Jeanette Fitzsimons

OPEN LETTER to Paul Lennon, Premier of Tasmania

by Jeanette Fitzsimons

Jeanette here. This evening I had this letter delivered to Tasmanian Premier Paul Lennon at a parliamentary function. The Premier is here researching New Zealand climate change initiatives, and I felt there was one thing in particular he could learn from our experience in New Zealand:

22 May 2008

OPEN LETTER to Paul Lennon, Premier of Tasmania

Dear Premier Lennon,

Welcome to New Zealand on your climate change research trip.

You have stated that you want Tasmania to become a ‘leader on climate change action’.

The best way for Tasmania to cut its carbon emissions is to immediately protect its old growth forests from logging. Forestry and land-use change constitute Tasmania’s largest contribution to climate change.

The New Zealand Government protected this country’s publicly owned native forests eight years ago, with the help of the Green Party. When we ended native forest logging, the economy didn’t spiral into decline and unemployment rates didn’t go through the roof, scenarios some predicted here then and being echoed by your government and Tasmania’s logging companies. Quite the opposite – tourism has become our biggest export earner and the West Coast of the South Island, the last bastion of native forest logging, has had unemployment halve since the logging stopped. Not only that, but immense national pride in these forests’ protection has grown and endures.

We still haven’t got it right. Far from it. The New Zealand Government needs to take far bolder steps to tackle climate change, and the Green Party will continue to push them to do so. But we hope that if you take one thing away from this visit, it is a vision of what can be achieved by protecting forests with high conservation and carbon storage value, and the environmental and economic benefits that can flow from such a policy. While your government continues to engage in destructive logging practices that have been likened to those in developing countries, Tasmania will never achieve your aspiration to be a “leader on climate change action?.

New Zealanders are very concerned at the continued logging of your ancient carbon sinks and recently took part in the international campaign to urge the ANZ bank not to fund Gunns Ltd’s Tasmanian pulp mill with its massive emissions footprint. With growing public awareness of the fragility of both biodiversity and our climate, the destruction of Tasmania’s ancient forests is now a global issue. We urge you to take bold action to stop the logging and make Tasmania a climate change leader to the world.

Yours sincerely,

Jeanette Fitzsimons MP
Co-leader, Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand