Image for Forest ‘deal’ chaos. Forestry accused of doing over sawmillers. Contractors left to rot

An administrative error has led to the premature release of a forest peace deal aimed at ending almost all native forest logging in Tasmania.

Forest industry and environmental representatives in the peace talks are yet to endorse the agreement.

Peace deal broker Bill Kelty yesterday told the Federal and Tasmanian Governments a breakthrough agreement had been reached to end decades of conflict over logging Tasmania’s native forests.

His statement said conservationists and industry players had endorsed a deal to protect 430,000 hectares of public native forest.

But key players, including the forest union, are yet to sign up and Mr Kelty has been forced to recall the statement.

One forest group, Timber Communities Australia, will not sign until its board meets to discuss the issue next week.

Environmental groups, Environment Tasmania and the Australian Conservation Foundation are believed to have forwarded through their signatures this morning.


• Forestry Tasmania has been accused of competing against Tasmanian sawmillers.

Sawmiller Roderick Cairns has appeared before the parliamentary committee set up to investigate Tasmania’s softwood industry.

He says a Forestry Tasmania off-shoot established to market boutique Tasmanian wood is now selling the same product.

Mr Cairns says the Island Specialty Timbers operation at Geeveston is a Forestry Tasmania yard receiving Forestry Tasmania timber.

He says the yard processes, finishes and sells timber to the market.

Mr Cairns says this is inexcusable because it has created a conflict of interest between Island Specialty Timbers and the boutique suppliers it is supposed to be marketing.

Forestry Tasmania is being contacted for comment.


Senator for Tasmania
Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Fisheries and Forestry
Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Innovation, Industry and Science
Is this really a peace deal?

The Federal Coalition has noted the announcement yesterday of an agreement between the signatories to Tasmania’s forestry negotiation.

“The Coalition will await the Federal Government’s response to the document but we cannot guarantee our support for any legislative changes,” Coalition Forestry Spokesman Senator Richard Colbeck said.

“The real question the Coalition has is: will the forest protests stop or is this just another step in a game to close down a sustainable industry?

“A deal means that protests in the forests, protests in our markets and protests in the board rooms should all stop.

“Comments by the Greens this morning, and the absence of upfront participation by the Wilderness Society, give us no confidence.

“The forest industry has put a lot on the table but it remains unclear whether the environment movement will uphold its side of the bargain.

“A major concern of the Coalition is that this Agreement will drive foresters and our highly sustainable native forest industry out of the forest and onto our farm land. There is nowhere else to grow the plantations that they would need to transition their businesses.

“It is estimated that up to an additional 100,000 ha of plantations will be required in Tasmania if the industry is to transition in the way the ENGO’s and the Greens are demanding.

“There is every prospect that the Greens and the ENGO’s will be waiting for them and filling the community with horror stories of chemical use, monocultures and food shortages.

“The ability of this agreement to bring peace to the forests and allow Tasmania to move forward with a viable timber industry remains uncertain,” Senator Colbeck said.

Ill-informed Scaremongering Not Helpful
Nick McKim MP
Greens Leader

The Tasmanian Greens today have called for calm in the wake of the Forest Principles Signatories Agreement, released yesterday by facilitator Mr Bill Kelty, saying it is important that the content of the Agreement is assessed and scrutinised calmly, rather than have ill-informed responses creating unnecessary confusion and fear.

Greens Leader Nick McKim MP said that he will be receiving a briefing from Bill Kelty sometime today, just as Mr Kelty will also be briefing The Premier, Lara Giddings, and Forests Minister, Bryan Green.

“The Tasmanian Greens will be investing the time into scrutinising this document, its details and potential ramifications thoroughly and calmly, as that is the responsible approach to take, rather than resorting to ill-informed scare-mongering,” Mr McKim said.

“The intent of the Forest Principles process, which involved industry, union and environment groups representatives, was to develop a once-in-a lifetime opportunity to protect our high conservation value forests, and have a transition to a sustainable timber industry.”

“The groups and Mr Kelty have now released the plan that they think will deliver that objective, and it is now appropriate for that work to be examined.”

“Tasmania’s is currently in an economic transition away from an over-reliance on extractive resource-based industries to the modern 21st century sustainable industries, and the protection of our high conservation value forests and putting our timber industry onto a viable and sustainable footing is an essential part of our economic transition.”

