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Wednesday, 19 August 2009
Page: 5443

Senator ABETZ (5:03 PM) —I rise briefly to comment on some of the points that have been made in relation to Senator Fielding’s orchestrated appearance in the chamber. All I would invite him to do is actually read and consider the detail. I think he might then reflect that his words were not as well chosen as they otherwise might have been. But I say in relation to Senator Fielding that I accept that what he says is in good faith and that he is just personally mistaken as to the outcome of the agreement between the government and the opposition.

Unfortunately, I cannot say the same about the Australian Greens. They seem to live in the world of believing that if you repeat a myth often enough, time and time again, and then pretend to sound sincere in saying it, that somehow myth is turned into a fact. Facts are facts, irrespective of how often somebody wants to repeat a myth. The simple fact is that there are huge tracts of plantation in Tasmania which will be the feedstock for the pulp mill. We all know that. Do we engage in native forest harvesting in Tasmania? Yes, we do—for the high-quality timbers, for the craftsmen, for veneer logs, for sawlogs. But are there special practices under the forest practices code to ensure that threatened and endangered species are looked after? Yes, there are. Senator Brown knows that. He in fact raced to the Federal Court and lost. He appealed to the High Court and lost. We know the facts about this but, unfortunately, Senator Brown and the Australian Greens just find it necessary to come in time and time again to repeat their myths. The simple fact in relation to the pulp mill is that if it does have a furnace in relation to its operations it will be using the black liquid that gets extracted out of the woodchips. The fibre gets turned into the paper and a waste product, the black liquor, will actually be the fuel. It is genuinely renewable. It will be grown in a plantation, will be a waste product from the papermaking operation and we can harness it as a fuel source. And, as we know, in Tasmania more trees than are harvested are planted each year. As a result, Tasmania’s forest estate is in fact growing. Even if you were to burn the totality of the tree, which of course we do not, the carbon dioxide that is released by that tree would be absorbed by the growing of the new tree that is always planted in its place.

Senator Hanson-Young interjecting—

Senator Feeney interjecting—

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator Moore)—I ask senators not to interject or be engaged in conversations across the chamber.

Senator ABETZ —The Greens chuckle, as well as, might I add, foolishly, Senator Feeney, whose government’s policy is in fact to be supportive of what I am saying. I think just his personal dislike of me made him chuckle in such a way that has now embarrassed him and his own colleagues. That aside, we know that in our native forest harvesting we go through a cycle of literally decade upon decade, and that is why our forestry practices are regarded as world’s best.

When I was forestry minister I asked Senator Bob Brown which country has better forestry practices than Tasmania and Australia. For years and years he could not answer, and then finally he foolishly interjected: ‘New Zealand’. New Zealand uses 1.2 tonnes of 1080 per annum in its operations compared to Tasmania’s 1.2 kilograms per annum and ever decreasing. Having been pointed out some of these basic facts, Senator Brown no longer champions the cause of New Zealand forestry. I wonder what other country he points to, given that he no longer relies on New Zealand.

I say to him that, in relation to the wedge-tailed eagle, there are many measures in place to seek to protect it in Tasmania. He knows that to be the case, he knows that to be the fact, but I think he also knows that wind farms in Tasmania have occasioned a toll on the wedge-tailed eagle population—I think more so than any forestry operation has ever done. Having said that, I simply indicate that, as is so often the case with the Australian Greens, if it does not suit their cause, especially their cause of fundraising, they will simply repeat the myths time and time again in the face of objective evidence and in the face of what world practice is, be it anywhere in Europe or be it the WWF report on biomass—you name it. The world is saying that waste wood should be used as a renewable energy. That is what people all around the world are saying other than one group of people, and that is the Australian Greens.

In relation to the first tranche of amendments by the Greens, I indicate that the opposition will be voting against them.