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


A Scottsdale Fairytale

LONG, long ago, in a land far away called South Australia, there lived a King. His name was Adrian de Bruin, but his loyal subjects simply called him King Adrian of Auspine.

King Adrian’s realm was extensive, and included a small principality called Tongenah in north-eastern Tasmania, where around 150 hard working men and women milled radiata pine logs to help make King Adrian even wealthier. King Adrian didn’t like to travel too far from the comfort of his castle, so Prince Andrew Jakab was charged with protecting the King’s interests in far-off Tasmania.

Prince Andrew was a sharp and astute businessman, and he was well aware that not far from Tongenah, Baron Kevin French was also milling radiata pine at a much more modern sawmill than King Adrian’s.

Prince Andrew also knew that the woodcutters, labouring under the cruel Count Rayonier, had been told that from the year 2007, less timber would be available for the two Tasmanian sawmills. In fact, Prince Andrew was well aware that no matter how hard the woodcutters were driven by evil Count Rayonier, there wouldn’t be enough pine logs. In short, either Baron Kevin’s, or King Adrian’s mills would be forced to close.

In a case of fortuitous timing though, Baron Kevin decided that he was at a stage in life where hunting elk were more interesting pastimes than chopping up radiata pine logs. Baron Kevin called for expressions of interest in his estate, which independent analysts figured was worth around $18 million.

Prince Andrew’s eyes widened at the news. Buying the Baron’s estate would not only give him a modern sawmill, it would also guarantee that King Adrian would be the only buyer for Count Rayonier’s timber in future years.

Paralysed by excitement, and possibly becoming King Adrian’s favoured Prince, Andrew offered to buy Baron Kevin’s sawmill for $35 million. Baron Kevin couldn’t believe his luck, grabbing the cheque with both hands and cashing it at the Royal Bank of Scottsdale that very afternoon. When last seen, the now very wealthy Baron Kevin was enjoying the sunshine at his new principality of Noosa.

Prince Andrew had but one more challenge before he would surely receive his just rewards from the King. Convincing Count Rayonier to sell him all the available timber for the next 20 years.

Driven by commercial imperatives, the Count didn’t prove an easy catch. The Count’s masters, GMO Renewable Resources and Forestry Tasmania had been selling pine to King Adrian and Baron Kevin at low prices for years, and were determined that the time had come to start making a profit on their investment.

So Prince Andrew, showing a creative streak still not apparent to many, decided to call in reinforcements. He told the Town Criers that Count Rayonier was being unreasonable in negotiations, and if he couldn’t buy timber cheaply enough, King Adrian would have to sack some of the 313 workers now employed in Tasmania by the Auspine Empire.

He also talked to his mates in the Liberal Party, who had proved to be useful in similar battles in King Adrian’s homeland.

Former foot soldier, The Emperor Lennon.

“Don’t worry,’’ the Liberal court jester said. “There’s a State election coming up, and we shall surely throw Emperor Lennon from his throne, and install Lord Hidding instead.”

“Then you shall have your resource deal,” the court jester promised.

Taking the Liberals at their word, Prince Andrew told Count Rayonier that he was asking too much for his timber. When the Count proved resistant, the Prince offered a lower price for the logs, believing that he was the only possible buyer.

Not long before the State election, Prince Andrew made another offer, not only lower than the preceding bid, but offering even less than he was paying for timber currently. Suspecting that the conniving Liberal court jester was playing a part in the negotiations, Count Rayonier called a halt to further discussions until after the election.

History now shows that Emperor Lennon was gloriously returned to power, the would-be Lord Hidding was consigned to the dustbin of political history, and Prince Andrew was starting to realise that within nine months, King Adrian’s loyal workers would be standing idle, possibly discussing why Prince Andrew couldn’t buy some timber to keep them working.

The Prince wasn’t too concerned; after all, the Count had to sell his wood to someone, to keep his woodcutters working. So Prince Andrew continued his aggressive stance, knowing deep down that the pine was his.

Until Knight Andrew White from Forest Enterprises rode in on his white stallion, throwing Prince Andrew’s plans into disarray.

Knight White had been buying pine logs from the Count for years, and unlike Prince Andrew, had been able to agree on reasonable commercial terms after brief negotiations.

“Give me all your timber,” the Knight said to the Count.

“I’ll pay a good price, and I’ll build a nice, modern sawmill to process it.”

The Count was a fair man; cruel, but fair, so he went back to Prince Andrew and said:

“Prince Andrew, Knight White would like to buy my logs, but in the interests of commercial equity, I’ll give you another chance. How much will you pay?”

After checking with the King, Prince Andrew wrote his final offer on a scroll, and delivered it to the Count. Following a cursory glance at the Prince’s offer, Count Rayonier quickly concluded that his masters would be far better served selling their pine to Knight White, who was happy to pay much more than Prince Andrew.

Days later, Count Rayonier called the Town Criers and told them the news. The woodcutters would keep their jobs, but from April 1, the logs would be delivered to Knight White, not Prince Andrew.

Prince Andrew was devastated. His gamble hadn’t paid off, and he now had to go back to the King and tell him the Tasmanian estate was worthless. The chances of a Lordship were looking increasingly slim.

King Adrian was blunt.

“Summon the buglers, and gather the army,” he said.

“Tell them to advance on the Emperor, and insist he intervene in the foolish decision to give my pine logs to Knight Andrew.”

Like any faithful servant, Prince Andrew did his King’s bidding, and launched his entire army of 313 against the might of Emperor Lennon’s vast bureaucracy.

The Prince used his finest weapons. Fear, paranoia, and a fanatical devotion to duty.

Realising that his army were unlikely to find another squire when the evil Count took their logs away, Prince Andrew told his charges to use any means to pressure the Emperor.

The Emperor stood fast against the accusations of the Prince’s army. Being a former foot soldier himself, he understood the machinations of using a workforce as a tool to forge a better commercial outcome for the rightful holders of power and wealth.

Trying to appease the workers, Emperor Lennon even approached other fiefdoms within his domain, trying to find other sources of logs for Prince Andrew’s mills.

But Prince Andrew had returned to the Kingdom of South Australia, to plot the next move with King Adrian …


Jarvis Cocker is an independent media and communications consultant specialising in the Australian financial sector. He has previously worked as a senior manager with one of the country’s largest stockbroking firms and as a policy advisor to a Federal Government department. Now living in Tasmania, he tries to temper his sometimes rabid capitalist views with infrequent visits to the Tasmanian wilderness.

Earlier, Simon Bevilacqua, The Unwitting Pawns of Scottsdale:

FEA is involved in a joint venture with ITC known as Smartfibre Pty Ltd, which has a modern export woodchip facility at Bell Bay near Launceston. It annually exports about 300,000 tonnes of woodchips, including more than 200,000 tonnes of eucalypt hardwood chips, to Japan and China. Most of ITC’s plantations are certified by the international Forest Stewardship Council, which boasts more than 5000 participating companies worldwide. The certification is demanded in many export markets concerned about native old-growth logging and unsustainable practices. The certification has taken off in Australia, with the number of companies involved expanding from 10 to 30 last year. Victoria’s big players — ITC, Australian Paper, Hancock Victorian Plantations and Timbercorp — have certification. Gunns and Forestry Tasmania, however, do not. They recently gained different certification, the Australian Forestry Standard, which allows old-growth clearfell logging.

Read more here

What Gunns has told the ASX: Here

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


  1. Pete Godfrey

    July 7, 2008 at 9:23 pm

    To Woodworker, the fantasy rant was a carry on of the article you are replying to,
    The part about millions of tons of prescious wood is not fantasy. What do you think causes the smoke in the massive forestry burnoffs that we have every autumn.
    As far as the value of the wood you as a woodworker would know that most of our forests in fact 85% TO 95% are woodchipped. Woodchips are worth about $12 per tonne to us the owners of the forests and about $150 to Gunns ltd when they sell them.
    On the other side wood that is burnt such as Silver Wattle, Blackwood, Sassafras and Myrtle are worth at least $3500 per cubic metre when processed into lining or flooring.
    Or should one find any fiddleback then Blackwood or Silver wattle can fetch up to 100,000 per cubic metre.
    ON the Australian Forestry Standard it is pretty lame , I have spent the last 3 years writing to SAI Global and to the forest certification companies over the non compliance of FT and Gunns with this standard. As you would know AS4708 is a voluntary standard FSC is not.

