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Thursday, 4 December 1986
Page: 3388


Senator SANDERS(4.13) —I move:

That the Senate take note of the paper.

`National Forest Strategy for Australia' is an excellent paper. It is essential that Australia have a national forest strategy because, as we all know, trees are becoming scarcer. Even now in very sensitive areas they are being woodchipped. On page 3 of the paper under the heading `Land Use' it states:

Forests should be maintained or developed on land determined to be best suited for forestry having regard to:

a) the long term interests of the national and local communities as recommended by relevant land use authorities after having taken into account the views of the community . . .

That is an excellent goal. In the case of the Tasmanian forests, at this very moment the residents of the local community at Jackeys Marsh, who were not consulted about the best use of forestry in their area, have been forced to take the issue into their own hands and physically block the cutting down of the forests. This is because the Prime Minister, Bob Hawke, has not lived up to his pledge. He made a pledge. The born again greenie, Bob Hawke, said: `We will protect Jackeys Marsh. We will protect the national heritage areas which belong to the entire country. We will protect them in Tasmania'. Nothing happened. It was too hard. I suppose he thought that Robin Gray would wilt under his statement. Robin Gray thrives on statements by Robert J. Hawke and has not taken any heed. What are Bob Hawke and his Government going to do?

The Minister for Arts, Heritage and Environment, Barry Cohen, is at this very moment at Jackeys Marsh. He has wrung his hands and said: `Oh my, we are going to do something'. But in the mean time the trees are being chainsawn. The forest is being destroyed. When is the Government going to act? Not only is the Federal Government not taking an active role in stopping the cutting down of this forest but the State Australian Labor Party is actively encouraging the destruction of the forest. The Leader of the Opposition, Neil Batt, has launched what can only be termed a greenie bashing exercise. His Deputy Leader, Mr Field, spoke this week at a pro-logging rally right near Jackeys Marsh. So he certainly is not in favour of this national forest strategy for Australia, which would conserve trees for their best and highest use. He, the State ALP and Mr Batt are dedicated to furthering the aims of the woodchippers and the Liberal Government.

I find it very disturbing that the Prime Minister will not take action and is forcing the local residents to put their bodies at risk to stop the bulldozers by lying down in front of the bulldozers and to stop chainsaws by getting in front of the chainsaws. The Prime Minister is putting these good citizens in jeopardy. I understand that the area has now been gazetted by the Tasmanian Government and that these people will soon be arrested. They will soon be thrown in goal and deprived of their liberty because the Prime Minister will not live up to his responsibilities. When will he act to protect the National Estate? This problem is not just a problem of the people of Jackeys Marsh or of the people of Tasmania. It is the problem of the people of Australia. It is their National Estate. It belongs to the country. The Heritage Commission has said that Jackeys Marsh is worth saving, that it has heritage values, especially the Lemonthyme. A minority decision of the Heritage Commission was that Jackeys Marsh should be saved and a majority decision was that all should be saved, including the Lemonthyme. Will the Prime Minister act in time to save the Lemonthyme? I doubt it, based on his present performance.

Once again the Prime Minister is abandoning his natural constituency, the environmental vote. How much longer does he think he can stretch their credulity? Not much longer. He will not get away with it. I urge the Prime Minister, if he values their vote in the next election and if he values his honour and credibility, to take some action now to stop the destruction at Jackeys Marsh.

Question resolved in the affirmative.