Call for answers on forestry

TASMANIA'S forestry industry says there are too many unanswered questions about the impact of the Liberals' forestry policy for the state's upper house to pass legislation repealing the peace deal.

Forest Industries Association of Tasmania chief executive Terry Edwards said he had written to the  state and federal governments seeking information about the future of funding arrangements, studies into specialty timber and investigations into proposals to process wood residues.

``I'm not suggesting these are easy questions to answer . . . but they are critical issues and they will define the pathway forward from here,'' Mr Edwards said.  

He briefed the Legislative Council last week but the upper house will not debate the bill until Parliament resumes next month.

``My assessment would be that there was a strong feeling among Legislative Councillors that they were likely to support the bill but they may well require some amendments,'' Mr Edwards said.

He  also wants details about a new ministerial advisory council that will help develop a long-term strategic plan for the industry.

Representatives of FIAT and the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association have been invited to be on it but appointments have not been announced.

Mr Edwards said environment groups should also be invited to be part of the new advisory body because the success of the industry required broad support. 

Wilderness Society spokesman Vica Bayley, who was a signatory to the forestry peace deal, said he was open to participating but had not been approached by the new government. 

``Our interests and our part of the agreement have to be part of the conversation,'' Mr Bayley said yesterday. 

Resources Minister Paul Harriss would not say when appointments would be finalised. 

``The appointees will all be individuals committed to rebuilding Tasmania's forest industry,'' Mr Harriss said. 

Meanwhile, Mr Edwards backed the government's proposed crackdown on illegal protests even if it does not deter anti-logging protesters.

``I'm not asking people to feel threatened, I'm asking for the penalty to fit the crime,'' Mr Edwards said.

The new legislation, which is also before the upper house, would impose a $2000 fine for ``invading'' a workplace and mandatory minimum three-month jail terms for repeat offenders.


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