Dec 1, 2004

Government gags own forest policy

GOVERNMENT GAGS OWN FOREST POLICY

MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 1 December 2004

Today I moved a suspension of Standing Orders to allow the Government an opportunity to table in the Parliament the precise areas of Tasmania’s remaining old growth forests that will be protected from logging under their Tasmania Forest Policy.

The response from the Government was to immediately gag debate and arrogantly dismiss calls for an explanation as why this information is not available for parliamentary and public scrutiny.

The failure to table this information today (1 December), breaches an unambiguous commitment given to the Australians people by the Prime Minister during the election campaign.

During the campaign 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

The policy meant for release today promised to protect 170,000 hectares of threatened forest while ensuring no job losses across the Tasmanian industry.

Even before the details of this policy are known, the Government is already walking away from important undertakings they gave the Australian people during the election campaign.

This delay leaves an undesirable cloud of uncertainty hanging over the future of both the forests and the job security of Tasmanian timber communities.

After almost nine years in Government, Australians are entitled to see the details the Prime Minister’s Tasmania Forest Policy, particularly in light of his unambiguous election commitment.