TRANSCRIPT OF SENATOR RICHARD COLBECK
DOORSTOP TO DISCUSS UNESCO DECISION ON TASMANIAN WILDERNESS WORLD HERITAGE AREA
24 June, 2014
Topics: Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area
COLBECK: In the World Heritage Commission's rejection of our minor boundary adjustment application in Doha overnight we think that we put forward a case to justify that decision, we will respect the decision and look at it closely and of course we will go ahead with the Indigenous survey work that was requested by the World Heritage Commission.
JOURNALIST: What does this mean for Tasmania?
COLBECK: Well for Tasmania I think it's really disappointing. We've had two elections in the last 12 months where Tasmanians in particular have said quite clearly that they want to have an economy as well as having respect for the natural areas of the state. The really disappointing thing from my perspective is that it is people, particularly in the special species industry who are the really high value end of the forest sector, who will be impacted first. So, wooden boat builders, craft makers and furniture builders will lose access to their resource first and of course they are parts of the industry that Tasmania is well renowned for.
JOURNALIST: Is it embarrassing?
COLBECK: Well look I'm not embarrassed at all, in fact I think the embarrassment is that Tony Burke put up a nomination in 2013 despite the warnings of the then Opposition that we shouldn't go ahead with this. We've listed areas that shouldn't have been listed and unfortunately the processes of the World Commission have left us in a circumstance where they now remain within the World Heritage boundaries. We've said all along that we think areas that have been logged back into the 1800s, and more recently on an industrial scale, diminish the genuine values of the Wilderness World Heritage Area.
JOURNALIST: So did they get it wrong?
COLBECK: We're disappointed with the decision but we respect the decision as we've said and we'll look at the decision further from here.
JOURNALIST: So will you rule out logging in that area regardless?
COLBECK: Well I don't think community values would accept logging in Wilderness World Heritage areas but I do note that during the sham Tasmanian Forest Agreement process green groups actually allocated special species coupes within the Wilderness World Heritage area. So we're not saying we will go back into them but the point that I make is that Green groups in a very cynical move allocated coupes for harvesting for special species in the Wilderness World Heritage area.
JOURNALIST: Why is it so essential to log that area?
COLBECK: Well it's a matter of having sensible access to a resource. When we went back and had a look at the assessment of the Tasmanian Wilderness area that was done in 2003 it was quite clear from process undertaken under national and international processes that the genuine wilderness areas were well within the boundaries of the existing TWWHA estate. This extension is basically a Labor/Green move that will damage the forest industry and we know because Christin Milne recently stated last week that her objective is to destroy the entire native forest based industry. We obviously don't agree with that and think there is room for the high value management of our native forests, we can have a successful forest industry here in Australia. In fact I think that's even been confirmed by the fact that environmental groups are now saying that the areas that have been logged quite intensively within the Wilderness World Heritage boundaries can be restored. So there's an endorsement if there ever was one for the forest industry in Australia and it just goes to show that this whole listing in the first place in 2013 by Tony Burke and the Greens was an ideological one that was aimed to destroy the forest industry.
JOURNALIST: Will you try again?
COLBECK: We haven't made that decision and we've said we will respect the assessment and the processes of the World Heritage Commission and we'll sit down and have a look at that from here.
JOURNALIST: How much has the whole exercise cost?
COLBECK: I don't know what the final cost is, obviously there is one and I'm sure that question will be asked on notice by Greens or environmental groups through the senate estimates process.
JOURNALIST: You've waged a big campaign on this; do you reconsider your position in light of that?
COLBECK: Not at all, I don't apologise for standing up for the Tasmanian constituency. I don't apologise for doing what we were elected to do. We took this to the 2013 election, this was an election commitment and I think reinforced by the Tasmanian election and the outstanding result that the Tasmanian state government with Will Hodgman as premier took. But also reinforced by the fact that the Greens took an absolute pounding at both of those elections in Tasmania, at the state election losing two of their three seats and party status.
JOURNALIST: Have you been embarrassed because of the (inaudible) the outcome of it all?
COLBECK: No, I think the embarrassment comes from Tony Burke's listing in 2013 and putting areas in that shouldn't have been listed. I think that was an outrageous act, particularly when you consider that he went into a meeting with Tasmania's Legislative Councillors that morning saying he didn't think the listing would go ahead and walked straight out into a press conference and announced that it would. I don't think that you can take a lot of account of what Tony Burke says in this context at all.