Tasmanian Times

Environment

Real number employed in forestry

John Hawkins

With extreme difficulty I have discovered from the ABS the breakdown of the 11,406 people working in Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Forestry and Logging standing alone employs 1,240 males and 225 females making a grand total of people directly employed in Forestry in Tasmania of 1,465. Indirectly employed in wood product manufacturing and listed under manufacturing are 2,049 males and 257 females, a total of 2,306, in pulp paper 978 males and 136 females a total of 1,114, therefore a total of 3,420.

It is well known that there are lies, damned lies and statistics, but the Census should provide a reasonably accurate indicator. Dr Julian Amos states and I quote “the forest industry plays an important part in the economic and social fabric of this state, including the direct employment of 6,000 [ABS 1,465] Tasmanians and indirectly a further 11,000. [ABS 3,420]”. He has refused to answer my previous challenge and I look forward to his spin on challenge number two.
ARGUMENTS seem to abound over the number of people employed in Forestry in Tasmania. To determine this matter accurately I made a visit to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) website for the results, as published, in the 2006 Census for Tasmania.

This is the result:

• Manufacturing – 21,175
• Construction – 13,677
• Wholesale and Retail – 31,750
• Transport, Postal and Warehousing – 9,379
• Finance and Insurance – 5,334
• Professions, Science, Technology and Services – 8,911
• Public Administration – 17,233
• Education and Training – 16,930
• Health Care and Social Assistance – 23,363
• Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries – 11.406

The breakdown for those employed within the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries industries is:

• Labourers – 3,411
• Machinery operators and drivers – 813
• Sales workers – 54
• Clerical and Administration – 563
• Community and Personal Service Workers – 48
• Technicians, Trades and Specialised Workers – 595
• Professionals – 476
• Managers – 5,339

With extreme difficulty I have discovered from the ABS the breakdown of the 11,406 people working in Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Forestry and Logging standing alone employs 1,240 males and 225 females making a grand total of people directly employed in Forestry in Tasmania of 1,465. Indirectly employed in wood product manufacturing and listed under manufacturing are 2,049 males and 257 females, a total of 2,306, in pulp paper 978 males and 136 females a total of 1,114, therefore a total of 3,420.

It is well known that there are lies, damned lies and statistics, but the Census should provide a reasonably accurate indicator. Dr Julian Amos states and I quote “the forest industry plays an important part in the economic and social fabric of this state, including the direct employment of 6,000 [ABS 1,465] Tasmanians and indirectly a further 11,000. [ABS 3,420]”. He has refused to answer my previous challenge and I look forward to his spin on challenge number two.

John Hawkins
Chudleigh

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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. George Harris aka woodworker

    February 26, 2010 at 1:27 am

    [comment deleted]

    There are many reasons why ABS data spreads timber industry workers across a number of classifications, but to get a real indication of those involved in the timber industry, or any industry, requires a much more close examination than the most crude ABS data. Even the ABS itself, when contracted to do so, produces much more detailed information on specific industries than is represented in its basic published data.
    For a much more thorough examination of employment in the timber industry, have a look at the following: http://www.crcforestry.com.au/publications/downloads/TR-184-Schirmer-revised.pdf

    [comment deleted]

  2. john hawkins

    February 3, 2009 at 12:45 am

    Still no sign of Julian

  3. Gerry Mander

    February 2, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    In a recent article commissioned by FIAT and published by Professor Dymwhitte it was found that Forestry Tasmania, with all its direct workers and hangers-on actually employs approximately 250 000 people, not the original 13000 that they thought.. He has discovered that the previous figures have actually been radically understated, and forestry can claim that in part, at least, almost every working person in the state has links to forestry.

    He enumerated for instance, all politicians, their advisors, commissions, staff and in fact every single government department is beholden unto the timber industry and should be counted in. Then there are the Police, who are contracted to control demonstrators, and the legal profession who gain lots of work defending the actions of forestry, and of course, all those prison officers who look after these troublemakers after the event. But even the demonstrators themselves would be out of work if there was nothing to demonstrate over, and just think of all the news this generates for journalists, and newspaper editors and printers and distributors and vendors…. the list goes on. Then don’t all these workers have to be fed and clothed…?

    People just do not realise just how dependent they are on this essential industry, Even those that wrongly think they have no connection never stop to consider that to keep this industry running it needs very large subsidies, and where do you think they come from? Every working man in the State is making a contribution via our tax office… another huge employer. So it could rightly be said that Forestry employs just about everybody, except the dole bludgers, but even there, they make their contribution. Where else do these essential demonstrators come from?

    The Professor did add a further note, which has still to properly be assessed, that the other half of the population who do not actually work are dependent for their living on the breadwinners of the family, who are all, more or less, employed by Forestry.

