Image for It’s no wonder there is so much anger. Four arrests. Tarkine fears. Booth fears for forest workers

After a series of emails in June and early July 2011 between myself and the Director of the EPA -  who by the way answered promptly and professionally -  I subsequently wrote to Minister BryanGreen on the 12th of July.

Having received no response I re-emailed the letter again on the 28th of July with a further letter – to which I have also not received any answers. I finally wrote a letter summarising the questions on the 18th of August, (please read the letter below) and to date still have not received any responses to any of my letters. I will continue to progress these issues with Minister Green, as will many other people – although certain events later this week may well negate the need for any answers.

A couple of weeks ago our Premier said that people should show more respect to the Premier, Ministers and elected representatives.

Why!? ... When this is the level of service and respect that is extended to members of the community.

Previously on other issues and again today; on the question of “substantial commencement” the Premier has shrugged off any knowledge and involvement in this issue.

Stating that the correct regulatory authorities will be dealing with this at arms’ length from government involvement. The Government has had two years to organise:

a) whose decision “substantial commencement” is,

b) when will the decision be made, and

c) what will be the basis of the decision.

Yesterday the EPA finally said that they would be seeking legal advice and contacting a raft of councils and government departments that are involved with the working permits. This could have been completed any time in the past two years, not seven days before the deadline.

It’s no wonder people get angry, and demonstrate when no answers are provided to simple questions. There are no other avenues open to them, when concerns and questions are raised; in a respectful manner and no factual or reasonable answers are forthcoming.

It’s no wonder the community is so distrustful of government and are left to second and third guess what will happen, undertake their own research to find out as much as possible, attack the government, spokespersons, or the proponent in the media and on talkback radio.

All negatives.

Why could not the government six months ago state that the EPA, the Attorney General or the Planning Commission will be undertaking the assessment of the “substantial commencement” deadline of the STILL proposed project, and here is the basis of the assessment and we will be publicly reporting on this on the 3rd of September. If they had done this it may have be seen as a positive, thousands of people would not be so negative about the issue, and people may not see the current dialogue as a continuation of the past processes, weasel words and covert assistance.

An open and inclusive approach; if it had occurred may well have been seen as a positive and a small start to mending our government reputation and the huge polarisation of our community on so many issues. It’s the government that is driving this polarisation, decline and negativity on so many fronts.

Minister Green performance by not answering three letters with three simple questions is reprehensible. Especially given that he found the time to talk on the radio about the same issues, in that period.

It only leads me to believe that he believes that he is above all these concerns and will do as he pleases. In the meantime the community believes he may well be trying to find a way and the words necessary to justify the claim for a substantial enough start.

Or perhaps he is waiting for the inevitable to happen this week or soon.

When will the government change so that the community is included in the process and we can all contribute, provide mutual respect, support and start to rebuild for the future?

I note again that the printed media is just regurgitating the government and proponent’s line. No detailed or difficult questions, no detailed background information, no discussion of what is meant by “substantial commencement”. When will they make use of the freedom of the press that they and the community has fought for and provided to them over the last three hundred years?

My letter to Bryan Green

The Honourable Bryan Green, Minister of Planning.
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)                                     
18th August 2011.   
                                                                                         
Dear Minister Green,
                                                               
Re: The Pulp Mill Assessment Act 2007 – “substantial commencement”.

On the 12th of July 2011 I emailed a request for information to you, with no answer. On the 25th of July 2011 I re-emailed the same letter to you again asking for an answer. On the 28th of July 2011 I received an email from your office advising me that you had referred the matter to Minister Wightman and you will be subsequently providing an answer to my request. After a further two weeks I still have not received any reply. On the 10th of August 2011 I resent my letter of the 12th of July plus an additional letter requesting further information, and again received no communication from you or your office.

Is it no wonder that there is growing discontent in the community with the performance of the Labour government and our elected representatives in general? The majority of people in my position would have already made this an adverse public matter for you and the government and made what ever progress they could in this way. Being a moderate I have not yet made this a public matter; or highlighted the very level of service provided to Tasmanians who are requesting information – given that I had previously contacted three major government departments to no avail.

While I was waiting for an answer to my letters, you personally found the time to take part in a recent ABC Radio interview (referred to in my letter of the 10th of August) dealing with the majority of information that I have requested in my letters to you. Yet I have been waiting since the 12th of July for a response.  My basic questions remain the same, these are in summary form:-

1. Who will be making the decision with regards to “substantial commencement”?
2. When will this be completed?
3. What is the basis of this decision?
4. Given that the Project Proponent almost weekly, the EPA and other organisations state that the project has started – is legal redress or a submission for administrative review or a complain to the Ombudsman or Integrity Commission still constrained by Section 11 of the Pulp Mill Assessment Act ( PMA Act)?

