Image for Kelty: Moratorium/Wood Supply deal. Gordon: Deal possible, if mill proceeds

A meeting was held yesterday in Hobart convened by Mr Bill Kelty and all parties reaffirmed their commitment to the delivery of the statement of principles.

Following the meeting of signatories it was decided and absolutely committed to by all parties to continue the process with the issue of security of wood supply/ moratorium as priority.

The signatories have formed a reference group sub committee who then meet with Forestry Tasmania and have been able to confirm the following.

Moratorium/ Security of Supply

This is to confirm our understanding regarding the above matter:

1. The ENGOs have identified the boundaries of the ENGO claimed High Conservation Value (HCV) areas.
2. It is agreed that logging will not occur in that area, unless
- It is necessary to meet existing contracts
- for the assurance of wood supply for existing industry subject to the approval of     reference group
3. The reference group consisting of Jane Calvert, Sean Cadman, Phil Pullinger, Ed Vincent, Allan Hansard and Terry Edwards and/or nominees shall be established to oversee any adjustments or transition within this period. 
4. There is recognition that the group shall have resource to Professor Jerry Vanclay or other available and suitable person/s if independent analysis is required.
5. It is further recognised that there will be additional costs which need Federal Governments to recognise and contribute.
6. It is recognised that there will be a transition period whilst the arrangements for the moratorium are finalised between the sub-committee and Forestry Tasmania
7. The agreement is for a six month period beginning from today’s date the 11th March.

If there is no ultimate agreement by the signatories it is understood that this agreement does not prejudice the position of any party.

Let me place on record our appreciation of Bob Gordon and Forestry Tasmania for your support in this difficult process.

I would also like to acknowledge the support of Premier Giddings who has demonstrated a willingness to engage and help secure an outcome at this point.

Bill Kelty

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Dear Subscriber

Over the next few days there will be a lot of media comment about the Statement of Principles and the request by the Tasmanian Government for Forestry Tasmania to do all in its power to progress a moratorium on so called ‘High Conservation Value Forest’ and at the same time supply contracted sustainable quantity and quality of wood supply.

Yesterday (Thurs), following a meeting between the signatories to the Statement of Principles, I met with Mr Bill Kelty, who is overseeing the negotiations between the processing sector and environmental groups.

Mr Kelty believes an agreement may be possible, if the proposed pulp mill at Bell Bay proceeds.

Mr Kelty advised that the processing sector and ENGO groups had struck an agreement on a set of principles to guide the development and implementation of a moratorium.

These principles are as follows:
1. The ENGOs have identified the boundaries of the ENGO claimed High Conservation Value (HCV) areas.
2. It is agreed that logging will not occur in that area, unless
  - It is necessary to meet existing contracts
  - for the assurance of wood supply for existing industry subject to the approval of reference group
3. The reference group consisting of Jane Calvert, Sean Cadman, Phil Pullinger, Ed Vincent, Allan Hansard and Terry Edwards and or nominees shall be established to oversee any adjustments or transition within this period.
4. There is recognition that the group shall have resource to Professor Jerry Vanclay or other available and suitable person/s if independent analysis is required.
5. It is further recognised that there will be additional costs which need Federal Governments to recognise and contribute.
6. It is recognised that there will be a transition period whilst the arrangements for the moratorium are finalised between the subcommittee and Forestry Tasmania.
7. The agreement is for a six month period beginning from today’s date the 11th March.

If there is no ultimate agreement by the signatories it is understood that this agreement does not prejudice the position of any party.

Mr Kelty has also advised that he will request the Australian Government to fund the costs associated with implementing a progressive moratorium - acknowledging that it would be impossible for Forestry Tasmania to start to implement a progressive moratorium without the funds from Government.

I appreciate that many of you will be uncertain about the process from here and what that will mean for Forestry Tasmania.

There are a couple of simple points that are worth repeating:
1. We are not being asking to break any of our existing contracts and we will not.
2. The Government has made it clear that there will be ongoing native forest harvesting.
3. An ongoing wood supply sufficient to meet our contractual obligations and the needs of the processing sector, is as important as the moratorium.

