MLCs' concern at late changes to forests bill

THE government is looking to make a number of late changes to its signature forestry policy before putting it up for debate in the Legislative Council.

Debate is expected to begin later this morning, after upper house MPs attend the last in a series of briefings on the bill.

Legislative Councillors have heard about the policy from a range of stakeholders over Parliament's seven-week winter break.

Their final briefings will come from the Tasmanian Conservation Trust and government representatives.

The legislation aims to "tear up" the forest peace deal by reclassifying 400,000 hectares of native forest for logging in six years' time.

On Monday afternoon, Legislative Councillors were provided with about 10 pages of proposed changes to the bill.

It is understood the amendments are aimed largely at appeasing the specialty timbers sector.

Rosevears independent MLC Kerry Finch said members had been given insufficient time to digest the alterations.

"These amendments may well have unforeseen consequences in the future," Mr Finch said.

"I'm concerned we haven't been given much time to consider, understand and consult on them properly."

Launceston independent MLC Rosemary Armitage said critical questions still remained following the briefings on the legislation.

"It seems like we took three steps backward for every four we took forward," Ms Armitage said.

"There are a number of sides to each of these changes and it's important to understand how it will all gel together."

She and Mr Finch said the legislation may need to be considered by a committee.

But Rumney independent MLC Tony Mulder said sending the bill to a committee would cause unnecessary delay.

"We've done all the hard yards and answered the critical questions," Mr Mulder said.

"We're up for FSC certification within months and the government has been told they will meet all requirements under this legislation," he said.

"Pushing back the passage of this bill would cast uncertainty over the process."

Resources Minister Paul Harriss said he was hopeful the legislation would succeed.

"But as we all know they'll go through their process of assessment in a very vigorous manner as they always do and always will," Mr Harriss said.


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