Image for No common ground on the forests agreement.  Whole log exports lashed

• Peter McGlone, Director Tasmanian Conservation Trust


The Tasmanian Conservation Trust today stated its support for the groups protesting at the Artec woodchip mill at Bell Bay - CODE Green, Still Wild Still Threatened and Huon Valley Environment Centre.

TCT Director Peter McGlone said today that “we share the concerns of the protesting groups and also support their right to dissent in regard to how our public forests are managed.”

“The ‘Tasmanian Forest Agreement: Heads of Agreement’ released last Sunday fails to guarantee any forest conservation outcomes but equally concerning is that Clause 6 (see below) of the agreement calls on conservation groups to stop all opposition to the logging industry.

“Conflicts cannot be resolved by the suppression of dissenting views.

“The TCT rejects this draconian and anti-democratic Clause 6 and calls on the conservation groups which have been helping to produce this agreement to also reject it.

“The TCT calls on Environment Tasmania, The Wilderness Society and Australian Conservation Foundation to publicly reject Clause 6 and stand up for our rights to challenge how our forests are managed.

“While the TCT does not organise protests, we are appalled that Clause 6 aims to stop all forms of opposition to the logging industry. This would include gagging the TCT from stating our opposition to Gunns’ Tamar Valley pulp mill or even lobbying for improved forestry practices.

“This agreement only ever considered a narrow part of the conservation agenda and it fails to deliver on other key conservation issues such as protection of threatened species habitats (which are overwhelmingly found on private land), improving on management of plantations, reforming of Forestry Tasmania and retention of carbon.

“How could we possibly keep quiet about such an appalling and inadequate agreement” Mr McGlone concluded.

Tasmanian Forests Agreement: Heads of Agreement’, 24 July 2011 – Clause 6:

‘This agreement creates the chance to move on from a divisive conflict and build a stronger future for the Tasmanian community. The Australian and Tasmanian governments have a clear expectation that, with the formalisation of this agreement, the long running conflict over native forestry in Tasmania will come to an end and that stakeholders and signatories to the Kelty process will reflect this resolution of conflict in their own conduct and use their good offices to make clear their expectations of the conduct of other like-minded organisations.

• Bob McMahon: TAP Into A Better Tasmania

TAP supports Peter Cundall’s condemnation of conservation groups involved in the Tasmanian so called ‘forest peace negotiations’ and highlight the internal revolt within the ACF and other green groupings.

“On the ABC Q&A program on Monday July 25th revered environmental campaigner, Peter Cundall, condemned the part played by conservation groups in the forest peace negotiations in Tasmania for the past year”, stated TAP spokesperson Bob McMahon.

“TAP fully supports Peter’s position and we would like to explain why.

1. The ‘roundtable’ negotiation process was illegitimate from the very start. It was unrepresentative, elitist and secret. TAP made it clear from the beginning that therein lay the seeds of failure.

2. The only two remaining conservation groups left in the process, the Environment Tasmania/Wilderness Society group and Australian Conservation Foundation, are prepared to trade protection of HCV forest for a pulp mill, in effect, the Tamar Valley pulp mill.

“Not only do the conservation groups remaining in the ‘process’ as signatories to the Heads of Agreement not represent the Tasmanian community in any way, they do not even represent their own memberships.

“Phillip Pullinger of ET is a law unto himself and is answerable to no-one. He has put up the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign and excluded the legitimate concerns of his own member groups from consideration.

That he presumes to speak for Tasmania is delusional.

“It is TAP’s understanding that Don Henry and Lindsay Hesketh of ACF are acting contrary to their own Council’s directives. Their support for a pulp mill – forest protection trade-off has dismayed ACF members who fear long term reputational damage to the ACF resulting from the behaviour of the rogue staff members.

“The vociferous Greens support for the illegitimate negotiation process caused dismay amongst their supporters. Having long campaigned against shonky process in Tasmania, the Greens were perceived as duplicitous and opportunistic in supporting this dodgy process because they saw an advantage. Now that the process has failed it is TAP’s hope that the Greens have learnt the hard lesson.

“It is TAP’s belief that these conservation groups have played a double game. On the one hand they express opposition to the Gunns pulp mill but their actions at the negotiation table belie that position,” concluded McMahon.

• Dr Alison Bleaney, Dr David Obendorf,
Tasmanian Public & Environmental Health Network withdraws from Environment Tasmania Inc.