From here, we will work with all parties, in a spirit of goodwill, to achieve a moratorium while still maintaining supplies to our customers.

I am concerned that the various announcements might give rise to unrealistic expectations. We cannot implement a moratorium overnight and still meet our contracted obligations. By necessity, some coupes in the area proposed by ENGOs for reservation will be logged over the next six months, and that has been acknowledged by the ENGOs.

It is also acknowledged by all parties that all the coupes scheduled for harvest over the next six months represents a tiny fraction of the overall area proposed for reservation the ENGOs.

Bob Gordon
Managing Director
Forestry Tasmania

What Bob Brown says:

11 March 2011

Brown says federal forest money misdirected

Australian Greens Leader Bob Brown says he is alarmed that Tasmania’s forest moratorium is no longer a moratorium.

“Logging will not be stopped, as agreed, in all high conservation value forests by 15 March. The loggers have breached the agreement,” Senator Brown said.

“The loggers’ agreement to a ‘full’ moratorium from the 15 March now comes with strings attached to the public purse. And rather than reduce the scale of forest destruction, it is to be transferred to other forests at taxpayers’ expense.

“Meanwhile, the publicly acclaimed 600,000ha to be protected has been reduced to 565,000ha, with at least 5000ha more in dispute.

“I reiterate that money should only go to help loggers exit the industry or to aid management of Tasmania’s forests for the much more job-rich hospitality and tourism industries, or to help protect the private forest estate.

The priority should be for the security of Tasmania’s native forests rather than security for the chainsaws,” Senator Brown said.

McKim’s cautious welcome:

GREENS CAUTIOUSLY WELCOME PROGRESS TOWARDS HCV MORATORIUM
Nick McKim MP
Greens Leader

The Tasmanian Greens today cautiously welcomed the announcement by Bill Kelty that there is progress towards a six-month moratorium on identified high conservation value forests in Tasmania.

Greens Leader Nick McKim MP, who met with Mr Kelty last night, said that this is a step in the right direction, however there is a lot more work to be done before these forests are finally protected.

“The Greens have been working to save these forests for decades, and while permanent protection is a long way off, progress towards a moratorium is a step towards that goal,” said Mr McKim.

“This is a move towards breathing space for these forests, and the final outcome will require a lot more work and good will.”

Mr McKim said that he hoped the transition period flagged by Mr Kelty would be short, and that any federal government assistance should be targeted at assisting contractors to leave the industry rather than simply moving into other native forest areas.

What Monty said on Crikey:

Tasmania’s political alliance won’t be pulped—but the people smell a con
From Hobart, political journalist Bruce Montgomery writes:

GUNNS, PULP MILL, TAS GREENS, TASMANIAN GOVERNMENT, TASMANIAN LABOR

This week actress Rebecca Gibney sold her secluded home on the western bank of the Tamar River at Long Reach in northern Tasmania, her sanctuary blighted by the prospect of Tasmania’s most loathed company, Gunns Limited, building a pulp mill eyesore on the other shore. Gibney moved back to Sydney, citing work practicalities as the main reason.

Yesterday Environment Minister Tony Burke gave his final approval for Gunns to build the $2.5 billion mill at Long Reach, though the company describes the site as Bell Bay, which is an adjacent, heavily industrialised port area. That deception is just part of the spin that has taken place in what has been a wholesale deception. The mill is to be built at Gibney’s Long Reach, not at Bell Bay.

But before it is built, friendships will be tested, political alliances between Labor and the Greens at state and federal level will be stretched to the limit though not ruptured. On the ground and in the water at Long Reach, blood will be spilled; paddy wagons will file to George Town and Launceston, packed to the rafters.

The anger and revulsion expressed following Burke’s announcement yesterday are not the result of anything he said or did. He became a bit player after Gunns upped the environmental limits on the mill at the 11th hour, though. Again, it was all a matter of spin. Plantation timber has always been the preferred feedstock for the mill and elemental chlorine was never an acceptable consideration for the pulp bleaching process.
The anger and revulsion is an upwelling of the sense of betrayal that thousands of Tasmanians feel at the Tasmanian parliament’s abandoning of due process in 2007. That sell-out of principles has devalued any subsequent claim that this could be the finest pulp mill ever built.

In October 2005 then premier Paul Lennon rose to his feet in the Tasmanian House of Assembly to tell the world that we had all learnt the lessons from the failed North Broken Hill Wesley Vale pulp mill venture in the ‘80s: how not to con the masses.

This time it would be different, Lennon promised. We have an independent umpire, he said. The Resource Planning and Development Commission (RPDC) would run the mill approvals’ process from go to whoa, make its recommendation to him and he would recommend a governor’s order for the project to proceed. “The order will give effect to the RPDC report and the conditions it contains,” he said.

Towards the end of 2006, it was clear in Lennon’s office that the Gunns’ proposal could not comply with the RPDC’s environmental guidelines and that it was time for the government’s secret plan B: dump the RPDC and make parliament the arbiter; parliament with its in-house expertise of former sewing machine salesmen, teachers, fitters and turners, and two disc jockeys but with a former Miss Australia recently departed.

In March 2007 Gunns pulled out of the RPDC assessment. The commission had been on the verge of telling Gunns the proposal was critically deficient in many key areas, including fugitive odours. The parliament feigned shock but came to Gunns’ rescue; the salesmen, teachers and the disc jockeys took over the task of assessing the mill.

It is this fraud perpetrated on the Tasmanian people, by the Labor government and endorsed by their Liberal and independent colleagues, that continues to so enrage the populace. It devalues anything Burke may feel he has imposed on the mill. Due process was not followed. We don’t really know whether this is going to be world’s best practice. Only when it’s too late will we know. MPs did not learn the lessons of Wesley Vale.

The masses did.

Assuming Gunns secures a backer, the mill is a fait accompli. Federally, the Greens, with the balance of power in the Senate from July 1, have no leverage on the Gillard government other than to block the unlikely event of federal money being proposed for the project.

Similarly, the Tasmanian Greens, in coalition with Labor, can do little other than go through the motions of introducing doomed disallowance motions for the project. The Liberals will back Labor all the way. The Greens, who have two ministries, won’t bring down the government over the mill. The cause will demonstrate the Greens’ political priority: principle or power.

Bass Green MP Kim Booth, perhaps now able to be described as the only true believer because he would indeed move to bring down the government on this issue, will be left to fight virtually single-handedly, standing alongside every man and his dog who take to the streets and to the barricades in a Franklin Dam-style attempt to blockade the Long Reach development site.

The declaration of exclusion zones and a mass force of reluctant wallopers will fix those, but this edifice will divide this community for decades to come.

Of course, the ANZ and other banks could decide the wiser course would be to walk away from this bad smell, just as Gunns did in March 2007. It’s unlikely.

AAP:

Tas pulp-mill powder keg ready to blow

By Patrick Caruana, AAP Tasmania Correspondent

HOBART, March 11 AAP
March 11 2011, 6:58PM

The uneasy peace in Tasmania’s forestry wars could be about to break, with anti-pulp mill campaigners promising bigger protests than the Franklin Dam era of three decades ago.

Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke granted the final permits this week for the controversial Gunns pulp mill to be built on the Tamar River in the state’s north.

After seven years of planning and controversy, the company now has six months to find investors to put up $2.5 billion before its state permits expire.

Mr Burke granted the approval only after Gunns sought more stringent standards for the project, including using only plantation timber and making the mill’s discharge elemental-chlorine free.

The approval could serve as a flashpoint for the forestry wars, which have been raging on and off in the state for three decades.

A statement of principles signed last October by environmentalists, unions and the forestry sector representatives looked to usher in a new era for the sector.

The statement saw agreement for a moratorium on logging in 600,000ha of native forests and support for a pulp mill.

But anti-pulp mill groups are starting to make it clear that the pulp mill agreed to is not the one that Gunns have proposed and have promised to make their voice heard.

“Things will be ramped up from here,” Lucy Landon-Lane, who owns land near the pulp mill site, told AAP.

“People are simply not accepting what Mr Burke had to say.

“There still hasn’t been environmental assessment of air pollution and the effect that it’s going to have on the people of the valley.

