The State Government today called on the Greens (WA), Democrats and Labor to pass legislation to separate productive forestry from conservation.
“The Government introduced the legislation into Parliament last November,” Environment Minister Cheryl Edwardes said.
“It is ludicrous to say there has not been enough time to deal with what are very straightforward pieces of legislation.
“The amendments to the CALM Act and Forests Products Bill are a comprehensive response to public calls for improved administration of logging in native forests.
“They fully meet the Government’s commitments in its new directions in forest management policy.”
Forest Products Minister Paul Omodei said the main objection raised by the parties was the commonsense requirement that forest management plans be prepared jointly between the proposed Conservation Commission and Forest Products Commission.
“The Government’s approach means all conservation and forest use issues will be on the table when management plans are commenced,” Mr Omodei said.
“Even the Legislative Council’s own Ecologically Sustainable Development Committee has acknowledged this point.”
In its report, the committee examined the issues and said the requirement that the two Ministers agree to the contents of a management plan was ‘prima facie evidence of the equal status of the two Ministers within a framework of separated functioning. Within such a framework, compromise is a reasonable outcome when two Ministers are involved. Even so, there are sufficient checks and balances in the process, because ultimately the Minister for the Environment has to ensure that the management plan is consistent with the principles of ecologically sustainable forest management’. (Report of the Legislative Council Standing Committee on Ecologically Sustainable Development - Report 7, pp. 14-15.)
Both Ministers said that by delaying the legislation, the parties were simply denying the public’s desire that the harvesting operations currently under CALM be transferred to a new agency allowing a new Department of Conservation, not involved in logging of native forest, to be created.
“The legislation will deliver exactly what the public wants - sustainable forest management and sustainable South-West communities,” they said.
Media contacts: Mrs Edwardes Steve Manchee 9421 7777
Mr Omodei Hugh Ryan 9213 6700