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Australian Prime Minister says forests should not be 'locked up' from loggers

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said workers in the timber industry are the "ultimate conservationists"

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said he will not support the creation of any more National parks during a speech in which he called the reservation areas “locked up forest”.

In an address to the ForestWorks timber industry dinner in Canberra on Tuesday, he said its workers are “the ultimate conservationists” and accused “Green ideology” of damaging Australia. 

He promised the support them by creating a Forestry Advisory Council to be chaired by Rob de Fegely, the president of the Institute of Foresters in Australia, the Sydney Morning Herald has reported.

“We don't support, as a government and as a Coalition, further lockouts of our forests,” Mr Abbott said. “We have quite enough National Parks, we have quite enough locked up forests already. In fact, in an important respect, we have too much locked up forest.”

“So my friends, when I say that I want Australia to be open for business, I mean open for business for the forestry industry.”

He added that the federal government was in the process of attempting to delist a world heritage site of 74,000 hectares of forest in Tasmania protected under Tasmania’s forest peace deal after a decade of conflict between conservationists and the industry.

He said the area was too degraded to be considered a sanctuary.

“I don't buy the Green ideology, which has done so much damage to our country over the last couple of decades and I'm pleased to see that there are some sensible Labor Party people who don't buy it either,” Mr Abbott said.

“When I look out tonight at an audience of people who work with timber, who work in forests, I don't see people who are environmental bandits, I see people who are the ultimate conservationists.

"I salute you as people who love the natural world, as people who love what Mother Nature gives us and who want to husband it for the long-term best interests of humanity."

Leader of Australia’s Green party Christine Milne told the newspaper: "Who in the 21st century would say the environment is meant for man and not just the other way around?

"There is no economic future for Australia in trashing our precious native forests and national parks.

"In pandering to the forestry industry the Prime Minister's statements last night reveal he's not only anti-environment and anti-conservation, he's anti-jobs," she added.