Tasmanian Times

Economy

Round and round the same old table?

The current forestry ‘crisis’ in what was recently described as a ‘sustainable industry’, is revealing on-going dysfunction in our system of government coupled with persistent misunderstandings that are threatening to wedge the Green movement in Tasmania.

Looking around we can see that human foibles can cause us to favour one person over others, even to their detriment, and that favouritism may continue despite repeated examples of bad behaviour. Such is the lot of some families where one child is favoured over all others and, despite repeated transgressions, the parent(s) remain blind to the issue.

Spent all the pocket money? Never mind, here’s more. Failed your exams, never mind here’s a private tutor. You beat up little Johnny? Never mind, I’ll tell him to stay away from you in future.

Rewarding favoured parties for their failures usually produces nothing more than more demands and more failures, as families with a grossly spoiled child may realise. Favouritism can produce monsters.

The Soviet Union comprehensively showed that the analogy holds for wide public subsidies after they developed some of the world’s most polluting industries that produced some of the world’s most useless products.

The lesson is that subsidies effectively disconnect industries from the needs of their customers and focus them instead on arguing for more subsidies. As a result they morph into political persuasion systems to increase their political influence and guarantee more subsidies for the future.

In Tasmania’s forestry subsidies take several forms which include:-
• free or below market costs for scarce resources (e.g. water for plantations, native timbers);
• non-repayable cash payments (e.g. Community Forest Agreement grant);
• legal exemptions that cut costs (e.g. from Clean Air Act and Planning Acts among many others);
• legal favours that reduce risks (e.g. forestry judges grievances made against it by taxpayers);
• political favours that protect the industry from scrutiny (e.g. Pulp Mill Assessment Act); and
• other kinds of support (e.g. information blackouts on dangers such as water pollution).

Tasmania’s forestry industry enjoys ALL of these favours at our expense and has done so for several decades, with the subsidies increasing over time. The result is a ‘sustainable’ industry that is totally reliant upon subsidies for its survival. That’s not an industry, it’s a charity.

The weaknesses induced by disconnecting the industry from market forces include the current crisis which resulted when their markets dried up leaving them with hefty cash shortfalls.

The lack of competence produced is indicated by the fact that the highly paid industry executives either didn’t see the current ‘crisis’ coming, or if they did they just saw it as another opportunity to ask for yet another handout. Such a lack of executive competence deserves no less than outright dismissal in effective companies. (Whatever happened to the ‘hand up, not a hand out’ idea one might wonder?)

The current situation

Tasmanians would be wise to explore optional uses for their scarce resources while they have the chance.

Globally, food is scarce and increasing rapidly in price as is the water needed to produce it. Fibre (e.g. pulp) is in relative global abundance and paper is becoming progressively less necessary as technology supplies other solutions to distributing information.

It seems that the core of forestry’s problem is the idea that growing low value pulp wood trees on otherwise valuable land, and subsidizing that growth (e.g. free water, we pay road and bridge costs) is somehow a good idea. There appears no real evidence to support this save the claims of the industry itself including pulp mill suppliers and similar parties with conflicts of interest.

Lazy Australian governments have just accepted the forest industry’s word for the methods of land and resource use and have completed neither a comprehensive resource audit to assure that we can spare the resources, nor explored competitive uses for the resources (i.e. failed to explore opportunity costs) to establish whether we can get better value.

The lack of useful information has left Tasmania in a position where everything is arguable and the most powerful political groups easily get their way. In the case of forestry that group is a well funded coalition of political parties (partly funded by forestry interests), unions (e.g. CFMEU) and industry (e.g. Gunns and their various suppliers and contractors) that form a power block to advance forestry interests, with little regard to the impacts or costs to the rest of us.

The effects of leaving tax money deployment and land and water decisions to that power block include:-
• the stripping of native forests for low value woodchips (as fibre);
• massive depletion of water catchments (total plantation use exceeds 600 Gl per year in Tasmania alone) to the detriment and cost of food producers;
• poisoning of rural water sources through spraying of chemicals and potential toxins leaching from huge areas of plantation trees;
• growing community division between the advantaged groups and those who must pay the price;
• adverse health and other impacts from burn offs, log truck ‘accidents’ etc

Now, the Premier says “The forest industry is the heart and soul of much of regional Tasmania but it cannot survive on piecemeal fix-ups. It must be given surety to encourage investment and jobs growth. This roundtable is a step in achieving that.”

