Image for Triabunna deal needs federal intervention

The Federal Government seems incredibly naïve when it comes to the history and culture of cronyism in the forest industry in Tasmania, but ignorance is no excuse when it comes to the spending of public money, Australian Greens Senator Christine Milne said today.

“No Commonwealth funding should flow to Tasmania from any forest agreement until the whole murky deal surrounding the Triabunna woodchip mill is exposed.

“Yesterday I asked federal Forestry Minister, Joe Ludwig to say what he knows about Forestry Tasmania guaranteeing the supply of wood for the Triabunna mill in the light of revelations that Forestry Tasmania had entered into a profit sharing arrangement with the chip mill buyer, Aprin.

“Here we have the Federal Government being asked to bankroll an end to logging in Tasmania and a Forest Principles Agreement which has “no new contracts” as a benchmark, and Forestry Tasmania actively undermining that agreement with what is effectively a new contract with its “profit sharing agreement.

“Loss sharing agreement is more likely.

“At the same time the public is being told that the Tasmanian government approached Aprin to seek loan funding for the purchase of the mill.

“Which Minister in Tasmania authorised the approach to Aprin?”

“Who else is behind the Fibre Plus company?”

“What is the loan amount under consideration and who is doing the due diligence on the loan application?”

“With the Auditor-General’s report into the financial and economic performance of Forestry Tasmania painting a clear picture of a native logging industry on its knees and these new revelations, it is time for some tough intervention from Canberra,” Senator Milne said.

• ABC Radio: Giddings says deal approved

No Taxpayer Money Yet Transferred
Kim Booth MP
Greens Forestry spokesperson
Thursday, 7 July 2011

The Tasmanian Greens today stepped up their campaign over Aprin’s loan application and sought to cut through the murk and uncertainty which surrounds this whole sorry affair, and asked the Minister for Economic Development, David O’Byrne MP, to come clean on precisely what was going on.

Greens Forestry spokesperson Kim Booth MP sought clarification over whether the risk to interest payments would reside with Forestry Tasmania or with Treasury, saying that information should be considered in the public interest.

Mr Booth also reiterated that it was due to the work of the Greens Economic Development spokesperson, Tim Morris MP, that the Aprin loan process was exposed.

“Mr O’Byrne confirmed that no taxpayer money has yet been transferred from the Government or the Tasmanian Development Board to Aprin or it’s front company, Fibre Plus, and that the final determination has yet to be made due to conditions precedent still outstanding, which was good to hear.”

“In this regard, the process remains underway, nothing has changed, and therefore my statements regarding any potential future no-confidence motion in the event of this loan being finalized, and money being handed over, stands unchanged.”

“The Minister was unable or unwilling to say whether the loan, if it goes ahead, has been structured in such a way that, in the event that the borrower, Aprin, is unable to make a profit, the interest will not be payable, but, in fact, will be borne by another party.”

“Minister O’Byrne was also unable to say if it would be the public purse that would be assuming that interest risk, through Forestry Tasmania or the Department of Economic Development taking on exposure to the loan.”

“Whether this loan proceeds or not, the Greens intend to get to the bottom of exactly what is being cooked up here with Forestry Tasmania’s involvement.”

“This protracted affair is yet another chapter in the ongoing sorry saga of Tasmania’s unviable forest industry, where Forestry Tasmania appears determined to entrench the woodchipping status quo, at the expense of the widely recognized necessary industry transition,” Mr Booth said.

• Mercury: Booth holds fire

Booth holds fire on spill

  DAVID KILLICK   |  July 08, 2011 12.01am

GREENS MP Kim Booth’s threat to topple the Government has been postponed.

In the last sitting day of State Parliament yesterday before the winter recess, Mr Booth did not bring on his much-anticipated no-confidence motion, despite taunts from the Opposition.

Mr Booth says he doesn’t believe the prospective buyers of the Triabunna woodchip will meet the conditions of the government loan he so vehemently opposes.

“Until such time as there’s money actually changing hands and the final conditions have been met I won’t be bringing on a no-confidence motion because it serves no purpose,” he said.

“I think it’s a cynical move for the Government to get involved in a grubby deal like this.

“I think all Tasmanians are horrified, at a time when electricity prices are rising and all sorts of cutbacks to front-line services are occurring, that the Government would be involved in a behind-the-scenes grubby deal to buy a woodchip mill with public funds.

“But if this deal proceeds I will move a no-confidence motion in the Government.”

Liberal leader Will Hodgman was angry that Mr Booth didn’t make good on his threat.

The Liberal Party supports the Fibre Plus loan but remains open to supporting a no-confidence motion.

“Kim Booth has shown himself to have no heart and no conviction,” Mr Hodgman said.

“He has now joined the rest of the Greens as being a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Labor Government.

“The last true Green with any standards and any principles has checked out and he’s checked his principles in at the door.”

Amid taunting from the Opposition benches, Greens leader Nick McKim challenged the Liberal Party to bring on a motion of its own.

“If you’re so keen why don’t you move one yourselves?” he said.

“Show some guts for once. Have you got the guts? Have you got the ticker?

Mercury HERE

First published: 2011-07-07 11:18 AM

Bid to gauge forest value

THE State Government is set to begin a $250,000 survey to tally up the worth of carbon in Tasmania’s state forests.

The Forest Carbon Study will put a value on the state’s forests, including managed forests and conserved areas.

The Government is expected to put the carbon survey out for tender soon, with a result expected before the end of the year.

Premier Lara Giddings said the study would ensure that any future approach to determine the amount of carbon stored in the state’s forests was rigorous and that it was based on the best available science.

Read more HERE