Image for The ANU graduates of 1975, Forestry Tasmania, Ta Ann Tasmania  and Captain Rolley

*Pic: The Circular Head Chronicle’s picture of Evan Rolley, CH Mayor Darryl Quilliam, Federal Lib MP Brett Whiteley and Hamed Sepawi ... from the CHC HERE

Andrew Wilkie spoke to and tabled my document, A Background to Forestry in Tasmania in Federal Parliament on 4 June 2015. As a result Evan Rolley, CEO of Ta Ann Tasmania, was granted a Citizen’s Right of Reply by the House of Representatives Committee of Privileges and Members’ Interests. This reply has been incorporated in Hansard without the mention of my name.

Rolley states in his Citizen’s Right of Reply, that: The documents presented by Mr Wilkie …. contain numerous serious errors of fact, make defamatory references without foundation and are based on popular conspiracy theories.

Rolley further states:

I personally remain, as always, willing to answer any questions on matters of fact raised in any parliamentary inquiry at any time.

This may be an opportune time to take up Mr Rolley’s offer resulting in Mr Andrew Wilkie MP calling him to appear before the Bar of the Parliament to determine the extent of the alleged: serious errors of fact and the defamatory references without foundation…. based on popular conspiracy theories.

I hereby request the right to defend my good name and reputation in this a matter of great public interest to all Tasmanians.

In the interests of democracy and good governance I am most willing to explain and interpret the content of; Background to Forestry in Tasmania, by subjecting myself to examination before the Bar of Parliament by any Tasmanian Member with a detailed knowledge of the subject, thereby providing a real-time example of democracy at work.

Between 1973 and 1979 a number of graduates from the ANU School of Forestry left that University to become key players in the Tasmanian Forest industry. Most of these graduates eventually operated in very senior positions under the umbrella of their employer, the GBE Forestry Tasmania, or attained very senior positions associated with the forestry industry in this state.

Those employed by Forestry Tasmania have presided over the passage of this once vital and important business into virtual bankruptcy at huge financial cost to this state.

Hans Drielsma. Graduated 1973

Abdul Hamed Sepawi. Attended did not graduate 1974 – 1975

Evan Rolley. Graduated 1975

Christopher Robert Mitchell. Graduated 1976

Paul Robert Cowper Smith. Graduated 1976

Andrew John Blakesley. Graduated 1977

Graham Richard Wilkinson. Graduated 1977

Kimberley Richard John Creak Graduated 1978

Robert Lindsay Gordon. Graduated 1978

It is of interest that two of these graduates attended the same course at the same University at the same time over forty years ago and that they are still closely aligned in the loss-making company that is Ta Ann Tasmania, namely as Executive Director (Rolley) and Major Shareholder (Sepawi). 

Evan Rolley

1953: Born Victoria, Father Walter Rolley Methodist Minister, Grand Master of the United Lodge of Victoria

24 April 1975: Graduated from ANU School of Forestry and commenced work with The Forestry Commission (now Forestry Tasmania) as Field Officer, Smithton, then District Officer Launceston.

1977 -1981: BA Econ. and Arts, UTAS Launceston

1982-1986: Forest Information Officer. 

1986-1987: Chief Forest Practices Officer, overseeing the first Forest Practices Code.

1987-1990: Commissioner of Private Forests and Operations.

1990-1994: Chief Commissioner of the Tasmanian Forestry Commission.

1994 – 2006: Managing Director Forestry Tasmania. In my view he created a high-volume, low-value, price-taking GBE that has proved to be both an ecological and financial disaster.

25 April 2003:  Then-Premier of Tasmania, Paul Lennon, opens Southwood site on the Huon.

2005 -2006:  Rolley as MD of FT, assisted in the spending of $135 million of Government money, gifted under the Tasmanian Community Forest Agreement to create an Investment Ready site at Southwood. The eventual tenant was to be Ta Ann, a company from Sarawak with a dubious reputation over clearfelling and logging and controlled by Hamed Sepawi.

2005: Rolley drew up a Memorandum of Understanding with Ta Ann Berhad of Sarawak.

2006: Captain Rolley - a nickname apparently used by Hamed Sepawi.

Rolley as MD of FT would have obtained advice on the drafting of the Huon and Smithton Wood Supply Agreements and was responsible for the Take-or-Pay Contracts concluded with Ta Ann. Importantly the specification and price of the Peeler Billets supplied under these contracts is redacted and protected from FOI even after a case brought before the Ombudsman; a case opposed by Rolley and defended by Drielsma and Gordon on behalf of FT.

Sept 2007 - June 2008:  Rolley appointed Secretary to the Department of Premier and Cabinet Tasmania under Premier Paul Lennon.

17 April 2008: Ombudsman Alston noted that Gordon and Drielsma had stated that Forestry Tasmania had spent over ten years negotiating the establishment of rotary veneer mills at Southwood and Smithton. This would suggest a possible connection with Sepawi/Ta Ann Sarawak going back to at least 1998.

26 May 2008: Lennon resigns

June 2nd 2008: Rolley apparently moved on by new Premier David Bartlett.

July 2008 – June 2009: Rolley granted $45,500 to report on Social Inclusion and Homelessness … an area in which he appears to me to have little or no expertise.

July 2009 – June 2010: Rolley Granted a further $238,000 to report on Social Inclusion and Homelessness. May we see this costly Rolley Report? There is absolutely no trace on the web?

November 2009- 2015:  Director of loss making GBE Tas Ports.

2012: Accepted job as Executive Director of Ta Ann from his ANU University colleague Hamed Sepawi.

Abdul Hamed Sepawi

1971: Graduated BSc (Hons University Malaya)

1974 -1975: Pursued undergraduate studies in forestry at the Australian National University Canberra and later obtained an MSc in Forest Products from Oregon State University USA.

