Government ready to rush on forests

THE state government is ready to rush through legislation to protect swathes of native forests and set guaranteed wood supply amounts if industry and environment groups can strike a deal before Thursday. 

Premier Lara Giddings yesterday said informal talks were continuing and she did not want to pre-empt ``what I hope we might see in the next 24 hours''.

Framework legislation to protect an unknown amount of forests had already been tabled and was waiting for the key details to be inserted once groups could agree on the figures. 

Ms Giddings said it was still possible to debate and vote on the divisive legislation in the lower and upper houses before Parliament was adjourned until March at the end of this week. 

Even without forestry legislation on the agenda, MPs have a busy three days ahead.

The upper house will start at 9am today, two hours earlier than normal, to get through a long list of legislation on its books before time runs out so that  major reforms to the energy sector, water and sewerage corporations and the Parliament Square development are not held up for months. 

The bill to merge the state's three water and sewerage corporations is unlikely to be passed without changes, with some MLCs flagging their intention to move amendments to make the new single entity more accountable. 

Meanwhile, the Youth Justice (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill, which will give judges more discretionary powers when sentencing young criminals, is likely to be the most significant legislation to be debated. 

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