More money for forestry deal

THE federal government is expected to announce this week how much extra taxpayer funds it will pour into the forestry peace deal. 

The amount the Commonwealth is prepared to offer - on top of the $276 million inter-governmental agreement - could make or break the historic agreement signed by industry, environment and union groups last week. 

Yesterday, signatories flew to Canberra to meet with federal Environment Minister Tony Burke, Forestry Minister Joe Ludwig, Regional Development Minister Simon Crean and other Tasmanian federal MPs. 

Environment groups are seeking more funding to maintain the new reserves and restore some areas while industry wants extra money for research and development and financial support for people who lose their jobs as a result of the industry shrinking. 

Speaking after the meetings, Forest Industries Association of Tasmania chief executive Terry Edwards would not put a dollar figure on how much was required, but indicated the agreement would be rendered meaningless if their demands were not met. 

``If they don't provide the necessary funding that will probably lead to an adverse durability report,'' Mr Edwards said. 

Under the agreement, which would lead to the protection of 506,000 hectares of forests, the groups will prepare a durability report for State Parliament to consider before approving the protection of any land.  

Mr Edwards said the level of financial support from the Commonwealth would also send a strong signal to the Legislative Council which is still to pass the legislation to enact the deal.

``If the question is asked `can this be implemented effectively?', we'll have to answer honestly because we're under oath,'' Mr Edwards said.  

Mr Burke said he had committed to funding the signatories' proposal in full.  

``I made a guarantee that we would not cherry pick elements of the proposal as I have no doubt if the Australian Government did that, everything would have the capacity to unravel pretty quickly,'' Mr Burke said. 

Deputy Premier Bryan Green said discussions with the Federal Government were progressing well.  

Mr Green all but ruled out using taxpayer funds to prop up the Triabunna woodchip mill if it reopened, after mill general manager Alec Marr said massive government subsidies would be needed.  

``You'd want to see if there were other people interested in running the facility,'' Mr Green said. 

``Let's see what the market says.'' 


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