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Friday analysis: Good news in Tas neither party wants to stop native timber forestry

Tasmania goes to the polls tomorrow in what is shaping as a vital election for the State’s timber industry.

In what can only be seen as good news, neither the Government nor Labor want to halt timber harvesting for Tasmania’s native forests.

In a nutshell, the Government has vowed to ramp up the logging of Tasmania’s native forests, dismissing the call to end the practice as an “anti-jobs pledge”.

If returned to government the Liberals says they would make available up to 40,000 hectares of the native forest “wood bank” and make available an additional wood basket of up to 158,000 cubic metres of high-quality sawlog to Tasmanian industry.

The Labor Opposition has promised to ensure Tasmanian contractors get a fair go at Tasmanian contracts and that the special species sector can get better access to logs, and not create division and reignite the forest wars which will in fact drive away major customers and put Tasmanian timber jobs and businesses at risk.

A Labor government would also seek to protect existing Tasmanian businesses and their workers to ensure they have the highest priority to obtain long term secure contracts for wood supply. This would mean no sawlog or peelers will be exported in whole log form if they can be processed in Tasmania.

And Labor has promised to launch an independent review into the state’s native and plantation forests available for logging.

The Greens, emboldened by the shutdown of native timber logging in Victoria and Western Australia, simply want the industry shut down in Tasmania with wilderness campaigner Bob Brown saying, “our job is to get rid of the Earth destroyers”.

The one wild card is of course the possibility of a hung parliament with Labor facing the opportunity of forming a minority government. This could, but not necessarily would, have Labor perhaps looking towards the Green for support.

The Tasmanian Forest Products Association says its election scorecard placed Tasmanian Labor slightly ahead of the Liberals as the industry’s biggest supporters.

And the Mercury in Hobart this morning reports polling shows the major parties are facing a collapse in their primary vote at Saturday’s state election with the Jacqui Lambie Network and independents appearing to be the main beneficiaries.

Seat-by-seat polling conducted Freshwater Strategy a fortnight ago, obtained by the Mercury, shows the Liberals on track to win the most seats, but not enough to govern in majority.

As always, come Sunday morning, the devil will be in the detail.