Image for TCT blast. White-out fears. Leadership for Lara. I will not be moved, says Julia

Statement from the Tasmanian Conservation Trust regarding the ‘Tasmanian Forest Agreement: Heads of Agreement’

The Tasmanian Conservation Trust Executive Council met this afternoon (Monday) to consider the ‘Tasmanian Forest Agreement: Heads of Agreement’ released yesterday by the Tasmanian and Australian governments.

TCT Director Peter McGlone said today that “While we congratulate the governments for the promise of financial support for struggling forestry workers, contractors and communities, we are very disappointed that there is absolutely no guarantee of any forest conservation outcomes”.

“The agreement fails to commit to any secure reserves such as National Parks or Conservation Areas and leaves open the possibility that all forests supposedly protected from logging will remain informal reserves, under the control of Forestry Tasmania and may be logged in the future.

“With such a pathetic conservation outcome the broader conservation movement will not support this agreement and it will not deliver peace in the forests.”

“This agreement only ever considered a narrow part of the conservation agenda and it fails to deliver on other key conservation issues such as protection of threatened species habitats and other biodiversity found overwhelmingly on private land, improving on management of plantations, reforming of Forestry Tasmania and retention of carbon.”, Peter McGlone concluded.

The Premier was a guest on ABC TV’s Q&A in Hobart last night. React on the ABC website HERE, or on ... THIS ARTICLE



• Pulp Mill White-Out an East Tamar Highway Death Trap

East Tamar residents are well aware of just how foggy it can get in the Tamar Valley, especially on winter mornings when children are going to school, and people are driving to work.

The proposed Pulp Mill in the Tamar Valley could cause lethal white-out fog conditions on the East Tamar Highway, similar to those produced by the Bowater Paper Mill in Tennessee, which led to 12 people being killed, and dozens more being seriously injured in a multi-car pile-up on a neighbouring freeway.

Friends of the Tamar Valley spokesperson John Ball today called on Gunns Ltd, and those political parties which support the Pulp Mill, to produce evidence of a risk analysis that shows drivers on the East Tamar Highway won’t be risking their lives on foggy mornings if this mill is ever built.

“A pulp mill would evaporate massive amounts of steam and water vapour from wood pulp which is emitted close to ground level, as is the case with the Bowater mill,” said FTV spokesperson Dr John Ball. “Gunns’ pulp mill is planned to be built less than a kilometre from the East Tamar Highway. The Bowater Mill was 4.8kms away from the freeway where the multi-car pile-up occurred, so a Tamar Valley pulp mill is potentially even more dangerous.”

This issue was first raised in March 2007 by former member of the Resource Planning and Development Commission Assessment Panel, Dr Warwick Raverty.

“The fast-track approval process might have been a short-term fix for Gunns Ltd, but the long-term risks are going to be borne by whoever is foolhardy enough to invest in this project. The more tragic potential is that it might be Tasmanians and tourists who pay for this risky mill with their lives,” said Dr Ball.

Links to YouTube sites showing full documentary covering the Bowater Paper Company incident:

• Greens offer Giddings leadership on forests

The Greens Leaders have responded to Premier Lara Giddings’ call for them to show leadership by requesting she meet to discuss options for Tasmania to manage its forests for future business and job creation.

“The Premier will lead well if she gets off the failed logging trajectory onto promising alternatives,” Senator Brown said at a press conference with Senator Milne and Mr McKim.

“For example, I envisage a private tourism development enclave in the Styx Valley, similar to that at Cradle Valley. A Snowy–Wellington walk connecting Hobart with the Styx Valley via Mt Wellington and the Snowy Range has huge potential to connect the capital with the World Heritage Wilderness.

“A global presentation display centre south of Dover to connect visitors with D’Entrecasteaux’s glorious meeting with Tasmania’s Aboriginal people would be a boon for the Huon Valley. The French scientists, in 1793, wrote in glowing terms of Tasmania’s forests ‘in which the sound of an axe had never been heard’.

“And the forests of the Tarkine, North East Highlands and Great Western Tiers have huge job generation potential if only some of the $276 million in the forest package goes to more hospitality instead of more woodchipping.

“Leadership is about vision as well as management,” Senator Brown said.

•  I will not be moved, says Julia

Audio of statements from press conference: Questions will be loaded to website soon.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard says her $276 million forestry deal with the Tasmanian government won’t change, despite a Greens’ promise to vote it down in state parliament.

Ms Gillard announced the restructure plan on Sunday, based around a statement of principles signed last year by environmentalists, industry groups and the forestry workers’ union, the CFMEU.

The agreement provides an $85 million exit package for forestry contractors, as well as $120 million of federal money over the next 15 years to diversify the economies of towns affected by the industry downturn.

Advertisement: Story continues below At least 430,000 hectares of native forests will be immediately protected in informal reserves, with an additional 142,000 hectares to be set aside if needed to fulfil existing logging contracts.

A final intergovernmental agreement will be signed within two weeks, but the deal will need the support of the Greens if it is to pass through state parliament.

The Greens have called for the 430,000 hectares of forests to be formally protected in national parks, but Ms Gillard said the deal would not be amended.

“It’s done. It will be delivered. People will express different views about it but it’s done,” Ms Gillard told reporters in Melbourne.

