The Tasmanian Greens today called on the Federal Government to make sure forestry exit package money is distributed to wide range of businesses, and is not left open to rorting by head contractors.
Greens Forestry spokesperson Kim Booth MP stressed that there must not be a repeat of the disastrous $17-million dollar Federal Government exit assistance package provided earlier this year, which was rorted by large contractors and saw smaller operators miss out completely.
Mr Booth also said that it was extraordinary that virtually on the eve of the Federal IGA contractors exit package being finalised, the Liberal Party were demanding the IGA be torn up, effectively seeking to prevent the desperately needed $45 million from flowing.
“Now that the liberals have failed to prevent money flowing to contractors, Forestry Minister Bryan Green needs to make it clear to his federal counterparts that he expects head contractors to share any exit package with their subcontractors, tree fellers, mechanics and others who contracted their services,” Mr Booth said.
“These smaller operators risk being left out in the cold when the Commonwealth finalises the details for the exit assistance package.”
“While the voices of the large contractors have been clearly heard in this debate, there are a whole range of businesses servicing the contractors whose bills haven’t been paid, and who also deserve a share of this exit money.”
“The Federal Government must also ensure that contractors receiving exit assistance must exit the industry, rather than just changing the names on the trucks and competing with those who remain.”
“From the Minister’s answer it seems that he has learnt from the failure of the $17-million dollar package and I urge him to lobby the Federal Government to ensure that the same debacle does not occur.”
• LIBERALS MUST EXPLAIN ATTEMPT TO STOP FORESTRY TRANSITION FUNDING
Nick McKim MP
The Tasmanian Greens today dismissed as a negative and time-wasting stunt the Liberals latest attempt to destabilise the Forests Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) by resorting to scare-mongering and misinformation.
Greens Leader Nick McKim MP said many Tasmanians would be looking unfavourably at the Liberals attempt to prevent $45 million flowing to forest contractors to exit with dignity, prevent the protection of high conservation value forests, and deny the state $120 million in regional development funding.
“Despite the Liberals’ protestations of concern for forestry workers and contractors over the last few weeks, their attempt to throw up a distraction by delaying Question Time has exposed that none of the concern was genuine and in fact they have been using the contractors for their own grubby political purposes.”
“It is pretty rich for the Liberals to complain about the lack of legislation before the House, and then waste time with these spurious negative attempts to tear up the only funded forestry transition plan that is on the table.”
“The responsible thing to do is to ensure that the contractors and forestry workers desperately needing the exit assistance presented by the IGA’s $45 million dollars have confidence that will be delivered, but that is exactly what the Liberals want to tear up.”
“The Liberals are trying to rewrite history and are in utter denial that it was the fact that the forest industry was in trouble that instigated industry and union representatives sitting down with conservation groups to find a way forward, which resulted in the Forest Principles of Agreement released in October last year.”
“It is irresponsible for the Liberals to advocate tearing up the only forestry transition plan, especially given they do not have a realistic or viable Plan B.”
Mr McKim also reiterated that the Greens were not Signatories to the Tasmanian Forests Principles of Agreement, or the Tasmanian Forests Intergovernmental Agreement.
• Ula Majewski Nicola Paris, The Last Stand: Global 24 hours of action
This morning, forest campaigners from The Last Stand visited Harvey Norman stores in Melbourne and Hobart to launch a global 24 hours of action targeting Harvey Norman, which will be held around the world on 7 and 8 October.
The Last Stand served Harvey Norman with an ‘Action Overdue’ notice, alerting the company to the upcoming global action and informing them that action on halting the sale of products sourced from Australia’s native forests was long overdue.
‘In 10 days time, the whole world will be standing up and saying No Harvey No! Stop selling Aussie forest destruction! From the streets of London to the white sands of Vanuatu, and at Harvey Norman stores across Australia, the global community will be speaking out against the continued devastation of Australia’s spectacular native forests’ said Ula Majewski, spokeperson for The Last Stand.
Community members will be taking action at multiple Harvey Norman stores in Australia, New Zealand and Ireland, and actions are planned in a multitude of countries, including Canada, India, Colombia, Belgium, Indonesia and South Africa.
‘Today, we have served a notice on Harvey Norman to inform them that action for our world-class native forests is long overdue, and calling on them once again to stop profiting from the industrial-scale devastation of these irreplaceable ecosystems’ said Ms Majewski.
For more information about the upcoming global 24 hours of action, which will held on Saturday 8 October in Australia, go to http://www.thelaststand.org.au/noharveyno24
To download high resolution images of this morning’s store visits, click HERE
• FOREST CLEARANCE MUST END
Labor is Heading in the Wrong Direction
Tim Morris MP
The Tasmanian Greens today said that the recent change to the Permanent Native Forest Estate Policy was a bad change of policy and instead what Minister Green should have announced an end to any further clearance of native forest in Tasmania.
Greens Planning spokesperson Tim Morris MP said that the latest change to the Permanent Native Forest Estate Policy to permit the Minister, rather than the Forest practices Authority, to decide on applications to clear areas larger than the 40 hectares per property per annum will politicise the process, which is likely to deliver worse biodiversity outcomes than the 2009 version of the policy.
“Minister Green has also now given himself the authority to ignore the previous bioregional limit to clearance of 2000ha or 75% of the 1996 limit, which is unwise, unwelcome and unnecessary,” Mr Morris said.
“Given that over 150,000ha of native forest has been cleared and converted in the past 15 years Minister Green should have instead said enough is enough and brought an end to broad-scale clearance and begun working on a phase out of clearance of areas below the 40ha threshold.”
“It is clear that Labor still thinks that native forest is of little value and can be deleted in order to make a quick buck.”
“It is of particular concern that this latest policy change coincided with an announcement by the Premier that Tasman Farms Ltd, which owns the large Woolnorth Estate, intends to expand their dairy production significantly and that they have some native forest remaining on the property.”
“With the current opportunity to increase dairy production at present the priority should be on converting areas of plantation that are for sale and have poor prospects ahead of clearing native forest,” Mr Morris said.