Mr Hall - Madam President, by interjection, when you refer to Forestry Tasmania the other irony of the whole matter and criticism of FT is that the Greens support ecotourism but if it wasn’t for FT and their CSOs, we probably would not have any walking tracks up in the Western Tiers and many other places. FT does a marvellous job; they do a terrific job with that sort of thing.
Mr HARRISS - And roads for the beekeepers and tourists to get into and out of. We jump on the Hydro roads, don’t we, when we go out to Strathgordon and all those places up through the Central Highlands. Are we critical of those? Some are critical of what Hydro Tasmania does. The criticisms to which I have been subjected in recent times, I could wear that because I know what the truth is. I do not have to feel uncomfortable with myself because I know what the truth is. I am very comfortable with my position as to the forest industry in Tasmania and, indeed, my support of Ta Ann because I have actually seen it.
It is a matter of public record that in 2006 I went there on a taxpayer-funded trip because Ta Ann were talking about coming to Tasmania and investing in the Huon. Back in those days, of course, we had $3 000 per year travel allowance and we could use it for discretionary travel. We had to write a report, had to pay for it ourselves, write a report, get the report signed off by the President and then be reimbursed. My cost of travelling to Malaysia in 2006 was more than $3 000 so it cost me, but I was prepared because it was an important potential investment to the Huon district and indeed to the broader Tasmania. I had only seen what happened in their veneer peeling and plywood manufacture plant. I wanted to see what happened in the forests. I wanted to talk to the indigenous people. I wanted to talk to the World Wildlife Fund. I set the agenda for the second visit. Anyway, it is on the public record; if Mr Booth had bothered to either listen or ask or read the Hansard from previous times, he would have known the truth.
It was my agenda upon which I travelled to Malaysia. Yes, I did meet with the Penan people, their leaders. All of this garbage, these lies that are trotted out by the Huon Valley Environment Centre, by members of parliament who want to knock down Ta Ann because they are the new Gunns; they are the big player in the field at the moment needing about 260 000-odd cubic metres of peeler log; if you can knock them down well clearly you are going to put a big dent in our forest industry. So, on the back of a venomous article written in the Huon Valley News by one Adam Burling, who works in Senator Bob Brown’s office, whose partner runs the Huon Valley Environment Centre - talk about the incestuous nature of that process! Adam Burling wrote this piece in the Huon Valley News. When I saw it I was incensed. It bordered on racism because it accused - you see, they use the flowery words, they never say, ‘This is what Ta Ann does’ and ‘This is what the Government of Malaysia does’, they say, ‘Logging practices in Malaysia are -
Ms Rattray - Questionable.
Mr HARRISS - ‘Questionable’ is the word, you are right. That is what they do. So then they say that, by connection, Ta Ann’s operations in Tasmania are also questionable. They then say the chief minister in Sarawak is corrupt. Well, there are elections over there, I do not see any uprising to get the bloke out of the place. I have never met him but these are the allegations. There is the Previous HitTasmanianNext Hit Times, the garbage media component to what happens around here in Tasmania. Read it if you want to waste your time, but there it is, trotting it out day in, day out, and people have drawn their own conclusions. Some idiot suggested that I was supposedly there on holiday. I never said I was there on holiday, so then they pick up a newspaper article because I am standing there having a chat with the minister and the Director of Forests at the time, the equivalent of our Forestry Tasmania, and they say, ‘Here he is hobnobbing with one of the chief minister’s chief henchmen and he is corrupt as well. If he was on holidays he would not have had a suit, he would not have been hobnobbing.’ Well, I could live with that because it is just a load of garbage anyway.
But I went because Adam Burling was venomous and he told lies about what Ta Ann does here in Tasmania and what they do over there - things like displacing the indigenous Penan, destroying orangutan habitat for palm oil plantations - and I wanted to understand whether that was true - and generally destroying the environment. So yes, I met with the Penan elders, I spoke with the World Wildlife Fund. They are the pre-eminent environmental watchdog in Malaysia. I have said from this lectern before, Madam President, they set Ta Ann at the pinnacle of forest operations in Malaysia. Not only does Ta Ann not destroy orangutan habitat, because first of all it is illegal, but they actually contribute to the fostering and adoption program of orangutan out of challenged areas of Malaysia into some of the orangutan parks in Malaysia. That costs them more than one full-time equivalent employee in the equivalent of our Forestry Tasmania over there to monitor and help progress that program.
