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The Forum > Article Comments > The election in Tasmania a referendum on old-growth logging? > Comments

The election in Tasmania a referendum on old-growth logging? : Comments

By Peter Tucker, published 13/10/2004

Peter Tucker argues that the majority of Tasmanians clearly want an end to old growth logging.

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It is a pity this analysis did not state that the member for Lyons, Dick Adams, opposed his ALP leader's policy. Excluding his votes; the majority voted against the Latham folly and for the existing RFA that balances conservation and sustainable forestry, by reserving 40% of the State's forests, 95% of its high quality wilderness and provides a strict forest practice code that protects natural and cultural values.

The political debate on forests will only end when commentators such as Peter Tucker acknowledge that a compromise solution has already been achieved.
Posted by cinders, Tuesday, 7 December 2004 3:01:10 PM
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Peter's analysis highlights the problem with accepted political wisdom on this issue - but the situation is I think even more complex.

The commentators say "Labor's policy cost them two seats." There are no doubt many other reasons this is shallow, two are important. All through the campaign John Howard, like Mark Latham, said old growth forests should be protected. Labour's policy was not clear cut (so to speak) it was for a review not protection - conservation groups were luke warm at best and industry strongly opposed. The worst of both worlds. John Howard's policy was for the protection of 170,000 hectares including the Tarkine - a major breakthough on old growth forests. On the one hand a policy for a review of 240000 hectares and on the other, outright protection for 170,000 undefined hectares. Both sides in favour of protecting old growth forests. Of course John Howard's team is more skilled - he scored the backing of the union and industry while the workers were played for fools.

The second issue is simple. The ALP's, Liberal's and independent polling all through the campaign pointed to the final outcome. All polls showed a swing against Labor with the likely lose of Braddon and Bass. This was before the policies were released. The really interesting point is that both policies on this dominating issue had no effect on voters. Were they disinterested and in fact it is not that big an issue? I don't think so. I think the two policies cancelled each other out. Both parties knew this was a vote winner and couldn't allow the other to act without doing so themselves. In the past the issue has been neutralised by inaction - in this case it was neutralised by action from both parties.

The outcome is exactly what Tasmanians are looking for - protection of forests and protection of jobs. The final policy has shown it can be done. For years these same politicans said they weren't up to it. Now they have shown they are . . . but there's is more work to be done.
Posted by Rod West, Sunday, 9 October 2005 3:30:33 PM
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