Nov 12, 2004

AM – Albanese supports ALP policy to secure old growth forests in Tasmania

AM – Albanese supports ALP policy to secure old growth forests in Tasmania

Friday 12 November 2004

TONY EASTLEY: Labor’s new environment spokesman is adamant that he’s not in favour of tossing out Labor’s forests policy, even though it proved so unpopular in the election campaign. Anthony Albanese says his recent visit to the Styx Valley in Tasmania was an emotional one.

He says the principles underpinning Labor’s policy are not up for grabs – that’s despite critics insisting that the policy will be reviewed and Mark Latham conceding that the protest against his forest policy cost Labor two seats in Tasmania.

Mr Albanese spoke to our reporter, Alexandra Kirk, about his visit.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Clear felling of old growth forests is environmental vandalism, and I don’t think that anyone who could stand in the rainforest and then stand amongst this devastation could argue that it makes any sense for this generation, let alone for future generations.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: So did Mark Latham get it right then on forests?

ANTHONY ALBANESE:   I think Mark Latham got the principles absolutely right. There’s no doubt that one of the sad things about the way that the misinformation was conducted in campaign was that some of the detail was lost.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: So, will Labor stick to its election promise of protecting as much of 240,000 hectares of Tasmania’s old growth forests?

ANTHONY ALBANESE:   Well, certainly Labor – in terms of the principles it will have – we’re committed to the sustainable development of the forests industry, we’re committed to no overall loss of jobs in the forest industry, and we’re committed to the protection of Tasmania’s high conservation value forests.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: So, do you recommend some of your Labor colleagues and some more government ministers visit the big old trees in the Styx Valley?

ANTHONY ALBANESE:   Well, if Bill Heffernan can be converted, then anything’s possible. These are some of the most precious natural resources on earth, and we simply can’t allow the sort of approach, which is clear felling, wood chipping and exporting doesn’t make economic sense either. We need to get this right.

TONY EASTLEY: Labor’s environment spokesman, Anthony Albanese, speaking there with Alexandra Kirk.