FEDERAL Environment Minister Tony Burke has confirmed funding for the forest peace deal is now in doubt.
Amid growing public criticism of the Upper House's decision to send the Tasmanian forest peace deal to a select committee for review in March, Mr Burke, left, on Saturday confirmed the $62.5 million in federal funding to implement the peace deal was now in doubt.
"I would much rather re-allocate funds than leave funds parked for an agreement that's not going to eventuate, if that's where we're at," he said after arriving in Hobart yesterday from the Antarctic.
"I'm not going to have these sort of multi-millions of dollars just being quarantined for a state where its Upper House says 'we don't want your money'."
He said the decision to delay until March two months after the nominations for world heritage listings close meant it appeared the forest peace deal could not be implemented.
A key outcome of the peace deal was recognition of about 504,000ha of reserves in exchange for an end to protests and market campaigns by environmentalists.
"I've got to say I was ready for the Legislative Council to either accept or reject the deal," Mr Burke said.
"The last thing I expected was that they would design a committee process that was strategically designed to be completed just after nominations close for world heritage, just after the dates where business had said are critical to them in making their own business decisions.
"It really is too cute by half to pick a date like that, which is, from everything that I can see, entirely designed to frustrate the process rather than make a decision."
Mr Burke said he would prefer to make a decision on Commonwealth funding sooner rather than later and pointed to other funding pressures for Antarctic projects and the protection of the Great Barrier Reef.
He expressed a desire to sit down with the signatories next week to reach an agreement, and criticised the Upper House for leaving the decision in limbo for a further four months in what has already been a drawn out ordeal.
"I think where the Legislative Council has taken us is into a space that is unquestionably bad for Tasmania," he said.
"I can't see how there is an upside for Tasmania in saying let's just remain in limbo through to March or April of next year."
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