Given that there are only 14 days left to the end of this month for the Project Proponent to achieve a “substantial commencement” required by the PMA Act. This is an urgent matter. It’s no wonder there is so much distrust, anger and polarization in the community, given the serious lack of timely information concerning this and many other important matters. All four questions could have been answered months ago, and you may well have been seen by the community as being open and working with the community.

By Monday the 22nd of August if my request for information and answers to the four questions remain factually unanswered, you will leave me no option. I will start to take action in the public domain and by what ever processes are open to me.

Yours Sincerely,

John Day,
Rowella

An earlier letter:

• John Hawkins: My letter to Alex Schaap ... This is the most important matter to confront his Authority in recent times. In my opinion his flippant reply lacks any understanding of the importance and seriousness of his position and his power to affect the lives of thousands: For Gunns it is life or death;  for the ANZ with a mortgage over the Permits who will need to sell the project as a going concern; for the Government who could lose power should his decision force the extension of Permits to come before Parliament;  and for the future of the Timber industry and its Employees in this State. Read the letter and response, HERE

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Dave Groves: Substantial Art in Progress: HERE

MEDIA RELEASE
Wednesday 24 August 2011
Harvey Norman’s chain of native forest destruction broken at Auswest Timbers, Bairnsdale
This morning, eighteen activists disrupted work at Auswest Timbers’ processing facility in Bairnsdale, Victoria.

Auswest Timbers has been identified as a supplier of Australian native forest products to retail giant Harvey Norman.* Today’s action has taken place to protest retailer Harvey Norman’s continued sale of wood products sourced from native forests.


‘Harvey Norman continues to profit from the decimation of Australia’s native forests. Today, we are taking action to highlight the chain of forest destruction that starts on the forest floor and ends in the showrooms of Harvey Norman stores right across the country’ said Amelia Young, spokesperson for The Last Stand.

Two activists have chained themselves to the gates of the processing facility, and a large banner has been unfurled, stating ‘No Harvey No! Break the chain of forest destruction’.

Actions are taking place across Australia today, on the forest floor, at processors and distributors, and in the retail showroom, calling on Harvey Norman to ‘break the chain of forest destruction’ by ceasing to stock products made from native forests.

‘Australia’s native forests are in crisis. Here in Victoria the spectacular forests of East Gippsland and the Central Highlands, which provide essential habitat for threatened species, continue to be destroyed by industrial logging operations and processed by companies like Auswest Timbers’ said Ms Young.

This week the sustainability of VicForests’ logging operations were yet again called into question with Reflex copy paper’s Forest Stewardship Council accreditation being removed due to high levels of concern about the native forest content in that paper.

Arrests are expected today as conservationists across Australia take action to break Harvey Norman’s chain of native forest destruction.

* Markets for Change (2011). No Harvey No: How Australia’s largest furniture and electronics retailer is fuelling the destruction of our native forests.July 2011. http://www.marketsforchange.org/reports/no-harvey-no/

MEDIA RELEASE
Wednesday, 24 August 2011
Dixie Cummings’ Sydney operations shut down, as activists break Harvey Norman’s chain of forest destruction

This morning, ten activists shut down operations at Dixie Cummings’ furniture warehouse in western Sydney.


Dixie Cummings has been identified as a key distributor of furniture made from Australian native forest to retail giant Harvey Norman.* Today’s action has taken place to protest retailer Harvey Norman’s continued sale of wood products sourced from native forests.

‘It’s time for Harvey Norman to move into the 21st century and break the chain of native forest destruction. We are here today to say No Harvey No! Stop selling native forest products to the Australian people’ said Ula Majewski, spokesperson for The Last Stand.

Three activists are attached to the Dixie Cummings warehouse gates. ‘No Harvey No’ has been painted in giant letters on shipping containers located onsite. Activists have unfurled a large banner, stating ‘No Harvey No! Break the chain of forest destruction.’

Actions are taking place across Australia today, on the forest floor, at processors and distributors and in the retail showroom, calling on Harvey Norman to ‘break the chain of forest destruction’ by ceasing to stock products made from native forests.

‘Australia’s native forests are in a state of emergency, with destructive logging operations continuing to rip apart these irreplaceable ecosystems every single day. Harvey Norman needs to stand up and put an immediate halt to this chain of forest decimation, which starts on the forest floor and ends up in showrooms right across Australia’ said Ms Majewski.

Arrests are expected today as conservationists across Australia take action to break Harvey Norman’s chain of native forest destruction.

