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Commonwealth urges Gallop to put people, not trees, first.



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SENATOR THE HON. IAN MACDONALD Minister for Forestry and Conservation

Home Back to Media Releases AFFA02/188M 25 September 2002

 

Commonwealth urges Gallop to put people, not trees, first

Federal Minister for Forestry and Conservation Senator Macdonald has accused Dr Beth Shultz of the Conservation Council of WA of deliberately misleading the people of the State over recent comments regarding unemployment figures in the Manjimup and Nannup areas.

Senator Macdonald said that, while he was heartened by the apparent fall in unemployment rates in the two areas over the 12 months to June 2002 released by the Commonwealth Department of Employment, he cautioned against reading too much into them.

“These figures do not fully reflect the decision by the WA State Government to cut jarrah resource levels, as Dr Shultz is suggesting,” Senator Macdonald said.

“To say these figures show the Manjimup and Nannup areas are emerging from an employment downturn is dangerous. Once the full effects of the State Government’s decision to reduce logging have filtered through, the effects on these communities will be significant.

“While the Howard Government has done a lot to assist regional communities, and create employment in areas like WA’s southwest, the Gallop Government appears to be working towards reducing employment opportunities by closing down the wood and wood products industry in the area there by increasing rural hardship,” said Senator Macdonald.

“In fact, most of the money allocated by the WA Government for the southwest following its jarrah cutback policy is directed towards closing businesses, and therefore jobs, and paying compensation to those thrown out of work.”

The statistics the Conservation Council is relying on also do not show how many people may have moved away from the Manjimup/Nannup areas or have withdrawn from the labour force.

Senator Macdonald dismissed claims by Dr Schultz as opportunistic as they failed to take into account the WA Government’s recent decisions that have not yet fully impacted

on the community.

This Gallop Government policy, which was issued prior to the draft Forest Management Plan, has left rural communities and industry in a state of uncertainty until mid next year.

Timber Communities Australia, the organisation that represents the communities of the southwest region, has stated, ‘the WA Government’s actions have led to a range of problems in the area including the withdrawal of investment in rural communities, increased domestic violence and substance abuse.’

“Certainly, none of the statistics issued to date give any credence to the claims made by Dr Shultz,” Senator Macdonald said.

Further inquiries:

Senator Macdonald's office: Kelly Stevens 0405 191 732

   

  Last updated 26 September 2002

URL: http://www.affa.gov.au/ministers/macdonald/releases/2002/02188m.html Commonwealth of Australia 2002