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Hon. John Anderson MP Minister for Primary Industries and Energy
Senator the Hon. Robert Hill, Minister for the Environment

Joint Media Release

East Gippsland Protesters Are Off the Mark

12 June 1997

Primary Industries Minister, John Anderson and Environment Minister, Robert Hill today rejected claims that the East Gippsland Regional Forest Agreement has failed to adequately protect the region's forests.

"As a result of the Agreement, around half of East Gippsland is included within the reserve system," Senator Hill said.

"In East Gippsland we were able to meet all - and in many cases exceed - the nationally agreed criteria for forest conservation. That means that at least 15 percent of the pre-European distribution of each forest type, at least 60 percent of old growth and 90 percent of wilderness areas have been protected."

"In addition the RFA has ensured that processes are in place to ensure the forests of East Gippsland are managed in a way that is ecologically sustainable."

"Protesters in East Gippsland have failed to acknowledge that an additional 1200 hectares of Goolengook forest have been protected in a dedicated reserve as a result of the RFA and that the environmental values of Goolengook are well represented in the overall reserve system," Mr Anderson said.

"The decisions we took in East Gippsland followed a comprehensive scientific assessment that drew on the highest level of academic, State and Commonwealth expertise available."

"At the same time, members of the East Gippsland and wider Victorian community were given extensive opportunities to participate in the process."

"The simple fact of the matter is that the protesters in East Gippsland don't believe that we should be logging native forests at all. While they are entitled to that view, it is not one shared by the Howard-Fischer government or most Australians," Mr Anderson said.

"We believe that the Australian community supports a balanced approach to our forests - they want to see a comprehensive reserve system but, at the same time, they recognise that native forests generate both jobs and income in Australia's regional areas," Senator Hill said.

"The East Gippsland RFA delivers that balance. It delivers a world class reserve system based on good science and increased employment opportunities through the investment that will flow from the 20 years of security," the Ministers said.

For further information:
Robert Haynes, Mr Anderson's office, 0419 493 511
Matt Brown, Senator Hill's office, 0419 693 515

Commonwealth of Australia