“People are angry and want to protest further.”

Ms Landon-Lane said the protests would target potential investors, rather than the government.

“I think we’ve given up on the state and federal government on listening,” she said.

“We have a fairly good idea on who potential joint venture partners will be, and we will get the message to them that there will never be a social licence for this mill.

“Until this project is stopped ... the protests will be bigger than the Franklin.”

Thousands of people around the country protested against the state government’s 1982 decision to build a dam on the Franklin River.

The decision was eventually overturned by the Hawke government in a milestone for the fledgling environmental movement and the Australian Greens party.

The stakes could scarcely be higher, with the pulp mill representing the single largest private project in the state’s history.

Barry Chipman of Timber Communities Australia said the mill would be a godsend for the ailing ...

Full AAP story HERE

The SMH,

The pulp mill company underestimated the strength and ingenuity of environmentalists, writes Paddy Manning.

The conservationist Alec Marr first got arrested in front of a Gunns bulldozer in 1987, protesting against the logging of Tasmania’s Lemonthyme forest.

“At that time Gunns was a small company with a bad attitude,” says the former executive director of one of the country’s biggest environment groups, the Wilderness Society.

Seventeen years later he was served with a writ as lead defendant in Gunns v Marr, Australia’s biggest strategic lawsuit against public participation, or ‘‘SLAPP’’ suit.
Advertisement: Story continues below

By then Gunns was a billion-dollar forestry behemoth run by the powerful Tasmanian businessman John Gay, and determined to destroy its opposition, seeking $6.4 million in damages from people who could not afford to pay.

Writs were issued to the so-called ‘‘Gunns 20’’ shortly before Christmas 2004. Two days later the company revealed plans for a $2.2 billion pulp mill at Bell Bay in the Tamar Valley.

Designed to crush opponents of the mill, the suit was a grave strategic error by Gunns, stirring a depth of outrage that would shatter the company’s legitimacy here and abroad.

Gunns had gone so far as to sue an elected politician, the Greens leader, Bob Brown.

“When I got the writ,” says Brown, “I knew better than to call the lawyers. The first thing I did was to call a press conference. Within 24 hours we had a candlelight vigil for democracy, in Hobart. It was like the Prague Spring.”

Ultimately, Gunns underestimated its opposition and its decision to sue backfired ...

Marr, who is again involved in the forest negotiations after a painful split with the Wilderness Society, reckons Gunns can’t run a pulp mill. ‘‘They can’t even manage a woodchip operation, and that’s just like a big pencil sharpener,’’ he says.

‘‘How do you take a $4 company and take it down to 26¢? Mismanage everything. You have to offend the community. You have to offend your primary customers. You have to get your business models wrong. You have to lie and destroy your relationships with the investment community. You have to lose complete confidence of the banking community. Then you have to tell everybody you have no intention of changing, regardless of how much of other people’s money you’ve lost. At which point you will finally take a $4 company down to 26¢. It’s about the only way you can do it.’‘

Read the rest on The SMH HERE

Still Wild Still Threatened

Still Wild Still Threatened still calling on the State Government to meet the moratorium deadline on March 15th.

“Still Wild Still Threatened recognizes moves today towards implementing a moratorium in high conservation value forests. However, it remains the expectation of the Tasmanian community that a full moratorium will be in place by March 15th. The Statement of Principles clearly states that a full moratorium will be put into place within 3 months. On December 15th 2010 when Federal Minister Tony Burke and former Premier David Bartlett announced a commitment to this process, the clock started ticking.” Said Miranda Gibson, spokesperson for Still Wild Still Threatened.

“If logging of our irreplaceable high conservation value forests continues after March 15th then Lara Giddings and Bryan Green will be failing to meet a commitment they have made to the Tasmanian people. On March 15th the clock stops ticking; everyday after this exceptional forest that is lost it will be due to the failure of the State Government.” Said Ms Gibson.

“We recognize that there is now action being taken to implement a moratorium and this is a step in the right direction. However, this process should have begun three months ago, when the State and Federal government announced their commitment to the Statement of Principles.” Said Ms Gibson.