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Friday, 8 November 1985
Page: 1866


Senator SANDERS(4.07) —We have the Tasmanian devil, we had the Tasmanian tiger until it was completely exploited and wiped out and we now have the Tasmanian troglodytes-politicians who still have the same views as their ancestors had when they arrived in Port Arthur in 1835. These people are completely out of touch with the twentieth century. We now have this matter of public importance. It is a matter of public importance but, unfortunately, a bobtailed debate as usual. Everything that is important in this Senate seems to be cut down in size to a very short debate. Why has this matter of public importance been brought on for debate? An election will be declared in two days time in Tasmania and Opposition senators are trying in every way they can to get attention for the Gray Government. What is the Gray Government doing? The Gray Government is giving away-in fact it is paying the Japanese to carry away-our forests. The Gray Government is paying the Japanese $25m a year in subsidies.


Senator Watson —Where did you get that from?


Senator SANDERS —The Centre of Environmental Studies at the University of Tasmania has done a study which shows that the Japanese are being paid $20m in direct and indirect subsidies to haul our forests away. It makes no sense at all.

We have heard talk about mainland interference. Our friends in Tasmania, the Gray Government and Senator Shirley Walters have all talked about mainland interference. Who owns the woodchip companies? Tasmanians? Not on your nellie. No way. North Broken Hill Holdings Ltd owns Associated Pulp and Paper Mills Ltd and the Tasmanian Pulp and Forest Holding Ltd, the woodchippers. The Adelaide Steamship Co. Ltd owns 50 per cent of Petersville Industries Ltd, which owns Forest Resources. Are these Tasmanian firms? No, they are not. If Tasmania does not want mainland interference why does it not kick out the mainland firms that are milking Tasmania's economy, skimming the cream?

Woodchipping was intended to take the saw- mill waste. It has ended up now taking the best timber. Talk to any saw-miller in Tasmania. Can he get the best logs? No. They go to the woodchippers. It was intended to be a pilot program and then pulp mills were going to be built. No way! That has not happened. What has woodchipping really done to the State? What has it done to the roads? There have been a number of articles in the Press. I have one from the Mercury which members of the Liberal Party of Australia should like to read because, of course, it is a Liberal newspaper. The article, which is headed `Council Seeks Compensation for Log Hauling Damage: Threat to Close Road in Circular Head' states:

The Circular Head Council has threatened to close roads in the municipality unless it can get some compensation for damage caused by log trucks.

What about the tourist industry? Again the Mercury under the heading: `Fears about State Logging' states:

There is growing uneasiness in the Tourist Industry about increasing logging activity in Tasmania, the chairman of the Tourist Council, Mr Spencer Logue, said yesterday.

What about the logging industry itself? In the Burnie Advocate there is an article headed `Woodchip Companies Criticised'. Who is criticising the woodchip companies? Is it the greenies? No. The article states:

The Tasmanian Logging Association has blamed the attitude of some of the woodchipping companies for the severe financial problems faced by many of the State's logging contractors.

The logging contractors are even against woodchipping. Let us consider jobs. The woodchip industry came in in about 1973 and since that time more than 4,000 jobs have been lost in the forest industries in Tasmania. One-third of the jobs which existed in 1973 have been lost. That was the first year of full scale woodchipping. Jobs were lost in all sectors-1,300 jobs were lost in saw-milling and wood products, 700 jobs were lost in pulp and paper making, 100 jobs were lost in woodchip mills and 1,900 jobs were lost in forestry and logging. This is in spite of a situation of complete open slather on Tasmania's forests. Why does this happen? Why do we have this open slather? For instance, what about the Tasmanian Forestry Commission? How much does the Forestry Commission control industry? Not an awful lot. An article which appeared in the Australian Forest Industries Journal of February 1980 contains an interview with the Chief Commissioner of the Tasmanian Forestry Commission, Mr Paul Unwin. It is a candid view-an overly candid view from the Commission's standpoint-of how the Minister and the Forestry Commission view the forest industry in Tasmania. That article refers to how the Forestry Commission is protecting industry. This question is asked by the editor:

So if you have a Minister or a Cabinet not deeply interested in forestry this could cause a lot of trouble for the industry?

The Chief Commissioner replied:

Exactly so, the Commission could be forced to accept the amendments. So, to overcome this problem we have introduced into the Bill a clause which says that the Minister cannot-quite categorically-cannot make an alteration to a Forest Management Plan unless he has received a certificate from the Forestry Commission stating that the proposed amendment will not in any way affect the rights of the forest industries. To achieve acceptance of an amendment the industry has to approve it in writing.

This is the Commission which prepared, in conjunction with the industry, the woodchip environmental impact statement. It is obviously committed to woodchipping. What about the people? What do they really think about this industry? They think about woodchips in a reasonable and common-sense way. A recent Spectrum poll in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney showed that around Australia 82 per cent of people are opposed to wood chipping. In Tasmania a Wilderness Society poll in February this year showed that about 50 per cent were opposed. The Tasmanian Australian Labor Party branch had a secret poll which showed that over 50 per cent of the people interviewed in Tasmania were opposed to woodchipping in Tasmania. Even in Tasmania where people are subject to this propaganda by the State Government and brainwashing by the woodchip companies, they are opposed to woodchipping.

One thing that very rarely gets any attention is the harm and damage to the animals who live in the trees that are chopped down in woodchip areas. They live in the hollows of the old trees which Senator Walters said are unproductive and which should be got rid of. When the trees are chopped down the animals either fall to the forest floor where they are crushed or stay in the hollows in the trees, in which case they may get woodchipped. If they survive on the forest floor the felling operation and the heavy equipment used, they will no doubt die in the burning operations that follow. The Forestry Commission burns every area. If the animals manage to survive the burning operation or if they are burnt and weakened, having lost their habitat, the Forestry Commission comes in once again with guns and 1080 to eliminate the rest. The loss of animals is pathetic. A very conservative estimate is that over 250,000 animals are killed every year in Tasmania. The only logical approach for this Government is not only to adhere to the suggestions of the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Environment (Mr Cohen) but to strengthen them to preserve Tasmania's forests for the future, in terms of the environment and also to preserve jobs in Tasmania because to do less will lead us down to economic disaster.

Debate interrupted.