Jan Davis, ABC picture

If you had been where I have been this week, you would know that our farmers are seething about the continued destruction of Tasmania’s important sustainable forestry industry.

I watched the ABC’s 7.30 Report last Friday night with great interest. Local industry expert Robert Eastment was interviewed about repeated claims that the Tasmanian forest industry is moribund because markets have collapsed. Eastment presented clear evidence that this is simply not the case. What has collapsed is the demand for Tasmanian timber products - because our brand has been tainted by the activities of extremist groups determined to destroy markets for these products.

Eastment’s figures showed that 531,000 tonnes of woodchips left Tasmania in the September quarter of 2005. In the December quarter of 2011, this figure had fallen to 96,000 tonnes.

At the same time, woodchip exports from NSW, Victoria and WA have increased. These states increased their market share, selling more than 700,000 tonnes to Japan, China and Taiwan in the last quarter of 2011. So other Australian states have increased their sales by even more than the quantities lost here over the same period. That doesn’t sound to me like the market has disappeared.

Eastment agrees. “The Japanese market is still there,” he said. “It is still a strong market. Tasmania has been excluded to the gain of other Australian states.”

The price is also still there. It has been stable at between $180 and $190 a tonne since 2005.

The other fact that no-one seems to be aware of is that 15 per cent of the woodchips exported from NSW, Victoria and WA are from native forests, not plantations. Overseas buyers see no problem with that mix from those states, so why do they discriminate against Tasmanian woodchips?

The reason: “Tasmania‘s name has been sullied and trashed,” says Eastment. And he is right on the money.

But that is only part of the damage that these activists are inflicting on Tasmania – and Tasmanians.

Ta Ann is a producer of world-class veneer timbers. The company announced earlier this week activist pressure overseas has resulted in the loss of 50 per cent of its Japanese market at the hands of these eco-terrorists. As a result, they are cutting production at their two plants in Tasmania. This decision translates to the loss of 40 jobs at its Huon and Smithton mills; and a further loss of critical mass for the already struggling forestry industry.

The TFGA was not a party to the Inter-Governmental Agreement on forests (IGA) because we were told private forests were not within its ambit. We have said all along that this is naïve – and we are right. There is now clear evidence that markets for private forest products have been impacted and that the decline in sales is hitting farm businesses hard.

We have also made it clear that, in our view, the whole IGA process is flawed because environmentalists cannot be trusted to stick to a deal; they always have another agenda to pursue. These groups have made it clear that, once public forests have been finally and totally locked up, private forest resources will be next.

A few days ago, 12 of the 15 members of the Legislative Council publicly declared they would not sanction any further creation of forest reserves under the flawed IGA while this economic terrorism persists and while the economic future of Tasmania – and the livelihoods of many Tasmanians - are trashed.

We say all power to the leadership shown by those 12 members of the Legislative Council. Thank goodness they are there; and thank goodness they are free to speak their minds and act accordingly.

Premier Lara Giddings must stop talking down the forestry industry in Tasmania. She must take control of this situation, and fast. Greens’ leader Nick McKim must be called to account for his support for the outrageous misrepresentations made overseas by environmental groups that unashamedly want to bring this important and sustainable Tasmanian industry to its knees.  Without strong political leadership in this fraught issue, peace in the forests will remain an unachievable aim.

You can watch the interview with Robert Eastment at:

First published,  Tasmanian Country Feb 17 2012

• Yesterday on Tasmanian Times: Ta Ann blames ‘translation error’ for incorrect labelling ...

• Wednesday on Tasmanian Times: A dog: The financial truth about Ta Ann Tasmania ...

• Meanwhile, Gunns Ltd, it’s time to pay the over-due rent, says Victorian farmer ...

WESTERN District farmers Graham and Carol Merrett say they have been starved of their sole income.

The failure of Gunns Limited to pay the rent for their 160ha farm has been

Mr Merrett, of Carpendeit near Cobden, said Gunns was three months behind in its quarterly payments on the 26-year lease.

The farm was originally leased to Great Southern, operating a managed investment scheme, six years ago. After Great Southern collapsed, Gunns bought the lease.

“They’ve been late paying from day one,” Mr Merrett said.

“They (Gunns employees) told us there’s no money and they don’t know if we’ll ever get paid.”

Mr Merrett said he couldn’t afford to consult a lawyer.

“We’re totally financially drained,” he said.

Read the rest, Weekly Times, HERE

• Huon Valley Environment Centre rejects Premier Giddings claims

Premier Giddings has contacted Huon Valley Environment Centre and requested that we cease any local or international action, and move aside to allow the Tasmanian Forests Agreement process to proceed.