The majority of people at that ‘round table’ are from the forestry coalition mentioned above, in other words they will control the agenda by the vote. Other parties may be there but they cannot control what happens – in other words the community will be outvoted by the minority interests represented in the forestry coalition.

Some people are now asking “Can we really expect the same people that have spent our money and controlled our laws for the last couple of decades to come up with a plan to make a real change in land and water use and suddenly to deliver real value to the public and to markets? The same people who have showed progressively lower profits every year.

The same people who have trashed our forests and subverted our democratic decision making? The same people who trumpeted the ‘sustainability of the industry’ until late last year? The same people who are asking for more hundreds of millions of dollars to be given to them to do with as they see fit?”

Such highly valid questions cut to the heart of the issue.

How you answer those questions is likely to depend upon your situation.

Whether you stand to benefit from the forestry coalition, or in the community that must pay in a range of ways?

Whether you see the money required for further subsidies to forestry as money that could have been used to support our collapsing health system.

Whether you choose to believe the claims of the very people who have brought us to this current situation.

Dealing with root causes

In organizational work, it is best to have a real understanding of risks, options and limits prior to making a decision, in this case that might mean building a picture of Tasmania’s competence and resilience in the face of future risks, opportunities and threats.

Such an approach would mean:
• An audit of land, water and other resources available
• Scientific forecasts of weather pattern and other likely future changes (e.g. oil prices)
• Educated forecasts of likely global supplies and demand to forecast markets and opportunities
• Strategies to develop the most likely industries and avoid or deal with the worst risks.

Having such information would help build a sustainable approach to water and land use, as well as reveal relevant opportunities for forestry.

But that’s not the method in use by government – instead it’s a constant grab by the powerful for control of resources that could otherwise be used to benefit the public, and it’s that method that appears to underpin the current approach to forestry’s ‘crisis’.

From a wider perspective it makes no sense to continue to:-
• Treat forestry as a favoured industry
• Divert more taxpayer funds into forestry (note that ACL was only offered repayable loans)
• Make decisions without understanding land and water availability
• Ignore future risks and threats to other industries like food production and health
• Exclude communities and taxpayers from active participation

Simply put, leaving the root causes of the current situation in place maintains the massive favours to forestry and continues to impoverish and disadvantage the community at large.

It also risks adding credence and apparent environmental support to the case for a pulp mill, potentially funded by taxpayers.

For many people, that risk is a bridge too far.

More than money needed?

Some writers have already suggested that one background forestry goal is to convert Green voters into Labor voters by making environmental interests indistinguishable from Labor/forestry interests. Such an outcome would shatter Green support and strengthen arguments for a pulp mill.

Here’s how Tim Dobson (1) of the Green Left sees the new coalition of Green and Labor interests…

“TheTasmanian Greens were able to build support due to the popular stand they took on the pulp mill and the corruption surrounding it, as well as being consistent advocates for action on climate change and social justice issues.

Its record-high stemmed from being independent of the major parties and their ties to big business and all sorts of vested interests.

This independence is now severely compromised and, despite assurances that Green cabinet ministers will retain their political platform and will excuse themselves from any cabinet meetings where there are obvious differences such as forestry, there is a still major compromising pressure that will affect the political decisions made by the Greens cabinet ministers.

The Greens are now in a situation where they have a political interest in the survival and popularity of a Labor-led government.

It was compromising pressures such as these that effectively destroyed the Democrats. That party was seen as a “third force”, but by being “pragmatic” it destroyed itself.

The Greens built themselves through their strong, principled stance against anti-social and anti-environment policies. The choice facing the Greens is either to continue along this path or to become an appendage of the major parties.

Choosing the latter option will alienate the Greens’ growing support base, those who believe in the party’s fundamental platform of peace and non-violence, grassroots democracy, social and economic justice and ecological sustainability”.

Who to believe?

Despite the complexity of the current environment, we can all understand that when people ask for our money we need to be extra careful before believing their claims.

There are many severe risks to leaving control of forestry to the recipients of our tax dollars, without including those who must earn and pay those dollars (taxpayers).

At the moment the cry is ‘we need help…give us more of your money’ which boils down to taxpayers paying taxes, while subsidized industries like forestry get the say, the money and all of the favours.
It’s a case of ‘You pay, we say’.

Obviously taxpayers are totally disenfranchised by this approach and it is that situation which so many find objectionable.

