Rod O’Connor’s curious call that he had $16 million ready to give to Gunns Ltd tomorrow ( ABC Online HERE ) begs the question that no-one is asking ...
How much of that $16 million was to be provided by Tasmanian taxpayers through the loan approved by the Department of Economic Development?
• $6 million?
• $10 million?
One thing is certain. It must have been significant ... because Premier Lara Giddings would not tell us, hiding as usual under the cloak of “Commercial in Confidence”; within that all-too-familiar cosy Labor mates’ cabal.
But we - the taxpayers - have every right to know.
So come on Lara ...
Bryan Green, MP, Deputy Premier: Emphasising the importance of the Triabunna Woodchip Mill, Thursday, 14 July 2011.
The Deputy Premier Bryan Green today said the Government would be emphasising the importance of the Triabunna woodchip mill to the timber industry in discussions with the mill’s new owners Jan Cameron and Graeme Wood later today.
Mr Green said the Government recognised yesterday’s announcement has generated a tremendous amount of uncertainty for the families and communities that rely on the Triabunna mill for their livelihoods.
“This mill is vitally important for the Southern timber industry, and our clear preference was to support Aprin’s bid for the mill,” he said.
“Both the Premier and I are keen to reiterate our support for the timber industry in Tasmania, and the importance of the mill to that industry.
“While we are disappointed that the Aprin deal did not go ahead, we will now work with the new owners and seek assurances surrounding the mill’s future operation.
“We are committed to a sustainable forest industry and the Statement of Principles process is about ensuring we have an industry that is able to continue into the future.
“The Statement of Principles process has never been about shutting down the industry, and we will try to work constructively with the new owners of the Triabunna mill to try and secure its future for as long as possible.”
Lara Giddings, Premier & Bryan Green, Deputy Premier: Discussion over the Triabunna Woodchip Mill, Thursday, 14 July 2011
The Premier, Lara Giddings, and Deputy Premier, Bryan Green, today held preliminary discussions with the new owners of the Triabunna Woodchip Mill, Jan Cameron and Graeme Wood.
“Today’s talks were a chance for both Ms Wood and Mr Cameron to discuss their plans for the site, and for the Government to reiterate the importance of the mill to the southern timber industry,” Ms Giddings said.
“It also provided the opportunity for us to discuss our views on how the mill fits in to the ongoing discussions regarding the forestry Statement of Principles.”
Mr Green said yesterday’s announcement had caused considerable concern and anxiety in the timber industry, and those concerns have now been expressed to the mill’s new owners.
“Our key concern in this process is looking after the interests of the families and communities that rely on the Triabunna mill for their livelihood,” he said.
“Today provided an opportunity to discuss the mill’s future and, obviously, we will continue to work with the new owners as they progress their plans.”
• Jan Davis, TFGA: Confidence has been sapped among private foresters
Tasmanian farmers, who are responsible for managing 26 per cent of the state’s forest cover, have again been overlooked in key developments in the forest industry, of which the sale of the Triabunna woodchip mill is but the latest.
“The whole debate around the forestry industry in Tasmania is being depicted as a battle between Gunns and Forestry Tasmania, between the Greens, the Government and the Liberals, a battle fought on the future of public land,” Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association chief executive Jan Davis said today.
“The innocent victims here are farmers who are once again set to have their income and futures destroyed without thought or recompense.
“When the Triabunna woodchip plant closes, which looks likely to be sooner rather than later, the options available for these private foresters to have their lesser trees and residues processed will be severely limited. That will make their sustainably-managed private forests uneconomic,” she said.
“Yet we have had no voice in the deals done behind closed doors by people who do not even have a direct investment in the forests.”
Private forest covers more than one-eighth of the state, contributes $450 to $650 million annually to Tasmania’s gross state product and is responsible for up to 5400 full-time equivalent jobs.
“We understand from media reports that the Triabunna sale will result in ultimate closure the only pulpwood processing plant in the south; most likely in three to five years’ time,” Ms Davis said.
“You cannot operate a private forestry estate on timelines of three or five years. Trees take much longer to grow than that.
“The Statement of Forest Principles is predicated on Triabunna and Gunns Somerset plant remaining operational. Somerset has closed and Triabunna is all but closed.
“Where does that leave the settlement - and what future then is there for farmers who have long-term investments in sustainable forestry resources?” she said.
• IN THEIR OWN WORDS: What Greg L’Estrange and Lara told ABC Local Radio:
THE INTERVIEW WITH GREG L’ESTRANGE:
Statewide Mornings with Leon Compton
The CEO of Gunns Greg L’Estrange rang Leon Compton from overseas to explain the decision by the timber company to sell the Triabunna Mill to environmentalists Jan Cameron and Graeme Wood for a figure which was $6 million dollars less than that offered by Apprin. Premier Lara Giddings told Leon she was having a phone hook-up with the new owners today and described the sale as “the vegetarians have brought the abbatoir”. Download the audio file
Yeah, good to be with you wherever you are right around Tasmania. A t half past eight, the Triabunna mill sale to get us started this morning - revealed around this time yesteday, 24 hours later questions are being asked about the nature of the deal. Why is everyone so surprised? Why didn’t anyone see this coming? What happens to the hundreds of people who rely on native forest processing in the south of Tasmania? Why did Gunns accept - what were are told - was a lesser deal? And have they walked out on the people who have supported them for decades? We’re going to talk about it with Gunns, in just a moment. Gre L’Estrange the boss of that organisation will join us for a chat; we’ll also talk to Tasmania’s premier Lara Giddings and with you, 1300 222 936 is the number 1300 222 936.
THE INTERVIEW WITH MR GREG L’ESTRANGE - CEO OF GUNNS LTD
Leon Compton: Next up though - the deal around the Triabunna mil. You heard it here around this time yesterdasy. We’’ll talk about it with Greg L’Estrange from Gunns next. And so many questions; 24 hours on from ABC news breaking the story. Gree L’Estrange is rthe boss of Gunns. Greg L’Estrange good morning to you.
Greg L’Estrange: Morning Leon.
Leon Compton: And thank you for talking with us. Can you confirm that this deal is done - signed, sealed and delivered?
Greg L’Estrange: It is.
Leon Compton: Can I play a grab for you from Ron O’Connor who thought that he was shaping up to by the mill on behalf of the Aprin Group. Could you have a listen to this for me please?
Robn O’Connor: At the moment we’re not really sure what’s happened. Ahhm… we heard on the radio, that the Greens had bought the Triabunna chip mill. That was the first we knew of it. We hada… I’ve had a call from Greg L’Estrange this morning -it was 9.01 [am Wednesday 13 July] and he left a message on my phone to inform me that he sold it to the other… that he’s selling it to the other party; time had run out it. That was the first I knew of it. It was an anonymous cal, so I didn’t answer it. Ahhm… later on I found out… that just ripped me gut… like it just ripped me up bad because I’d been ahh… we’d been workin’ on this pretty hard It’s not what I’d expected from Greg. I ahmm… I’ve always got on pretty good with Greg and I always thought he was a straight shooter. And I still do. I think there’s something funny going on here.
Leon Compton: Ron O’Connor thought he was shaping up to buy the mill; now he thinks there’s something funny going on. Greg L’Estrange is there something funny going on?
Greg L’Estrange: There’s nothing funny going on. Let’s just go back and worth through this process over, really, the last 6 months. The business has been for sale; we’ve actively tried to have people… ahh… who have been customers for a long period of time - international players; people who have material wealth in the industry offshore and trying to forster them into the facility to provide continuity for the industry in Southern Tasmania. That has been unsuccessful. In fact no party wanted to go beyond a preliminary discussion. The second point was - that we worked through with Mr O’Connor - and ahh… we believed we had a transaction in place that was scheduled to settle on the 29th of June and we believed up to the 28th of June that that would occur as the contract stated. Up until Tuesday night [12 July 2011] ahh… when we contacted Mr O’Connor to find out whether he would be able to settle by Friday [15 July 2011] Ahh…we were unable to get a firm commitment that he had funding in place. Now large transcations…and in some cases - and this is a large transcation - ahh…if you are settling on Friday, you’d normally would to have all your processes well in …in place to be able to do that.