‘Huon Valley Environment Centre (HVEC) is calling on Premier Lara Giddings to end all logging operations within the 430,000 ha for which she promised interim protection by signing the IGA - ie the 43 coupes.  Irreversible damage is being done to wilderness areas and World Heritage values by continuing logging and road building in crucial areas that were promised protection,’ Huon Valley Environment Centre’s Jenny Weber stated.

‘All the HVEC has done is to point out the truth of the matter regarding the source of Ta Ann’s timber, that Ta Ann has admitted to misleading the Japanese by calling regrowth plantations, and that Ms Giddings’ own statements attempting to demonise the HVEC and other groups have not been conducive to calming the situation down and have led to attacks on conservationists and bystanders,’ Jenny Weber said.

‘It is Premier Giddings who has waged a vilification campaign against the HVEC and I this week. Without any substance to the hatred she is inciting among the community.  The HVEC today reported threats to the Centre made by pro-logging sympathisers and called on the Premier, MLC Paul Harriss, FIAT director Terry Edwards and other industry spokespeople to moderate their language,’ Jenny Weber said.

Spokesperson for the HVEC Jenny Weber condemned the inflammatory language of pro-industry spokespeople, saying that words such as ‘treason’, ‘sabotage’, ‘eco-terrorism’ and so on were provoking potential violence against conservationists. One threat to burn down the HVEC has been passed on to Tasmania Police.

‘Premier Giddings should rein in people such as Terry Edwards and Paul Harriss before someone does something violent or stupid.’

‘Our nonviolent campaigns will continue while the logging continues, the HVEC is committed to seeing the legislated protection of 572,000ha of forests.  Furthermore a swift transition out of intensive industrial logging of native forests in Tasmania is a solution to the economically and environmentally unsustainable practices that Lara Giddings and her Labor Government is at the helm of,’ Jenny Weber said.

‘Premier Giddings has call for our organisation to “back off and give them space to do the job”.  They haven’t backed off the logging, and I question how the negotiations can continue while forests are ear marked for protection, yet the very forests they are negotiating about are being lost while they talk,’ Jenny Weber said.

‘It is false to assert that HVEC is undermining the statement of principles, these principles state that 3 months after their signing, an immediate moratorium on logging would be in place on high conservation value forests.  The Governments, signatories and the industry are undermining their own work by not sticking to the deal,’ Jenny Weber said.

• Premier Giddings undermines the democratic rights of citizens

Today Premier Giddings sent a personal letter to Jenny Weber, spokesperson for the Huon Valley Environment Center, asking for the community group to stop speaking up in defence of Tasmania’s forests.

“The Premier Lara Giddings is completely out of line in calling on community group Huon Valley Environment Center to be silent on the forest issue. We live in a democracy where political dissent is a basic right.” said Still Wild Still Threatened spokesperson Miranda Gibson. “The Premier should be defending the democratic right of Tasmanian citizens to voice their opinions and concerns.”

“The audacity of the Premier to ask the community to ‘back off’ is outrageous considering it is her broken promise of a conservation agreement that has led to the ongoing controversy. The purpose of the conservation agreement was to ensure the industry backed off from destroying the forest in order for negotiations to proceed” said Ms Gibson.

In addition the Huon Valley Environment Center is being scapegoated by the industry and blamed for the current industry crisis.

“It is unacceptable for Ta Ann to scapegoat community environmental groups for the crisis that has resulted from their own poor management and business decisions. The reality is that they have been misleadingly marketing their products. The only ones responsible for the loss of jobs are Ta Ann because the company has chosen to continue to entrench themselves in forest destruction despite the implications this is having on their global markets.”

Still Wild Still Threatened is 100% in support of the Huon Valley Environment Center and we will also continue our campaign until Tasmania’s forests receive protection.

“With over 70 actions across 15 countries in this weeks global action for Tasmania’s forests, it is clear that the Huon Valley Enviornment Center and Still Wild Still Threatened have support from all around the globe in calling for forest protection” said Ms Gibson.

• Christine Milne to open Weld Echo Art Exhibition Opening Night - Long Gallery, tonight, 6pm

Weld Echo Art Exhibition Opens tonight at the Salamanca Arts Centre’s Long Gallery.

Guest Speaker is Australian Greens Deputy Leader, Senator Christine Milne.

Weld Echo exhibition is a collaborative exhibition curated by the Huon Valley Environment Centre.  The annual art exhibition has 62 artists this year, and will be opening to the public at 6pm. Held annually since 2005, Weld Echo is a collaborative exhibition of works inspired by the wild Weld Valley of Southern Tasmania. All funds raised contribute towards the continuing campaign by the Huon Valley Environment Centre to protect the threatened forests.

