Tasmanian Times


Breathtaking hypocrisy

Alec Marr Wilderness Society Press Release

Breathtaking hypocrisy in environment award to Gunns

(And, Jon Sumby: What is the AEF?)
Granting an environmental award to Tasmanian woodchip company Gunns Limited, as happened today, is the same as awarding a medal to Cubbie Station in Queensland for water conservation, The Wilderness Society said.

“Gunns forest operations has only achieved a reversal in native species numbers, pushing many near to extinction such as the Wedge Tail Eagle in Tasmania, just as Cubbie Station has managed to reverse rivers and push many family farms towards extinction,” TWS Campaigns Director Alec Marr said.

The award to Gunns for actively managing a grassland was in poor taste, Mr Marr said, because Gunns was actively destroying Tasmania’s native forests and poisoning native animals.

“There are many businesses out there that genuinely make a positive contribution to the environment. Gunn’s record is appalling and it continues to destroy old growth forests.”

Mr Marr said the award, from the Australian Environment Foundation, was hollow as it is sponsored by the very industry that Gunns makes money from.

“The AEF is an imitation environment group backed by the conservative right-wing think tank, the Institute of Public Affairs.

“Only an imitation environment group would demonstrate such breathtaking hypocrisy and give Gunns Limited an environment award.”


Jon Sumby

Timber company, Gunns Limited, has won a national environmental award for the management of grasslands and an endangered butterfly species in Tasmania’s north-west.

The award was given out by the Australian Environment Foundation, which was launched last year. The foundation promotes itself as a science and evidence-based environmental movement. It has links to the Institute of Public Affairs and the timber industry.

Gunns north-west manager, Brian Hayes, says the company actively manages sub-alpine grasslands in the north-west, which is an essential habitat for the rare Ptunnarra Brown Butterfly. He says the recognition is an honour, particularly as many people do not associate Gunns Ltd with environmental protection.

“It is very easy for people to overlook the very good work that is done by professional people within the industry, there are many things that are done that don’t achieve the public and media recognition,” he said. “I might point out, of our total estate of about 205 thousand hectares in Tasmania, about 37 thousand hectares is set aside for conservation and reservation purposes.”

From the ABC: http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200609/s1752110.htm


The Australian Environment Foundation is a front group founded by the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), a conservative Melbourne-based think tank.

The director of the environment unit of the IPA, Jennifer Marohasy was the founding Chairwoman and is listed as a Director in the organisation’s documents with the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC). Mahorasy is also the listed registrant of the group’s website, although the address and phone number for the website registration are identical to the address and phone number for the Victorian office of the logging industry front group, Timber Communities Australia. [1] (https://joker.com/?&tool=whois&t_whois=aefweb.info) [2] (http://www.tca.org.au/TCA_contacts.html#vic)

In July 2005, the month after AEF’s official launch, it was announced that former television celebrity Don Burke had been appointed chairman. [3] (http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/garden-guru-tips-a-bucket-on-greenies/2005/07/25/1122143787176.html )

ASIC documents also list Mike Nahan, the former Executive Director of the IPA, as one of the other directors. The documents also list AEF’s registered place of business as the IPA office. (Nahan was ED of the IPA until mid-2005). Pdf copy of ASIC registration – 11kb (http://www.sourcewatch.org/images/e/e2/ASICextract.pdf)

In a column by Nahan in the Herald-Sun, he described AEF as “pro-biotechnology, pro-nuclear power, pro-modern farming, pro-economic growth, pro-business and pro-environment.” [4]
From: http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Australian_Environment_Foundation

Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent="no" parentcategory="writers" show = "category" hyperlink="yes"]


  1. John Herbert

    February 2, 2007 at 1:00 pm

    There are many environmental benefits of nuclear energy Shyt(is that an appropriate green moniker or what). Perhaps you could talk to any Frenchman about the 80 percent of their power supply that is created by the process. Most of New York would freeze in winter were it not for nuclear power, just what have you been smoking for the last forty years?

  2. shyt

    February 1, 2007 at 9:02 pm

    Hey guys, dont give up!

    This thread should never go to bed.

    The Gunns envoronmental award is truly the epitomy of oxymoronic.
    It will be a high point in all future historical tomes.

    Whatever happened to Prof. Walter Starck? He would love the concept.

    I would like to read about Walters opinion with regard to the health risks of smoking.

    Or the environmental benefits of nuclear energy.


    January 9, 2007 at 10:12 am

    It is a tiresome and slow process, however i am a patient man in most instances ,and am extremely chuffed to see a glimmer of frustration and a degree
    of desperation creeping in with the ressurection of this thread.

  4. Dr Kevin Bonham

    January 8, 2007 at 8:43 pm

    As noted in the post I have just submitted, my reply to this thread (which I believe appeared) has gone missing, and other posts also may be missing, so I will now do my best to belatedly recompose it.

    #48 (Cameron): the onus is on you to demonstrate a net impact on foodchains of 1080 poisoning that goes beyond its impact on individual specimens. In so doing you cannot assume that the whole forestry operation (including 1080) causes a net population decrease without first considering the effects of clearance on establishing open conditions well suited to browsing grounddwelling mammals. I believe we have since covered this on other threads.

    The Eastern Barred Bandicoot is considered threatened at federal level only because of defects in the EPBC Act listing guidelines, under which the precarious situation of the Australian mainland populations forces its listing although it is considered common and secure within Tasmania, where it is not listed as threatened at state level. I actually *do* think incidental poisoning of some of those species listed (eg bettongs) is a significant, and scientifically underdocumented, issue, but have been careful to differentiate that from the issue of the specific impacts of the deaths of more common mammals.

    #50 (Jon): The word “may” indeed gives authority to act but it does not give compulsion. The word “must” is used in cases where compulsion is intended. It is up to the Secretary to decide whether a given action is the most effective way to protect a species. It is not true that “If the frog is found in a suburban creek and if a developer applies to build a housing estate around the creek then the Secretary must, as their duty and function, address this threatening process and prepare a plan.” An alternative is to simply have the process disallowed, or have the species accommodated, without preparing a plan. I know this because I have worked on making relevant recommendations in similar cases that come up at local council level. In many cases there is simply not enough information for an overall management plan.

    #52 (Cameron). “Piffle” was an attempted statement of fact. For instance, if I say “Cameron is a worthless troll” (and provide no evidence at all) and if I say “In my opinion Cameron is a worthless troll” (ditto), then the addition of “in my opinion” makes no real difference to how the reader would assess the proprietry of my statement. Saying that a personal attack was merely an expression of opinion does not exempt it from being a personal attack.

    Not sure if I replied to any of DON’s posts on this thread or not. I think I did but his posting character is well clear to all who have been on this site in the subsequent months so I shall not bother rehashing unless requested by a poster other than DON.

  5. Dr Kevin Bonham

    January 8, 2007 at 8:06 pm

    The record of this thread retained by the site appears to be incomplete – several posts appear to have been lost. I most certainly replied to posts 48, 50, 52 and possibly even 53 (little as it deserves it) in detail. While it’s possible my post was eaten by the mysterious post submission bug that apparently attacks only me (irrespective of computer, browser, internet connection type etc), I thought the thread had continued for at least another dozen or so posts.

    I think in future I will try to permanently save copies of all significant posts I send to this site.


    October 6, 2006 at 2:34 am

    Dr? kevin bonham ,
    I may well lack your literary skills not having had the advantages of some , however i know a “pompous prick” when i see or read one and feel quite sure that you are certainly in the pay of the “gunn,s” organisation, therefore irrelevant!
    Don Davey.

  7. Cameron

    October 6, 2006 at 1:15 am

    In addition to which, I will reiterate that my use of the word ‘piffle’ constituted the expression of an opinion on my part. The cheap ad hominem attacks commenced, and continue, with you, Dr B.

    For your enlightenment, my dictionary offers such definitions of the word ‘opinion’:

    1. Judgement or belief not founded on certainty or proof. … 3. Evaluation, impression or estimation of the value or worth of a person or thing. (Or statement, in this case.)

    I really don’t need to explain this any more clearly, do I, Kevin? I mean, you are tertiary educated, aren’t you?


    October 6, 2006 at 12:39 am

    Well i notice that there is no answer HERE to my comments but SEVERAL to my email address anonymous of course ! attacking my obvious lack of schooling in the finer art of the written word,and there i was thinking it was all about getting rid of the pulp mill ,silly me ! if this is the sum total of the type of individual needed to fight against this bloody criminal pulp mill , then i,ll go to the bottom of my stairs,
    Not a single one of you supposed academics has actually ,in intelligable language to we “lesser” folk approached the actual problem from its roots, so just continue your elitist exercise in irrelevant crud ,whilst i try to drum up some real urban warriors who are not as willing to expose their sad lack of character, let alone “balls”,and all unsigned emails to my address are automatically deleted
    don davey

  9. Jon Sumby

    October 6, 2006 at 12:37 am

    Kevin writes:’Jon Sumby is doing his best to try to claim that “may” means “must” but it doesn’t…’

    I don’t think we’re on the same page here. The word ‘may’ gives authority to act. Nothing to do with must. You are confusing elements of the enabling legislation with that of the process parts.

    That the Secretary ‘must’ prepare or ‘must’ advertise are simply part of the process of the Act, elements which are common to most legislation to make them conform to the law.

    Speaking of ‘must’, there is an element of required actions. The definition of the ‘function’ of the Secretary and others includes ‘duty’.

    It is the function of the Secretary to prepare and implement management plans – it is also their duty. Being their duty they must do those actions and are given the power to do so by the Act (The Minister may make intererim protection orders etc.).

    It is fine to have a listed species and no management plan. If, say, a rare frog is Listed and a population lives in a creek in the middle of a national park, then little needs to be done apart from noting the frog lives there. If the frog is found in a suburban creek and if a developer applies to build a housing estate around the creek then the Secretary must, as their duty and function, address this threatening process and prepare a plan. The way out of this is to have the project declared a ‘Project of State Significance’ and then the Threatened Species Protection Act does not apply. Good-bye handfish.

    Cheshire, I agree with you. I have known quite a few scientists/environmental managers who work for large resource companies (even FT), and the work they do is good. The efforts to conserve the brown butterfly in the Surrey Hills Estate is a good thing.

    I think the award is a PR charade. I know someone who went to the AEF conference (I would have gone, but lacked the money), they tell me that the ‘awards’ received no public airing at the conference, no lists of nominees and competitors, no public voting. At the end of the conference the AGM was held and after that finished the awards were announced.

    While the conservation work is good, the award is tainted and has no merit. It is greenwash. According to DIPWE the main threatening process for the brown butterfly on the Surrey Hills Estate is land clearing for tree plantations. Gunns business on the Estate is the threatening process for the butterfly and they are doing what is required of them, that is all.


    October 5, 2006 at 11:54 pm

    Well ! it appears that apart from one, the rest of you completely miss the point, especially when commenting on my obvious lack of writing skills rather than the important job at hand which went to prove my assumption, just a bunch of would be hacks trying to out do one another, however each and every letter, seven in all posted to my email was and will always be deleted unless the sender finds the balls to put aname to their crud.
    In the meantime on with the good fight.
    don davey

  11. Cameron

    October 5, 2006 at 11:26 pm

    Please, Kevin, keep your tissues. You’ll need them sooner or later.

    You said this in Post #29:

    “Furthermore, the issue of Gunns poisoning very common species of native mammal is not only irrelevant to the merit of Gunns’ work to conserve Oreixenica ptunarra, but is also questionably even an environmental issue (rather than an animal rights one) at all.”

    I’m sure that someone with your expertise can appreciate that ‘the environment’ consists of (among other things) ecosystems, which further consist of things like food chains and so on. If this is incorrect, please let me know. Anything which disrupts those foodchains–as 1080 poisoning as carried about by Gunns et al has the strong potential to do–affects, by logical extension, the environment. I’m quite baffled, I have to say, that you don’t seem to understand this. It seems blindingly obvious to me.

    Peruse information such as that linked below from the Tas Conservation Trust, and note particularly the long list of species–approximately 20–that are reported has having been affected. Guess what? One of them, the Eastern Barred Bandicoot, is even threatened–you can find it here:



    Whether this constitutes evidence or not in your hermetically sealed universe bothers me not at all, Dr B. It’s good enough for me.

  12. Dr Kevin Bonham

    October 5, 2006 at 9:38 pm

    Jon Sumby is doing his best to try to claim that “may” means “must” but it doesn’t, either in ordinary language or threatened species law. Contrast the use of “may” in the cases given above with “The Secretary must prepare a listing statement for any taxon of flora or fauna specified in Schedule 3, 4 or 5 as soon as practicable after that taxon is listed.” in Section 22, which gives an example of something that is required to happen (eventually!). The Act has overall objectives and the given sections of it indicate actions that in some cases must be taken, and in many cases may be taken where considered appropriate, to fulfill those objectives. For instance, it is common practice, and perfectly legal, to just prepare a listing statement and not bother with a management plan for those species for which no conservation benefit is seen in preparing a management plan, often for reason of lack of sufficient information to do so.

    Obviously if failure to take specific actions mentioned with the word “may” would result in the extinction of a species then it would be possible to argue that such inaction was contrary to the aims of the Act and that the government was compelled to choose that particular normally elective mechanism. No such evidence has been presented in this case.

    Furthermore even if a management plan was necessary under law, Jon’s case would still be incomplete as he would not have shown that the contents of that plan were the minimum concessions to the species Gunns could legally get away with.

  13. Dr Kevin Bonham

    October 5, 2006 at 8:28 pm

    Cameron, you made an insulting and dismissive comment about something I had said. “Piffle” means “nonsense” or “empty speech”, meanings which are both unflattering (where unproven) to the person making the comment, so don’t pretend your comment reflects solely on my statement, not that it would save you from being worthy of censure if it did. Ironically, the one guilty of “empty speech” was actually you since you provided no evidence for your claim and still have not! This rather tends to confirm that my grievous counter-insult “lightweight” was on target!

    It is amusing that you are now trying the get-over-it routine when you were the one to arch up about the things the nasty man was saying about you. So much for your claim to have thick skin – want a tissue?

    What you left me with was again irrelevant. Farmers losing money through water supply changes is an economic issue with no direct relevance to the condition of the natural environment. It’s quite possible the changes you discuss have some environmental impacts too, but you haven’t specified any or cited any evidence of them.

    Don DAvey: try writing using sentences and paragraphs next time if you expect anyone to bother reading that.

  14. Cheshire

    October 5, 2006 at 5:14 pm

    In the midst of this very spirited debate, I’ve got to say I have less issue with Gunns receiving an award for its grassland and butterfly management than were it to receive one for its overall environmental contribution to the state.

    For example, disapproval of Gunns’ forest practices might mean people choose not to buy wines from the vinyards that the company owns, but that does not necessarily mean the wines are poor quality of themselves. It also does not mean the wines are ineligible for judging in wine shows, and, if they win, it does not mean the award is a gold stamp for everything else that the company does.

    The existence of Gunns’ grassland management plan (albeit inherited) and the fact that the company are putting resources into actively implementing the plan on the ground are a good thing, irrespective of broader issues such as forestry activities in general, or the use of good publicity to distract from more contentious issues such as the pulp mill.

    Threatened species obligations do apply, but equally Gunns could let the grasslands degrade through ‘benign neglect’ rather than actively working to maintain them, and prosecuting for the former in court would be difficult if not impossible. Far better to have them doing the right thing.

    However, I do have an extremely strong issue with the way the award has been received. As pointed out, the AEF is effectively an offshoot of the IPA. It has shared resources with Timber Communities Australia, the Tasmanian branch of which used to go by the similarly misleading name of the “Forest Protection Society” before even Barry Chimpman thought that was a bit rich.

    Importantly, the IPA apparently receives funding from Gunns. Although Gunns did not directly fund the AEF conference at which they received the award, the company substantially funds the Forest Industries Association of Tasmania, who in turn DID sponsor the conference. This is a chain of vested concerns and conflict of interest that is typical of the rot throughout higher executive power in Tasmanian politics and industry.

    The fact that Gunns was very publicly excluded from the independent Banksia award a couple of years ago and now has to receive a consolation award in this covert way actually devalues that award and the work that on-ground Gunns staff have been doing on the grasslands itself.

  15. Jon Sumby

    October 5, 2006 at 1:18 pm

    Kevin writes: ‘That the Secretary is empowered with the listed functions does not require the Secretary to perform them at any time for every species on the list – hence the use of “may” in most relevant sections of the legislation.’

    The listed functions don’t ‘empower’ the Secretary, it’s the job description, the functions they are supposed to do; ‘to prepare and implement’ land management plans… recovery plans… etc.

    You seem to be using the word ‘may’ in the sense of choice: ‘I may go to the movies or I may stay at home and watch TV’.
    The Secretary may implement a recovery plan for the endangered handfish or may let the species go extinct.

    In the way it is used in the Act ‘may’ is a permission word, it describes the power the Secretary has to act. The word ‘may’ is used here in the sense of ‘Expressing ability or power; be able, can’ (OED).

    Consider this:
    ‘32. Power of Minister to make interim protection orders
    (1) The Minister may make an interim protection order to conserve the habitat, or part of the habitat, ɉ۪

    This clause specifically gives the Minister a power under the Act. The Minister ‘may make’ an order. The Minister is permitted, allowed, given authority to make an order. Part two makes this clear:

    ‘(2) The powers conferred by subsection (1) extend to the making of an interim protection order relating to acts done or omitted to be done outside the critical habitat…’

    The Secretary is also given some powers:
    ‘27. Threat abatement plans
    (1) The Secretary may prepare a threat abatement plan in respect of any process which, in the opinion of the Secretary, is a threatening process.’

    The Secretary is given the authority to make a plan and having done so implement it, with the permission of the Minister (who is ultimately responsible).

    You say the list of functions ‘empowers’ the Secretary. No – it is the job description, things they have to do. You say the word ‘may’ indicates choice. No – it delineates and defines the powers and authority the Secretary has to carry out their job to ‘prepare and implement’ actions to ‘provide for the protection and management of threatened native flora and fauna’. The word ‘may’ gives the Secretary the power, the tools, to carry out the Secretary’s functions. It is a more formal use of the word ‘may’, if I may say so.


    October 5, 2006 at 8:59 am

    well i have taken in some of the psuedo intellectual bullshit appearing here which as it appears to this old “realist” is a bunch of would be academics trying to outdo one another with their command of the english language which sadly my limited schooling failed me ,however i know crap when i hear it, about Gunns and the pulp mill, now get this ! we humans have only been around here for five minutes of recorded time ( millions of bloody years) unless of course your a god lover, in which case i,m just wasting my time, the indisputable facts are, the world is telling us through it,s current weather behaviour, cyclones, tsnami,s,eartquakes,mud slides, global warming which if you don,t believe is fact ,you need a lobotomy, we have bloody icebergs the size of small countries floating around for christ sake and “gunn,s” albiet small by world standards are contributing to the problem by the continued felling of tree,s which all you detractors know full well are the lifeblood of this planet, now i hear you spout but they are only using plantation tree,s, you don,t really believe that, not if you have the brains you profess ! fact ! two tractors with ball and chain can clear fell a football field in hours , it takes at least 20 or so years for a plantation tree to reach the stage of use so
    wake up and smell the flowers, and if you feel that all this is hyperbole ( thought i,d just use that BIG WORD just to get your attention ) then i reckon your in the pay of John bloody Gay.
    Don DAvey
    eardley st
    sth .launceston

  17. Cameron

    October 5, 2006 at 12:42 am

    I crossed the line? You’ve got to be joking. I stated an opinion which reflected my personal reaction to something you said–it was in response to the statement, not you. In return I get called names. If you call that fair, Dr B, then you own a very strange dictionary indeed.

    I could go on to say that if you are so sensitive about your comments being criticised, what the hell are you doing here? Get over it.

    Of course I expect that indulging in banter on this site will every now then get my fingers burned. I am used to it and really I couldn’t give a fig. My skin is thick enough, Dr, don’t you worry about that.

    I’ll leave you with this: potentially, plantations are severely disrupting the water cycle, on which neighbouring farmers rely to help with irrigations, keep the dams full, that sort of thing. Creeks that once flowed through farms have dried up; conversely, creeks where plantations have been harvested have started flowing again. Explain to me how this is not an environmental issue. In detail. I’m very curious.

  18. Dr Kevin Bonham

    October 4, 2006 at 8:06 pm

    Jon, you still don’t understand the legislation, and at this rate of non-progress, probably never will. The “threatened species strategy” is a general strategy supposed to direct the general conservation of threatened species, eg by recognising key general threats. It exists; I recall making a submission to it. That the Secretary is empowered with the listed functions does not require the Secretary to perform them at any time for every species on the list – hence the use of “may” in most relevant sections of the legislation. Again, as I stated above, the provisions dealing with critical habitat only come into play once a formal application for recognition of critical habitat is processed, a mechanism which is very sparsely, if at all, used. Similarly I am not aware of any IPOs being imposed in this case. You may think refusing to accept an award as legitimate without being able to prove it was incorrectly or incompetently awarded is reasonable practice. All I can say about that is: so much for the presumption of innocence.

    Cameron, I don’t think insults when dealing with the likes of you debase me in the slightest; it is simply calling people for what they are based on the manner in which they have acted. You seem to think that you get the right to call my comments “piffle” without giving any evidence for that claim and not get insulted in return. You don’t, you crossed the line, you need to get a thicker skin. You can’t go dishing out lame stuff like that then calling the concomitant reply “cheap” or “bordering on pathetic” without looking exceedingly silly and inconsistent.

    Your point about Gunns’ attitudes to common animals being “odd” is irrelevant unless you can demonstrate that there is a contradiction between that and support for an action to avert risks of species extinction (which is what they have received this award for). If you can’t demonstrate a link between the poisoning of common mammal species and a negative outcome for species conservation then your claim of inconsistency has not even got out of the starting blocks.

    As for the dodo, it is actually a matter of contention whether the thing was ever common while humans were on the island, and quite possible that humans were not the sole cause of its extinction but merely the final nail in the coffin (see, eg, http://www.abc.net.au/science/news/ancient/AncientRepublish_1678225.htm)

    That humans have caused an increased extinction rate is utterly irrelevant to this debate unless you can prove that Gunns are contributing to that process – even then it’s still irrelevant to the issue of whether their work on the butterfly specifically deserves praise whatever their other impacts. That dogs, an introduced species, have now and then been unintentionally poisoned is also utterly irrelevant to conservation – it is an animal welfare and personal sentiment issue. And on and on you go, even into the economic wellbeing of adjacent farmers, which is not at all relevant to species conservation or even “the environment” at all. It seems you are now straying into a generic anti-Gunns rant instead of focusing on the issues: was Gunns work on the butterfly praiseworthy or was it done under legal duress? should TWS have criticised the award or is doing so a publicity blunder? who else, if anyone, was nominated who should have won the award instead?

    Sir Edgar: Gunns advocates? I don’t see any of those on this thread.

  19. John Herbert

    October 4, 2006 at 4:23 pm

    How old is sir Edgar? The saying ‘those who are not idealistic when young have no heart and those who are idealistic when they are old have no brain’ seems to have been invented for old doomsdayers as your self. Mores the pity that some many wordy old folk seem intent on bleating on about doom and gloom rather than solutions that may appear in the true expression of the free market.

  20. crud

    October 4, 2006 at 12:37 pm

    I just read in the gunns weekly that a new cafe/deli opened in trevallyn.the owner said they will employ around 30 workers when they get up to speed.half a dozen more small business like this would employ about the same as the pulp mill will.no harm to people and the land and water with these clever,clean businesses.p.lemon and his cronys dont give a toss about these small operators.

  21. Sir Edgar Dumpy

    October 4, 2006 at 2:53 am

    Dear oh dear such dull rhetoric from the highly conditioned. The Gunns advocates inability to understand Australia’s place in world politics is profound.

    1. The environment has been altered by the way the human species uses its natural resources – extremes in weather conditions and an average global air and sea increase over the past forty years being more pronounced over the preceeding decade is just touching the surface.

    2. Global fractional reserve baking system nearing global collapse – global housing bubble, global credit bubble, undermining of the petrodollar by the SCO among others.

    3. Peak Oil – complete sociatel dependence on cheap and abundent oil and the failure to reform industry, society, economic strucutre and governance to cope with its affects.

    4. War for the last remaning resources – oil, water, gold/silver, uranium etc.

    5. Corruption of all levels of Government and industry and their lackeys – Australian troops are being pushed forth like well trained attack dogs for Americas oligarchial corporate fascist empire

    – unsustainable forestry practises –

    People who defend institutions like Gunns and their masters are either insane, stupid or both.

    There are however ways for the human species to live in balance, and make that choice it must otherwise the remanats will be using words such as inter generational genocide and omnicide.

    Sir Edgar Dumpy

  22. Cameron

    October 4, 2006 at 1:46 am

    You’re having a grand old time, aren’t you Kevin? You’re clearly an articulate and intelligent person, which is why its all the more disappointing when you debase yourself by resorting to insults.

    It’s cheap, Dr B. Very cheap. Bordering on pathetic.

    And of course the mantra of the New Tasmania had completely slipped my mind–economics excuses everything, doesn’t it? Those pesky little wombats are eating our profits–so bugger ’em. I am aware that these species are plentiful, but you miss my point that the attitude expressed towards these creatures by Gunns–and yourself, it seems–is an odd one.

    I’m sure people said the same thing of the dodo when they marched onto Mauritius–there’s plenty of them. They probably kept saying it until the day they had real trouble finding one.

    I’m not saying that we are going to live to see the wombat and various species of possum become extinct, but deny me this–species have extinguished themselves at a much more alarming rate through human intervention than they would otherwise.

    And among the ‘bycatch’ you mention are, on at least two instances that I am familiar with though I bet there are others, pet dogs. Are these expendable too? Are there too many beloved pooches out there?

