Today is a great day for Australian foresters as a government report tabled in the Senate recommends changes to the Regional Forest Agreements framework to give operational certainty that the native forest industry has been crying out for.
This follows a controversial ruling of Justice Mortimer which undermined two decades of environmental oversight of forestry operations through Regional Forest Agreements.
The Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee report follows the committee’s inquiry on the private Senator’s bill.
“The government recommendations vindicate the reasons for my bill and the need for urgent action that will give industry certainty following the ambiguity created by Justice Mortimer’s ruling in the original case against VicForests by Friends of Leadbeater’s Possum,” Senator McKenzie said.
“Australia’s forestry industries abide by the most stringent environmental standards, set by the Commonwealth and agreed to with the states that have Regional Forest Agreements.
“Green lawfare under the guise of environmental protection is not something I will ever sit back and allow to play out in our courts because when this is allowed to happen, it brings the forestry industry to a grinding halt, costs real jobs and detrimentally impacts regional communities.”
Earlier this week, a full bench of the Federal Court unanimously upheld VicForests’ appeal of the ruling, proving the critical need for certainty to be guaranteed through legislation for how the intersection of the EPBC Act and Regional Forest Agreements should be interpreted.
“By introducing my bill and having it referred to a committee inquiry, The Nationals continue to demonstrate that we are the Party that is serious about driving positive change for the people, communities and industries we represent in rural and regional Australia,” Senator McKenzie said.
“While VicForests’ appeal being upheld by the Federal Court is a welcome outcome for industry, it is through legislation that we need to provide the certainty our foresters are desperately seeking.
“We cannot rest on the protections achieved following the unanimous Federal Court’s ruling that overruled Justice Mortimer’s judgement; protection from environmental extremists must be secured for the forestry industry.”
Labor Senators included a dissenting report proving they cannot see the wood for the trees, turning their back on the hard working, blue-singlet wearing foresters they claim to represent.
“When you have the CFMEU giving their full support to my bill and advocating bipartisan support to pass the bill, how can workers have any faith that the Labor Party will stand up for them? They can’t because Labor’s recommendations show that they have zero regard for the industry and are willing to jeopardise its future,” Senator McKenzie said.
The Greens also included a dissenting report with abhorrent recommendations that demonstrate their continued attacks against sustainable native timber harvesting.
“The fact that the Greens recommend urgent action to end native forest logging shows they’re out of touch with the environmental protections that the regulatory framework provides, have no knowledge of where our hardwood timber comes from and that softwood cannot replace hardwood for so many of the products we use in our everyday lives,” Senator McKenzie said.
“It’s tougher than steel, lower emission to produce, and it’s beautiful.”