Nov 12, 2004

PM – ALP Member criticises Albanese’s comments on clear-felling of Tasmanian old

PM – ALP Member criticises Albanese’s comments on clear-felling of Tasmanian old-growth forests

Friday 12 November 2004

PETER CAVE: Federal Labor backbencher Dick Adams says the Party’s Environment Spokesman Anthony Albanese has acted like mangy dog. Yes it’s another slanging match over Labor’s controversial forestry policy in Tasmania.

The Environment Spokesman, Anthony Albanese, visited the Styx Valley in Tasmania this week, and has declared the principles underpinning Mark Latham’s policy were "absolutely right" and not up for grabs in Labor’s post election review.

But the Federal backbencher Dick Adams has taken issue with Mr Albanese’s visit and comments, calling him a "mangy dog" for sneaking in and out of Mr Adams’ home state without telling him.

And Dick Adams says he’ll be seeking to have Mr Albanese thrown out of the ALP for the way he’s conducted himself.

Alexandra Kirk reports from Canberra.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: This week Labor’s Environment Spokesman, Anthony Albanese, followed in the footsteps of the Federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell, going to see the tall old trees of the Styx Valley in Tasmania.

ANTHONY ALBANESE:   Well it’s a very moving experience walking amongst these giants. The Styx Valley has the world’s tallest hardwood trees on Earth, 80 metre tall eucalyptus regnans that are 15 metres and more in girth and then quite an emotional experience to see just down the road one of the coupes where clear felling has occurred.

Clear felling of old growth forests is environmental vandalism.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: That was enough to make the local Federal Labor MP Dick Adams see red.

DICK ADAMS: Well I think it’s a bit like a mangy dog, you know sneaking around, running into areas, into my electorate and then making comments about it without talking to anybody. I mean I just find it extraordinary behaviour.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Anthony Albanese has echoed the sentiment of his leader Mark Latham, saying Labor’s committed to sustainable development of the timber industry, no overall job losses, and protecting Tasmania’s high conservation value forests.

ANTHONY ALBANESE:   I think Mark Latham got the principles absolutely right.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: But having seen two of his colleagues lose their seats, Dick Adams wants his party to go back to the drawing board on forests.

DICK ADAMS: I think trying to hold onto the one that’s cost us so much pain, I think is really, really dumb.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Your leader, Mark Latham, when he was in Tasmania a couple of weeks ago said that it was the protest that was against the policy that cost Labor two seats, rather than the policy itself.

DICK ADAMS: Hmm.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: You don’t agree with that?

DICK ADAMS: I think somebody is still in denial with that sort of comment.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The Styx Valley forest is in Dick Adams’ electorate. Dick Adams says he’s infuriated his frontbench colleague went to Tasmania without telling either the state government or him.

In fact, Anthony Albanese met two State ministers and State party officials.

In any case, Dick Adams says he thinks Anthony Albanese should be expelled and is threatening to challenge his right to remain in the party for quote "a gross departure from party solidarity at a time of review and reflection", unquote.

DICK ADAMS: His insensitivity, the words that he used as describing Tasmanians as being vandals, economically and environmentally, I think are very wrong and after we’d lost the Federal election because of the forest policy that we had and with him trying to continue to promote it, I think this shows an insensitivity towards the Tasmanian people and the Tasmanian electorate generally.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Labor’s Caucus is meeting in Canberra next Friday to have its election post mortem examination – which policies MPs think should be ditched, re-jigged or retained. And that’s when Dick Adams says he’ll move against Mr Albanese.

DICK ADAMS: Well I’m serious about people who are insensitive in understanding that Labor has to be able to gain the trust of people in the outer States and in regional areas and without that trust we won’t win government. And for people that don’t understand that then probably they need to be expelled from the party.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: But Labor insiders point out Mr Albanese has done nothing more than follow Mark Latham’s lead on forests, which was endorsed by the Shadow Cabinet last week.

And the environment frontbencher says he won’t be going another round with Dick Adams.

ANTHONY ALBANESE:   I have no intention of engaging in a personal slanging match with Dick Adams. In my experience, people who engage in offensive vitriol and name-calling do so because they have no argument of substance to rely upon.

PETER CAVE: Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese.