Tassie govt lashed over logging support

Peter Gutwein is under fire for his support for forestry industry initiatives.
Peter Gutwein is under fire for his support for forestry industry initiatives.

Veteran conservationist and former Greens leader Bob Brown has lashed Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein's promise to hand almost $12 million to the state's forestry industry.

On the campaign trail on Saturday, and with the island state headed for the polls on May 1, Mr Gutwein pledged $11.7 million towards forestry initiatives as part of a raft of election commitments.

However Mr Brown says the premier's promise to "featherbed private logging corporations with $10 million for machinery and equipment and $1.3m more for publicity, is the tip of the iceberg".

He described the move as "conflating the plantation and native forest logging industries to shepherd the latter past proper public scrutiny".

Mr Brown said the money should instead be spent on schools and hospitals.

He also called on Mr Gutwein to clear the air over industry calls for him to build a new woodchip ship loader at Bell Bay, in Tasmania's north, and new woodchipping infrastructure at Burnie.

Meanwhile, the government's campaign focus on Saturday was on building new homes while the opposition's landed on supporting tourism.

Mr Gutwein said the state's First Home Owners Grant, which applies to new builds, would jump to $30,000 from $20,000 if the Liberals were re-elected.

Like the federal government's HomeBuilder scheme, it would also be extended for 12 months.

Labor leader Rebecca White unveiled plans for a $40 million upgrade for infrastructure at tourist attractions and $18 million for Tourism Tasmania's marketing campaigns.

She also wants free car travel to continue on the Spirit of Tasmania beyond June 30.

The Liberals, seeking a third consecutive term, called the May 1 snap poll last month after being plunged into minority when Speaker Sue Hickey quit the party to run as an independent.

Mr Gutwein hit out at Labor on Saturday for making big-spending promises that have not been costed by Treasury.

Neither Labor nor The Greens have had election policies costed by Tasmania's Treasury, while the Liberals have had eight policies costed, he said.

Both parties officially launch their campaigns on Sunday.

Australian Associated Press