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Transcript: Christine Milne and Nick McKim: World Heritage Listing

Christine Milne 31 Jan 2013




Subjects: World Heritage listing, Forestry Tasmania, Craig Thomson, Tony Abbott, NBN


CHRISTINE MILNE: Today it is an historic day for Tasmania. It's really a line in the sand towards the future of this state and further prosperity based on Tasmania clean and green, on the reputational value we have as this beautiful island in the Southern Hemisphere, which can trade on our wonderful environment and add quality, add value to everything we send from the island, and attract more people to come and live here. It's a great day because for 30 years many of us have been campaigning to save Tasmania's high conservation value forests. I can't tell you how many rallies I have been to, how many meetings I've been to, not only here but around the world as part of the World Conservation Union, campaigning to save the forests of the Eastern Boundary. These forests were recommended for World Heritage listing as having high conservation values, of outstanding universal value, right back in 1989. And the only reason they did not go into the World Heritage area back in 1989 was that Michael Field and David Llewellyn prevented them from doing so. I remember standing in a room with Bob Brown, with Graham Richardson, and the then Premier of the day and arguing the point over these forests. So it's fantastic, all these years on to see those forests now being put up for World Heritage listing. I particularly want to pay tribute to all of the campaigners over the years, certain names stand out of course, people like Geoff Law and Alec Marr for example, campaigners for ever on the forests. Fantastic arts community here, outstanding spokespeople like Richard Flanagan for example, Peter Cundall, a great campaigner for our forests. And our wilderness photographers, who year in year out have sent images of our forests all across the country and around thr world. But there's the grassroots campaigners, people in the Huon Valley Environment Centre for example, so many, whether it's the Western Tiers, whether it's on the Eastern Boundary, many, many people have contributed so much and of course the late Helen Gee is another example of a fantastic campaigner. So I want to pay tribute to all of them, and of course to my Green parliamentary colleagues over the years because every one of them has campaigned at state and federal level, right down to Nick McKim's leadership now and my colleague Peter Whish-Wilson in the Senate, we have been there arguing for the protection of forests. So it is a great day to have the Federal Government at last saying they are going to nominate 170,000 hectares to go onto the World Heritage area, which will add integrity to the Eastern Boundary and it will add to Tasmania's global reputation.


The challenge is now for the Legislative Council to get behind what is a great day for Tasmania and a great thing for this state because there is no doubt that it is our brand Tasmania as a high-quality environment, as our wilderness area that not only is great because it's a fantastic thing to do to for future generations but it is the main way we are going to build prosperity in Tasmania into the future. So I couldn't be happier today and I know my colleague Bob Brown will be really happy, he's out of the state today but he of course has been a long-time campaigner for the forests. I spoke to him earlier today and whilst we recognise the job is not done yet, there are areas that are not in this nomination that are well worthy of protection under the Intergovernmental Agreement, nevertheless this is a great first step and I thank all the people who have worked for 30 years to get us to the point where we are going to have global recognition for these forests and set Tasmania on this great way forward.


NICK MCKIM: I couldn't agree more. I'll just make a couple of comments. This is a great step forward for Tasmania. I's a great step forward for our environment and for our globally significant forests, it's a great step forward for our people and it's a great step forward the Tasmanian economy because we know that our World Heritage area, studies have found, it is a major economic driver and a driver of particularly regional wealth and prosperity for this state. As Christine said thanks are due to thousands of people over many decades who have campaigned for the protection of these forests. I remember being arrested in the mid-1980s, defending these forests with many, many other people and to be a part now of seeing a concrete step towards their protection is quite overwhelming actually. This result will be viewed by history as a significant step forward for Tasmania. But there is more work to be done before we can move totally forward as a unified state and that's where the Legislative Council comes in and the onus now is on the Legislative Council to be part of the solution rather than staying part of the problem.


JOURNALIST: You mentioned your arrest, is it right to say these forests that are being protected are some of, I suppose the most significant forests where the forest wars have actually played out, is that right?


NICK MCKIM: Yes that would be right.


CHRISTINE MILNE: The forests of the Eastern Boundary of Tasmania is where most of the protest action has been over the last 30 years. We have had so many basic camps in those areas, with people from all over the country coming down, giving up time to campaign for those forests. Out there at the moment we have young Miranda Gibson in the Observer Tree, she is the most recent of many generations of campaigners. This is the heartland of where forests have been contested for so long. Whether we're talking about the Styx, the Weld, Upper Florentine and Middle Huon, these are the places where we have struggled and fought for so long for forest protection. Up in the Styx Valley we've got these magnificent forests, you've got the tallest flowering plants on the planet and here we're going to have them going to World Heritage and we're going to be able to resolve a lot of the conflict that has gone on for generations and that is going to be a building block for Tasmania because when we work together we work best.


