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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 11 Hansard (13 December) . . Page.. 2986 ..

Paper on Residential Tenancies Law Draft Legislation

MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General): Mr Speaker, for the information of members, I present the Community Law Reform Committee's proposals for residential tenancies law.

Ministerial Statement

MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General and Minister for the Environment, Land and Planning): Mr Speaker, I seek leave to make a ministerial statement on the Assembly resolution on the Australian timber industry.

Leave granted.

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, the native forest and woodchip debates have been the source of some concern for a large number of people for quite some time, and many people see the future of our native forests as a pivotal issue in the environment debate. The ACT is a small player in the national scene. All of our native forests are already protected within national park and reserve areas, and our forest industry is based purely on plantation forests. As such, we are very much a part of the expanding plantation industry within Australia.

The Assembly resolution of 18 October 1995 regarding the Australian timber industry is an important step in clarifying our position on the industry. The first part of this resolution talks of the plantation sector of the Australian timber industry working towards the supply of our total domestic timber needs. Although the national expansion of the plantation sector will undoubtedly take considerable pressure off native forest production, it is unlikely that plantations will be able to replace production from native forests in the near future. The technology by which plantations will yield forest products of a quality and variety akin to timber products from native forests does not yet exist, and may not exist within our children's lifetime. One only needs to look at the beauty of the wood in this chamber to see the benefits of the sustainable harvesting of native forests.

The ACT Government supports the national forest policy statement - a statement which was drafted by both conservation and forest resource experts and endorsed by conservation and resource Ministers from every Territory and State and the Commonwealth. The balance struck in that statement is important. It allows the preservation in reserves of ecologically important native forest areas and the continuing utilisation of native forest areas of lesser ecological significance in conjunction with the expansion of the plantation sector. This can be the cornerstone for the future of a strong, green and internationally competitive forest industry sector.

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