Now I understand that Ron would ahh… he’s worked hard and we have had an open relationship I did try to contact him yesterday. I’m out of the country at the moment, so time-wise it is not exactly my friend too…but I thought it courteous to ring Ron to advise him to what had take place. We were unaware and in fact at the time of yesterday morning contracts had exchanged so we thought it was very premature for anyone to go on the radio yesterday to say that the transcation had been completed, until final documentation had taken place. Now…
Leon Compton: When was the transaction completed?
Greg L’Estrange: During the course of yesterday.
Leon Compton: How much was the amount you were negotiating the sale for - with the O’connors, with the Aprin Group.
Greg L’Estrange: Look, I think that out there. In the public domain…not by us. Ahhmm… and certainly ahhm… any transaction that ahh, and it was for a higher amount than we sold it for. But we… you know, we were seeking certainty and we had been having these conversations since the settlement date fell over on the 29th [June]. So ahh.. we were seeking certainty of the ability to complete. So… if the counter-party hasn’t the ability tpo complete - regardless of their offer - it’s not realkly a firm offer.
Leon Compton: And the amount was $16 milion dollar, we understand. And can you confirm that?
Greg L’Estrange: Well, as I said, we don’t go ahh…putting in all of the numbers. But the [Aprin] offer was a superior offer to the one that we, we completed with.
Leon Compton: Would it be wrong to proceed in this interview on the assumption that the amount you were negotiating for was $16 milion?
Greg L’Estrange: I would… it’s as Ron stated and he’s a man - you know - say’s it as it is.
Leon Compton: And so, the question Greg L’Estrange about how desperate Gunns must be for money. If you took a deal for $10 million, you essentially took the chance of giving up $6 million dollars…
Greg L’Estrange: No, just let’s put this back into context…
Leon Compton: ..to get the deal, the deal proceeded… concluded, a few weeks earlier. Is that a possible conclusion?
Greg L’Estrange: No, we, we, we put out… for a long period of time, our exit from native forests and we gave a deadline and it’s really to do with where our business is going in the future… in the funding of our pulp mill; the equity and debt side. Our… all parties in that project have made it fundamentally and basically clear to us, and have give us timelines, that you must be out of native forests if we are going to be your partners.
Leon Compton: But this is not about you… this isn’t about you exiting native forest, this is about you exiting southern Tasmania from native forest, on the way out the door yourself…
Greg L’Estrange: Debit …Global debit…
Leon Compton:… this isn’t about you exiting native forest, this is about you exiting southern Tasmania from native forest, on the way out the door yourself…
Greg L’Estrange: Incorrect Leon. We had an alternate buyer for the facility and over the course of the last week when it became apparent that an alternate buyer wouldn’t be available, we reached to the industry - to the signatories from the industry’s side - and laid out that we… it look like there would not be a transaction with Aprin. We said that we understand the importance of the facility to the industry and we went out of our way to ensure that the industry would have a place for their woodchip facility, going forward. Now that wasn’t the first choice of the buyer [Cameron/Wood] but we said that it is important for the people to understand this is a facility that needs to be taken forward; that for the forest principles to be successful there has to be an outlet for the woodchips in the southern region. We didn’t have to do that, but we thought it was the correct thing to do, in the absence of an alternate committed buyer.
Leon Compton: Ahh…Can you…are you suggesting…
Greg L’Estrange: Now, we were advised, we were advised… just let me finish. And we were advised by those parties - to the signatories that that would be an appropriate course of action for us to do.
