$200m promise claim denied

FEDERAL Environment Minister Tony Burke yesterday ruled out a Liberal claim he has promised signatories to the Tasmanian Forests Agreement an additional $200 million.

"I'll rule out the $200 million figure and say that we're working through the rest," he said.

Mr Burke said the way the agreement ended up meant extra funds were required but that the federal government did not have any extra money "sitting around" to fund the agreement.

He said additional funds to date had been largely raised by cutting interstate environmental programs.

Mr Burke was in Hobart to meet stakeholders, including MLCs who will debate the Tasmanian Forests Agreement Bill next week.

He said he wanted MLCs to have a "clear line of sight" as to what is at stake.

"There is no plan B; if the Tasmanian Parliament decides to run the risk that this agreement is not required then that's a decision for the Tasmanian Parliament to make. Certainly I'm hopeful that we can get to an agreement where we see positives all round, where we do see a strong sustainable future for jobs and conservation in Tasmania," he said.

He said his observations of MLCs during the briefings yesterday and on Tuesday night were that they were taking their position very seriously.

"I'm seeing people work genuinely through some really complex issues," he said.

"The questions have been incisive."

He said if the agreement was delayed and Ta Ann carried through with its threat to pull out of the state if the bill was not successful, the government would need to reconsider its position.

"Delay through to next year would mean we were dealing with a fundamentally different market," he said.

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