Progress achieved in forest negotiations Mon 23 July 2012 Lara Giddings Premier Bryan Green Minister for Energy and Resources The Premier, Lara Giddings, said today significant progress had been made toward reaching an agreement to the forest debate. "Today I met the signatories to the Statement of Principles process and they have briefed me on the strong progress they have made in negotiations to date," Ms Giddings said. "I commend the signatories for the hard work, goodwill, leadership and courage they have shown throughout this process. "They have given me a level of optimism that an agreement can be reached but have asked for more time to conduct detailed modelling and analysis to inform final negotiations. "After careful consideration I have agreed to invest another two weeks to allow this process to occur. "This has been a 30 year conflict and I am not prepared to sacrifice the potential for a resolution for the sake of a two week deadline. "All parties in this process are acutely aware of the need to finalise discussions quickly in order to provide certainty to the forest industry and the wider community." The Minister for Energy and Resources, Bryan Green, said the Tasmanian Forests Agreement had already delivered around $100 million to respond to the challenges confronting the forest industry. "Under the TFA the State Government provided $15 million to support forest workers who had been made redundant as a result of industry restricting. More than 300 former forest workers have received assistance through this fund. "The $45 million Tasmanian Forest Contractors Voluntary Exit Program has also supported 61 harvest, haulage and silvicultural contractors exit the industry and make a new start. "We have also increased funding to Rural Alive and Well to provide mental health counselling and community support to those affected by the forest industry downturn. "All those benefits would have been denied if the Liberal Party had their way in tearing up the IGA." Ms Giddings and Mr Green will tomorrow travel to Canberra to discuss the progress with Federal Environment Minister, Tony Burke.