Sid Marris, Paul Maley The Australian
MILLIONS of dollars of forestry assistance was handed out in Tasmania without proper assessment under recommendations from a committee peppered with industry representatives, the audit office has found. A range of forestry projects worth $13 million were handed money with little detailed information or the complete scrutiny of an independent assessor. The Australian National Audit Office suggests that decisions under the program were rushed, not “transparent” and failed commonly accepted standards for grants, in a report into joint commonwealth and state forestry industry assistance projects worth $56 million. The program was established after John Howard’s 2004 election victory.
In one of the largest grants, $7.9 million for the Malaysian subsidiary Ta Ann, the Tasmanian Government took it on itself to bypass some of the rules in approving money. In some approvals, assessments were so poor it was unclear whether applicants even owned the timber and forestry assets for which they sought taxpayer assistance. Some projects received additional money with no explanation given to approving ministers from the state and federal governments – Tasmanian senator Eric Abetz and former Tasmanian minister Bryan Green. Read more here
Sue Neales Mercury
THE National Audit Office has questioned the appropriateness of at least $13 million of federal government grants to Tasmanian forestry companies in the past two years. Read more here