Monday, 15 February 2021
I ask that Senators Ciccone, Urquhart, Bilyk, Brown, Polley and Lambie have their names added to the motion. I, and also on behalf of Senators Abetz, Askew, Bilyk, Brown, Chandler, Ciccone, Colbeck, Lambie, McKenzie, Polley and Urquhart, move:
That the Senate—
(a) notes that the recent decision of the Full Federal Court of Australia has now provided a clear determination on the validity of the Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement (RFA);
(b) further notes the judgement was a big win for Australia's forest industry and supports the long-held position of this Government, the state of Tasmania and industry that RFAs remain the best way of balancing environmental, economic and social demands for our native forests;
(c) acknowledges that the Australian forest industry uses world-class sustainable forest management practices and supports the employment of more than 52,000 hardworking Australians making it an industry that deserves to be celebrated;
(d) recognises native forestry has a strong future in Australia, and notes that Neville Smith Forest Products this month announced 40 new Tasmanian jobs driven by demand for sustainably produced native forest products;
(e) condemns the Bob Brown Foundation for their consistent use of the Australian courts to decimate the livelihoods of working Australians; and
(f) calls on the Bob Brown Foundation and the Australian Greens to accept the decision of the court in what they branded 'the Great Forest Case' and heed Mr Brown's own advice: 'It is time we moved on'.
This motion is delusional. The court clarified what we Greens have known for decades—that the law is broken. The court found that regional forest agreements do not have to protect critically endangered wildlife. The Greens commend the Bob Brown Foundation and the protesters who are putting their bodies on the line to protect our forests and our wildlife. Rather than crowing about a judgement that showed just how broken our laws are, the government should be implementing Professor Graeme Samuel's recommendation to immediately reform regional forest agreements. Samuel was very clear. His review said:
… environmental considerations under the RFA Act are weaker than those imposed elsewhere … and do not align with the assessment of significant impacts on MNES—
matters of national environmental significance—
required by the EPBC Act.
It also said:
… Commonwealth oversight of environmental protections … is insufficient … The National Environmental Standard … should be immediately applied and RFAs should be subject to robust Commonwealth oversight.
Hear, hear! (Time expired)
One Nation will be supporting this motion. Regional forest agreements are a federal initiative dating back to 2007. They're designed to provide a high level of protection to old-growth and native forests and to endangered fauna and flora. The Tasmanian agreement has been working well, with excellent environmental protections and sufficient latitude for loggers to produce beautiful, natural, renewable Tasmanian and Australian timber.
Honourable senators interjecting—
The Greens object while sitting in their timber-framed homes with timber floorboards at timber desks and with their computers powered, perversely, by timber biofuel. The Greens are sitting right now at timber desks on timber chairs made from Tasmanian myrtle. The Greens' idea of forestry protection is to chop trees down and burn them for power. Tasmania wants to mill those trees into beautiful and useful things instead. The Greens do not understand useful things.
I, and also on behalf of Senators Rice, McKim and Whish-Wilson, move:
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(i) native forest logging in Tasmania continues to destroy nature, threatened species, and our climate,
(ii) last year the Bob Brown Foundation (BBF) lodged a challenge against the Commonwealth Government, Tasmanian government, and Sustainable Timber Tasmania in the Federal Court arguing Tasmania's Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) contradicted the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act) by not protecting endangered species such as the Swift Parrot, and was therefore invalid,
(iii) on 3 February 2021 the Federal Court ruled against BBF, finding Tasmania's RFA is valid, and
(iv) this ruling vindicates the finding by the independent review of the EPBC Act (the Samuel Review) that 'the EPBC Act is ineffective ... does not enable the Commonwealth to effectively protect environmental matters that are important for the nation ... [and] is not fit to address current or future environmental challenges'; and
(b) calls on the Morrison Government to urgently overhaul Australia's national environmental laws to adopt the recommendations from the Samuel Review to reform destructive logging laws, enact stronger laws that protect our environment and wildlife and create an independent watchdog to hold those who trash our environment to account.
Labor will not be supporting this motion, for a couple of reasons. One of them is that we think motions like this, where there are a range of opinions in this chamber, should be allowed to be brought in as part of the program that allows for substantive debate. The Greens do this week in, week out. They bring forward motions where they seek a yes or no answer on a matter which is worthy of substantive debate. They live in their own little perfect world, but in the real world, where the rest of us operate, there is a legitimate reason for substantive debate on these matters to be allowed. They do this every time. I look forward to the Greens political party bringing forward a motion where they work with other members in this place to hold these environmental vandals to account, instead of trying to move wedge motions on us.
Senator Patrick has indicated he wishes the motion to be split, so we will deal with part (a) first. The question is that part (a) of general business motion No. 983 standing in the name of Senator Hanson-Young and others be agreed to.