  2. George Harris aka woodworker

    July 5, 2008 at 11:05 pm

    Thanks for reminding me about that disgraceful article written by Simon Bevilacqua in The Mercury in February, 2007. In it he shows his true colours as a forestry hater, and a sympathiser for points of view promoted by the Greens and the Wilderness Society. He shows a clear bias in favour of the Forest Stewardship Council, and he denigrates the Australian Forestry Standard.

    The FSC may have been the first accreditation option available in Australia, and the whole area of such accreditation is relatively new, but the AFS has been adopted by Standards Australia, and now has much more forest under accreditation than FSC. AFS has also been endorsed by PEFC, based in Europe, which globally has much more forest under certification, and whose reputation is beyond reproach. FSC, on the other hand, can grant certification on as little as a ten per cent sample, and is criticised by many conservation groups around the planet. Look at http://www.fsc-watch.com The reason so many forestry operators dislike FSC is because it gives ‘sit-down money’ to anti-forestry action groups. Who could blame them?

    Reading Pete Godfrey’s little fantasy rant was quite amusing, especially the third last paragraph about the serfs scavenging logging coupes and finding millions of tonnes of precious timbers. It also reminded me of something. Some years ago a self-styled forest activist baffled people with bullshit about finding and documenting large quantities of special timbers after logging operations had concluded on specified coupes. The problem was he ‘found’ significantly more than was documented by forestry planners and logging contractors when they looked at the areas in the first place. These people walk the coupes together before logging commences. Both are interested to get the best return for their efforts, and suffer the least penalty or lost opportunity arising from mismeasurement. My understanding is that this is the same bullshitting activist who almost single-handedly wrote the Greens’ Forest Transition Strategy, and boy, does it show….

  3. Cathran

    July 5, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    With reference to Gerry’s letter to the ASX I would like to know if the failure of Gunns to refute headlines regarding the start date for the pipeline as reported in the Examiner 25th June was illegal and used to prop up the share price.

    If the Examiner carried the headline “Pipline to start on 4th August” on June 25th and again in an article on 2nd July why didn’t Gunns refute this?? It must have been a handy headline to prop up the share price so they let the lie continue.

    When challenged on this headline the Examiner reporter said an August 4th estimated start date had been given to the Federal Government by Gunns in April and as far as they are concerned this still stands. They have no knowledge of any alteration to this date and Gunns have not publicly denied the start date.

    If the press in Tasmania prints rubbish are we to believe the 3 page article/advert given to John Gay in last week’s Examiner?? Has anyone challenged his statement that the price of the mill has fallen slightly!? If this was true the project scope would have had to be changed dramatically or they are subtracting any subsidies for infrastructure that the State Government might supply. Why didn’t the pathetic reporter challenge him on this??

    It just proves to me that the Examiner is a plaything of Gunns to be used and abused at will.
    The lies continue!!


  4. Charles and Claire Gilmour

    July 5, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    It’s ALL about jobs remember, apparently! Big Gunns was going to save Tassie and all the childrens future by pied pipering them into the Gunns pulp mill factory. Do the 130 people from Scottsdale get a job in the Pulp Mill? Do the contractors who are being laid off? Obviously Gunns will not be creating more employment.

    Where is the CFMEU standing up for the workers of Gunn’s other mills that are falling apart?

    Where are the State Labor Government and it’s union thugs checking on occupational health and safety in these degrading mills?

    Are they waiting for an accident to happen first?

    Smithton’s plant had fire, it’s roof fell in, it’s antiquated. By long term workers accounts all their mill are falling apart, ie Western Junction, with Gunns Lindsay street mill being the worst.

