18 May, 2011

Forest peace deal shaky

ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation), 18 May 2011

The Prime Minister Julia Gillard has rejected suggestions the Federal Government has not done enough to further Tasmania's forest peace talks.

There is concern the fragile talks to ban almost all native forest logging in Tasmania are on the brink of collapse.

The Wilderness Society has temporarily walked away from the negotiations.

It is demanding clear funding commitments from both the Federal and State Governments to aid the process, saying they have been lax for not already doing so.

But Julia Gillard disagrees.

"I certainly believe the federal government has done enough," she said.

The State Opposition's Peter Gutwein claims government commitment to the process has been a farce.

The single litmus test for money from the Federal Government was brought down last week.

Only $300,000 was earmarked in the federal budget to keep negotiations running.

Meanwhile the Tasmanian Greens leader Nick McKim has admitted he shares the frustrations of the Wilderness Society.

He says the Greens still support the negotiations but aren't happy with the level of progress.

"From the Greens point of view the frustrations, and we share the frustrations, are in part from the Wilderness Society relate to the fact that the moratorium that was proposed in the original statement of principles is yet to be fully implemented and I think that's a frustration of many people," he said.

And Environment Tasmania says it also blames government inaction for the Wilderness Society's decision to walk away from the forest peace talks.

Phil Pullinger, from Environment Tasmania, says he is not surprised by the move.

"We share the frustrations of the Wilderness Society and some of the other organisations that are involved in this process at the lack of government action to date, we do think its now time for government action and strong government action to turn this set of principles and this opportunity that exists into reality."

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