And indeed, where Ta Ann are developing their oil-palm plantations on the peat areas, on the lower grounds, it is not conducive for orangutan habitat at all. I said to the Ta Ann people here in Tasmania, when I read that article by Mr Burling, that I wanted to satisfy myself whether any of his allegations had any validity, because if they did I would not be going out on a limb to support Ta Ann. So I have been and I have seen, and from my observations nothing could be further from the truth, and yet as recently as yesterday we heard it yet again, Previous HitTasmanianNext Hit Times belting out the same old garbage.
Madam President, still on the forestry notion and because it is a matter for economic development in this State and the nation in fact, and if we do not do something about it, then we are fools, I want to talk about Mr Oakeshott in the Federal Parliament who has moved to disallow the regulations that prohibit the combustion of native forest residues for the generation of power. Twelve months ago the combustion of native forest residues for the generation of power was considered green power because it stacks up environmentally. But when the Greens did their deal with the current Prime Minister, Ms Gillard, part of that deal was clearly that native forest residues could no longer be burnt for the generation of green power. But we allow the burning of plantation residues for green power. So when Gunns pulp mill gets on line they will be able to burn the residues of their plantations. I do not understand what the difference is between the emissions into the atmosphere from plantation eucalypts compared to native forest eucalypts. There is no difference at all. Again, it a matter of ideology. So one would hope that Mr Oakeshott’s move in the Federal Parliament to disallow those regulations will find the favour of the Parliament. I suppose they are the same as us and can disallow through one House, so I am presuming that it does not have to go to the Senate because if it had to go to the Senate then our great senator from Tasmania and his cohorts would probably knock it over.
I do not think it has to get there.
Mr Hall - By interjection, Madam President, green groups, and environmental groups overseas actually endorse that very concept - but not here in Australia.
Mr HARRISS - Yes, and honourable members will have an opportunity at a later time to take advantage of a presentation by Andrew Lang from Victoria about biomass power generation. He spoke at a forum that the honourable members for Pembroke and Mersey and I attended just a week or so ago. It was a very impressive presentation; he is part of the worldwide bioenergy network and he travels the world. Suffice to say that in support of what the honourable member for Western Tiers has just said, clearly the practice is acceptable all over the world. Do you know what? I have a document here in front of me which has the endorsement of the World Wildlife Fund for Nature as to the validity of biofuels in the European Union and I suspect that they will likewise be lending their support to Rob Oakeshott’s proposition that those regulations be disallowed.
I am looking at the article in the Australian newspaper, which was all about Mr Oakeshott’s proposal. This is what Senator Brown was reported as saying:
‘the removal of native forest waste, which is burnt to generate electricity, from the renewable energy target had been ‘critical’ to the Greens signing on to the Clean Energy Future package last July and that he had called Mr Oakeshott’ -
This was a couple of weeks ago -
‘.. and urged him to withdraw his motion ...’
There you go; in Senator Brown’s own words, the use of native forest residues for the generation of power, the removal of that as green energy, was critical to the Greens delivering to the current national Labor Government their opportunity to govern.
Critical. What the hell is the difference between a native forest and plantation?
Mr Dean - That is their strategy, isn’t it? They are moving away from that entirely.
Mr HARRISS - A very clever strategy too, because it is incremental. Native forest now, plantations next year and so it goes. Senator Brown says 80 per cent of people do not want native forests destroyed as the wood chip industry has done. 80 per cent - where the hell does he get that notion from? Where does he think that 80 per cent of people, and he uses that emotive term again, ‘don’t want them destroyed’? They are only being destroyed if you chop down trees in the native forest and never replace them. That is destruction. But they are just another crop.
Ms Forrest - You don’t use them to the full advantage, either. The whole purpose of maximising the return on any product is using as much as you can of it.
Mr HARRISS - Yes. That is right. That is the emotive term they use. But ‘80 per cent of people don’t want them destroyed’? Well, for the 80 per cent of people he talks to, maybe it is so. But go around the rest of Australia - goodness me, what is the Green vote across Australia? Probably less than 15 per cent.
Mr Dean - It is very low.
Mr HARRISS - Eighty-five per cent, one could argue, support the two major parties in this country who both have policies - well, they did have policies but their policies have been massaged somewhat by the political imperative of wanting to assume and stay in government. So what do you do through that process? You sell your soul.
Madam President, I was alarmed by again an editorial in the Mercury on 31 January. It is headed, ‘Many reasons to stand and fight’, and let me just read a couple of paragraphs:
‘Tasmania has no excuse for being one of the poorest and least productive states in the nation.
This island is blessed with natural resources.’
Our abalone industry, our rock lobster, our salmon industry.
