Lennon supports forests bill

Former premier Paul Lennon has backed the forest peace agreement, as lobbying of MLCs intensifies before their vote next week.

Yesterday he wrote to a key opponent of the deal, George Harris, asking him to support the deal and associated legislation as it was critical to Tasmania's dwindling forestry industry.

Mr Lennon is considered a stalwart supporter of the industry and claims it is not just Ta Ann Tasmania that is hoping the deal will succeed.

Ta Ann has vowed to build a $10 million plywood mill in the North if the deal goes through, and Mr Lennon said Northern woodchip exporter Artec also supported the agreement. 

''I am convinced that industry has done the very best job they could [in putting together the deal with environment groups] and that we need this deal now,'' Mr Lennon said.

''But I also understand the trauma that this is having on supporters of the industry, who have fought against radical environmentalists and are trying to come to grips now with being asked to trust them.''

Pressure from industry is growing, with the owner of Neville Smith Forest Products also backing it yesterday. 

Neville Smith operates facilities in Bell Bay, Launceston and in the South.

Mr Lennon directly emailed Mr Harris, who is the president of the Huon branch of Timber Communities Australia, and the TCA's wider membership.

Mr Harris wants MLCs to scuttle a bill that underpins the deal, and is inviting them to attend a ceremonial burial of the agreement's ``coffin'' early next week. 

TCA members voted against the deal, but its board supported it anyway. 

Formal briefings for MLCs on the legislation will start Monday and are likely to stretch into Tuesday, so debate may not start until Wednesday.

Yesterday, more than 1200 people had signed an online petition calling on MLCs to reject the Tasmanian Forests Agreement Bill, and more than 550 had signed an online petition for the Legislative Council to support the bill.

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