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Parliament must now act to save forests

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Senator Meg Lees Senator Bob Brown

Australian Greens (Tasmania)

Australian Democrats Environment Spokesperson


THE Australian Democrats and Australian Greens have called on the Labor Opposition to endorse their Bill aimed at saving the country's embattled wilderness.

The joint Democrats Greens Native Forests Protection Bill - designed to rescue the country's biologically diverse old-growth forests from the woodchipping industries - was introduced today, Wednesday, September 11.

The Bill aims to end logging in high conservation value native forests from January 1 next year and phase out export of woodchips derived from native forests by the end of 1998 and.

Senator Meg Lees and Senator Bob Brown believe the Bill is a visionary and genuine chance to ensure the forest industry makes full use of the plantation sector and leave Australia's native forests alone.

"Polls have consistently shown that at least 80 per cent of Australians want to stop chipping in our native forests," Senator Lees said.

"The hardwood logging industry of Australia has become a ravenous dinosaur which we can no longer afford to prop up.

"If you consider all of those things on which it is hard to put a value - the small and large marsupials; spectacular birds; fish, frogs and water plants; all that live in those beautiful forests - the value is so great the decision should be an immediate cessation of logging."

Senator Brown said the Government’s July decision to increase the woodchip export quotas was another example of governments undermining opportunities for investment in the plantation sector, which was where job growth should be encouraged.

"This Bill represents a unique opportunity for all opposition parties to come to the aid of the forests," Senator Brown said.

For comment from Senator Lees contact Kelly Westell on (06) 277 3765. For comment from Senator Brown contact Ben Oquist on (06) 277 3170 or 015 70 4095.