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RFA not a contract: Thomson

RFA not a contract: Thomson
Geelong Addy Thursday 28 November 2002

LEGAL challenges by Ot­ways loggers to force the State Government to abide by the Regional Forest Agreements would be unlikely to succeed, according to federal Opposition environment spokesman Kelvin Thomson.

Mr Thomson, who toured the southern Otways with South Barwon candidate Michael Crutchfield on Monday, said the RFA had provision in it for review and was not a 20 year contract.

“If people have a legal right they are entitled to exercise that,” he said.
“My advice is that the saw log licences will run out between now and 2005.
Government whether it re news them or not.  “A licence does not carry the automatic right to renewal and the (State) Government has allocated $14 million for a transition plan.”

Timber Communities Australia Colac branch spokesman Peter Dynes said that at the Otway timber industry Great Ocean Road protest on Sunday he had sought legal advice about forcing the Government to abide by the RFA signed by Premier Steve Bracks two years ago.

He said the industry believed it had a case to argue that the RFA could not just be thrown out.
“Basically we are wait­ing to see what happens this Saturday before we go any further,” he said

Mr Thomson said despite the protests of the local industry the decision to end logging in the Otways had been well received.

He said the benefits to tourism would be significant.

He said he had met with Geelong Otway Tourism chief executive Roger Grant, who expressed support for the establishment of a national park.

Labor candidate for South Barwon Michael Crutchfield said the reaction to the announcement in the first week of the campaign bad been very positive,

“I don’t think it was a surprise to many people,” he said.

“It was the right de­cision even though the (timber) union is not happy. They can do whatever they want to do in terms of protests,” he said.


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