Unfortunately the current proposal by Tasmanian Labor (2) retains all of the risks and disadvantages to the community, the only difference being that a few new publicly supported groups may participate (e.g. tax exempt environment groups) possibly to ‘green wash’ whatever decisions are made to support forestry.

Apart from that the community appears to be left out of the picture, although there may be a seat offered if the community attends at its own expense (after having paid for all of the others to attend of course).

As we might expect, there are solutions to this ‘crisis’ and some of them would satisfy the hopes of Green supporters as well as reinvigorate the forest industry, but such approaches are unlikely to emerge when the current powerbroker coalition of forestry industry, unions and political parties control the process, the decision making and our resources and money.

If we retain the current system sustainable change remains highly unlikely until and unless the community is returned as a key decision maker in the deployment of its resources and monies, and is represented proportional to their numbers and contribution.

The government’s conclusion that forestry ‘must be given surety to encourage investment and jobs growth’ is a recipe for ongoing dependence and favouritism.

Instead forestry should learn to deliver the greatest value possible and to work to market demand to create the greatest return to the public for access to their resources.

Remember, this entire debacle is driven by our paid representatives choosing who they represent and how, while demanding that we pay their salaries and benefits and accept the diversion of funds from essential services to support an industry that cannot support itself.

Watch this space…

(1) http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/43903
(2) HERE

Mike Bolan
www.abetteraustralia.com

Mike
is a complex systems consultant, change facilitator and executive/management coach who welcomes new information and useful contributions that extend our understanding of a situation.

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

42 Comments

  1. William Boeder

    August 14, 2015 at 5:09 pm

    When one questions the theology of Tasmania’s forestry GBE this must be better understood as the theology of this State’s government ministers and their high-placed government service employees.
    For it is they that allow this putrescent canker to thrive by throwing State revenues into its maw.

    I now revisit the era of Vlad the Impaler, he was a man that became quite an influence around his village in those former times, I often wonder if there are some remnant body parts still lingering (eg; bone fragments yet suitable to obtain a quantum of extractable DNA) only then will there be able to create a means to have the logging in this State disciplined and correctly regulated to see to the removal of the canker that infests that particular echelon of Tasmanian society.

  2. hugoagogo

    May 28, 2010 at 11:15 pm

    But Alice No 40,

    Where on the TT sheet are we required to engage in constructive argument?

    In fact, insisting on such could be counterproductive to society as major role of the present TT incarnation is to provide a badly needed vent for numerous otherwise unheard inconsolates.

  3. fixit george

    May 24, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    thanks for the news update woody, it’s about time mike gets the chance to learn something from you about your way of looking for minor species bush.
    your customers are happy to know where and how professionally their furniture was harvested.
    you will go back to the same area and get more for them.
    http://www.chainofcustody.com.au

  4. Tom Torquemada

    May 24, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    As I said earlier Woodworker, in post #36;

    ‘There is no harm from sitting at the table with people that have opposing views. It is a constructive measure to take.
    It is never any problem to listen and exchange views’.

    You may indeed be correct and a better understanding will develop on both sides. Let us hope for similar results on a grander scale at the round table.

  5. George Harris aka woodworker

    May 24, 2010 at 11:51 am

    I rang Mike Bolan last night, and we had quite a useful conversation, although he was busy and did not want to talk for too long. We agreed to talk again, and our first conversation went for longer than was convenient for him, and we also agreed to exchange emails.
    I am looking forward to further debate and exchange of ideas and opinions with him. I am sure I can contribute to his understanding of the timber industry in areas that have so far eluded him, as well as getting a better idea of some of the stuff he is on about.

  6. David Obendorf

    May 23, 2010 at 7:18 pm

    David Bartlett has replaced previous Minister for Tasmania’s natural resources (including soil, water, forests etc) David Llewellyn with Bryan Green. And there IS the rub; replacing one political fox with another!

    This mooted forest roundtable, to which a few apologist environmemtal people may be asked to supp with these devils, is unlikely to be a ‘game changer’. As commentors have said, forestry interests need that ‘green’ presence to legitimise a ‘social licience’ so access to the public coffers remain open.

    As Mike Bolan wrote in comment #15: “There seems little doubt that the ‘democratic’ system in Tasmania is working against the interests of the citizenry in many areas, particularly forestry. It is therefore corrupted. To deal with that corruption we are going to need to understand the root causes of the condition and deal with them.”

