Image for Greens just want the end of special favours

Anyone who thinks the Greens support compensation going to Gunns needs to pull their head in.

It’s not scapegoating the likes of the ABC and the Mercury to say that the media has widely reported the issue of compensation for Gunns.

Neither is it semantic hair-splitting to say that the C word hasn’t been used by any Greens MPs. In fact, it’s true.

It’s also deliberate, precisely because the Greens absolutely do not support baseless compo for anyone in the timber industry, Gunns or otherwise.

For years, the Greens and the Tasmanian environmental movement has campaigned for an end to industrial-scale old-growth native logging.

Now, it is happening.

But there are still some who can’t see the wood for trees. And right when what the Green movement has been demanding for years is happening, true to form, they turn on each other and attack the Greens.

If anyone can find a single example of a Tasmanian Greens MP saying they support compensation for Gunns, I will personally French kiss Barry Chipman.

The Greens have long been the lone parliamentary party calling for exit packages (HERE) to help transition forestry out of industrial-scale native logging.

More recently, this has seen the Greens and environmental NGOs working to transition the industry through the Forest Principles Agreement (HERE).

Its signatories agreed “to provide exit assistance to the [forest] industry where required” and to “resolve the conflict over forestry in Tasmania, protect native forests and develop a strong, sustainable timber industry”.

What would you rather? Federal money used to secure Gunns’ share of the annual legislated 300,000 cubic metres sawlog quota and retire it into conservation as a national park?

Or would you like no Federal money used, and Gunns to sell its quota to another logging company, and native forest logging continue?

That’s the choice and the Statement of Principles (HERE) is about taking that quota out of commerce and into conservation.

That is also the Greens’ position.

But, hello?!, the merest mention of actually ending industrial-scale native logging and there are some Greenies hysterically tripping over their Birkenstocks at the prospect.

The real issue is Gunns and the Pulp Mill.

So the Greens have called for a Probity Auditor (HERE) to independently and transparently oversee any sawlog quota and forest buybacks, to prevent the usual industry shenanigans.

Even though Gunns is on the record as saying any buyback revenue would go to pay off its substantial debts, the fear is it will be used to help get the Pulp Mill up.

There’s always a risk. But, in reality, there’s no chance of it getting anywhere near its supposed $2.3 billion.

Remember, since at least 2007 it’s had special treatment and its own legislation rammed through Parliament by Lennon . It’s 2011 and it still can’t get it up.

But forget Gunns. 

Whether it’s a large satanic logging corporation or a family-owned saw mill, the Greens don’t care. They just want the end of special favours and the industry to treated fairly and equally.

A Probity Auditor would ensure a level playing field for anyone who holds a current contract for any of the 300,000 cubic metre sawlog quota. 

The sale and purchase of an economic asset to be retired into conservation isn’t compensation.

Buy backs have been used by national and international governments, for example, to buy fishing quotas to then protect marine areas and/or species.

The Greens simply want to do the same but for our native forests.

A company should be allowed to sell its assets, rather than the Government seize them.

This forest transition process should be supported by anyone who wants to see the end of native old-growth industrial-scale logging - and the beginning of a truly sustainable forest industry in Tasmania.

Doubters need to stop believing everything the Mercury says and ditch the fetid conspiracy theories.

Instead, get with the program the Greens are driving and help propel this transition which is now underway.

Tom de Kadt is an environmental activist in and around Hobart