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6/3/ campaign turns up electoral pressue on Carr ALP via SEFA media release here

South East Forest Alliance
6 March 2003

But Some Greens Preferences Unclear

The South East Forest Alliance has challenged the Labor candidates in 3 marginal south coast seats (South Coast, Bega and Monaro) to have the Government finally rule out the threat of charcoal production to South Coast forests and communities, and anywhere else in New South Wales.

"We have approached all three Labor candidates - Wayne Smith MP for South Coast, Wilma Chinnock for Bega and Steve Whan for Monaro - to spell out their position and their party position on a promise of no charcoal production from forests" said spokespersons for the Alliance.

"We have also asked them to support an independent judicial inquiry into the feasibility of transferring logging out of native forests into plantations.

"This is where modern, intensive, industrial logging for woodchips, for charcoal and for sawlogs rightly belongs, and the public agrees. Without such a transition we will continue to have to fight off new woodchip, charcoal and other massive intensification proposals from an irresponsible industry and its Government ally, State Forests.

"In the seat of South Coast, Greens preferences to Labor already hinge on these issues.

"So far the ALP remains in denial over the extraordinary community revolt against the proposed South Coast charcoal plant and associated woodchip type forestry operations. But it has to recognise that the South Coast communities will remain hostile and sceptical until it firmly and unequivocally rules out forests for charcoal production.

"We are also asking for the immediate protection of icon conservation areas being targeted by State Forests in the first year or two of a supposed 20 year logging program.

The Carr Government should be intensely embarrassed also that it was taken in by timber industry deception and State Forests incompetence, or collusion, in the lead up to the decision on the southern forest regional assessment in early 2000.

"It now appears that the industry, with State Forests full knowledge, grossly overstated the minimum annual sawlog quota needed to sustain the South Coast industry (documents available). In reality it was a cover for continued woodchipping.

The industry initially claimed a minimum of 65,000 m3 a year of quota sawlogs was required and the Government allocated 42,000m3 a year, subsequently boosted to 48,500 m3. Yet the industry took only 30,000 m3 a year in 2000 and 2001. NSW Forests has told the Government that the unused log quota is unlikely to be taken up.

"Tragically, this has meant that many icon conservation areas, including old growth and wilderness, were not protected or only partly protected, based on false information from the industry and State Forests.

The Alliance is also calling upon the Government to redress this situation, particularly in light of the weekend announcement by the Premier that an additional 65,000 hectares of icon north east forests are to be protected in new national parks or other secure reserves.

"Is there one rule for the north coast and another for the South Coast and Eden forests?

"We have called upon local Greens groups in South Coast, Bega and Monaro to use their election power and insist that the ALP deliver on these issues if they want Greens preferences to win these marginal seats.

"We are delighted at the response of the South Coast Greens group and their candidate Jane Bange who have told Wayne Smith MP that these forest issues will decide whether they direct preferences to him in the second most marginal Labor seat in NSW.

"We are now anxiously awaiting decisions by the Bega and Monaro Greens groups whether they will negotiate with the ALP on the same basis. We know their communities would expect to see them use their preference power as constructively and effectively as the South Coast Greens.

"The starting point is a promise from the Premier that matches Steve Bracks decision in Victoria to ban the use of native forest timber for charcoal.

"South Coast people don't want to see any community, let alone another part of the coast, subject to the same threat after the election.

"Conservationists are deeply unhappy with the favouritism given to the logging industry on the south coast without compensating conservation measures.

"In early 2001, less than 12 months after the so called "final" decision on the southern forests assessment, the NSW and Federal Governments gave an extra $9 million to the South Coast timber industry for the establishment of plantations and purchase of private timber land to boost the industry supply over the next 20 years. This was done without any balancing action to protect more of the key high conservation areas identified in our icon Community Reserve Proposals (CRP) and subsequent information suggests that the industry has misled government regarding its real minimum needs.

"There appears to be ample latitude in real timber supply needs to immediately protect most of our remaining, unprotected icon areas, including wilderness and old growth areas such as Badja, Deua, Wandella and Tallaganda and key wildlife links, including the Jervis Bay, Conjola and Buckenbowra/Murramarang links. We also need to complete the protection of such sensitive catchment areas as Durras Lake and Upper Mongarlowe River (Monga)."

"Such action will provide a wonderful opportunity to substantially implement the visionary plan for a Melbourne to Brisbane Conservation Link Park along the Great Dividing Range and Escarpment, with substantial east west links to other major reserves.

"We urge Premier Carr to demonstrate his green credentials not only for the north coast but for us too.

Further comment:-

Noel Plumb SEFA Convenor 0425 23 83 03
John Perkins Friends of Durras 4478 6048
Trevor Barratt ACF Shoalhaven 4422 1211
Rob Rogers Dignams Creek 64 936 797
Community Group
Val Plumwood Monga Action Group 4846 1173

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