Forestry flare-up

A KEY industry group has warned that  it may withdraw its support for the forestry peace deal if the state government's bid to speed up the protection of 395,000 hectares of forests goes ahead. 

Signatories to the forestry peace deal were   taken by surprise yesterday when the government tabled more than 150 pages of amendments to the Tasmanian Forests Agreement 2012 Bill during the first hearing of the Legislative Council inquiry into the proposed legislation.  

The amendments bring forward the protection order process and include detailed information and maps of 295 lots of land that  will make up the first tranche of forests to be protected under the legislation. 

 A list of coupes, totalling 7000 hectares, that  will continue to be logged by Forestry Tasmania up until June is also included.

Forest Industries Association of Tasmania chief executive officer Terry Edwards was ``annoyed and frustrated'' that the government had not consulted  first.

Under the original process, agreed to by the environment and industry groups who brokered the agreement, the signatories would provide a durability report before Parliament considered the protection order that  grants immediate interim protection to the areas listed.  

A separate reserve making order is still required to make the protection permanent. 

Asked if the change would be a deal-breaker, Mr Edwards said: ``It may be''.

The proposed amendments were approved by a forestry subcommittee of cabinet headed by Deputy Premier Bryan Green on Monday.  

FIAT has sought an urgent briefing from Mr Green. 

Yesterday Mr Green said the amendments provided information that MLCs had sought about the exact location and type of new reserves to be created. 

``The amendments also ensure funding to support and restructure the industry can flow as quickly as possible, once the bill passes. The Australian government has said it can't guarantee those funds beyond April, if the protection of agreed areas isn't finalised.''

Liberal forestry spokesman Peter Gutwein described the amendments as a ``complete rewrite'' of the bill. 

``Worse, the government has again demonstrated their absolute incompetence by tabling amendments without consulting signatories,  which could jeopardise the whole deal,'' Mr Gutwein said.

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