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Government introduces forest conservation and development legislation

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DPIE91/303G 28 November, 1991


The M inister for Resources, Mr Alan Griffiths today introduced into P arliam ent the Government's Forest Conservation and Development Bilk

"The Bill will better protect Australia’s native forests, concurrently facilitate much needed value-added investment and create more jobs in A ustralia's forest industries," Mr Griffiths said.

"In short, this policy is a major reform.

"The legislation - prepared after much consultation with the States and T erritories, the ACTU, tim ber unions, environment and industry groups - will set up a transparent and predictable process for ensuring the ecologically sustainable use of Australia's forest resources.

"The level of uncertainty associated with forest use decisions in the past will be avoided. The legislation illustrates the Government is steering a path, consistent with its environmental objectives, to create a better and more productive industry; an industry which can become the base for a sophisticated paperm aking industry in the future and which provides m ore jobs for Australians."

The essence of the legislation is th at it will provide secure access to forest resources for investments of $100 million or more in value-adding forest product processing, and/or plantations, while ensuring adequate environm ental protection of Australia's valuable forests.

Security of access will be provided by a Commonwealth Government com m itm ent, whereby once environmental, heritage and cultural protection needed for forest areas associated with long-term value-added investm ents has been assessed, the Government won't use its powers to intervene later to thw art the project in anything other than the most

exceptional circumstances. These are spelt out clearly in the legislation.

Environm ental, heritage and cultural protection of forests is ensured by a thorough and comprehensive up-front assessment of the proposed project. In th is way, the legislation does not alter the Commonwealth's policies, or its legislation.

C O .. .iviOi’-iW E A-T; i


Parliament House Canberra ACT 2600

Phone: (06) 2777480 Fax: (06) 2734154

It simply ensures th a t these m atters are taken into account when they should be - up front, comprehensively and decisively for the life of a project.

Provided the forest industries hold to their commitment to invest - as the public is entitled to expect - Australia will benefit from worldscale value adding investments before the year 2000.

The legislation has the capacity to pave the way for the development of a pulpmill in northern Tasmania, and an expansion of the existing mill at M aryvale in Victoria. O ther major investments are envisaged la ter in the decade in W estern A ustralia and E ast Gippsland in Victoria.

M r Griffiths outlined the details of the legislation in his second reading speech, which is attached.

The m ain components of the legislation include:

. the $100 million threshold for proposed investments in value-added processing and/or plantations

„ up-front assessm ent by the Commonwealth of the need for environmental protection of forest areas affected by project proposals

. agreements between the Commonwealth and the State and between the S tate and the enterprise, which will clearly sped out the requirem ents on all parties before resource security is granted for a project

. the exceptional circumstances in which the Commonwealth may invoke its environmental powers once resource security has been granted.

Alongside the legislation, Mr Griffiths announced in the second reading speech today th a t the Government has approved non-legislative measures to achieve the same results for investments in the hardwood sawmilling

industry which do not m eet the $100 million threshold set out in the Forest Conservation and Development Bill.

The M inister said the proposed arrangements, which will be offered by the Commonwealth through formal Commonwealth-State agreem ents on a regional basis, will facilitate value-added investments in the hardwood sawmilling industry, directly creating jobs in rural areas.

The agreem ents will facilitate much needed structural adjustm ent in the hardwood sawmilling industry. Areas such as the South E ast Forests of NSW and E ast Gippsland in Victoria, will directly benefit from the increased certainty created by the proposed agreements."

D etails of the non-legislated measures are outlined in the second reading speech.

Through the Forest Conservation and Development legislation and the inter-governm ental agreements, the Government is offering a package which will provide a predictable and stable environment iri which industry can invest w ith confidence, while conserving the environmental

and heritage values of A ustralia's forests.

Information: Kristen Barry, Minister's office 06 277 7480.