Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

Question without notice - Parliament House

28 November 2012

DICK ADAMS (MEMBER FOR LYONS) My question is to the Minister for the Environment. Will the Minister advise the House of recent developments around the future of the forestry industry in Tasmania? What does this mean for both the environment and for jobs?

TONY BURKE (MINISTER FOR ENVIRONMENT) Thank you very much speaker and I want to thank the Member for Lyons for the question.

Anyone who knows anything about Tasmanian issues and forestry issues over the past decades would know that there has been no greater champion of making sure you can have sustainable jobs in the timber industry than the Member for Lyons.

He has dedicated his political life to it and it then comes down to the question when we look at the intergovernmental agreement, why is it that we now have situations where people who their entire life have done nothing but try to make sure there are sustainable jobs for timber communities, are saying that this is an agreement that we want.

Because this is within the context of Tasmanian members for years having a view that they are tired of being treated as political footballs. As Tasmanian people out there trying to get solid employment for jobs, then found a situation where they were around the table for the first time.

Those groups who have been part of conservation campaigns sat down at the table with industry and said ‘are we able, with no politicians in the room, to come up with a sustainable plan that will actually give us a way forward for jobs in Tasmania’.

This is at a time where there is massive change happening in the timber industry across the country. You only have to look at the job losses that have been happening in Eden, you look at the job losses that have been happening in mills in South Australia as well to see that there is a massive change going on in the forestry industry way beyond the normal boom and bust cycle that that industry has known.

That is why I think everyone who had sat around the table for two years to come up with an agreement would have been appalled to see the reaction by Senator Colbeck simply describing the agreement in his own elegant way as C. R. A. P.

And that was the description that was put out by the spokesperson for the Opposition in the opportunity that is actually in front of Tasmania right now.

Now I have to say, I have not tried to vary the agreement by one millimetre from what industry have said they need. But everyone should be minded to look at the media release that has gone out from Ta Ann. You don’ have to know much about the timber industry to know that to make the jobs add up you need to have your woodchip part of it, your sawlog part of it and your peeler billets.

All the peeler billets go through one significant operator there TA Anne and they are saying to continue operating in Tasmania they need the support of this agreement. That’s what they need.

And what does the opposition do, the Opposition says ‘oh here is a chance just to do a little bit of political leverage and who cares if you are playing games with jobs in Tasmania’.

No one went to the table, certainly you would not find the Member for Lyons going to the table simply on the basis of conservation outcomes. It’s on the basis that this is a real opportunity, a real opportunity to make sure that we have a sustainable future for jobs in Tasmania at a time of massive transition.

And anyone who is prepared to ignore that needs to know that they are ignoring the needs of Tasmanians on the way through.