“It will be delivered in my view through the Tasmanian parliament as it properly should and everything we need to do as a federal government to honour the arrangements we certainly will do.”

Tasmanian Greens leader Nick McKim - who is also a cabinet member of the minority Labor government - said he didn’t want to see the deal fall over, but would not support it in its current form.

“We’ll always use all the tools in the toolkit for these kinds of things,” he said.

“So whether its parliamentary debates, votes in parliament, public discussion, our access into government, of course we’ll use all of those tools to show leadership on a positive outcome for our forests.”

Australian Greens leader Bob Brown said he would continue to lobby Ms Gillard for stronger environmental protections.

“I’ll be meeting with the prime minister in a week or two, certainly before parliament goes back,” Senator Brown told reporters in Hobart on Tuesday.

“In the meantime, we’ll be providing her and federal Labor with further information about the opportunities there are in Tasmania if you go beyond the chainsaw-driven opportunities.”

Mr McKim would not be drawn on the future of the power-sharing arrangement if his party could not be satisfied by the forestry deal.

AAP in The Age HERE

• Meet us Lara, says Nick

Nick McKim MP
Greens Leader

The Tasmanian Greens today said that genuine leadership is needed to address shortcomings in the Labor Forests Heads of Agreement, and they would be seeking to meet with the Premier, Lara Giddings, to push for greater conservation certainty in line with the Statement of Principles’ intent that security is provided to both the industry and conservation outcomes concurrently.

Greens Leader Nick McKim MP said that the only people attempting to take an axe to the Forests Statement of Principles and the Heads of Agreement are the Liberal Party, just as their policies have driven the axe through native forests for decades.

“With genuine leadership there is an opportunity to fix Labor’s Heads of Agreement, to restore the balance between conservation and industry outcomes,” Mr McKim said.

“It is in that spirit of leadership that the Greens will be seeking a meeting with the Premier to explore how to fix the Heads of Agreement so it does reflect the intent of the Statement of Principles to secure peace in the forests, conservation outcomes, and a viable timber industry.”

“The real failure of leadership here was demonstrated by the Prime Minister when she presumed to think she could resolve the forestry debate that has divided our community for decades in just 36 hours. It was either naivety or a deliberate strategy to compromise conservation outcomes.”

“The other clear example of leadership failure has come from the Liberal Party who are the only people we can see who intend to take an axe to this process, just as they want to keep driving the axes through our unique high conservation value forests.”

“The Greens are clearly on the public record supporting the need for immediate emergency assistance for forest contractors doing it hard now and we continue to support this.  However the rest of the industry assistance funding must be coupled with the passage of legislation to deliver National Parks through the Legislative Council.”

Mr McKim also reiterated that the Greens would not be pre-empting either the final Intergovernmental Agreement, expected within a fortnight, or any potential legislation, and instead reserve the right to scrutinise the detail at the time it becomes available.

• Meanwhile, on ABC Mornings ...

Leon’s musings- a game changer?

Tom Baxter changed the direction of the discussion on forestry reform on Mornings today.

The Lecturer in Corporate Governance at UTAS articulated the concerns of the parliamentary Greens.

His hypothesis, that the deal signed on the weekend between Labor- State and Federal- could mean foresters get compensation… but little changes in the industry.

Or that the industry gets support, but the ultimate exchange being proposed, the protection from logging of large new areas of forest, never passes the Tasmanian Legislative Council.

Do you acknowledge the concern?

The ENGO’s in the deal tentatively support what’s been announced on the weekend.  The parliamentary Greens don’t..I’d be interested how you respond to Tom Baxter’s comments on the risks that exist in the process…

Comments can be posted at:

Leon Compton’s blog relates to his interview today with Tom Baxter, which is amongst those at:

Topics include:

1) The risk that the State and Federal Governments provide upfront funding for industry, enabling the Legislative Council to then block reserve components of the Forest Principles package.

2) Will Hodgman’s call for compulsory acquisition of the Triabunna wood chip mill from its new owners (The Mercury, 23 July 2011).

3) Tom Baxter’s view that Gunns’ long term wood supply contracts for pulpwood and sawlog/veneer can be terminated by Forestry Tasmania without Gunns being bought out.

• Pulp the Mill, Friends of the Tamar Valley ...

In response to the latest Forest Peace talks announcement by Bill Kelty, Lucy Landon-Lane, spokeswoman for Pulp the Mill said, “While we whole heartedly welcome a potential end to the conflict over the use/abuse of Tasmania’s forests, we will not accept a Tamar Valley pulp mill as part of the solution.”

“As we have repeatedly said before, this pulp mill has not been adequately and independently assessed, and will never have a social licence. 

While the project has been granted state and federal permits to operate, the assessment process was corrupted when it was fast tracked in 2007.  Issues such as odour; economic impacts on sustainable agricultural industry in the Tamar Valley; effluent impacts on the coast and Tamar River; road traffic issues; and air pollution have simply not been addressed in ways that the community can trust.”  she concluded.

Judith King, from Friends of the Tamar Valley added,  “Unfortunately the Forest Agreement does not have the support of many community groups and other stakeholders which have been excluded from the process.  An open and inclusive process –in which the Tasmanian community can participate - is what is required.  The serious concerns of the residents of the Tamar Valley must be taken into account.”