In a clear signal they are afraid of Parliamentary scrutiny, the Liberals’ gagged debate on their destructive and divisive high conservation value forest logging legislation in the early hours of this morning.

In using their numbers to cut short the debate, the Liberals tried to claim the legislation - which would not come into effect until 1 July next year - is urgent.  Another Liberal lie.

The gag was pulled to avoid Greens’ scrutiny on the areas of forest they want logged after it was revealed the Bill would give Minister Barnett unfettered powers to grant access to the 356,000 hectares without any public process.

Amendments to the Crown Lands Act would exempt the Minister from any requirement to undertake a public process before granting exclusive access to private companies for a ten year lease, which can be automatically rolled over by the Minister, again without any transparency.

This is a recipe for corruption. 

It would enable the granting of favours to private profiteers to log high conservation value, carbon-rich forests by a Minister legally answerable to nobody, least of all to the true owners of these forests, the Tasmanian people.

Minister Barnett could not logically or coherently deny this in debate last night.

These remarkable forests which strengthen our brand, our economy and wellbeing would be subject to a secretive free-for-all if the Liberals’ legislation passes.

The Greens and the conservation movement will continue to fight to protect the forests of southern Tasmania, Bruny Island, the Tasman Peninsula, Bay of Fires, Binalong Bay, at Blue Derby and the Blue Tiers, along the North East Rail Trail, the Tiers, the takayna/Tarkine and on the West Coast.

Unlike the Liberals who never saw an ancient forest ecosystem they didn’t want to log, we recognise the extraordinary value of these forests to Tasmania and its people.