Senate debates

Thursday, 10 December 2020

Regulations and Determinations

Industry Research and Development (Forestry Recovery Development Fund Program) Instrument 2020; Disallowance

6:53 pm

Photo of Jonathon DuniamJonathon Duniam (Tasmania, Liberal Party, Assistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries) Share this | Hansard source

That's what we want to do, and Senator Rice says, 'If only.' Well, that is the case. That's what this program is all about. Do you know what? We want these regional communities, like the north-west coast of Tasmania, one day, hopefully, through future rounds of programs like this—and I hope there'll be many more—to be able to innovate and augment their processes, so those hardworking men and women in regional communities will be able to actually use this resource in a better way. I don't know how many timber mills Senator Rice has been through in recent times, but I tell you what: there are some amazing advancements in technology when it comes to some of these operations. What we want to do is take them to the next level, so we can compete with other advanced wood-processing countries around the world.

Senator McKenzie made a fantastic point about what happens when we shut down or attempt to damage our timber industry in Australia, one of the best in the world, contrary to the assertions of some of those people down the end there; we source it from elsewhere. I suppose this is a good opportunity to point out what we in the Australian government have been doing when it comes to clamping down on illegal logging and the sale of illegally harvested timber products. Recently, we were able to do a series of DNA tests on timber being sold in Australian retail outlets. A number of the pieces of timber being imported from other countries labelled as certain types of timber, weren't that timber at all.

This is what happens when Greens policy comes to the fore. There is a major retail outlet in Australia that has decided it won't use timber sourced from Victoria because of claims around certain operations. There's a court case which is under appeal and, as Senator Rice well knows, it doesn't mean it's final when it's under appeal. It's something that's being questioned as we speak, and I'm very confident about the outcome of that case, just as I am about the Bob Brown Foundation case in Tasmania. I acknowledge Senator Ciccone, who's a massive supporter of the timber industry, the best one in the world. The fact is, though, when we drive this industry offshore, we end up seeing products ripped out of the ground, true deforestation, and consumers here, who still want the products that come out of our forests, don't know where it's coming from. It's not coming from sustainably well managed forests here in Australia that are replanted, reforested, but from forests of South America, West Papua.

Senator Rice shakes her head as if it doesn't matter, because, if it's not in our backyard, we don't care. I tell you what: that is a shameful attitude to take because not only are you driving deforestation in other nations but you're driving up unemployment when you damage this sustainable, proud industry. The battles in campaigns that are run—and I often say this—have now moved from forestry coupes to the courtroom. It's their new high-tech way of trying to damage a very, very good and proud industry, something that I think they should be ashamed of.


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