    And since you might be interested in a more environmental issue, consider water. Deny for me, please, that plantations represent enormous drains on water catchments and surrounding supplies. Deny for me that farms neighbouring plantations have experienced considerable problems with their water supply–less groundwater, less run-off, etc. Deny for me, Dr Bonham, that the plan to take 29 gigalitres of water a year from the Trevallyn Dam to supply the proposed pulp mill, at a time when we are potentially heading into a severe drought (if we aren’t already caught up in it) represents an environmentally sound use of this water, which will not be recycled but dumped as toxin-bearing effluent in Bass Strait.

    There are inconsistencies here, Kevin, really there are. If Gunns seriously cares so much about a species of butterfly, why doesn’t it give a toss about the seals on tenth island–who will almost certianly be exposed to accumulatuing levels of dioxons from the mill effluent? Seals aren’t nearly as cute–that must be it.

    It’s all about the PR isn’t it?

  23. Jon Sumby

    October 3, 2006 at 11:21 pm

    Kevin writes: ‘Contrary to Jon’s claim, the Act nowhere requires the Government to prepare a management plan for a listed species, but only provides mechanisms by which this may occur.’

    The TSPA says:
    ‘”Secretary” means the Secretary of the Department;

    The Secretary has the following functions:

    (a) to prepare a threatened species strategy;

    (d) to prepare and implement species recovery plans and threat abatement plans;

    (e) to prepare and implement land management plans and land management agreements;

    (f) to take such action as may be necessary to protect threatened native flora and fauna;

    (h) to recommend to the Minister the making of interim protection orders;’

    Kevin writes: ‘It can be therefore seen that Jon’s claim that Gunns are only doing what they have to do, which would be incomplete even if everything he said was true, is incorrect because it is based on severe misunderstandings of the Threatened Species Protection Act.’

    I am not a lawyer and may have misunderstood the Act, however, my understanding is that the Act requires actions be taken to protect and conserve Listed species. Once critical habitat or populations of a Listed species are found the Act requires that a management plan be developed in co-operation with the landowner. Gunns has co-operated with the legislation; no more, no less as far as I can see.

    Kevin writes: ‘I don’t need to explain what, if anything, Gunns has done above and beyond the law to deserve an award, because the burden of proof is on those trying to claim that the award was incorrectly awarded to demonstrate that it is so.’

    I am unaware of any burden of proof that I need to carry, or that I need to prove the award was ‘incorrectly awarded’. To do that implies that I accept the validity of the award, which I don’t.

  24. Dr Kevin Bonham

    October 3, 2006 at 7:40 pm

    Julian Simon was a very interesting character. Far from being a “neo-Con’s neo-Con” as Jon Sumby asserts, he was more accurately a libertarian, a position that does not fit easily on simplistic right-left spectrums. Far from being a political conservative, Simon was, economically speaking, extremely radical, and his optimistic vision of human potential is a very risky one that any true conservative would hesitate to follow. However he was best known for his frequent debunkings of the neo-Malthusian enviro-gibberish of his time, and about this he was admirably correct, as the silly predictions of doom within decades made by the Paul Ehrlichs of this world in the 1970s have utterly failed to materialise. Essentially he was the overcorrection that environmental thought of that period had to have – but it is not clear whether today’s greens have entirely learned the lesson. I suspect it is in this contrarian spirit (and with a little cheeky stir to the infamous Ehrlich-Simon bet, which Ehrlich lost) that the AEF names an award after him. For more info see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julian_Lincoln_Simon

    As for Jon’s post 33, Schedule 1 is not missing from the Austlii site but appears when you click on “62.Administration of Act” directly above Schedule 2. I did not link to thelaw.tas.gov.au because the only address for a direct link to the TSPA I could find on that site is extremely long. 5,000 hectares is not less than 0.05% of 107,000 hectares, but just less than 5%.

    It is indeed an offence to take listed fauna but Jon missed two caveats – “knowingly” and “without a permit”. It is the first caveat that makes enforcement of the Act tricky and legally ambiguous, hence my comments above. It is also true that there is a critical habitat provision in the Act, but the identification of habitat as “critical habitat” by experts and the recognition of habitat as formally critical under S 23 of the Act are not the same thing. Formal declarations of critical habitat have used been extremely sparsely, if at all (I recall some complaints from Green MHAs about this matter). Indeed, I am not aware of any cases of formal declaration of critical habitat under the Act.

    The Act does require the preparation of a listing statement for a species as soon as praciticable after the species is listed, but some species have been on the list for almost a decade without this yet happening. Contrary to Jon’s claim, the Act nowhere requires the Government to prepare a management plan for a listed species, but only provides mechanisms by which this may occur.

    It can be therefore seen that Jon’s claim that Gunns are only doing what they have to do, which would be incomplete even if everything he said was true, is incorrect because it is based on severe misunderstandings of the Threatened Species Protection Act. I don’t need to explain what, if anything, Gunns has done above and beyond the law to deserve an award, because the burden of proof is on those trying to claim that the award was incorrectly awarded to demonstrate that it is so.

  25. Jon Sumby

    October 3, 2006 at 4:45 am

    How could I miss this!

    Wow! The AEF has the ‘Julian Simon Award’!!!

    Sorry, but I have to blabber about this.

    I got caught up in a sideline about Gunns , then saw the award for a classic political strategy run by duck-shooters, and only at the last saw the ‘Julian Simon Award’.

    The AEF is populated by members of the IPA, who in turn are linked to the CEI, the Heritage Foundation, and… the Cato Institute. Beloved of the Cato Institute is Julian Simon, an economist who was a torch-bearer for: ‘Promoting an American public policy based on individual liberty, limited government, free markets and peaceful international relations.’

    Julian Simon was a neo-Con’s neo-Con, so far Right that he could appear Left. Why is a small Australian organisation, the Australian Environment Foundation, naming one of it’s national awards in honour of an American economist who was extremely conservative, a climate change sceptic, and a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute?

    Ask the IPA, which was founded by Charles Kemp, whose son, Rod Kemp (a Liberal party Senator, who transformed the IPA into neoliberal organisation funded mainly by big business groups pursuing a hard-right, pro-free-market, pro-privatization, pro-deregulation and anti-union agenda), became the leader of an organisation that is against the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, in favour of genetically modified organisms and supports the logging of native forests.

    Charles Kemp’s other son, David Kemp, was a leading light of the right-wing faction of the Liberal Party, along with John Howard.

    At the annual C.D. Kemp Memorial Lecture, John Howard said (in 2004) that ‘the Institute [the IPA] has played a role in shaping, as well as articulating, our nation’s values.’

    Why does the Australian Environment Foundation have a ‘Julian Simon Award’?

  26. Jon Sumby

    October 3, 2006 at 2:55 am

    Kevin was right, I was working on supposition… but informed supposition.

    The AEF has now put up their awards on their website. Gunns won their award because: ‘It actively manages 5,000 ha of Montane grasslands in the Surrey Hills Estate so as to conserve threatened plant and animal species. The latter include the Ptunarra Brown Butterfly (Oreixenica ptunarra).’
    ( http://www.aefweb.info/display/environmental_awards.html )

    The Surrey Hills Estate is an area of land of some 107,000 hectares that is being cleared and converted to plantation timber. The area that is being maintained for butterfly conservation is less than 0.05% of that area. It is considered critical habitat for the brown butterfly.

    Kevin suggests referring to the austlii webpage to read the Threatened Species Protection Act (TSPA).
    I suggest http://www.thelaw.tas.gov.au as it is easier to navigate and contains Schedule 1, which is missing from the Austlii site.

    The TSPA is: ‘An Act to provide for the protection and management of threatened native flora and fauna and to enable and promote the conservation of native flora and fauna.’

    Under the Act it is a convictable offence to ‘take’ (i.e. kill, harm or capture) species that are listed.

    Habitat can also be brought under the Act if it is considered critical for the survival of a Listed species. It is a convictable offence to harm or destroy critical habitat.

    When a species is listed, the Government must develop a management plan to protect and conserve the species. This plan involves co-operation with landowners whose land holds populations of Listed species or critical habitat.

    Management plans are designed as recovery programs, threat abatement programs, or management to protect the Listed species.
    If a landowner doesn’t come to the party, a protection order can be issued.

    As far as I know, Gunns is a law-abiding corporate citizen, it works within the law as it is written; that is a part of corporate due dilligence.

    On part of Gunns private property an area of critical habitat has been found for the TSPA Listed vulnerable species, the brown butterfly. Gunns has worked with the Tasmanian Government to continue a management plan for the brown butterfly; a management plan that was started by the previous owners, North Forest Products Ltd.

    Gunns has done nothing more and nothing less than what is required of it by law.

    Now, remind me, what has Gunns done that deserves an award? Awards are usually for going ‘above and beyond’ what is normal practise or actions that ‘lead by example’.