1993: Ta Ann Plywood Sdn Berhad established in Sarawak.

23 Nov 1999: Ta Ann Holdings Berhad listed as a public Company with 50,000 ha under oil palm located between Sibu and Bintulu. Sepawi was a cousin of the Chief Minister Taib. The palm oil asset was in part the result of the privatisation of state-owned enterprises. Sepawi is also Chairman of the non-listed company Sarawak Energy Berhad, a company with links to Hydro Tasmania.

2006: The first sod turned by Lennon for the proposed new Ta Ann Tasmania factory site to be built on the $135 million Investment Ready Southwood location. The factory received $10.4 million from the Lennon Government for its construction from public money.

30 March 2006: Mercury report by Sue Neales:

The key to his [Sepawi] company coming to Tasmania was the cheap price of timber on offer from Forestry Tasmania … relatively speaking the wood here is slightly cheaper than we are used to buying even including the higher transport costs to get it to our factories in Eastern Malaysia … locked in for the next 15 years.

Sepawi’s fixed labour costs in Tasmania when compared with Sarawak would indicate that the peeler billets supplied to Ta Ann Tasmania by Forestry Tasmania have been contracted at a very, very cheap price, a price protected by commercial-in-confidence clauses that is bankrupting Forestry Tasmania in my view.

15 Mar 2012: Rolley appointed Executive Director of Ta Ann Tasmania and negotiates partial cancellation of the contract he - as CEO of Forestry Tasmania - had granted to his current employer at a cost of $28.6million paid to Ta Ann Tasmania by the taxpayers of Australia. A further $7.5 million was to be paid to extend the Ta Ann factory at Smithton.

I have the following Questions for Mr Wilkie MP to table in Federal Parliament to Mr Rolley regarding his now-incorporated in Hansard, Citizen’s Right of Reply.

- Did he (Mr Rolley) know Hamed Sepawi at the ANU in 1974/5?

- Have they maintained contact since leaving University, if so in what way?

- Did they commence discussions in 1998 over Sepawi’s firm occupying the $135 million Investment Ready Southwood site in Tasmania as suggested by Commissioner Alston as a result of evidence tendered by Gordon and Drielsma in a FOI request?

- Will Ta Ann Tasmania place the Peeler Billet supply contracts signed by Rolley on behalf of Forestry Tasmania before Parliament? The redacted prices concealed within these contracts are seemingly forcing Forestry Tasmania slowly but surely into bankruptcy.

Rolley states in his Citizens Reply:

Forestry Tasmania and Ta Ann Tasmania have operated both ethically and legally in their commercial dealings that arose from a competitive process.

•  Rolley will you supply to the Parliament the other expressions of interest supplied by these competing interests over the Southwood site and the Peeler Billet contracts?

• Were these competing interests also offered a free $10.4 million dollar subsidy as with Ta Ann to build a factory on the Southwood site by the-then Premier Lennon as an inducement to complete, if not why not?

• Rolley you disclose the real rate of return to FT on the $135 million invested in the Southwood site as reflected in the lease for 10 years with an option to renew for 99 years granted to Ta Ann Tasmania when you were MD of FT?

• I request that this lease be tabled before Parliament?

Rolley states in his Citizens Reply:

Wood supply agreements were backed by independently verified sustainable log supply reviews. None of these reviews have been shown to be wrong.

This statement may be interpreted in two ways:

Firstly That Rolley is not aware of The Independent Verification Group Wood Supply Review that stated: The new modelling shows Tasmania’s public native forests cannot supply the contracted amount of Ta Ann Peelers under any scenario,

or of the Professor Jonathan West Report tabled before Parliament [later discredited by Tasmania’s pro-logging Parliaments led by (former Minister for Forests) Paul Harriss] that considered that FT was logging the available public forests at twice the sustainable rate?

Secondly Is Rolley referring to Forestry Tasmania’s internal reports/reviews on forest capacity? If so who wrote them, who paid for them and why are they not in the public domain; for they apparently cannot be right. If they were expert reports/reviews and they were right why did the public pay $28.6 million for the lack of capacity to deliver the contracted billets from Tasmania’s public forests?

• The documents A Background to Forestry in Tasmania by J B Hawkins may be viewed at A Background to Forestry in Tasmania: HERE

• Rolley’s Citizen’s Right of Reply may be viewed at: Citizen’s Right of Reply: HERE

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Hamed Sepawi – Cousin of Abdul Taib Mahmud

Sarawak Report: Where’s The Change? Taib Family Continues Land Grabbing In Sarawak report broadcast by Radio Free Sarawak, has exposed ongoing land grabbing by the family of former Sarawak Chief Minister, now Governor, Abdul Taib Mahmud. The increasing number of land disputes highlighted on the radio show fly in the face of current Chief Minister Adenan Satem’s promise of reforms. This latest land grab involves Taib’s first cousin and known proxy, Hamed Sepawi, whom Sarawak Report has previously exposed for a number of controversial land-grabs from Sarawak to Liberia and even Tasmania. In June 2011, Malaysia’s Anti-Corruption Commission opened investigations into Taib for corruption. The findings of which have not been made public. Adenan Satem received praise in 2014, when he gathered the tycoons of the state’s six biggest logging firms, (including the Sepawi-linked companies Samling and Ta Ann) and publicly accused them of using “corrupt practices”. And in July of last year, Adenan declared that there would be “No more plantations. No more encroachment or conversion of natural forests into estates.” But fast forward to 2016 and communities and NGOs are starting to find out that not much has actually changed on the ground. Upreshpal Singh from the Malaysian NGO Friends of the Orangutans (FOTO) recently told Sarawak Report that …