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Wednesday, 18 March 1987
Page: 998

Mr SMITH(10.23) —Of course, I was very pleased to second the amendment moved last night by the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Connolly). I congratulate him on his speech in which he objected to this piece of legislation, as did all my Tasmanian colleagues with the exception of the honourable member for Braddon (Mr Miles), who will follow me shortly and will conclude the debate. Also, of course, the honourable member for Denison (Mr Hodgman) would have been speaking in this debate, but because things became rather emotional last night he has been ejected from the House for 24 hours. Be that as it may, someone has already said this morning that in the cold light of the morning we might get some rational thoughts into this debate. I would think that the speech this morning by the honourable member for Lyons (Mr Burr) certainly put down some facts that ought to have been considered by the Government before it brought in this legislation.

Because time is at a premium and it is not possible to answer all the inaccurate information that we have heard from the Government, I will pick up only one point made by the honourable member who just spoke, the honourable member for Jagajaga (Mr Staples); that is, the point about tourism. I would like to read from a report which has the facts on tourism-I will speak more about that report later-because it has been claimed by the conservation movement that in looking for alternatives we ought to be putting more emphasis on tourism. It points out:

Only a small proportion of those tourists who list bushwalking and climbing as desired pursuits make significant wilderness visits. In fact, the Tasmanian recreation land use study plan of 1979 indicated that only seven per cent of people questioned were interested in hiking for distances of more than five kilometres. Quantitative studies done in Victoria suggest that the number of tourist visits to a forest will not change significantly when considerable increases are made in the area set aside for recreation. It is therefore highly unlikely that wilderness promoted tourism would in fact offset these job losses.

It would certainly not offset the anticipated decline in the State's foreign export earnings. The figures I have been given indicate that we would need a 66 per cent increase in tourism to take up the lost jobs, which we have all heard about, and in fact all we are getting at present is about 3.5 per cent increase. One can see the vast gap that is there. What the Government is proposing is not a rational or sensible alternative. Perhaps if it had a closer look at that line of argument that it is putting, it will understand that incredulous response that we are making when it suggests these types of things.

The logging issue, of course, has had a very long history. Mention has been made of the environmental impact statement which was done in 1983 at a cost of $1.3m. It was finished on 16 December 1985. There was constant input from industry, the community and the Tasmanian Wilderness Society. Everyone had an opportunity to put forward their views. That led in time to the memorandum of understanding that was finally signed in December 1985. In December 1985 the Federal Cabinet decided not to accept the recommendation of the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Environment (Mr Cohen) to place an arbitrary ban on logging in National Estate areas, rather, to institute a process of consultation with the Tasmanian Government by which the particular values of National Estate areas would be taken into account in the formulation of management plans. This decision led to the conclusion of the memorandum of understanding-what is known now as the MOU-which was signed by the Tasmanian and Commonwealth governments on 12 June 1986.

The MOU was seen by the forest industries and Tasmanians as an absolute watershed in the ongoing debate on the future of Tasmania's forests. It was thought that the veil of uncertainty that had hung over the industry for the last three years had finally been lifted, and that the industry and the Tasmanian Forestry Commission could plan and invest on the basis of an agreed position of the Commonwealth. Of course, we have heard previously from the honourable member for Bradfield and others about the nine inquiries we have had into the forest industry in Tasmania. Finally, we thought we had something that would put a little certainty back into the industry. Then, of course, out of the blue came that famous letter of 5 November 1986 from the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) to the Tasmanian Premier, ordering a halt to logging operations in the Quamby Bluff and Jackeys Marsh area in northern Tasmania. That was an absolute bolt out of the blue.

It is interesting and, of course, frightening that the Prime Minister's decision in respect of Jackeys Marsh was made without reference to his colleague the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Kerin) and without any consultation with the Department of Primary Industry or even the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. All involved, including the Prime Minister, have since acknowledged privately that Federal intervention on that issue was ill-advised and in breach of the terms of the MOU. I do not know why that happened. But allegations have been made, of course, that a certain New South Wales senator read the results of some polls and got the message across. Of course, he must have drafted the letter.

