Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Forestry

A contractor’s lament

TASMANIA’S logging contractors feel betrayed by the company they stood by during last year’s federal election.

The article says:

Last week timber giant Gunns Ltd told forest workers in the state’s North West that harvesting quotas would be reduced by 20 per cent immediately in the wake of a cut in woodchip exports.

Huonville haulage contractors Gary and Christine Coad said … the crisis in the forestry industry was already entrenched before last week’s announcement.

Contractors are at “rock bottom”, unable to make ends meet because a deregulated market has those tendering for work “screwed right down”, Mr Coad said.

They said they waited until now to speak about an industry notorious for pressuring its critics to silence.

Mr Coad said the virtual monopoly held by Gunns means those who criticise the company can be squeezed out of business. With many contractors getting work on a day-by-day basis, Mr Coad said work stops coming to those who object to issues, such as unfair rates.

“The biggest problem in the industry is that Gunns has a virtual monopoly,” he said.

After 30 years in forestry haulage, the couple got out late last year but not before attending rallies last October to protest then Labor leader Mark Latham’s election promise to compensate workers in return for leaving the industry.

Now, just seven months later, the Coads say the industry is wondering what they fought for by turning up to rally behind Gunns chief executive John Gay, the State Government and Prime Minister John Howard.

“We came up and fought for John Gay’s livelihood, well now it’s time for him to turn around and do the same for us,” Mrs Coad said.

Adding to the sense of betrayal is the likelihood Gunns knew woodchip exports were going down at the same time they were telling the industry business was “buoyant”.

Mr Coad said many workers waited until after the election to see if it would be prudent to invest in more machinery. With the Howard Government’s win, many contractors refinanced to upgrade operations on the assurance by Gunns that the “future was rosy and would be rosy for a long time,” he said.

Mr Coad said it is not good enough to put bankruptcies down to “bad management”.

Instead, he described an industry prepared to employ people until they go broke “and disappear”. He said the removal of truck licences meant anyone can buy a truck and go into business, so there was always someone else to take the work for a pittance and make a go of it.

Instead, he said the forestry industry understood there were ebbs and flows in the market.

Mr Chipman said forestry is not the only primary industry feeling the brunt of a downturn. Poppy growers, wool producers and the mining industry all have felt the brunt of the market and have to sink or swim.

“The message we’ve got is that people can adjust and secure themselves for a certain time,” he said.

“Everyone needs to tighten their belt a little bit. Any downturn will also be suffered by the company and it’s shareholders. No one wants this because it affects everyone.”

Extracts from The Mercury, Inside Stories section, Saturday, May 14, 2005

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. James Roberts

    May 18, 2005 at 4:04 am

    Yes!

    ‘comforting words from the empathetic Mr Chipman, Timber Communities Australia’.

    It’s about time Tasmanian timber workers take a hard look at the purpose of this astroturf (fake grass roots) organisation. When it comes to the crunch hard working individuals such as Mr Coad receive absolutely no support from Timber Communities Australia.

    On this issue of ‘looking after timber workers and their families’ the likes of Barry Chipman and Adrian Coward are traitors, selling out workers to protect the interests of their woodchipping lords. If you think the recent cutbacks by Gunns Ltd will make a pinch of difference to the quality of life for Gunns shareholders then you would believe any bulls#@t, “Oh well! a little less pocket money when the dividends get paid.”

    What is worse than this statement by Barry Chipman is the silence at a time when TCA should be making a big noise in support of workers.

    Have a trawl through their website and find any press statements that come out in support of workers on this issue…none!

    Then embarrasingly you look at the Australian Greens website, a political party that we’ve been conditioned to hate, and you find press statements in support of Tasmanian timber workers, arguing for more accountability from the board of Gunns.

    But let’s get it straight, the Greens contribution doesn’t count in this argument, the real issue is about what the mouthpieces of Timber Communities Australia are not prepared to say.

    Timber Communities Australia is not about protecting forest workers and this is obvious when you read their mission and aims. It’s about advancing the interests of the boss, John Gay and his mates.

    Come on Timber Communities Australia, start making a real stand for forest workers.

  2. Jason Lovell

    May 17, 2005 at 7:34 am

    Like many others, I worry a lot about the lack of institutional memory in the current Tasmanian journalistic pool. This article by Konkes, while very very interesting, fails to set the scene correctly by totally failing to outline the Coad’s history of publicly supporting the forest industry above and even beyond the call of duty.

    For instance, last year Mr Coad was convicted of assault in a court of law after he stopped his log truck at Vince’s Saddle on the Huon Highway and used his fist and boot to attack and injure a cameraman filming from the side of the public road.

    Mrs Coad subsequently wrote a letter to The Mercury defending her husband’s action and making unsubstantiated claims about people vandalising their log truck. None of this was ever alleged or proven in a court of law.

    Then Mrs Coad appeared in the media as the spokeswoman for the newly formed (and immediately disbanded, it would seem) Wives Of Logging Contractors group which held one public rally a few weeks before the federal election. Those of us who applied the same blowtorch that’s applied to Green demonstrations would have noted that more than half those demonstrating on behalf of the “Wives” were burly adult males. It seemed that many of the contractors themselves attended the demonstration held by “Wives of Logging Contractors”. Not that the media noticed … wrong side of the debate for the blowtorch, methinks.

    I commend the Coads for the bravery involved in coming out to publicly criticise the logging industry(and brave it is, make no mistake), but it’s not much of a balance when compared with the violence or political grandstanding that Mr and Mrs Coad engaged in respectively, just prior to the last federal election.

    Yours,
    Jason Lovell

  3. Tom Westerway

    May 17, 2005 at 5:27 am

    Ah, now I’ve heard it all: such comforting words from the empathetic Mr Chipman. That’s just so encouraging for those who put their trust in popular and clever politicians.

  4. Gordon Craven

    May 16, 2005 at 7:51 am

    Is that Gary John Coad?
    Here’s an extract from [URL=http://www.news-tasmania.com/july-04.html]NEWS TASMANIA (July 04)[/URL] (originally published in NEWS.COM.AU) about that guy. No sympathy from here I’m afraid:

    Scuffle over logging film has court sequel
    July 28, 2004

    A TASMANIAN filmmaker fears his career has been put at risk by injuries he suffered when he was attacked by a log-truck driver he was filming. Brian Dimmick said yesterday he was left needing spinal surgery and was physically incapable of carrying heavy camera equipment. “I was assaulted by this guy who attacked me, smashed my camera and caused me an injury that now threatens my career,” Mr Dimmick said. Yesterday in the Hobart Magistrates Court log-truck driver Gary John Coad pleaded guilty to common assault and injuring property. The 59-year-old, of Huon Highway, Huonville, admitted he pushed Mr Dimmick in the chest and neck and knocked over his $7000 video camera and tripod. …… Mr Dimmick had been filming log trucks travelling along the Huon Highway for a documentary about logging……
    NEWS.COM.AU…

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