First step for forest peace deal scrutiny

It could be four months before Tasmania's Upper House votes on legislation to enact the state's forest peace deal.

The parliamentary committee set up to scrutinise the historic peace deal has met for the first time in Hobart to decide a timeline for their inquiry.

In Parliament last week, MLCs voted eight to four to scrutinise the enacting legislation so more interest groups get an opportunity to have a say.

The move has delayed implementation of the agreement to halve the timber industry and reserve more native forests.

The committee's chairman, Huon MLC Paul Harriss, says the closing date for submissions is January 18 but hearings will start in Hobart three days earlier.

"We expect there would be a number of submissions in well and truly by that date and members would have already spent time studying the submissions and be ready to go on the 15th and it's every likelihood that the 15th and possibly the 16th will be to hear from each of the signatories for them to give their evidence," he said.

The committee is hoping to have its report finished by late March.

"Now that's still a pretty tight timeframe when you consider the enormity of this task." Upper House president Sue Smith and Rosevears Independent Kerry Finch are the only MLCs not taking part in the inquiry.

The committee's deputy, Adriana Taylor, is not disappointed Mr Finch is boycotting the hearings.

"It's going to be difficult enough with 13 of us already hearing submissions, but I think the more the merrier in this because we all have views and we all have constituents and specific interests who are talking to us," she said.

"So it's really good that all of us are heard but, you know, Kerry is allowed to make up his own mind." Mr Finch expressed frustration last week when the council voted to refer the legislation to a select committee.

The Federal Regional Development Minister, Simon Crean, said this week the extra time demanded by MLCs is too long.

At risk is $200 million in Commonwealth funding linked to the deal becoming law.

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