Forestry (Unlocking Production Forests) Bill 2017 passes through House of Assembly

The state government’s polarising forest legislation passed through the House of Assembly on Thursday, with the government desiring to push it through to the Upper House before a two-week parliamentary break. 

On Thursday, the Forestry (Unlocking Production Forests) Bill 2017 was brought before the chamber.

The legislation proposed to scrap the Labor-Green Tasmanian Forest Agreement, overturning a six-year moratorium on logging in 400,000 hectares of Tasmanian forest.

Forestry Tasmania advised the government that if the business continued along the path it was on, it would not be able to meet its sawlog quota of 137,000 hectares, which it was contracted to supply to industry.

But concerns have been raised that Forestry Tasmania’s bid for FSC certification could be complicated by unlocking previously protected forest.

FSC’s policy of association dictates that if Forestry Tasmania deals in timber sourced from High Conservation Value forest, its bid for certification would be nullified.

Resources Minister Guy Barnett said the legislation would reduce red tape, grow the industry and save 700 jobs.

“This bill fulfills a key obligation of the government in facilitating access to wood resources on public land,” he said.

Opposition resources spokesman David Llewellyn said Labor could not support the legislation.

“We take the industry position on forest operations,” he said.

Mr Llewellyn said Forestry Tasmania’s bid for FSC certification would be vital for the government business’ future prosperity, opening up markets and thus allowing it to flourish.

Greens leader Cassy O’Connor said the government’s forest legislation represented “political opportunism”.

“This bill is evidence that [the government is] prepared to sacrifice FSC certification for Forestry Tasmania on the altar of their own political self-interest,” she said.

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