    So now that you know, stop your whinging, or you could find yourself out of work, a dole bludger, or living on the mainland!

  4. don davey

    February 2, 2009 at 11:11 am

    (2)
    Exactly the type of comment needed in the papers “Mike” ! have you presented it ?

    I’m of the opinion that most who continually bag the papers are those who write to them using “non de plumes” for fear of being branded greenies by their neighbours, and it is also fact, that the papers favour only those who are prepared to stand by their words. e.g.names ,addresses, and phone no’s, which are not published
    d.d.

  5. John Lawrence

    February 1, 2009 at 10:33 pm

    John , I think a lot of the discrepancies may be explained by the different definitions of ‘direct’ and ‘indirect’ employment.
    To digress for a moment, consider the State’s dairy industry. It is worth $x pa and it employs ‘y’ people directly and another ‘z’ people indirectly. The direct workers are not only those milking the cows, but the dairy farm managers, other farm workers who might only look after agisted cattle, the milk truck drivers, dairy contractors, all employees of Fonterra, Pura Milk, Cadburys, Lactos, dairy consultants , nutritionists etc. Indirect workers may include machinery salespersons and repair persons, employees of Elders, Roberts, fodder and fertiliser salespersons, contractors who provide services to farmers generally, accountants etc. The figure for indirect employment is usually fairly rubbery, based on a ‘multiplier’, for every direct job created, at least x number of indirect jobs is created, the usual baseless spin to which we have become accustomed. It is not normally possible to ascertain indirect employment from Census data.
    The employment numbers you have discovered of 4,885 are arguably all direct employees of the forestry, paper and forest product industry. And there are probably a few more like log truck drivers etc that are included with other classifications. So the figure of 6,000 direct employees is not unbelievable. The figure of 11,000 indirect employees is, I suggest, a guess, based upon some assumed multiplier.
    The figure for 6,000 direct jobs is a considerable reduction on claims a few years ago of 13,000 direct jobs. But the static analysis that talks about’ x’ no of direct jobs and ‘y’ indirect jobs that are all threatened unless the Government does as demanded, is simply scare mongering. Even if there were massive changes to woodchipping and clearfelling, it is quite likely that a new lot of direct jobs would replace those lost. And the indirect jobs would probably service the new direct jobs.
    The other issue is whether you’re talking about full time jobs (FTEs) or part time jobs. Total Tassie employment is 230,000 approx, which includes full time and part time jobs. Your Census data only adds up to 159,158.
    Without wishing to belittle the efforts of those in the forest industry, it is only a minor player from an employment perspective. So there is no prima facie reason why the majority should be held to ransom.

  6. emily

    February 1, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    Can we have one for tourism to compare John?

  7. Mike Bolan

    February 1, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    Good research.

    Forestry gets around $250 million each year in subsidies, free or below market resources, publicly funded infrastructures, no cost water for plantation and so on.

    Gunns posts a profit of around $70 million which means that forestry only costs us $190 million.

    If we get 3,420 jobs that’s $55,500 per job.

    This doesn’t seem like a very efficient industry for creating jobs. How do those industries under threat from forestry (e.g. tourism, fine foods, recreation and food production) stack up?

  8. Dave Groves

    February 1, 2009 at 9:34 am

    Dear John,

    As you may or may not be aware, numbers are but one way of counting the people involved in the forest industry. For us at FIAT (Fabrication, Interpretation, Abrogation and Triangulation) we have been working behind closed doors to come up with our own figures.

    As a part of self regulation, this has been the most effective way of ending the division over this and many other issues.

    When our doors open it is to offer you our many hours of crafted inputs and outputs in a form that will make you smile as to how clever, kind and connected our industry really is.

    This is our point John. We are giving jobs to a broad and enlightened sector of Tasmania, while at the same time continuing to work alongside mainstream corporate players who are just as keen as we are to get the science right.

    Obviously the ABS has misconstrued various figures and this is quite understandable considering how many numbers they have to work with and we forgive them for their miscalculation, but when people are not informed properly, this is where all sorts of stumbling is likely to occur.

    We are working hard with the support of government to correct these figures so they show our industry as a shining beacon in an otherwise dimly lit and somewhat hazardous environment.

    As a major employer and a significant contributor to the Tasmanian and world economies, our industry combines good selected science, with various techniques, strategies, transient and non transient implementation, core and non core figures to produce what intelligent people know to be the right and balanced outcomes we all seek.

    All this is done within a completely legal framework that assures even the most sceptical community members that we are doing it right in Tasmania.
    We know this, because we have formulated our own rules and have the backing of industry players and of course our own government.

    I trust this answers your question John.

    Signed “The Good Doctor”

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