Thursday, October 7, 2004

Howard's Tasmanian Chainsaw Massacre

JOHN Howard yesterday promised to lock up an extra 170,000ha of old growth forest in Tasmania, a pledge he claimed would not result in one job being lost. Releasing his long-awaited policy to a timber worker rally in Launceston, the nervous Howard was soon bowled over when he received a rousing applause from more than a 1000 chainsaws.

Despite being allegedly manhandled by a protester on his arrival - the man was arrested? - Scumbo Howard played into the hands of the loggers amid desperation the Neo-Liberals could pick up vital Tasmania seats.

Howard "the rodent type" admitted he did not consult a single scientist or conservation group on the plan. Instead, the 170,000ha were chosen by the "logging industry" and did not include any areas where logging is under way.

It fell way short of Labor's pledge to protect 240,000ha. But the plan, which was believed to have been finalised only yesterday, received little support of forest industry groups.

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

Howard also ruled out any further scientific studies and claimed the burden of the green aspirations of a majority of Australians should not be borne by a small number of timber workers? Hello! hello!

"Many Australians would like to see an end to old growth logging, I would too [but] that should not occur at the expense of jobs and not at the expense of individual communities," he said.

Communities which depend on old growth forest?

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."

Unlike the $800 million promised by Labor to ensure job restructuring, Mr Howard said his policy would cost $50 million, much of which would go into plans such as buying land to include in a forest reserve and upgrading forest workers' skills.

The policy is an addition to the existing Regional Forest Agreement signed seven years ago but would only be possible if agreed to by the Tasmania's Labor Government.



Written and authorised by the community.


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