Dear Peg Putt,
When Parliament resumes please ask Paul Lennon this question:
Will the Government extend the same rights to Tasmanian taxpayers, or groups thereof, to purchase public forest at the same prices as paid by Gunns Ltd, so that Tasmanians have the same rights as Gunns to profit from our natural resources in whatever legal ways they see fit?
This question is important because:
The rights and needs of ordinary Tasmanians are being forgotten. Who speaks for them in this age of winner takes all and hurrah for market forces?
50 years ago the Labor party was a voice for those forced to labour to earn money, yet they now appear to be dedicated to the same capital and market philosophies as those who represent inherited wealth.
Along with their job opportunities, ordinary working Tasmanians have lost their advocates. Who will speak for them? Fight for them? Should we just forget them?
It is for these reasons (amongst many others) that our government should allow ordinary Tasmanians the same forest access and ownership rights as Gunns Ltd – and for the same price, or better.
Surely this is the easiest way for the State government to demonstrate its even-handedness and support for ordinary Tasmanians. And surely if we can afford to do it for Gunns, we can afford to do it for all Tasmanians.
In this way groups of Tasmanians could decide if, and how, they wanted to profit from our natural resources and act accordingly.
Many new business and employment opportunities could be created. Importantly, people would have the incentive to find profitable value-adding opportunities that delivered greater returns than woodchips and pulp.
Gunns needn’t be disadvantaged: they would simply face fair market competition from Tasmanians.
Mike Bolan is Director of Profit for the People Inc