Tasmania’s timber industry is sticking by a peace deal with environmentalists that the state’s new Liberal government is vowing to tear up.
Key industry figure Terry Edwards says the Tasmanian Forest Agreement (TFA) signed in 2012 after three years of delicate negotiations will be part of discussions with Will Hodgman’s new government.
The deal swapped 500,000 hectares of forest protection for green groups’ support of a restructured industry to be based on plantations.
It also attracted close to $200 million of federal job-creation money.
Chief executive of the Forest Industries Association of Tasmania (FIAT), Mr Edwards says he will take important parts of the deal to talks with new minister Paul Harriss, who has vocally opposed it.
“There are many positive initiatives within the Tasmanian Forest Agreement and FIAT remains committed, as a signatory to the TFA, to the pursuit of outcomes that accord with it,” Mr Edwards said in a statement.
“We will take those initiatives to the table with the new government as key issues and outcomes that they should consider embracing within a future forest policy.”
Mr Edwards said there was no conflict between the industry’s engagement with the new government and its role as a signatory to the deal.
After the Liberals’ victory on March 15 he described the agreement as less relevant.
Mr Hodgman says his government will honour its pledge to rip up the deal.
“We remain optimistic that not only will the industry sector continue to embrace a new way of doing forestry in Tasmania … but also sensible environmentalists will accept that the Tasmanian people have spoken,” the new premier said after his first cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
Mr Hodgman said details of the government’s plan would be revealed in “coming days”.
Cabinet’s first decision was a two-year waiver on water and sewerage charges for developers at a cost to the government of $5 million a year.