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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 3 Hansard (7 March) . . Page.. 748 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

Mr Humphries just tried to dismiss Mr Berry's motion. I don't know; maybe it's what people do in the university debating teams. I have noticed with debating teams from universities that they like to put the opposition down, and maybe that's how it works.

Mr Humphries: Well, you do it, Kerrie. Why shouldn't he do it?

MS TUCKER: In fact, they are real issues that are being debated here. Mr Humphries says I do it. I am certainly criticising Mr Humphries for his debating tactic. I am. I think it is appalling

Mr Humphries: So what's the difference?

MS TUCKER: Mr Humphries says, "What's the difference?" This is exactly the sort of tactic that I am talking about. I am saying that this is an important issue. Mr Humphries is not addressing the issues. He is the Chief Minister of a government in a parliament supposedly caring about people in the ACT. An opposition member has put up a motion which deals with serious social issues and Mr Humphries is just trying to demolish the credibility of the person putting the motion and not addressing the issues. That is what I am criticising and, yes, I think I have the right to do that. I think the really important issue here is to actually look at the issues that are at the heart of Mr Berry's motion.

As I said, we have seen what is at the heart of this motion. It is about people's livelihoods. It is about people's lives. It is about people who have been thrown into a very traumatic state of insecurity. The rationale for it, from this government, is cost cutting in ACT Forests. Okay? So now we can look at the issues of ACT Forests.

It appears to me that ACT Forests is a marginal business operation that cannot compete equally with commercial plantations in other areas. The ACT has a marginal climate for the planting of pine trees, ________ planted areas are very steep, with strong potential for soil erosion. It is also true that the plantations were not managed on a sustainable basis before self-government, and, even since then, governments of both persuasions have not managed the plantations well. Blackberry and other weeds run rampant in the plantations and there have been a number of instances of inappropriate logging next to watercourses that has caused erosion.

It is also the case that few other pine plantations in Australia would be so close to a major city and subject to significant recreational pressures, such as car rallies, mountain bike riding and camping. The plantations provide a community service and also an environmental service by keeping some of these activities away from more ecologically important areas in our nature reserves.

The government wants to cut its losses with ACT Forests, but I am not sure that it has adequately addressed the community service obligations that ACT Forests have to provide, and whether they are being funded adequately for these. Perhaps it also has to think more laterally about the viability of the current plantation business, for example, by moving more into hardwood or downsizing its plantation area to get out of the more environmentally sensitive areas. On the other side of the jobs, as I have already said, this is another example of the casualisation of work brought on by the pressures of market competition, with all its attendant social impacts on families.

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