The Tasmanian House of Assembly is recalled to debate the Legislative Council amendments to theTasmanian Forest Agreement Bill 2012….
Mr McKim, Leader of the Tasmanian Greens
Mr Speaker, this amended Bill put before us is a dramatically different Bill to that which left this House last year.
It is by no means a perfect Bill, in fact, it is manifestly imperfect in a number of its provisions.
And it must be said that many of the amendments made by the Upper House defer, or reduce certainty around, conservation outcomes. And that, Mr Speaker, is no coincidence.
There is no doubt that the Upper House has amended this Bill so savagely that it no longer reflects the agreement struck by the forest signatories, and that this House now needs to consider how best to salvage an outcome from the Legislative Council’s wreckage.
The Signatories’ agreement would have given peace in our forests a chance.
But we will now never know how things would have played out if the Signatories’ agreement had been faithfully legislated, because the Upper House has tragically removed that possibility from Tasmania’s future.
But despite the Bill’s imperfections, it still delivers some major conservation gains for Tasmania.
It immediately provides legislated protection from logging for over 500 000 hectares of High Conservation Value forests.
These iconic forests, these carbon banks, these global treasures, in places like the Styx, the Weld, the Huon, the Florentine, the Tasman Peninsula, Bruny Island, the Blue Tiers, the Western Tiers and the Tarkine will for the first time in their history have legislated protection from logging. Simply by the passing of this Bill.
The Bill also provides pathways to the creation of 504 000 ha of new formal reserves, including new national parks, and to the achievement of full Forest Stewardship Council certification by the Tasmanian timber industry.
It is true that there remains uncertainty around new reserves, and that the uncertainty is greater due to the Legislative Council amendments.
But the Bill nevertheless provides an opportunity for these reserves, the chance of an absolutely stunning conservation gain, and the Greens believe Tasmania deserves no less.
And it is true there remains uncertainty around the achievement of full FSC, and that the uncertainty is also greater due to the Legislative Council amendments.
But the Bill nevertheless provides the opportunity and a pathway for the achievement of full FSC, and therefore a potentially remarkable transformation in the way the forest industry conducts itself on the ground in Tasmania. And the Greens believe that Tasmania deserves no less.
And importantly, the Bill also reduces the legislated sawlog quota from a minimum of 300 000 m3 to a minimum of 137 000 m3.
These are significant steps towards the implementation of long held Greens policy.
When deciding how to proceed today, the Tasmanian Greens considered many things.
We considered the bitter conflict that has existed over forestry for many decades in Tasmania. A conflict that has placed lives at risk, put jobs in jeopardy, and held Tasmania back from reaching its full potential.
We considered the massive efforts of the Forest Signatories, bitter enemies who came together and who for nearly three years sought in a constructive way to reach agreement on a way forward.
We considered the commitment of current state and commonwealth governments to being part of a solution instead of part of an ongoing problem
We considered the conservation gains I have referred to.
We also considered the letter written to the Signatories yesterday by the Minister for Resources Mr Bryan Green.
We considered that in his letter, Mr Green agreed, amongst many other commitments to:
finalise the gazettals of new reserves under the Nature Conservation Act for the World Heritage Area first ‘tranche’ of reserves with the clear intention that this is achieved by the end of this year
that there is a new Conservation Agreement under the Commonwealth EPBC Act put in force over the entire 504, 000 hectares that doesn’t expire until the gazettal of all new reserves under Schedule A subject to transitional scheduling, which is to be signed by both governments, explicitly including Parks and Wildlife Service, and FT.
transfer the day to day management of the identified future reserve land, the 504, 000hectares, from Forestry Tasmania to Parks and Wildlife Service under a formal service agreement as soon as the Act commences.
supporting the Australian government’s undertaking that it will not approve harvesting of wood, including specialty timbers, within World Heritage nominated or listed areas.
We also considered the Upper House, and our firm belief that to refuse the amendments made by the Upper House, and therefore send the Bill back to the Legislative Council for further consideration, would result in one of only two possible outcomes: either the Bill would be sent back to us in a form that further erodes the conservation gains, or the Bill would die in the Upper House.
We considered that all of the signatories have asked that this Bill be passed through the lower House unamended today.
We considered the statement made yesterday by Mr Bob Annels, Chair of Forestry Tasmania.
A statement in which Mr Annels committed his organization to full Forest Stewardship Council certification, and in which he ruled out logging under any circumstances in the forests nominated for World Heritage status, allowing for a small number of transitional coupes that will be completed within weeks.
