RFA casts shadow

THE Regional Forest Agreement overshadowed an otherwise positive gathering at the biannual South West Focus 2000 conference.

While speakers acknowledged the outlook for the South West was buoyant in the short term, the RFA was on everybody’s lips.

In welcoming 200 people to the conference, South West Chambers of Commerce and Industry president Rolf Stene said the South West had a bright future.

However, he said the RFA had become the biggest problem the South West region had tackled for many years.

“The Agreement has effected the lives of many working men and woman, especially around Manjimup, Pemberton and Greenbushes,” he said.

“The Federal and State governments have promised millions of dollars to boost the local economy by creating new industries and new jobs.

“It is disappointing to read that the money promised is still tied up and is yet to have any real effect in the region.

For the sake of local people it is hoped we can cut through the red tape to get action so new industries can get off the ground, creating new jobs to boost confidence amongst affected communities,” Mr Stene said.

“Personally, I would like to see Mr Barnett, who is a staunch ally of South West industry, also take on the forestry portfolio.”

Federal Forestry Minister Wilson Tuckey echoed the sentiment shared by Mr Stene.

Everyone from fellow politicians to environmentalists and journalists received a swipe from the Minister while he entertained those present at the South West Focus 2000 Dinner.

Mr Tuckey said journalists had been swayed by ‘greenies’ and reported untruths. He said if the public knew the truth about the issues the RFA would not have received as much attention.

State Resource Development Mini-ster, Colin Barnett agreed, saying the events of the past twelve months were an example of how quickly things could get out of hand.

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