22 November, 2006

ABC ONLINE: Labor announces logging policy, gaming review panel

Friday, 17 November 2006.

The Victorian Labor Party has promised to end logging in significant old growth forests, including the Goolengook Block in East Gippsland if it wins next week's election. Labor also promised to expand Victoria's National Parks by 33,500 hectares and create a new National Park at the Cabbobonee Forest in the state's south-west.

Labor leader Steve Bracks has guaranteed there will not be job losses because the timber industry will be set up to log smaller regrowth timber. "This is a policy which increases our biodiversity which increases the protection of old growth forest," he said.

Timber Communities Australia's Kersten Gentle has welcomed the plan. "It's fantastic, it's the first time in decades that we've actually gone to the polls on election day with no timber job losses on the table," she said.

But Gavin McFadyen from the Wilderness Society is disappointed. "Over 90 per cent of our old growth forests available for logging will still be available for logging," he said.

In a move designed to deflect criticism of his gaming policy, Mr Bracks has promised an independent panel will review the issuing of Victoria's gaming licences. Mr Bracks says a panel led by a retired judge will probe reviews of the state's gambling licences. "This will be an independent and pristine process," he said.

Labor has been under pressure over its deals with the gaming industry, after Mr Bracks defended having dinner with a Tattersalls lobbyist three years ago, and scrutiny over the delay in issuing the lotteries tender.

Liberal leader Ted Baillieu says today's announcement is an admission there are probity issues surrounding gaming licences. "I think there should be an urgent inquiry and a review of exactly what's going on," he said.

Labor says the new panel will make its recommendations public.

Original article

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