14 March, 2014

Last-minute plea to keep Tasmania’s forest peace deal intact as Liberals head to likely election win

Perth Now,  MARCH 14, 2014

ENVIRONMENTAL groups and timber workers have joined forces in launching a last-minute plea for the Liberals to change their mind on ripping up the Tasmanian Forest Agreement.

Signatories to the peace deal said yesterday the Liberals would be taking the state back to the bad old days of the forest wars that tarnished the state for decades.

But the Liberal Party yesterday remained unmoved and reaffirmed its belief it would have a mandate to rip up the agreement if it sweeps into power tomorrow.


The calls come as a Newspoll shows the Liberals are headed into the election in considerably better shape than 2010.

In the week before the 2010 election, which resulted in Labor and the Liberals securing 10 setats each and the Greens five, the polling results were tigher — the Liberals holding 39 per cent compared with Labor (36.9) and the Greens (21.6).


The Newspoll, undertaken this week and published in The Australian today, shows the popularity of the Liberals at 53 per cent compared with Labor (23 per cent) and the Greens (16 per cent).

Opposition leader Will Hodgman said he would not be bullied on the forestry issue.

“We do not support the forest deal, it failed on so many fronts,” Mr Hodgman said.

“I am in no doubt we can continue to sell our world-class products including those out of our forests.

“I am happy to talk to anyone but will not be held to ransom by Green groups who want to close the industry down.’’

CFMEU national president Forestry & Furnishing Products Division Jane Calvert joined forces with the environmental groups yesterday calling on the Liberals to rethink their vow.

CFMEU spokesman Jane Calvert wants the Liberals to rethink their pledge to rip up the forest peace deal.

“When the timber workers’ union sat down to break bread with our traditional enemies — the conservationists — back in 2010, we did so for good reason,” Ms Calvert told the Mercury yesterday.

“The agreement and its legislation are far from perfect.

“But in the four years since talks began, no political party, political leader or critic of the agreement has put forward a credible alternative to address the impending change in resource, shifting market preference and need for investment.

“The agreement and legislation have resulted in an unprecedented cessation of conflict in the forest, and growing confidence in markets.”

Wilderness Society spokesman Vica Bayley and Environment Tasmania spokesman Phil Pullinger appeared to be choosing their words carefully yesterday, stating they were still committed to the agreement.

Wilderness Society spokesman Vica Bayley has been chosing his words carefully in relation
But the pair also made it clear they could no longer offer their support, and endorsement, to overseas and domestic markets if reserves under the agreement were scrapped by the Tasmanian Liberals.

“It does not take too much creativity from any of us to think about what will happen if they start logging World Heritage forests,” Mr Bayley said.


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