Warning against major change to bill

THE state government will not accept substantial amendments to the Tasmanian Forests Agreement Bill, Premier Lara Giddings said yesterday.

The bill, which will be discussed in the Legislative Council this week, has seen MLCs subjected to intense lobbying from both side of the debate.

Ms Giddings said that if substantial amendments were supported by the Legislative Council, the legislation would not be a peace deal.

``We are in a very difficult position,'' she said.

``Industry has asked us to implement the agreement they reached. If Parliament goes and changes the agreement, if there are amendments, we would have to sit down with the Legislative Council and convince them to not go ahead with the amendments.''

At least two industry groups that  signed the agreement are pushing for the Legislative Council to amend the legislation to better reflect the deal they signed.

The Wilderness Society's Vica Bayley has said signatory environment groups would not oppose amendments that better reflected the deal that was signed.

A group of more than 30 boatbuilders, crafts people, artists, designers and processors are among those supporting the deal, and will today present MLCs with an open letter urging them to pass the legislation.

 ``This letter demonstrates strong support across the specialty timber sector for the Forest Agreement as a way forward,'' woodworker Kevin Perkins said.

Tasmania's 12 regional councils have collectively written to MLCs, saying regional communities have no confidence that the agreement will end conflict in the forests and that it was their view that the industry will be destroyed with little or no benefit to Tasmania.

The Institute of Foresters of Australia has also written to the Prime Minister and Premier outlining its concerns with the agreement, and  Tourism Industry Council Tasmania has written to MLCs, saying the agreement ``as it currently stands'' does not allow for the long-term tourism potential of affected regional areas to be realised.

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