ALP refuses to end forest pillage

Issue 

BY SHUA GARFIELD

HOBART — The Tasmanian ALP state conference, held October 26-27 in
Launceston, voted overwhelmingly to not debate a motion put by Denison
MHR Duncan Kerr to end logging in areas of high conservation value.

Instead, it reaffirmed the ALP's support for the Regional Forests Agreement,
which has allowed record levels of woodchipping of Tasmanian forests while
jobs in the forestry industry continue to be lost.

Despite failing to have the motion debated, Kerr claimed a victory,
stating that the ALP had committed to a review of forestry policy, and
that many ALP figures had expressed a desire for a “transition” out of
old-growth logging.

However, Labor deputy premier Paul Lennon threw cold water on hopes
for any policy review, explaining that the committee Kerr believed would
review forestry policy was intended only for better communication of ALP
policy, and would not review any policies.

The conference decision flew in the face of Premier Jim Bacon's professed
commitment to the Tasmania Together process. Tasmania Together, a forum
set up during the Bacon government's first term, supposedly to facilitate
community consultation, has called for an end to logging in several “high-conservation
value” areas by January 1, 2003 and a complete end to clear-felling of
old-growth forests within 10 years.

In the lead-up to the conference, their were widespread calls, including
from tourism operators, for the government to adhere to the benchmarks
formulated by the Tasmania Together process. Bacon instead resorted to
tired “jobs vs environment” rhetoric to justify a continuation of current
forestry practices.

While the conference agreed to oversee a transition of the forestry
industry out of old-growth forests, activists are suspicious of what “transition”
means in the absence of any deadline.

From Green Left Weekly, November 6, 2002.

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