THE Federal Coalition has cautiously welcomed the release of the statement of principles by parties to the Tasmanian forests negotiations but has warned that the Federal Government must ensure the Greens do not dictate to the Prime Minister and Forestry Minister over this critical issue.
“The Coalition has respected the negotiations and the conditions by which the industry and the environmental non-government organisations (ENGOs) wanted to conduct them in,” Coalition spokesperson for Forestry Senator Richard Colbeck said.
“During this time, we have maintained close contact with both forest industry organisations and the ENGOs to understand the ongoing discussions.
“The Coalition remains concerned about some elements of the principles particularly the difference in interpretation already emerging between some signatories and the potential impact on forest industry players who are not a signatory to the document.
“I am pleased the groups plan to continue discussions as there are clearly important details to figure out including the future of the pulp mill, the use of biomass for renewable energy generation and access to native forest for the industry.
“I am very concerned that, despite this process being portrayed as bringing peace to our forests, Leader of the Australian Greens Senator Bob Brown today announced, ”Nothing like this is ever totally finalised”.
“It is clear from such comments the Greens and their followers will continue to campaign against the forest industry until it is completely dead.
“This attitude was demonstrated by at least four high profile recent resignations from Environment Tasmania, one of the lead groups in the negotiation process, due to a disagreement with a draft of the agreement.
Senator Colbeck said the Federal Government must ensure the Greens do not dictate to the Prime Minister and Forestry Minister over this critical issue.
“The influence of the Greens across the Gillard Government has vastly increased and it is a threat to the forestry industry, not just in Tasmania but throughout Australia.
“The forest sector is a major employer in the Australian economy. The Coalition will always support these jobs in what is a sustainable use of our natural and renewable resource.
“The forest sector is the only carbon positive industry in Australia and should be recognised as such.”