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Joint signing of the Regional Forest Agreements with the Hon Richard Court MP via video link: transcript [WA Regional Forest Agreement]

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04 May 1999









SUBJECTS: WA Regional Forest Agreement




To the Premier in Western A ustralia, Richard Court, to my ministerial colleague, Wilson Tuckey, to Cheryl Edwards.  And also can I say to all of the advisers little stunts like that of course will get a bit of coverage but they will not deter the Australian Government or the Western Australian Government from informing the Australian people and most particularly the people of Western Australia that the Regional Forest Agreement is a very balanced result between jobs and the protection of important forests.


It is the product of detailed scientific analysis and extensive community consultation.  The RFA in Western Australia protects more than two-thirds - I repeat, more than two-thirds - of the region’s old growth forest, provides 12 new national parks and 25 additions to existing parks, and over 150,000 hectares of new formal reserves are established.  Importantly, industry will benefit from 20 years of resource security and the removal of export impediments.


The RFA contains a combined $59 million timber, tourism and regional industry development package to which both the Federal Government and the Western Australian Government have made contributions.


So the package will focus particularly on the Nannup, Pemberton and Manjimup region to ensure not only the maintenance of a viable timer industry but also the expansion of the tourism industry.  The WA timber industry has the potential to create around 500 extra jobs in the region over this period.


Can I just conclude this introductory remark by saying that I recognise that there has been an intense debate in Western Australia.  In all of these cases it is the desire of the national Government to get a fair balance between conservation values and job security.  We are slave to neither one or other side of the argument.  We will never take decisions that will wilfully destroy Australian jobs in regional areas of our country but I think our record both here in East Gippsland, elsewhere in Victoria and in Tasmania demonstrates very strongly that we have a commitment to environmental values.


I want to personally thank my two Ministers, Robert Hill the Minister for the Environment, and Wilson Tuckey who is the Minister for Forests.  Both of them have worked very hard with their State counterparts to get this result.  And I also to you Richard want to thank you for the very constructive leadership role that you have discharged in Western Australia and I am very pleased that we are signing an agreement which is fair and balanced.  There’ll be some noise from narrow interest groups but I am sure the broader population in Western Australia will see this as a very balanced and fair outcome. 


[Premier Court speaks]


Before I depart could I just say again to you, Mr Premier and to your colleagues, thank you very much.  This has been a very good example of co-operation between the Commonwealth and the State of Western Australia over an issue which has generated a great deal of debate, a great deal of emotion and an enormous amount of media coverage not only in Western Australia but throughout the country.


And I am delighted that we have now signed the fourth of the Regional Forest Agreements, we still have quite a number to go.  I hesitate to say it but I don’t think any might prove as difficult or protracted as this one and it’s even more credit to you and to your colleagues and to my two Ministers that we have had such a balanced outcome.  I agree with you, it can’t be black and white.  I think it’s a fair package, it protects jobs, it protects the industry, it is sensitive to the environment and it’s a great credit to our Ministers.  So I will leave this link up, I thank you and I will leave it to the Ministers to sign the other parts of the agreement.





jy  1999-05-26  17:05