A long-awaited ‘Strategic Growth Plan’ by the Government-appointed Ministerial Advisory Council on Forestry makes no recommendation that Premier Hodgman reverses high-conservation-value forest reserves for logging. The document actually highlights the protected status of the land Mr Hodgman is targeting for logging, making a virtue out of the fact that ‘52% of Tasmania’s forests are protected in reserves.’(pg. 8)
This makes a mockery out of Premier Hodgman’s legislative agenda to log 365,000 ha of high conservation-value protected forests and his Forestry Minister’s repeated claims that these forests are not reserved, rather in some kind of ‘wood bank’.
‘Premier Hodgman’s backwards-facing forests legislation was already exposed as lacking credible support and any relevance to the economic, environmental, community and market challenges facing Tasmania and its timber industry’, said Vica Bayley, spokesperson for the Wilderness Society.
‘This growth plan further highlights how out of touch his logging agenda is.’
Revelations that the strategy was handed to the Minister in March raises serious questions about why it has been kept secret and why it wasn’t released to inform the public and parliamentary debate about the Premier’s legislation to log high conservation-value forest reserves.
‘The fact Premier Hodgman has kept this strategy secret, but progressed legislation that is way out of line with its recommendations is an indictment on the credibility of the Government and the transparency with which it operates,’ said Mr Bayley.
‘While we don’t support all strategies in this Growth Plan, the fact the Government itself is acting contrary to some fundamental assumptions and strategies builds on the existing question that has been repeatedly raised – what does Mr Hodgman think he is doing?
A specific strategy aimed at ‘Encouraging Investment’ (Section 4 pg 19) actually identifies that the Government should ‘pursue an agreed and stable forest industry policy’,
something totally undermined by its current chaotic and unilateral approach to legislation and logging reserves.
‘The Hodgman Government’s forest policy is anything but ‘agreed’ and ‘stable’, undermining industry, investor and community confidence and totally cutting across very clear and deliberate strategies identified in this growth plan.
‘Premier Hodgman should formally protect the high conservation-value forests he wants to log in new national parks and other dedicated conservation reserves.’