Slanging match on forestry

LEGISLATIVE Councillors have denied playing politics over the forestry issue in a heated exchange at a parliamentary committee reviewing Government Business Enterprises yesterday.

Resources Minister Bryan Green accused Huon independent MLC Paul Harriss, who has nominated as a Liberal lower house candidate at next year's state election, of wearing a Liberal "hat" in a hearing with Forestry Tasmania.

Mr Harriss suggested that the redevelopment of Triabunna sawmill into a tourism venture meant the end of the timber industry in Southern Tasmania.

Mr Harriss said he was not trying to politicise the issue, adding "it's not part of the game. There's no game.

"Minister, you don't need to wonder what hat I or anyone else has got on," he said.

"We're here as Legislative Councillors performing a role, and you know that."

Mr Harriss is a vocal opponent of the forest peace deal and consistently voted against it in the Legislative Council, most recently attempting to delay the declaration of new reserves until after the federal election in September.

Mr Green said Mr Harriss had politicised the debate "all the way through".

"If you don't think you are playing a game, then I am in a different stratosphere," Mr Green said.

Forestry Tasmania chairman Bob Annells said the business was adapting to the new parameters set in place by the Tasmanian Forests Agreement, and was attempting to balance reducing revenues with a need to support Tasmanian contractors.

Mr Annells said those expecting rapid change in the forest industry would have to be patient, and said the industry was "a lot like the Titanic" in that it was "very, very difficult to turn this thing around," he said.

Chief executive Steve Whiteley said Forestry Tasmania hoped to be able to deliver 10,060 cubic metres of specialty timber sawlogs, 77 per cent of which was blackwood, a year for the next three years.

Mr Whiteley said the long-term specialty timber and residue strategies were under the control of the Special Council, but said Forestry Tasmania was required to provide information on its specialty timber stocks by October next year.

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