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Wednesday, 2 November 2011
Page: 7991

Senator LUDWIG (QueenslandMinister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Manager of Government Business in the Senate and Minister Assisting the Attorney-General on Queensland Floods Recovery) (15:49): I seek leave to make a short statement.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Leave is granted for two minutes.

Senator LUDWIG: We object to the amendment. Clearly the opposition want to abandon the agreement. This would be a complete disaster for jobs in Tasmania and a disaster for a strong regional future in Australia. The opposition stand not to support the intergovernmental agreement. They move away from forestry in Tasmania. It has been a decision by individual businesses, not a decision by government. It has happened regardless of government. The opposition seek to abandon the agreement. That would take away a significant amount of support that Tasmania deserves. It would take away $40 million in assistance to workers and timber communities, $45 million in support for contractors and $120 million for regional areas in Tasmania and transition to a long-term sustainable future.

I will just make a brief comment in respect of Senator Milne's substantive motion. The intergovernmental agreement on Tasmanian forestry is well underway. Governments are working with industry, environmental groups and the CFMEU in Tasmania to progress the agreement. It has been a community led agreement from the start, and we commend those parties for coming to the table to end the decades of conflict. The government cannot support the motion. It selectively reads parts of the agreement and focuses on those. It does not read the agreement in total. The agreement needs to be considered as a whole rather than certain elements of it being picked for their own purposes. The agreement will provide certainty for the Tasmanian forestry industry, local jobs and communities and protection for the state's ancient forests.