MP outrage over ‘conflict’ links

TASMANIAN Greens MPs are outraged that Resources Minister Paul Harriss linked a poster against the state government’s forest policy to conflict diamonds.

Resources Minister Paul Harriss

Resources Minister Paul Harriss

Mr Harriss told State Parliament yesterday that the poster, authorised by Bass Greens MHA Kim Booth, was made up of ‘‘deliberately misleading statements designed to stir up trouble and reignite the forest war’’.

The poster appears on the Green’s Facebook page and depicts a heavily forested area with the statement: ‘‘‘Tas forest products are conflict forest products – thanks, Liberals.’’

‘‘The deliberate use of the phrase ‘conflict forest products’ is clearly an attempt to link the Tasmanian forest industry with people who work with conflict minerals and conflict diamonds in Africa,’’ Mr Harriss said.

Parliament erupted, and Denison Greens MHA Cassy O’Connor said the allegations were ‘‘offensive and unfounded’’. Ms O’Connor sought to move a censure motion against Mr Harriss, but it was voted down by the government.

She said conflict diamonds were associated with rape and murder, and the government had offended anyone who had experienced rape.

Mr Harriss said the Greens were trying to ‘‘demonise Tasmania’s forest industry with disgraceful slurs linking it to mass murder, rape, slavery and extortion’’.

‘‘These terms are well understood, and defined by Amnesty International, as referring to the black-market sale of resources by rebels and warlords to fund their campaigns of unimaginable violence,’’ Mr Harriss said.

‘‘I, like Ms O’Connor, am highly offended by the content of that poster, they should take it down from their Facebook page,’’ he said. He denied the accusation was a stunt.

Opposition Leader Bryan Green said Mr Harriss was ‘‘inciting war over forestry’’.

‘‘Instead of getting on with the job, Mr Harriss proved again today he is only interested in doing all he can to promote conflict and division in Tasmania communities,’’ Mr Green said.

‘‘That is not leadership, it is not acting in the best interests of the forest industry.’’

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