With the jobs of one in ten public servants targeted for cuts in the coming state budget, a new report on the financial performance of the Government Business Enterprise, Forestry Tasmania sheds light on one of the causes of the budget revenue shortfall.
Judy Tierney of Our Common Ground said: “The report ‘A target Return on Equity for Forestry Tasmania’ prepared by actuary Naomi Edwards shows that underperformance by Forestry Tasmania costs the state $43 million in revenue each year — or the equivalent of jobs for 500 nurses, teachers and police.”
Based on Tasmanian Treasury’s Return on Equity (ROE) target for Government Business Enterprises, the report finds that Tasmanians would have reasonably expected a return of $43 million for the 2010-11 financial year from Forestry Tasmania. Instead, the return was zero.
The report also compares the performance Forestry Tasmania achieves from its 712,000 Ha of native and plantation forests with that of Forestry South Australia from around 93,000 Ha of plantations.
Report author Naomi Edwards says “Published annual returns showed that Forestry South Australia returned $45 million to the state in 2010 from a smaller revenue and sales base than Forestry Tasmania.”
“In contrast, Forestry Tasmania’s return to the state has been zero for three of the last four years, and was only $1.3 million in the year in which it was positive.”
Judy Tierney adds “This situation is clearly not in the long-term interests of Tasmanians, timber workers or forests.“
“That’s why Our Common Ground believes Tasmania can do better than wood chipping our native timbers. Forestry South Australia shows that it is possible to create a healthy return to the state budget, contribute to funding our nurses, teachers and police and create lasting timber jobs by investing and diversifying in a range of plantation timber products. “
• Woodchip loading shut down in a call for Artec to get out of native forests
16 protestors today have shut down wood chip loading operations at the ship The Southern Star, which is currently at the Artec woodchip mill in Bell Bay and will be travelling from there to Taiwan. 2 protestors are suspended above the boat and 2 others are locked on to the conveyor belt, preventing the boat from loading or leaving port. The protestors boarded the ship at about 4am this morning and are displaying banners which read, “ARTEC OUT OF NATIVE FORESTS”.
The activists are from the Launceston-based group Code Green, an environmental non-violent direct action group who are committed to standing up for the protection of Tasmania’s natural environment.
“We are here today to demand that Artec make an immediate transition out of native forests, instead of putting resources into increasing their current operations,” spokesperson for the group Dr Lisa Searle said. “Artec are emerging as the next big player in the forest industry, and are currently the only company producing and exporting native woodchips in Tasmania. Artec should be honouring the negotiations occurring between both the forest industry and environmental NGOs who have committed to a solution and have been working tirelessly to achieve this and to move out of native forest logging,” she continued.
“Artec Pty Ltd have operated a woodchip mill at Bell Bay for 10 years producing wood chip for export, and the company is now proposing to increase operations by 50%, which will include wood from Tasmania’s unique native forests”, Dr Searle said.
Public submissions to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) regarding Artec’s proposal for the woodchip mill expansion are open, and will close on Monday 16th May.