Australian and Tasmanian governments support the future of Tasmanian forestry
The Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Tasmanian Premier Lara Giddings have announced an historic agreement on the future of forestry in Tasmania.
The agreement recognises that in the face of changing market conditions, both in Australia and around the world, it has become clear that the pressure on the Tasmanian forestry industry in its current form is not sustainable.
The agreement is aimed at securing jobs, ensuring a sustainable forestry industry, and achieving iconic environmental outcomes by protecting High Conservation Value forests and remaining old growth forests for future generations.
The Heads of Agreement, backed by up to $276 million, will also support workers and their families affected by industry restructure.
Under the Heads of Agreement:
- The Australian and Tasmanian Governments will provide up to $85 million in immediate assistance for workers and contractors who are losing their jobs and livelihoods as a result of industry restructure. This will include employee assistance, retraining and relocation support and assistance for voluntary permanent exits from native forest operations for haulage and harvest contractors;
- Sustainable opportunities for the Tasmanian forestry sector will be facilitated with the Tasmanian Government guaranteeing at least 155,000 cubic metres per year in wood supply, 12,500 cubic metres per year of speciality timbers, subject to verification, and 265,000 cubic metres of billets, with existing wood supply contracts to be honoured and the Australian Government to fund a voluntary exit mechanism to enable further native wood supply capacity to be retired and reserve areas increased when suitable plantation wood supply is available;
- The Tasmanian Government will reserve and protect 430,000 hectares of native forest from within the 572,000 hectares nominated through the Statement of Principles process, and place the full 572,000 in informal reserve subject to an independent verification process of conservation values and compatibility with yearly guaranteed wood supply, led by Professor Jonathan West. The findings will determine the area of High Conservation Value forest to be reserved, with $7 million a year for their ongoing management to be provided by the Australian Government following incorporation into formal reserves;
- $120 million in Australian Government investment over 15 years, including $20 million in 2011-12, to develop and diversify the Tasmanian economy to drive new job opportunities for Tasmanian families, including through job-creating projects in communities affected by forestry restructure. A new ministerial advisory council to be chaired by Mr Bill Kelty AC will drive new regional development opportunities and a new place-based investment Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two governments; and
- The Australian Government will provide $43 million to implement the Heads of Agreement including funding for a range of activities such as working with communities through the transition and provide voluntary compensable exits to sawmillers wishing to exit the native forestry industry.
The two Governments will formalise this agreement through an Intergovernmental Agreement which will include agreed implementation and reporting structures. Implementation arrangements will include a process to continue involvement of the signatories in relevant aspects of delivering this agreement, including the verification process and other aspects of the statement of principles not covered by this Heads of Agreement.