Mr Goodluck —What is his name?

Mr SMITH —Senator Richardson, a member of the other place. Of course, the letter was floated around for a while and then further discussions took place. It all happened without consultation between the Prime Minister and his departments. This is the man who preached the gospel of consensus. No consultation took place. We saw the complete repudiation of the MOU. Finally, this Bill came forward.

It is important to note that the decision was not about woodchipping. We have heard a lot about woodchipping in the last two days. But it is important to note that it is not solely about woodchipping. The Commonwealth clearly has the power to control exports and woodchip export licences. It is provided that no wood may be exported from National Estate areas without the express permission of the Minister for Primary Industry. Therefore, the Cabinet's decision of 15 December was aimed at domestic operations for local sawmilling, veneer and paper production. It was in flagrant breach of the MOU, which provided that it was for the Tasmanian Government to consider the extent to which it would take into account the Commonwealth's view in respect of forestry operations for domestic purposes. Therein lies the genesis of the problem. We are talking about State governments having control of land use in their own areas involved with domestic logging operations.

The Government seems to be blinkered in its approach, in saying that it is solely a matter of woodchipping; it is not. We are talking about an integrated forest industry in our State and we are talking about that industry being managed properly. Reference has been made to the forest practices code, which I know that the honourable member for Dunkley (Mr Chynoweth) knows all about. I am sure that he would acknowledge that that code is, in itself, a step in the right direction. It is a model code. It leads this nation in terms of how we will carry out forestry practices. We are certainly a long way ahead of New South Wales. By way of an aside I make the point that the people of New South Wales and, indeed, Victoria, ought to watch this debate very carefully because what is happening in Tasmania is but a foretaste of what might happen in their States. The New South Wales Minister for Planning and Environment, Mr Carr-who, I am told, will be Prime Minister of this country one day, heaven forbid-ought to watch himself very carefully because he might find that he will trip up on this issue. He will find out that unionists are concerned about jobs and not about trendy issues.

Several points could be made on the Bill-and I am watching the time carefully-but clause 13 (1) is a pivotal part. It will be interesting to see what the High Court does with that provision, and I would ask the Minister to examine it carefully. Information has to be sought from the Tasmanian Government and if that Government refuses to give it and the High Court supports its position, what happens then to this inquiry? It would be a total sham. There are also other unconstitutional aspects in the Bill which have been pointed out by the honourable member for Denison. Certainly clause 13 radically and unjustly changes the law in relation to the granting of injunctions in a manner never before seen in Australia. Furthermore, clause 14 (c) will allow forcible entry to property in any part of Tasmania, including private property. This is to be authorised where any member or other person considers that forestry resources may be contained in an area. Provisions of that type will be challenged and it will be interesting to see what happens. If one looks closely at clause 19, dealing with compensation requirements, one sees that that is also cause for great concern. It will deny any compensation whatsoever to those who suffer loss or damage, including loss of employment in a secondary or tertiary capacity. We have yet to see how this Bill will work in practice. I merely signal to the Government that I believe certain provisions in the Bill will be successfully challenged and will make this whole proposal for a 13-month delay of logging operations in Tasmania a sham.