Leon Compton: Can you confirm that you are about to announce a joint venture partner for the pulp mill?
Greg L’Estrange: Ahh, we are not about to annouce a joint venture partner for the pulp mill.
Leon Compton: There is a rumour doing the rounds that you are about to announce a partner. That you are very close - if you haven’t already - secured a partner for the pulp mill in the Tamar Valley.
Greg L’Estrange: Ahhm… let be confirm Leon, as soon as we have a firm outcome on the pulp mill we’ll be letting everyone know - including our shareholders.
Leon Compton: Are you close to concluding a deal for a partner for the pulp mill? Was that part of the urgency in accepting the lesser offer?
Greg L’Estrange: Ahhm… we’re in the process of working through the pulp mill. But let me just be clear on the point earlier. If we’re in native forests in any way, shape or form … ahh.. that is a difficult thing for our partners to be part of.
Leon Compton: Ahh… what are you going overseas at the moment? Is it possible that you’re working on a deal in relation to financing and a partnershio for the pulp mill, Mr L’Estrange?
Greg L’Estrange: That’s a big part… that’s absolutely, a big part of my life Leon. And ahh… we’re committed; we understand the importance of the pulp mill project to ahhm…Gunns; to the community of Tasmanian; to the future of the plantation-based industry in Tasmania, and Australia.
Leon Compton: Greg L’Estrange is my guest this morning on your local ABC around Tasmania, talking about a deal by which the woodchip mill at Triabunna came to change hands yesterday in a deal that will see known environmentalists and tourism operators take charge of the mill.
You say that you wanted to make sure that there were conditions to make sure that there was a market for native timber chip at the mill in future. What conditions are there to make sure that foresters in the south will have a market for their producty?
Greg L’Estrange: That ahhm… the buyers of the facility will enter into - ‘in good faith’ negotiations with the industry to basically lease the facility to an operator ahh… who will… You know, they will put that out to - as I understand it - to a process, ahhm to operate the mill consistent with the forest principles [agreement].
Leon Compton: What time-frame is there upon that?
Greg L’Estrange: Ahh.. the timeframe is… ahh…basically the process they’re working through to achieve that outcome and it’s conditional, you know, on the continued work with both the State and federal Governments to conclude a path forward for the dforest principles.
Leon Compton: Mr L”estrange can I put it to you that some people feel that you have betrayed native forest workers in the south of Tasmania?
Greg L’Estrange: Ahh… I would say that no one has been more open and transparent about the processes that we’ve gone through for now, 12 months. We made it clear that we were exiting some 12 months ago, but our preference - and we more than anyone know the difficulty of international trade in native forest products; both from a sawn timber point of view and a woodchip point of view. With the conflict that’s gone on, and I think there was ahh… part of the story today about the funding issues regarding natrive forest industries in this transaction. They are difficult things and we believe that ahh… resolutions through the forest principles (agreement) was the best outcome. If we had out time over again we would probably have sought an earlier sale of the process, that would have still embedded the conflict in the native forest industry.
Leon Compton: Are you confirming then that banks really at the moment are most scared of doing business with companies or entities involved in native forests?
Greg L’Estrange: That is, that is an absolute factor and we’ve been saying that. We’ve been relaying our experiences - not only banks but equity partners. You know, our shareholders have given us a clear message that the branding issues for a stock that’s traded publicly ahh… and participating in the native forest industry isn’t good for any shareholder support.
Leon Compton: Again, the feeling that, as you leave native forestry, what is left behind you is an industry wrecked.
