Image for Huonville: judge for yourself. Foresters claim ‘pledge’. Parliament rally, Wednesday. New Ads.


• Matthew Denholm, The Australian: Green groups reneged on Gunns mill: timber industry

TIMBER industry figures claim peak conservation groups made a “clear commitment” to “play dead” on Gunns’s Tasmanian pulp mill—only to renege on the pledge.

The claim, made to The Weekend Australian by several industry figures involved in the historic forest peace talks in Tasmania, was denied yesterday by the three green groups.

However, several figures within the conservation movement conceded key groups had hardened their stance to the $2.3 billion mill during the course of negotiations after beginning with a more open mind.

Industry representatives said the environmental groups gave a “clear commitment” not to oppose the mill proposed for the Tamar Valley, north of Launceston, subject to several conditions.

These included Gunns amending mill licence conditions to guarantee native forests were not used in its feedstock, and the industry embracing a transition out of native forest logging, into plantations.

A statement of principles signed by industry groups in October last year committed to a transition of most the industry out of native forests and to “a pulp mill”.

In March, Gunns amended its federal approvals to rule out native woodchip feedstock, a move publicly hailed by the green groups—The Wilderness Society, Environment Tasmania and the Australian Conservation Foundation.

However, industry participants in the talks were angered when, after a backlash from sections of their constituencies and the Greens, TWS and Environment Tasmania then hardened their positions against the mill.

TWS, Environment Tasmania and the Conservation Foundation all yesterday denied giving any commitment to support the mill at any time during the talks.

Full story in The Oz HERE

• RALLY AT PARLIAMENT - Support the “Pulp Mill Repeal Bill 2011”

DATE: Wednesday May the 25th
LOCATION: Parliament House, Hobart, Tasmania
TIME: 3:30pm

Rally at Parliament to support the Tasmanian Greens in repealing the Tamar Valley Pulp Mill’s Government approval. This rally will coincide with the introduction of the Greens “Pulp Mill Repeal Bill 2011” inside parliament.

This rally is being organised by a united front of key anti Pulp Mill groups.

There will be speakers on the Parliament Lawns, still to be confirmed, also large screens with a live feed of the debate inside parliament.

• The Tasmanian Greens will present the “Pulp Mill Repeal Bill 2011” for debate to provide all Members of the house of Assembly with the opportunity to vote to revoke the controversial Pulp Mill Assessment Act 2007 (the Act) which was rammed through the State Parliament by ex-Premier Paul Lennon.

The passing of the Act by the Labor and Liberal Parties in Tasmania was an aberration of our democracy as it gave a rubber stamp approval to the Gunns Ltd to build the pulp mill in the Tamar Valley. This rubber stamp came after it had been deemed ‘critically non-compliant’ by Tasmania’s independent and expert planning authority, the Resources Planning and Development Commission.

• For those who wish to enter the viewing gallery inside parliament, note that Parliament House requires visitors to listen to proceedings in silence, and have mobiles switched off. Disruptions in the public gallery while parliamentary debate is under-way can result in the public gallery being cleared, which can unfortunately deprive members of the community from being able to witness a debate that matters to them.

Examiner: Money not the issue, say Wildos

• Malaysia Today:

By Sarawak Report

As news reports are beginning to show, Australia is beginning to get a true picture of Taib Mahmud and his behaviour in Sarawak.

TV scenes of rowdy loggers disrupting and breaking up a local meeting in a town hall in Huonville, Tasmania will not go down well.

The meeting had been called by environmentally concerned local people, who are anxious about logging in their area, which is being carried out by none other than Taib’s own family company Ta Ann.  The loggers are shown to have been aggressive and abusive towards the seated audience and one woman speaker was threatened with rape!

Classic behaviour

Those women who live in Sarawak’s interior can, of course, testify to the seriousness of that threat of rape.  There have been numerous police reports and complaints about rapes and vicious attacks on women and schoolgirls by loggers, many of them independently verified by NGOs.  However Taib has blocked all attempts at an official investigation.

Indeed, as Sarawakians all know, threats and intimidation have been the established method by which the loggers, licenced by Taib, have dealt with complaints by local forest people and those communities who have Native Customary Rights to the land they have taken.  Fear of the Thugs and Gangsters hired by loggers pervades the whole state.

Minggat Nyakin, beaten up by loggers earlier this year for asking them to leave his land

We have covered a number of recent incidences showing how these gangs have been used by logging companies to come in and do their dirty work, attacking villagers with clubs, knives, explosives and guns.  Complaints are routinely ignored by the police …

Taib’s global reach

Companies which began and grew rich in Sarawak have been spreading their logging activities across the globe.  They have muscled their way in to remaining hardwood areas in Indonesia, Papua, the Soloman Islands, Congo, Amazon and now Tasmania.

Laughably the Australian taxpayer even paid Ta Ann a massive $10,000,000 grant to set up its saw mill factories on the island.  Whose bright idea was that?  Ta Ann is run by the multi-billionaire Hamid Sepawi, the cousin and business proxy of Taib himself, who has been listed personally as one of Malaysia’s richest men.  Why have the taxpayers of Tasmania had to pay out to have him come in and cut down their forests now that Sarawak has run out of its own wood?

Indeed, when the Tasmanian forestry authorities did their assessments into sustainability and the Taib family record on logging, did they take an environmental impact check on Sarawak?  We are looking at the man who in 30 years has razed and destroyed the world’s oldest (130 million years) tropical hardwood jungle.  The surrounding environmental impact on rivers, wildlife and communities, owing to his negligent and corner-cutting methods, has been nothing short of devastating.


• New ad campaign launched to dismantle the Forestry Tasmania GBE

A coalition of individuals and environment groups today launched an ad campaign to highlight bad choices the State Government is making in the lead up to the state budget and called for the dismantling of the GBE Forestry Tasmania.

Starting tonight, the ad will run in prime time TV in the south and on commercial radio in the north.

Speaking on behalf of the coalition, Jenny Weber said “The environment movement has been pointing to the environmental and financial failure of Forestry Tasmania for years.”

“But, we have now hit a crunch point with the government clearly on a path to protect logging operations and subsidies to the logging industry at the expense of nurses, teachers and police.”

“This campaign exposes the failed financial performance of Forestry Tasmania as a key factor in the budget crisis and the resulting loss of around 2,000 jobs - many in front line community services such as nurses, teachers and police. “

“It is vital for the community to know that if Forestry Tasmania was producing even a modest level of returns, 500 community service workers would not have to lose their jobs,”

A report prepared by independent financial analyst Naomi Edwards and released by Our Common Ground on the 12th May 2011 showed that Forestry Tasmania should have contributed 43 million dollars to state finances this financial year. (Based on Tasmanian Treasury’s ROE target for Government Business Enterprises and equates to the jobs of 500 community service providers).

“As well as continuing the logging of unique native forests, Forestry Tasmania has contributed no money in the last 4 years, has overseen the collapse of the timber industry and has pursued policies which have generated massive community conflict. It is hardly surprising that this failure of management has led to a financial crisis which will result in the dramatic loss of community services. “

“Like the Hydro Electric Commission of decades ago, Forestry Tasmania is an unaccountable, outdated and dysfunctional organization, pursuing its own ambitions.”

Ms Weber concluded “We are calling for Foresty Tasmania to be abolished and the few functional components within it redistributed across other better performing Government Departments.”

The ad is supported by Huon Valley Environment Centre, the Tarkine National Coalition, Environment Tasmania, Still Wild Still Threatened, The Florentine Protection Society and authorized by Peter T Mead

First published: 2011-05-21 05:59 PM

Earlier: Jenny v George