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Wednesday, 26 June 2013
Page: 7189

Mr SIDEBOTTOM (BraddonParliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry) (09:54): I stand here today to discuss an issue that has been dividing Tasmanians for 30 years—namely forestry. On Monday, the World Heritage Committee approved the extension of World Heritage boundaries that formed a key component of the Tasmanian forests agreement that passed the Tasmanian parliament earlier in the year after three years of negotiations by industry, mainstream environmental groups and the CFMEU. This was a pretty tough exercise, punctuated by walkouts, returns to the table, constant political commentary and the old politics of the Liberal and Green parties trying to tear it down.

Tasmania is finally making progress and, with this historic agreement, is looking like it can put forestry as an issue behind us. But not everyone is happy. Some people need division and conflict. The federal and Tasmanian Liberals have constantly denied that any real problem exists. The facts are that, despite the Liberal Tasmanian Community Forest Agreement in 2006 to 2009, the number of forestry jobs halved, contractors went broke, timber mills closed and the biggest player in the industry, Gunns, went into liquidation, all without a single tree being reserved.

A responsible government acts when an industry faces what the Tasmanian industry has faced. People were going under and whole communities needed help. That is why the federal Labor government acted to support the forest negotiations with funding for economic diversification, compensation and contractor exit assistance. As a result we have an agreement in place. We have also protected jobs in Smithton and in the Huon by supporting Ta Ann, a vital cog in the forest industry.

Ironically, on Monday we saw Greens leader Christine Milne welcome the World Heritage listing, even though she described the Tasmanian Forest Agreement as 'dead' after it passed the Tasmanian parliament. A so-called 'dead' agreement has delivered, and now it is up to the Greens and the extremies on the fringe to back it in. The people of Tasmania expect nothing else. The people of Tasmania want to see this sort of divisive politics as a historical anecdote. The people of Tasmania also do not want to see the Greens and extremies move on in an attempt to destroy a balanced mining industry in the Tarkine. Most recently, in my region, there have been a number of rallies from the community seeking a balance between responsible economic development in our region and responsible protection of those areas that appropriately deem it necessary. We can have a balance. We do not need the conflict. The Greens and the Liberals—state and federal—need to get on board and support this agreement. (Time expired)