The Tasmanian Greens today welcomed the immediate protection of more than 500,000 hectares of high conservation value forests under the Tasmanian Forest Agreement Bill 2012.

Greens Leader Nick McKim MP said that although the Bill was far from perfect, it delivered a number of significant conservation and economic gains for Tasmania.

“This legislation provides for the immediate protection of more than 500,000 hectares of forest that the conservation movement, backed by the Greens, have been fighting to protect for decades,” Mr McKim said.

“The Styx, Weld, Florentine, Tasman Peninsula, Huon, Blue Tiers and many more areas will receive protection under law, with a pathway toward the creation of formal, permanent reserves.”

“These areas have been the focus of some of bitter conflict and division in Tasmania for a very long time, and it is our hope that this legislation will help to act as a circuit breaker.”

“I understand that many people in the environment movement had hoped for stronger conservation guarantees from this process, just as the Greens did.”

“Although these forests will soon be under interim protection, there are still significant uncertainties over the creation of permanent reserves because of the wrecking amendments inserted by the Upper House.”

“The Upper House amendments delay the creation of reserves and allow either House of the Parliament to use protest or market disruption as an excuse to move a disallowance motion that, if passed, would block formal reserve listing.”

“We need to keep in mind that the power of either House of Parliament to block the creation of any new parks already exists, and simply requires a vote in either House.”

“The right to protest is essential for democracy and must be preserved, but we hope that over time people will see that this legislation can deliver the high levels of forest protection that everyone in the environment movement wants to see.”

“Failure to permanently list these areas in formal reserves will be the fault of the Legislative Council, who took the wrecking ball to the signatories’ agreement.”

“It is also hard to escape the conclusion that the amendments were a politically motivated attempt to destroy the conservation outcomes contained in the signatories’ agreement but avoid taking the responsibility for doing so.”

“We should also not forget that this legislation will unlock hundreds of millions of dollars for regional Tasmania, to help restructure the economy for the twenty first century.”

“It’s a major boost for Tasmania’s economic transition, and will help to transform our economy away from an overreliance on resource extraction into exciting, new, sustainable industries.”

“There’s been a bit of focus in the media on the decision by Kim Booth to vote against the Upper House amendments bill, and the difference of opinion between the State and Federal Greens.”

“We all shared the same deep concerns about the Legislative Council amendments.  The main difference of opinion is on how to best deal with them.”

“We’re very relaxed about Greens MPs holding different viewpoints, and we don’t try to bind our members to a vote in the way that other political parties do.”
“It’s a good sign that democracy is alive and well in our party.”