The Senate Inquiry into Australia’s animal extinction crisis today heard testimony that Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews acknowledged the need to protect the highest conservation value forests, but buckled under pressure from VicForests, the state-owned logging company, to allow these forest areas to be logged.
Premier Andrews set up a Taskforce as an election promise in 2014, that was made up of environmentalists, industry and unions. The Taskforce’s Statement of Intent noted the “current ‘business-as-usual’ response to the many complex issues facing Victoria’s forests is insufficient, and that to continue in this way will be of detriment to all stakeholders and the broader community.”
“Premier Andrews was in a bind - despite knowing these areas of forests needed to be protected, VicForests had over-logged other forests and could therefore not fulfil future contracts. Daniel Andrews buckled under pressure from VicForests and industry, turned his back on the Taskforce and sold out these incredibly important forests and the threatened animals that live in them,” said Sarah Rees of MyEnvironment Inc and member of the Taskforce.
“It’s staggering that after acknowledging the importance of protecting these forests of highest conservation value, Premier Daniel Andrews is now allowing logging in these areas,” said Senator Janet Rice, Australian Greens forest spokesperson and Chair of the Senate inquiry into Australia’s extinction crisis.
“Daniel Andrews needs to come clean with Victorians before Saturday’s election about how he has shafted the environment to save his political skin after VicForests over-logged our forests."
“In the meantime we have a serious extinction crisis on our doorstep, with animals like the Leadbeater’s Possum on the brink of extinction because their homes are being logged overwhelmingly for woodchips. It’s just madness.”
“Currently, 88% of Victoria’s timber comes from plantations. If we ended native forest logging and shifted to 100% plantation-sourced wood products, we’d not only protect what’s left of our precious forests and the endangered animals that rely on them, we’d give regional communities and workers a long-term future.”
“A vote for the Greens is a vote for the Great Forest National Park now and for many generations to come. A vote for Labor and Liberal is a vote for ongoing destruction.”
“Logging and woodchipping are driving threatened species such as koalas, the Leadbeater’s possum, the greater glider and the swift parrot to extinction, all under the auspices of Regional Forest Agreements that exempt logging from national environment laws,” said Wilderness Society Victorian Campaign Manager Amelia Young.
“Australia is in the grips of an extinction epidemic. We have the worst mammal extinction rate on the planet and it’s only getting worse. We are also the second worst in the world for biodiversity loss, only beaten by Indonesia. We need new national environment laws that actually protect nature and an independent watchdog, an Environmental Protection Authority, to enforce the laws."