    Can I have an award for driving at the speed limit, please? It will look good on my CV and I may get some good PR!

    Hmm, Gunns has been remarkably silent about their award thus far – no adverts in the Press, no featured highlight on their website…

  27. Dr Kevin Bonham

    October 3, 2006 at 2:07 am

    Wrong Cameron. You said “let me see if I have this straight”, but you didn’t have it straight, you had a biased summary of the debate thus far that repeated one side’s arguments while ignoring the other’s even though there were unanswered arguments against the former.

    You haven’t demonstrated anything inconsistent about Gunns’ practices thus far, My comments re Gunns and mammal poisoning in reply to you related specifically to the poisoning of common and non-threatened species like wombats and possums. If a corporation or person thinks that keeping species alive is one of the most important aims of conservation, they will not necessarily be troubled by population control measures aimed at common species.

    Awards are frequently given for specific projects rather than on the basis of a nominee’s overall contribution. I myself have been to far more mainstream environmental awards presentations at which companies not necessarily noted for green tendencies have been recognised for individual projects they have done.

    You can falsely and without evidence declare my statement to be “piffle” all you like but that does not make it so and you only reveal yourself to be a lightweight who is dodging the issue in so doing. You would do better to answer the question implied: if a species is common and secure and its browsing activity becomes an economic problem then how is its killing an environmental issue? I reckon it most likely isn’t, and that the battle against 1080 is far more effectively fought on either animal rights grounds or *convincing* evidence regarding widespread bycatch of threatened species.

  28. Cameron

    October 2, 2006 at 10:35 pm

    Well of course I’m taking a side, Kevin. So are you. That’s generally what happens in an argument.

    Your response, #29, puzzles me though. You don’t disagree that the attitude of Gunns to some species of our native wildlife seems a little … cavalier, shall we say, while other species–the cute little ones with wings in this case–seem to be worth saving.

    Why is that, Dr Kevin? Would you consider that this represents an inconsistent attitude towards this island’s fauna? My argument is that if there is inconsistency–save the butterflies, bugger the wombats–how is that deserving of an environmental award, regardless ultimately of who sponsored it?

    It does not seem to add up, and I won’t even begin to untangle your contradictory statement about the plight of wombats and possums not being an environmental issue, except to say that its piffle.

  29. Rick Pilkington

    October 2, 2006 at 8:28 pm

    Nicely summed up Cameron.

  30. Dr Kevin Bonham

    October 2, 2006 at 6:44 pm

    Cameron, your post shows that you haven’t really been following but are just taking a side. If you had been following the debate carefully you would have noticed that Jon Sumby has, to this point, completely failed to prove that Gunns are doing no more or less than the law requires. It is supposition on his part, backed by an apparently erroneous understanding of the mechanics of the TSPA. Furthermore, the issue of Gunns poisoning very common species of native mammal is not only irrelevant to the merit of Gunns’ work to conserve Oreixenica ptunarra, but is also questionably even an environmental issue (rather than an animal rights one) at all.

    As for forest companies sponsoring awards, well, here we go again. It is the height of sanctimony to insist that corporations perceived as baddies by environmental activists therefore cannot sponsor environmental awards without those awards being automatically dodgy.

    My point here is not to argue that the award is necessarily innocent. Rather, it is to point out that those who are complaining about the award are doing so in an extremely unconvincing fashion that will only draw attention to it and make themselves look silly. If I was thinking of raising public concerns about such an award (and I have some experience in raising concerns about genuinely dodgy awards, eg in the local music scene) I would aim to obtain information about it. Who were the judges, what were the criteria, how was the award advertised, who else was nominated, etc. When you have information like that (or even if the organisers refuse to give it to you) you are often in a position to make a far more compelling case that an award was suspect – where that is indeed the case. Ad hominem whinges against all the organisations involved are no substitute for actual evidence that an award was improperly given.

  31. Cameron

    October 2, 2006 at 2:23 am

    Some of the core issues of this thread seem to have become lost; let me see if I have this straight. Gunns gets an environmental award, from a company sponsored by, among other esteemed organisations, Monsanto and the Forest Industries Association. The basis of this award seems to be certain things that Gunns have implemented as they are required to do by law. No more, or less, as I believe Jon Sumby put it.

    Science or not, this award would seem have very little in the way of credibility. I don’t get an award for getting out of bed every morning and going to work. And Gunns is the company that, as revealed in interviews in recent years, needs to keep wombats and possums at acceptable levels–‘there are too many of them’, I believe Mr Gay said in one memorable grab.

    There are also too many bullshit environmental awards, apparently. Perhaps this one came out of a Cornflakes packet.

  32. John Herbert

    October 1, 2006 at 9:40 pm

    The last paragraph from Kev Bonham’s last post deserves applause.

  33. Dr Kevin Bonham

    October 1, 2006 at 9:28 pm

    Jon, I am well aware that there are many government authorities (and far more than you list) fool enough to recognise the precautionary principle as a guiding light for environmental decision-making. I did not say there were not – I only observed upon the fondness for it the environmental movement displays. I have discussed my objections to the principle many times here before, but I would be interested in people’s answers and reasoning to this question: Does the proper application of the precautionary principle mean that a green activist should not speak out to attack perceived environmental tokenism if a possible outcome of doing so is loss of corporate support for conservation? In my view the answer is clearly yes, but whether that reflects worse on the principle or the activist is up for grabs.

    In trying to prove that Gunns only did what the law required them to, Jon argues “Under the Threatened Species Protection Act landowners with populations of Listed species are required to develop a management plan to protect and preserve that plant or animal.” Anyone who wishes to read the Act for themselves (http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/tas/consol_act/tspa1995305/) can see that this is not at all correct. If it was, every landowner whose land was ever occupied by a Tasmanian devil would need to prepare a management plan, which would quite clearly be ridiculous. What the Act actually says is that the Secretary may, in consultation with the landowner, make a land management plan. The Act is relatively toothless in many regards, especially as concerns the ambiguous interpretation of prohibitions regarding the “taking” of listed species. Enforcement against unwilling private landowners is practically quite difficult, and even if all a landowner is doing is sticking to a good legally binding management plan that they co-operated with and agreed to, they deserve credit even for co-operating to that extent. As it happens, Jon still provides no evidence as to whether the exact actions performed by Gunns in the area exceed or “merely” match their legislative requirements, presumably because he doesn’t know.

    John Wayward puts his foot in it in his usual dillish fashion by writing that “Organisations like the IPA and AEF [..] are now standing bravely against the solid ranks of the scientific community on the issue of global warming.” In fact this press release: http://www.aefweb.info/media777.html shows the AEF clearly agreeing that the global warming is real and that emissions need to be curbed. (As his basic ignorance of AEF’s actual position makes Wayward’s whole post look suitably foolish I’ll just ignore his vacuous twitterings about me in the rest.)

    So if the Greens’ attitude to global warming is evidence-based then so is the AEF’s. Unlike Barry I do significantly equate the Greens as a party with whatever string of issues, minor or otherwise, they get involved with, and I have noticed they are quite prone to lend their support to such campaigns with much the same style of disingeneous rhetoric as the local groups. It is typically far easier to analyse whether a group values scientific evidence highly by considering its actions on specific issues, rather than by looking at vague high-level policy goals and motherhood statements that are usually not accompanied by detailed scientific argument.

  34. Jon Sumby

    October 1, 2006 at 5:27 pm


    If you’re interested in greenwash and anti-environmental activity watch 4Corners tonight (2nd Oct 8:30pm), the program is called, ‘The A-Team’ and examines the anti-enviro activities behind the scenes of the public debate. Well worth watching.

    In other news: The controversial review of the Great Barrier Reef protection plan (as I mentioned in comment No 12) has recommended two things:
    1. The RAP be frozen, which means there will be no change to fishing industry activity on the Reef.
    2. GBRMPA stays in Townsville as an autonomous Authority. Rumour was that GBRMPA was going to be drawn into DEH but this seems to be not happening. However, it appears that ‘constraints’ upon GBRMPA are developing.

    Finally, you mentioned, ‘that favourite green warhorse, the precautionary principle…'(PP). You are behind the times. The PP is well recognised in environmental law and management and is part and parcel of international agreements and regulations. I refer you to Jon Neville’s piece ‘Oceans in Crisis: An Update’, where he points out that CCAMLR uses the PP as part of it’s process. CCAMLR is a fisheries management system that recognised world-wide as a model of good practise… just as the GBRMPA management of the Great Barrier Reef is considered World-wide as an excellent and respected model of conserving a natural ecosystem.

  35. Barry Brannan

    October 1, 2006 at 4:50 pm

    Kevin: in response to post #11, you are probably right that many of those local forestry battles are fought for aesthetic reasons and people go looking for whatever excuses they can find. I don’t equate these small battles with the Greens overall.

