Senate debates

Tuesday, 22 November 2022

Questions without Notice

Forestry Industry

2:27 pm

Photo of Murray WattMurray Watt (Queensland, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry) Share this | Hansard source

Yes, clearly it's Victorian election week, and clearly there are a couple of parties who are scrambling for votes rather than getting on with the job of governing, which is what we are doing and what the Andrews government is doing in Victoria right now.

I have met with Senator Rice about forestry issues, and I understand that these are things that she cares about very sincerely. As I have explained to Senator Rice, the Albanese Labor government does support a sustainable forestry industry. We respect the fact that there are some states who have made decisions about phasing out native forestry; others have not. The reality is that our country is in a position at the moment where it has a massive timber shortage and potentially other related shortages. There are parts of the country that have chosen to continue with native forestry at the moment, including Tasmania. That is something that we support. It is their right to do that. But, of course, Senator Rice is well aware that, in states like Victoria, we have a regional forestry agreement process underway which leaves a lot of the management of those forests to states. There has obviously been litigation about these matters recently, with courts having things to say about that, and I know the Victorian government is taking those decisions seriously.

What the Albanese government is doing is trying to strike a balance between the need for a forestry industry to provide the wood, timber and paper products that we need and making sure that we are protecting the environment. That's why we went to the election with a big commitment to expand the plantation estate in Australia and plant more trees through plantations to provide that timber. But the reality is that in many parts of the country at the moment the native forestry industry plays an important role in meeting that supply, and we support the people who work in that industry. We think that's a balanced approach, and we think that's the one that Australians want to see.


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