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Wednesday, 29 June 1994
Page: 2297

Senator CHAMARETTE —My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Does the government support the views of the Minister for the Environment, Sport and Territories concerning the moratorium clause of the national forest policy statement, expressed during his `State of the Environment' reporting address? He said:

Old growth forests `that are likely to have high conservation value' should not be logged until assessments are complete.

. . . . . . . . .

. . . it's just crazy to be assessing the values of old growth forests while logging them at the same time.


. . . we must resolve the impasse over the protection of old growth forests before we can realistically carry out comprehensive regional assessments.

If not, why not?

Senator Short —Do you support Faulkner?

Senator GARETH EVANS —Yes, I do support Senator Faulkner. He is doing an outstanding job on everything he turns his considerable talents to. On the subject of the moratorium clause, the situation is this: the national forest policy statement contains an agreed strategy designed to conserve and manage old growth forests as part of a comprehensive, adequate and representative reserve system, as Senator Chamarette well knows. As part of that strategy, governments agreed that, until assessments of forests for conservation values, including old growth values, are completed, forest management strategies will avoid activities that may significantly affect those areas of old growth forests that are likely to have high conservation value.

  It is certainly Senator Faulkner's view—and I believe this is the government's—that the only prudent way to interpret that moratorium clause is to ensure that old growth forests and wilderness that are likely to have high conservation value should not be logged until assessments are complete in those particular areas. There are difficulties that this could cause, but governments should certainly make every effort to locate alternative supplies. That process should be done openly and with the full participation of industry and unions as well as, of course, environment groups.

  The need to exclude wood production from areas likely to have a high conservation value, pending an adequate reserve system being in place, was very much stressed by the previous minister in her dealings with the state ministers concerned. I am sure that policy will be one that will be very actively followed by Mrs Kelly's successor, with all the flair and style of which he is eminently capable.

Senator CHAMARETTE —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. I thank the minister for what I assume was a resounding yes, and I ask: when will the government invoke a moratorium on the logging of old growth forests until a comprehensive assessment of their conservation values is complete?

Senator GARETH EVANS —Presenting further matters of detail in respect of this policy should be appropriately directed to the minister concerned. I will ask him to take that on notice and give Senator Chamarette any response that is appropriate.