Greens back Forestry Tasmania funding cut

THE Greens have reversed their position on a bail-out package for Forestry Tasmania, announcing yesterday they would back the Liberals' plan to slash funding for the ailing state-owned forests manager.

Tasmanian Greens leader Nick McKim yesterday identified $265 million in savings over the forward estimates.

Forestry Tasmania and the travel and communication budget would take the biggest hits.

The Greens plan to strip $55 million from the Forestry Tasmania contingency fund, leaving the struggling business with just $15 million from the taxpayer for the next three years.

In 2012, Mr McKim did not oppose the first $20 million transfer of the $110 million fund to Forestry Tasmania to pay for its community service obligations.

Forestry Tasmania has since received $40 million of the amount allocated in the budget.

Mr McKim said yesterday the Tasmanian forest industry should stand on its own two feet.

"Subsidies into that industry are monies that don't go into schools, hospitals and other essential public services," he said.

Mr McKim said the Greens would give Forestry Tasmania up to two years to renegotiate contracts with business partners to get a fair return for Tasmania's native forest products.

The Greens would also defer 20 per cent of the $110 million road funding package that the Liberal and Labor parties have committed to.

With just over a week until the election, the Greens expenditure commitments so far total about $130 million.

Under the Greens fiscal strategy the budget would be back in surplus in 2018-19.

Mr McKim criticised Liberal Leader Will Hodgman for promising to deliver a surplus within the first term of government without releasing any figures to back it up.

"If he cant do it, he's broken his word. But my betting is he'll break a lot more promises before he breaks that one," Mr McKim said.

Yesterday, Mr Hodgman reiterated the promise but would not provide any more detail about how it would be achieved.

"We'll deliver the state budget to surplus as soon as is responsibly possible and as soon as we're able to do so and that's a fact," Mr Hodgman said.

Nick McKim

Nick McKim


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