    Gunn’s are out to save/look after no one, but themselves. For the State and Federal governments to continually have given Gunns money and ‘special’ legislation …

    … where have Gunns put the money?

    Wouldn’t be at all surprised that over the next while there will be more job losses and closures.

    And Labor has given Gunns a 20 year monopoly on the forests? For whose benefit? Oh that’s right it’s ALL about jobs and workers – which ones? Certainly not the retrenched ones, or those working in crumbling mills. They have been just as used and abused as the state and public has been.

    What a joy (a rare moment of sarcism!) it has been to have Gunns come in and take over – water catchments, land for food, endangered wildlife habitat, burn ancient forests and smoke us out, make promises of jobs, jobs, jobs, to only turn their backs and be let off for all the rotten things they do by an irresponsible government.

    How beneficial is such a company to an economy? Is it really worth it?? NO!

  5. Pete Godfrey

    July 4, 2008 at 10:09 pm

    So to continue the story.
    As it passed the baron john bought the whole kingdom and managed to get the government to pay him a princly sum to pretend he was going to keep the sawmills running. Of course subterfuge was the order of the day as it always was and baron John closed one mill down and sacked all the serfs.
    For serfs that are not working are much cheaper and easier to control than ones that have a job.
    Then the unthinkable happened the Serfs rose up and took control of the sawmill, they sent their friends out scavenging the logging coupes and found millions of tonnes of wasted resource and before Baron John and Count Bob could burn the timber the friends of the serfs took it and hid it as fast as they could. The serfs then processed all the waste material and made fine boards of prescious timbers from the waste.
    They sent envoys overseas to find other workers’ co operatives to sell their produce to and to swap for goods they needed to make their town of Scottsdale into an inpenetrable fortress so they could protect their families form the Baron and the Count in the future.
    The Friends of the Serfs continue to this day to steal the forest waste before it can be burnt and the whole town thrives because of their foresight and their courage in standing up to Baron John and Count Bob

  6. crud

    July 3, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    HAVE the long tentacles of corruption infiltrated the asx as it has tas police.gunns sure is a protected species.

  7. pat synge

    July 3, 2008 at 1:09 pm

    The official ASX complaint form is available at http://www.asx.com.au/supervision/complaints/company.htm

  8. Steve

    July 3, 2008 at 1:14 am

    Well put Gerry. You have put into words my exact thoughts on reading the announcement to the exchange. I’m actually puzzled as to how they continue to get away with this stuff. Like all the statements about having finance in place. Obviously all the investors care about is the continuing flow of MIS money.

  9. Jason Lovell

    March 5, 2007 at 3:14 pm

    “I like the bit where Jason Lovell quotes again from the most utterly discredited piece of current affairs journalism in recent Australian history – Ticky Fullerton’s Lords of the Forests on 4 Corners.” [#7]

    Are you suggesting that the quote I have provided is “discredited”?

    Are you saying that Lennon DIDN’T state (on camera), “[n]ow, Graham Green, the Wilderness Society, Dr Brown and Mrs Milne, Olivia Newton-John and everybody else that you can peddle out might not care about Tasmanian families in this industry and people working in this industry, but the Tasmanian Government does.”

    I think you’ll find that while several parts of that particular Four Corners were found to be innacurate, the quote I have used is not in question and never has been.

    So (I guess) what you’re actually doing is implying that you support the mooted changes to the Fair Contracts legislation, changes that will allow the forest industry to shaft contracted forest workers whenever it feels the need to do so?

    I may be wrong about Richard’s motives, … so share the joy with all of us Richard … really, what ARE you saying?

    Jason Lovell

  10. Justa Bloke

    March 2, 2007 at 7:15 pm

    Don, I am not sure exactly what “we” are supposed to do. I think the people of Scottsdale are capable of deciding how they will vote in 2010 without any guidance from me.

    One can hope that they will have seen through the bullshit from politicians of all persuasions and employers who are only in it for a buck.

