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Export woodchip licences extended to March 2000



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Media Release

The Hon Wilson Tuckey, MP

Minister for Forestry and Conservation

 

AFFA99/116TU

26 October 1999

EXPORT WOODCHIP LICENCES EXTENDED TO MARCH 2000

 

The Government will recommend to the Governor-General that the Export Control (Hardwood Wood Chips) Regulations 1996 will be amended to extend woodchip export licences by three months, the Minister for Forestry and Conservation, Wilson Tuckey, announced today.

 

Under the current regulations, transitional woodchip export licences expire on 31 December 1999, after which time hardwood woodchips can only be exported from forests covered by Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs). This policy was introduced by the former government as a means of accelerating the RFA process and has been continued by the current government.

 

“The amended regulations will extend transitional woodchip licences operating in forest regions for which RFAs are yet to be completed until 31 March 2000, to allow for delays arising from the Victorian election” Mr Tuckey said.

 

“We are very close to finalising the RFA process and the start of a new era of forest management based on balance and certainty.

 

“In Victoria, the extensive research and assessment projects are complete and the last two of the State’s five RFAs, in the West and Gippsland regions, are well on track. However the election has delayed the public release of some assessment material, and consequently the next round of public and stakeholder consultations.

 

“Conservation groups and other stakeholders have requested that the Gippsland and West RFAs offer the same opportunities for public involvement as were offered in the East Gippsland, Central Highlands and North East regions.

 

“Rather than compromising the process adopted in other Victorian RFAs by rushing to complete the final two by the deadline of 31 December, we agree that a few more weeks of consultation may be necessary.

 

“At the same time, industry should not be penalised by the expiry of licences before all RFAs are in place. We must ensure that we don’t undermine the very certainty that forest industries and the regional communities that rely on them have come to expect from the RFA process.”

 

Six Regional Forest Agreements are already in place. They are the RFAs for Tasmania, for the East Gippsland and Central Highlands regions of Victoria, for the Eden region of NSW and for the South-West forest region of Western Australia.

 

As well as the Gippsland and West Victorian RFAs, agreements are under negotiation for the North East and Southern regions of NSW and for South-East Queensland.

 

The timelines for completing the RFA’s in NSW will be subject to further negotiations with the NSW Government. However only the Southern RFA process is likely to be affected.

 

The Federal Shadow Minister for Forestry and Conservation, Mr Laurie Ferguson, has indicated that the Opposition will support the three month extension.

 

Mr Tuckey said he appreciated the Opposition’s co-operation in this matter

 

Contact: Graeme Hallett 0419 688 440

 

 

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