“This transition is also fundamental to developing regional economies which are more robust, diversified and able to withstand the vagaries of market-forces.”

“The Greens will be seeking to discuss the Signatories Agreement with stakeholders before we formalise our position in relation to this Agreement.”

Mr McKim also reiterated that the Greens, like other political parties, were not directly involved in the Kelty process as they are not signatories to the Forest Principles of Agreements.

•Lara Giddings, MP, Premier & Bryan Green, MP, Minister for Energy and Resources, Friday, 24 June 2011: Bill Kelty meeting

The Premier, Lara Giddings, and the Minister for Resources, Bryan Green, said today’s discussions with Statement of Principles facilitator, Bill Kelty, had been constructive.
Ms Giddings said the State Government is still working through the detail of the draft agreement, which is yet to be signed by all parties.

“Today was an opportunity to speak directly with Mr Kelty about the detail of the document, the expectations of the various parties and the challenges involved in implementing a long-term solution to the forest debate in Tasmania,” Ms Giddings said.

“This is a process of national significance and the Federal Government will have an important part to play in the transition process.

“As such, we will also be having discussions with the Commonwealth in the near future.

“It is important to acknowledge that there is still some way to go to achieving the dual goal of securing the future of the forest industry while protecting areas of High Conservation Value forest.”

Resources Minister, Bryan Green, said the State Government would be carefully considering the detail of the draft agreement and its implications for the forest industry and rural and regional communities.

“We recognise the importance of transitioning to a forest industry that is sustainable for the long term, but the Government has a strong interest in ensuring that timber workers, their families and their communities are supported through this process,” Mr Green said.

“We will stand shoulder to shoulder with timber communities to assist them through this process.

“We will not abandon hard working timber workers or the communities that rely on the industry to remain viable and vibrant.”

Labor and Liberals Biased Approach Leaves Contractors Frustrated and Without Certainty

Kim Booth MP
Greens Forestry spokesperson

The Tasmanian Greens today addressed a forest contractors rally in Hobart, saying these contractors are the real face of this industry, and they and their families, are facing financial ruin right now due to both Labor and the Liberals refusing to recognise that exit assistance is needed now instead of propping up an dying and unviable industry.

Greens Forestry spokesperson Kim Booth MP said that the contractors’ presence in Hobart today, should send a strong and powerful message to the Premier, the Forestry Minister, and the Liberal party that proper, fair and equitable exit assistance must be provided to those who want out.

“The forestry contractors rally in Hobart sought to put the case of the workers who face being left on the scrap heap due to failed policies of Labor, Liberal and the timber barons,” Mr Booth said.

“Premier Giddings is in a position to do something for these forestry contractors. Everything is not fine, and these forestry contractors are seriously concerned for their future, and the future of their families, as proper exit assistance for this failing industry is still not prioritised.”

“Representatives of the so-called industry organisations such as TCA, FIAT, and the Liberal party, don’t face losing their houses, and they are also distorting the real issues affecting these contractors on the ground.”

“It about time the Premier listened to all players in the industry rather than just listening to those who represent the view of the big timber barons who have a vested interest in propping up with public money on unviable industry,” Mr Booth said.

Senator for Tasmania
Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Fisheries and Forestry
Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Innovation, Industry and Science
25 June 2011
Forestry deal to wipe $800 million per year from Tasmania’s economy

The Gillard Government needs to take a very close look at the economic impact of the agreement released this week by the Tasmanian forest talks negotiator.

“The impact of this agreement is to effectively halve the size of Tasmania’s forestry industry and this will have consequences for more than just sawmills and contractors,” Coalition Forestry spokesman Richard Colbeck said.

“It will have the same halving impact on everyone associated with the sector - equipment, maintenance, finance, accounting and any other services. None of these businesses have been represented in the talks.

“The forest industry contributes $1.6 billion to the Tasmanian economy every year. This deal will effectively wipe a whopping $800 million off Tasmania’s GDP at a time we can least afford it.

“This deal also places huge question marks over some of Tasmania’s most highly prospective mineral resources, with ENGO demands that their claimed HCV zones be placed immediately into National Parks.

“There has been no consideration given to the impact this deal will have on the mining industry - or perhaps crippling the mining industry was another goal of the ENGOs through this process.

“There is little wonder that we are again hearing concerns about sovereign risk in Australia, particularly in Tasmania,” Senator Colbeck said.