Forest Products Minister Paul Omodei said today it was ridiculous to claim that under proposed Government legislation to divide CALM he alone would exercise a veto over forest management.
“Such claims, made by the Greens and the Labor Party, are an attempt to hoodwink the public,” Mr Omodei said.
“They simply use words without any connection to their practical meaning.
“The fact is that under the Government’s proposed legislation, the Minister for Forest Products will not be able to sell a single tree to anyone to produce any forest products unless he has a management plan.
“He cannot have a management plan unless it is approved by the Minister for the Environment.
“That is the extent of what our political opponents are calling the ‘excessive power’ of the Minister for Forest Products.
“The operational procedure proposed by the legislation is that management plans will be prepared by the Conservation Commission.
“The Minister for Forest Products will then be able to propose changes relevant to the Forest Products portfolio, but if the Minister for the Environment does not agree, the changes will not be implemented.
“If that is the veto bogey the ALP and the Greens are frightened of, they need to remember that the result of such a stalemate would be that the Minister for Forest Products has no power to produce any timber.
“Exactly the same procedure will be followed by the Conservation Commission in relation to the Minister for Water Resources when the management plan concerns water catchment areas.
“Eventually, if the two Ministers (the Minister for the Environment and the Minister for Forest Products in one case, or the Minister for the Environment and the Minister for Water Resources in the other) cannot agree on a management plan, the decision is made by Cabinet.
“When people look at the practical application of the Government’s legislation it is obvious that talk of a veto power held by one Minister is muddle-headed in the extreme, or a deliberate attempt to hoodwink the public.”
Media contact: Hugh Ryan 9213 6700