JOURNALIST: You listed the campaigners over the years, but is it ironic that it was the forest industry, and Terry Edwards and his colleagues that gave Tony Burke the confidence to proceed with the listing?


CHRISTINE MILNE: I argued as my colleagues did right through the '80s and '90s in the Tasmanian Parliament that in fact the era of being able to sell native forest woodchips overseas was over. And that if you kept on subsidising them that would be a recipe for job losses and industry collapse. Unfortunately it's taken another 15 years for the community in Tasmania to realise there is no market for native forest woodchips. We ought to have made this transition 15 years ago, I'm really glad that the forest industry has now recognised that we do have to get out of native forest logging, that the future is doing things in a much smarter way, in a value-added way and I look forward to working, and hope that the Legislative Council and the Liberal party get beyond their last century approach. It's disgraceful that the Liberal party is now saying that it won't recognise the World Heritage listing. I don't believe that's true, they've said that sort of thing in the past, they certainly said it when the first listing went forward with the original nomination after the Franklin and we still have that magnificent listing there for the world to see. So I think that's a lot of hot air from the Liberal party and they ought to be a bit gracious about it instead of trying to undermine a strong future of Tasmania.


JOURNALIST: Does this show that the forest peace deal is a good thing?


CHRISTINE MILNE: Well we're going to see the forest peace deal come into fruition providing the Legislative Council fight for it. Certainly what will be really good thing for Tasmania is to have the forests protected, to have on communities now working together and be able to access the Federal  Government funding for regional development. Nobody denies in Tasmania that we need transformation in the economy. One of the best ways of doing that is to use some of that regional development money and I look forward to that money being freed up to being spent around rural Tasmania where it's desperately needed.


JOURNALIST: Could this have happened without the peace talks and the process that's been going on?


CHRISTINE MILNE: There was an inevitable about protection of the forests in the long run because the market had completely dried up for native forest woodchips. However there is no doubt that it has been brought to a logical conclusion by the efforts of the people in the forest industry and conservationists working together. It was the forest industry who approached the conservation movement to seek an outcome because they recognised their industry was in collapse. So I do congratulate the signatories, I want to particularly congratulate Vica Bayley and Phil Pullinger as the latest generation of conservationists who have worked with the industry to get this outcome.


NICK MCKIM: If I could just add to that, it's a really important point. The signatories process has always been a process about people putting aside their differences and trying to find some common ground in the interests of Tasmania, in the interests of the industry, the people that work in the industry and ultimately the Tasmanian forests. And interestingly it's been delivered under minority governments at both state and federal level and the Greens have played a constructive role at both the state and federal level, cooperative government, constructive government, working together with Labor at a state and federal level to deliver ultimately what is a stunning first step in terms of protecting Tasmania's forests.


JOURNALIST: Tony Burke told us that an area has been excised close to the boundary for a dolomite mine. Are you aware of that? He said that it was a State Government request.


NICK MCKIM: Look I am aware of that and again this is about people trying to find common ground and working together to deliver a solution that all sides of the debate can live with and can actually embrace for the benefit of Tasmania. So whilst this nomination may not identically be the nomination that a Green Government would have put in, nevertheless we're here today to welcome it wholeheartedly.


JOURNALIST: Do you expect that to be contentious at all though? Is a large area or -


NICK MCKIM: Look it's not a large area that I know of and ultimately this process, the World Heritage area process will now go into the hands of the IUCN and to the international processes.


JOURNALIST: Part of what Tony Burke announced today is about $17 million that will help FT transition out of some of the contentious areas, help find a solution to the residue crisis and things like that. So you support that money going to Forestry Tasmania?


NICK MCKIM: We've always supported funds going to Forestry Tasmania for a couple of reasons. Firstly the non-commercial functions including fire management and fire fighting and that's been well put on the public record by us and also by the way just a reminder to you guys, the Liberals opposed money going to Forestry Tasmania for things like fire management and fire fighting. The second point to make here is that the money here used today, not all of that will go to Forestry Tasmania, there are some other aspects and other ways that that money will be disbursed but certainly we're prepared to work constructively within our roles in the State Government and in the Tasmanian Parliament to give Forestry Tasmania every opportunity to conduct their rescheduling work because we want to play a constructive role in saving forests, that's what we're here to do.


JOURNALIST: Christine can we ask you, Craig Thomson has been arrested today and is facing a whole raft of charges, what does this say about Julia Gillard's government, that she stood beside him and by him so long?


