Wednesday, 25 March 2015
Questions without Notice
I thank Senator Milne for her question. Senator Milne would well understand and appreciate, having been around these debates for a very long time, that regional forest agreements operate in a manner to provide balance between environmental, social and economic outcomes for regional communities. These arrangements in place in Tasmania, as I understand it, align with the Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement and of course they have certain exemptions under the EPBC Act, which has long been the case since that act came into existence. If there is evidence to suggest that that forestry operations contravene the Regional Forestry Agreement, then those are rightly matters for the Tasmanian government. It is certainly this government's position that we want to see economic advancement in Tasmania, we want to see the creation of opportunities there, but we also want to ensure the preservation of endangered species. Our policies are all about making sure that we preserve jobs in Tasmania as well as threatened species in Tasmania. We are confident that that is what the Tasmanian government is seeking to do as well. As a government we have taken steps in relation to threatened species protection through the appointment of a Threatened Species Commissioner, which has been welcomed by outfits such as BirdLife Australia, who have praised that and acknowledged the potential there. I quote from BirdLife Australia:
A champion for threatened species within government will help to ensure our recovery efforts and funding programs are more strategic and, importantly, throw a lifeline for Australia’s threatened birds …
We are serious about working in this space but we are just as serious about making sure that jobs and opportunities continue to exist, and exist in greater abundance in the future, in states like Tasmania.