One interesting question that needs to be asked is: Following all these inquiries, what new information has become available to prompt the Prime Minister to write that letter to say that there will be no more logging? The Tasmanian Forestry Commission-going back to the genesis of the legislation, it is said that we should be pursuing other alternatives-estimates that the areas described in the schedules to the Bill will provide in excess of 20 per cent of the annual sustainable yield of sawlog for the next 20 years, although they will also provide some 20 per cent of the annual pulpwood cut in that period, there is no question that the pulpwood for export woodchip or domestic paper or pulp production can be obtained by plantation establishment outside National Estate areas. Clearly, there is little opportunity for other alternative sources. Despite the conservation movement's preoccupation with the export woodchip industry, it is the domestic veneer sawn timber and paper industries that stand to lose most if the primary aim of the conservation movement-that is, the creation of a greater Western Tasmanian National Park encompassing at least 30 per cent of the State's land use-is achieved. The point is clearly made that the question of alternative sawlog supplies is not new, but has been addressed extensively by both the Forestry Commission and the industry over the last 10 years. All these inquiries came to the same conclusion, and the industry has been forced to accept the fact that there is no magical supply of sawlogs.

The Australian Heritage Commission has always had a role and has always been standing in the background, which is a topic for another speech bearing in mind its involvement in private forestry arrangements and the difficulties it has put in the way of private operators, but in the last months of 1985 in an attempt to bolster its argument for an arbitrary ban on logging in National Estate areas, it commissioned an independent firm of forestry consultants to review the Tasmanian Forestry Commission's resource estimates particularly in relation to National Estate areas and to report on whether there were alternative management regimes which would enable these areas to be withdrawn from production without affecting industry. In its report Fortech concluded that the Tasmanian Forestry Commission was competently managing the State's forest estate and that the reservation of National Estate areas would inevitably lead to a reduction of wood production of major proportions. So there one has it. It might well be said that the acceptance of the conservationists' assurances over that of an independently commissioned report available to the Government is more a matter of politics than logic. That brings me to reason why we have this legislation: It is merely a matter of politics.

There is just one other matter that I wish to mention-the Lemonthyme State Forest. We have heard all about the Lemonthyme State Forest. If we look carefully at what has happened in the Lemonthyme we will see that in 1983 a management plan was prepared by the Tasmanian Government-I see the honourable member for Dunkley looking at it; he would be well aware of this management plan and I am sure that he has read it, but I note that in his speech he did not care to quote from it. Let me read to the House the objectives of this plan:

Management objectives shall be:

1. To ensure that the area continues to provide water, natural, recreational and other cultural values.

2. To organise forest operations to provide continuity of supply to the milling and pulpwood industries and stable decentralised forest employment.

3. To organise integrated use of the forest managed for wood production.

Because the Lemonthyme State Forest adjoins the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, careful consideration was to be given to the impact of forest development on the users of the national park and values other than wood production would have been given a high priority. All the things that honourable members opposite have been talking about are in this plan which was formulated in 1983 and accepted by the Forestry Commission. The Commission instituted all the necessary management arrangements to ensure that those objectives were met. I have been down to the area, the spokesman in the Senate from the coalition, Senator Collard, has been down there, as has been the honourable member for Bradfield and many others. The honourable member for Wide Bay (Mr Millar) who spoke exceptionally well and in a very balanced way yesterday has also been there. Those on the other side who say that they have not heard balanced speeches should go back and read the honourable member's contribution.

Let me return to the comments made by Senator Walsh-someone from the Australian Labor Party-who said in the Senate on 18 February 1986:

. . . the Tasmanian Forestry Commission in 1983 published a management plan which took into account the then established values of the Lemonthyme. . . The Government does not propose to limit logging in the area beyond those limits already proposed in the Tasmanian Forestry Commission's 1983 management plan.

What has caused the change? Senator Richardson has caused the change. Way back then Senator Walsh accepted the management plan, as would any rational person, but now we have seen a complete and total change, prompted by a letter from the Prime Minister to our Premier. Therefore, there is no doubt that the Federal Government has already approved logging in the Lemonthyme based on the 1983 management plan. That was so when Senator Walsh made those statements. But something changed, dramatically and completely. Of course, those polls that Senator Richardson has been reading have changed his mind.

