It is remarkable how differently people can interpret the same image.
When Alan Duggan views Sam Rosewarne’s iconic photograph of the ‘conga line’ of log trucks blocked from unloading at the Triabunna woodchip mill he thinks of lost taxes and the impact on health and education budgets of the lost revenue. (Mercury letters, 8/12).
The logs, no doubt, have largely been harvested in clearfelling operations in State forests, publicly-owned assets.
Tasmanian people are right to expect that our Government will ensure that Forestry Tasmania manages our assets in a way that provides most benefit to us, the owners.
We should expect that a fair return from the economic windfall of such harvests, by Gunns Limited or anyone else, would be to State coffers.
Actuary Naomi Edwards, in May this year, tried to answer the question; What would represent a reasonable target return on equity for forestry operations in State forests?
Edwards’ research suggests that we should have reasonably expected an annual return of around $43 million to Treasury by Forestry Tasmania (FT) from it’s commercial forest operations.
ForestsSA (the South Australian Forest Corporation) returned $45 million to that State in 2010 on a smaller revenue and sales base than FT.
At the time of her report FT’s return to the State had been zero for 3 of the previous 4 years. On the one occasion that there was a return to Treasury it was $1.3 million.
Management of non commercial zones costs at most $9 million and therefore cannot account for FT’s poor financial performance.
If $43 million annually was injected into the State budget then, for instance, 500 public sector jobs (at an average of $87 thousand per annum) could be created.
• Saturday on Tasmanian Times: Geoff Law: The extraordinary incompetence of Forestry Tasmania