How do you develop a tourism industry in tandem with the development of a forestry industry?

Do tourists really want to share the highways and winding, country vista networks with massive and intimidating log-trucks?

This of course was at a time before the escalation of the forestry industry to its present status. En-route to the recent sale of Evercreech, an iconic and idyllic property on the South Esk River where as a boy I wormed for trout to the evening song of native birds and pastoral beasts, I was filled with the horror of the sight of the surrounding hills.

Gone the magic cluttered eucalypt stands to the uniformed regiments of plantation clones. In every direction, gone. I attended the sale of everything from harvesters to steel lockers and kennels, some of the names of their former owners and occupants, partly obliterated with auction numbers.

Robin Gray’s answer came back to me at Evercreech, now sold to Gunn’s to make way for more trees.

“We can have both.”

Today our tourists and residents alike, shudder at the buffeted passing of a beast laden with trees.

Today we drive the corridors of trees that insidiously steal the vistas that once changed at every hilltop; every twist in the narrow road. Today we drive more cautiously on the winter permafrosted roadside verges from where the sun is now banished by tall trees in ranks.

Today we dread the prospects of our visiting children with a close encounter of the very worst kind as they share the roads with the ubiquitous log truck.

Today even some of the hardy red-necks whose tattered car stickers once told of their ignorance ‘save a job-shoot a greenie’, are having second thoughts about which of the macro paths we should be taking.

But Robin Gray was wrong.

We can’t have both.

Daddy’s Giant Horse.
© P.A.Tapp

“Dunno,” he said, “Dunno”
And he leaned back on the bar
A jolly man who counts his beers
For outside is his car.
I met him several years ago
And he never worried then
Now he drinks from thimbles
When once was ten by ten
But now he has his children
Two darling little girls
You see them smiling from his truck
With rosy cheeks and curls
Behind the 30-wheeler’s wheel
Stationary of course
Playing ‘truckies’ as they squeal
In their daddy’s giant horse
It’s tail tucked up and empty
Like you see them every day
Racing like a trail of ants
To where the trees all lay
Fallen, stripped, bark-naked
Where giant claws will load
Once wonders of the forest
Final journey on the road
A one-way trip to a mountain of chip
And I heard my friend unload
“Dunno,” he said, “dunno,
Dunnit for years and years y’know
Never thought about it much
All this noise and such and such
From greenies carrying on about
Trees and stuff y’know
No doubt they had some sort of cause
They like to see things grow.”

This brought some laughter from the bar
Where conversation runs a par
With jokes ‘bout sheilas, poofter greens
Anecdotes
Of poaching streams
Idiots in parliament
Simple lives in full lament
Of everyone and everything
Flowing freely here at Spring.

“Dunno, dunno,” said he at length
Face awash in paternal strength
Wisdom riding with his view
“There’s something wrong with what I do…
Can’t really nut it out
What I’ll do for bloody quids
But soon I’ve gotta cut it out
For the sake of me bloody kids…
Dunno, dunno…
Really, mate… dunno.”

Earlier: Hundreds of millions of dollars of losses in tourism sector mooted

And:

PRESS RELEASE

Kim Booth MHA

Friday, 22 SEPTEMBER 2006

HOW MANY LOG TRUCKS ARE UNSTABLE?

Government Knows But Is Hiding The Truth!

The Tasmanian Greens today again demanded the release of the stability audit of 96 trucks, claiming that the government is hiding the report, which was conducted by Traffic Engineering Research New Zealand (TERNZ) following advice by Engineer Wolfgang Wissman that showed “frightening and scary” instability of log trucks and chip bin trucks.

Greens Shadow Heavy Vehicle spokesperson Kim Booth MHA said that it was now beyond negligent of the government to continue to refuse to act on unstable log trucks and to not release the TERNZ audit of 96 heavy trucks which the Greens understand Labor had received within the last few months.

Mr Booth reminded that Mr Wissman’s findings were previously supported by TERNZ who found log trucks to be overrepresented in rollovers being between 2.5 and 4 times more likely to roll.

“How many drivers and travellers will die on our roads before the government reveals the truth on the crucial issue of log truck stability?” said Mr Booth.

“Why did Premier Lennon allow additional weight for some of these log trucks without any supporting evidence?”

“Why did Minister Cox, then Minister Green and now Minister Cox again refuse to act over dangerous instability of the log truck fleet, despite professional advice to the contrary.”

“Tasmania’s travelling public deserve answers to these questions, they also deserve the Lennon government to act swiftly on any heavy vehicle safety advice that they may have received, and they deserve an explanation as to why that action has been delayed.”

“My estimate is that around a third of the log truck fleet in Tasmania would fail to meet the minimum basic safety standard of .35 g SRT. (Static Rollover Threshold),” said Mr Booth.

“Industry sources support my contention and the fact that the Minister has not refuted it confirms my worst fears.”

“To suppress such vital evidence is beyond negligent.”

“I believe that the government is deliberately burying this vital information until the pulp mill IIS submission date closes on the 25th of this month, because if the public knew the truth they would reject the mill on road safety concerns alone,” said Mr Booth.

Paul Tapp

Soon after his ascendency to the top job, I put an on-camera journo’s question to Premier Robin Gray, the answer now being raised again, so many years later …