From our beginning, the Greens have stood with the community to protect Australia's precious forests.
Yesterday the Tasmanian Parliament passed legislation that was supposed to protect some of our most important iconic wilderness areas.
Tragically, the legislation fails to end the long-term threats to Tasmanian native forests by delaying conservation outcomes until 2014 and beyond.
We were over the moon in February when it was announced that an additional 123,000ha of unique Tasmanian rainforest would be nominated for World Heritage. This was a great win for the conservationists who had campaigned for decades to protect those forests.
But all other conservation outcomes detailed in the new Tasmanian Forests Agreement legislation are delayed beyond the next federal and state elections.
As leader of the Australian Greens I couldn't support the legislation because of the precedent it set for the nation in silencing the conservation movement and undermining the campaigns and communities working to protect forests across the country.
Within twenty four hours the Prime Minister called on the forest agreement signatories "to use their abilities to silence those who haven't gone with the mainstream consensus."
Under a federal Abbott or Tasmanian Liberal Government these forests and more across the country will be opened up for logging.
We still have a long road to travel before we can be hopeful of an end to industrial-scale native forest logging in Tasmania and elsewhere.
It means it's more important than ever to stop Abbott from getting full control of the federal Parliament.
The Tasmanian legislation should be of concern to Australians who care about forests around the country because:
- It seeks to entrench and certify native forest logging rather helping to end it. This has dire implications for the reviews of Regional Forest Agreements around the country due to begin soon.
- It seeks to pressure the Forest Stewardship Council to certify Tasmania's logging practices even though they are some of the worst in the country: clearfelling, cable logging, and firebombing of coupes. It holds forest reservation hostage to FSC certification.
- It makes forest protection contingent upon a "silenced" community.
The aims of the forest agreement process were noble: to transition the industry out of native forests into a sustainable plantation base and to reserve high conservation value forests that had been excluded from past reservation. Instead, native forest logging will be entrenched and subsidised by taxpayer dollars.
Tasmania's forests are precious to me. Tell us what is precious to you and join us as we continue to campaign strongly to protect our forests and wildlife.
Yours in solidarity,
Senator Christine Milne
Australian Greens Leader