Forestry bill pushed through

LEGISLATION to dismantle the forest peace deal has passed the House of Assembly, with the majority Liberal government using its numbers in Parliament to gag debate after 14 hours.

The government cut off debate on its forestry bill yesterday afternoon, with a vote held soon afterwards carrying 13-9 in favour of the legislation.

It is now up to members of the Legislative Council to consider the government's legislation, which seeks to open up 400,000 hectares of previously protected reserves to logging in six years' time.

Wilderness Society spokesman Vica Bayley said passing the legislation marked a dark day for Tasmania.

``This legislation is a symbol for all things bad in the way we treat the environment,'' Mr Bayley said.

``It is driven by politics, has little community support, makes no economic sense and will lead to bad outcomes for nature.''

The opposition and Greens opposed the legislation, and hit out at the government for stifling debate on the 128-page bill.

``This is the arrogance of majority government when the house is reduced to being a mere rubber stamp,'' Greens leader Kim Booth said.

``In one fell blow this Hodgman Liberal government has damaged our environmental brand, damaged the chance of forestry securing Forest Stewardship Council certification, and damaged our democracy.''

Opposition Leader Bryan Green said Labor members were denied time to seek answers on behalf of industry about how the government's bill would create jobs.

But Resources Minister Harriss said Labor and the Greens had themselves to blame for not getting the answers they wanted, accusing them of trying to frustrate, delay and block the legislation.

``There were still 14 hours of debate on this bill,'' he said.

``They [Labor and the Greens] could have easily got to the detail of the bill if they had not been so tricky.''

Mr Harriss said he hoped the Legislative Council would respect the government's mandate to implement its signature forestry policy, but should take its time to consider the bill.

``The upper house will require a lot of information and a lot of processes to be pursued,'' he said.


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