Timber Industry

Mr HIBBINS (Prahran) — My question is to the Premier. The Premier's Forest Industry Taskforce in its statement of intent agreed that a business-as-usual approach to logging is unacceptable, but the recent VicForests timber release plan does take a business-as-usual approach to logging by continuing to log our high conservation value forests. Premier, why is VicForests ignoring your own Forest Industry Taskforce and its agreed statement of intent?

Honourable members interjecting.

Mr ANDREWS (Premier) — I thank the member for Prahran for his question.

An honourable member — And the member for Murray Valley for his answer.

Mr ANDREWS — I did not hear the member for Murray Valley's answer. The member for Murray Plains, I should say — it will always be Murray Valley to me — but I can imagine what that answer might have been. I can only imagine. Anyway, I will be sure to review Hansard to see that quip tomorrow.

The member for Prahran has kind of answered his own question by referring to a statement of intent from the Forest Industry Taskforce — that is, that is their intention. They have not yet concluded their work. They have not yet reported. They have got a way to go yet. I would just direct the honourable member to the fact that for the first time in our state — and I would hope all honourable members, regardless of very strongly held views on these issues, would concede the point or agree the point — this is the first time that we have ever had the timber industry, environmental groups, non-government organisations and the union representing timber workers sitting around a table with a real sense of urgency as to the sustainability in the medium and the long term for this industry and these jobs.

Mr R. Smith interjected.

Mr ANDREWS — It is a laughing matter, according to the member for Warrandyte. Perhaps we should just get some Hereford fuel reduction providers and get them in there. They eat logs, don't they? They eat logs apparently.

Honourable members interjecting.

The SPEAKER — Order! The Premier! The Premier to continue responding to the member for Prahran.

Mr ANDREWS — I think I just heard the member for Warrandyte say, 'I'm starting to think'. I seriously doubt that. That would be reform, wouldn't it.

The member for Prahran asked a serious question and in the asking of it actually answered it. The statement of intent is just that. It is not concluded yet. That work is not done. It continues. I want to thank all of those who are represented on the task force for the work that they are doing, and they and the government will have more to say at an appropriate time when they have concluded their work.

But again I would just remind members that I think it is something we should all be pleased about. Regardless of the different views all of the stakeholders, all of those most directly affected — although I would say that all Victorians have a stake in getting this right — are sitting around the table talking about the sustainability in all of its meanings — economically, socially, environmentally — for this industry and for these precious natural resources.

Mr HIBBINS (Prahran) — Can the Premier advise how the Leadbeater's possum, Victoria's state faunal emblem, will survive given that its remaining habitat is scheduled to be logged by the end of 2018 under the VicForests timber release plan?

Mr ANDREWS (Premier) — I thank the member for Prahran for his supplementary question. I think the member for Prahran, in the asking of this supplementary, has somewhat narrowed what might be considered the available habitat for the Leadbeater's possum. I think he may have rather constrained that and taken a very, very narrow — and I would suggest inaccurate — view.

Mr Blackwood — He's telling a lie!

The SPEAKER — Order! The Premier will not take up interjections.

Mr ANDREWS — One can only hope that, just as the member for Murray Plains's comment was caught by Hansard, let us hope the member for Narracan's comment was caught by Hansard as well.

I am happy to arrange a briefing from those whose job it is to define what available habitat is and deal with these matters of extinction and others. The member for Melbourne is shaking her head. I am happy to provide the briefing if that is something the member for Prahran wants so we can all be certain of the facts rather than people's misheld views.