South East SA forest industry abandoned over NRM Bill
Australian Forest Products Association
Family First members Robert Brokenshire and Dennis Hood in voting for the Natural Resources Management (Commercial Forests) Amendment Bill have effectively abandoned the SA’s South East forest industry, according to the Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA).
Family First voted against an amendment by the Liberal Party to refer the Bill to the Natural Resources Management Standing Committee for detailed consideration of the complex issues it seeks to address.Independent members John Darley MLC and Anne Bressington MLC voted to support the Liberal’s amendment to refer the Bill.
“The Bill, which targets forestry rather than a pressing water issue, ignores the impact of other water intercepting activities,” said AFPA Policy Manager Grant Johnson.
“The Bill seeks to regulate water interception by forests, while water interception by other uses remains unaddressed.For example, the conversion of land to highly modified pastures.
“These other uses are potentially far greater interceptors of water than plantations.They represent 67 per cent of land use compared to only 11 per cent by plantations, and 5.75 mega litres per hectare compared to 6.2 mega litres per hectare for plantations.
“The Bill will impose conditions on plantation forests which are not to be imposed on any other dryland crop, in requiring a new permit for each replanting of a plantation.
“It has raised considerable concern in the industry and threatens to exacerbate an already uncertain investment climate, with the potential to move investment over the border into Victoria.
“Industry remains committed to supporting rational water reform so long as it is equitable and targets all water intercepting activities, not just forests,” Mr Johnson said.
Also of concern to AFPA is that the Bill is inconsistent with the Government’s own Plantation Forests Statewide Policy Framework, which was released in June 2009 by Premier Weatherill (the then Minister for Environment and Conservation) and Minister Caica (the then Minister for Forests), which was supposed “to provide guidance to Government agencies, particularly Regional NRM Boards, to ensure that all water-affecting activities are identified and managed within sustainable limits”.
“The Bill as passed goes beyond this framework,” Mr Johnson said.