Weld Echo is an incredible show of support for the Huon Valley Environment Centre, with many artists contributing stunning art works, all for sale.

The exhibition will be open each day till 28 Feb, 9am - 5pm.


Senator for Tasmania

Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Fisheries and Forestry
Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Innovation, Industry and Science


17 February, 2012

Time for Premier Giddings to stand up to Nick McKim

The Tasmanian Premier must not allow Nick McKim as a member of her cabinet go overseas on a mission to destroy Tasmania’s reputation.

“Nick McKim cannot be allowed to take his destructive message into our markets with the imprimatur of being a Tasmanian Cabinet minister,” Coalition Forestry Spokesman Senator Richard Colbeck said.

“The Premier must also refuse to allow Mr McKim to use any taxpayer funded allowances to travel on this destructive mission.

“Ms Giddings has come to a crossroad. The Premier must decide whether she will stand up for the Tasmanian people, their jobs and the investment reputation of the State - even if this means putting her own job on the line.

“The Greens and environment groups (ENGOs) are trashing Tasmania’s global reputation as an investment destination, taking down our economy and driving up unemployment.

“It’s time for Ms Giddings to act in Tasmania’s interests, not in the interest of the Labor party and her own self-preservation.” Senator Colbeck.

• Long-awaited help for Tasmania’s forest contractors welcomed

The Federal Coalition welcomes today’s long-awaited announcement that support for Tasmanian forest contractors will finally commence, Forestry Spokesman Senator Richard Colbeck said.

“It is about time. The exit package process has dragged on for too long,” Senator Colbeck said.

“Money isn’t flowing yet though, it is just offers at this stage. For the sake of the stressed contractors and their families this process must not be delayed any further.

“The Coalition has long supported assistance to forest contractors. In fact, we led the way at the 2010 election and Labor matched our policy within two hours after previously telling contractors there would be no support.

“The Federal Government’s reference today to our 2010 policy and to the Coalition’s opposition to the Intergovernmental Agreement shows Labor has no understanding of the long-term issues facing Tasmania’s forestry industry.

“Labor’s sham lock-up in the IGA is only setting the industry up for another timber supply crisis in 5-10 years.

“And for all that, we still have no peace in the forests,” Senator Colbeck said.

• Hundreds expected at forestry rally in the Huon

A rally to be held in Huonville tomorrow is expected to attract hundreds of people concerned at the current state of the Tasmanian economy.

The rally has been organised by the Huon Resource Development Group.

The group says the community is standing up for a better future and the rally is an opportunity to show support for Tasmanian jobs and send a message to the Premier that the constant sabotaging of the State’s economy by Nick McKim’s negative comments can no longer be tolerated.

WHO: Huon Resource Development Group
Huon MLC Paul Harris
WHAT: Community rally for the future
WHEN: 10.00am TOMORROW (Saturday, 18 February 2012)
WHERE: Rear Woolworths car park, Huonville

Mercury Saturday: Greens threaten trade mission

Examiner Saturday: McKim warns of rival forestry trip

Advocate, Saturday: McKim still undecided on trade mission

Matthew Denholm, The Australian: Alternative plan to forests peace deal being hatched to end conflict

  by: Matthew Denholm, Tasmania correspondent
  From: The Australian
  February 18, 2012 12:00AM

  A SECRET alternative Tasmanian forest plan is being hatched as the Gillard government’s $276 million peace deal faces collapse.

The alternative comes ahead of expected findings that the peace deal cannot deliver promised conservation gains.

“Plan B” is being drawn up by Bob Gordon, managing director of the state-owned Forestry Tasmania, and has been discussed with state and federal ministers.

It would deliver almost the same size of reserve area sought by green groups as their minimum ask - 430,000ha - but is more fragmented and includes some different forest areas.

Included is a core area of the most iconic forests sought for conservation in the Styx Valley and the Upper Florentine Valley.

This is understood to be “topped up” by formalising some existing informal reserves and areas of production forest that cannot be logged for environmental or logistical reasons.

As well, it would involve the acquisition of forests owned by Gunns and the Tasmanian Land Conservancy.

Mr Gordon and FT declined to comment on the plan, being pitched as a means of salvaging a “win, win” for both sides in the peace talks set up last year by the federal-state forest intergovernmental agreement, or IGA.

Green groups accused Mr Gordon of seeking to undermine the IGA, under which independent experts are working on reports to try to marry conservation outcomes with industry needs.

“This is an attempt by a senior public servant to undermine the peace deal and pre-empt the independent forests assessment process,” said Environment Tasmania director Phill Pullinger.

However, the Labor government, which shares power with the Greens, defended Mr Gordon.

Full story in The Australian, HERE

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