Tasmanian Times

Bob Burton

David Bartlett’s Appointments Diary: Meeting with the Loggers

At his inaugural press conference as Premier in May 2008, David Bartlett pledged that he would “take a deeply considered approach based on data, information and knowledge” to the possibility of old-growth forests being valued as carbon offsets. The following day, Bartlett told Matthew Denholm from The Australian that the “parameters” of the timber industry had changed over the preceding decade and that “I expect by the end of the time I am Premier they will have changed again”. However, he hastened to add that “any future changes would be made in consultation with stakeholders.”

Needless to say, the timber industry funded group, Timber Communities Australia (TCA), was alarmed. “The parameters have been redone that many times that there is not really any scope left to redo those parameters any more,” Barry Chipman stated.

Who did Bartlett consult on forests policy in his first three months as Premier?

Extracts from David Bartlett’s appointments diary, which were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, reveal that in his first three months as Premier his only meetings on forests policy were with government agencies, companies and industry lobby groups which championed the logging of old-growth forests. Requests for meetings from environment groups were rejected.

Three days after becoming Premier, Bartlett met with Bob Rutherford, the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Infrastructure, Energy and Resources, who has carriage of forests policy. The extract of Bartlett’s appointments dairy notes that the meeting was for a briefing on the forthcoming report from the World Heritage Committee on the potential impact of forestry operations on areas environmentalists wanted added to the Western Tasmania World Heritage Area. The committee’s draft report recommended only minor additions, largely of areas that had already been set aside as National Parks in the 1999 Regional Forest Agreement but which have not been formally added to the World Heritage Area.

The following week, Bob Gordon (pictured) and Ken Jeffreys from Forestry Tasmania were the next industry supporters to trudge through the doors of the Premier’s Office “to discuss forestry matters”.

Within weeks Bartlett stated that “while many of the parameters around forestry are subject to change over time, I do not see the amount of protected land being one of them.”

Shortly afterwards, Bartlett also met with Michael O’Connor and Scott Mclean from the Forestry Division of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union. In early July 2008, on the eve of a visit to Scottsdale, Bartlett was back in touch with McClean after Gunns shock announcement that it would close the Tonganah mill in the town with the loss of 74 fulltime and 55 casual jobs.

In the following week, Bartlett had a flurry of meetings on forestry issues spanning from a July 11 briefing from Forestry Tasmania on Gunn’s propos “pulp mill and woodsupply”, a visit to Britton Timbers in Smithton to “view green and dry mills”, a visit to meet Simon Kang at Ta Ann in Smithton.

The day after returning from Smithon, TCA’s Barry Chipman met with Bartlett in his office. “Our first meeting was just to introduce TCA to him. We had half a dozen TCA branch presidents there to say ‘this is us, this is what we are about. We’ve had good support in the past from the government and we’d like that to continue’.” The TCA have subsequently had other meetings with Bartlett too.

However, repeated requests from The Wilderness Society for a meeting with Bartlett got nowhere until he finally meet with The Wilderness Society and some other environment groups in December 2009, nineteen months after promising to consult “stakeholders”.

Nor does Bartlett’s appointments diary indicate that he met with any scientists or academics with independent expertise in forest policy in his first three months as Premier.

In the end, Bartlett’s “deeply considered approach” to formulating forestry policy was to meet with the same old players that had long had the ear of Paul Lennon.

In the end, David Bartlett’s promise that he would lead a “new government from in government” was hollow when it came to forests.

Forestry related appointments in David Bartlett’s first three months

* May 26, 2008: Bartlett sworn in as Premier and holds his first media conference;
* May 28, 2008: (his third day as Premier): “Premier to meet with Deputy Secretary DIER for briefing on World Heritage Committee Report”; (The Deputy Secretary of the Department of Infrastructure, Energy and Resources is Bob Rutherford).
* June 3, 2008: Bob Gordon and Ken Jeffries from Forestry Tasmania “to discuss forestry matters”;
* June 17, 2008: “Premier to meet with Michael O’Connor and Scott Mclean from the CFMEU Forestry Division”;
* July 7, 2008: “Premier to speak by phone to Scott McClean from CFMEU Forestry Division for briefing on Scottsdale mill/softwood supply position”;
* July 8, 2008: Premier to meet with workers from Tonganah mill
* July 11, 2008: Premier’s briefing from Forestry Tasmania on pulp mill and woodsupply
* July 14, 2008: Visit Britton Timbers in Smithton to “view green and dry mills”
* July 14, 2008: “Premier to visit Simon Kang at Ta Ann”;
* July 15, 2008: “Premier to meet with Barry Chipman, Timber Communities Australia” in the Premier’s office.

See also:
David Bartlett’s Appointments Diary: A Close Encounter with the Freedom of Information Act

Tomorrow: Who gets to meet Premier David Bartlett?