I went along, as I often do, to the rallies and meetings that we have had in Tasmania about the logging issue and last time I took the trouble to record quotes of the speakers. I found these very interesting. Two of those speakers were Mr Gary Weaven-I do not know anything about him, but I understand that he is a bit of a big wheel in the Australian Council of Trade Unions-and Paul Lennon who is the Leader of the Trades and Labor Council in Tasmania. I do know Mr Lennon and I believe him to be a person who has a balanced judgment. Whilst I have disagreed with him on many occasions about union matters, I feel that he approaches things in an unemotional fashion and he is certainly trying to do the best for his members. To get it in the record, I wish to quote these speeches so that honourable members opposite can see that the people who represent the workers, both in Tasmania and nationally, disagree with what this Government is trying to do. Some of the figures involved illustrate the argument well. Paul Lennon said:

Eleven per cent of our State is already world heritage. A further 16 per cent is in national park . . . The Wilderness Society want to make 30,000 Tasmanians jobless.

The Wilderness Society is manipulating the genuine conservationists.

We must look after our forests and manage them in a balanced way-

that is what I say-

That is the view that the industry is taking and hopefully it will be the view that the Federal Government will take.

Fifteen per cent of Tasmanians rely on the forest industry for their jobs . . . That's what the industry is worth, it's worth 30,000 jobs and $260m a year. And in addition to that, in the areas that the greenies want to lock up is all our mineral resource, and another 7,300 jobs. Bob Hawke-

and this is the important part-

has said he has got to get the youth vote. Well I would have thought that the best way to get the youth vote is to get them a job, not to give them another national park.

I certainly applaud those sentiments. It is a pity that the Party that is introducing this legislation does not listen to the people whom it claims to represent. Let us listen to Mr Gary Weaven from the ACTU. He said:

One hundred thousand plus jobs are involved in the forest products industry throughout Australia . . .

. . . `This industry in its totality is more important to Australia and Australian workers than the motor vehicle industry or the textile industry or indeed our wheat and wool industries . . . . We understand . . . . . very well the way in which the national estates listing issue is being manipulated . . . . the policy of the Australian Conservation Foundation states, amongst other things, `total opposition to export of forest products'. Now that is a very good example of faceless lunacy at a time when clearly this nation is hamstrung by its inability to sell enough overseas to pay for the goods that we import . . . . . the Federal Government reached a Memorandum of Understanding with the industry as to the appropriate management and utilisation of the forests and that must be honoured.

Both those speakers were met with rapturous applause for those sentiments. It is a pity that people from the Federal Government were not there to listen and take note of it.

The final thing to which I wanted to draw the attention of honourable members is an independent report which has been prepared in Tasmania by a consultant and which was commissioned by a group of very responsible people in Tasmania. Honourable members cannot say that they were faceless men because I will tell them who they are. They are from the Tasmanian Chamber of Industries, the Forest Industries Association of Tasmania Ltd, the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association, the Master Builders Association of Tasmania, the Hobart Chamber of Commerce, the Tasmanian Logging Association and the Tasmanian Chamber of Mines. The report is fairly short and detailed. It sets out who works where and what value things have. It mentions mining, forestry, hydro-electricity and tourism. The very important thing about it is that, on the front of it, it points out that `one in four Tasmanian jobs depends on a balance between environment and employment'. That is all we want-a balance between environment and employment. We do not ask for anything more. We do not want any further delays. We have had nine inquiries. The interesting thing about this report is that at the ALP conference in Hobart on 4 July 1986 this pamphlet was given to every member of the ALP when they were discussing their national parks policy. I wonder whether they read it. Because they have already seen it, I seek leave to have this document tabled in the Parliament so that the members who have--

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Leo McLeay) —Is leave granted?

Mr Barry Jones —I have not seen it.

Mr SMITH —All members opposite have seen it. It was delivered to them at the ALP conference. Through you, Mr Deputy Speaker, I seek leave of the Minister for Science to table it.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —It can be shown to the Minister who may then decide whether leave is granted.

Leave granted.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —The honourable member's time has expired.