Wednesday, 4 December 2019
I, and also on behalf of Senators Henderson, O'Sullivan, Brockman, Abetz, Askew, Hughes, Rennick and Van, move:
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(i) the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which advised the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, stated in their 4th Assessment: 'A sustainable forest management strategy aimed at maintaining or increasing forest carbon stocks, while producing an annual sustained yield of timber, fibre or energy from the forest, will generate the largest sustained mitigation benefit',
(ii) all Australia's native forests, including the Victorian native forest estate, are certified to the global standard of Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification, which is the world's largest certification scheme for forestry and is only available to countries that practise sustainable forest management,
(iii) on 7 November 2019, the Victorian Labor Government announced it will cease all native forest harvesting in state forests by 2030, stepping down production from 2024,
(iv) the annual economic impact on the native forestry value chain and regional communities is expected to be more than $297.3 million,
(v) more than 4700 workers, their families and communities will be negatively impacted as a result of the Victorian Labor Government's decision,
(vi) regional towns and communities across Victoria, including Orbost, Benalla, Heyfield, Noojee, Violet Town, Powelltown and Corryong, are likely to be negatively affected by this decision, and
(vii) this decision creates a disturbing precedent undermining confidence in communities relying on native forestry across Australia; and
(b) calls on all parties to:
(i) recognise the significant contribution the Victorian native hardwood forestry industry contributes to the economy and to rural and regional communities,
(ii) condemn the Victorian Labor Government for seeking to destroy the Victorian native timber industry and forestry workers right to earn a living, and
(iii) call on the Victorian Labor Government to listen to the regional communities directly affected, and reverse this decision.
Labor won't be supporting this motion. We do support aspects—
Government senators interjecting—
Well, if I could just finish. Labor supports aspects of the motion, including sustainable native forestry, but does not believe the best way to progress the forest industry is to play political pointscoring in the Senate, because that's the easy option and not what the forest industry wants or needs. The fact is we can all do better to support our forestry industry, and Labor does support the regional forestry agreements and does support calls for all governments to properly engage and undertake comprehensive consultation with affected communities with regard to the future of the forest industry.
This motion is a litany of untruths that ignores all the evidence that native forest logging is unsustainable, is uneconomic and has not got the support of the community. It contains the wild claim that there are 4,700 workers who will be affected, whereas the evidence shows that there are less than 1,000 jobs in native forest logging in Victoria, and hundreds of these are actually government jobs. This is compared to the thousands and thousands of people who have jobs in the plantation industry, reflecting the fact that almost 90 per cent of wood that comes from Australia comes from plantations. This motion misrepresents the IPCC report from 2007 and ignores their groundbreaking land report this year that says logging of high-carbon ecosystems, such as primary forests, would have large initial carbon losses and long payback times, and thus protection of stocks would be more optimal. But most importantly this motion ignores the reality that our forests are special and the community want to see them protected.