Sunday, August 8, 2010

Labor Minister: We want your jobs to save our seats from the Greens

Get used to more secret job-killing deals between Labor and Greens after the election, when the Greens will have sole balance of power in the Senate. The ABC’s Landline reports on the latest of them:

ANNE KRUGER, PRESENTER: But first to politics and the sheer power of Green preferences. From 1st July the red gum forests on the Murray River flood plain were proclaimed as a national park by the NSW Government. Conservationists are hailing it as a triumph but border communities accuse Labor of selling out local timber jobs in a back room deal with the Greens.

TIM LEE, REPORTING: In the vast red gum forests of southern NSW emotions are running high.

CHRIS CRUMP, SAW MILLER MATHOURA NSW: I know there’s families at home there now, people like us, I know that are sitting there crying at night wondering, wondering what they’re going to do. I mean, you know, and this is a Labor Government supposed to be looking after Labor working class people. How does that make any sense, you know? Yeah, but yeah, sorry…

TIM LEE: Early last month the NSW Parliament passed legislation which made most of these forests national parks… The new national parks won’t be logged, shutting these locals out of the forest. Within weeks their saws will fall silent and regional jobs, perhaps as many as 500, directly and indirectly, will be gone… And they are quick to blame it, rightly or wrongly, on political conspiracies.

RUSSELL DOUGLAS, SAW MILLER: To see an industry go down the gurgler for the sake of Green preference votes in Sydney, people that have been able to campaign and change the whole lives of so many communities along the Murray…

TIM LEE: Such a claim might be readily dismissed a the customary complaint of timber workers although many here allege to have heard it in person from Frank Sartor the NSW Minister for Climate change and the environment. This is the Goulburn saw mill in Deniliquin in southern NSW and it was here in January that a meeting of timber workers that Minister Sartor made a most extraordinary and brazen comments about the real reasons behind the closure of these red gum forests. Or so it’s alleged.

DAVID JOSS: And he said the Greens have 15 per cent of the vote and I remember that figure because it’s a figure that we’d dispute down this way, and he said, “We’re going to need their preferences if we’re to survive the next election and they want a significant national park in red gum.”

TIM LEE: Of the 30 or so saw Millers at the meeting about half say they clearly heard the Minister. Most say they will sign a statutory declaration to back their claim. Did you overhear him say this was not about protecting the forests it was about politics? Did you hear that?


TIM LEE: What were his words?

RAY HALL: He more or less said they needed a couple of seats in the Sydney suburbs that they want to hold and gain. The Green seats…

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