Wednesday 3rd February marks the 19th anniversary of an agreement that has allowed the logging industry a legal exemption from Australia’s environment laws. Jill Redwood from Environment East Gippsland, where this exemption from commonwealth laws was first introduced says the Turnbull government is planning to instate another 20 years of this special treatment. When the agreement between the state and federal govt was signed, EGipp was promised a multi-million dollar economic boost – 400 new jobs – a bright future. There were 20 sawmills at the time – it’s now down to 5. It employs less than 0.05% of the regional workforce. The joint MR of 3rd Feb 1997 promised world class protection of old growth and biodiversity – both of which have declined rapidly in that time.
“We have one more year before this archaic agreement expires. To continue this out-dated, anti-environmental exemption to the laws for a passé and declining industry is deplorable”.
“Being exempt from environmental laws has caused the status of many forest dependent wildlife to take a nose dive. Some are now critically endangered, like the Leadbeaters Possum (Victoria’s faunal emblem) and the Swift Parrot while others like our Gliders are being added to threatened species lists”.
“We need to make native forest logging accountable” said Jill Redwood. “It’s time to bring it in line with other Australian industries and strip its preferential treatment. It has had 19 years of immunity from the law at great cost to our forests and the public purse”.
“Such critical wildlife habitat is worth far more standing than as a cheap export commodity. Our timber needs are 85% supplied by tree plantations. This is where the jobs and security for the industry is”.
“Over the past 19 years our forests in East Gippsland and across the country have been systematically clearfelled, mostly sold cheaply to overseas pulp and paper factories”.
“It’s time to set in place a new phase of valuing forests, keeping them upright and onshore for the many values they provide for Australia”.