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Tuesday, 9 May 1989
Page: 2050


Senator DUNN —Is the Minister for Resources aware that allegations have been made that Harris-Daishowa (Australia) Pty Ltd has been in receipt of unauthorised timber in addition to its prescribed licensed tonnage from the Eden woodchip concession area? Is the Minister prepared to request the records showing the tonnages passing over the weighbridge into the Daishowa woodchip mill at Eden to ascertain the truth of the allegations? Does the Minister have access to information concerning which coupes have been logged under which regime between 1982 and 1989 by Daishowa, and will the Minister release this information if he has it? Will the Minister ask the contractors to provide information on which areas they have logged, and for what, between 1982 and 1989? Does the Minister agree that he cannot make an informed decision about the logging schedule for the south-east forests until he has made an adequate assessment of the timber resource in the south-east forest of New South Wales outside National Estate areas, including areas listed on the interim register? Will the Minister confirm whether he has requested the information necessary to make this assessment from his Department and the New South Wales Forestry Commission and whether the Department and Commission have furnished him with it? In the event that the New South Wales Forestry Commission is either unable or unwilling to furnish the Department of Primary Industries and Energy with this information, will the Minister undertake to carry out his own study? Finally, will the Minister undertake not to make any new agreement with the New South Wales Government regarding logging in the south-east forests or grant Daishowa a new Eden export woodchip licence until he is in possession of adequate information regarding the timber resource outside National Estate areas? On the basis of this information--


The PRESIDENT —Order! Senator Dunn, this is a very long question.


Senator DUNN —I have half a sentence to go, Mr President.


The PRESIDENT —The honourable senator is stretching the application of the Standing Orders.


Senator DUNN —I have half a sentence to go, Mr President, and that is the end of the question. Is the Minister able to state that there are not, as stated in the Heritage Act, prudent and feasible alternatives to logging inside National Estate areas?


Senator COOK —I think I got most of that. The first part of the question that I took down concerns what I understood to be an allegation that Harris-Daishowa is utilising unauthorised timber for woodchipping purposes. The export licences issued by the Commonwealth Government designate from what areas the woodchipper can extract timber for the purposes of woodchipping and for export. I do not think Harris-Daishowa is selling to a domestic market. That does not require export approval. That is the only possible area in which that company could be utilising timber from unauthorised areas. I do not think there is a domestic market to which it sells. If there is, it is very small. It would amount to nothing much at all.

I do not know of the allegation that Senator Dunn has made. I would require more information about that allegation before I could answer the question categorically. However, if the question refers to the residue left over from saw logging operations in the area of the south-east forests-the area of contention; Senator Dunn has asked several questions on this subject in the past-all that residue is being quarantined on the premises of Harris-Daishowa subject to finalisation of an agreement between the New South Wales Government and the Commonwealth Government on the areas of the National Estate and of the south-east forests which should be free of logging operations. More on that later. If the question refers to that, then that timber is not being utilised; it is being quarantined.

Senator Dunn has asked for information about logging between 1982 and 1989, which coupes and how much was taken. We can give her that information. I cannot give the honourable senator that information now. If I could, it would take a lot longer than the rest of Question Time to give it.

I turn now to the honourable senator's other questions, one of which concerned areas in the south-east forest which are not on the interim list. I think it is probably worth taking a second just to make this point: the areas for potential future cutting approved by the Commonwealth are subject to an environmental impact statement (EIS), first of all. That environmental impact statement was carried out by the New South Wales Forestry Commission, and we have it before us. We are constrained not to move beyond the areas that have been subject to an environmental impact statement. For obvious environmental reasons we would need to make an environmental assessment before we decided to do that. The decision of the New South Wales Land and Environment Court in the Jurasius case prevents any cutting in areas that have not been subject to an EIS in the past.

I will refer quickly to the honourable senator's questions, if I can recall them. She asks whether I have requested information from my Department or the Forestry Commission of New South Wales. Yes, I have. She asks whether I am aware of my statutory obligation to find prudent and feasible alternatives. Yes, I am. The reason why I have requested that information is to be properly informed in order to make a responsible judgment on prudent and feasible alternatives so that when I have my next meeting with the New South Wales Minister for Natural Resources, Ian Causley, I am able to have the information base to assert the consideration of the prudent and feasible alternatives. The final comment I should add is that I hoped to have had a meeting with the Minister for Natural Resources in New South Wales before now. I hope that he is looking at his diary and I am looking at mine to find a date next week on which we can have that meeting and finally settle this matter.