Tasmania’s incoming Liberal government will meet with the timber industry this week as it pushes ahead with plans to tear up the state’s forestry peace deal.
Liberal forestry spokesman Peter Gutwein on Monday said the meeting would seek a “way forward” for the timber industry, and reaffirmed his party’s pledge to abandon the peace deal between loggers and environmentalists brokered by Labor in 2012.
“We will sit down with industry stakeholders this week and we will talk with them about rebuilding the industry,” Mr Gutwein said.
“We have a mandate to tear this deal up, we have not supported this deal over the last three years.”
Mr Gutwein’s comments come after the Liberals swept to power in Saturday’s state election, grabbing 52 per cent of the primary vote, a swing of 12 per cent, to win at least 14 of the lower house’s 25 seats.
With more than 80 per cent of the vote counted, the ALP has secured six lower house seats, the Greens probably three, while two are in doubt.
Mr Gutwein said environmentalists would not be included in this week’s discussions unless they did a “180 degree about turn” on forestry issues.
“They have locked up large tracts of Tasmania for no good purpose,” he added.
The peace deal took almost three years to negotiate after 30 years of conflict between conservationists and the timber industry in Tasmania.
The deal locks up an extra 500,000 hectares of high value forest and commits millions of dollars to downsize the timber industry and create alternative jobs.
Tasmanian Greens leader Nick McKim warned premier-elect Will Hodgman not to take the state “back to war” by ripping up the deal.
“If there is a return to the dark days of conflict division, it will be one person’s responsibility and one person’s only, and that will be Will Hodgman,” Mr McKim told reporters.
Mr McKim would not be drawn on whether the Greens would join other environmental groups in protest action if the deal was torn up, but said his party would always defend the state’s “wild places”.
“What people can expect from the Greens is that we will stand up strongly in defence of the forests,” he said.
The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union also reaffirmed its support for the peace deal.
“Ending this agreement will put timber workers’ jobs on the path to destruction,” its forestry division national president, Jane Calvert, said in a statement.
“Undoing the conservation outcomes achieved by the agreement will reintroduce conflict – and conflict will destroy markets both nationally and internationally.”
Ms Calvert said if markets stopped taking Tasmanian timber products, then jobs would be lost.
Meanwhile, ALP state president Rebecca White urged her party to retain defeated premier Lara Giddings as leader, despite the election loss.
“She’s shown herself to be a really strong leader for the party,” Ms White told ABC Radio.
“At this stage I can’t really see a reason why we’d move away from having her stay on in that role.”