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Democrats say "We cannot continue to clear our forests": old growth logging is unsustainable, jobs are shrinking, profits go overseas.

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Senator Andrew Bartlett

Australian Democrats’ Environment Spokesperson


1 February 1999



Democrats say “We cannot continue to clear our forests”

Old growth logging is unsustainable, jobs are shrinking, profits go overseas


“Jobs in the native forest sector will dwindle over the next few years and any communities who rely on that income will be in a perilous state” said Democrat Environment spokesperson Senator Andrew Bartlett.


Senator Bartlett was commenting on evidence presented on the first day of the two day Committee hearing into the Regional Forests Agreements Bill.


“The myth about jobs in the native forest industry has been debunked.  It is not only environmentally unsustainable to log old growth forests, it’s economically unsustainable,” said Senator Bartlett.


Under Democrat questioning today both the National Association of Forest Industries and the Unions admitted the ongoing trend for jobs in that sector was downwards.


Senator Bartlett said “Small communities face a bleak future if they continue to be reliant upon a shrinking native-forest industry.  However, plantation forest sector jobs are increasing, despite the heavy subsidies the native forest woodchip industry receives.


“It is economic irrationalism to continue the subsidies to the native forest sector.  Not only are we paying to get rid of our forests, even the industry admits the profits mostly go overseas,” he said.


Senator Bartlett also criticised the short time-line of the inquiry, due to report by the 15th February 1999.


“There is great concern in the community about logging and the committee received over 300 submissions.  However, the Government’s insistence on such a short time line has meant that no members of the committee and no witnesses will have read all the submissions before hand, which is a serious deficiency in the process.


“Tensions are high, as activities outside the hearing today demonstrate.  This issue deserves more consideration than the Government has been prepared to allow.  A reporting date of February 15 will not do justice to the complexity of the issue and the level of community concern,” Senator Bartlett concluded.



For further comment contact Senator Andrew Bartlett on 0418 743 789.