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It’s the news we have long been waiting to hear. At 11:40 this morning the Tasmanian forest agreement passed the Tasmanian House of Assembly. This is just quick update: everything you need to know about the deal.
If it is implemented, the agreement will protect 504,012 hectares of rainforest and important native forests. Verified by scientists as the most important of Tasmania’s remaining native forests, the protected areas would include the iconic forests of the Styx Valley, Upper Florentine and Weld Valleys, the temperate rainforests of the Tarkine and the unique forests of the Blue Tier.
Importantly, the agreement will support workers and restructure the timber industry towards a sustainable and productive future where it can make certified products we can all be proud to support.
We’re often focused on holding politicians to account, but we should also congratulate them when they do a great job. From the Prime Minister to the Greens to Tasmanian Premier Lara Giddings, it took a huge effort from our politicians to come this far. The process was lead and championed by Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke, and we congratulate him on a historic outcome. Click here to congratulate Minister Tony Burke on Twitter, or click here to share the news on Facebook.
The Tasmanian environment movement, in particular The Wilderness Society, Environment Tasmania and Australian Conservation Foundation have put absolutely everything they could into achieving this historic outcome — striking the right balance for the environment and Tasmania’s economic prosperity. We wholeheartedly congratulate them, their members and supporters for their tireless efforts. We also congratulate the union movement, in particular the CFMEU and Timber Communities Australia, who were at the table throughout.
You also played an important role. Dr Phill Pullinger, head of Enviornment Tasmania and one of the negotiators over the last 2 years had this to say about what your actions achieved:
“When thousands of GetUp members signed petitions and wrote letters along the way over the past two years – it has helped to make it clear to our politicians, to the timber industry, and to companies such as Bunnings and Harvey Norman, just how important it is that we protect Tasmania’s ancient forests, provide for a timber industry that all Australians can be proud of, and resolve a deeply divisive generational conflict in Tasmania.”
Don Henry, CEO of the Australian Conservation Foundation said that “when implemented, this agreement will be remembered as a socially, economically and environmentally robust solution achieved by old foes putting differences aside and finding common ground to protect jobs and the environment.”
Now it is up to Tasmania’s Upper House to review the legislation and decide whether to approve the agreement, allow forests to be protected, workers to be supported and the industry to transition to meet the demands of a modern marketplace. As Vica Bayley, who led negotations for The Wilderness Society, put it “everybody is now looking to Tasmania’s Upper House to support this agreement and the long term security if offers for workers, industry and communities.”
Not everyone will be thrilled with this outcome. The negotiations have required compromises on all sides. However, we hope that the Tasmanian Upper House will now seize this hard-won opportunity to move on from decades of division and send a clear message that the forest industry is moving to make products all Australians can be proud of.
Paul for the GetUp team.
PS – The Wilderness Society, who have been working for the protection of Tasmania’s wild forests for many years put together this amazing slide show of the forests which will be saved – enjoy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wilderness-society/sets/72157629574603327/show/