    Tenacious ‘gatekeeping’ has prevented the exposure of Tasmania’s entrenched corruption. Having worked in the public service for 17 years within DPIPWE I gained personal experience of ‘systemic corruption’ and a lack of ethical standards and public accountability.

    Just as Victoria is currenly having a Royal Commission into its bushfires that claimed 163 lives, Tasmania needs to have an independent commission of inquiry into its forests that has infected Tasmania’s health by a thousand cuts!

  7. Alice

    May 23, 2010 at 5:35 pm

    If (readers) have anything worth saying and say it in a polite manner, it will not be deleted. If you only deal in personal attack and have nothing constructive to offer, then you only get what you deserve.

    So how about it eh? Offer something constructive to the argument rather than the red-rag-to-a-bull kind of reactions …

  8. Hoover

    May 20, 2010 at 1:52 am

    36/38 The only statements I see about Greens and pulp mills are written by Tim Dobson who is quoted extensively in the article.

    Do you folk understand what quotation marks “” actually mean?

  9. Jill

    May 19, 2010 at 11:50 pm

    #37 Yes you were.

  10. Mike Bolan

    May 19, 2010 at 9:10 pm

    36 I was not implying that opposition to the mill was waning from the Greens, although you may have inferred that.

    In any case, I tend not to take the statements of politicians at face value.

    Neither did I suggest there was harm in sitting at a table with people of opposing views. I have been doing that for much of my life.

    I am saying that the community deserves a voice in this, and that the process as described so far leaves the community out of consideration, and fails to clarify how decisions will be made.

  11. Tom Torquemada

    May 19, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    If Mr Bolan is inferring that opposition to the pulp mill is waning from the Greens, then this statement from Nick McKim can be found at;
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/05/20/2904566.htm

    ‘Mr McKim says the Greens believe more than ever that it is not an appropriate project.

    “Our policy on the pulp mill is unchanged. We don’t think the pulp mill is an appropriate development certainly it is not an appropriate development for the Tamar Valley so that remains out view,” he said.’

    This follows on from Paul Oosting’s exact sentiments earlier this week.

    There is no harm from sitting at the table with people that have opposing views. It is a constructive measure to take.
    It is never any problem to listen and exchange views.

  12. phill Parsons

    May 19, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    #31. Conversion of voters, or in current Tasmanian terms changing the ‘parking’ times, has apparently gone the other way, with Green support showing a rising trend and we may yet see ‘Labor’ voters becoming long term parkers as they walk and cycle their way to polling places again and again until the outdated parties work out that they are just that against the threat to the living world including the natural capital it provides sustainably provided we don’t exploit it to the point of systems collapse.

    After all the Greens, although painted that colour by those with a political interest including much of the media, have a range of social policies that are where Labor was when it represented the intereests of social justice for those at the exploited end of the economy. Hence the derogatory term watermelons, that tasty and refreshing summer fruit.

  13. Mike Bolan

    May 19, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    OK Neil. We’re using the article etc for different purposes. There are people who argue that in future you might as well vote Labor as a vote for the Greens is equivalent to a vote for Labor.

    #30/32. If you don’t like my argument, put up some countervailing facts or arguments.

    I don’t any pieces because I don’t like someone, I’m trying to inform others about useful views of issues because with understanding comes opportunity.

    When pointless vilification becomes defamatory, TasTimes polices its own site out of respect for its authors and the law.

    Dealing with difficult issues without becoming emotional and vindictive is an important skill to develop.

  14. Russell

    May 19, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    Re #32
    That’s not the case pilko, and the moral is, don’t submit purely personal attacking and off-topic pieces. It’s in the interest of better journalism.

  15. pilko

    May 19, 2010 at 4:06 am

    #30 You are not alone Woody. I had a comment published on this thread earlier today and now it has vanished. The moral is, when Mike Bolan writes an article agree with him or expect him to complain to the ed and your comment pulled.
    It seems that if you dont like someone and their criticisms then you just tell the ed and he will pull the comments for you. Yeah, thats great journalism.

  16. Neil Smith

    May 19, 2010 at 3:06 am

    Mike Bolan (#29), whether criticisms of Green participation in the Labor cabinet are “unfair” depends on how it turns out. It’s simply too early to tell. There is still a chance that it’s the smartest move they ever made.

    I do agree that Tim Dobson in Green Left made some telling observations. The bit that rang true for me (and made me groan) was that “The Greens are now in a situation where they have a political interest in the survival and popularity of a Labor-led government”.

