Today’s forestry package announcement by Prime
Minister Howard and Premier Lennon is nothing short of brilliant. It will be
opposed by Green extremists because they rely on forest conflict for
political oxygen, but the vast majority of Tasmanians will see it as balanced
and sustainable.

My sources tell me that it was Lennon who
was the primary architect of the package. For example, the conservation
objectives and phasing out of clear-felling in the package came from the
Tasmanian premier. This gives lie to claims that Lennon is in the pocket of the
forestry industry.

Furthermore, this package finally gives Lennon an issue that he can
own. He has spent much of time as premier cleaning up his predecessor
Jim Bacon’s mess. Richard Butler, Spirit of Tasmania 3 and the decaying
health system are all Bacon legacies. Lennon can see this forestry
package as his government’s work. In fact, it’s doubtful whether any
other Tasmanian premier could have sold this package to the industry.
Lennon’s long involvement in the forestry industry in Tasmania and his
capacity to deliver on his word, made selling the conservation side of
the package to the industry possible.

The majority of Tasmanians are tired of the forestry debate. The Howard-Lennon package, in going further on the
conservation front than expected, while preserving jobs, is without doubt a
circuit breaker, despite what the Greens and Wilderness Society say
today. The Lennon government’s chances of winning the next
election here have just been enhanced today.