Reply in the Senate Chamber to the Greens Motion on the Intergovernmental Forest Agreement

Yes, the opposition does oppose the intergovernmental agreement, as does the fine craft and design sector of the industry in Tasmania, as does the Tasmanian Minerals Council, as does the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association, as does Timber Communities Australia (Tasmanian Division), as does the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, as does the Tourism Industry Council, as does the Forest Industries Association of Tasmania and as does the Greens donor, the AMWU, and the Australian Workers Union.

If we as a coalition have to side with the trade unions and the business interests and the small sector of this industry then we are proud to stand with them shoulder to shoulder.

We make no apology for our stance in relation to the intergovernmental agreement, which is all that it is, as the name says: an agreement between two governments, two governments that were both conceived in deceit.

First there is the Gillard-Brown government, which came to power on a promise of 'no carbon tax', and there is the Giddings-McKim government, which got into power promising that if the Liberal Party won a majority of votes they would advise the Governor to allow that party to form government.

On both occasions Labor and the Greens got together and broke election promises. That is the record with which Senators Brown and Milne come into this debate.

But the gall of the Greens. We have in this motion the concern about three woodchip mills being closed. Well, who closed one of them? Senator Brown's biggest donor, a $1.6 million donation that he personally negotiated, and Senator Brown indicated publicly that he hoped to get benefits out of it, as did the donor.

And the donor has got a benefit out of it by picking up a woodchip mill for $10 million, which is a lot cheaper than the vendor was wanting to sell out for.

But of course we now suspect that part of the deal is that he gets a cheap site in Tasmania on the basis that the Greens support Commonwealth funding for Gunns, to the tune of $23 million.

So, if you have a choice of an extra $6 million on the purchase price or $23 million from taxpayer funds, you cannot blame Gunns for going for the $23 million.

That is where the Greens have cheated the Australian taxpayer through this very grubby deal.

And of course the purchaser of the Triabunna woodchip mill refers to Triabunna and Tasmania in the most patronising of terms as 'Melbourne's back yard.'

That is indicative of the Greens' mentality to my home state of Tasmania. They think of it as their plaything, their back yard. Something you enjoy when you want to enjoy it and then forget about it for months on end when you do not want to know about it and when you do not want to mow the lawn and look after it.

That is the example that the Greens are setting to all Tasmanians about the way that the Australian Greens represent the people of Tasmania. It is just their plaything. It is their backyard. It is something with which to have fun with their extreme ideology.

About Eric

Eric Abetz has been a Liberal Senator for Tasmania since 1994 and has served in a range of Leadership, Ministerial and Shadow Ministerial roles.

Read more


136 Davey Street
Hobart  TAS  7001

(03) 6224 3707