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Tuesday, 12 May 2009
Page: 3493

Ms LEY (3:29 PM) —My question is to the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts. I refer the minister to his order to the New South Wales government to cease selective and sustainable logging in the New South Wales central Murray at the cost of 1,000 jobs. Given that the superb parrot is not listed as critically endangered or even endangered but 1,000 jobs in my electorate of Farrer are, will the minister now reverse this extraordinary decision and save these jobs?

Mr GARRETT (Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts) —I thank the member for her question. I made a statement on this matter yesterday, which the member would have seen. It is particularly important for me to confirm to the House that no stop-work order has been issued by the department. The reports that are going around about the closing down of forestry activities are not accurate. Like everybody in this House, I am very keen to see a good outcome for both local jobs and the environment. I have spoken to Minister Macdonald from the state government on this matter. I have asked officials to intensify their negotiations to get this issue resolved. The fact is, and those opposite would know this, that there is national environment legislation that potentially applies to some of these activities. It is called the EPBC Act. It was your legislation and we supported it. I can only presume that it ought to be complied with.

We take jobs very seriously on this side of the House—very seriously. The Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government and others have been standing here at the dispatch box today pointing out with crystal clarity that this government recognises how important employment is. I am very mindful of the need for officials to negotiate an outcome that ensures that employment issues and environment issues are properly and appropriately considered.

Let me make one final point on this: all the opposition seem to be able to do is pick things out of the air and run a negative line on them. In doing that, they have a negative narrative running through public debate. On this side of the House, we have a commitment to employment, a commitment to jobs and a commitment to ensuring that there is an appropriate balance between environmental protection and local jobs. We will work to that end.