    A clear analysis of one’s situation and its causes is an important first step, but only a first step. You seem to be advocating a further step, but I doubt that the first has yet been taken, and until it is a second is impossible even to plan, let alone to take.

  11. Richard

    March 2, 2007 at 12:48 am

    I like the bit where Jason Lovell quotes again from the most utterly discredited piece of current affairs journalism in recent Australian history – Ticky Fullerton’s Lords of the Forests on 4 Corners.

    Why didn’t you quote another of her fantastic insights from that show – like her intro when she announced that Van Diemen discovered Tasmania?

  12. john reeves

    March 1, 2007 at 10:01 pm

    Jarvis, thats hilarious, also sad in that its so true and not over. Good story mate.

  13. David Obendorf

    March 1, 2007 at 2:56 pm

    Jarvis Crocker, please, please continue your illuminating fuedal-feidom fairy tale. Does it get to have a ‘happy ending’ full of smiling faces and ‘everafters’ or will it be a Brothers Grim tale with a shocking or tragic end?

    It all goes to show that truth can be stranger than fiction.

    Me thinks the good Emperor is getting tied of his puppeteers that pull his strings, his court jesters that reassure him that he is fully clothed. But alas now even his subjects have grown weary and are now openly turning their backs on the naked king.

    Tasmanistan and the Imperial court of Emperor Lennon is looking fragile and sickening with corruption. Perhaps Emperor Lennon may decide the soon-to-be-vacant mantle of ‘CEOunt’ in the gambling kingdom of TOTE is more worth his while! Fall on your sword and do what you enjoy, Emperor Paul! The horses and the dogs await you at the track. Punting and gambling are more your style.


    March 1, 2007 at 2:18 am

    J.b,s last comment may well be true ! however that doesn’t mean we don,t at least try ! to do nothing is an acceptance of defeat.
    In this case the die is cast ! (The) motley crew are goner,s come next election and so why not feather the nest with what time they have left ! isn’t that what being a good little politician is all about ?

  15. Justa Bloke

    February 28, 2007 at 5:06 pm

    It might be disgusting, Jason, but it’s a fact of life. In voting for the ALP, one should always be aware that one is voting for big business and for shafting the little guys.

    On the other hand, do you believe the Liberals are less committed to what you call “the power of the big bosses” and more likely to side with the workers when the crunch comes?

    Most of the timber workers in Scottsdale right now think that’s so, but they’d be in for a rude shock if Hodgman & co actually became the government.

  16. Jason Lovell

    February 28, 2007 at 1:58 pm

    The above comment (#1) again shows just how “committed” the Lennon Government is to jobs and fair play in the forest industry.

    That is, Lennon and his cronies are committed to forestry workers if the enemy can be identified as environmentalist(s), otherwise their commitment leans heavily towards the bosses and well away from the workers.

    Its worth (again) revisiting Lennon’s comments on the issue of employment in the forestry sector:

    TICKY FULLERTON: Tasmania had planned to pull out of old-growth clear-felling and chipping by 2010, but that now seems unlikely.

    PAUL LENNON: We’re not prepared to sacrifice a single job in meeting that deadline target of 2010.

    TICKY FULLERTON: So jobs are directly attached to old-growth foresting?

    PAUL LENNON: My word. My word.

    TICKY FULLERTON: For as long as any Tasmanian can remember, the issue has been jobs. And jobs are Government’s justification for its forest policy.

    PAUL LENNON: Now, Graham Green, the Wilderness Society, Dr Brown and Mrs Milne, Olivia Newton-John and everybody else that you can peddle out might not care about Tasmanian families in this industry and people working in this industry, but the Tasmanian Government does.”

    So, when the enemy are the environmentalists, Lennon and his mates “care about Tasmanian families in [the forest] industry and people working in [the forest] industry”.

    But when the profitability of the big player(s) starts falling, the real truth comes out; Lennon’s commitment to workers and their families disappears, replaced by a commitment to increase the power of the big bosses to shaft and financially ruin those very same workers and families.

