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Wednesday, 25 August 1999
Page: 7666


Senator BROWN (10:10 AM) —At the outset, it is very important to get the objects of the bill into train. It is clearly the object of this bill, as it stands, that there will be massive incursions into hundreds of thousands of hectares of Australia's remaining wild forests over the next 20 years, with no Commonwealth intervention whatsoever. These are unprotected forests and ecosystems and they contain half of Australia's species of plants, animals and birds. Many of those species are threatened, endangered and vulnerable to extinction.

The logging industry will become the master of management of these forests through state forest authorities, like Forestry Tasmania and CALM in Western Australia, which have a record of indifference to the environment. In fact, they have a record of planning in such a fashion as to damage the environmental amenity of the states they are in, because they put the profits and the interests of the woodchip corporations first.

We need to be very clear that the objectives of this bill are anti-environmental. They in no way enhance the environment of Australia's forests, which, I repeat, have half the species of natural entities in this nation. This bill aims to put Australia's natural heritage—half of it in terms of species—into the hands of the agents most likely to destroy it for short-term profit, against the wishes of the great majority of the Australian people, who own these forests. That will be the outcome of this legislation, and the objects should be commensurate with that.

We are dealing now with an amendment from the Labor Party which would revise the objects of the bill. The Democrats have a series of amendments which seek to bring the natural part of the forest equation, the most vital part, back onto the agenda. But I would first ask the parliamentary secretary if she can assure this parliament that she is personally across the matter in a way which means that there will be no diminution in forest ecosystems in Australia or in the wildlife populations in forests in Australia as a result of the incursions of the woodchip industry into hundreds of thousands of hectares of forest in the coming 20 years under this bill.