Image for Forests: Jarvis reveals the deal

What is she frightened of?  Julia, that is.

She’s visited Tasmania twice during the election campaign, and hasn’t uttered a peep about Labor’s long-awaited solution to the State’s timber industry woes.

Perhaps she remembers what happened to Latham when he announced what was, in hindsight, an insightful answer to a difficult problem.  Perhaps she’s hoping to emulate Johnnie Howard; triumphantly marching through Launceston’s streets being groped by the eloquent and debonair Scott Maclean.  Who knows.  No doubt she will make another visit soon, but Jarvis is sick of waiting, and as he’s already privy to her upcoming announcement, he’s decided to share some of the key elements with TT’s readership.

The Labor machine suspects voters in Tassie’s marginal northern seats have a low opinion of both Gunns and Forestry Tasmania.  Plenty of opinion polls confirm that trashing native forests is unpopular, and Forestry Tasmania’s reputation as an efficient custodian of the State’s forests is lower than lizard shit.  So with plenty of (our taxes, mind you) money to throw about, Julia is about to come to the rescue of both the timber industry, and our forests.

The biggest beneficiary?  Gunns.  In a deal already signed behind closed doors, Labor will give Gunns between $100 and $200 million as compensation for surrendering a number of timber concessions and private roads, which will be handed back to the State.  Gunns will then focus on existing plantations, and move almost entirely out of old-growth and regrowth forests. 

Giving up those concessions will cost jobs, so there’s more money from the Canberra tree.  Around $75 million in additional compensation will be available to those impacted by a reduction in native forest harvesting, both in assistance to leave the industry and retool for processing plantation hardwood.

FT doesn’t escape unscathed.  A condition of the industry bailout is a root and branch restructure of Forestry Tasmania, including an independent, comprehensive audit of that organisation’s land and biological assets.

More to follow,



Meanwhile, Sue Neales, Mercury:

Forestry in $100m bailout plea   SUE NEALES   |  August 06, 2010 08.17am

TASMANIA’S long-running and divisive battle over logging in native forests has entered the election arena.
Forest contractors facing imminent financial ruin from the crash in demand for native woodchips appealed yesterday to both the Federal Government and the Opposition for a $100 million rescue package.

Australian Forest Contractors Association president Colin McCulloch said the 4000 logging contractors and forest workers in Tasmania wanted both political parties to promise a payment of $50 million to help them survive the downturn.

Without the cash injection, followed by an extra $1 million a week for at least a year, Mr McCulloch said there would be no skilled workers or contractors with highly specialised logging equipment to keep the timber industry alive.

Read more HERE


Gunns pipeline on bypass land   THE MERCURY   |  August 05, 2010 08.48am

GUNNS Limited has been given permission to build its controversial pulp mill pipeline on land compulsorily acquired for the Dilston bypass on the East Tamar.

Farmer Gerald Archer had refused to negotiate with Gunns over a route through his land for the $40 million water pipeline, without which the $2.5 billion mill could not go ahead.

However, DIER compulsorily acquired a 70m-wide corridor comprising a total of 11.96ha for the bypass in November 2009.

DIER spokesman Simon Hiscock said at the time the move was “entirely unrelated to the construction of the Gunns pipeline which is a separate matter for negotiation by Gunns”.

Greens pulp mill spokesman Kim Booth said allowing the pipeline was an unbelievable act of betrayal of farming families by the State Government.

“There has been a manipulation of the Land Acquisition Act where they bought an easement about twice as wide as they really needed on the chance that they might one day need a four-lane highway,” he said.

Read more HERE

Rick Pilkington, writing HERE:

Thursday, August 5, 2010
Perfect storm my arse Terry! Latest logger demand for taxpayer handout truly bizzare

Have a read of the ABC news report below.
Have you finished?
O.k. No its true. Its not a joke. Read it again if you have to.
The Tasmanian Forest contractors want over $100M of cash freebies from you the taxpayer over the next 12 months.
To quote the great 20th century American philosopher Mcenroe “You cannot be serious man”!

To put the logging contractors request into perspective, the total Tasmanian budget this year was around 5 Billion. Remember that the Tasmanian Forest contractors are but one small component of what we are told is a multi-faceted Tasmanian forest industry, which in turn is just one part of tasmania’s overall economy.

