Australian Greens Leader Senator Christine Milne today called on Prime Minister Gillard to show leadership to protect Tasmania's forests, following wasted expenditure of $130 million on an intransigent logging industry.
"Prime Minister Gillard needs to show the same leadership demonstrated by Bob Hawke in the 1980s when he worked with the Greens in balance of power in the Tasmanian Parliament to double the size of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area," Senator Milne said.
"There is a proposed world heritage extension, now verified by the exhaustive West report, ready and waiting to be declared. This includes the splendour of the Tarkine and expanded boundaries of the existing area.
"It's now time for the Prime Minister to put forward this World Heritage nomination
"The forest talks have involved more than two years of meetings and $130 million spent on the logging industry, but have failed to protect a single tree," Senator Milne said.
"Tasmania desperately needs the $100 million in regional development funding tied to the protection of 570,000 hectares of forest.
"If the economy is not diversified then Tasmania will be condemned to more decades of debt and dislocation caused by the native-forest logging industry, which employs less than 2% of the Tasmanian workforce.
"The logging industry has received more than $1 billion of public funding since 1990 but has failed to deliver to the Tasmanian economy, as shown by the collapse of Gunns and the $26 million debt announced by Forestry Tasmania this year."
Senator Milne also called on retail giants Harvey Norman and Bunnings to clarify their attitude to the forest talks following reports they had urged forest industry players to stick to a position dependent on an unsustainable level of logging.
"Just like the coal industry which failed to take advantage of the contracts for closure offer, the forest industry has missed its best chance to get back on its feet by transitioning to a sustainable footing."