The Australian Greens Leader, Senator Christine Milne, uses Question Time in the Senate to ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister about his remarkable claim the previous evening that Australia has "too much locked up forest".
Senator MILNE (Tasmania-Leader of the Australian Greens) (14:18): My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Abetz. Given that the Prime Minister said last night:
We have quite enough national parks. We have quite enough locked up forests already. In fact, in an important respect, we have too much locked up forest.
Can the minister indicate which of Australia's national parks and forest reserves the Prime Minister wants opened up for native forest logging, mining and grazing, in addition to the 74,000 hectares from the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area?
Senator ABETZ (Tasmania-Leader of the Government in the Senate, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service and Minister for Employment) (14:19): I am absolutely delighted to take the question from the Leader of the Australian Greens, because what the position of the Leader of the Australian Greens is putting is exactly the issue that the people of Tasmania will be deciding on 15 March: whether or not the Australian people get the opportunity for jobs with a renewable resource that is recyclable, reusable and at the end of the day genuinely renewable and, what is more, takes more carbon out of the atmosphere than it puts in. In other words, it is the only carbon-positive industry that Australia has. So we unashamedly indicate our support for the forestry sector.
In relation to national parks, I just remind those opposite-and in this regard I am speaking to both the Greens and the ALP-that, in cahoots with the state Labor/Greens government in Hobart, they made a submission to the World Heritage Committee to lock up pine forests as though they were pristine world heritage areas. They also argued for eucalypt plantations to be so locked up. They also argued that native forests on their third rotation of harvesting should be locked up because they were pristine forests. If that were to be the case, isn't it the biggest tick the forestry industry could ever get that on the third cycle of harvesting it is still seen as pristine world heritage forest? That is how well Tasmania does forestry and that is why it is right for Tasmania to fully harness the potential of the forestry industry in Tasmania and the jobs that it will provide right around the state of Tasmania, and especially in the electorate of Lyons. (Time expired)
Senator MILNE (Tasmania-Leader of the Australian Greens) (14:21): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. I did ask: which national parks and forest reserves do you want trees taken out of for logging-and I note you deliberately ignored the question. So I ask now: does the Prime Minister support the ongoing logging of the mountain ash forests in Victoria, the last habitat of the Leadbeater's possum and does the Prime Minister support the deforestation of the Bimblebox Nature Refuge, the Leard Forest and the Tarkine, all as part of his 'the environment is meant for man' comment? (Time expired)
Senator ABETZ (Tasmania-Leader of the Government in the Senate, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service and Minister for Employment) (14:21): As I have indicated, the coalition unashamedly supports forestry. What is more, with the forest practices that occur in this country, and especially in my home state of Tasmania, you can have harvested an area not once, not twice, but be on the third rotation of harvesting and still have the Greens claim that it is pristine forest worthy of world heritage protection. In those circumstances, it is appropriate to allow the forest industry to continue to be engaged in a genuine renewable resource, gaining a resource, gaining jobs, gaining wealth, because we know that if you do not use wood products you use concrete, you use aluminium, you use glass, you use plastic-all non-renewable resources. That is why, if you are a genuine- (Time expired)
Senator MILNE (Tasmania-Leader of the Australian Greens) (14:22): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. I thank the minister for confirming the Prime Minister does support the logging of the Mountain Ash forest, so I ask now: why is the native forest logging industry exempted from the end of the age of entitlement and set to have two forest industry advisory councils, and at what cost to the taxpayer?
Senator ABETZ (Tasmania-Leader of the Government in the Senate, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service and Minister for Employment) (14:23): Talk about pots calling kettles black. The green industry in this country has tax deductibility like no other sector that uses its money on ill-informed, ignorant, untruthful campaigns to destroy the jobs of honest workers, especially in my home state of Tasmania. That is why the people of Tasmania on 15 March have a very stark choice: they can either vote to keep locking up Tasmania and ensuring the jobs go, that the population decreases and that the wealth base diminishes, or they can vote for a majority Hodgman Liberal government-
Senator Whish-Wilson: Mr President, I rise on a point of order going to relevance. Senator Abetz has clearly been asked why he has always propped up and subsidised the failing forest industry. He has not answered the question.
The PRESIDENT: There is no point of order. Senator Abetz still has 15 seconds remaining to address the question.
Senator ABETZ: Typical of the Australian Greens: when they know they are down, they will raise a spurious point of order to try to break my train of thought. Be assured, my train of thought is going in a direct line and that is to ensure that the Labor-Greens government in Tasmania- (Time expired)