Senate debates

Wednesday, 7 October 2020


Forestry Industry; Consideration

6:29 pm

Photo of Nick McKimNick McKim (Tasmania, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That the Senate take note of the document.

On 1 September the Senate passed a resolution moved by Senator Duniam and other LNP senators which made baseless and scandalous claims against the Bob Brown Foundation and some eminent scientists regarding a paper they wrote in relation to bushfires and forestry operations. The motion was passed with only Australian Greens senators opposing. The motion was a disgraceful and cowardly use of parliamentary privilege to smear scientists for doing their jobs and activists who are bravely defending Tasmania's magnificent carbon-rich forests from ongoing destruction by the logging industry.

A response from Mr Steven Chaffer, CEO of the Bob Brown Foundation, to this motion has been tabled in the Senate today. I will now read the substance of Mr Chaffer's response into the Hansard: 'The resolution says the paper was withdrawn after insistence from the academic community. The paper was in fact withdrawn by its honourable authors before anyone else asked for such action. The claim that the withdrawal of this paper was required is manifestly wrong. Indeed, the editor of the journal Fire, Professor Alistair Smith, said of the authors: "The retraction was made at the request of the authors of the original paper after they were alerted to an error. This is an excellent example of research integrity by the authors." The resolution condemned the Bob Brown Foundation for the use of bodgie science and falsehoods about forestry. On the honour of the Senate, I ask you to forward to the foundation the evidence, the science, for this otherwise egregious slander. The Hansard contains no such science or evidence. The Senate then called on this foundation to apologise for using misinformation to demonise hardworking Australians. This foundation did no such thing. The foundation does, however, employ hardworking Australians and is supported by thousands more hardworking Australians. It is appalled by the misinformation used in the Australian Senate to demonise these hardworking Australians.'

I want to say this: unlike many in the chamber, the Australian Greens believe in and accept the climate science. We support climate scientists. We support the scientists who wrote the paper that Senator Duniam's motion referred to, and we support the great work that the Bob Brown Foundation is doing. There is abundant existing evidence, apart from the paper that Senator Duniam's motion referred to, which links logging with increased bushfire risk. My colleague Senator Whish-Wilson has written to Tasmanian forests minister Guy Barnett, on behalf of the scientists, requesting that the relevant maps held by Forestry Tasmania be made publicly available to assist with scientific research. He has also urged the Liberals not to politicise the work of scientists and instead let the scientific process, whereby scientists are the ones who debate and critique each other's research, take its course.

The Australian Greens will continue to fight for the many Australian communities and the many ecosystems in this beautiful country of ours that are affected by and threatened by increased bushfire risk due to industrial forestry operations and the breakdown of our climate. I say this to Senator Duniam: if he's got evidence to support the contentions in his motion, then he should provide it to the Senate. If he doesn't—and I suspect that that's the case—then he should come into this place and apologise and withdraw. Finally, I urge Senator Duniam to get his head out of the sand, accept the climate science and work to end his political party's war on nature and this planet's climate. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.