Australian and Tasmanian Governments support the future of Tasmanian forestry
SUN 24 JULY 2011
Prime Minister, Premier of Tasmania
Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Tasmanian Premier Lara Giddings today announced an historic agreement on the future of forestry in Tasmania.
In the face of changing market conditions, both in Australia and around the world, it has become clear that the pressure on the Tasmanian forestry industry in its current form is not sustainable.
Today’s agreement will secure jobs, ensure a sustainable forestry industry, and achieve iconic environmental outcomes by protecting High Conservation Value forests and remaining old growth forests for future generations.
The Heads of Agreement, backed by up to $276 million, will also support workers and their families affected by industry restructure.
Under the Heads of Agreement:
- The Australian and Tasmanian Governments will provide up to $85 million in immediate assistance for workers and contractors who are losing their jobs and livelihoods as a result of industry restructure. This will include employee assistance, retraining and relocation support and assistance for voluntary permanent exits from native forest operations for haulage and harvest contractors;
- Facilitate sustainable opportunities for the Tasmanian forestry sector with the Tasmanian Government guaranteeing at least 155,000 cubic metres per year in wood supply, 12,500 cubic metres per year of speciality timbers, subject to verification and 265,000 cubic metres of billets, with existing wood supply contracts to be honoured and the Australian Government to fund a voluntary exit mechanism to enable further native wood supply capacity to be retired and reserve areas increased when suitable plantation wood supply is available;
- The Tasmanian Government will reserve and protect 430,000 hectares of native forest from within the 572,000 hectares nominated through the Statement of Principles process, and place the full 572,000 in informal reserve subject to an independent verification process of conservation values and compatibility with yearly guaranteed wood supply, led by Professor Jonathan West. The findings will determine the area of High Conservation Value forest to be reserved, with $7 million a year for their ongoing management to be provided by the Australian Government following incorporation into formal reserves;
- $120 million in Australian Government investment over 15 years, including $20 million in 2011-12, to develop and diversify the Tasmanian economy to drive new job opportunities for Tasmanian families, including through job-creating projects in communities affected by forestry restructure. A new ministerial advisory council to be chaired by Mr Bill Kelty AC will drive new regional development opportunities and a new place-based investment Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two governments; and
- The Australian Government will provide $43 million to implement the Heads of Agreement including funding for a range of activities such as working with communities through the transition and provide voluntary compensable exits to sawmillers wishing to exit the native forestry industry.
The Heads of Agreement is consistent with the Statement of Principles agreement between environment non-government organisations, the Tasmanian forestry industry and the CFMEU, which was presented by independent facilitator Mr Bill Kelty last month.
It means the forestry industry can continue on a sustainable footing, and guarantees ongoing supply for existing businesses that are critical to supporting jobs and regional communities in Tasmania.
The Australian and Tasmanian Governments thank the signatories to the Statement of Principles and Mr Kelty for their commitment and hard work.
The Statement of Principles process and the Heads of Agreement reached today creates an opportunity to move forward after decades of conflict and build a stronger future for Tasmania.
Governments recognise the significant challenges faced by the industry in the face of global economic and market conditions as well as the historic opportunity provided by forestry and environmental parties coming together to agree on a framework for delivering a sustainable future for the forest industry and the environment.
We also recognise that these challenges, as well as the decision by Gunns Limited to exit from native forestry, will have significant impacts on workers, communities and the Tasmanian economy.
The Governments clearly expect that following today’s historic agreement environment and industry stakeholders will end the long-running conflict over native forestry.
The Governments also expect that the Tasmanian Parliament will pass the required legislation by 30 June 2012.
The Australian and Tasmanian governments will work together to identify and support regional economic development through a partnership to create investment and jobs opportunities, particularly for regional communities.
The Australian and Tasmanian Governments will also work together to examine and identify potential opportunities from increased reserves from the Commonwealth Biodiversity Fund.
In October last year, the Tasmanian forestry industry and several environmental non-government organisations reached a Statement of Principles for protecting native forests and developing a sustainable timber industry in Tasmania.
The Australian and Tasmanian Governments appointed Mr Bill Kelty as an independent facilitator to facilitate talks on the Statement of Principles agreed to between environment non-government organisations, the CFMEU and the forestry industry in Tasmania.