18
Oct 2010

PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS: Forestry Industry

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Mr KATTER

(Kennedy) (8:12 PM) —In rising to speak to the motion before the House, I pay tribute to the honourable member from Tasmania who moved this resolution. I think he embodies all of the laudable characteristics which hallmarked the Labor Party from its inception. I hope to have my history book published early in the New Year. It will delineate those great character traits that created this great movement that was so germane to the formation of modern Australia as we know it. Those values are still very much alive in the person of Mr Adams, the member for Lyons, representing Tasmania. Having said that, I have always been one that has been associated with proactive government—governments that get in and do things and get things done, things that have been good for Australia. I was very, very young. I was really only tagging behind the great men that built the coal industry of Australia, the aluminium industry of Australia and the tourism industry of Queensland. They did it by proactive government. We have seen that in successive governments, starting with the Keating-Hawke government and going on with the Liberal-National Party government. It has been a little less true of the Rudd government and it is a bit hard yet to make judgment upon the current government. These people did not sit idly by and watch things happen, so I have always thought that if we wanted timber we should go out and plant trees.

The honourable member for Page, who spoke previously, is a very excellent member for her area, and so was her predecessor, Ian Causley. He took me to task on the idea of plantations. I said: ‘We’re the mob that go out and get things done. We don’t talk about it; we do it.’ He said, ‘Have you ever driven north of Brisbane?’ I said: ‘Yeah. Righto!’ I strongly urge those who genuinely care about the Australian environment to take a drive north of Brisbane. They refer to it as the ‘pine desert’. There are no insects. There are no animals. There are no birds. There is just a thundering silence. They tell me that, when they take the trees away, nothing will grow because of what the trees have dropped in those areas. But even a monoculture of gum trees can create problems for us, so sustainable logging is definitely where we should be at. I am not saying it cannot be enhanced by some pods of plantation timber. I would not go that far. But putting trees back seems to me to be a good thing to do as well. Sustainable logging is definitely a million miles ahead of plantation monoculture when it comes to the environment.

I come from North Queensland. There is a tiny coastal belt—about 60 kilometres wide, I suppose—where some of the trees have been taken. Not very many have been taken because it is a highly mountainous region. Outside of the Snowy Mountains, it is the highest mountain range in Australia, so obviously you cannot take too many trees from there or farm there—and we have not. Only about a third, or maybe a quarter, of that coastal belt has been logged. West of the Dividing Range—the vast bulk of the northern half of Queensland—only an imbecile would do major clearing work, because it costs $300, or maybe $500, an acre and the land is worth maybe $70 an acre if you are lucky. So it has not happened and it is not going to happen.

Let me turn to the timber industry. It has been taken away from us. Some 28 mills were closed in North Queensland. You can see 11 giant mills when you drive on the highway. You can actually see them from the highway. The one in Ingham is three-quarters of a kilometre long. It is just a big empty shed. Three days ago I showed a visiting journalist the town of Mareeba. The main street of Mareeba is a kilometre-long manufacturing area and there is nothing there now.

(Time expired)

 

SOURCE: Hansard www.aph.gov.au/hansard

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