA renewal.