The Labor Party does not know enough about forests to be trusted with the responsibility of managing them, Forest Products Minister Paul Omodei said today.
Mr Omodei said the Labor Party had wasted the time of Parliament today in a grievance debate which was based on nothing more substantial that their inability to understand the difference between unlogged forest and old growth forest.
“If an unlogged forest is dominated by immature trees - a perfectly natural occurrence - it is not classified as old growth,” the Minister said.
“Old growth forest is forest that is ecologically mature and where the effects of past disturbance (including logging) are now negligible.
“The inability or unwillingness to understand this difference led the ALP spokesman, Dr Judy Edwards, to claim that 2,750ha of old growth forest had somehow gone missing.
“The ALP also chose to give instant belief to a concocted claim by Greens MLC Christine Sharp that the Government would be logging old growth karri in some (unspecified) of the 16 forest blocks added to the old growth karri and karri/tingle reserves as a result of the Ferguson Report.
“The claim is totally false because no such logging will occur.
“The claim was concocted from figures which are already out of date and which will change significantly in the months ahead.
“The Government has already reduced the total of karri sawlog contracts for next year from 173,000cu.m. to 170,400, and ongoing negotiations with timber companies will further reduce this in the months ahead.
“The Government will achieve its target of an average of 149,000cu.m. a year from now till 2003 and 50,000 from 2004 onwards.
“The 16 additional blocks reserved after public consultation will not be used to supply this timber and 86 per cent of all old growth karri will be reserved, along with 100 per cent of old growth and two-tier tingle and karri/tingle forest.
“It is time the ALP got its mind around the facts about our forests instead of trying to generate emotional debate based on falsehoods and distortions.”
Media contact: Hugh Ryan 9213 6700