Wednesday, October 6, 2004

Critics attack Howard's forests policy

Caretaker Prime Minister John Howard's "the rodent type" announcement that a re-elected Coalition government would protect an additional 170,000 hectares of Tasmania's old growth forests has been criticised by unions, environmentalists, the Greens and a pro-logging member of the Labor Party.

Howard also unveiled a $50 million plan to assist the timber industry and promised there would be no job losses.

Conservation groups have condemned Howard's plan as a travesty.

The Wilderness Society, the Australian Conservation Foundation and Greenpeace joined forces to attack the plan.

Alec Marr from the Wilderness Society says it is a con job.

"Most of that 170,000 hectares is not trees and big chunks of it are the areas that were too remote and too uncommercial for the industry to log," he said.

"What John Howard has done is taken scraps thrown to him by the woodchip companies and the Tasmanian Government and tried to dress it up as a conservation outcome.

"So what they've cynically done is take the important names like the Styx and the Tarkine and protected little bits of them, the bits that the logging industry didn't want."

The Wilderness Society says that there is no commitment to ending land clearing, which it says is one the biggest problems. 

Greens Senator Bob Brown says Mr Howard is offering to protect about one-third of what Opposition Leader Mark Latham has promised to save.

"What John Howard has done is pick bits and pieces from the Tarkine, from the Styx, from other forests in the eastern highlands and said 'we'll allow those to be protected but we're ultimately guaranteeing that large areas also go to the woodchip mills'," he said.

He has now asked his party to give preferences to Labor in another 26 seats.

"I've asked the party tonight to contact those electorates in the view of this appalling destruction of forests, imminent in the policy that's been greeted by the loggers today with handshakes from Prime Minister Howard, but which sells out this nation's heritage, to review that decision by those electorates," he said.

"I'll be hopefully able to coordinate or collect that data and pass that on to the electorate between now and Saturday." 

Labor's forestry spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon says it does nothing to protect the most threatened old-growth forests in Tasmania.

"Not one additional hectare of old-growth forests will be protected as a result of John Howard's policy," he said.

The Forestry Union's Michael O'Connor says Mr Howard's package falls short of union demands.

"We don't want to give up one hectare, one tree, we don't want any changes to the Regional Forests Agreement, that's our position," he said.

"There's only two politicians that support making no appeasement to the Greens and that seems to be Paul Lennon and Dick Adams."

The pro-logging Labor member for the Tasmanian seat of Lyons, Dick Adams, says he cannot support either of the major parties' forestry policies.

Having already spoken out against his own party's forest plan, he has also denounced Howard's policy because it involves locking up more land. 

While he concedes the Liberal plan would lock up fewer trees, he would not say he supported that policy over Labor's.

"There is a difference here and I don't support locking up any more of Tasmania's forests," he said.

"The decision today by Howard was to do that so I don't support that."

By Green Not Greed 6 October 04


Federal ALP''s Leader Mark Latham's forest policy with a promise to protect Tasmania's old growth forests and rainforest is a revolution. REVOLUTION THINK?

If crime don't pay, why is John Howard still in Canberra?
When Labor and the Liberals took away many prisoner's right to vote. The Greens stood up for your rights.

Potent strike into Howard's heartland before it's too late!
HOPE, urgency and Medicare Gold constitute Mark Latham's now formidable assault on The Lodge. In his first campaign launch Latham has unveiled a mega-initiative -- free hospital treatment, public or private, for all Australians aged 75 and over.

Greens Senator Kerry Nettel's reasoning: A vote for Labor or the Democrats in the Senate is now potentially a vote for right-wing Christian candidates is beyond rhetoric.

Annan tells world leaders to respect law
United Nations (UN) secretary-general Kofi Annan has made an impassioned plea to bring about the rule of law across the globe today. Mr Annan told world leaders to respect international law at home and abroad.

Wentworth voters turn to the Greens: poll
A new opinion poll published today shows voters in the blue ribbon Sydney seat of Wentworth are turning away from the Liberal Party just like everybody else. The party has held the eastern suburbs seat for 103 years and that's far too long.

Defence people need to vote for the Greens
Caretaker Prime Minister John Howard will today unveil a plan to step up the fight against terrorism in the region, using specialist teams of Australian Federal Police (AFP) that could be sent to work in neighbouring countries.

Iraq war illegal, says Annan
United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan says the United States decision to invade Iraq in March 2003 was "illegal". Australia was a key supporter of the war on Iraq and sent troops to join the United States-led invasion last year.

BREAKTHROUGH AS DFAT TAKES STEPS FOR GUANTANAMO BAY POSTAL VOTE As the electoral rolls closed, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) confirmed that they have faxed David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib postal vote application forms, Australian Greens Member for Cunningham Michael Organ said.

PM may be hung in Parliament?
John Howard the rodent may be voted the worst Prime Minister in Australia's History and his portrait hung in parliament.

Major parties urged to reveal adequate climate change policies
The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) says the major political parties are yet to reveal adequate policies on climate change as they campaign for next month's federal election.

Cheesed-off voter tells PM he's past his best
Prime Minister John Howard "Scumbo" has been visiting the marginal seat of Richmond on the New South Wales far north coast. It is held by the National Party's Larry Anthony by a margin of just 1.7 per cent.

The federal Coalition has stepped up its attack on the Australian Greens.