Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 6 Hansard (15 May) . . Page.. 1682 ..

MS DUNDAS (continuing):

I fully support debate about the plantation land use, and I thank Ms Tucker for raising it. I would like to discuss how my amendments broaden the area of potential review. The Stromlo Forest represents about 3 per cent of the ACT's plantation forests. I want to look at the future of plantation forests in the ACT more generally, and I would hope that the Assembly would want to do that.

We are all aware of the softwood milling and preservation businesses in the ACT that depend on a continuous supply of wood from ACT forests. In whatever we do we must consider the impact on, and the viability of, these businesses. Expansion of plantation forests is part of Australia's plan for ecologically sustainable development, and the ACT will have a role to play in assisting development of a sustainable plantation timber industry in Australia.

I understand that the mill in Hume does not have access to an adequate volume of timber to enable it to operate 24-hour shifts. Whereas most softwood mills elsewhere achieve economies of scale due to larger supply catchments, the volume of timber in the ACT and the immediate surrounds operates as a constraint. I have been informed that it is unclear whether the ACT will be able to compete with mills in New South Wales and Victoria in the longer term. So let us seize this opportunity and look at the options for current and future land use and the land requirements of the plantation timber industry in terms of the economic impacts on these businesses.

It is also relevant to consider the overall area of plantation forests in the ACT and surrounds so we know whether the decisions of the review threaten or enhance the viability of the ACT processing industry.

As I have said, the final part of my amendment removes the words about not proceeding with any replanting of pine trees. Whilst I believe that a broad examination of the future of the ACT forest industries would be valuable and is essential, I realise that it would not be wise to defer planting of the burnt area until such an expansive review was completed.

Replanting can be done only in a wet autumn, during winter or in early spring to ensure seedling survival. If we defer replanting in this area until September, replanting will not occur until the following year, and soil erosion and compaction may occur, reducing the value of that land for any future use, be that plantation or something else. Having a review and deferring any decision about what will happen to this specific piece of land does not cut off any options for future use of this land.

As I said earlier, I am quite disappointed that the minister and the opposition are seemingly so ready to dismiss the need for this review. We should be able to explore the options open to us, and now that we have a visible reminder of what happens in the natural cycle of pine plantations we should seize the opportunity to look at our options and to take account of the impact of pine plantations on the environmental, social and planning aspects of Canberra and consider them as part of our broader Canberra environment.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .