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Tuckey no longer prepared to accept continual breaches of agreements by NSW on RFA's



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M E D I A

Minister for Forestry and Conservation and Minister assisting the Prime Minister

W ilson Tuckey

TUCKEY NOLONGER PREPARED TO ACCEPT CONTINUAL BREACHES OF AGREEMENTS BY NSW ON RFA’S

AFFA98/8TU

The Minister for Forestry and Conservation, Wilson Tuckey at question time today strongly criticised the NSW Government for walking away from the Regional Forest Agreement process (RFA’s).

NSW has breached the National Forest Policy Statement and a scoping agreement between the Commonwealth and NSW signed in January 1996 to undertake joint RFA's.

The NSW Government has unilaterally declared outcomes for the Eden and upper and lower north regions, pre empting the joint RFA process with the Commonwealth and ignoring our input on vital scientific and socio-economic data collected by my department

for NSW at a cost of some $19 million.

But this is not the only agreement the NSW Government chose to breach. In December 1995 the Commonwealth and NSW signed a MOU committing $60m each to a Forest Industry Structural Adjustment Package (FISAP).

Following concerns with the administration and effectiveness of the FISAP programme outlined in two independent reports, the Commonwealth sought to negotiate new guidelines with NSW which would avoid perceptions of a conflict of interest where partisan interests were directly involved in the allocation of funds.

But again the NSW Government chose to announce on 20 October 1998 its own guidelines for FISAP, in clear breach of the spirit of the MOU and the independent report recommendations.

As a result I have announced in the Parliament today that I have advised the NSW Minister for Forests, Kim Yeadon that I have suspended the Commonwealth's participation in the structural adjustment programme.

I have advised him that my re-opening negotiations, which I am happy to participate in at any time, must be on the basis of a partnership and co -operation in the spirit of the RFA process.

Of the original Commonwealth allocation of $60m to the FISAP programme, about $40m remains unspent and the allocation of this sum is now suspended.

Ends 26 November 1998

Contact: Graeme Hallett (Media Adviser) 0419 688 440

PurliiifiU'iii House Canberra ACT 2600 Telephone: (02) 6277 7270 Facsimile: (02) 6273 7096