    The broader policies of the Greens are scientifically based: in the very least I would hope none of the policies are in clear conflict with scientific evidence. If there are any then let me know.

    I can give you an example of how Greens policies are scientifically based: there is scientific evidence that carbon dioxide emissions are responsible for global warming that will result in harm to people. Using this scientific basis, the Greens make a value judgement and establish a policy to reduce emissions.

  36. Amanda

    October 1, 2006 at 4:29 pm

    “Timber company, Gunns Limited, has won a national environmental award for the management of grasslands and an endangered butterfly species in Tasmania’s north-west. The award was given out by the Australian Environment Foundation, which was launched last year. The foundation promotes itself as a science and evidence-based environmental movement. It has links to the Institute of Public Affairs and the timber industry.” ABC Online Friday, 29 September 2006.

    Follow the link below to see who sponsored the conference where the above award, among others, was announced. I would have thought that any environmental organisation with Forest Industries Association of Tasmania and Monsanto providing sponsorship, leaves themselves open to more than a couple of questions as to their motives.

    Another sponsor, Auscott, is a cotton grower-processor, hardly an industry you would equate with environmental excellence, given the amount of water and chemicals this industry uses.


  37. John Herbert

    October 1, 2006 at 3:19 pm

    “Greenpocrisy” defined as the actions and words of individuals that directly contradict their actions and words in relation to actual good done towards their cause.

    Get out and cut some firebreaks, spend a few weeks picking up litter, volunteer for a you local fire department. You can actually help the environment rather than upholding a long grudge match that has run its course in Tasmania. Over forty percent of Tasmania is after all national park is it not.

  38. Jon Sumby

    October 1, 2006 at 3:13 pm

    There is a document available from Gunns Resource Management Section called ‘Management of Native Grassland Reserves in Surrey Hills’.

    It specifically mentions the brown butterfly:’Protecting and enhancing white grass communities by controlling the level of grazing and maintaining the natural ecosystem by burning is a high priority to conserve this butterfly.’

    The AEF award is for managing grasslands and the brown butterfly in the north-west. The north-west area is mentioned on Gunns website: ‘Gunns owns approximately 185,000 hectares of land in Tasmania in many holdings across Tasmania, of which the largest are in the northwest of the state. This estate is managed primarily for wood production, and approximately 110,000 hectares is now established as plantation. However extensive areas are voluntarily reserved for a variety of values, such as endangered species (eg.ptunarra butterfly).’

    Under the Threatened Species Protection Act landowners with populations of Listed species are required to develop a management plan to protect and preserve that plant or animal. The Act also directs that the Government will provide support to landowners in developing those management plans. As far as I know, this support came from DPIWE in the form of advice on what sort of management strategy would best preserve the butterfly populations in the Surrey Hills Estate.

    When North owned Surrey Hills a management plan for the grasslands/butterfly was developed, as required under the Act. Gunns would have continued this practise as it is required to by law.

    This management in the north-west is the only mention of grasslands/butterfly I can find in relation to Gunns website or elswhere. There is no indication that they’re buying up land off-site to preserve the butterfly; funding research or community groups; running awareness campaigns in the north-west, etc.

    If the award was for something other than management of the grasslands/butterfly on Gunns property, I can’t find it nor is it mentioned on the AEF website.

    If the award is for Gunns management of grasslands/butterflies on their Surrey Hills Estate, then that award is for what Gunns is doing, and are required to do, under the Threatened Species Protection Act. No more, no less and they get a public relations greenspot too!

    On another note, I had to smile when I saw the list of the AEF Conference sponsors:
    Forest Industries Association of Tasmania;
    Auscott (major cotton-growing company);
    Murray Irrigation Ltd (irrigation and water investment company);
    Daintree Saltwater Barramundi (aquaculture company).

  39. John Hayward

    October 1, 2006 at 2:25 pm

    Organisations like the IPA and AEF have always worked tirelessly for worthy causes. They spent millions to protect the threatened tobacco industry, and are now standing bravely against the solid ranks of the scientific community on the issue of global warming.

    Notwithstanding their cruel rejection by scientists on almost every front, they continue to brandish the “science” banner in every campaign against all foes, who invariably turn out to be drunk on “emotion”. They have done remarkable work in synthesizing organisms, such as the AEF and TCA, which look remarkably like the genuine article to anyone less than a bull’s roar away.

    Gunns deserves all credit for not logging the grasslands of its killing fields, as does Dr Kev for declaring his independence of scientific convention. The IPA has earned our everlasting gratitude for contributing a kind of digital enhancement to public discourse in Australia.

    John Hayward

  40. Tomas

    October 1, 2006 at 12:20 pm

    Rick Pilikington – thanks for the smug, put you back in your box response. I used to follow Annoyed’s posts with interest but kept silent as he was doing a good job combatting the Greens and their various lefty nutter mates. He seems to have departed so I thought I should step in and fight the good fight. Guess he got fed up with the constant witless propaganda.

    On the Greens and their buddies (incl the lefties who have taken over the Greens, Wilderness Society etc) – long, long history of being anti-science – just use it as propaganda when it supports whatever rubbish they are up to. Jon Sunby should know this as he is doing a PhD on science and policy. Sounds like one of those parastic biased sociological treatments of science that we get from the leftist corridors of our once great Universities.

  41. Dr Kevin Bonham

    October 1, 2006 at 1:43 am

    Jon: you write “Gunns is doing nothing more and nothing less than what Tasmanian law requires.” I am curious as to what knowledge, if any, of the exact nature of Gunns’ activities with respect to the butterfly, you base this claim on, or if it is simply supposition on your part.

    Also, in referring to environmental harm that may have been done to the butterfly by North Forest Products, are you seeking to paint Gunns as guilty or hypocritical in some sense on account of having purchased the business? If so, seems like a very long stretch.

    As for “greenspotting”, while the MOP example is very interesting (and shows the need for scepticism about the motives of environmental campaigns in general, *many* of which are motivated by undeclared factors) it is totally irrelevant to this case.

  42. Jon Sumby

    October 1, 2006 at 1:38 am


    ‘Greens pro-science?’
    You mock.

    Let me tell you this story:
    Greenpeace (those ardent anti-science liars) once got concerned about cockle fishing in the UK. The cockles were taken by sucking up the seabed with a giant pump that took the seabed and everything in it, sucked it up, spat it out onto a sieve and the cockles were picked out and everything else dumped.

    Greenpeace (those ardent anti-science liars) were concerned that this may have a damaging effect on the ecology of the areas where the seabed was being pumped up and then the waste dumped back onto it.

    They commissioned a scientist to examine the situation. You would expect that this scientist, as a hired consultant for Greenpeace (those ardent anti-science liars) would discover that the World was about to end. He did not. He reported that, although there was limited and local disturbance, the seabed recovered swiftly and completely.

    Greenpeace dropped the issue.

    The scientist went on to write a seminal fisheries management book; was the Director of the Australian Institute of Marine Science; and then a Professor of Marine Ecology at Adelaide University.

    That’s just one example of how greenies are anti-science and pay no attention to scientific facts.

    As for the scientist involved?
    He told me to never worry about working for environmental organisations, just let the science do the talking. Which is advice I think every science graduate should pay attention to – there is nothing bad or dangerous about working for an environmental organisation.

    Just the fear there may be.

    However, the amount of dubious ‘science’ that is provided by scientific consultants hired by business to support their development plans is astounding.

  43. Tomas

    October 1, 2006 at 1:10 am

    Jon Sunby would have people believe that because the AEF has a different origin and set of backers, it has no right to be involved in environmental activties. That it was simply set up to promote the interests of industry. What a silly perspective. Is this why the Greens drove the Democrats into the ground? Competition for the environmental space a bit hot for you Jon?

  44. Rick Pilkington

    October 1, 2006 at 12:54 am

    Green this, Green that.
    Tomas, are you related to a bloke who goes by the name of ‘Super Annoyed’?
    Matey, unless you only happened upon this website yesterday, you would realise that on TT there is no more usual character than Bonham. And I dont see that his expertise is anything but slightly related to the major issue being argued here (I am not going to spell that out for either-reread the thread!)

    And Dont worry about Bonham he can stick up for himself. And I take exception to you suggesting that I was mocking the good doctor. I was just mocking some of his comments. I derive great pleasure from reading his long winded attempts to squirm out of the corners he backs himself into. As for being a smart-alec. Yeah big deal-so what? This place is full of them, get used to it buster!

  45. Tomas

    September 30, 2006 at 11:35 pm

    Greens pro-science? Well, interstate they and their affiliates have tried to close down institutions doing medical research with animals. Also, what about the implaccable resistance to genetic manipulation of agriculture? Baloney to the Greens on supporting the science. They pick and choose the evidence that supports their world view.

