The State Government today announced a strategic review of Forestry Tasmania to help the business adapt to the rapidly changing forest industry.
The Premier and Treasurer, Lara Giddings, said tenders would be sought this weekend for organisations to undertake an independent review of the Government Business Enterprise and provide recommendations on potential future structures, governance and business models.
“Forestry Tasmania is an integral part of our timber industry, which means that as the industry adapts to changes in world markets and forest practices, the business must also adapt for the future,” Ms Giddings said.
Ms Giddings said the review would be run in parallel to the ongoing discussions in the Statement of Principles process.
“This review is an important part of the transition process we are currently in, to ensure the forest industry can remain sustainable and provide jobs to regional communities into the long-term.
“Regardless of whether agreement can be reached in the Statement of Principles process, we recognise that inevitable changes in the industry, driven by market forces, will have a significant impact on the current operations of Forestry Tasmania.”
The Minister for Energy and Resources, Bryan Green, said the forest business had been exposed to significant international and domestic market volatility in recent years.
“Forestry Tasmania operates in a very complex market and industry environment,” Mr Green said.
“Over the past few years, Forestry Tasmania has been adversely affected by the large decline in the market for export pulpwood, exacerbated by the severe contraction in the Japanese economy and the recent strength of the Australian dollar.
“This review is about ensuring that we have the best business model to deal with these challenges into the future.
“Throughout this process, our focus will be on maintaining a strong and viable forest sector that maximises job opportunities for Tasmanians.”
Expressions of interest from suitably capable and experienced organisations to undertake the independent strategic review will be sought through an open tender process, to be advertised this weekend.
Yesterday on Tasmanian Times, Naomi Edwards’ damning report: FT deprives Tasmania of 500 jobs
REVIEW OF FORESTRY TASMANIA LONG-OVERDUE
Nick McKim MP
The Tasmanian Greens today welcomed the announcement that an independent Strategic Review of Forestry Tasmania is to be conducted, with tender advertisements expected in the weekend papers, saying that it is long-overdue.
Greens Leader Nick McKim MP said that the Greens have been calling for Forestry Tasmania to be reviewed over the last decade due to ongoing concerns over its flawed business model, poor financial record, and lack of accountability.
“The announced Strategic Review of Forestry Tasmania is long-overdue, and it is also a significant win for many conservationists and the Greens who have been calling for over a decade for an investigation into this GBE’s brief and operations,” Mr McKim said.
“We have been raising ongoing and serious concerns about the inherent contradictions within Forestry Tasmania’s operations which have lead to bad outcomes for our unique native forests, as well as poor financial outcomes for local industry and the state coffers.”
“A recent report commissioned by Our Common Ground found that the actual return to the state by Forestry Tasmania has been zero for three of the last four years, and was only $1.3 million in the year in which it was positive.” 
“Significantly this announced Review’s Terms of Reference also requires the current structures and governance frameworks to be evaluated, especially in the context of moving towards a restructured and viable timber industry.”
“The Greens would encourage the successful tenderer to ensure that the community and stakeholders will be provided an opportunity to have input into this long-awaited review,” Mr McKim said.
Reference:  Our Common Ground, statement, 12 May 2011.