Greg L’Estrange: Ahhm… I think that again, if you look at the facts, the consumption of native forest hardwood in Australia for thirty years - that’s thirty years - has been, year on year, in decline. It’s gone from a consumption of over 3 million cubic metres of sawn timber in Australia to a consumption of less than 1 million cubic metres of sawn timber in Australia. At the same time the Australian population, I think it’s nearly doubled in that timeframe. So it’s something in the order of a 80% decline in the consumption rate of hardwood in Australia… now that is a trend. So this is not something that has just happened in the last 12 months. On the woodchips side, the woodchip market for native forests has been in decline - the principle market has been traditionally the Japanese market. And the Japanese market, again through pressure and preference, and fibre quality yields from alternate products. They made that, you know, process well known early in the last decade and as they switched to plantation investments around the world. It is a trend that’s been there for a long period of time.
Leon Compton: I’ll ask you a final question this morning - and we appreciate your time - around the fact that it is a major donor to the Greens in Tasmania and indeed in Australia that has been involved in this deal. When you said that you we’re confident that Aprin could raise the money, to what extent was that influenced by claims that financial institutions were put off lending them funds due to the controversy that was stirred up by the Greens in places, including the Senate?
Greg L’Estrange: I think the… in any transaction - even selling your own house - there comes a time when you ask the other side whether they can complete. And I think that was the difficulty. Ahh… and it is a difficult one, but again it goes to this conflict that affects this whole brand issue and Brand Tasmania that somehow we have to seek resolution of that. And I think ahh… the forest principles provides the pathway to do that. And people… acting in good faith, should stay there and try to get that resolved.
Leon Compton: I think it is is interesting that you mention the State of Forestry Principles, the way it’s going at the moment, it looks like the only venture that’s going to be left standing will be plantation timber forestry, in large part in Tasmania, owned by you.
Greg L’Estrange: Ahhm… it’s not owned ahh… by us. We’ve made a decision and seek to make an orderly exit ahh…from the native forest industry. We have seen that ahh.. for a whole range of these trends issues as well about the consumption rate, the preference for product, ahhm… the requirement to build a facility within Australia and to use the woodchips that…of the plantations that are there, is the only way to compete because having competed globally in the woodchip market, we are at the mercy of those players in the offshore areas. Japan is becoming increasingly a reduced consumer of woodchips. They’re pul industry is, you know, the average age of their facilities is some thirty years of age and a high cost producer in the world. The alternative supply point for woodchips will be China and that is a very price-competitive market. So we’ve taken - yes we’ve taken a decision that our future lies within the plantation sector, ahhm… but all the steps in the (inaudible) in the business, we’ve tried to ensurewere we could, and we are not in control of all of these things, let me assure you, that the options and the… It’s an orderly process to exit and move our business to where we want to be, but to try and find a pathway that’s been better than it has been in Tasmania for the native forest sector in global markets.
Leon Compton: Appreciate you talking with us this morning.
Greg L’Estrange: Thanks Leon
Leon Compton: Greg L’Estrange, the CEO of Gunns on you local ABC around Tasmania.
THE INTERVIEW WITH LARA GIDDINGS
Leon Compton: Tasmania’s premier, is Lara Giidings. Premier, good morning to you, thanks for hanging on for us.
Lara Giddings: Good morning Leon.
Leon Compton: Do you feel betrayed by Gunns?
Lara Giddings: Well we certainly don’t welcome this ahh…ahh development, at all. And I want to be very clear about that. Unfortunately our local paper [Mercury] says that the State Labor Government has welcomed this sale. That’s not the case at all, we’re very disappointed. In fact the government’s preference was to support Aprin - a body, an entity that is part of the industry,. that understands the industry. And that was there to ensure that thee would be an industry well into the future.
You do have to ask the question in relation to this deal - in a sense analogy , Leon of why would vegetarians want to buy an abattoir? The reality is we’ve got two people here in Jan Cameron and Graeme Wood who do not support a native forest industry buying a key piece of infrastructure that is vital for the survival of the native forest industry in the soouth of the State. So we are disappointed in that respect that the aprin deal did not go ahead. But we’re also realistic and we have to move into constructive mode. And what we have to do now is work with the new owners. So this afternoon I’m hopeful of being able to have a phone meeting with both Graeme Wood and Jan Cameron to express our concern in relation to the need for this mill to be operational well into the future and to ensure that ahh… we can do what we need to do with the new company that owns Triabunna mill to secure its future as well.
