Don't jump on native timber harvesting ban

Logs cut down in a forest

*Speech delivered on Wednesday 21st June in the Senate.

I have seen these photos of forests totally cleared, with logs everywhere and looking more like the surface of the moon than the centre of a native forest. 

If you were making policy based on what gets clicks on Facebook, you would support banning native timber harvesting too. It is a good thing we don't; you can't measure good policy based on how many likes it gets. 

That's why this idea of banning native timber forestry makes no sense to me. You can't just jump into a blanket ban like this. If you want to improve forestry standards, that is a conversation worth having—but you have to have that conversation with the industry, not just with your social media feed. 

Banning native timber harvesting is basically the same as saying that this industry cannot be regulated. You are saying there is no way to balance the environmental impacts with the economic benefits, and that's not just true.

Of course native forestry needs to be regulated properly; nobody would tell you otherwise. You can't have cowboys cutting down whatever they want, wherever they want. 

But there's a better way to do this which keeps those jobs in regional Tasmania and keeps that money in peoples' pockets. There's a role for native forestry and it has to be recognised. It is a sustainable, renewable industry when it's regulated well. 

The cowboys of years gone by are out. They're gone. The native forestry sector these days is nothing like what it used to be, but its reputation is still based on what it used to be 30 years ago. That is when we saw real damage, real deforestation.

Today's industry is about making sure the footprint of forestry is sustainable and renewable. That means we are getting the jobs, we are getting the salaries and we are getting the products the forestry sector is making. 

That might not mean much in Canberra or Melbourne, but it is a big deal in regional Tasmania. 

We don't get much of a look in up here, and that is how you end up with dumb bans like this one.