Senate debates

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Questions without Notice: Take Note of Answers

Environment: Heritage Listing

3:36 pm

Photo of Carol BrownCarol Brown (Tasmania, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Families and Payments) Share this | Hansard source

Seven minutes, Senator Conroy. It took just seven minutes to reject the Abbott government's application to remove 74,000 hectares of the Tasmanian wilderness forest from the World Heritage List.

Yet again, those opposite have been exposed for their anti-environment agenda. In the last few seconds of Senator Colbeck's contribution he really did expose the Abbott government's agenda. It is a political agenda. It is about dividing the Tasmanian community. It is about causing conflict in Tasmania. It is not about industry. It is not about the environment. It is about their own political agenda, at anyone's expense and, particularly, at the expense of Tasmania.

We had a rejection of the Abbott government's application in just seven minutes. It is just another example of the embarrassment that this government agenda has caused Australia on the world stage. World leaders have condemned Mr Abbott's climate inaction. The World Heritage Committee has asked him to reconsider handing over environmental protection powers to the states. Here in this place we have twice rejected attempts to abolish the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

The government's proposal to reverse protection of this section of the Tasmanian wilderness forest should never have gone to the World Heritage Committee in the first place. The report of the Senate Environment and Communications References Committee inquiry into the Tasmanian wilderness World Heritage area, which was ably chaired by my Tasmanian colleague Senator Lin Thorp, to quote from recommendation No. 1, said that:

The committee recommends that the Government's proposal to the World Heritage Committee to remove 74,000 hectares from the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area be withdrawn.

Unfortunately, the Abbott government did not agree with this recommendation, but the World Heritage Committee obviously did. It took seven minutes to chuck out this government's application. That is exactly what it deserved. It deserved that action because it was feeble. It was a feeble application, just like the feeble attempt that Senator Abetz made to answer a very good question by Senator Thorp. Senator Abetz's responses were feeble and the government's application to the World Heritage committee was feeble.

We also heard in Senator Abetz's response today about the area being degraded. The World Heritage Committee and the Senate committee considered the Abbott government's argument that degraded areas, such as previously logged forests and plantations, should be removed from the extended Tasmanian wilderness World Heritage area. The evidence received by the Senate committee was clear. Unlike what Senator Abetz and Senator Colbeck would have you believe, only a small portion of the 74,000 hectares could actually be described as degraded. We heard from experts. Experts and stakeholders alike agree—unlike Senator Abetz's description in here today of extensive road networks, abandoned quarries and other degraded areas—that the degraded areas comprise less than 10 per cent of the area proposed. In those areas where there has previously been logging activities, there are clear signs the forest is recovering. (Time expired)

Question agreed to.


Charlie Schroeder
Posted on 26 Jun 2014 10:50 am

If the forest is recovering in the areas that have been quarried and otherwise cleared, it s not the forest that was there in the first instance. The first nation forest. It couldn't recover if there were not seeds from the original plants in the seed bank in the ground, or trees of the original forest round about near it.