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Tassie peace deal too hard for Upper House

Tasmania’s Upper House has made little progress in furthering the forest peace deal legislation, with the most recent debate shelved after only three hours. Source: ABC

It was expected to be a big day with MLCs set to tackle the most contentious amendments to the peace deal, including wood supply and forest reserves.

But after three hours of heated debate that centred on a vision statement, the legislation was shelved in favour of changes to the Mental Health Act.

Rumney MLC Tony Mulder said he needed more time to finalise his amendment.
He told House there was an issue with its drafting.

“There are a couple of shall we say drafting misunderstandings, which means the one that’s been circulated doesn’t quite reflect the intent of my motion, so that to be corrected and reprinted actually requires a bit of time overnight,” he said.

Huon MLC, Paul Harriss, who wants to halve the initial section of forest to be reserved from logging, said his proposal is very similar to Mr Mulder’s.

Harriss believes he could have the numbers, but first wants to see whether the house supports Mr Mulder’s motion.

During debate Legislative Councillors accused the State Government of being “lazy” for taking a hands-off approach, criticising a section of the bill outlining a “vision for Tasmania’s forests”.

Labor’s Craig Farrell confirmed the vision statement was written by the peace deal signatories not the Government, saying it was included as a “point of reference”.

It prompted an outburst from the member for Windemere, Ivan Dean.

“This is baloney, there is another word for it and that word begins with bull,” he said.
Paul Harriss went further.

“It is a joke and a farce and it’s hard to sit through it and hard to think that we’re sitting here endeavouring to legislate, not for what members of the Government are saying, but what signatories around the table have been saying about our future,” said Nelson MLC Jim Wilkinson.

“Everything which is set out in here has nothing of the fingerprints of the Government upon it,” Harriss said.

“They are in my judgement nothing but mealy-mouth, undeliverable statements.” Hobart MLC Rob Valentine reminded Legislative Councillors that they had asked for the information.