Today marks a historic turning point for Tasmania and the forest industry.
The Premier, Lara Giddings, and Deputy Premier, Bryan Green, today praised the tireless efforts of signatories from the forest industry, unions and the environmental movement.
When we set out on this journey nearly three years ago few imagined we could achieve what we have today, Ms Giddings said.
This is indeed a historic turning point for Tasmania.
It marks the point where we can put aside old hostilities and take control of the future of the forest industry by responding to the needs and wants of global customers.
I want to thank the signatories for recognising this historic opportunity and for having the guts, determination and resilience to see it through.
There is no other alternative to the worst downturn Tasmania s forest industry has ever seen.
The stark choice was either to adapt to changing global demands or see more jobs lost and the rapid decline of the industry.
Ms Giddings said the legislation passed in the Parliament today delivered protection for 137,000 hectares of forest with high conservation value, including iconic areas like Tyenna, Hastings, Picton and the Upper Florentine.
It also paves the way for Forest Stewardship Council certification and funding for sawmill buybacks and more than $100 million in new regional development projects.
Anyone in any doubt about the importance of this deal to the forest industry need only look to the strong endorsement of companies like Ta Ann, Artec, Neville Smith Forest Products, Bunnings and our own GBE Forestry Tasmania, Ms Giddings said.
That is not to mention the hundreds of workers and small sawmillers represented by the signatories, including the Forest Industries Association of Tasmania, the Forest Contractors Association and Timber Communities Australia.
On the other side we have the mainstream environmental groups, the heavyweights that campaigned strongly against the forestry industry for decades, committing to actively supporting the industry, including endorsing FSC certification.
The Liberal Party has been relegated to the sidelines as the chief cheerleader for the carpers, naysayers and change deniers.
They have embarrassingly found themselves on the wrong side of history yet again.
Mr Green said the State Government was totally committed to implementing the Tasmanian Forest Agreement.
We will continue to work with the signatories to implement the milestones of the agreement, Mr Green said. The Government is in no doubt Tasmanians want this issue fixed.
Agreement has been reached because of the willingness of people to accept the need to adapt to changing market demands and a global downturn.
It has been an extremely difficult time for businesses, forest workers and regional communities.
Now, Tasmania s forest sector and communities around the State can look forward to a much more certain future and the opportunity for this important industry to prosper.
Mr Green said the Government had not wavered in its support of signatories to the agreement.
The Liberal Party has been intent on wrecking the agreement from the start, ignoring the efforts of the industry, unions and ENGOs to reach a lasting resolution.
When strong leadership was needed Mr Hodgman went missing, Mr Green said.