    I also see that the usual characters mock and criticize Dr Bonham who has the audacity to bring an expert opinion to the issue. Brenda Rosser may have a lot of verbage to contribute but nothing of substance. Rick Pilkington is simply being a smart alec – I think he thinks he is being humorous?

  46. Jon Sumby

    September 30, 2006 at 11:16 pm

    Second, the award:

    Gunns has a PR problem, especially with all the fuss and bother over the proposed pulp mill at Bell Bay. An environmental award is a greenspot of PR goodness for them.

    It is true that the brown butterfly is listed as ‘vulnerable’ under the ‘Threatened Species Protection Act 1995’.

    It is true that North Forest Products owned the Surrey Hills Estate, which is an area of some 107,000 hectares.

    It is true that by 1997 some 42,500 (just under half) had been converted to tree plantations.

    It is true that North gained a special licence to accelerate the cutting and conversion of the Surrey Hills Estate from the Forest Practises Board, a Board that was partially funded by North.

    The ‘bulk of the six populations of the butterfly [in the north-west] are currently contained within North Forest Products’ private reserve system.’ (DIPWE Ptunarra Recovery Plan 1998-2003)

    It is true that Gunns has bought North Forest Products.

    The species was listed as vulnerable by IAC (1994) on the grounds of ‘Dramatic loss of habitat and decline in density’, with threats noted as ‘forestry, clearing, overburning and grazing of grassland’. In the north-west, ‘the major threat to this localised subspecies is from clearing and replacement of native vegetation by plantation forests, particularly of eucalypts.’

    It is also true that ‘the Threatened Species Protection Act 1995 provides a framework for the protection of threatened species by the Government with the co-operation of landowners. Through the Act, landowners receive support in the preparation of management and threat abatement plans to protect threatened species. Voluntary co-operation, education and management agreements are important components of the Act, and only in extreme cases should protection orders be used’ (RPDC SOE Report, 2003).

    Under the Threatened Species Protection Act (1995), Gunns has a legal obligation to take action to protect and conserve the brown butterfly and it is continuing the management plan that North Forest Products started. If not the company could be fined. A protection order could be issued under the act to protect the species from damage.

    Gunns is doing nothing more and nothing less than what Tasmanian law requires. Does that deserve an award? When was the last time you got an award for driving at exactly the legal speed limit on the Brooker?

    The Surrey Hills Estate covers more than 100,000 hectares, half of which has been cleared and made into plantation forests. 0.05% of that 100,000 hectares is a ‘private reserve’ to protect a vulnerable species, as Gunns is required to do by law.

    In my imagination, I think that national awards are given to those who have done more than what is expected of them, more

  47. Jon Sumby

    September 30, 2006 at 11:13 pm

    I would like to address a couple of points.
    First, the AEF:
    In my opinion it assists in the corporate technique called ‘greenwashing’, defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as:

    ‘Disinformation disseminated by an organization, etc., so as to present an environmentally responsible public image; a public image of environmental responsibility promulgated by or for an organization, etc., but perceived as being unfounded or intentionally misleading.’

    Greenwashing came from the ‘greenspots’ effect, which describes corporations using advertising and PR to come out in ‘greenspots’,and showing how environmentally good they are. It also extended to Governments, who traditionally get greenspots when they truck out their environmentally friendly policies to woo voters.

    Greenwashing is a deeper layer where corporations singly, or united, develop strategies to undermine or co-opt environmental organisations or issues. For example, the climate change sceptic group, ‘Friends of Science’, was exposed as an oil industry front-group on the 12th August 2006 by investigative journalists writing for the Canadian newspaper, ‘Globe and Mail’.

    In Australia my favourite is ‘Mothers Opposing Pollution’.
    ‘In late 1993, a group called Mothers Opposing Pollution (MOP) burst onto the scene, calling itself “the largest women’s environmental group in Australia with thousands of supporters across the country . . . The group comprises mainly mothers and other women concerned with the welfare and rights of Australian women.”

    MOP’s cause? A campaign against plastic milk bottles, which centered on the issues of waste disposal, the carcinogenic risks of milk in contact with plastic, and reduction in the quality of milk as a result of exposure to light. “The message to the consumer is never buy milk in plastic containers,” said spokesperson Alana Maloney. MOP also campaigned in New Zealand, where it issued a “world wide warning” about the cancer link to plastic milk bottles and urged consumers to stop “buying milk in plastic bottles because we believe there is a very real and deadly risk of innocent consumers contracting cancer.”’

    MOP turned out to be one person, who was the owner of the PR company that represented the manufacturers of cardboard milk cartons. The intention was to drive consumer buying toward cardboard milk cartons and away from the increasingly popular plastic milk bottles.

    The AEF has strong links to Australia’s main right-wing think-tank, the Institute of Public Affairs, and to the forestry industry supported Timber Communities Australia. If you go to the AEF website, you’ll find that they are developing their policies and agenda. These largely reflect the IPA’s. For example, a year or so ago, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority closed 30% of the Reef to commercial fishing. This created a backlash from the industry up to, and including, the powerful peak group the ‘National Farmers Federation’, and has resulted in a review of the GBRMPA by the Government.

    The IPA has an interest in fisheries and has a backgrounder that questions, in particular, degradation of the Reef as a result of industrial resource use. This IPA ‘backgrounder’ was written by Dr Walter Starck. Dr Starck was a featured speaker at the recent AEF national conference, ‘because we put so many restrictions in the way of our fishery that fishermen are finding it impossible to operate’ (The ABC Counterpoint show, 4th Sep06’).

    The IPA stands for the ‘free market’, ‘limited government’, and ‘individual freedom’. All of these are code for the corporate roll-back of environmental regulation, public health and safety regulations, taxation, and workers pay and conditions and a creation of an Adam Smith-like, ‘lassiez-faire’ environment typified by the Industrial Revolution and the ‘robber-barons’ of 19th century America.

    The AEF is a creature of the IPA and as Senior Fellow at the IPA, the IPA’s former Executive Director, and a Director of the AEF, Mike Nahan wrote in the Sun-Herald, the AEF is, ‘“pro-biotechnology, pro-nuclear power, pro-modern farming, pro-economic growth, pro-business and pro-environment.”’

    The AEF may be a ‘new’ environmental group, but it is naïve to think that it is one separate from, or independent of, industries that use natural resources. Like Timber Communities Australia, the AEF is there to act as a support, and as a foil, for industry, it’s wealthy owners and the people who serve them.

  48. Dr Kevin Bonham

    September 30, 2006 at 11:07 pm

    So Brenda, what long-term damage is caused by forestry of the kind you describe that would mean a person concerned about the long-term state of the environment needs to oppose it? I ask because you’ve never been too good at getting beyond the short-term aesthetic issues and your constant obsession with chemicals, and on to the scientific demonstration of significant long-term damage.

    Rick: I don’t need to provide any evidence at all here because I am employing (for the sake of amusement) that favourite green warhorse, the precautionary principle, and it is widely believed in the green movement that the mere unproven possibility of damage is a debate-stopper. Given that it is theoretically possible Marr’s comments will lead to a loss of goodwill and to Gunns being less inclined to persist with their conservation efforts re the butterfly, the onus is, by common green rationale, on Marr and his supporters to demonstrate that this is not the case and that his comments are harmless to the species. They could do this, for instance, by proving that Marr is an irrelevant lightweight whose buffoonery would have no actual impact on the intentions of a major company to do good things for the environment. If anyone wants to argue that I am wrong and that Marr should be allowed to make his comments irrespective of the impact on the species, either on the grounds that Marr is irrelevant or on the grounds that the precautionary principle is rubbish, go right ahead!

    As for my comment about Marr’s failure, that related solely to the content of this particular press release, and it is a fact that that press release is bereft of an effective argument to prove that Gunns are damaging. I cannot comment on any other Marr press releases at this stage. Please do not encourage me to read/reread them, in case this failure is not an isolated case!

    Stereotyping occurs on all sides of the equation and towards all other sides. No side has a monopoly on being victimised in this regard. But good to see you agree with my main point.

    Barry Brannan claims that the Greens and TWS do base their views on evidence but, ironically, provides no evidence for that claim. My experience from issues I have been involved with is that many green activists make up their minds first and look for evidence to support that case later. The mad scramble for records of threatened species whenever a coupe beloved by locals for primarily aesthetic reasons irrelevant to science is threatened with logging, typifies this process. I would be interested to know of any cases Barry can give me of either the Greens or TWS dropping a campaign in progress when the evidence supporting it was (as it quite often is) debunked.

  49. Barry Brannan

    September 30, 2006 at 9:21 pm

    It is wrong to suggest that groups such as the Greens and Wilderness Society do not base their views on science and evidence. They do. It is also wrong to suggest that these groups do not have the ability to see the world from a different perspective.

