Morrison Government’s hollow trees promise

Published on Tue 26 October 2021 2:04pm

It is with bitter irony, therefore, perhaps with shamelessnesss, that the government has announced today new measures that apparently could unlock up to 100 million trees over the next decade. And it includes the hopeful note that this will contribute significantly towards the government’s 1 billion trees plan. Well, that would be something, wouldn’t it, considering the plan has so far delivered zero trees from 2018 to 2021. Four years and no trees, but today, we get another announcement. And what’s the bet it’ll be like all the other promises from this government.

Mr Wilson (4:18pm) – Deputy Speaker, there are a few things better than being out in my community planting trees. It’s good for the soul. It’s good for native wildlife and it’s good for the planet. And in the Freo electorate, there are numerous groups that take on the challenge of planting trees in places like the Beeliar wetlands, or Samson Park, or Clontarf Hill.

At a time when we have a failed National Environment Protection framework that’s not preventing cumulative loss of habitat, we need to be increasing tree cover, in addition to protecting our remnant forests better. And that’s particularly the case in the face of climate change impacts including the catastrophic bushfires that scorched the east coast in 2019-20.

Deputy Speaker, it’s momentous and welcome that the McGowan Labor government has announced that from 2024 there will be no logging of native forests in Western Australia. What’s more, it’s providing a $350 million package to support 33,000 hectares of new softwood plantations that will produce 50 million trees by 2031. That’s a sensible and balanced approach to maintaining a supply of renewable timber and the jobs that are sustained by that industry.

But we can’t forget that Australia has already suffered deforestation on a large and seriously harmful scale. The WA wheatbelt is without question one of the great grain-producing regions on the planet. It’s about to achieve a record harvest this summer, but it’s also one of the most starkly changed landscapes. Indeed, there’s only 7 per cent of the original vegetation left within the 150,000 square kilometre wheatbelt.

Australia-wide tree planting and landscape restoration is desperately needed. It’s vital as a matter of protecting our biodiversity. It’s vital as a matter of responding to climate change. And in the case of a sensibly managed plantation forest industry, it’s important as a source of sustainable and renewable timber.

On that front, it’s worth reflecting on what the Morrison Government has said in relation to growing trees in Australia. In 2018, it announced it would deliver 1 billion new trees over the course of the next decade – that was supposed to include 100 million trees in Western Australia. But like so many announcements by this woeful government absolutely nothing has happened since at a Regional Australia committee hearing in Collie the other week, I asked the president of the Forest Industry Federation of WA how many of those trees have been planted and I was told the trend is actually going backwards.

It is with bitter irony, therefore, perhaps with shamelessnesss, that the government has announced today new measures that apparently could unlock up to 100 million trees over the next decade. And it includes the hopeful note that this will contribute significantly towards the government’s 1 billion trees plan. Well, that would be something, wouldn’t it, considering the plan has so far delivered zero trees from 2018 to 2021. Four years and no trees, but today, we get another announcement. And what’s the bet it’ll be like all the other promises from this government.

Share this article...

Get Involved
Subscribe for updates
Contact Josh