We are consistently reminded by the Tasmanian logging industry that it is a crucial contributor (thats a giver not a taker) to the Tasmanian economy. How many times have Tasmanians been lectured that forestry has underpinned growth in the Tasmanian economy.
Here is UTAS economics professor Graeme Wells on this very issue: -

“Given their constituency, such behaviour is understandable and appears to have been successful. In 2007, for example, 24% of survey respondents thought that forestry had ‘made the greatest contribution to the growth of Tasmania’s economy in the last few years’ – second only in importance to tourism. It is hard to reconcile this response with the reality that Tasmanian woodchip exports had declined since 2000, and forest contractors had, in 2007, asked the Commonwealth for a $93m package to help them exit the industry. While it might be difficult for the general public to discount repeated but erroneous claims, more is expected from the responsible ministers. But Bryan Green, then Minister for Infrastructure, Energy and Resources, was infected by the lobbyists’ enthusiasm for forestry and wood products industry. For example, in his submission to the Australian Government’s review of taxation treatment of plantation forestry, he claimed that ‘these industries contribute ... 23% of Gross State Product ... and directly employ around 10,700 people (1 in 13 workforce participants)’.

These claims, which appear to have been sourced from a CFMEU website, were wildly inflated. Schirmer (2008) estimated employment in the forestry and wood products industry to have been 6300 in 2005-06 which, given the Tasmanian workforce of 222,000 persons, is 2.9% of the total. That is, the industry employed one in 35 workers, not one in 13 as claimed by Minister Green. Data on value added in the forestry and wood products industry are not compiled by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, but even in the unlikely event that workers in the industry were twice as productive as the Tasmanian average, their contribution to Gross State Product would have been 5.8%, not 23% as claimed by Minister Green.

Yet here we are again seeing the industry demanding government handouts to sustain that growth.

The TFCA is requesting $50m plus $1m per week which comes in at $100m for the next year.

Whilst the money is being requested from the feds if given it would be a handout to the equivalent of 2% of Tasmania’s total budget.
It tells us a few things about the relationship of the loggers to the Liberal and Labor parties from whom the industry are putting this latest handout request.

The logging industry believe that taxpayer money is their birthright and that the public should pay for the loggers to exploit the publics natural heritage. It also tells us what a monster the lib/labs have created through its cosy & mutually dependent relationship. The claim is probably ambit, but even if they were given $5-10, maybe $20m which is what they are probably hoping for it is still very scary and very wrong.

Forest industry’s big multi-million-dollar wishlist(from ABC news online)
The forest industry has asked for a multi-million-dollar assistance package, and released a big ticket election wishlist. (ABC News: Fiona Breen)
A call to provide Tasmanian forest contractors with a multi-million-dollar assistance package has been backed by the nation’s peak industry body.
The Australian Forest Contractors Association has called on both major parties to provide $50 million to help prop up struggling Tasmanian contractors.
The association has also asked for an additional $1 million a week in ongoing aid.
Terry Edwards from Tasmania’s Forest Industries Association says local contractors have been hit hard by a “perfect storm” of events, including the global downturn, a strong Australian dollar, and campaigns by environmentalists.
“From that point of view I think there is a need for government to step in, and I think they do understand and accept that,” he said.
“The Tasmanian Government has stepped up to the plate on three separate occasions, but this is becoming a pretty big ask.”
The National Association of Forest Industries’ chief executive Allan Hansard has backed the call.
“The contractors are an essential piece in the supply chain,” he said.
Mr Hansard says it is vital to keep contractors in the industry for when the market improves.
“Their claims are all about ensuring that the viable operators, the viable contractors, stay in the business for when we do sort out the future of the timber industry in Tasmania.”
Most of the contractors who would benefit are based in the marginal electorates of Bass and Braddon.
NAFI is also lobbying both major parties to help increase Australia’s wood production.
At the top of its election wishlist is a call for the Federal Government to guarantee long-term wood supply under the Regional Forest Agreements.
Allan Hansard says Australia is in danger of running out of wood to fulfill its own needs, let alone meet export demands.
“We just will not have enough wood to provide for houses and our shelter, going forward,” Mr Hansard said.
The association is also calling for more government incentives for investment in plantations.
“It could be tax arrangements, it could be grants,” he said.
The lobbying to increase production in the forestry industry has riled the Tasmanian Greens.
Spokesman Kim Booth says the industry has been oversubsidised already.
“It’s actually laughable,” Mr Booth said.
“I mean NAFI is largely an organisation that appears to me to be looking for charity status, the way it appears to be seeking more and more contributions from the public purse.”

