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Labor's proposed Senate amendments on RFA Bill feared by the timber industry and CFMEU.

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Media Release

The Hon Wilson Tuckey, MP

Minister for Forestry and Conservation and Minister assisting the Prime Minister




7 June 1999





The Federal Minister for Forestry and Conservation, Wilson Tuckey has tabled in the House of Representatives today a detailed set of proposed Labor amendments that would have the effect of destroying resource security for the timber industry set out in the Government's RFA Bill.


The timber industry in the electorate of Corangamite and throughout Victoria whom I have visited in recent weeks have definite concerns regarding the future of their jobs and their businesses.


In the town of Colac some 300 people attended a meeting organised by the CFMEU to express their concerns and in particular their fears and anger that the Federal Labor Party is determined to scuttle the Government's RFA legislation in the Senate.


During my visit in Corangamite I also had discussions with executives of the wood chip exporter Midway Pty Ltd. Midway is owned by a consortium of Victorian sawmills and its operations are essential to the viability of these saw mills.


Midway has informed me that if they are not confident that the Victorian RFA process can be completed by December they will cease purchasing product throughout Victoria in September,


I have advised Midway I am confident of completing all conditional RFA processes by that time.


I cannot however guarantee the passage of our RFA legislation through the Senate which is equally important to a firm like Midway which creates the jobs throughout country Victoria.


I am now in possession of the Labor Party's proposed amendments to the Government's 8 clause RFA legislation.


'If passed by the Senate the completed WA RFA and all future RFAs such as the 3 in Victoria, 4 in New South Wales and 1 in Queensland be subject to Senate disallowance. Labor's proposed amendments further includes 11 opportunities for litigation after the event, plus it places severe constraints upon a company damaged by the acts of a future Government to receive compensation.


These proposed amendments are designed to scuttle the whole NFPS process and to remove any incentive through resource security to encourage investment in forest products industry.


In South Australia recently two long standing Labor Party MPs steeped in the traditions of the Labor Party have decided to cross the floor on an issue of grave importance to the state of South Australia.


Not for them the principle that their job is more important than their constituents jobs and futures. In this Parliament 5 Tasmanian representatives and 5 Tasmanian Senators are working against their State's best interests.


Now Victorian Labor MPs and Senators are doing the same.


Why is the Labor Party doing a backflip on its own 1992 National Forest Policy Statement?


Don't worker's right count any more?


I call on Labor to drop these destructive amendments and instead vote for the interests of timber workers in regional and rural Australia.





cm  1999-06-09  15:07