Thursday, 4 February 2021
Questions without Notice
Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement
My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management, Senator Ruston. Can the minister please update the Senate on yesterday's judgement from the full Federal Court regarding the Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement, which ruled in favour of the Commonwealth, Sustainable Timber Tasmania and the state of Tasmania?
I thank Senator Askew for her question and for the interest that all Tasmanian senators in this place have in the fantastic Tasmanian forestry sector. I particularly acknowledge the assistant minister responsible for forestry, Senator Duniam, for his fierce advocacy on behalf of this very important sector.
Yesterday was a milestone for Tasmania and a milestone for the Australian timber and forestry sector, when the full court ruled that the Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreements were indeed valid. The decision was in response to efforts by Bob Brown's foundation to once again try and use the courts in a litigious attempt to shut down Tasmania's world-class forestry industry. I'd like to echo the words of Assistant Minister Duniam yesterday by saying that this judgement from the full court was a win for our forestry industry. It's a victory for every single forestry worker who now knows that they have a job, not just those in Tasmania but those right across Australia. But it also affirms the Australian government's commitment and belief in forestry agreements as the best way of balancing the environment, economic and social demands of our native forests. It's a milestone victory for forestry and its supporters, and it's an embarrassing loss for Bob Brown—and his merchandise campaign that he put out there.
They created the slogan 'Best chance in a generation to end native forest logging'. Indeed, it was a great forest case yesterday. The case proved to be great for forestry, it proved to be great for the jobs that the forestry industry supports, it was great in securing the jobs and communities that rely on the forestry industry and it was a great case to draw to the attention of the Australian public the vexatious attitude that the Greens and their supporters have, with the green lawfare to stop legitimate business, legitimate industries and legitimate communities across Australia. (Time expired)
This decision secures the future of Australia's native forestry industry. That's 52,000 workers that are directly employed that can now get back to what they do best—that is, manage this renewable resource for the benefit of regional communities that rely on this world-class sector.
Our agreements remain the best way of balancing the environmental, social and economic demands of our native forests. This judgement provides certainty. It provides certainty for the workers, for the community and for investment, which means that we will continue to be able to have investment jobs in the future. The irony of the ideological fixation on shutting down our native timber sector is that this will not stop us using appearance grade timber. All it will mean is that people who want appearance grade timber will buy it from countries that do not have the kind of environmental protections that this country has. (Time expired)
Our government have an absolutely unwavering commitment to our forestry industry and are unequivocal in our support for regional forestry agreements as the most effective mechanism by which we can manage and protect our forests. Every tree that is harvested is replanted. Native forestry is sustainable, it's highly regulated, it's well managed and the court made the decision yesterday that we were right in that fact.
This government supports and backs many, many families who are supported by our forestry sector and the communities that rely on it. We've delivered nine regional forestry hubs and three national institutes. We're implementing our $20 million national forestry plan. We also understand our responsibility in supporting forestry through bushfires. This is the ultimate renewable resource. It is something that every Australian should be proud of our forestry sector for, instead of continually condemning it and using vexatious litigation to try and shut it down.
Senator Whish-Wilson interjecting—
Senator Whish-Wilson interjecting—
Senator Whish-Wilson, take a breath when I call your name. I remind senators of what I said yesterday: when I name you individually, I ask you to at least remain orderly for a short period.