Government delays forestry repeal bill talks

DEBATE on the state government's signature forestry legislation has again been delayed so that more last minute amendments can be made.

Legislative Councillors expected to start deliberating the forestry repeal bill yesterday, after being given time to digest 15 pages of proposed changes.

But an email circulated to MLCs yesterday morning said the government was pushing back debate until later in the day while it waited for more amendments.

Members were later notified deliberation would not begin until next week, allowing time for the changes to be finalised.

Government Leader in the Legislative Council Vanessa Goodwin said some Legislative Council members requested additional time to consider further amendments, including some brought up by environment groups yesterday.

''As a result of this and the progression of other Government business through the Legislative Council today, the Forestry Bill will now be debated next week,'' Dr Goodwin said.

Western Tiers Independent MLC Greg Hall said while the delay was the government's call, it was time to get on with debate.

''We've now had this legislation before us for two and a half months and have heard from just about everybody but the drover's dog,'' Mr Hall said.

''It's time to stop stuffing around and get on with it.''

Earlier this week, a number of MLCs expressed interest in taking the bill to committee for further scrutiny.

While at least one Legislative Councillor is considering pushing on with the move, others are no longer enthusiastic, with the move likely to be voted down by a clear majority.

The Liberals' legislation aims to repeal the Tasmanian Forests Agreement (TFA) Act and open up 400,000 hectares of previously protected forests to logging in six years' time.

Central to changes flagged this week was expanding access to certain areas for specialty timber harvesting, prompting some concern the amendment could hamper Forest Stewardship Council certification.

But a vote on the forestry repeal bill looks likely to succeed with support from about two-thirds of MLCs.

However, is unclear whether the vote will take place before next Thursday's state budget, leaving lingering uncertainty over the state's native forests.


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