* Markets for Change (2011). No Harvey No: How Australia’s largest furniture and electronics retailer is fuelling the destruction of our native forests.July 2011. http://www.marketsforchange.org/reports/no-harvey-no/

MEDIA RELEASE
Wednesday 24 August 2011
Activists close chain of forest destruction in Sydney
Harvey Norman Moore Park targeted in culmination of national four part action

WHAT: Final Harvey Norman action in a national day of actions targeting Harvey Norman’s chain of forest destruction.
WHERE: Homemakers SupaCenta Moore Park. CnrTodman Avenue & South Dowling Street. Kensington (10 min drive from CBD)
WHEN: NOW

This morning, two climbers have abseiled from the roof of the Homemakers Supa Centa in Moore Park, Sydney, unfurling a massive 8 x 10 metre banner stating ‘No Harvey No! Break the chain of forest destruction’.

The Last Stand’s ‘Forest Investigative Unit’ have entered the store to identify and label furniture that is sourced from native forest destruction, as well as distributing information to shoppers about where their furniture is coming from.

‘Australia’s native forests are being ripped apart by industrial logging operations every single day. We are calling on Harvey Norman to break the chain of forest destruction, show some genuine environmental leadership and stop selling our native forests’ said Ula Majewski, spokesperson for The Last Stand.

Four No Harvey No! actions are taking place across Australia today - on the forest floor in East Gippsland, at Auswest Timbers in Bairnsdale, at Dixie Cummings’ distribution centre in Western Sydney, and in the retail showroom at Moore Park, Sydney - calling on Harvey Norman to ‘break the chain of forest destruction’ by ceasing to stock products made from native forests.

Activists are currently locked on and blocking infrastructure at Auswest Timbers in Victoria.  A team has also blocked access at Dixie Cummings, Sydney and ‘No Harvey No’ has been painted on containers in the yard in huge letters.  Police have attended both sites and arrests are expected.

‘Recent chain of custody research has clearly shown that retail giant Harvey Norman is helping to drive forest decimation across Australia. Harvey Norman needs to immediately break the chain of native forest destruction and stop profiting from our irreplaceable native forests’ said Ms Majewski.

Updates will be posted throughout the afternoon.  Live tweets @thelaststanders
Photos from earlier actions available: http://www.flickr.com/photos/thelaststandstudio

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• Four arrests across four actions as The Last Stand breaks Harvey Norman’s chain of forest destruction across Australia

Today, almost 50 activists have taken action at four sites across Australia to protest Harvey Norman’s sale of wood products sourced from native forest destruction. Four activists have been arrested.

‘Australia’s world class native forests are in crisis. The Last Stand has taken action today to say No Harvey No! From the forest floor to a Harvey Norman store, activists across Australia have taken a stand to stop the chain of forest destruction’ said Ula Majewski, spokesperson for The Last Stand.

In central Sydney, two climbers were arrested after abseiling from the roof of the Homemakers Supa Centa in Moore Park, unfurling a massive 8 x 10 metre banner stating ‘No Harvey No! Break the chain of forest destruction’. The Last Stand’s ‘Forest Investigative Unit’ entered the Moore Park store to identify and label native forest furniture.

At Dixie Cummings’ furniture distribution warehouse in western Sydney, two forest activists blockaded the facility for over six hours by locking themselves to gates. ‘No Harvey No’ has been painted in giant letters on shipping containers located onsite.

Two activists have been arrested at Auswest Timbers in Bairnsdale, Victoria. However, after nine hours, they remain locked to the facility gates. On the forest floor, in an East Gippsland logging coupe that was formerly home to the endangered long-footed potoroo, activists unfurled a banner in the midst of forest devastation.

‘Harvey Norman continues to profit from the destruction of Australia’s native forests. Today, we are have taken action to highlight the chain of forest decimation that starts on the forest floor and ends in the showrooms of Harvey Norman stores right across the country’ concluded Ula Majewski.

• Tarkine National Coalition: ... is perplexed by the Premier’s conflicting statements regarding National Heritage Listing for the Tarkine and it’s impact on mining.

MEDIA UPDATE: LINKS TO HIGH QUALITY FOOTAGE FROM TODAY’S HARVEY NORMAN ACTIONS TODAY

To download high resolution footage of all four No Harvey No actions today, please visit https://www.yousendit.com/download/ZUdzZHl0NmNOMUEwTVE9PQ

To download high resolution footage of the giant banner drop at Moore Park Supa Centa, go to https://www.yousendit.com/download/ZUdzZHlzR3M1bmp2Wmc9PQ

To download high resolution photographs of today’s actions, go to http://www.flickr.com/thelaststandstudio

• Tarkine National Coalition: ... is perplexed by the Premier’s conflicting statements regarding National Heritage Listing for the Tarkine and it’s impact on mining.

Media Release: 24/8/2011
Premier can’t have it both ways.

Tarkine National Coalition is perplexed by the Premier’s conflicting statements regarding National Heritage Listing for the Tarkine and it’s impact on mining.

