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Conservation and jobs well balanced.

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Conservation and jobs well balanced

DAFF04/176M 20 August 2004

Tourism in Tasmania has increased spectacularly in recent years, at the same time as sustainable forestry operations have continued to play a significant role in its economy and jobs growth.

Australian Forestry and Conservation Minister Senator Ian Macdonald said a protocol put forward by the Tourism and Transport Forum to ban all old growth logging was a reaction to misinformation fed to the group by radical greens.

The group has also called for further protection to the Daintree and the Great Barrier Reef, just months after the biggest conservation effort ever to protect the reef, and after a decade of the Daintree buyback scheme.

“Anyone only needs to look at these three areas to realise the balance between conservation and jobs is spot on,” Senator Macdonald said.

“It does concern me that in the group’s protocol, it has failed to mention that 40 per cent of Tasmania’s land mass is protected under the Regional Forestry Agreement; the increase in protected areas on the Barrier Reef from 4.5 to 33 per cent, and the fact $60 million has been spent on the wet tropics area, including $12 million on the Daintree buyback.

“The Australian Government welcomes any feedback on how it can better manage our forests, reef and rainforests, but to call for a total ban on activity shows a lack of understanding of the balance that needs to be struck to keep alive the communities that sustain tourism.

“The protocol seems to miss the point that native forest operations are a vital part of the entire timber industry, and you can’t remove it without adversely impacting on the entire timber industry.

“The protocol is so riddled with inaccuracies and untruths that I am surprised that leading companies like Qantas, Telstra and the National Australia Bank have put their names to the document as claimed on the ABC’s PM program overnight.”

For example, the statement ignores the fact that:

● more than 10,000 people are directly employed in the forest and wood

products industry in Tasmania, and more than this indirectly ● many tourism destinations are only accessible through forestry roads

● many attractive country towns in Tasmania only exist for tourist

experiences because oftheir underlying timber industry ● 40 per cent of Tasmania’s total land mass, 86 per cent of its old growth

forest on public land and 95 per cent of its high quality wilderness are locked away in reserves ● many national parks around Australia are homes of feral weeds and

animals because of

a lack of State government management funding ● the Commonwealth has spent over $60 million in the last decade on the

wet tropics rainforest of north Queenslandn including money for buybacks ● significant action has been taken to save the Barrier Reef with both the

green zones and the Reef Water Quality Protection Plan.

“One could be excused for thinking that TTF and the Australian Conservation Foundation are running some form of political agenda rather than contributing positively to the advancement of our environment and tourism industries in Australia.”

Further inquiries:

Senator Macdonald's office: David Crisafulli 0400 144 483