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


  1. William Boeder

    March 2, 2010 at 11:36 am

    I am yet to comprehend why the need for the forestry overlords to be so constant in their attendance to Bartlett’s presence?
    Methinks its all about pumping up their constant need for subsidies, handouts and all manner of regulatory concessions, then to wallow and bask in their adoration of “how great art our Premier.”

    Furthermore, maybe this why the Forestry industry are so clamouring constant in their enfilading of Premier Bartlett’s brain.
    Done for what the Forestry Industry Brains Trust can grasp for themselves and continue to beguile the State Premier and his spinners/minders.

  2. crf

    March 2, 2010 at 10:17 am

    Michael Seabrook (#9), it would be very good if ministers or senior advisors met with UTas on GMO E. nitens. They would be able to talk about the letter by Reid, Duff, Potts, O’Rielly et al published recently in the Mercury. They could also meet with Peter Volker who lowered himself to provide advice to conspiracy theorists who populate this site. Not quite sure what your angle is Mike (may be you’re saying what I am) but its worth repeating:


  3. George Harris aka woodworker

    March 2, 2010 at 2:03 am

    I don’t see what your problem is, Bob Burton.
    OK, so David Bartlett is sworn in on May 26. On May 28 he has a meeting with Bob Rutherford on a subject that is highly topical and worthy of a briefing.
    The following month he has two meeting on forestry matters. Big deal. There are some people he has briefings with on a daily basis, and others several times a week.
    The meetings that occurred during July were what you would expect from a tour of the north of the state by a recently installed premier, especially when the forestry sector was dealing with significant issues.
    Again, what is your problem? And again, this is presented in isolation, without reference to the many other meetings and engagements a contemporary premier deals with.
    Another cheap trick from a two bit so-called journalist?

  4. John McDonald

    March 2, 2010 at 12:56 am

    Perhaps Bob Burton can organise with his colleagues for a copy of Nick McKim’s diary? Or his mate Bob Brown? Then post it on TT.

  5. mike seabrook

    March 1, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    should check if any tasmanian ministers or senior advisors have had any meetings with tas university people on genetically modified research on eucalyptus nitens.

  6. Dave Groves

    March 1, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    Ah Anthony, the show always rolls on, but perhaps we will see an intermission, with the curtain axing a few lack lustre performers…..

  7. Anthony John

    March 1, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    #1 : Sorry Dave but on this occasion, must disagree with your sign-off line “may the show roll on”.Would instead like to see ‘the show’ grind to a halt, robbed of all momentum by a wide-spread public backlash reflected in the March 20 poll.Or is that entirely out of the question ?

  8. pilko

    March 1, 2010 at 11:05 am

    This just goes to show what a deceitful bunch of scumbag politicians our Premier and his government are. Well done Bob Burton. Great piece of journalism.

  9. Dave Groves

    March 1, 2010 at 11:00 am

    I like that David….”Solace-talgia”….I’ll check that a little further….thank you 🙂

  10. David Obendorf

    March 1, 2010 at 10:37 am

    A word Dave that perhaps describes your feelings [comment #1]: Solace-talgia – a longing and a desire for an end to conflict and for the allieviation of pain for ALL sentient beings.

  11. William Boeder

    March 1, 2010 at 10:07 am

    Dave Groves #1. You have hit the nail on the head here, one aged minister has the overall control of when where and if, or to select the future as of that which he alone has proposed through his eyes alone.
    [A clue for you all, he mumbles: Guess Who?

  12. Dave Groves

    March 1, 2010 at 8:11 am

    Apologies for a diversion here Bob, but in a way it is just another look, at the effect of forestry in this state.

    Love of my life and I took a rare moment to escape the clutches of the city on Sunday.

    I’ve spent far too much time watching four walls with work, and surrounded by buildings, cars, and people.

    It was one of those beautiful days where the seasons cycled through each other, a moment of calm with warming sunshine filling the senses, to wind and rain and the crisp bite of air so clean that you just want to have it all.

    In the central highlands, we ambled along a boardwalk, stopped to watch a lizard, strategically placed, collecting valuable sunshine, on a luminous green mound of moss, surrounded by foliage textures and colours, that just dazzled and awed us to tears.

    Fortunately there was no tall timber in this place, nothing that would push forward the relentless woodchipping paradigm.

    A rare jewel indeed.

    And this is it Bob, another dimension to our unique and now tortured, battle scarred landscape.

    The replenishment of soul, the filling of senses, an experience of the true wonder of nature.

    Something that is never quantified by the bufoons, that see our iconic forests as nothing more than a place to make money, by thieving that which is gifted us all.

    Bob, I imagine that nothing of that order flowed in the various conversations that were listed in the meetings tabled above, and from the actions of current days, that would appear to be confirmed.

    Tasmania is tragically held back by men of little consequence in their own right, but the stranglehold they have over this state is a sad theme, that will take many years and much work to address.

    May the show roll on…..

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