Pic: Emma Capp

Who would have thought the grand nemesis of TWS and forest protestors for many years is now expecting Vica Bayley and Phill Pullinger to stand ‘shoulder-to-shoulder’ with him in convincing overseas markets to accept wood coming out of Ta Ann veneer mills.

Giving peace a chance comes at a fair price, as Mr Rolley told us a few days ago.

After all Ta Ann’s business is on a ‘knife-edge’… isn’t that how you cut the veneer wood Evan?

A great line Evan, 10 out of 10!

Evan also expects to get around $50 million from Tony Burke (because Lara Giddings hasn’t got any spare cash) to buy out the Ta Ann’s long term wood supply agreement for 100,000 cubic meters of peel billet wood each year. And Evan also expects to get the MLCs to vote for the Tasmanian Forest Agreement or this rampaging Asian elephant will go back to Sarawak. He’ll invade Poland next year!  ;-)

An unlikely alliance of Ta Ann and the ENGO signatories - one that has already caused a split in the Green Movement - met MLCs yesterday.

No wonder Mr Rolley was all smiles; he must feel like the Emperor of Tasmania right now.

The ultimatum givers are flying in to let the Upper House know what’s at stake.

Ta Ann has flown in its group managing director from Malaysia, Mr Wong. While federal environment minister Tony Burke has been in Hobart, both warning members of the Legislative Council the industry faces a bleak future without the agreement.

The Ta Ann group managing director has confirmed his company, which employs 100 Tasmanians, would close its two mills and quit the state. Mr Wong has also upped the stakes by saying the company would open a new $10 million plywood plant if the deal goes through.

He says the support of ENGOs -The Wilderness Society, the Australian Conservation Foundation and Environment Tasmania - is needed for markets to be satisfied the state’s timber products are produced sustainably.

“To keep our mills going we must have the market,” Mr Wong.

Next they’ll want full FSC certification of their wood product from Tasmania. (Yes, Mr Rolley.)

Place your bets ladies and gentleman – the smart money around Hobart is on Rolley to get his way and rub a few greenie noses in the turf.

• Peter Henning: Cargo cult benevolence and corporate welfarism

As I’ve said before, this is a huge victory for the ENGOs if it comes off.  It also must be the best thing for Ta Ann since sliced – well sliced veneer.  Does anyone know how much public money will flow to Ta Ann as compensation for renegotiating its contracts down from 265,000 cu. m?  Was it $50 million, as is a rumour?

Just a couple of weeks ago Ta Ann was saying it would have to shut its mills down unless things flowed luxuriantly their way.  Presumably that has now happened.  Now they’re bringing in the heavy guns from head office to put the heavy word on the MLCs.  The heavy word being the carrot of a $10 million plywood plant in the “north”.  What proportion of their publicly funded compensation does $10 million represent?  Anyone know?

But the fly-in from Malaysia of the big boys is even more salivating than 2007, when all sorts of lobbyists supporting Gunns ruled the corridors of parliament.  This time around there’s almost complete support from the environmentalists.  It must be the best marketing coup Ta Ann could have wished for in any state in the world.  Pure bliss.  A “social licence” has apparently already been delivered, by unwritten decree – by acclamation as it were – from above and from within.  If we didn’t learn that from October 2010 when the statement of principles signalled universal rejoicing about a “social licence” being delivered, then we didn’t learn much at all.

Ta Ann is better placed than Gunns ever was to benefit from Tasmania’s cargo cult benevolence and corporate welfarism.  If things go pear-shaped or if the subsidies stop flowing or they let everything run into the ground, they can always just leave with the rings on their fingers.  It’s just the sort of thing that Tasmania’s Legislative Council always find hard to resist. 

The one area of unpredictability is what their navel-gazing tells them about their own personal careers on the plush leather.

I differ from one aspect of John Lawrence’s summation of bulk commodification: It would be brave to say no, here

Management practices have not been addressed.  Those who have talked about “sustainability” have only done so within the frame of a “smaller paddock”, not within terms of reforming the way things are done.  Clear-felling remains in the catchments and elsewhere, and the agreement calls for the “urgent” reopening of Triabunna to deal with “residues”. 

“Residues”, as defined in the industry, applies to everything that is clear-felled and not used as sawlogs or peeler billets – remember the residues on the traffic jam of log trucks when protesters closed down Triabunna for a few hours a couple of years ago?

Those who endorse the agreement have their own reasons for doing so, but there is absolutely nothing to suggest their hope for a “next” step, or the “next” steps will ever occur. 

