Forestry debate pushed back

UNCERTAINTY remains over the future of 400,000 hectares of protected forests after debate on the government's signature forestry policy was pushed back until August.

Debate on the Liberal government's legislation was expected to start in the house of review yesterday, after MLCs received briefings on the bill from stakeholders on Wednesday.

However, the government decided not to proceed after MLCs wanted more information.

Opposition Leader Bryan Green said the government had been ``left with egg on its face'' by the Legislative Council's refusal to deal with the bill.

``For all the talk of D-Day and the haste as the Liberals guillotined debate on the issue, the Liberals' policy has been placed on the back-burner,'' he  said.

A government spokesman said it was understandable that MLCs wanted time to consider information provided in briefings on the legislation.

``We'll work to address any concerns over the winter break and will bring the bill on for debate in the spring sessions,'' the spokesman said.

The Parliament will not sit for seven weeks. 

Independent Murchison MLC Ruth Forrest said more information was needed.

``Information couldn't be provided there and then, which will take some time to obtain,'' Ms Forrest said.

``There are also a number of industry and environmental representatives who we still haven't had an opportunity to hear from.''

Independent Rumney MLC Tony Mulder said it was frustrating and disappointing that the debate on the bill had not taken place yesterday. ``The briefings might have raised questions, but you have to wonder if those questions are really relevant,'' Mr Mulder said. ``This bill changes very, very little.

``The only thing of any substance that would change is changing future reserve land to future production land.''

Independent Rosevears MLC Kerry Finch said briefings had produced a lot of new evidence that needed to be digested.

``It became obvious the sensible thing to do was to take a deep breath to consider the implications over the winter break and then tackle it,'' Mr Finch said.

``When you rush these things you can't get a full understanding of all the elements of the legislation.''


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