Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 7 Hansard (18 October) . . Page.. 1770 ..
MR BERRY (continuing):
These days, compared to the products that were used a decade ago, far more of our timber comes from plantations. Many of us who came here over 20 years ago will recall that the timber frames of our houses were all made from timber harvested from native forests. Some of it was brought all the way from Western Australia. Those things have changed now. The timber frames in our houses today almost invariably are from plantations. Some of the timber is imported, but there is a reduction in the use of timber from our hardwood native forests. Industries that depend on our hardwood forests have a particular problem because the plantation areas which provide hardwood products are much smaller than those providing softwood.
I want to go back to our native forests. Our tropical, eucalypt and paperbark forests make up about 16 per cent of the total, cypress pine about 10 per cent, rainforest about 6 per cent and eucalypt about 68 per cent. To give a bit of an idea of what has happened in our forests, 57 per cent of that which existed before European settlement still remains today. Much of the loss occurred because of land clearing for agriculture. I see from the information that I have received from the forest task force that 23 per cent of our native forests is in private ownership. That puts in place another dimension in relation to this debate. It is not always possible for the public sector to control what goes on in the private sector, but it can be done by regulation in some places. The area of State forest available for wood production is 18 per cent, which is a small area of the overall forests. Other State forests account for 12 per cent, crown land 26 per cent, and reserves 16 per cent.
This is a particularly complex problem and I think we have to be very careful about how we deal with it. I think that as a result of this debate members will have the opportunity to signal their concern over the issue and note that there have been moves, and are continuing to be moves, to ensure that woodchip exports are reduced. I think there is recognition, too, that if we process these products in Australia there will be more jobs here. We have to maintain the emphasis on the change in the way we export our timber products. If we are to export timber products we have to do it in a processed form because we have to create more jobs out there, and we have to create more jobs for our young. Mr Speaker, whilst Labor generally supports the principles enunciated in the motion moved by Ms Horodny, we feel that it would be far more appropriate in the present circumstances to amend the motion to include those words which have been circulated. I call on members to support the amendment.
MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General and Minister for the Environment, Land and Planning) (10.54): Mr Speaker, Mr Berry said that this was a difficult issue and I would agree with him in that respect. The Greens have raised the issue in an attempt, obviously, to deal with this in the context of the renewal of those licences to which Ms Horodny referred when she rose. There is the issue, however, of the extent to which the ACT can or should be involved in that process of upsetting or buying into arrangements with respect to the national debate. I am not averse to taking part in a national debate where I think we have some contribution to make.