Senator Christine Milne

Hobart, Friday 6 August 2010

NAFI must be kidding

No more tax breaks for Plantations

With managed investment schemes in financial collapse, it is laughable that the National Association of Forest Industries should have its hand out for even more tax benefits for investment in plantations.

The Greens today called on Labor, the Liberals and the National Party to rule out any further tax breaks or grants for plantation establishment and abolish the existing 100% tax deduction.

The reason the forest industry is in a state of crisis is that there is no market for native forest woodchips and that there is a wall of plantation wood that has come on-stream, resulting in a glut and downward pressure on prices.

“For NAFI’s Allan Hansard to say that Australia is in danger of running out of wood to fulfil its own needs let alone meet export demands, demonstrates that he is completely disconnected from reality,” Australian Greens Deputy Leader, Senator Christine Milne, said

“There is no export demand for native forests, and Australia already has in the ground a sufficient plantation timber resource to meet its own needs. We do not need any further expansion of the plantation estate, and there should be no tax arrangements or grants to exacerbate the situation.

“The 100% tax deduction for managed investment schemes has resulted in inflated land prices, intercepted water and disruption in rural communities all over Australia.

“Far from being expanded with more tax benefits or grants, the MIS tax break should be scrapped.

“Whenever I talk to people, campaigning around rural and regional Australia, even in the blue ribbon Liberal seat of Wannon, people constantly raise the problem of managed investment schemes.

“These schemes are preventing genuine farmers from buying land and leaving hundreds of thousands of hectares in a state of ruin as one, after the other, the MIS companies collapse, from Great Southern to Forest Enterprises of Australia.

“Rural Australia is now left with the problem of what to do with failed plantations, and associated weed and feral animal infestation. No doubt it will be the public purse that pays for their conversion back to grass in areas where there was never a sufficient rainfall to grow trees.

“This federal government intervention into the rural sector has been disastrous public policy and has already resulted in land and water resources now being sold to overseas interests.

“Labor and the Coalition should rule out expanding support for more plantations when we already have a wall of wood, and commit to abolishing the disastrous 100% MIS tax break that currently exists.”

Will they Seek Charity Status Next?
Kim Booth MP
Greens Forestry spokesperson

The Tasmanian Greens today commented on the so called Forest Industries Growth Plan, released by the National Association of Forest industries (NAFI), describing it as a laughable attempt by NAFI to dip into the public purse again.

Greens Shadow Forestry spokesperson Kim Booth MP said that industry representatives such as NAFI need to accept that the world has moved on from blindly accepting industries that plunder the environment and live on public subsidies.

The Greens have released their own industry restructure plan, the Forest Transition Strategy 2010: More Jobs-Less Logs, which outlines a blue-print to create more jobs while protecting high-conservation value forests, and resulting in a timber industry of which all Tasmanians can be proud.

“Like a broken record NAFI has again regurgitated the worn out line that they are just doing this for the good of the community, however this same dirty card trick has been used during the 2004 Federal election which saw $250 million sucked out of the public purse purportedly for the ‘New Forest Industry’,” Mr Booth said.

“The reality is that the vast majority of that money went into the pockets of the timber barons whilst they deliberately saddled the forest contractors with harsh and oppressive contracts that have driven them and their families into financial ruin.”

“Forestry Tasmania also used those public funds to drive roads into wilderness areas in a deliberate attempt to damage their conservation value.”

“The only growth that this plan will bring is growth in more public subsidies, growth in tax minimisation schemes, growth in more farms locked up for plantations and growth in the iconic and irreplaceable places trashed by Forestry Tasmania and Gunns Ltd on the altar of woodchipping.”

