Monday, 17 March 2014
Questions without Notice
Tasmanian State Election
My question is to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Abetz. Can the minister advise the Senate of the implication of events in our home state of Tasmania on Saturday for the future of Tasmania's forest industry and its economy?
As a very active senator and a very passionate campaigner for the forest industry in Tasmania, Senator Bushby would be aware that the overwhelming state election result for the state Liberals builds on the emphatic federal election result in Tasmania only six months earlier. Those results were based very clearly on dysfunctional Green-Labor governments in Canberra and Hobart, and their policies of job destruction, especially in the forestry sector.
Honourable senators interjecting—
Despite a very expensive green campaign, promoting the deeply flawed and dishonest so-called Tasmanian Forests Agreement, the people spoke and they spoke very loudly, especially those living in the relevant areas. They rejected the dishonest campaign and supported the policy on which we as a federal party went to the election on, namely, to rip up the Tasmanian Forests Agreement. What is more, the Tasmanian people have now delivered a similar result.
The reason is that we as a government here want to rebuild those communities that have been so badly damaged by this forests agreement. We do want to support the small sawmillers, the Tasmanian special species timber users, the farm enterprises and the small businesses, all of whom have relied on the forest sector, a sector which plays to Tasmania's natural advantages—plenty of rainfall, good soil and plenty of sunshine. That is what you need to grow trees. It is the only genuinely renewable industry that we have in this country and the Labor and Green parties sought to close it down. However, the people have overwhelmingly voted to give it a new future and that is what we intend to do.
The coalition policy at the federal election was overwhelmingly endorsed, especially in the seat of Lyons, where Eric Hutchinson got the biggest swing to the Liberal Party in any state. We thought that was as good as it gets, until last Saturday when the people of Lyons voted even more overwhelmingly in support of the state Liberals because they wanted to do that which Eric Hutchinson had promised. But beyond the vote of the people—and, ultimately, the most important factor here is the will of the people and the vote of the people—I was delighted to read the front page of the Australian Financial Review this morning, which said:
The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union national forestry division national president Jane Calvert said it was clear the electorate had validated Mr Hodgman’s pledge to remove the agreement.
"They have a mandate for change …
I invite those opposite to acknowledge that which Ms Calvert— (Time expired)
It was a matter of great regret that, on election night, as the results were coming in the Greens were already promoting the fact that there would be 'war in the forests if the mandate of the Tasmanian people was implemented by the democratically elected government'. What that tells us—and, regrettably, the Labor Party are on the same page—is that the Labor Party and the Greens have not learnt from the result of the 7 September federal election, nor have they learnt the lesson of the Tasmanian state election. We trust that the people of Western Australia, in the upcoming Senate election over there, will recognise that the Labor-Green senators in this place are voting to deny Western Australians and Tasmanians the opportunity to grow jobs in genuinely good industries, playing to the strengths of Australia—something that we should all be encouraging. I encourage senators in this place to recognise the mandate given to the Tasmanian— (Time expired)