We considered the money available from the Commonwealth, the remaining $100 million to assist in the ongoing transformation of Tasmania’s economy that will be one of this Labor-Green government’s greatest legacies to our state.
We considered the $9m per year extra assistance to manage Tasmania’s world class reserve system that will flow should this Bill pass.
We considered the carbon embedded in the forest ecosystems protected from logging, and our responsibility to play a role in reducing global emissions.
We considered that we now have confirmation that the Commonwealth has given a commitment that carbon from forest ecosystems protected by this legislation will be granted additionality, and therefore will be eligible under the Carbon Farming Initiative to be traded nationally and globally on mandatory carbon markets.
Of course, we also considered those parts of the Bill which do not reflect Greens’ policy, including delays in the creation of formal reserves, the maintenance of a legislated minimum sawlog quota of any amount, the sovereign risk provisions, and the amendments which allow either House of the Parliament to use protest or market interference as an excuse to block new Reserves.
I want to be clear that those amendments, which allow either House of the Parliament to use protest or market disruption as an excuse to try and block new reserves do not in any way constitute a ban on protests or market campaigns as some have claimed.
A final consideration included our responsibility to play a constructive role in Tasmanian politics, and to help guide Tasmania to a more prosperous and united future.
We considered the need for a co-operative approach, for people working together to solve Tasmania’s problems rather than lobbing grenades from the trenches.
We believe that’s what the vast majority of Tasmanians want. And that’s what the Greens want to be a part of.
The Greens have had to weigh in the balance the provisions of this Bill that we support, and those that in isolation we would not. But due to the wreckers in the Upper House, the Tasmanian Greens believe that the Bill as amended is a ‘take it or leave it’ package.
And that is why after long and difficult consideration, the Tasmanian Greens Party Room has decided in accordance with our Party Room rules to vote to accept the amendments from the Upper House and therefore allow this Bill to pass through the Tasmanian Parliament today and become law.
• Tony Mulder MLC, in Comments, HERE: Delayed gratification is sweeter! This is not about my performance. The time for words has passed, now is the time for deeds. The industry, government and the ENGOs have all committed to deliver. They have committed to deliver on reserves, FSC certification, speciality timbers, exit packages, investment, etc. It will be hard, I hope they succeed, but if they fail, walk away or give up, then they deserve to be ‘put to the sword!’ I did not fundamentally change anything, all I asked of the Milne, Brown and the Green priesthood is that they delay gratification and earn their rewards - they are much sweeter that way.
• PM: Loggers, conservations must seize deal “The obligation is on the signatories that first came together, the parties who started this process, to do everything they can to use their abilities to silence those who haven’t gone with the mainstream consensus.” • HERE
• Christine Milne: Community and The Australian Greens will not be “silenced” Prime Minister “My fears of a crackdown on democratic freedoms have been realised within 24 hours. I call on the Prime Minister to withdraw her attack on those who have the courage to not be part of the mainstream consensus. “On day one, the Prime Minister of Australia has thrown her weight behind an assault on a fundamental democratic freedom, namely, freedom of speech and non-violent protest by saying: “The obligation is on the signatories that first came together, the parties that started this process, to do everything they can to use their abilities to silence those who haven’t gone with the mainstream consensus.” “It is wrong to threaten the community that if they speak out about what is happening in our forests, or if FSC certification is not given to Forestry Tasmania, then the magnificent forest areas under a logging moratorium will not be reserved. “I will stand with conservationists and the community and will never be silenced, Prime Minister.” • HERE
• Christine Milne: Transcript: National Disability Insurance Scheme, Tasmanian Forest Agreement JOURNALIST: Is Bob Brown, yourself and Peg Putt have all said that apart from Kim Booth the Tasmanian Greens did the wrong thing yesterday, is Nick McKim’s position as leader untenable now? CHRISTINE MILNE: Not at all, Nick’s the leader of the Tasmanian Greens and he has done a great job as leader of the Tasmanian Greens. He has the full confidence of his party room and the Greens party and he will continue to lead the Tasmanian Greens. You have to put yourself into the difficult position that he and his colleagues were in trying to make a decision about what was salvageable. Now there is a difference of opinion as to what was salvageable and the costs of that salvage operation but that’s as far as it goes. We are all committed to getting forest conservation in Tasmania and my job now is to work with everyone on the ground to make sure that those reserves which are out there on the never-never actually become reserved. • HERE
• Nick McKim: Historic step forward for conservation “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.”