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 Tasmania’s failure

The Examiner

Forestry Tasmania appears to be failing in its corporate objectives. Tom Ellison reports.

When Forestry Tasmania was corporatised in 1995, the intention was to place the organisation on a more commercial footing, with a view to driving better returns from the State’s 1.5 million hectares of publicly owned forests. With a mandate to manage the forest estate for optimum community benefit, Forestry Tasmania also has a stated aim of improving profit performance and returns to its shareholders, the Tasmanian public. But if the fine print in last week’s State Budget is an indication, Forestry Tasmania is failing in its own corporate objectives. According to the Budget papers, Forestry Tasmania will return just $1 million in dividends to the State Government in 2006-07 — a massive fall from the $7.8 million expected to be paid in the current year.

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  1. h&m;clothing

    January 3, 2009 at 11:22 am

    Every part of the forest that is felled should be used and the harvest should be shared by all stakeholders, be it a pulp miller, a timber miller, a wood turner, a bee keeper, or a person selling firewood.

  2. A bit of balance please

    June 21, 2006 at 5:58 pm

    Hey Super, I have to disagree with you here (although I greatly admire your courage in sticking to your guns despite being greatly outnumbered by the lunatic fringe.)

    The issue here, on this post at least, is not Gunns’ monopoly, it’s FT’s performance. A $1 million dividend from $180 million in turnover is pitiful, particularly given the time FT have had to get their affairs in order.

    If I were given a $700 million business, I reckon even using basic business methods I could return 5% on capital In fact, my guess is even the Kayena Coffee Club could probably manage FT better than the current board.

    And Auspine? Have a look at the chairman. Adrian De Bruyn makes John Gay look positively green.

    Here’s some suggestions for the FT board.

    1. Flog off the half share in Taswood Growers. Let Auspine buy it.

    2. Stop spending money on half-assed tourism ventures.

    3. Stop pumping money into “regional community programs.” Leave that the the Government, who get better political mileage from it.

    4. Split the business into three units. The first (which we’ll mischievously call the scientific research unit) can be given to the Uni, or State Government, or anyone who wants it.

    The second (we’ll call it forest regeneration and plantation management) can be put out for tender. Any reasonably intelligent forester should be able to run that one.

    The third (for the hell of it, let’s call it the slash and burn unit) can also be sold to the highest bidder. After all, Gunns/FEA/Rayonier/Norske Skog are all far more efficient at chopping down trees than public servants.

    The above should generate about $60 million up front, and then another $30 or $40 million in perpetuity. No more FT, and no more FOI exemptions.

    Just my thoughts of course.

  3. super annoyed

    June 21, 2006 at 4:48 am

    Dear Polly Watch – the issue is that one person’s “disgraceful practises” is another’s daily business.

    The other real issue here, to my mind, is not FT’s operations but the fact that there is a virtual monopoly on wood processing controlled by Gunns.

    If we had a range of large businesses (emphasise ‘large’ before the beekeepers and home millers get at me) then we would have a more open framework and probably better dough for state forests.

    I cant see a way for other large wood processors to easily gain entry, even if there were such companies that wanted to.

    It would be a very brave Government to try and lure additional companies to the State given the scale of Gunns and its influence.

    Auspine is there as well I guess, but I think their interests are more in softwoods and plantations.

  4. Polly Watch

    June 21, 2006 at 3:55 am

    Super should stop the Costello-like play-acting for a while. The majority of people would simply want public property, our forests, sustainably harvested, leaving a part of a fully functional forest for future generations to sustainably harvest, along with undamaged waterways and non-diseased wildlife and non-scorched earth and non-bared hills being left open to erosion. We don’t want to see third-world forest practice in Tasmania.

    We don’t want a single government mate to be allowed open slather in public forests, to just pick the eyes out, like a child grabbing one piece of cake after another, eating the icing and wasting the cake. And not paying adequately for the timber taken or wasted.

    Every part of the forest that is felled should be used and the harvest should be shared by all stakeholders, be it a pulp miller, a timber miller, a wood turner, a bee keeper, or a person selling firewood.

    So please, don’t try to polly-speak TT correspondents Super – tell it like it is. Enough pictures have been displayed on this site over recent months to show the type of disgraceful practices that FT is turning a blind eye to. And seemingly anyone who speaks out is threatened by a corporate bully trying to muzzle people via a lawyer.

    I don’t want to read clap trap like the story that surfaced recently in the news when a forestry spokesperson claimed that leaving parts of the forest standing was dangerous and the technique should be stopped because a worker had been killed in the vicinity of such a stand. No doubt it would be more profitable to use the bare earth technique of harvesting trees, rather than overhaul work practices and ensure that forest workers are aware of the dangers, with managers taking adequate steps to ensure safe working practices.