In all conscience, TPEHN can no longer remain a member group of Environment Tasmania Incorporated and today we announce our intention to leave the organisation and advocate for the protection of public & environmental health in other ways.

Our decision has been taken because, in our view, Environment Tasmania Inc. has failed to advocate for that organisation’s own core values - ‘the protection, conservation and rehabilitation of Tasmania’s natural environment’ - with much needed reforms on public and environmental health issues.

In March 2010 a brochure about the public health impact of the widespread use of biocidal chemicals in Tasmanian agriculture and plantation forestry - Warning! - Poisoned Water? - was produced. The brochure highlights the chemical contamination occurring to the majority of water catchments which supply drinking water to Tasmania’s cities and townships.

DPIPWE is currently reviewing the regulation of pesticides (AgVet chemicals) and aerial spraying; an issue that has been languishing now for 6 years.

TPEHN has been lobbying all parties to the Tasmanian Statement of Forest Principles to advocate for stronger and more detailed measures related to reforms in the management of forestry plantations. To our disappointment Environment Tasmania Inc. has failed to take a strong lead on the current issue of pesticide reform and has so far failed to take this public health matter seriously during their negotiations on the Principles.

Considerable community concern remains regarding the transition out of native forestry and increasing reliance on plantation monocultures that use pesticides (biocidal chemicals) mostly applied by aerial spraying methods and which ultimately contaminate drinking water and soils.

We will continue to advocate for reforms in the use of pesticides in the Island state that uses the branding of ‘Clean, Green & Clever’.

TPEHN will work for the abolition of many biocidal chemicals used in Tasmanian; chemicals that have long half-lives; are not safe; and are recognised as carcinogenic, genotoxic, immunotoxic or endocrine disrupting chemicals.

It will continue to work to protect our waterways and our health - essentially the health of our children, food and our environment.


• Agency’s log exports undermine Forests Agreement

Environment groups support the CFMEU’s concerns about Forestry Tasmania’s export of whole logs to China. 

Environment groups are calling on the State government to ensure that Forestry Tasmania upholds the forests agreement by refraining from entering into new contractual arrangements that would undermine the capacity to deliver a lasting forests agreement. 

“The Forests Statement of Principles agreement was predicated on no new wood allocations by Forestry Tasmania that would undermine the capacity to deliver a lasting agreement,” said Vica Bayley, from The Wilderness Society

“If Forestry Tasmania is attempting to sign contracts to export whole logs to China – this will undermine the critically important forests agreement that the State and Commonwealth governments have committed to,” said Lindsay Hesketh of the Australian Conservation Foundation.

“Exporting native forest whole logs will make it much more difficult to conserve the remaining unique and important native forests earmarked for protection as part of this agreement.  It will at the same time put more pressure on the supply needs of those local sawmills who want to stay in the native forests sector during the transition period,” said, Dr Phill Pullinger, Director of Environment Tasmania.

“It is unacceptable for Forestry Tasmania to be acting at odds with the work of the governments and signatory groups that have worked so hard to deliver a forests agreement.  Both governments need to hold Forestry Tasmania to account and ensure they do not sign new wood allocations that would undermine the capacity to deliver a lasting agreement,” concluded Dr Pullinger.

• Pulp mill wage dispute
01 Aug, 2011 12:00 AM

GUNNS Ltd is in the firing line of unions, which claim the company wants to rip off Tasmanians who build its proposed Bell Bay pulp mill.

Gunns is refusing to comment on industrial negotiations it says are still under way.

Base wage rates appear the sticking point for striking a deal that would cover up to 3500 workers involved in constructing the $2.3 billion pulp mill.

Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union state secretary Nicole Wells said yesterday those negotiations broke down because Gunns would not match the base trade hourly rate offered on the mainland for major projects.

“We weren’t looking at the highest mainland rate, we were more or less looking at the lowest,” she said.

“To think we finally have a major project like this going ahead in Tasmania by a local company like Gunns, and they are trying to get it done on the cheap, is just a slap in the face.”

A Gunns spokesman said the negotiations were “ongoing and incomplete”.

He said the base wage rate already on the table was higher than the standard Tasmanian rate.

Unions Tasmania secretary Kevin Harkins said it would mean at least $5 an hour less for every Tasmanian worker, making industrial action likely.

“Gunns is putting this job creation project at risk with an indefensible wages position, a position that discriminates against Tasmanian workers,” Mr Harkins said.

“Mainland construction workers aren’t going to tolerate the lower wage rates.”

Gunns must make a substantial start on the mill by the end of this month to meet the conditions of state construction permits