Media Releases - 24 January 2020

Good first step, Premier Gutwein - now for action

  • Tasmania’s Climate Change Minister required to make fundamental reforms to be credible
  • Reform of Tasmania’s logging industry essential
  • Formally request overhaul of Tasmania’s tourism EOI process


The Wilderness Society Tasmania today welcomed the reestablishment of Tasmania’s ministerial portfolio for climate change and the fact that Premier Peter Gutwein is the first incumbent to also be a Liberal MP and a Liberal Premier. 

“I would like to personally congratulate Premier Gutwein on his new Premiership and to his giving  the restored Climate Change portfolio an unprecedented level of authority. This bodes well, but the test will be whether Mr Gutwein will seize the myriad opportunities from Tasmania becoming the world leader on climate change that it should be or whether he will squib it,” said Mr Allen for the Wilderness Society Tasmania.

“If Premier Gutwein is the real deal on climate change, it is impossible for him not to reform Tasmania’s logging industry because maintaining and restoring native forests is now recognised as the single most effective way to lock-in and sequester carbon dioxide, mitigate the impacts of climate change and lessen the worsening extinction crisis. 

Towering stands of old growth in the Tarkine represent our best line of defence against climate change. Image: Rob Blakers

“Transitioning Tasmania’s logging industry to a plantation-based model could save Tasmania’s native world-class carbon-rich forests and save the taxpayer millions of dollars that would otherwise disappear into (un)Sustainable Timber Tasmania’s black hole. Transitioning would also provide financial and employment security for forestry workers and their employers that is impossible under the current model.

“A critical test for Mr Gutwein will also be over his handling of the outstanding reserves from the Tasmanian Forest Agreement, the Future Potential Production Forests, which the Hodgman Government changed from its previous tenure of Future Reserve Land.

“The logging industry was paid millions in public compensation in return for protecting these 356,000ha of reserves but they now face being logged. If Mr Gutwein’s government continues down the path of logging these reserves in the takayna/Tarkine, around Douglas Apsley National Park, around Ben Lomond National Park (in the Bass electorate), at the Blue Tier, at Wielangta, on Bruny Island and on the Tasman Peninsula, he will be Minister for Climate Change in name only.

“As the MP for Bass, Mr Gutwein will likely know just how many people in his electorate, many of whom voted Liberal, believe that privatising the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area for commercial tourism, at the exclusion of everyone else, is plain wrong.

“We can and must have a sustainable tourism industry without having to degrade wilderness - which is the essence of Tasmania's identity and the fundamental driver of Tasmania’s tourism industry. We sorely hope Mr Gutwein is prepared to reform the tourism EOI process so that it is transparent, collaborative and foregoes development in the World Heritage Area, National Parks and on reserved land. 

“This is an opportunity to recover the social licence that has evaporated from the EOI process and get the policy right. We will be writing to Mr Gutwein to formally request that his government changes direction on the tourism EOI process,” said Mr Allen. 

For comment: Tom Allen, campaign manager, Wilderness Society Tasmania, 0434 614 323.