Media Releases - 23 March 2021

Tasmania’s undemocratic anti-protest Bill

Moss-blanketed forest in the Florentine Valley. Image: Lily Weinberg
  • The native forest logging sector needs Government support to transition to a plantation-based model, not empty theatrics more concerned with elections than supporting industry stability 
  • The Gutwein Government is attempting to shield the native logging sector that its own research shows lacks social licence to operate*  
  • Meanwhile, forests in urgent need of protection are logged at public expense, while the native forestry sector is left to the mercy of markets moving away from unethical timber and paper products

If the Hodgman-Gutwein government really cared about native forestry workers, which it says the anti-protest Workplace Protection Bill is about, it should support the sector to transition out of logging high conservation value native forests to plantation-based forestry, which is the future of the industry. 

“This rehashed anti-protest Bill appears to remain unconstitutional** and contrary to the freedom the Liberal Party is apparently founded on. It is yet another ‘special deal’ for the native logging industry. Meanwhile, the plantation sector is flourishing without constant government protectionism because this is the wood people want,” said Tom Allen, Wilderness Society Tasmania campaign manager. 

“Tasmania’s Gondwanic forests are globally significant: exceptionally carbon dense, unique and home to multiple threatened species. High Conservation Value forests simply are irreplaceable and logging forests isn’t sustainable when it is driving multiple species to extinction. 

“The unpopular anti-protest bill seeks to shield this industry from public scrutiny and criticism. Such illiberal silencing is undemocratic, and is not in the best interests of Tasmanians**, nor the native forest logging sector which needs support to reform, not support to hide.

“The logging industry’s own research shows that people in rural and urban areas don’t support the logging of Tasmania’s amazing high-conservation forests. The native forest logging sector that the Gutwein Government is catering to with this election-flavoured ‘special deal’ lacks social licence to operate.* 

“Members of the Legislative Council should carefully consider the impacts of passing another Bill that is likely to result in unconstitutional legislation, and whether supporting this Bill buys into political exploitation of a sector facing inevitable change and empty electoral theatrics,” said Mr Allen.

Tom Allen, 0434 614 323

*A leaked 2018 report for the Australian Forest and Wood Products Association found that 70% of urban respondents and 65% of rural respondents view native forest logging as unacceptable. Hannam, P (2018), “Bush turns its back on support for logging native forests,” Sydney Morning Herald

** Letter from six civil liberties organisations to Tasmania’s Upper House

Authorised by Tom Allen, 130 Davey St, Hobart