The Hon. ROBERT BROWN
[5.46 p.m.]: Tonight I wish to speak about logging and the forest industry. My contribution will not be tempered—perhaps fuelled is a better word—by my visit on the weekend to a decimated timber community in the river red gum area. I was bemused to see in the Climate Commission's first report that:
Stopping logging in old-growth forests, particularly in southern Australia, is one of the best ways of making timely cuts to Australia's greenhouse gas emissions.
Established forests store much more carbon dioxide than plantations, so cutting them down releases more heat-trapping gases.
And in line with the mantra that The Greens keep trumpeting, the report then goes on to say:
If Australia is to stabilise and reduce its emissions in time to make a contribution to global efforts to slow climate change, storing more carbon in the landscape is classified as a useful interim measure while the nation weaned itself of fossil fuel-based electricity production ...
Ending logging, it says:
... yields some quick gains while the slower process of transforming energy and transport systems unfolds.
Well, pardon me, while I go and tell those hard-working foresters who have yet to be sent broke, or driven out of the industry by The Greens, that they and their families will very shortly be out of work and probably out of hope—all in the name of ideology. At the risk of incurring the ire of said Greens, I would like to put the proposition tonight that we need more forests in New South Wales—and not just to have more trees, but to be able to maintain a viable working timber industry. I am aware that forests are considered a carbon positive energy source. Indeed, the Australian forest industry claims to be the only carbon positive industry in the country; and, further, that timber is the only carbon positive building product in the world. Why then, for heaven's sake, are our forest industries on the hit list of the extremists, who want to crush not only our coal industry communities but our timber communities as well?
Healthy and sustainable forests come from economically viable harvesting, with foresters and farmers being encouraged to plant more trees than they remove. That is the nature of the industry. Indeed, key factors in charting a direction for New South Wales forests are sustainability of jobs and regional economies. One does not grow forests in the middle of the eastern suburbs. I understand forests currently cover 26.5 million hectares, or 33 per cent, of New South Wales and come under three categories: State forests under forests agreements set out in State legislation; private native forestry; and private plantations.
If we ponder why we need more trees in commercial forests the answer is illuminating. We know that the timber market, amongst other things, underpins production for the building industry and infrastructure. But despite this the State needs to import timber worth about $177 million each year. Where do we get that from? The rainforests of Malaysia, no doubt. In terms of value, the New South Wales timber industry as a whole generates $2 billion a year and employs 21,000 people. The hardwood forest industry alone generates $600 million a year and employs 3,500 people in country regions. That is where The Greens flawed ideology comes unstuck. The Greens want trees but no timber industry. While they hold court here in Sydney and decide which industries are good for us and which ones are bad, they shut down rural and regional communities without a second thought. I saw that last weekend.
On behalf of the rural and regional communities in this State the Shooters and Fishers Party will do what it can in this place to protect them from that extreme ideology. Hopefully our votes, when combined with those of the like-minded Christian Democrats, will block any destructive legislation The Greens might seek to impose on rural and regional people of this State, particularly those in the logging industry. For much of the past 16 years the Greens have pretty much got their way with compliant left-leaning Labor governments, particularly in so far as the timber industry is concerned. Let us all hope those days are gone.