The Premier has said today that mining can occur in the Tarkine without impacting on it’s values, and then contradicted her argument by saying that the proposed National Heritage Listing threatened mining.

“Clearly the prospect of new open cut mines in the Tarkine has an impact on the National Heritage values of the area. It is ridiculous to argue otherwise. If the Premier truly believes that the proposed mines will have no effect, then let her show her confidence in backing the National Heritage Listing, and allowing the projects to go through proper assessments against those heritage criteria,” said Tarkine National Coalition’s Campaign Coordinator Scott Jordan.

The Tarkine National Coalition has been talking to key mining industry players and is convinced that there is sufficient goodwill to enter productive negotiations on land tenure in the Tarkine, but unfortunately after six months the state government is still blocking this from happening.

“It seems crazy that we have conservationists and mining industry representatives saying ‘we want to talk’, but a state government saying that they think talking is somehow a bad idea.”

• Environment Tasmania: Tarkine Deserves Heritage Listing

MEDIA RELEASE
24th August 2011

Tarkine Deserves Heritage Listing

Tasmania’s peak environment body has urged both the State and Commonwealth governments to protect the globally significant Tarkine Wilderness by expediting National Heritage listing for the area, which was originally submitted in 2004.

“The Tarkine is a globally significant natural icon – capable of being the Kakadu or Daintree of Tassie’s North-West coast,” said Dr Phill Pullinger, Director of Environment Tasmania, “The Tarkine contains Australia’s largest tract of temperate rainforest, is home to more than 60 species of threatened plants and animals, and is rich in Aboriginal heritage,”

“Establishing new open cut mines in remote parts of the Tarkine Rainforest would clearly be incompatible with the protection of the wilderness and World Heritage values of the area,”

Environment Tasmania is a peak body for more than 20 conservation groups across Tasmania, with collective representation of over 5000 Tasmanians. 

• Christine Milne: Tarkine ignored.  Region must be recognised as ecosystem of national significance

Tony Burke’s National Press Club speech today in which he outlined his intention to consider the heritage listing of many sites throughout Australia was incomplete without mention of the Tarkine region, Greens Deputy Leader, Christine Milne said.

“How can the Environment Minister stand in front of our national broadcaster and say that on one hand we must add a layer of environmental protection that acts well in advance of searching for endangered species, whilst on the other hand denying the Tarkine any immediate protection from the current Tasmanian mining rush”

“The Tarkine has already been shown to hold World Heritage values, and it already has an identified population of the only disease free devils left in Tasmania as well as many other endangered species. Why then has it been omitted from the Minister’s list?

“Minister Burke proudly announced in his response to the Hawke review of the EPBC Act that recognising ecosystems of national significance would now be added to the list of federal intervention triggers.

“This means that an ecosystem must be proven to have an overall significant function, rather than a singular focus on species and ecological communities.

“The Tarkine is already identified as an ecosystem of national significance with the largest tract of temperate rainforest in the Southern Hemisphere and a karst system recognised for its global significance.”

“With nine new mine proposals and 56 active mining exploration licenses currently granted, the Minister must recognise the adverse impacts this will have on the overall Tarkine ecosystem.”

“The Minister’s focus on certainty for developers and deliberate avoidance of any mention of the Tarkine in the context of ecosystem protection must put all Tasmanians on alert that this region remains at high risk of destruction.” 

•  FOREST WORKERS NEED FINANCIAL HELP NOW
Time for Timber Industry Hypocrites to Back Off

Kim Booth MP
Greens Forestry Spokesman
Wednesday, 24 August 2011

The Tasmanian Greens today called on opponents of the Forestry Intergovernmental Agreement to stop attempting to block desperately-needed financial assistance for Tasmanian forest contractors.

Greens Forestry spokesperson Kim Booth MP said financially distressed forest contractors overwhelmingly supported the package, but vested interests were doing their best to wreck it for cheap political gain.

Mr Booth said he also understands that the Commonwealth is responsible for the design of the assistance package, and urged the Federal Government to start consultations over the Terms of Reference as soon as possible.

“Scores of contractors are facing foreclosure, and they need immediate reassurance that financial help is on its way,” Mr Booth said.

“Instead what we’re seeing is vested industry interests backed by the Liberal Party fuelling a fear campaign to exploit workers’ uncertainties and failing to offer any alternative plan for those on the ground who are facing financial ruin.”

“Some of the loudest opponents from within the industry, like Rodney Bishop, have already received their six figure payouts to get out and now they sit back and criticise efforts to provide assistance to those still sinking further into debt.”

“Contractors must be allowed to make a dignified exit from the industry, and groups like FIAT and the Liberal Party are peddling misinformation in an attempt to exploit workers’ fears.”
“The truth is that this $276 million dollar package would deliver financial relief for contractors, while being a major boost for the Tasmanian economy and a boon for the environment.”