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Contractor exit grants inquiry leaves FT questions unanswered

Media Release
Christine Milne 16 May 2013

On the day Senator Abetz and the Coalition voted against upholding the principle that areas listed as world heritage should never be logged, the Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries made extraordinary claims about the Tasmanian contractors exit grants, Greens Leader Senator Christine Milne said.

"At the Senate inquiry into the Tasmanian forest exit grants program the department claimed that it didn't matter that Forestry Tasmania increased its logging and haulage quotas by 203,500 tonnes in response to the Commonwealth buying out equivalent volumes because that wasn't the aim of the program," Greens Leader Senator Milne said.

"How is this possible when the whole point of the exit package was to allow forests to be protected and forest industry contractors not be adversely affected?

"It beggars belief that the taxpayers paying the money thought they were reducing logging and haulage volumes whereas the Tasmanian and federal ministers and their departments didn't think that was the object at all. 

Senator Peter Whish-Wilson questioned the program's efficiency for taxpayers.

"This seems like double jeopardy. The exit program was supposedly about reducing logging and haulage quotas and yet the department knew Forestry Tasmania intended to maintain them," Senator Whish-Wilson said.

"Going off the payment of $35 per tonne, it seems like the Commonwealth has paid out more than 

$7 million when it didn't need to. This is totally unacceptable."

The committee is due to hand down its final report into the exit program by 11 June 2013.

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