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Sun sets on Tuckey's 'new dawn'

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Media Release

Laurie Ferguson, MP

Shadow Minister for Defence Science and Personnel

Shadow Minister for Forestry and Conservation

Federal Member for Reid


28 July 1999




The Premier of Western Australia yesterday confirme d what has been obvious from the outset — that the Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) that he and John Howard signed on 4 May lacked community, scientific and parliamentary support and was unsustainable.


Shadow Minister for Forestry and Conservation, Laurie Ferguson MIP, says the blame for what has happened rests fairly and squarely with the Federal Minister, Wilson Tuckey.


‘From the beginning, Labor warned that the WA RFA process was heading off the rails,’ Mr Ferguson said.


‘While we have consistently supported the national RFA process, Labor insists that the process must have integrity, must provide for public and parliamentary scrutiny, and must address industry development and structural adjustment requirements.


‘Unfortunately, Wilson Tuckey has continually adopted a ‘take no prisoners’ approach and ignored our concerns. He has demanded that the Parliament give him a blank cheque in his negotiations.


‘In the lead up to the WA RFA being signed, the Minister attempted to stand over the conservation movement, the WA Environment Protection Authority, and his very many critics within the Coalition itself.


‘With misplaced confidence, he said on 4 May that the RFA heralded a ‘new dawn’ for the forestry industry in Western Australia.


‘Since then, despite all the evidence to the contrary, he has doggedly insisted that no changes would or could occur to his plan.


‘Wilson Tuckey backed himself into such a corner with his dogmatic and aggressive approach that his colleagues waited until he left the country to announce yesterday’s much anticipated changes.


‘Mr Tuckey claims to have been working to the benefit of the timber industry but has only succeeded in doing great damage to it.


‘Now he threatens to withhold the Commonwealth’s promised industry development funding to the WA timber industry. This would appear to constitute a clear breach of contract.


‘If he manages to get away with such a threat, Tuckey will only end up punishing the timber industry and the workers involved, who clearly now need more rather than less support to adjust to changes in harvesting levels.


‘The Minister’s threats from Finland this morning follows his action last year to suspend structural adjustment funding to the timber industry in NSW in a misguided effort to stand over the Carr Government.


‘One can only agree with Liberal matriarch, Dame Rachel Cleland, that it is hard to respect a Prime Minister who has given the sensitive forestry portfolio to such an unsuitable person.’


For further information:

Laurie Ferguson MP

(02) 9637 4714(eo) or 0418 601716(m)



jk  1999-07-29  09:45