Mar 12, 2014

Tasmanian forest wars: Liberal win could reignite a decades-old debate

They said the conflict over Tasmania's forests was over. But with the Liberals poised to win the state election on Saturday, should we be bracing for another round of protests?

Cathy Alexander — Freelance journalist and PhD candidate in politics at the University of Melbourne

Cathy Alexander

Freelance journalist and PhD candidate in politics at the University of Melbourne

It seems Tasmania may have had its Neville Chamberlain moment on the future of its forests.

“I believe it is peace for our time,” the British PM famously declared after signing a deal with Germany — in 1938. Similarly, a recent Tasmanian deal to end the bitter conflict over logging may be a false dawn. If the Liberals win the state election on Saturday, as expected, they’ve promised to scrap the deal.

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8 thoughts on “Tasmanian forest wars: Liberal win could reignite a decades-old debate

  1. Hugh (Charlie) McColl

    Heard Liberal Hodgeman on ABC radio earlier today – he seemed to be saying that if the Libs don’t get a clear majority in the election he will not lead a minority Liberal government – no matter who he could form an ‘alliance’ with. Would this mean that the Libs might have to replace him, after election day, with someone who IS willing to negotiate to form a Liberal minority government or does it mean the Liberals will take their bat and ball and leave the field? What is it about this born-to-rule mob?

  2. AR

    No “IF” about it,SouthMouth jnr made it abundantly clear to Fran on RN this morning,”I will rip up the agreement in my first week in office.”
    Points for telling us that before hand – minus several thousand for being .. himself.

  3. fractious

    I wonder what the chances are of Hodgeman honouring that commitment (or is it a non-core promise) should he find himself in charge of a minority govt. After all, loggers are the best environmentalists, doncher know.

  4. mikeb

    Ripping up the agreement is an election ploy to wedge the Libs from green/labor. From a business sense it is a stupid idea as everyone involved in the industry wants the agreement to work – that is apart from dissafected ex-loggers who couldn’t or wouldn’t adapt. No credible buyer wants wood from uncertified forests and other suppliers can get it cheaper elsewhere anyway. The so-called party of free enterprise will need to bump up the subsidies and handouts as a pseudo unemployment benefit to rednecks who somehow think the rest of the state’s taxpayers have less rights to a job than them, but should nevertheless continue paying them to keep the chainsaws running.

  5. MJPC

    Heard the LNP heir apparent on the ABC today being interviewed:
    Following his (recent) masters voice to the Forestry heads it will be “rip, rip woodchips, turn it into paper” come Sunday if they get in.
    On the mainland the unemployed are all going to be barista’s or Coles checkout operators, in Tasmania they will all be lumberjacks; this is a sorry excuse for a Government.

  6. Cathy Alexander

    Good question Hugh. I have been asking around about this. While polls show the Liberals are likely to win 13 or 14 seats on Saturday (13 is a majority), there is a small chance they may only win 12.

    Now, if that happens, Hodgman has made it clear he will not govern in minority. If Labor and the Greens can muster 13 seats between them they would likely form govt, but I think this is highly unlikely.

    The PUP could just win one (again, unlikely, but possible). In that case, I think the Libs would form govt with the PUP. Hodgman could either become premier, or stick to his promises and stand aside.

    Hodgman would really struggle to form govt with the Greens given the vehemence of his comments around this. But he could get away with governing with the PUP, I think.

  7. Cathy Alexander

    And MJPC, on woodchips – one thing the Liberal forest policy does note is that the forest industry is no longer about woodchips.

    “We don’t want to go back to the past; the era of forestry underpinned in the main by woodchip exports has finished.”

    Interesting – you would never have heard that a decade ago.

  8. MJPC

    Cathy, I would’nt be too sure that policy is changed come a win. He did mention with fondness the por state of a pulp mill (which I thought did not go ahead as much for environmental reasons as for Gunns financial woes), and had some fond comments about a woodchip mill being still available for use by the products of the lumberjacks.
    Never believe a politician when in opposition, in NSW the red t-shirts worn by the Premier (water over coal) and crew before the state election became only so many cleaning rags in government (coal/CSG winning out over water in the Hunter).

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