Leon Compton: What will you be saying to the new owners about the need for it to continue operation?
Lara Giddings: Well I’ll be emphasising very strongly the vital link that Triabunna woodchip mill has for a vital and sustainable native forest industry in south of the state.
Leon Compton: What you’re suggesting is that they bought it to close it down.
Lara Giddings: That’s what I believe they will do. “When” is the question marek around that. They’ve been both very clear that thry see that that site has tourism potential and that they would like to, at some point, development it into something else in the future. So the question here is - what time; what time period we can work with them to keep that mill open and operational for woodchips.
Leon Compton: The Economic Development Board signed off on a loan that would have paid Gunns $16 million for the mill we understand. Now we hear that the transaction was done for only $10 million. How do you explain that?
Lara Giddings: Well I can’t. That’s a question for Gunns, because what we must remember here is that this a private sale between Gunns and another entity. The Government actually has nothing to do it. The only role that Government played was when Aprin decided to go into a sale process with Gunns as a private entity to private entity and they required some government support.
Leon Compton: But you were taking a lot of political heat….you were taking al lot of political heart over this. And the fact that there was some government support of one kind. Do you not feel a little betrayed by Gunns, given that you lost some skin in this battle?
Lara Giddings: Well absolutely in the sense that the government’s been very clear that our preference was to support Aprin in that sense and yes, the government wasw prtepared to provide ‘a loan’ to support Aprin here. But I think that what’s interesting here is what Aprin has spoken off and you’ve spoken, just then with Gunns as well, with Greg, is the role of banks here. And I think it is time that banks actually stood up and supported industries that are sustainable. That ahh… we are restructuring. It’s not as if there’s not recognition that the industry has to change with Gunns pulling out. That’s a whole Statye of Principles process. But at no point do I believe that Tasmanians have thought that native forestry would come to an end. It will make it almost impossible for us to access our wonderful and beautiful special native forest timbers like Sassafras, like Myrtle, like Blackwood. They’re not easy and certainly… or if they are accessed Leon, it’ll be the most expensive wood that you’ll ever encounter, because it’ll be so hard and difficult to get it out of our forests.
Leon Compton: Premier, isn’t what’s happening at the moment and the lack of banks’ confidence a function in part that you and your government appear to be ‘out to lunch’ on managing foresrtry in Tasmania?
Lara Giddings: No, not at all. This is an issue, I think, across Australia - not just here in Tasmania in that respect. And as Greg said…
Leon Compton: Who is controlling forest policy in Tasmania at the moment? Who would you describe as ‘managing forests policy’ in Tasmania?
Lara Giddings: Well obviously… obviously the Tasmanian government has a role in forest policy as does our GBE - Forestry Tasmania - in terms of forestry. But we are up against a very ahh…well organised, a very well funded… attack here that’s been going on for decades now, from the Green movement. And this is an example of what happens. We’ve got ahh… Graeme Wood and Jan Cameron - very well known for being ‘anti-forestry’ now buying a key piece of infrastructure that will shut the industry down, if it [the mill] closes.
Leon Compton: Can I ask you about the process foir a moment and how it played out at a federal level. The Greens in ferderal parliament derided the alternate bid - the Aprin bid. A major donor to their Party prevails. Eric Abetz says there are questions about the propriety of the process that’s been followed here. Do you agree?
Lara Giddings: Well, I don’t have any problems with the process. I think the process has been proper in terms of the Aprin arrangements. And it’s a usual game of those that oppose these sorts of arrangements, because they don’t like the outcome that they then say there’s been a problem with ‘the process’. There was absolutely no problem with the process. The reality is Bob Brown and Kim Booth jut didn’t like the outcome of the Aprin deal. That does not make a process corrupt at al. And thy’re able to throw enough mud Leon, that it makes everything look ‘bad’ which is what is so frustrating. Yet here we have an opposite approach in fact where we have… ahh, very prodly Bob Brown has stood by Graeme Wood and supported an alternative under-bidder, in this case, to actually become the succssful party.