‘A diverse range of mines here produce more than $2 billion in minerals each year.
We boast some of the nation’s most creative artists and writers - film-makers, poets, authors and painters.
We are a gateway to Antarctica’ -
and so it goes on. There is not one mention of a sustainable forest industry. They trot out all the other stuff that is good and yes, it is, but why not mention a sustainable forest industry as being part of our competitive advantage?
The Mercury has fallen for the trap as well. There you go, they talk about our salmon industry. What do the Previous HitTasmanianNext Hit Greens call our salmon industry? I quote from their policy platforms prior to the last election:
‘The salmon industry represents the battery hens of the sea.’
Where is the next target? If they get rid of forestry and if they are the battery hens of the sea and then they say:
‘Farming should be moved out of the water to land-based closed loop.’
Loop, all right.
Mr Wilkinson - Put a ‘y’ on the end of it.
Mr HARRISS - Yes, put a ‘y’ on the end of it and you have the answer.
Madam President, you can clearly see the agenda. With that sort of garbage being trotted out at the last election and, honourable Leader, you lot were dumb enough to go into partnership with them.
Mr Parkinson - The alternative was no good for Tasmania.
Mr HARRISS - What was the alternative?
Mr Parkinson - Hodgman and co.
Mr HARRISS - No, you do not get it either.
Dr Goodwin - That’s a matter of opinion.
Mr HARRISS - The alternative was for you lot to have the spine and go it alone. That was the alternative. Mr Bartlett was the incumbent Premier.
• Background: Earlier on Tasmanian Times:
How many trips has Paul Harriss had to Sarawak? We know about two. Were there more than two? According to one source, Harriss’s third trip was in 2010. Were they all to check out criticisms of Ta Ann, or would he like to retract what he said on ABC radio on 13 March? There was a report that Mr Harriss went on holiday in Sarawak, and even that he was representing the Tasmanian government, and that he paid at least one “courtesy call” to Ta Ann headquarters. It’s all a bit hard to sort out what was a holiday, what was not, how many trips, how many gifts, how much money changed hands and why ...?
We the people would like to know Ta very much.
From Peter Henning on Tasmanian Times: Paul Harriss’s altruistic trips to Sarawak, includes full links to earlier articles and downloadable details of Paul Harriss declarations, as provided by Tasmanian Greens
• What Paul Harriss told the Borneo Post ...
Tasmanian govt on mission to Sarawak
by Zoee Hillson. Posted on October 19, 2010, Tuesday
KUCHING: The Tasmanian government is on a fact-finding mission as part of an effort to refute allegations by environmentalist against Ta Ann Holdings Berhad’s operations in the Tasmania, Australia.
Member of the Tasmanian Legislative Council Andrew Paul Harriss said yesterday that allegations by some environmental groups against Ta Ann were scathing and unreasonable.
He also said the allegations were damaging to Ta Ann and the state’s timber industry as a whole.
“It’s fair to say that some environmental groups in Tasmania have been unreasonable and too critical of Ta Ann and they have tried to bring that back to forest practices in Sarawak.
“We seek to rebut that allegation based on proper information gathering and proper technical assessment,” he said when met by reporters after paying a courtesy call on Second Minister of Planning and Resource Management Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hassan at Wisma Sumber Alam here.
Harriss added that this was his third visit to the state to gain an insight intoTa Ann’s credibility and performance.
“So, we have a delegation here to understand exactly what Ta Ann logging practices are like in Sarawak and also the broader operation industry in Sarawak,” Harriss said.
“Ta Ann is a credible organisation and an organisation of integrity. I’m satisfied with that and this trip is just an upgrading of knowledge on the ongoing operations.
“We are satisfied with Ta Ann’s operations in the past and the information we gather this time confirms that satisfaction.”
He said they were very impressed with Ta Ann’s operations in Tasmania and added that the forest industry was the state’s fundamental economic driver.
“They’re employing many Tasmanians in the local community and 10 per cent of our total workforce in Tasmania is employed in the forest industry operations,” Harriss said.
He also said Tasmania was opening a wide opportunity for the forest industry operators from around the world, including from Sarawak.
VicForests director Robert Patrick Smith, Ta Ann Tasmania director David Riley and Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) chief executive officer Datu Len Talif Salleh were also present during the courtesy call.
• Download leaked report revealing contractual wood supply demands can’t be met even if no new reserves are created:
• Jan Davis, TFGA: Private foresters – the forgotten players
Today (March 21) is World Forestry Day. It marks the importance of forests and their sustainable management throughout the world.
Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association (TFGA) chief executive Jan Davis said today that in the ongoing debate over the future of Tasmania’s public forests, in the perpetual game of heroes and villains, people have tended to overlook those who manage the private forest estate here.
“They are the quiet achievers who are also the forgotten players, deeply affected by the forest wars,” she said.
The Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association represents the interests of 1600 private forest owners, who manage more than 850,000 hectares of privately-held native forest, a little over 27 per cent of Tasmania’s native forest estate.
Most of these forest owners are farmers. Their timber production contributes $500 million a year to Tasmania’s gross state product.
“Forestry is a vital component of many Tasmanian agricultural enterprises,” Ms Davis said.
“Its value to farming encompasses the range of uses from shelter to fine timber production. It is imperative that farmer-foresters retain all options for utilising high-grade native timber for saw logs and high-end uses, for carbon storage and other emerging forestry applications, and for using lesser timber and forest residues for pulp, electricity generation or to fill any other market.
“Any further limitations placed on access to public forests has to impact eventually on the private forest estate as more demands are placed upon it to fill the gaps,” she said.
“Yet, to date, we have been standing on the sidelines watching. Perhaps World Forestry Day can serve as a wake-up call.”
• SENATOR THE HON RICHARD COLBECK
Senator for Tasmania
Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Fisheries and Forestry
Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Innovation, Industry and Science
21 March, 2012
World Forestry Day
Senator COLBECK (Tasmania) (13:37): I rise on a matter of public interest: World Forestry Day, which occurs today, 21 March.
This is the 43rd World Forestry Day, which was first observed in November 1971 by the International Food and Agriculture Organisation at the request of the European Confederation of Agriculture. Since then, many countries such as Switzerland, Nigeria, Finland and the United States of America have supported World Forestry Day and it is something I would like to recognise today.
In preparation for today’s event we put together, in my office, a little Facebook page inviting people to come forward and give information on why they love wood, the product of our forest industry. We titled the site, ‘Wood—how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.’ I must acknowledge the author of the quote, Elizabeth Barrett Browning. It was an opportunity for people to come forward and talk to us about their interaction with wood and timber and the industry that they are involved with. The variances of how people decided to interact with us on that site were quite enlightening.
Clarissa Brandt from Brisbane said to us that she loved her wooden spoons when she was cooking. Kaara Shaw from Queensland said that she recognised electricity poles that brought the power to her home, and as someone on the land mentioned the split posts and the strainers that were part of their farm environment. I certainly recall a harvesting for split posts and strainers when I was living on the farm but, more strenuously, putting the straining posts into the ground to build the fences. And there is something we all take for granted: toilet paper. She wondered whether there was anything that could replace it. It is a good question.
Sally Chandler from Devonport in Tasmania talked about her amazing celery-top pine kitchen. I have seen that kitchen. It is a wonderful place for the family’s communal activities. John Clarke talked to us about how he loved sitting at his Marri timber table on his jarrah floor, looking at his timber deck, dreaming of the winter to come and the wood fire glowing in the fireplace. Even more, he said, ‘I love the fact that all these wood products will be available forever, provided they’re not locked away and all our forests locked up.’
George Harris aka Merlin from Tasmania talked about Cary Lewincamp, at the Salamanca market, playing his semi-acoustic guitar made by Gary Rizzolo. George posted on the website some absolutely magnificent examples of the guitars Gary makes, including one called a Thylacine. It is a magnificent piece of art as well as a wonderful instrument. I have been challenged to play the air guitar here in the chamber this afternoon. It would not come up too well in Hansard. I told George that I might be prepared to have a crack at the Thylacine, which he will give me an opportunity to try when I next go to Hobart.
Tamara Campbell talked about how she loved her wooden door, which welcomed her when she came home. Graham McAlpine from Western Australia said, ‘I am originally a carpenter and joiner by trade and had the fortune to learn my skills from English tradesmen. A deep oneness with wood and timber I have from them. I grew up and now enjoy in nature the appreciation for fine timber.’ As a carpenter and joiner myself I can very much sympathise with those sentiments.
I took the opportunity to post a few things onto the website myself, including a piece of music I enjoy from the Brothers in Arms performance by Dire Straits. Just imagine Mark Knofler in that particular circumstance, playing with a brilliant orchestra but having no guitar made of wood. In fact, in that clip there was a violin, a cello, a harp, a tambourine and a piano. Even the conductor’s batten was made out of timber. All these things are features of our forest industry. Trevor Brown, who is not always successful as a woodworker, said he cannot throw his failed metalwork projects on the fire but he can keep warm with his failed woodwork projects.
