Image for Gunns silent on Giddings’ offer

The state government has confirmed that it has made a commercial settlement offer to timber company Gunns.

Premier Lara Giddings said the offer follows the appraisal by independent auditors Wise Lord and Ferguson.

Ms Giddings said the details of the offer would remain confidential until a formal response had been received from Gunns.

“Over the past week, Wise Lord and Ferguson has been reviewing all available evidence, including legal opinion that Gunns Limited has residual legal rights over native forest contracts that can best be extinguished through a legal settlement,” Ms Giddings said.

“The auditors have approved the process that has been entered into by the state government and the settlement offer, which includes a proposed resolution of disputed debts between FT and Gunns.

“It is my intention to release the Wise Lord and Ferguson report once this process has concluded.”

Examiner HERE

• What Lara Giddings said ...


Commercial settlement offer made to Gunns


The Premier, Lara Giddings, today confirmed a commercial settlement offer had been made to Gunns Limited following appraisal by independent auditors Wise Lord and Ferguson.


Ms Giddings said the details of the offer would remain confidential until a formal response had been received from the company.


“Over the past week Wise Lord and Ferguson has been reviewing all available evidence, including legal opinion that Gunns Limited has residual legal rights over native forest contracts that can best be extinguished through a legal settlement,” Ms Giddings said.


“The auditors have approved the process that has been entered into by the State Government and the settlement offer, which includes a proposed resolution of disputed debts between FT and Gunns.


“It is my intention to release the Wise Lord and Ferguson report once this process has concluded.”


Ms Giddings said it was important to note that the offer did not constitute compensation.


“This is not compensation or reward for Gunns’ commercial decision to exit native forests, which has caused considerable uncertainty for forest workers, contractors and their families.


“The Government is acting in accordance with our legal obligations to extinguish the company’s residual legal rights so that we can provide certainty to the forest industry under the Intergovernmental Agreement.”


Ms Giddings reiterated the State Government’s position that no money would be transferred to Gunns until IGA funding begins flowing to contractors and forest workers.


“By entering into this process, we have satisfied the requirements of Clause 22 of the IGA.


“Money will begin flowing to contractors once the Commonwealth has finalised eligibility criteria and the application process.”


Ms Giddings said it was her intention to update Parliament tomorrow on the next steps to progress the Intergovernmental Agreement.


“This process is about providing certainty for the Tasmanian forest industry, including guaranteeing wood supply for the sawmilling, veneer and speciality timbers sector,” Ms Giddings said.


“Key milestones in the process will include the final verification by December of industry wood supply requirements and high conservation value forests by legislation to come before the Parliament in the Autumn session next year.


“As part of that package, it is the State Government’s intention to legislate for the provision of 265,000 cubic metres of peeler billets, along with specialty timber requirements to support fine furniture and value adding opportunities.”


• Nick McKim: Greens will not support peeler billet legislation

More special favours for industry means less native forest for everyone else

Nick McKim MP
Greens Leader

The Tasmanian Greens today said that under no circumstances would they support resource security legislation to guarantee 265,000 cubic metres of peeler billets, as flagged by Premier Lara Giddings earlier today.

Greens Leader Nick McKim MP said this legislation is not required by the Forests Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) and would simply amount to legislating to provide corporate welfare for Ta-Ann, the only company to hold a contract for peeler billets in Tasmania.

“This legislation would, if passed, lock in more native forest destruction when the signatories to the Statement of Principles process, including industry representatives, supported a transition out of native forest logging,” said Mr McKim.

“This is simply yet more special-interest corporate welfare for the timber industry at the expense of our ancient native forests.”

“Industry representatives did not put resource security for Ta-Ann on the table at any stage during any of the Statement of Principles negotiations process, yet are now trying to claim that the sky will fall in unless it is delivered.”

“The Greens will not support this legislation in Cabinet or on the floor of the House,” said Mr McKim.

Jenny Webber, Huon Environment Environment Centre:

Media Release

30/09/2011

Tasmania’s native forest destruction promised by Labor Government for
Malaysian logging giant

Tasmania’s grass roots environment organisations have today condemned
the Premier’s commitment to legislating Ta Ann’s peeler billet supply.

“The Tasmanian Premier’s promise of legislated supply to Malaysian
logging giant Ta Ann, does not reflect the Statement of Principles
promised transition out of native forests, rather this legislation
will lock in large scale clearfelling of Tasmania’s native forests”
Huon Valley Environment Centre’s spokesperson Jenny Weber said.

“The ongoing logging of native forests to supply 265,000 cubic meters
a year to Ta Ann is a move that will hold Tasmania in the dark ages.
This legislation will be the loss of a real opportunity to take action
on climate change by ending deforestation of Tasmania’s native
forests” said Miranda Gibson, spokesperson for Still Wild Still
Threatened.

“Recent protests in forests around the State have highlighted the
logging that continues within the promised 430,000 hectares of forests
to be reserved. These forests are being lost right now to feed Ta
Ann’s contract. And with a legislated quota Tasmania will continue to
lose our precious native forests” Jenny Weber said.

“Formalising Ta Ann’s quota through legislation is a breach of trust
on behalf of the State Government who worked to secure Federal funding
for an effective transition out of a minimum of 430,000ha of
Tasmania’s native forests as of August 7, 2011,” said CODE GREEN
spokesperson Ali Alishah.

“This entrenchment of Tasmania into yet another incarnation of an
economically unviable and environmentally unsustainable forest
industry by the State Government is using Australian taxpayer dollars
to protect a Malaysian company with an appalling environmental and
human rights record against the interests of all Tasmanians,” Ali
Alishah said,

“Our organisations stand in solidarity with the Tasmanian community
and the people of Sarawak, Malaysia, to protect the natural
environment in the face of corrupt corporate greed and the ineptitude
of a blinkered government,” said Ali Alishah.