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Transcript 17370

Statement of action on the Tasmanian forestry principals

Photo of Gillard, Julia

Gillard, Julia

Period of Service: 24/06/2010 to 27/06/2013

More information about Gillard, Julia on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 07/12/2010

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 17370

In October, the Tasmanian forestry industry and several environment NGO's reached an historic high level principles agreement for protecting native forests and developing a sustainable timber industry in Tasmania.

The Gillard Labor Government welcomed the landmark agreement.

It is a credit to those involved that after decades of disagreement they have been able to work through complex problems to forge a new consensus.

It is now time for the next step.

Last month several of the parties to the agreement along with the Tasmanian Government met with Ministers Burke, Crean, Carr and Ludwig, and asked the Commonwealth to play a role in facilitating the next stage in the process - developing the details of the agreement and the details of its eventual implementation.

Cabinet has today considered the request and believes it is important that we play a constructive role by working with the industry, environment groups, communities and the Tasmanian Government as they move to develop a more diverse and secure economic base, at the same time as delivering a balanced and sustainable approach to native forest management.

The Gillard Labor Government will do three things as part of this process:

* Work with the Tasmanian Government to undertake an initial due diligence assessment of the Tasmanian forest industry in light of the Principles.
* With the Tasmanian Government, jointly appoint an independent facilitator to work with the signatories to the agreement as an honest broker to help build an implementation plan for the Principles.
* Endorse the initial moratorium agreed between the parties on further logging in specific areas while the process of due diligence and further development of the implementation of the principles continues.

Due Diligence

To help drive an effective and lasting outcome, the Australian Government will work with the Tasmanian Government to undertake an initial due diligence assessment of the Tasmanian forest industry.

This due diligence will ensure all parties have a strong understanding of:

* the resources currently being used in the industry;
* the extent of renewable resource available;
* the sustainable size of the industry in the future, particularly given the changes in the market for Tasmanian timber products;
* agreed understanding between the parties of detail and definitions contained within the Statement of Principles including High Conservation Value forests; and
* most importantly the social and economic impact on communities in Tasmania.

Independent facilitator

The Gillard Labor Government will also assist the Tasmanian Government by jointly appointing an independent empowered facilitator to work with the signatories to the agreement as an honest broker to help build an implementation plan for the Principles.

The facilitator will officially report back to all parties by the end of June 2011.

Initial moratorium

Part of the Principles agreement was for areas of High Conservation Value forest to be identified and preserved.

As a sign of good faith to the parties to the agreement the Gillard Labor Government is pleased to announce its endorsement of the Tasmanian Government taking action to have a number of High Conservation Forest Areas identified by the parties immediately included as part of a moratorium on further logging while the next stages of due diligence and details of the principles are worked through.

The Commonwealth endorsement of an initial moratorium will be consistent with the following considerations:

* the moratorium will be for a set term and any permanent closures will be conditional on the agreement being taken forward;
* an initial moratorium will necessarily cover a small area, with additional areas being added over time as the final agreement progressed; and
* many areas covered by a moratorium are not currently in production, meaning that short-term closures of these areas could be achieved without cost for industry.

The Gillard Government stresses that the Commonwealth's facilitation of this process - in the next steps of due diligence, putting detail around the principles, and an implementation strategy - is contingent on all the parties to the Principles agreement remaining supportive of the agreement, and reaching an agreed outcome as they work through the details of the Principles.

The Gillard Government's current role in the process will be to help facilitate negotiations, as opposed to providing new financial resources.

The Gillard Government recently announced a $22.4 million package of assistance for the Tasmanian forestry contractors. In addition, the Government has already committed $325 million over 25 years to the Tasmanian Government and forest industry through the Regional Forest Agreement. This support is a clear demonstration of the commitment the Gillard Labor Government has to long term sustainable forestry in Tasmania.

The industry and environment organisations have been able to work cooperatively together, and the Gillard Labor Government expects to work in a similar spirit with the Tasmanian Government to achieve a lasting legacy for the people of Tasmania.

Transcript 17370