    There are always different perspectives and there will always be disagreements. I am quite certain the AEF and Greens/Wilderness Society have a very different world perspective and they will disagree on many things.

    The biggest problem with the AEF is that their primary motivation is to protect industry interests. “Science” and “evidence” is only a small part of their decision making process. The rest is value judgements.

    For instance, the AEF state one of their core values: “the needs and aspirations of people should receive due consideration”. So if people want to drive V8s and have massive airconditioned houses, will the AEF give “due consideration” and not do anything to discourage it? Time will tell.

    Those who think John Howard is an environmentalist will probably also love the AEF.

  50. Rick Pilkington

    September 30, 2006 at 7:58 pm

    “Overall though, my impression is just one of disgust that Alec Marr and pals would further endanger a threatened invertebrate by criticising positive recognition for steps taken to protect it from an unexpected source” (Bonham).

    Kevin. Where is your evidence that the Ptunnarra Brown Butterfly is now “further endangered” because Alec Marr criticised the choice of Gunns as recipient of the aforementioned award?

    Also, your comment that “Marr has completely failed to demonstrate that Gunns activities are environmentally damaging” would be laughable if it were not so sad. I dont believe that you have your head that deep in the sand Kevin (let’s hope not) as much as I do believe that you are probably just out to antagonise.

    Especially in light of your comment follows about Green activists negatively stereotyping Gunns. Ha!! You and I both know Kevin that if there is one “group” of people that are negatively stereotyped in Tasmania it is environmentalists. It has been that way for a long time.

    For the record, as my other post alludes to, if I were In Alec Marr,s position I would have probably just let it slide, and not given the story anymore oxygen. Nothing to be threatened about there (no pun intended)

  51. Brenda Rosser

    September 30, 2006 at 5:00 pm

    Kevin Bonham said:
    “[the ‘hardline green groups’] angst about them only reflects firstly, the scientific complexity of environmental issues and the difficulty of demonstrating a single core optimally environmental position on them..”

    Oh, terribly, terribly complex all this. Gutting 90% of the native forest coupe after coupe, replacing them with an alien monoculture tree, aerial spraying toxic chemicals repeatedly, harvesting by clearfelling every 12-15 years and burning most of the biomass using napalm like substances.

    Us poor little confused people couldn’t be as clever as Dr Kevin Bonham.

  52. Dr Kevin Bonham

    September 30, 2006 at 4:46 pm

    Brenda is making the same mistake as Alec Marr – if you don’t agree with all her dogma you’re just not good enough to be in the greenie club anymore. She doesn’t seem to realise that by excluding people who may agree with some but not all of her sentiments, she could be discouraging people who may not share all her views from still helping the environment. Although given her constant shrill ranting on this site, if any human being other than her miniscule collection of knee-jerk sycophants takes her views as useful or representative I shall be very much surprised.

    Quite aside from none of Brenda’s points being definitive beliefs for an environmentalist (even if #4 was true it would still only be tangentially relevant at best), all of them are very debatable if not simply incomplete or false. For instance even a monopoly company has a motive to innovate where that innovation cuts production costs and increases profit.

    Probably, there is no single core belief which all people who can reasonably be classified as “environmentalists” hold. In one context, the term can be applied to any kind of activist on behalf of the environment, whatever their motives and beliefs about it. In another, it might apply to everyone who displays a certain level of concern for environmental issues. Trying to say “you must believe X or else you’re not in the fold” is both empirically invalid and pragmatically stupid.

  53. Rick Pilkington

    September 30, 2006 at 2:53 pm

    I wouldnt feel to threatened about this little triumph for big woodchipper. This award will do nothing to improve Gunns environmental credentials in the eyes of the mainstream, particularly mainstream Tasmanians.

  54. Tomas

    September 30, 2006 at 1:27 pm

    I remember having a look at Tasmanian Times when it first started and have just recently come back to the site. Some of the contributors have changed and there are many good articles of broad interest.

    However, in many ways it seems to be a one-way street for Greens twsited points of view but it is good to see some sensible posts.

    The Greens seem to have taken an interesting turn in recent years where they have decided who their enemies are – non-aligned environmental groups, christian groups etc. The interesting thing about this is the inability to see the world from a different perspective.

    Case in point is the AEF – surely, depsite the views of Sumby and Marr, a reasonable person can see that Gunns has done some good work here, no matter what the motivation may be. Likewise, the Greens and Wilderness Society sometimes do something of value.

    B&W views of Sumby and Marr represent the unfortunate manipulation of the environmental cause towards political ends.

  55. Minnie Bannister

    September 30, 2006 at 12:41 pm

    Kevin and Very annoyed, you are so so RIGHT.

    The AEF gave my Henry an environment award when he burnt the back paddock because “it promoted the revegetation of native grasslands”.

  56. Dr Kevin Bonham

    September 29, 2006 at 10:53 pm

    I would be interested to know where Alec Marr’s evidence is to support his claim that Gunns’ operations have caused a reversal of numbers for any species, and for the wedge-tailed eagle in particular. Indeed I would be interested in any evidence Marr can provide that there has even been a reversal in wedge-tailed eagle numbers at all. Published population estimates for the species have been rising significantly in recent years. This is probably not due to actual population gain to any great degree, but to more comprehensive surveying, but unless Marr has credible older population data I am unsure how he can back any claim of population decline, let alone one of population decline due to a single factor.

    The tenor of Marr’s attack is threadbare and ill-advised. Even if one accepts that Gunns’ activities are environmentally damaging, which I shall do for the sake of argument although Marr has completely failed to demonstrate it, there is nothing hypocritical about such a company striving to find some ways to assist the environment. Surely if such a company does so in spite of the persistent negative stereotyping of it by activists, such a decision should be praised. It is no wonder that activists whine about this publicity for Gunns, given that it obstructs their constant black-and-white attempts to paint the company as flat-out evil, but whining about the publicity will only give more publicity for the award and make more people aware that Gunns helps butterflies and the Wilderness Society is dumb enough to have a problem with that.

    Then there is the AEF. Our correspondents have provided plenty of links but not the obvious one where readers can judge for themselves: http://www.aefweb.info/index.php . The award Gunns won was presumably the one for “environmental management in forestry.” I wonder if those complaining about the award are in any position to comment on what other nominations may have been received for this award from a new group.

    Hardline green groups are up in arms about so-called fake environmental groups like this one. However, their angst about them only reflects firstly, the scientific complexity of environmental issues and the difficulty of demonstrating a single core optimally environmental position on them (this especially applies to issues like biotech and nuclear power) and secondly, the extent to which the extremism of many green groups has left a gaping hole in the ideological market for industry-aligned groups to target. That hole is the one occupied by people who prefer considering evidence rather than jumping on silly bandwagons. The green movement needs to cater better for such people, to the extent that its message is scientifically sound at all, or risk losing their support to the movement embodied by groups like AEF.

    Overall though, my impression is just one of disgust that Alec Marr and pals would further endanger a threatened invertebrate by criticising positive recognition for steps taken to protect it from an unexpected source. Irrespective of what Marr thinks about either the awarder or the recipient, his primary tone should surely be to note that good work is being done for a threatened species, instead of just ranting negatively because his own group’s environmental comment empire has a competitor.

    This press release by Marr is nothing but an endless succession of own goals in that regard and the new group must be rubbing its hands with glee!

    For the record, I have never worked for Gunns, nor have I been a member of or involved with the AEF.

  57. Brenda Rosser

    September 29, 2006 at 7:03 pm

    That’s the trouble with many environmental groups. They can’t be pro-agriculture, pro-plantation, pro-economic growth (with no adequate definition of real wealth) and be pro-environment too!

    Being an environmentalist requires an understanding of the following:

    1. that modern agricultural models of production mean a depletion of biodiversity, soil, water and air.

    2. that the drive for industry to achieve greater and greater profit with less and less effort is behind the degradation of our biosphere.

    3. That the ‘get-big-or-get-out’ philosophy ultimately leaves us with a handful of corporations dominating our landscape who have no incentive to innovation. Nor do they, through their drive for profit, have inclinations to moral sentiments.

    4. That such industrial models not only leave our Government and regulators morally bankrupt but do also result in monetary bankruptcy. Look at how big business can now move capital at will out of Australia to cheap labor and resource nations such as China and India. Such mobility of capital is causing huge trade imbalances and national currency destabilisation. This along with the resultant volatility of financial markets is almost certainly about to lead to an economic crash, the likes of which we may never have witnessed before!

  58. very annoyed

    September 29, 2006 at 4:48 pm

    Following his response to Gunns gaining recognition for its work in the NW to maintain habitat for the Ptunnarra Brown, all I can say to Alec Marr is what an ungracious individual you are.

    By your ill tempered attack on Gunns and the AEF are you saying that the butterfly work is phony? You demonstrate why the Tasmanian Greens are irrelevant piss ants.

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