I read with interest an article in August 3rd Mercury with the headline Forest Action Warning. When will these people stop? The anti-forestry movement has always wanted down stream processing which they will have with the plantation based pulp mill and yet they are meeting on Monday to form strategies to stop it!
They say that the forests are threatened. Perhaps it is time that they realised that we (the people) are the threatened species. Figures are thrown around that there is only 2 - 2,500 direct and indirect jobs involved in native forest logging.
I believe there is no accurate data as to the exact number of people in Tasmania who work in the forest industry. An example is log truck drivers. In statistical data they are classified as transport workers. The employees of Forestry Tasmania are public servants. What about the people who indirectly work in the forest industy like the engineering sector who maintain the trucks and build trailers; the people at the tyre outlets; the cafes and roadhouses around the State that relied on the drivers and bush workers; the fuel outlets.
I was told today that one maintenance workshop has lost half their work. One doesn’t have to be very clever to work out that will ultimately equate to half their workforce! This is the type of business that produces our future tradesmen and women (welders, fitters and turners, etc). Can this type of business continue to employ apprentices in the present circumstances. I seriously doubt it. Has consideration been given to the loss of work for accountants, solicitors, financial planners and others? If people don’t have businesses then they don’t need those services. What effect will that have on our office work force. I’d be game to bet you that there are not too many people working in offices like these that have ever considered themselves part of the forest industry!
The anti-forestry movement really have no idea what ‘stopping the chainsaws’ will do to our total economy. How do we make them realise that? How do we make the rest of the world realise that Tasmania still has trees. A comment was made recently by someone from England that they thought that there were no trees in Tasmania.
How do we make the people in Sydney and Melbourne who are supporting Bob Brown and the Greens realise that Tasmania is not their plaything to do with what they want? How do we make both the State and Federal Governments realise that it is not about ‘bail out’ money. “Bail out” money won’t help the indirect businesses. Many of those will simply go broke with the subsequent massive loss of employment.
People in the forest industry whether directly or indirectly don’t want to be baristas and tour guides. They just want to go and do what is best for the industry. Many of these people have only known the industry. How do they retrain at 50 or 60 years of age to do a new job. It is time that Governments, the anti-forestry movement and everyone else in this State got real about the industry that has been supporting Tasmanian families for decades.
The Premier can put all the spin on it she likes (the world doesn’t want woodchips etc) . The reality is the world still needs woodchips but the problem has been the campaign by the Green movement for them not to take Tasmanian woodchips.
It seems to me that the Green movement has a severe case of NIMBY. They want to stop our well-managed industry but they don’t appear to care what happens to forests around the world as a result. Where do they think the paper comes from that they use to write the letters, to do their signs etc to stop our industry.
I have been involved in the forest industry in one way or another for more than 40 years. I was the first female on the site at the Triabunna woodchip mill in December 1970 and worked there for a total of 10 years. My husband and I ran the Stihl chainsaw dealership in Triabunna for almost 19 years and I now work for arguably the best logging trailer builder in Australia.
The forest industry and those who work in it deserve admiration not condemnation. We need our native forest industry to continue. Our sawmillers and specialist timber users rely on it and our State economy relies on both the direct and indirect employment.