MLCs put forestry deal in limbo

THE FATE of the Liberal government's forestry policy remains uncertain, with key Legislative Council members still undecided about whether they will support the bill.

Rumney MLC Tony Mulder

Rumney MLC Tony Mulder

The legislation would open up 400,000 hectares of future reserves to logging in six years' time, with provisions to allow some logging of native forests sooner.

Members of the lower house are expected to vote on the Rebuilding the Forest Industry legislation some time next week, before it is considered in the house of review.

Rumney MLC Tony Mulder has thrown his support behind the legislation, saying the bill would help consolidate the timber industry without tearing up the forest peace deal entirely.

``The government hasn't gone as hard on the (Tasmanian Forests Agreement) as they could have done,'' Mr Mulder said. ``This bill won't tear up the deal with industry, but it does tear up the deal with the environmental movement, who wanted the forests locked away forever.''

While Mr Mulder's position on the legislation is firm, other MLCs said it was still too early to tell which way they would vote.

Apsley MLC Tania Rattray said she would need to understand the full impact the legislation would have on factors including FSC certification, payouts, exit packages and programs before deciding where she stood.

``I want to know where all the pieces of the jigsaw fit before making any commitment on where we go from here,'' Ms Rattray said. ``How we unpick the bill, or turf it, or change it, is really up in the air.''

Launceston MLC Rosemary Armitage said until she heard from all stakeholders, it would be foolish to lock herself into a position on the legislation.

``We haven't yet had the opportunity to speak to enough people to hear all the facts and get a real hold on what's happening,'' Ms Armitage said.

The upper house is expected to debate the bill late next month.

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