Consolidated Fund Appropriation Bill (No.1) 2015 No.21 – in Committee

Read into Hansard on Tuesday 23rd June 2015

CONSOLIDATED FUND APPROPRIATION BILL (No. 1) 2015 (No. 21)

In Committee

Output group 4

Resource policy and regulatory services

4.1 Forestry policy and reform –

Mr DEAN – During the Estimates I asked a question in relation to the sawmillers who had been partially bought out and where they were restricted to 100 cubic metres of native forest timber milling as a result of that package. The question was, could they get access to timber from private forests in addition to that 100 cubic metres? The answer given was that sawmillers who elected to take the low-level processing option and are able to process up to a maximum of 100 cubic metres of native forest sawlogs per year, are not eligible to obtain extra native forest saw logs via the private forests above the 100 cubic metres a year limit.

I had some issues on that. Can we be provided with a copy of that contract that was entered into by those sawmillers? I ask that because of the looseness of many of these contracts that are delivered in these circumstances. You only have to look at the contracts delivered in relation to the Commonwealth in the buyout of the contractors that existed. Some of them were very loosely written. I will see whether we can be provided with a copy of the contract in the circumstances because as I understand it, there would be no reason why a person owning a private forest could not take their timber to any mill they wanted to, to have it milled. It could include one of these mills where they have been partly bought out. I would have some issues as to whether the government has any control over that.

If I am a sawmiller and I have been bought out – and I accept that they can only access 100 cubic metres from Tasmanian native forest – I cannot understand how they could then be stopped milling a product from a private forest in all the circumstances. How can the government interfere with that process? Can I be provided with a copy of a contract that was issued to those millers in that circumstance?

Mr VALENTINE – I was a little slow getting to my feet on that previous question asked by the member for Windermere. When I read the answer that came back from the minister I, too, wanted to understand whether the government could bind a private individual contractor to what they can access from private sources. It was my understanding that the 100 cubic metres a year limit was with regard to a quota the private contractors would have had with the government and in return for reducing their quota they would receive a certain partial payout. I was surprised to read that, and I would like clarification on the government’s capacity to be able to bind a private individual contractor in respect of any dealings with private forest holders.

Dr GOODWIN – As I understand it, the deed provides that they can process up to 100 cubic metres and essentially it does not matter where that comes from. Whether it is private or public forest, that is the cap that applies. If they wish to process an amount above that, they would have to hand back some of the money because the condition of the deed is that they only process up to the amount specified in the deed.

Item agreed to.

Output group 4 agreed to.