Last-ditch $102m for forest deal

Written By miftah nugraha on Rabu, 12 Desember 2012 | 19.55

TASMANIA'S historic forest peace deal has been thrown an extra $102 million in a last-ditch effort to get the legislation underpinning the deal through the Upper House.

The State Government will go further into deficit by contributing $39.5 million to the deal.

Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke, right, said the Commonwealth would provide an extra $62.5 million.

The money is in addition to $276 million already set aside for the deal.

 About $140 million of that has been spent, leaving about $240 million of funding in the hands of Tasmania's Upper House after signatories agreed yesterday the extra money was all they needed to honour the forest peace deal.

Further money to compensate timber company Ta Ann for reducing its peeler quota will be determined soon.

Mr Burke joined Deputy Premier Bryan Green for the announcement yesterday.

He flew into Hobart to discuss the funding with members of the Upper House before they began debating the legislation about 7pm.

After about an hour the debate was adjourned until this morning.

At a briefing Mr Burke, Mr Green and Premier Lara Giddings outlined what the additional money would be used for.

Industry restructuring will get $28 million, and a further $25 million will be used in part to encourage innovation in the use of plantation timber.

The remaining money will be used for ongoing management of additional reserves and to support the implementation of the deal.

followed two days of briefings for the MLCs who had heard form all sides of the debate during the day.

Mr Burke said he had been told by MLCs last week they could not start to debate the legislation without knowing what additional money was available to ensure the agreement was viable.

"Today's announcement comes at a critical time when a number of industry players are making significant commercial decisions that will have lasting impacts on the Tasmanian economy," he said, referring to Ta Ann which has vowed to leave the state if the deal does not pass the Upper House.

"The Australian Government stands for Tasmanian jobs and a sustainable industry.

"We are pleased to be able to provide the funds required to manage this period of transition and also deliver significant conservation outcomes."

Mr Green said the agreement was critical to securing the long-term future of the forest industry and future jobs.

"We have worked closely with the Commonwealth and the signatories on the funding package to achieve all of the objectives of the agreement," he said.

The State Government's contribution announcement came one day after it was revealed it had fallen a further $44 million into deficit.

Opposition Leader Will Hodgman said the money was a sign the Government was hopelessly compromised and captive to the Greens.

"Yesterday the Premier announced $25 million to stimulate the economy. Today she has announced $40 million to shut the economy down," Mr Hodgman said last night.

Mr Burke said the Commonwealth funds would need to come, in part, from other environmental projects across the country.

"Times of transition are never easy but governments either step up and help people or let markets take care of themselves with the risk of serious and permanent adverse consequences."

matthew.smith@news.com.au


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