*Pic: Paul Harriss on an earlier trip to Sarawak. ( Image, Sarawak Report, here )
Tasmania has a new Liberal Minister for Forests fresh from the Upper House of the Tasmanian Parliament where the Tasmanian Forests Agreement Bill was both scrutinised and amended under his all-powerful authority as the Chair of the scrutinising Committee.
This Bill when approved by the Upper House saw Ta Ann receive $26 million to surrender contracts for sawlogs granted to it free by the then CEO of Forestry Tasmania and now CEO of Ta Ann, one Evan Rolley.
Under Harriss, alterations to the Bill were made but this sum was not seemingly disputed and has, I believe, been paid in full.
Harriss has had a long working relationship with Ta Ann from his position as the representative for the Huon in the Tasmanian Upper House. Educated at Huonville High School the Huon Valley has always been his stamping ground, a possible reason for Ta Ann siting its veneer mill on his patch. It is in this context that Harriss declared to parliament that he had been in receipt of both money and airfares from Ta Ann in Sarawak before he wrote a glowing Foreword using his address in Parliament to the 2011 Ta Ann Sarawak Annual Report.
In which in part he states:
“.....We also see this in Tasmania where Ta Ann Tasmania Rotary Peel Veneer Mills maximise resource use by extracting high value veneer from a low quality resource that would otherwise be made into wood chips…....”
Is his statement from a Tasmanian viewpoint True or False?
According to its tax returns FYE 2012 Ta Ann Tasmania Pty Ltd has lost some $26.8 million dollars since it opened in Tasmania in 2007/8 when the Labor Lennon Government paid this mendicant company $10 million to set up under the TCFA; Rudd gave a further $7.5 million for extensions to the Smithton Veneer factory just before the 2013 election; so with the Tasmanian Forest Agreement money nearly $45 million in public money has been gifted to this loss-making company which has yet to pay income tax in Australia.
I suggest that Ta Ann Tasmania Pty Ltd - a wholly-owned subsidiary - makes these losses in order to take the profit engendered by its Tasmanian operations in its parent’s own low-cost and tax-advantageous home State of Sarawak.
Evidence for this is that over the past four years, sales which are made seemingly only to the parent company in Sarawak, have totalled $145 million for the use of some 1 million tonnes of Tasmanian timber from their-then quota of 290,000 tonnes per annum. This values the product at $145 per tonne - not much better than the money received from woodchips; all in exchange for the finest logs in our public native forests, and not as originally intended from regrowth and plantations.
What do we receive in return?
You need a powerfully placed polly on your side to keep a gravy train of this size on the rails.
Is Harriss that man?
If so what part will Harriss play in the future over more largesse from the taxpayer to this a foreign-owned company?
Harriss is legislating to roll back protection agreed by him under the TFA to Tasmania’s World Heritage protected forests using his new ministerial authority to reverse his previous position. When and if this is achieved will Ta Ann quotas be reinstated by the Minister? If so will Minister Harris demand a refund of the $26 million gifted for the surrender of quotas as approved by him as Chair of the Committee in the Upper House?
If not why not?
Will the Greens in Parliament press Harriss over his relationship with Ta Ann or will they be content to work with Harriss as they worked with Green, the previous Labor Minister of Forests now Leader of the Opposition - a man who has been before the Tasmanian courts no less than three times?
The behaviour of Green, the former Minister; Harriss, Chair of the Upper House reviewing Committee; Rolley, grantee of the contracts; and Abetz, who visited Ta Ann in Sarawak for as yet no return on Tasmania’s natural assets, is surely worthy of Parliamentary scrutiny.
Where is the Examiner?
Where is the Mercury ?
Where is the ABC?
Shame on you Media Persons.
In a normal democratic society these matters must be considered of note; even newsworthy.
But seemingly not in your corrupt Tasmania.
• Bob Brown Foundation: Notorious Sarawak Timber Company receives Australian taxpayer handout “Ta Ann Tasmania has again secured funding from the Australian Government. Almost $45 million in public money has been gifted to this loss-making company since they arrived in Tasmania. Ta Ann is saying they will grow their markets in Australia with a new plywood mill to be built in Tasmania’s north-west:” • Ta Ann has secured $7.5 million in federal funding to build a plywood mill in Tasmania’s north-west, ABC here.
• John Hawkins, in Comments: Wilkinson and Hall together with others in the Tasmanian Upper House set up our Corruption Commission with terms of reference that allowed all the pollies to throw away their dentures. So far it has been a great success. Tasmanian Pollies buy our votes with impunity, 45 million to Ta Ann with its 80 employees, 18 million to one the world’s biggest and richest companies, Cadbury to fund a museum, 50 million to the Macquarie owned Airport in Hobart for a runway extension, even Abetz last week handing over I think it was $600,000 to the Sandy Bay sailing club under the TFA. That is over 100 million of taxpayers money gone just like that to private enterprise. It is our money used to buy our vote and now the Liberal tax man cometh and we are all going to pay our tithe to help the so called cause. Backs to the wheel boys and girls enjoy the pain. Pain is a real promise, a core promise, a promise never to be broken and an irrefutable fact. Always remember it is the fault of the Greens!
• John Young, Mercury: Story needs a happy ending BEFORE we tear up the Tasmanian Forests Agreement there are questions to be answered. These have been asked repeatedly by organisations not invited to the forest peace talks. They are: 1. HAS an audit of the Specialty Craft and Timber Zones been done to assess the annual quantity of specialty timbers that can be extracted on a sustainable basis? 2. WHAT harvesting methods will be used in those areas — clear-felling, patch-felling, cable logging or single-stem extraction? 3. WHAT was the agreed definition of the word “sustainable”? With these questions hanging in the air, I fear returning to World Heritage Areas for timber production would lead rapidly to resumption of clear-felling, burning “residue” and replacing the wet mixed forests with a eucalypt monoculture focused on woodchip production. In Tasmania’s mixed wet forest, ecological structure is vital to the retention of quality. The virtues of celery top pine, for example — strength, dimensional stability, durability — arise from its ecological neighbourhood. • Mercury here