By Matthew Denholm
Controversial plans by Tasmania’s government to open up 350,000 hectares of former protected forests for logging have been undermined by the peak timber industry group joining environmentalists in united opposition.
In a major embarrassment for the Hodgman Liberal government, the pro-logging legislation it had hoped would shore up votes in regional seats ahead of a state election is now opposed by the influential Forest Industries Association of Tasmania.
FIAT today issued a statement announcing it would join the Greens and Wilderness Society in fighting the government’s Forestry (Unlocking Production Forests) Bill, at least in its current form.
“We have advised the government that we are unable to support the bill … as it will create unnecessary sovereign risk in log supply and problems in our markets and a return to the ‘forestry wars’,” said FIAT chief executive Terry Edwards.
Mr Edwards said the industry did not accept the central premise of the legislation: that opening up the forests, which include highly contentious areas on Bruny Island, as well as in Wielangta, the Blue Tier and the Tarkine, was needed to protect jobs.