    Yes, in a way they do – if they are going to maintain for a reasonable period the opportunity to demonstrate that power-sharing works. I’m hoping that they will find a way which doesn’t involve betraying Green policies. That’ll take a lot of wisdom and a fair share of luck, but it may not be impossible.

    Clearly NMOC (as you call them) “won’t discuss forestry in Cabinet – thereby silencing them within government”. Yes, but the alternative would be worse – if they did participate and consequently became bound by the majority vote (which would invariably go against them) and cabinet solidarity requirements as regards comment.

    Does this non-participation “limit the representation that they can provide to their supporters”? Well maybe, but let’s see when Parliament resumes whether they continue to speak as opposition members on forestry matters. This might be something Bartlett has to tolerate. Remember, he needs them even more than they need him.

    Your (Mike’s) lead in to the GLW extract I thought to be a bit off the beam. “Some writers have already suggested that one background forestry goal is to convert Green voters into Labor voters by making environmental interests indistinguishable from Labor/forestry interests”.

    Eh? It might be a background goal, but without much chance of success. Converting Green voters into Labor voters? The ALP has long since foregone any claim to be a progressive organisation of the sort which might attract people with Green ideals.

    The more likely outcome if particular Members ever seriously violate Green principles is a bit of blood-letting or even a party split. Messy yes (maybe that’s the background goal), but the voters will always gather around those who embody the principles they value. The Green movement itself isn’t going to die.

  17. George Harris aka woodworker

    May 19, 2010 at 2:30 am

    Mike Bolan is obviously an intelligent person, and I want to go to whatever length is necessary to distinguish between him as a person, and the articles he writes.
    I don’t know him, I have never met him, he lives at the opposite end of the island, but I have to say that I think that what he has written here is such an utter load of rubbish.
    If I did meet him, I might find I could get along OK with him, and develop a rapport and respect, but I have to say again that what he has written here is such utter fucking nonsense. It has so many misrepresentations and errors of fact that I find utterly distressing.
    I am finding it difficult lately to get comments up on tastimes – I offend the code to such an extent that some of my comments are rejected in their entirety, while others are so hacked about their meaning is unclear, and they bear no relation to the sentiments I was intending to project.
    I don’t know what to do.
    I might try to ring Mike, and see if he is up for a conversation, but he might not like what I have to say, or the tone in which I say it.
    I might invite him to ring me. Anyway, the thing about a phone conversation is that you can always just hang up.
    I find it all so depressing and counterproductive that maybe the best thing is to ignore it altogether, and let all you like-minded tossers get on with it, and wallow in your own bullshit.
    However, I say again, what Mike Bolan has written here is just such a load of rubbish.

  18. Mike Bolan

    May 18, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    #25 Yes AJ, d’accord.

    #26 Thanks. The reason for the lengthy quote from the Green Left was that it covered several bases.

    1) the risks being taken as stated by one voice of Green supporters
    2) how links to the pulp mill and forestry might affect Green support
    3) confirmation that NMOC won’t discuss forestry in Cabinet – thereby silencing them within government and limiting the representation that they can provide to their supporters.

    Personally, I thought the author said it well. I’m not sure why you characterise it as ‘unfair’, I see it as high lighting some of the risks perceived by the Greens themselves.

  19. Russell

    May 18, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    Re #24
    “He should have said they are committed to ADDRESSING it.”

    Yes Maddie, that’s what he SHOULD have said, but he didn’t because it wasn’t what he would have meant.

    Re #25
    Then I guess it’s the Federal politicians who should be getting the attention. Who are the main characters needing this attention?

    Re #26
    I agree Neil, and believe the ’round table’ (more like the ‘last supper’) talks should probably be walked away from unless the Forestry thugs are entirely excluded from the process. They have nothing new to add to their old thinking and ways.

  20. Jon Sumby

    May 18, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    How likely is this to happen?
    Massive deal to protect Canada’s forests

    Posted 1 hour 2 minutes ago

    Timber companies and environment groups have unveiled an agreement aimed at protecting two-thirds of Canada’s vast forests from unsustainable logging.

    More than 72 million hectares are included in what will become the world’s largest commercial forest conservation deal.

    Logging will be banned on some of the land in the hope of sustaining endangered caribou populations.

    Timber companies hope the deal will bring commercial gains as timber buyers seek higher ethical standards.

