Nov 30, 2004

Government abandons forest deadline


Joint Media Release:
Anthony Albanese MP, Shadow Minister for the Environment and Heritage, and
Martin Ferguson MP, Shadow Minister for Primary Industries, Resources and Tourism 

30 November 2004

The Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, has today revealed the Government’s contentious Tasmanian Forest Policy will not be ready by the 1 December 2004 deadline promised by the Prime Minister during the election campaign.

On 6 October the Prime Minister promised:

“…the Tasmanian Environment Minister and [Federal Environment Minister] Senator Campbell will get together and have the details of [the Government’s Tasmanian forest policy], including the precise boundaries settled by the 1st of December.”

Press Conference, Tasmania, 6 October 2004

Even before the details of this policy are known, the Government has walked away from commitments they gave the Australian people during the election campaign.

Cobbled together in the dying days of the campaign, the Prime Minister promised to protect 170,000 hectares of threatened forest while ensuring no job losses across the industry was all smoke and mirrors.

The Prime Minister’s forest policy was never about preserving Tasmania’s high conservation value old growth forests or safeguarding the job security of timber workers. It was a grubby political trick.

It’s time for the Howard Government to come clean on:

• Exactly when it is going to assess the social, environmental and economic impacts of protecting these forests, and report to the Parliament?

• Precisely which areas will be added to the reserve system, how and when?

• Compensation payments to workers and communities?

• The impact of this unfunded election commitment on the Budget bottom line?