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Wednesday, 28 November 2012
Page: 13727


Mr ADAMS (Lyons) (14:52): My question is to the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. Would the minister advise the House of the recent developments around the future of the forests industry in Tasmania and what this means for jobs and the environment?

Mr BURKE (WatsonMinister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities) (14:52): I want to thank the member for Lyons for the question. Anyone who knows anything about Tasmanian issues and forestry issues over the last decades would know that there has been no greater champion of making sure you can have sustainable jobs in the timber industry than the member for Lyons. He has dedicated his political life to it.

It then comes down to the question, when we look at the intergovernmental agreement: why is it that we now have a situation where people who have their entire lives done nothing but try to make sure there are sustainable jobs for timber communities are saying this is an agreement that they want? This is in the context of Tasmanian members for years having a view that they are tired of being treated as political footballs. Tasmanian people out there trying to get solid employment then found a situation where they were around the table for the first time. Those groups that had been part of conservation campaigns sat down at the table with industry and asked, 'Are we able, with no politicians in the room, to come up with a sustainable plan that will actually give us a way forward for jobs in Tasmania?'

This is at a time when there is massive change happening in the timber industry across the country. You only have to look at the job losses that have been happening in Eden, or to look at the challenges that have been happening in mills in South Australia as well, to see that there is a massive change going on in the forestry industry, way beyond the normal boom and bust cycle that that industry has known. That is why I think everyone who had sat around the table for two years to come up with an agreement would have been appalled to see the reaction from Senator Colbeck, simply describing the agreement, in his own elegant way, as c-r-a-p. That was the description put out by the spokesperson for the opposition of the opportunity that is in front of Tasmania right now.

I have to say I have not tried to vary the agreement by one millimetre from what industry have said they need. But anyone should be minded to look at the media release from Ta Ann. You do not have to know much about the timber industry to know that, to make the jobs add up, you need to have your woodchip part of it, your sawlog part of it and your peeler billets. All the peeler billets go through one significant operator there, Ta Ann, who are saying that to continue operating in Tasmania they need the support of this agreement. That is what they need. And what does the opposition do? The opposition says, 'Here's a chance to get a little bit of political leverage, and who cares if we're playing games with jobs in Tasmania?'

No-one went to the table. Certainly you would not find the member for Lyons going to the table simply on the basis of conservation outcomes. It is on the basis that this is a real opportunity to make sure that we have a sustainable future for jobs in Tasmania at a time of massive transition. Anyone who is prepared to ignore that needs to know that they are ignoring the needs of Tasmanians on the way through. (Time expired)