THE state government has been accused of being ‘‘caught red-handed lying’’ about providing public subsidies to Forestry Tasmania.
New state-owned company TasNetworks went under the microscope during government business scrutiny hearings in Hobart yesterday, where it was revealed that $30 million of its equity would be transferred to the state-owned logging company.
Opposition Leader Bryan Green said it ‘‘made a lie of the government’s much publicised promise to withdraw public funding to Forestry Tasmania’’.
‘‘They repeated ad nauseam that subsidies would not be required because they were rebuilding the forest industry,’’ Mr Green said.
Greens leader Kim Booth said the government had deliberately kept Tasmanians in the dark.
‘‘We have asked numerous questions over months in Parliament asking where the money to keep propping up Forestry Tasmania was going to come from, which the Liberals refused to answer,’’ Mr Booth said.
‘‘Now we find that, as predicted, money is going to be dragged out of one government business into propping up another.’’
Treasurer Peter Gutwein said growing the forestry industry would help put Forestry Tasmania ‘‘on a more sustainable path’’.
‘‘To support the company through this process, the government has provided Forestry Tasmania with a letter of understanding outlining an equity transfer from Tasmanian Networks to Forestry Tasmania in 2015-16,’’ Mr Gutwein said.
‘‘This will be used to restructure the company’s debt to ensure the business is in a position to action recommendations from the review that the government may agree to implement if required.
‘‘As we have consistently said, we will not support Forestry Tasmania in the same manner that Labor and the Greens did by diverting funds away from vital frontline services like health, education and public safety.’’
Forestry Tasmania will be in the spotlight today when it faces a House of Assembly government business scrutiny hearing.
Last financial year it reported a loss of $43 million.
At the time, Resources Minister Paul Harriss said he was hopeful that the company’s long run of losses would end over the next four years.