“To call for renewal of the Regional Forest Agreement when the industry itself has blatantly broken most aspects of the RFA that were meant to deliver environmental outcomes.”

“The timber industry needs to compete on the same terms as any other industry and stand on it’s own feet. I would not be surprised to see NAFI call for itself to become a charity organisation the way it is carrying on.”

“The public are sick and tired of the massive amount of public money poured into this industry when they are queuing for hospital beds, having difficulty accessing education services, and watching local infrastructure falling apart,” Mr Booth said.

Gutted forestry industry needs new way forward

Friday, 6 August 2010

“Our Common Ground agrees with both NAFI and the Tasmanian Timber contractors that the forest industry is in crisis and needs a new way forward.

With a lack of demand for native forest products, environmental groups are engaged in good faith talks with the industry and unions.

“What we have in Tasmania currently is a native forest logging industry that has lost demand for its products and an abundance of plantation based timber.” said Rod West, spokesperson for Our Common Ground.

“What we are all working for within the current talks is an agreement that has the support of all – to protect our natural heritage, ensure Tasmanians have a timber industry that is strong, sustainable and doesn’t continually require the financial propping up of government.

“We are well aware that Tasmania’s economy cannot cope with the status quo, change is required to ensure the Tasmanian community’s expectations are met. A timber industry which protects jobs without trashing our natural heritage.

“The reality of the markets is that we have an imminent end to the logging of native forests. From all over the world the writing is on the wall for logging Tasmania’s high carbon stores of native forests.

“Not only do we have a well established environmental argument for protecting native forests, we have a profound, compelling and vital argument for moving to more environmentally sustainable practices.

“Our economy, forests, jobs and state require these talks to succeed. The forest industry is currently working with unions and environment groups, is a development we warmly welcome.

“It is only through talks that we can reach common ground for our state’s natural heritage and our ability to move forward from the old practices which have long divided this state,” said Rod West.

Our Common Ground is a coalition of community and business leaders, environment groups and timber workers who are committed to finding a solution to the conflict over forestry in Tasmania.

MEDIA RELEASE       6/08/2010




The community group Friends of the Tamar Valley today called on the Tasmanian Premier to intervene following information that Gunns is receiving further assistance from a State government department for its proposed pulp mill.

Dept of Infrastructure Energy & Resources said it will let Gunns place its contentious pipeline within land that was compulsorily acquired for a road bypass. 

FTV spokesperson, Vanessa Bleyer said “this follows the Premier saying only a year ago that he would not do anything further to assist Gunns’ pulp mill.

“It is a convenient coincidence that:

-      the land that was compulsorily acquired was the biggest piece of land Gunns wanted to build its pipeline across where the landowner refused access;

-      a year ago the government denied the pipeline was envisaged to run within the bypass when there was evidence in support of such strategy.

“FTV is in the process of obtaining legal advice, with initial indications that it is illegal for land to be compulsorily acquired for a public road when it was always intended to be used for the pipeline.

“Protests from landowners and the local community should not be ignored or deliberately side stepped through corrupted processes.”

There is still uncertainty for the pulp mill relating to the pipeline because:

-      there is still private land that Gunns does not have permission to construct through;

-      the new pipeline route will need federal government approval.

There is still uncertainty beyond the pipeline.  The pulp mill has not been finally approved at a Federal level – modules of the environment impact management plan relating to the impact on marine environment are outstanding: no approved plan, no pulp mill.

ABC Online:
Call for Gunns’ pipeline halt
Updated 4 hours 50 minutes ago

An anti-pulp mill group wants the Tasmanian Premier to stop a water pipeline for the Gunns pulp mill.

Gunns has confirmed it has negotiated with the Government to use an easement along the Dilston bypass for the water pipeline.

Land owner Gerald Archer says he has had no contact with Gunns or the State Government about the pipeline for two and a half years

Vanessa Bleyer from the anti-pulp mill group, Friends of the Tamar Valley says the Government and Gunns are taking away private landowners’ rights.

“It’s okay for the private land to be compulsorily acquired for a road because it’s going to serve a benefit to the community but how is it okay for someone’s private land to be taken away for a private purpose for Gunns’ pipeline?” she asked.

Story HERE

Sue Neales, mercury Saturday: Split over forests future