Leon Compton: And that person is a major donor to their political Party.
Lara Giddings: Well yes, it is a fact. Now I’m not making any direct nlinks there, I don’t throw that sort of mud, but it is a fact thast Gaeme Wood is actually a major donor to the Greens Party. It is also a fact that Bob Brown particularly has been very supportive of this bid in that process. I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with that at all. Please let me be clear about tht. They are just the facts as they stand. But what the concern here, ultimately, and I think what we really need to get back to is how we now support the industry forward because I know that there are a lot of devastated people there in the forestry industry this morning who are very concerned now about the viability of their businesses and operations in a process - a Statement of Principles process - that was never about shutting down those industries. It was about re-organising the forestry sector as a consequence of the masjor player - in Gunns - pulling out. So what we will now do is trty to be very constructive with the new owners of the Triabunna mill; try to ecure its future for as long as possible and continue our role in now working with the Commonwealth government around actually bringing the Astatement of Principles to life through proper funding of them.
Leon Compton: Ok. And Premier we only have a few seconds left ‘till news, but the left of distress of course, on the east coast is incredibly high….
Lara Giddings: Absolutely
Leon Compton: ..over the last 24 hours. I was wondering how will we provide for our families?
Lara Giddings: Absolutely
Leon Compton: Where will the job opportunities come from? What…what is the plan in terms of providing succour to those people… asking those questions?
Lara Giddings: Well this is where it’s absolutely key in our discussions this afternoon with Gaeme and Jan in relation to the time period that we can keep the Triabunna mill open for. And if it ends up being 5 years, then that’s a very quick transiition and something that they woul be… the community would be rightly frightened about. If it ends up being to 2027 which is the Statement of Principle period, then at least we’ve got a longer time period to look at what the alternatives would be. Obviously the ideal would be that we had the mill continue on into the future without timelines attached to it.
Leon Compton: Premier, we’ve gotta go. We appreciate your time, we’ve taken longer than we said we would, and that is appreciated.
Lara Giddings: Thanks Leon.
• Hakan Ekstrom, Wood Resource Quarterly: Increased foreign interest in pulp mills and plantations in Australia
Increased foreign interest in pulp mills and plantations in Australia while the timber ownership is in transitional mode, reports the Wood Resource Quarterly
The plantation ownership in Australia is in transition after the Management Investment Scheme (MIS) collapsed in 2009, reports the Wood Resource Quarterly. Foreign pension funds and pulp companies have shown increased interest in acquiring timber assets as forest plantations owners have gone into receivership.
Download the full article: GTWMU_Foreign_interest_in_pulp_mills_plantations_Australia.pdf
• SENATOR THE HON RICHARD COLBECK
Senator for Tasmania
Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Fisheries and Forestry
Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Innovation, Industry and Science
M E D I A R E L E A S E
15 July 2011
Don’t confuse forest activity with deforestation
Deforestation should not be confused with active forest management, Coalition Forestry spokesman Richard Colbeck has urged today.
An article published in Science journal this week reporting on the relationship between forests and carbon storage has attracted much mainstream media interest but has unfortunately been misrepresented by green groups as advocating for the locking up of forests.
“There are heated debates at present involving forestry, both in my home state where the future of the industry is at stake and also nationally with respect to the Government’s carbon tax scheme,” Senator Colbeck said.
“Deforestation is the destruction of forests and it should not in any way be confused with the responsible and sustainable forest management practices of timber communities around Australia.
“Forest management has significant potential to help Australia reduce greenhouse gas emissions – a fact supported by science by unfortunately ignored by the Government.
