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Tasmanian forests « Previous | |Next »
October 5, 2004

Well, well well. The ALP has done it.

It's forest policy is basically another review. Yet it is a review with a known outcome. The result is likely to be more old-growth native forest protected, around 240,00 hectares of old growth forest.

Latham has pledged to outlaw logging in virtually all of Tasmania's old-growth forests, and offered $800 million in compensation to help timber companies and their workers, families and communities cope with having a large slice of their resources locked away. The $800 million would be spent on "skills, retooling and upgrading". So workers who lose their jobs would be rehabilitated by being reskilled to go up the value-added chain".

And the ALP has flagged that it would be willing to use the commonwealth's legislative powers to override the ALP Tasmanian state government if necessary.

Good on them. Full marks. The ALP has managed to make health, education and the environment the key election issues and to make the Coalition react negatively.

I presume that playing this green hand means that in the last week of the election the opinion polls are still showing Labor behind in the crucial marginal seats. Otherwise why bother deepening the split within the ALP itself? However, Back Pages is still calling it as the ALP in front. So why the need to play the forest hand now? Why not continue to play the cat and mouse game?

Is it the emotive magic bullet to wound the opponent that John Wanna says is now required?


As Louise Dodson observes the concern for Tasmania's forests in this campaign is primary political: it is more about gaining tactical advantage and less about saving the old growth forests.

Is it merely a figleaf to secure the inner city marginal seats on the mainland? A a bid to win the light green vote while not losing support in the 5 seats it holds in Tasmania?

The ALP's move does reopen the 20-year regional forest agreement signed by the commonwealth and Tasmanian governments in 1997. That agreement guaranteed the timber industry a sustainable supply of 300,000 cubic metres of sawlogs every year for the next 20 years.

The ALP policy says that a new scientific panel to assess which parts of Tasmania's high conservation value old-growth forests should be protected from logging. The panel would examine areas including the Tarkine Wilderness in the state's north-west, the Styx Valley north of Hobart, the Great Western and Eastern Tires, the north-east highlands, the Tasman Peninsula and the Ben Lomond Extensions and would report by September 2005.

The panel would carry out its scientific assessment on the basis of eight different bio-regions in the state rather than treating the whole state as a single bio-region as occurred under the 1990s RFA scientific assessments.The bio-region approach would guarantee that more areas are scientifically assessed as warranting conservation.

There is no immediate protection for Tasmania's old-growth forests. There is only to be no extension to the logging area whilst the scientific assessment is under way. The loggers are not shut out. A review without a commitment to end logging gives too much room for the forestry industry to roll back a divided ALP.

Though the ALP policy does mention sustainable forestry, value-adding and downstream processing, there is little detail about what is involved in a transition to sustainable forestry? What makes the forestry industry sustainable?

The 400 (or is 320?) timber workers and their union do not want to know anything about sustainability. Nor are they willing to acknowledge that what is involved is stopping them cutting 90-metre tall native trees down and getting to them to cut down radiata pine trees in a plantation instead. Or better management of existing plantations.

Yet the forest industry threatens a capital strike, the Tasmanian federal ALP parliamentarians continue to do their kneejerk reflex and the Tasmanian Liberals re-discover state rights.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:58 AM | | Comments (4)


Gary, while I'm still predicting an ALP win, on the polls, I've actually written:

on the polling on balance, and according to the which-numbers-would-you-rather-have test, the LNP is entitled to be a slight favourite at the start of the final week

Tactically, the forest policy has not been all that good for the ALP with the Tasmanian Premier and other Tasmania's Labor Gunn captives and Unions dumping on Latham.

However unlike last time is good to lose on principled policies, rather for being a pale imitation of the Coalition.

It is not likely that they will lose any of their seats in Tasmania is it? It is mostly tactical huff and puff.

The State ALP crowd are not going to sift camp to the LNP.They will fight Latham from within by trying to derail the forest policy.

If it gains the ALP the marginal votes they need in the inner city seats on the mainland (eg., Adelaide) then the strategy is a good one.

Something has gone real wrong in the ALP, if the timber workers vote for a National Party MP in Gippsland because of a Tasmanian forest policy.

ok this logging thing is off! i am only 13 and i think it is totally wrong u should not eva kill a living thing that has not harmed u