Forestry funding in balance

Written By miftah nugraha on Minggu, 11 Agustus 2013 | 19.55

AS the fate of the final $100 million of the $420 million Tasmanian Forestry Agreement hangs in the balance, Deputy Premier Bryan Green has launched a blistering attack on his Liberal Party opponents, describing their plans to thwart the deal as the "biggest act of political bastardry in Tasmania's history".

The Liberals, for their part, say they will do nothing to stop the cash from flowing, saying it is only Labor that has made the funding conditional.

Where the money goes

Money promised by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd last month is contingent on the state's Upper House giving its final blessing to the forest peace deal.

The ongoing crisis in forestry has caused the state's biggest company -- Gunns -- to go belly-up and Forestry Tasmania to teeter on the brink of insolvency.

Mr Green said the federal money was vital to building a post-forestry economic future for timber communities.

"Funding from the Tasmanian Forest Agreement is extremely important for Tasmania's economy and the people who have been impacted by the downturn in the forest industry," he said.

"The TFA is about helping the industry to restructure, for businesses to transition and to support forestry workers and communities through these difficult times."

Mr Green has hotly denied repeated accusations from the State Opposition that the money is payment to shut the forest industry down.

"The Liberals have the one-liners and policy slogans but no answers. It is the Liberals who pose the biggest threat to the forest industry and money flowing from the TFA," Mr Green said.

"If the Liberals succeed, it would be the biggest act of political bastardry in Tasmania's history."

The state Liberal Party has long vowed to tear up the forest peace deal should it win office at the next state election, expected in March next year.

That pledge would mean that forests placed in reserves would again be open for logging.

Liberal MP Peter Gutwein condemned the conditional nature of the forestry funding.

"Tasmania deserves its fair share of regional development money to grow industries across the state," he said.

"This money should not be linked to shutting down forestry.

"We don't support paying to shut down the forestry industry, close businesses and buy out jobs."

Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott told ABC radio the forestry funds would still flow if the Liberals won the federal election.

"What I said was that I was not going to begrudge hard-pressed businesses the federal grant that they were recently given by Mr Rudd," he said.

"I also said that as far as I am concerned, Commonwealth money spent in Tasmania should be to keep industries going and to boost industries, not to close them down.

"But those grants that were announced by the Commonwealth a few weeks ago, they will be honoured."

david.killick@news.com.au


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