    This is utterly disgusting.

    Jason Lovell

  17. Real Change

    February 28, 2007 at 4:45 am

    It’s high time for an international forestry and plantation audit in Tasmania

    Be aware Premier Paul Lennon: “This smacks of political interference.”

    Be aware: … all this under the AUSTRALIAN FORESTRY STANDARD (AFS) , backed up by the international PEFC*, as Sustainable forest management is based on environmentally, socially beneficial and economically viable management of forests for present and future generations.


    Lennon’s law bid infurates workers
    SUE NEALES Chief reporter

    March 01, 2007 12:00am

    FOREST contractors are furious the State Government is trying to weaken legislation protecting the integrity of their log-harvesting contracts with large timber companies.

    The Government proposes major changes to laws on long-term contracts held by logging firms that favour powerful timber players Forestry Tasmania and Gunns Limited.
    The draft changes to the Forestry Fair Contract Code, if approved, allow timber companies to cancel, reduce or shorten harvesting contracts in the event of changes in demand for products such as woodchips or sawn timber.

    But Tasmania’s 320 log contracting firms, which employ more than 2500 forest workers, believe the changes are an attempt by the large timber corporations to shift their export and business risk on to small family businesses.

    Mark Sealy, the head of broker Sealy Mazengarb who negotiates finance deals and wood supply contracts on behalf of more 140 log contractors, is stunned Premier Paul Lennon’s government is moving to change the Forestry Fair Contract Code.

    “I wasn’t even aware this was in the wind,” he said yesterday.

    “This smacks of political interference.”

    The move follows a ruling last year in the Supreme Court that Gunns had no right to terminate a five-year annual contract for the supply of 30,000 tonnes of woodchip timber a year by harvesting firm N.D. Jackman when it still had more than three years to run.

    Gunns lost the arbitration hearing and a later appeal in a closed court, where it argued it should be able to break the contract because a collapse in world markets for woodchips reduced its need for pulpwood.

    The case was pivotal to the timber industry as most contractors have been struggling for 18 months since harvesting contracts were reduced by Gunns to as low as 40 per cent of the original agreements.

    Mr Noel Jackman’s case returns to the Supreme Court today for deliberations about how much damages or compensation Gunns must pay.

    The key change to the Forestry Fair Contract Code is the addition of a clause stating that as long as a timber company could not have “avoided, overcome, mitigated or remedied” a situation — such as a world downturn in demand — by a “prudent and competent standard of care and diligence”, that it be allowed to alter or break contracts.

    Forest Contractors Association chief executive Ferdie Kroon told Michael Leonard, the director of Major Infrastructure Projects in the State Resources department, who is overseeing the review, that the changes were unacceptable.

    The Government did not respond yesterday when asked why Mr Leonard was overseeing the law change rather than the Attorney-General’s department, which normally drafts legislative amendments
    * http://www.pefc.org/internet/html

    Welcome to PEFC. The PEFC is committed to promoting sustainable forest management …

    Sustainable forest management is based on environmentally, socially beneficial and economically viable management of forests for present and future generations.

    Sustainable Forest Management
    Sustainable Forest Management is defined as ‘the stewardship and use of forests and forest lands in a way and at a rate that maintains their biodiversity, productivity, regeneration capacity, vitality and their potential to fulfil now and in the future, relevant ecological, economic and social functions at local, national and global levels, and that does not cause damage to other eco-systems’. Sustainably managed forests are those whose management implements performance standards based on internationally agreed environmental, social and economic requirements.

    For more information please contact:
    Mr Oliver Scholz, Communications Manager PEFC Council
    info@pefc.org Tel. +352 26 25 90 59
    Mr Dirk Teegelbekkers, Secretary General PEFC Germany
    pefc-deutschland@t-online.de Tel: +49 711 24 84 006

    PEFC Council ASBL
    2éme Etage
    17 Rue des Girondins
    L – 1626 Luxembourg

    Tel. +352 26 25 90 59
    Fax. +352 26 25 92 58
    E-Mail: info@pefc.org

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