Forestry needs to move on: industry

FOREST industry leaders say they are tired of the uncertainty surrounding the sector, as Labor proposed new government legislation be thrown out of Parliament.

Debate began yesterday on legislation that would dismantle the forest peace deal and open up 400,000 hectares of future reserves to logging in six years' time.

Opposition Leader Bryan Green revealed that Labor would not support the legislation, labelling it a "political fix" and not a long-term solution.

Mr Green said the bill should be redrafted to address concerns over renewed forest wars, the future of Forestry Tasmania, and obtaining Forest Stewardship Council certification.

"A return to conflict will see international customers abandon the Tasmanian industry," Mr Green told Parliament.

Both sides of politics said they had the industry's best interest at heart.

But Forest Industries Association of Tasmania chief executive Terry Edwards said it was time to move on.

"The industry's best interests are served by doing away with the current uncertainty and having this matter progressed through the Parliament and being brought to finality so industry knows what policy position is confronting it, and can start the work of rebuilding the industry in conjunction with the government," he said.

Mr Edwards said it was concerning that both sides had the same information on the forest industry but came to different positions.

He did not support Labor's move to have the legislation thrown out.

"We believe it is important we move forward reasonably quickly," he said.

Resources Minister Paul Harriss said Mr Green was "green by name and nature".

"Labor's decision to oppose our election mandate to rip up the job-destroying forest deal shows they haven't listened, and they haven't learned," Mr Harriss said.

Mr Edwards said the uncertainty surrounding the sector was preventing investment and growth opportunities in the state.

The government does not need Labor's support, and the legislation is expected to pass the lower house today.


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