Otway Ranges Environment Network



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OPINION: Labor’s logging coup

Geelong Advertiser opinion article.

Geelong Advertiser
Labor’s logging coup
Saturday 9th November 2002.

STEVE Bracks’ election promise to ban logging in native Otway forests might have attracted the ire of forestry workers, but it is difficult to see the pledge as anything other than a canny vote-winner. For one, it has caught the Liberals napping, if not in a deep sleep. Voters regard Otways logging as a far more important issue than the Liberals Party has been prepared to acknowledge in their policies.

A snap poll of Bellarine electorate voters by this newspaper has revealed overwhelming support of 65.2 percent—two in every three people — for Labor’s Otway logging ban. This echoes a Labor- commissioned Saulwick poll a year ago showing 69 percent opposition clearfell logging in the Otways.

The clear suggestion, in the absence of other pressing issues, is that logging might just become a defining issue for our region in the November 30 State election. What this might mean for the Liberal-held seat of South Barwon is moot. An Addy Poll will gauge electorate sentiment this weekend, but the compelling implication is already that attitudes in a seat with a strong coastal profile and connection may not be vastly different.

Speculation aside, the Otways are a magnificent natural asset. An asset of immense environmental value and, arguably, considerable economic import in terms of tourism, too. Given the Government’s political vulnerability, the Bracks logging ban was inevitable and will clearly enjoy community support in urban centres.

Whether it might enjoy the same degree of support in the bush could well be a different matter and it might be worth recalling  Jeff Kennett’s expensive discounting of  rural concerns. On balance, however, the Otways are worth preserving, and not simply for political purposes. The Liberal Party would do well to acknowledge the groundswell of support that exists for better environmental stewardship, if only in its own interests.

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