CHRISTINE MILNE: Well certainly I understand Craig Thomson has been charged with a number of serious offences. I understand he is also going to make a statement later this afternoon. From the Greens' point of view I think it is important that legal processes take their course and I don't intend to comment further. The appropriate legal process will now take over and I don't think it's appropriate for anyone to comment or in any way compromise that process.

I wanted to make a couple of comments about Tony Abbott at the press club. Tony Abbott at the press club today has made it clear to all Australians that frankly he doesn't add up. He doesn't add up when it comes to the economy. He says 'trust me' but clearly he can't be trusted. Because on one hand he says he's going to abolish the mining act, he's going to abolish carbon pricing, he's going to not only return the budget but he's going to get to get it to a surplus he says. And then he refuses to say where the money is coming from. Nobody can believe someone who comes out with such false promises, he has to come out and now say how many public servants he's going to sack, how many services he's going to cut, whether he's going to take money out of public education to give it to private education, what exactly is Tony Abbott going to do? He doesn't add up when it comes to the economy. But he doesn't add up when it comes to the environment either. He has said he's going to get rid of the $10 billion going into renewable energy. He's going to get rid of the energy efficiency programs. He says he'll keep carbon farming but he's immediately undermining the value of carbon farming permits by saying he would get rid of emissions trading, and he's going to build more roads. Do you really think a person who is genuine about reducing emissions would make a centre piece of his opening gamut in an election year building more roads and sending out an army to plant trees. Tony Abbott does not add up, he doesn't add up on emissions, he doesn't add up on the economy, he simply can't be trusted. In fact what he's showing is that he gets more and more dangerous every day. We've secured a Parliamentary Budget Office for the purpose of actually giving the community confidence in costings. Tony Abbott has to start submitting some serious proposals to the Parliamentary Budget Office so that the community can actually put some numbers on this. But the real challenge for him is not to keep walking away from journalists and saying he won't answer questions. He's got to answer questions from the community and the big one is where are you going to get the money from to pay for all these things that you say you are going to do? Which schools are going to suffer? Are they the public schools? Which services are you going to cut? How many public services are you going to cut as well? And more so why are you going to allow the rich to become richer, particularly in terms of the mining industry, whilst cutting services to all Australians? That's the key to Tony Abbott and that's what he has to answer.


JOURNALIST: Malcolm Turnbull on the radio this morning he was getting asked a lot of questions about the NBN and the costings for that and he couldn't give an answer, he simply said that the Opposition's version of the NBN would be cheaper but he couldn't say by how much. Do you think in this long campaign we'll see the Opposition starting to come unstuck on some of those things that it refuses to answer?


CHRISTINE MILNE: Well one of the advantages of having a real campaign as oppose to a fake campaign is it does start opening up the space for serious debate on policy. One of the things I'm really keen to see explored is this issue of the communications revolution and how Australia will benefit. Tasmania is in an ideal position to benefit from the NBN and the Greens have been out there saying this is a great coming together of the NBN, our need to transition to the high-value low-volume product, our need for our farmers and our businesses to get online and sell straight through into the community, this is all good for Tasmania and all we hear from the Liberals is we are going to tear it down but they won't say what they will replace it with. And the same goes with carbon pricing. Right across Tasmania there are communities already benefiting from the Biodiversity Fund, where money is being poured into programs for connectivity in the landscape. We've already got money going into renewable energy, such that companies are now proposing projects for new renewable energy in Tasmania. And the Coalition will tear it all down, and even would tear down the World Heritage listing. We all know what they would tear down. Where would they get the money to do anything positive?


JOURNALIST: On this issue of Tony Abbott trying to scrap the carbon tax, and get it through the both Lower House and the Senate, would that be easy to do and are the threats of a double dissolution a worry?


CHRISTINE MILNE: Well Tony Abbott's declaration that he is going to tear down the carbon price is the worst possible thing he could do to for the Australian economy. Talk about a joke as an economic manager. Business says that certainty is everything. Now when it comes to carbon pricing every big emitter in Australia has to make decisions about how they are going to adjust, what they're going to do in terms of buying and selling permits, how they're going to make plans for the future and Tony Abbott is undermining any capacity for business in Australia to adapt. The best way the community can have certainty on carbon pricing, and this goes particularly to the business community, is to vote for the Greens. Because so long as the Greens retain balance of power in the Senate there is no way we will stand by and allow Tony Abbott or any other government to tear down what has been recognised by the International Energy Agency as template global legislation. We have received global accolades for what we've done in Australia and we're not going to stand by and see it torn down and every progressive business in the country ought to be standing with the Greens on this and saying to Tony Abbott stop destabilising the economy, stop spreading uncertainty.




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