“Recently 87 highly qualified forest scientists wrote to the Climate Commission and to the Gillard Government to highlight flaws in the Climate Commission’s latest report and also emphasise opportunities for carbon storage in managed forests and in wood products, and the use of wood in construction as alternatives to metal, concrete and plastic which all have greater fossil fuel emissions.
“The industry is also frustrated that forestry has been excluded from the Carbon Farming Initiative, and that native forest biomass will be ineligible for renewable energy credits – neither of which make sense.
“Both the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation recognise that sustainable management of forests, including a mix of conservation and timber harvest, is optimal for carbon reduction:
“In the long term, a sustainable forest management strategy aimed at maintaining or increasing forest carbon stocks, while producing an annual sustained yield of timber, fibre or energy from the forest, will generate the largest sustained mitigation benefit.” – IPCC AR4 Report – Mitigation of Climate Change
“There is a huge amount of sound, science-based evidence yet the Federal Government continues to shun opportunities.
“Does the Gillard Government believe the Greens hyperbole on forestry or is Julia Gillard sacrificing the potential this industry offers in exchange for Bob Brown’s support of her unstable Government?” Senator Colbeck said.
First published: 2011-07-14 09:46 AM
Industry fears over possible new mill boss
The new owners of the Triabunna woodchip mill in Tasmania have gone to ground amid concerns a high-profile environmentalist will be appointed to run the operation. (He has been; see link below)
Jan Cameron and Graeme Wood have stopped taking calls from the media.
But senior sources in the forestry industry say the millionaire environmentalists have appointed Alec Marr to take over as the mill’s manager.
Mr Marr is one of the nation’s best known environmental activists and is the former national head of the Wilderness Society.
He has refused to comment on the speculation but says Ms Cameron and Mr Wood are likely to make a formal announcement about the mill’s future next week.
Forestry Tasmania is yet to respond the mill’s surprise sale.
The state-owned forestry company had entered into a profit-sharing agreement with Aprin, the private company originally tipped to buy the east coast mill.
Under the deal, Forestry Tasmania would have owned and marketed the woodchips processed by the mill.
The Wilderness Society in Tasmania is playing down concerns industry will abandon the forest peace deal if the mill stops running before 2027.
The Forest Industry Association made the threat amid concerns the new owners want to start redeveloping the site as a tourism hub within three to five years.
Vica Bayley of the Wilderness Society says the forest Statement of Principles process is now in the hands of the State and Federal Governments.
• Alec Marr to be mill boss ( Examiner report HERE )
Watchdog tightens pulp mill emissions
Tasmania’s Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) is moving to tighten restrictions on emissions for Gunns’ proposed Tamar Valley pulp mill.
The EPA has released its draft response to Gunns’ application to vary the permits for its $2.3 billion project.
It rejects the company’s request to have the permits specify the mill would only use plantation timber, saying that is not part of EPA management targets.
But the Director, Alex Schapp, says controls on nitrogen oxide emissions will have to be tightened, in line with new technology.
Lara Giddings, Premier: Meeting with stakeholders in Triabunna, Friday, 15 July 2011
The Premier, Lara Giddings, today met stakeholders, community members and council members in Triabunna to discuss the implications of the sale of the Triabunna woodchip mill.
“Our top priority in this process continues to be representing the interests of those people who rely on this mill,” she said.
“I’ve made no secret of my disappointment in Gunns’ decision not to back the Aprin bid, and I realise this week’s announcement has resulted in a great deal of concern and anxiety in the community.
“Today, I was able to hear about those fears first-hand, and express our commitment to a sustainable forestry industry in Tasmania.
“Throughout our preliminary discussion with the mill’s new owners, Jan Cameron and Graeme Wood, we have reiterated the importance of the mill to the Southern timber industry.
“The Opposition seems to be keen to exploit the anguish and uncertainty by somehow attempting to paint the Government as responsible for a commercial decision that has been taken by Gunns.
“This is nothing more than a cruel and cynical hoax on behalf of the Liberals.
“But I would like to reassure Tasmanians that we are ready to work with communities through this difficult period.”