    I’m not a fully-fledged greenie – I don’t want to lock everything up – but I do want to know that the very latest, best environmental practices are being adopted in the unlocked parcels of forestry, and I want all stakeholders to have equal access to public forests so that the best market prices are paid and I want to know that all our eggs are not in the one basket of one company, so that governments of the day are not forced into a position of having to take whatever price the company deigns to hand out – and Tasmanians are not being fleeced of their common wealth in the process.

  5. super annoyed

    June 21, 2006 at 3:04 am

    I wouldn’t claim to know everything about GBEs but I know that most of them have stuff in their charters like serving the community, creating employment, managing resources etc, not returning big profits to the Government. I am sure the Premier would agree with me on that one. There are some exceptions – some turn a tidy profit that you dont hear about – but I shall leave TT denizens to dig around to identify these ones. Suffice to say, these are GBEs who obtain levys and fees for ‘services’.

    And no, I am not a public servant, although I am humbled by the interest and speculation.

    I also agree with Simon – however, I think the argument needs to be an honest one in terms of yours (and probably many other Tasmanians’) dislike of the destruction of old growth and/or pristine forest. Attacking FT aint going to achieve it – you need to educate and turn the wider Tasmanian population.

    Many years ago I was a member of the Wilderness Society when they had very effective campaigns related to the dams issue. I think these groups need to recapture that approach to win the fight over the forests. Unfortunately, the Greens approach is so antagonistic to mainstream Tasmania that folk have started to switch off from the issue. Also, you would have to say that Labor did a great job of nullifying the issue at the last election and with the Community Forest Agreement. Now, I am just talking politics and public perception here, not whether forests are worth protecting or not. A bunch of feral young adults perched up trees does absolutely nothing to educate the populace.

  6. David Obendorf

    June 20, 2006 at 6:27 pm

    We have learned from another commenter on another posting that it’s likely that Super Annoyed is a rather timid government servant who has ‘valid reasons to remain anonymous’.

    When Tasmanian Times gets a comment from an anonymous like, “I dont want to sound like an apologist for FT, but…” it might suggest a bias. Yes/no?

    SA thinks Tasmanian GBEs don’t need to make a profit…….Gulp! I wonder whether Premier Paul Lennon would accept SA’s opinion. Then again anything is possible from Lennon.

    I hope, SA you’re not a DPAC employee.

    After all the recent revelations about finances of TT-Line and Aurora, this makes for interesting logic.

    Perhaps there IS a good reason you don’t go public after all!

  7. Just Frank

    June 20, 2006 at 6:11 pm

    Oh Simon Parsons,
    That was a good, short summary of the realities!

    Another very serious case of reality / fact however, if not one of the most serious cases I have ever came across during my 18+ years in Tasmania, was the media work by E. Rolley / FT, and T. Edwards / FIAT last week.

    Their media “information session” was simply nothing more than a deliberate, purposely developed smoke-screen, a stunt to divert/ re-direct the attention of Australians (all included) away from the real findings, the facts, the sad truth about their often called” best practice, scientifically based worlds best practice, second to none (P Lennon, M. Ferguson, E. Abetz…

    I thought Rolley and Edwards have clearly overstepped the mark of honesty here.

    The finding was that Forestry Tasmania was 3/6th responsible for a terrible accident that left a forest worker a paraplegic, the contractor 2/6th and the worker’s own responsibility for getting injured 1/6th.

    Strangely, this was a fully approved/ legal Forest operation, signed off by the Tasmanian Forest Practices Board and prepared by a (highly trained) Forest Practices Officer…

    The reality is that the very operation was nothing like best practice, it was the lowest type of silvicultural operation possible, a typical High- grading operation as it once was common during the “bad old days” before the era of scientifically based, best practice forest stewardship.

    According to the case, Rolley & Co. (FT) had planned and conducted a selective “High-grade” logging operation, taking the best and leaving the rest operation. It was obviously a commercial decision; possibly they had a demand for good quality sawlogs but hardly any for pulpwood.

    The victim was the tree faller, who despite knowing better, obeyed the order and tried to please his superiors.

    It’s a disgrace on Rolley’s professional forestry background, a smear he / and Forestry Tasmania should have never be involved in.

    Legal High grading? not with me fellows!

    Just Frank

  8. Simon Parsons

    June 20, 2006 at 4:26 pm

    If SA unwisely claims that all those who criticise the forestry industry in Tasmania seek ultimately to shut it down, then SA may annoy me.

    What does annoy me is seeing with my own eyes forests that I have walked in, looked down upon from ahigh, and slept under, disappear to be replaced by trees spaced too close to walk between, and hence too dark to see in, and seeing the creeks that once flowed from them dry up.