    The total protected area is about twice the size of Germany and equals the area of forest lost globally between 1990 and 2005.
    ABC News: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/05/19/2903232.htm

  21. Neil Smith

    May 18, 2010 at 3:47 am

    Nice article, Mike. You comprehensively point out what’s rotten about the current situation and show how the things which a genuinely analytic roundtable might consider as useful actions are the things least likely to happen. Given all the incumbent personnel.

    An outcome which includes “giving us more money to keep doing what we have always done” would be laughable if it wasn’t so likely.

    And yes, the participation of any environmental organisation is fraught with danger. It’s true that a refusal to talk would be held against them, but on balance they really should stay away from this lot. The danger of providing the industry PR machine with the opportunity to trumpet “social licence”, and of the potential loss of grassroots support is just too great. The analogy of the original RFA negotiations as mentioned by Buck and Joan Emberg is spot on.

    However, I did think that the lengthy quotation from Green Left Weekly was a little off-topic and potentially unfair. Sure, the Tasmanian Greens could have maintained their purity and stayed in opposition for a lot longer with o-so-slowly growing support, and there are plenty who think they should have. But one of the aims of progressive reformers – such as “Greens” – must be to make parliamentary governance more cooperative and to enable issues to be debated in a useful manner, instead of the seemingly eternal caucus-dominated circus we have now.

    An opportunity to do that has presented itself and it was too good to miss. The proof of this particular pudding will be in the way it plays out in the next couple of years. No, I didn’t particularly like the spectacle of the first two sitting days – but it’s way too early to judge.

    Somewhere down the track, after showy Bartlett-style pretend roundtables have been and gone, a more reasonable government may even force some sense on the forestry mafia.

  22. Anthony John

    May 17, 2010 at 11:14 pm

    An objective,well-structured and balanced article on the forestry imbroglio in this State Mike -no small feat in the circumstances ! However,among all the ‘insightful’ and intelligent comments on it,I fear that Ben Quin (#10) is correct : the scene is being set for ” direct Federal support for the pulp mill “.The feds are the only ones who can make it happen now – and most will be aware of behind-the-scenes machinations that have been going on for some time now.Unfortunately, market reality, financial risk etc are always subordinate to political considerations for jumped-up union officials masquerading as Federal Ministers and protectors of the public interest.

  23. Russell

    May 17, 2010 at 9:08 pm

    Re #20
    So KRudd has had this letter for 3 months and said and done ZILCH.

    KRudd since then (in the last week or two) has stated, “We are committed to climate change.”

  24. bob

    May 17, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    #19 Emily…”never let the facts get in the way of a good spin”….sounds like you have the green mantra down to a fine art.

  25. Alice

    May 17, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    #17 – “Pilko” – The barometer of wider community sentiment – hmmmmm.

  26. Factfinder

    May 17, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    Mike we have to provide positive examples, the people and the Island need constructive proposals. The nasty stuff will be exposed, the individuals that have something to hide will be able to explain what they have done and why they have done it. It will be interesting as Dave Groves often summed it up.
    The choice of the people is just as interesting, Tim Cox was calling it potentially “a bridge too far” for the forestry club to call on someone like Kim Booth to be there from the start.

    What ever shape the ‘Round-table’ may have and how many chairs have a body sitting on them, the world is watching how Tasmania is handling this issue with eagle eyes:
    http://www.robinwood.de/fileadmin/Redaktion/Dokumente/Wald/2010-02-18_Letter_to_Kevin_Rudd.pdf

    The organisations that have written to the PM are not little backyard clubs. They are able and willing to marke their voices and vote count.
    Just as it happened in Canada some years ago, after the people made representation to the Canadian Ambassador, there was any amount of money and good will on the tale to sort the clearfell mess out.
    Australia and especially Tassie Isle are limted in the timber trade, the world can do without Tassie chips and timber.
    Next time you have 42minutes and 53seconds to watch the presentation, then go here to get the statistics from Canberra:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Qa7awZ0tHY

    Window dressing and masking rows of trees along forest roads, propaganda in the glossiest for and rich cut-lunches will not survice.

    The Iceberg is here right here Bob Gordon, what he experienced 18 month ago was just a serious first visit from a major customer telling them that they left it pretty late to change direction.

    Let’s wait and see how the next 24 hours develop for FT, and watch how the GNS ASX is trending again. It closed yesterday @ $0.46 …

  27. Tom

    May 16, 2010 at 10:55 pm

    When asked what he learned in the past five years, the chair of the “round table” said on ABC’s drive program this evening that the industry is the most flexible and innovative in the state. I thought it was a parody, but he was not kidding. This is nothing but yet another farce to try to save Gunns.

