TASMANIAN businesses will still get $100 million in economic diversification promised as part of the forestry peace process even if new reserves are blocked by the Legislative Council.
When the 31 successful projects were announced by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd less than a month ago the federal government confirmed the money was tied to the passage of reserve orders to protect more than 500,000 hectares of forests.
But yesterday Franklin MHR Julie Collins declared the money would flow regardless of the Legislative Council's actions.
The backflip has angered the Greens and conservation groups that have been involved in the three-year negotiation process.
Ms Collins said it was necessary to provide certainty to the businesses counting on the federal funding.
``Jobs are more important than anything else,'' Ms Collins said.
``The money will be available if we're re-elected.''
Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has indicated the funding commitments would be honoured under a Coalition government.
The funding guarantee removes a key incentive for the Legislative Council to support the new reserves, but supporters of the agreement played down its importance.
``This isn't a really big deal,'' Premier Lara Giddings said.
``The $100 million is really important in terms of helping us to build businesses up in the state, including new forestry businesses that can help give our forestry industry a future.''
Tasmanian Greens leader Nick McKim accused Labor of breaching the agreement, but said it was not a killer blow to the legislation.
``Mr Rudd and his federal Labor colleagues clearly cannot be trusted on the environment,'' Mr McKim said.
Wilderness Society spokesman Vica Bayley said he was disappointed and angry but urged the Legislative Council to consider the more serious consequences for jobs and the industry.
On Tuesday, Huon independent MLC Paul Harriss tabled a disallowance motion - the first step in the process to potentially kill off legislation.
Tasmanian Liberal forestry spokesman Peter Gutwein described the development as a humiliating backdown.
``Today's decision confirms that Labor has been trying to blackmail the community into accepting the deal,'' Mr Gutwein said.