Tim Bartels posted from the Netherlands a quite extraordinary photograph of a bridge called the Moses Bridge, which is made of acetylated wood. It is submerged up to the
railings. It is quite an extraordinary picture. I encourage people to go onto the ‘Wood—how do I love thee? Let me count the ways’ site and have a look at these things.
David Houghton talked about eating his breakfast seated on Tasmanian blackwood chairs at a Tasmanian blackwood table and using a wooden pepper grinder ‘to add to my lightly poached eggs on toast’. He had a knife with a wooden handle to cut the bread and a wooden handled knife to cut the toast. The cutlery is stored in a Huon pine cabinet along with the paper serviettes—of course, made from wood. John Innes from Vancouver in British Colombia posted an absolutely magnificent series of photographs of the faculty of forestry at the University of British Colombia, which is regarded as one of the coolest places on campus to hang out. Wood is everywhere. It is just magnificent to see.
It was interesting to hear Senator Brown talk earlier about the utilisation of our forests. One of his friends, someone he admires, is currently in a tree-sit in Tasmania. Obviously they have perspectives on this but I differ very much from those perspectives. Senator Brown talks about these ancient forests that are being destroyed in Tasmania. You could almost, on the back of Senator Brown’s description of these forests, describe him as the ancient Senator Brown, because these forests are younger than he is. Many of these forests are regrowth forests. I can recall in the seventies a photograph that was displayed from the Picton Valley, where the landscape had been cleared.
According to Senator Brown, that forest had been destroyed forever. That forest is now part of the high-conservation value claim the Greens and the NGOs have in Tasmania in their attempts to close down the native forest industry.
I need to pull Senator Brown up on one thing: these forests are not destroyed because they are regenerated. They are regenerated with seed that comes from the site of the harvest. The trees are not destroyed; they are transformed. They are transformed into the timber products that people have posted on the website. The magnificent surroundings that we sit in here today are made out of magnificent Tasmanian and Australian timbers in this Parliament House. So they are not destroyed; they are transformed for us all to enjoy.
What we are doing here in Australia, unfortunately, is offshoring our responsibilities with respect to the environment by not being prepared to responsibly and sustainably harvest our forests but push it off to imports from overseas where we have almost a $2 billion
deficit in imports for timber coming into this country because we refuse to responsibly use our own timber.
As a result of the fires in Victoria, they changed the standards to require hard timbers, solid timbers, to stand up to the potential of fire in the future. The absurdity is that it is difficult to get the local timbers which have those qualities, are grown in those environments and can withstand those environments because we are not allowed to harvest them, so we have to import from rainforests overseas. It just does not stack up.
I would like to acknowledge in the adviser’s box today my parliamentary intern, Mandi Caldwell. She is here from the United States working with me in the office. I have asked her to do a study of the attitudes, the science, in relation to forestry, particularly focusing on biomass—given that was such a topical issue this week—because of the differences that exist between here and other countries, particularly the Northern Hemisphere.
We have been sadly misled in this country in relation to how we utilise our forests. Having travelled to the Northern Hemisphere, having seen how they approach biomass—and we had a significant debate on that in the last few days, particularly in the House—countries in the Northern Hemisphere are looking to generate up to 50 per cent of their energy from biomass. Yet here we have the government, despite one of their own members chairing a committee that said we should be utilising native forests’ biomass in the generation of energy, putting a regulation through this place to say it is prohibited. It is completely absurd.
The Greens want to push us towards a plantation based forest industry. If you look at the science and the reality, a native forest based industry is better for carbon storage. It is better for biodiversity. It is better for water quality. It does not use any chemicals. It is better for landscape values. It is better for tourism and it has higher value forest outcomes as well. All of the values that environmental groups claim that they would like to see are best achieved from a native forest based industry, and yet the Greens in Australia want to entirely close down the native forest based industry—that is their stated objective—in favour of a plantation based industry, which pushes forests out of the forests onto our farmlands because that is the only place they can grow.
I will close with a quote from the president of the Institute of Foresters of Australia. It is interesting to note the difference between the attitudes of those who claim to be scientists and these forest professionals. He says:
Public calls for the cessation of harvesting in regrowth native forest … because they have biodiversity values is actually positive proof that foresters are creating valuable multiple use forests and not the reverse. This should comfort many in our community who want to know our magnificent forests are sustainably managed.
So spare a thought on World Forestry Day for Australia’s wonderful forests and the amazing people who have spent their careers not only protecting them but providing us with many valuable and sustainable products.
• First published: 2012-03-21 04:09 AM