There’s a similarity with the dilemma Paris Aristotle put himself in when he thought he could put forward an “integrated” proposal for the humane treatment of asylum seekers, only to be appalled that the government had cherry-picked it and returned to Nauru without any of the safeguards he had put forward.  In this case in Tasmania it’s even worse, because an integrated proposal has not even been considered.  MLC Paul Harriss has already unfurled the “energy” flag for continuing bulk commodification of “residues”.

This is of course the last throw of the dice by the Giddings-McKim government.  They have convinced themselves that they can save their political skins if they get this through.  But whether or not the MLCs hold their noses and vote for it, as Fred Gale suggests: Give sustainability a chance: Tasmanian Forests Agreement in perspective, here ... its stench and its dominance of the whole political agenda has guaranteed that where the dice fall, the fate of this government is already sealed.

• SFM Forest Products Scope Expansion

Dear Stakeholders,

As announced to you on 6/11/12, SFM is currently in the process of expanding the scope of its FSC certification to include plantation management. We are scheduled to have an audit with Hamish Crawford on behalf of Woodmark The Soil Association on January 11. The field component of the audit will take place at a small pinus radiata plantation in northern Tasmania. You may be hearing from our certification body in regards to this audit; we would genuinely appreciate that you forward any issues or feedback to both Woodmark and SFM.

Ann V. La Sala
Environmental Systems Manager
SFM Forest Products


Senator for Tasmania

Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Fisheries and Forestry
Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Innovation, Industry and Science


Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Gillard’s farce: $15m for projects blown because of Greens biomass policy

Prime Minister Julia Gillard is proposing $15 million for biomass power stations under the so-called forest peace deal which could have been met by an existing Government program, if not for a pact with the Greens.

“Apart from being a ridiculous waste of taxpayers’ money, this is a stunning illustration of just what a mess this policy area has become,” Coalition Forestry spokesman Richard Colbeck said.

Senator Colbeck said:

1. In negotiating the carbon tax with the Greens, the ALP sold out the forest industry and agreed to introduce new legislation prohibiting the use of native forest residues for renewable energy credits under the renewable energy target.

2. Meanwhile, we know Labor recognises the benefits of biomass, because the chair of the house agriculture committee, Member for Lyons Dick Adams, recommended it in his report, Seeing the Forest through the Trees, tabled in the last sitting week of 2011.[1]

3. Unfortunately for Mr Adams - and his credibility in his forest dependent seat - two days later a regulation blocking biomass was tabled in Parliament.

4. A later move by Independent Rob Oakeshott to disallow the regulation resulted in a hung vote, and speaker Peter Slipper cast his with the Government. Mr Adams could have personally delivered his own recommendation had he voted with his constituents and the industry, and not with his party and the Greens.

“The absurd thing is that this additional $15 million would not be needed if a sensible regulatory regime was in place,” Senator Colbeck said.

“Why are we proposing to spend taxpayers’ money on things which we can fix with a sensible change in regulation?

“Now we wait to see if Julia Gillard will stick by her deal with Christine Milne, or will she stump up the $15 million she shouldn’t have needed to spend in the first place?”

1] Seeing the Forest through the trees - Recommendation 15
The Committee recommends that, under any version of the RET (or similar scheme), bioenergy sourced from native forest biomass should continue to qualify as renewable energy, where it is a true waste product and it does not become a driver for the harvesting of native forests.

• Ali: China’s illegal log trade ...

EIA launched a major report last week in Beijing that focuses on China’s role in the illegal timber trade and how it is driving global deforestation.

“Accounting for logs and sawn timber alone, EIA estimates China imported at least 18.5 million cubic metres (RWE) of illicit timber in 2011, worth $3.7 billion. This is an extremely cautious estimate”. Legal imports for 2011 stood at approx. $22,5 bn (Table 2, page27) which comes to approx 4.5 trillion cubic meters.

In case you hadn’t already seen this, please find attached a copy of the report and below links to it, a related video, the press release, and a NYT article on the report. Apologies for cross-postings.

Report link:

Accompanying video:

EIA Press Release:

November 29, 2012 NYTimes article on report:


• Wood Resource Quarterly:

Weaker pulp markets are forcing pulp manufacturers worldwide to reduce costs, resulting in the lowest softwood wood fiber prices seen since 2010, reports the Wood Resource Quarterly

The declining prices for softwood pulp during much of 2012 have forced many pulp mills to try to cut wood fiber costs to remain profitable. As a consequence, the wood fiber price index (SFPI) has continuously declined the past year and, during the 3Q/12 was at its lowest level since 2010, according to the Wood Resource Quarterly.

Download the full article: