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Friday analysis: stability in Tasmania delivered from unlikely sources

Jacqui Lambie

Stability seems to have been delivered for the timber industry in Tasmania following a deal struck between the minority Rockliff Government and the three newly elected members of the Jacqui Lambie Network.

The three new members are Miriam Beswick (Braddon), Andrew Jenner (Lyons), and Rebekah Pentland (Bass).

According to The Mercury, the Jacqui Lambie Network has traded an astonishing level of loyalty for a handful of things the government was either doing anyway or which deliver an uncertain result at an indefinite time.

The Lambie Network MPs have agreed to be more loyal to the Liberal Party than even the Liberal Party’s own MPs – who are not bound to inform their party in advance if they intend to vote against it.

The Jacqui Lambie Network’s website says that candidates don’t support an expansion of native forest logging in Tasmania but that more support for plantation timber is needed as “it’s a critical employer and the timber and fibre produced is essential for our sovereign capability”.

However, with the Labor Opposition publicly backing the timber industry in the lead-up to the March election, the Network’s opposition will be of little strength.

Combined, the Government and Opposition would have 24 votes available on any timber industry matter.

The Government does need one more vote, with Tasmanian Labor leader and now Independent David O’Byrne being mentioned as a likely contender.

Mr O’Byrne was expelled from the Labor party room and not endorsed as a candidate after sexual harassment allegations surfaced in 2021.

Prior to the election he told The Australian he would work in a “mature and co-operative (way) … across the parliament”.

With former Senator Eric Abetz, who served as the Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation in the Howard Government between 2006 and 2007, named Industry and Resources Minister overseeing Tasmanian forestry there must now be a certain amount of certainty for the industry.

As TFPA Chief Executive Officer Nick Steel pointed out Mr Abetz spent many years in the Federal Parliament representing Tasmania’s forestry industry on the national stage.

He has shown he’s a strong supporter of the important and sustainable work of our industry and the 5,500 Tasmanians employed by it.