Battle lines drawn over forestry

Battle lines drawn over forestry

A FACE-OFF over forestry is shaping between Tasmania's two houses of Parliament.

On Tuesday night, the Legislative Council called on the state government to release its legal advice about a $23 million payout to Gunns Ltd for it to exit native forests.

The motion was passed despite warnings from the leader of the government in the Legislative Council Doug Parkinson, and a briefing for MLCs from Solicitor- General Leigh Sealy.

The state government is treating the matter so seriously a meeting was held the following day with Premier Lara Giddings, Deputy Premier Bryan Green, Attorney- General Brian Wightman, upper house President Sue Smith and Deputy President Greg Hall.

No one would comment on the discussion.

Mr Parkinson has warned that he could be found in contempt of Parliament if the government maintains its steadfast refusal to release the advice.

He said MLCs had been duped by the motion introduced by the upper house's only Liberal MLC Vanessa Goodwin.

"I've certainly got concerns and I wanted them to think about their options before agreeing to the motion," Mr Parkinson said.

"There's no doubt that the client-solicitor privilege can be waived but a client would only waive that sort of privilege if it was in their interests to do so."

He said it was the first time in his almost 18 years in the Legislative Council that he had been called on in that way to produce a document.

It's up to the upper house to decide on a penalty, if any, for Mr Parkinson should the advice not be tabled. A spokesman for Ms Giddings said the government was still considering its position in response to the motion, which calls for the advice to be tabled by close of business on Thursday.