The Hon Tony Burke MP
Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities
The Hon. Simon Crean MP
Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government
Senator the Hon. Joe Ludwig
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
Senator for Queensland
Supporting the Tasmanian Forestry Agreement
Joint media release
31 January 2013
Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke today reiterated his commitment to provide certainty for Tasmania’s forestry industry, support local jobs and communities and protect the state’s iconic forests.
Mr Burke said while the State’s Legislative Council is debating the bill, as is its right, important work continues to support the Tasmanian Forests Agreement.
“The work demonstrates the durability of the agreement and the commitment of signatories to seize this unprecedented opportunity for Tasmania and to secure jobs into the future,” Mr Burke said.
“I continue to work with Signatories to ensure the integrity of the Tasmanian Forests Agreement is maintained and the important measures announced in December to support industry and jobs continue to move forward in advance of the passage of the Tasmanian Forests Agreement Bill 2012.
"It includes an extension of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area and next steps in delivering on the transition to a long term and viable native forest industry in Tasmania and supporting jobs and communities.
“The Australian Government got behind this agreement to improve job security in Tasmania.
“Industry has worked hard and argued strongly for the Australian government to help facilitate the agreement. Continuing to unlock the different funding components is a further down payment for jobs and job security.
“The layer of environmental protection which is added today is truly iconic. While it only represents around a 12 per cent increase to the total existing world heritage area and a significant part of it is already in national parks this still provides the highest level of international protection for some of the most extraordinary forests on earth.
“This is to grow jobs now and protect iconic old growth forever.”
Mr Burke said package focuses on a long term future for industry addressing important issues such as use of residues, supply of specialty timbers, certification, durability, and on-going regional development.
"From the processes in the package we will investigate better use of timber in Tasmania in innovative ways such as through bio-ethanol processing," he said.
“Together with the Tasmanian Government we are progressing the package. I have also asked the Tasmanian Government to progress the $15 million High Quality Sawlog Buyback Program and a program for regional sawmillers, so that we have conditional contracts in place that allow funding to flow immediately on the formal protection of the reserve areas identified by the Signatories.
“The Gillard Government will release $ 3 million to develop a management plan to support the special timbers industry and to explore options for dealing with timber residues in the short-, medium- and longer-term and are starting the process to obtain forest stewardship council accreditation.
“The Tasmanian Government has provided funding to support industry’s transition to the future that we hope to achieve when the Legislative Council passes the bill.
Mr Burke also today announced the Gillard Government will put forward a nomination to extend protection of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area by an additional 170 000 hectares.
If supported by the World Heritage Committee this will incorporate areas of forest identified through the Tasmanian Forests Agreement for reservation under Tasmanian legislation.
“The Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area is a spectacular part of Australia, this extension is a critical next step for the Tasmanian Forests Agreement,” Mr Burke said.
“The modified boundary will include the Upper Florentine and areas within the Styx, Huon, Picton and Counsel River Valleys. These areas include a number of areas identified as having old growth forest.
“This comes after an exhaustive process brokering an historic peace and ending decades of dispute over Tasmania’s forest areas.
Regional Australia Minister Simon Crean said that the work to be started on specialty timbers and residues is consistent with the Tasmanian economic diversification strategy, which includes the development of a long-term sustainable forest products industry, with a diversified product base.
“As part of this package I will also convene a meeting of the Economic Diversification Tasmania Taskforce to bring together business, union and community leaders to identify opportunities to diversify and strengthen the Tasmanian economy and generate jobs,” Mr Crean said.
“These opportunities will be lost if the Legislative Council rejects the forests package and pass up the opportunity to secure the more than $90 million in funding to support economic diversification.
“The $20 million funding already provided under the economic diversification stream has the potential to generate more than 4,000 new jobs in areas including the diary, in aquaculture and in the wine industry. Imagine what could be achieved with four times that funding.”
Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Joe Ludwig, said the Gillard Government had always supported the industry working with community organisations to develop a future for forestry in Tasmania.
“Today’s announcement is a demonstration of our commitment to the signatories process and to a sustainable future for the industry in Tasmania,” Minister Ludwig said.
“The Government has taken advice from the signatories and will continue to work with them.”