Abbott to chop forest deal

CONFIRMATION the historic forest peace deal is in the process of being unwound has been revealed in a letter from Prime Minister Tony Abbott and obtained by The Examiner.

Mr Abbott wrote to state Opposition Leader Will Hodgman on Thursday confirming the federal government's intention to tear up the deal.

Mr Abbott revealed that Environment Minister Greg Hunt will write to the World Heritage Committee as soon as January to try and de-list 170,000 hectares added to the Tasmanian World Heritage Area. 

``I am writing to confirm the Australian Government's intention to honour its election commitments regarding Tasmanian forestry,'' Mr Abbott wrote.

Doubts were cast over the Federal Government's commitment to tear up the deal when  $7 million was provided for the management of reserves earlier this month.

Mr Abbott stated in the letter that he will prevent any further `lock ups' of Tasmanian forests and will extend the Regional Forests Agreement, starting with Tasmania.

Wilderness Society campaign manager and signatory to the peace deal, Vica Bayley, said there was no one from industry calling for this move.

``In fact it's the reverse, they've been asked to not proceed with this flawed policy that can only have a perverse effect on the industry,'' Mr Bayley said.

State Environment Minister Brian Wightman accused Mr Abbott of showing a lack of concern for the state.

``The Tasmanian Forest Agreement is paving the way for the establishment of a sustainable, long-term and successful forest industry.

``But the federal and State Liberal parties are hell bent on taking the industry backwards and removing any chance for Tasmania to market its products,'' Mr Wightman said.

The first lot of reserves created under the peace deal came into effect last week, with almost 100,000 hectares being permanently protected. 

There are still up to 300,000 hectares on temporary protection  that are unlikely to be permanently protected before the state election.

Bass MHR Andrew Nikolic said there were no surprises.

``All we are doing is keeping our promises,'' Mr Nikolic yesterday said. 

Despite Mr Abbott's commitment to tearing up the deal any legislation repealing the agreement will need to be passed by both houses of state parliament.

State opposition forestry spokesman Peter Gutwein said the Liberals would be seeking a mandate from the Tasmanian people at the election.

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