17 March, 2014

PM Tony Abbott hopes for 'renaissance of forestry' following Liberal election victory in Tasmania

ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation), 17 March 2014

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has reaffirmed his commitment to seek to remove 74,000 hectares of Tasmanian forest from the World Heritage List as part of a "renaissance of forestry" in the state.

The newly-elected Liberal Government in Tasmania, led by Premier-elect Will Hodgman, has promised to rip up the state's Forestry Agreement as well as re-open listed forests to logging.

Under the Tasmanian peace deal, 170,000 hectares of forest was added to the World Heritage area.

Mr Abbott says the Federal Government is committed to growing the forestry industry in the state.

"We want to see a renaissance of forestry in Tasmania," he said.

"Will Hodgman wants to see a renaissance of forestry in Tasmania and we'll work very constructively with the new state government to try to make that happen."

The Prime Minister declared earlier this month that too many of Australia's forests are "locked up".

He has vowed to set up a new advisory council to support the timber industry.

"We have quite enough national parks. We have quite enough locked up forests already. In fact, in an important respect, we have too much locked up forest," Mr Abbott told a timber industry dinner in Canberra earlier this month.

The Federal Government argues part of the land locked up in Tasmania's World Heritage area has already been partially logged or degraded and it should be opened up to the forestry industry.

Liberals post best-ever Tas results

Tasmania's Liberals posted their best-ever election result on Saturday night, claiming at least 14 of the 25 seats on offer on the back of a 12 per cent swing.

It ends Mr Hodgman's reign as the country's longest-serving opposition leader.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten believes state Labor's power-sharing deal with the Greens cost the party at the ballot box.

After 16 years in power Labor suffered its worst result in six decades, winning 27 per cent of the vote and just six seats.

Premier Lara Giddings dumped the Greens from Cabinet shortly before announcing the election date.

Mr Shorten says the years in partnership were not good for the Labor brand.

"In Tasmania the Labor government had been in for 16 years that's a very long time and there's no doubt that Labor having an agreement [with the Greens] was marked down by Tasmanian voters," he said.

Meanwhile, the state's electoral commission has revealed 163 postal votes were destroyed after they were irreparably damaged by a letter-opening machine.

More than 2,300 ballot papers for the Hobart-based seat of Denison were damaged during preparation for the count on Saturday evening.

The Tasmanian Electoral Commission (TEC) said 2,175 ballot papers were repaired but 163 were damaged so badly they had to be counted as informal.

The incident has been blamed on the machine not being used properly and poor quality control.

State Electoral Commissioner Julian Type said it was not likely to impact the result.

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