    I say that this result is not worth some of the jobs that are so supported.

  9. David Mohr

    June 20, 2006 at 4:09 pm

    Super Annoyed, I wonder what you thought of the two reports by Pete Godfrey recently posted on Tasmanian Times showing numerous breaches of the Forest Practices Code within a 50km radius of Launceston. Are they a demonstration of sustainable forestry? Are poorly built roads, bulldozing of swamps, clear felling on steep slopes, burning useable timber, failure to create streamside reserves and the subsequent siltation of water catchments sustainable?

  10. super annoyed

    June 20, 2006 at 10:21 am

    Has any of the usual suspects here stopped to think what Forestry Tasmania does with its money? I could give you a long list but perhaps you could start with information on the web site http://www.forestrytas.com.au.

    Then perhaps you might also see the list of studies that FT is involved in at http://www.forestrytas.com.au/forestrytas/pages/tasforestsonline.html.

    I dont want to sound like an apologist for FT, but I dont believe it was set up to turn a big profit. Its mandate is to develop sustainable forestry practises, and that is why they spend so much on the science of the subject. They also employ hundreds of Tasmanians. Finally, it is a Government Business Enterprise, not a for-profit private company. If you are looking to make money, you are not going to do it through a GBE where there are usually many other forces motivating their activities, not just returning a buck.

    Now, if you want to privatise the State Forestry resource, then you might see a much leaner outfit that is not a big employer and will not bother with research. I dont think any of the Greensy TT posters would like that much either.

    If you take as your debating starting point that you despise industrial forestry, then none of this will of course convince you, but it may ANNOY you. What annoys me again is that a story about one thing (FT doesn’t make much money) gets twisted to be about something else (close it down, in fact, shut all industrial scale forestry down). Vica Bayley knows this of course but he hopes that Tasmanians cant read beyond the headlines.

  11. Mike Bolan

    June 20, 2006 at 9:36 am

    Judge them not by their words but by their behaviours. Only then can we know the truth.

  12. Simon Parsons

    June 20, 2006 at 9:11 am

    Congratulations to the Examiner for finally publishing an article (“Timber is Falling as Revenue Contributer”) that reveals the truth about our tragic forestry industry.

    Importantly, the price we are paying for a zero profit from Forestry Tasmania ( and it is zero or negative if you include the loss of assets and government subsidies) and the continuing decline in forestry job numbers is the wholesale destruction of the only true asset Tasmania has – its relatively natural condition – by the conversion of native forest to monoculture.

    Now, will the public wake up and realize our forests and our taxes are being wasted and do something about it?

    It is time for Tasmania to take a new direction, one away from taxpayer subsidized attempts to promote big industry, towards a State with a highly developed, world class infrastructure and a profoundly protected natural environment that will attract educated, experienced, worldly, and wise people who will develop sustainable businesses here and who will value what Tasmania has to offer without destroying it.


  13. Vica Bayley

    June 20, 2006 at 9:03 am

    MEDIA RELEASE 20th June 2006


    Tasmania loses millions of dollars AND the forests

    The Wilderness Society today called on the Tasmanian Government and Forestry Tasmania to come clean about the dismal financial performance and a likely financial loss made by Forestry Tasmania for the current financial year.

    Analysis of the budget papers suggests Forestry Tasmania will contribute only $1 million in dividends to the Tasmanian people, down $3.5 million from the previous year.

    “A $1-million return to Tasmania is an abysmal outcome for the destruction of thousands of hectares of Tasmanian forests, mushroom clouds from climate-changing forest burns, degraded water from plantation establishment, and sharing our roads with countless log trucks,” said The Wilderness Society spokesperson Vica Bayley.

    The fall in return to Tasmanians is caused by a large decrease in sales. In addition, Forestry Tasmania will be paying a lower percentage of its profit to the state.

    “Forestry Tasmania not only gets a leg up from millions of dollars of taxpayer subsidies, but they also get special treatment when it comes time to pay up their dividends to Tasmania,” Mr Bayley said.

    The poor financial performance continues despite decades of contributions from the taxpayer. This includes over $150 million from the Tasmanian Community Forest Agreement; over $30 million in 1988 as part of the Helsham Inquiry; $272 million in Forestry Commission debts absorbed by the state government in 1990; $76 million on the signing of the original RFA in 1997; and over $52 million of interest and capital on softwood loans, written off by the federal government in 1998.

    “Despite the taxpayer propping up oldgrowth logging with over half a billion dollars over several decades, Forestry Tasmania appears unviable,” continued Mr Bayley. “We call on the government to rule out giving Forestry Tasmania any more lavish taxpayer-funded subsidies and come clean on financial performance.”

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