DEBATE on the forestry peace deal is likely to stretch into next week as the government scrambles to provide the assurances necessary to get marginal MLCs over the line.
A proposal guaranteeing the supply of specialty timber, even if it has to be harvested from reserved areas, is the key change in 192 pages of hastily compiled amendments that will be tabled by leader of government business Craig Farrell today.
Signatories to the Tasmanian Forests Agreement have given their approval for the changes but had not seen them until after they were provided to MLCs yesterday.
Despite the last minute changes, the bill is heading for defeat when put to a final vote.
Forest Industries Association of Tasmania's Terry Edwards, a signatory to the deal, said he had not given up of the bill passing.
``There are a couple of legislative councillors who could change their vote if the right set of amendments were to get through,'' Mr Edwards said.
Another signatory, Timber Communities Australia chief executive Jim Adams said MLCs needed to be wary of significantly altering legislation that has the agreement of industry and environment groups.
``If they choose not to add value to it, either directly or by amendment, then the onus is on them to present an alternative,'' Mr Adams said.
The government's changes include a retraction of the fast-tracked proposed reserve process that was included in the government submission to the Legislative Council select committee on forestry in January.
That process, which would have seen 395,199 hectares of reserves established as soon as the legislation took effect, was criticised by industry signatories for knocking out the need for a durability report.
The changes to specialty timber would allow the Resources Minister to authorise the selective harvesting of special timber species in certain reserves if agreed to by the signatories.
Guaranteeing specialty timber supply to Tasmania's wooden boat industry was a key concern of most MLCs including Elwick MLC Adriana Taylor, whose vote is needed to get the legislation over the line.
Mrs Taylor has not yet said which way she will vote, but indicated on Tuesday that she did not think it was possible to fix flaws in the bill without making deal-breaking changes to wood supply or reserves.
Department officials briefed MLCs ahead of today's debate.
Murchison independent MLC Ruth Forrest, Rumney MLC independent Tony Mulder, Windermere independent MLC Ivan Dean and Mrs Taylor are also believed to be working on amendments.
Each MLC will have the chance to speak up to three times on each proposed change, making the final vote unlikely to occur until mid-next week.
Government proposed amendments to the Tasmanian Forests Agreement Bill
Specialty timber will be able to be selectively harvested from nominated reserved areas if the Resources Minister makes an order. The minister will make the order on the recommendation of signatories, if specialty timber demands can't be met from existing forest coups.
A move to create 395,199 hectares of reserves with the enactment of the legislation has been scrapped. Proposed reserve orders will again have to be accepted by both houses of parliament, and the Resources Minister will not be able to make the order until he has received a durability report from the peace deal signatories.
The specifications for category 2 and 8 sawlogs would be included in the Forestry Regulations 2009.
The government would be able to appoint alternative members to the Special Council (made up of representatives of signatories) so long as they are a member of a signatory organisation.