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Friday analysis: Labor is divided on native forestry on many fronts

The push against native timber harvesting in this country is sadly gathering pace.

And that is not a good thing for so many reasons.

The push is obviously coming from the left side of politics, but even so Labor appears a little divided on the issue.

The Guardian reported this week that a report by the Labor Environment Action Network (Lean), the ALP’s largest internal lobby group, had called for the party’s national conference next month to support an industry policy focused on restoring native forests.

It says they have greater value if treated as a carbon and biodiversity sink than if logged to produce mainly low-value products such as woodchips, pallets and power poles.

No mention there of building houses from a sustainable, renewable locally produced product which employs thousands, of course.

The lobby group says plantations are the way to go. Can’t argue with that, but plantations aren’t the only way to go.

The division within Labor ranks is plain to see.

The Western Australian and Victorian governments have promised to end native forest logging at the end of this year, and federal ALP MP Josh Burns has urged action “to save our precious natural environment and native wildlife”.

The New South Wales Labor government supports ongoing native forest logging while also promising to create a great koala national park.

The Queensland Labor government continues to allow harvesting of native timber.

And in Tasmania the Labor opposition has accused the pro-forestry Liberal state government of not doing enough to support the industry.

The State’s Resources Minister Felix Ellis believes that despite this stance, the Opposition Leader Rebecca White will cave-in to the Greens.

He says that Labor’s leader-in-waiting and ex-Kingborough council mayor Dean Winter is facing a conundrum with the Kingborough Labor branch proudly flying the Green flag and joining LEAN’s job-destroying campaign.

Mr Ellis has pondered that if Mr Winter’s own branch won’t support native forestry, will he be forced to choose between backing timber workers’ jobs, or his own?