  28. pilko

    May 16, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    There is a lot of good sense in an article that Mike Bolan must have written 100 times on this site now. If only Mike and the rest of us could have his utopia.
    However, Bolan ones again lets himself down by offering no realistic solutions.
    Mike, what should we do about the roundtable thingy? Go or just tell industry to get stuffed. Simple answer. Yes or no. And Mike how about a list of whom you think might achieve the best and fairest outcome for Tasmanians.
    As for yours and other naysaying about the political risks of the Greens cabinet posts. Greens popularity at a 10 year high in todays EMRS poll. As i have argued here before, naysaying about this issue and a host of others on the Tasmanian Times in no way reflects wider community sentiment.

  29. Mike Bolan

    May 16, 2010 at 9:11 pm

    #13 I’d say that a vote is the best case. Other methods are likely to play out as backroom decision making.

  30. Mike Bolan

    May 16, 2010 at 8:25 pm

    Insightful posts – thanks, I’m with you all the way.

    In systems work, when we say a process or system is corrupt, we mean that it is working contrary to its purpose (there are many possible reasons for a corrupt condition).

    There seems little doubt that the ‘democratic’ system in Tasmania is working against the interests of the citizenry in many areas, particularly forestry. It is therefore corrupted.

    To deal with that corruption we are going to need to understand the root causes of the condition and deal with them.

    Advancing foresty’s ability to add value to our community may also require them to cease subtracting value – smoke, animal deaths, deceptive reports.

    One of the serious problems appears to be that their executives simply don’t know any better ways of doing forestry. If that is the case then painful change is likely to be indicated.

  31. max

    May 16, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    It appears that FT and the government are going to sit at a round table and deal from a stacked deck, but if you are not happy with the cards that you have been dealt you are not allowed to protest even, if FT gets 5 aces.

  32. Tom Torquemada

    May 16, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    You are assuming that there will be a vote. Do you know this for sure?
    Not all meetings require votes. This may be a round table to discuss,argue and explore alternatives.

  33. PB

    May 16, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    How are we expected to have faith in a round table which will apparently be stacked with the same failed and moribund forest industry leaders and representatives who are now seemingly to be entrusted with rescuing it from oblivion!?

    The industry has previously strenuously resisted any attempt at restructure, dismissed all community concerns out of hand and vilified and prosecuted peaceful protestors who have shown the courage to stand up for our fundamental rights to a biodiverse and clean environment free of air pollution and water contamination.

    It is only the influence of global market forces that has finally forced the industry to recognise that it needs to demonstrate community acceptance of its practices which currently preclude it from FSC certification demanded by world markets.

    It therefore appears that the sole pretext of these talks is to extract a social licence in the shortest timeframe possible by applying undue pressure on the community under the guise of compromise which will then sanction the continuation of many of these illegitimate practices.

    Any environmental, community or other representative group taking part in such talks risks being used as pawns and placed in a no win position by being blamed for failure to reach agreement, or even worse, undermining its own values and integrity by compromising to reach a “resolution” which may even resurrect the odious pulp mill proposal.

    Any genuine and meaningful discussion must therefore be preceded and conditional upon a full independent audit and open disclosure of Forestry Tasmania’s financial affairs in conjunction with a binding commitment to repeal the entire Pulp Mill Assessment Act together with its associated Permits and Wood Supply Agreements, complete removal of self regulation and all forestry’s inequitable exemptions from local government laws, heritage legislation and the like.

  34. john hayward

    May 16, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    The only option is a complete replacement of Tasmania’s forestry establishment, a scrapping of all its legislation, and a commission on how and why it has turned into a kind of Mafia.They have seemingly never done anything in good faith.

    All their old habits are in evidence at the Roundtable: a call for stacked negotiations , indefinite delays in doing anything about their gargantuan failings, and even the absurd claim that preserving the dwindling number of forestry jobs is more important than the damage they are doing.

    John Hayward

  35. Ben Quin

    May 16, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    Thanks Mike. As John Lawrence has stated in another article today, the forestry roundtable’s first task is to provide Tasmanians with a transparent report on the financial situation of the Forest Industry.

    Why is the industry on its knees? Where have the hundreds of millions of dollars provided by the Federal government over the past decade gone? What is the real financial position of Forestry Tasmania, without the added spin from Forestry Chief, Bob Gordon. What role has Gunn’s position of dominance in the woodchip sector played in the overall collapse?

    In truth, none of us really know, not even those at the table.

    The second task for the round table is to hold people to account.

    For decades, Tasmanian politicians have toyed with our forests industry for their own political purposes. At state and federal level, they have failed the industry and all Tasmanians. The State forest bureaucracy has allowed itself to become politicised, to the detriment of its shareholders – Tasmanians.

    If we are to save the industry, it is time for an honest reckoning and wash up.

    Can we expect the round table participants deliver on these tasks? What, and hang themselves! Round we go again.

    I can already hear the calls for direct Federal financial support for the development of the pulp mill – just so as we can get over this little hump, and around that smallish iceberg.

    Ben Quin

  36. Counsellor

    May 16, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    When will Eric Abetz be brought to account?

  37. Buck and Joan Emberg

    May 16, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    We (many citizens invited to the RFA discusssions) were involved in the original RFA round table negotiations some years back. The discussions were farcical as decisions had already been made by Gunns, forestry interests, contractors, unions and the government of the day and laws were already in place waiting for the minister’s signature. We had just been wind whistlers who had attended the many meetings. We were window dressing.

    Listening to the barage of cliche’s that Bartlett regurgitated on the Cox show today we can only see another cabal in the offing. The agenda of the government is to fool the people into thinking that they are trying to negotiate change.

    How can we expect any more? Only by getting people like Mike Bolan on the round table…but then, he has a long look which the government does not have.

  38. Mike Bolan

    May 16, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    #3 The problems are severe and systemic consequently there is a lot that needs to be done. Whether this government has the ticker and competence to actually do what is needed remains to be seen.

    #4 I’m sure that you’re right Pete.

    Other groups participating will only lend an air of legitimacy to a completely illegitimate process.

    Without adequate information and sensible long term planning, there is a severe risk of our locking in another blinkered approach that undervalues Tasmania’s resources and removes the forestry industry from the free market.

  39. Pete Godfrey

    May 16, 2010 at 11:14 am

    Actually Mike the more I read about the so called round table talks and the more I see of who the industry want there the less I like the idea of any of the community or environment groups having anything to do with it.
    It is looking more and more like a social licence application that we are supposed to pay for.

  40. Russell

    May 16, 2010 at 11:06 am

    The Forest Industry must undergo wholesale changes from the ground up, no more tinkering at the edges.

    The pulp mill must be taken off the reform agenda and put to a public referendum.

    A Royal Commission into the Forest Industry, in particular Forestry Tasmania and the Unions, must be immediately initiated.

    A company taxation audit into Forestry Tasmania and its accounting practices must be immediately initiated.

    FSC must become the only forestry standard in Australia in line with the rest of the world.

    Logging for woodchip, paper and pulp products and feedstock from state and national forests must be banned immediately.

    All current CEOs and heads of FT and Timber Industry Unions must step down and have no say in any talks whatsoever.

    All the Tasmanian community must be represented at any and every meeting and have the majority vote. No Community support means no social licence and no FSC.

  41. phill Parsons

    May 16, 2010 at 10:29 am

    It may be that a global comparison can find an unsubsidized forestry industry a an example of a working model but I cannot think of a country without some of its timber resources managed by government distorting the whole process of making a quid from growing trees.

    Whilst the public assets cannot be privatized without ensuring that the natural services functions will be retained the government forestry authority must operate as though it is a private corportation for the market to oprate correctly.

    The price signal needs to indicate the full value of the resource where any public forest is declared a resource.

  42. Dave Groves

    May 16, 2010 at 9:46 am

    Correct again Mike.

    There is no long term planning in this industry, just a mischievous grab for resource, with a view to turning a quick buck.

    But there is no quick buck without subsidies.

    Its like a gangster movie from the 1970’s.

    It appears to be some kind of money laundering operation, where the laundromat is the forest industry, and all the fat cat deals are done out the back.

    The rest of us work away, doing the best we can on our own, while government “thugs” come knocking on our doors to pick up the forest industry “protection” money.

    And now that times are a little tough in woodchip world, those untouchable, gather at a table, inviting a green tinge, perhaps for the purpose of gaining social licence, for diabolical needs?

    Its a long running show, that would be a Broadway epic….perhaps someone will take it on one day…

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