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


Farmers tell Giddings forest agreement a sham

Tasmania’s farmers today broke ground to claim the so-called forest agreement was a sham and a fraud that would intensify the forest wars rather than settle them.

The Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association said its members regarded the agreement as illegitimate, having been struck by parties unrepresentative of the wider forest industry or its best interests.

“Which of the parties put their own money into forestation and reafforestation?” TFGA chief executive Jan Davis asked. “Which of the parties own and manage forests?

“Rather, they are protecting their own vested interests, whether that be taxpayer compensation for those leaving what should be a viable industry or environmental groups seeking to lock up another half a million hectares of forest that they have no capacity or intention of managing or protecting in the true sense of the word.”

Ms Davis said farmers had to date held counsel on the details of the forests’ debate “but we can be silent no longer”.

“As the Premier contemplates both the weekend’s ALP State conference and, presumably, a ritual signing of the bilateral forest agreement with Prime Minister Julia Gillard, our agenda is to make it clear that the forest settlement process has been an abysmal failure and that the deal on the table is an insult to the people of Tasmania.”

Ms Davis said the farmers’ case was that the deal was meant:

• to deliver peace to the forests, but it was not going to happen. No matter the outcome, ENGOs and some politicians have said they will not stop until every square metre of native forest in Tasmania is irrevocably locked up;

• to deliver ENGO support for a pulp mill and that was not going to happen;

• to deliver a sustainable forestry industry, and that was not going to happen. Forestry Tasmania modeling had shown that the locking up of another 430,000 ha of public native forest would leave the timber industry, both public and private, unsustainable;

• to ensure that the Triabunna woodchip mill remained open for business and that was not going to happen. The new owners and the manager of the mill had a history in the industry that pointed to its imminent closure;

• to have no impact on private forest owners, but it already had. Forestry Tasmania modeling shows that 130,000 ha of plantation timber will be required to replace the resource that was to be locked up. The only place this could be located was on privately-owned farming land.

“It gets worse,” Ms Davis said. “You’d have to have rocks in your head to think the present deal and pending inter-government agreement is good for Tasmania.

“The agreement proposes to trade off thousands of hectares of publicly-owned land and forest resource, thousands of jobs, and immense impacts on many families, farms and businesses, in exchange for the proverbial 30 pieces of silver.

“Forestry generates more than $1 billion each year for this state; yet Tasmanians are being offered very little in return for giving up this key industry.”

The TFGA will lobby all state and federal MPs, particularly members of the Legislative Council, to reject the agreement.

“We need to start this discussion again with an open and transparent process open to all members of the community,” Ms Davis said.

“The government has no mandate to destroy this important industry and the lives of the individuals and communities that depend on it.”

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  1. Christopher Purcell

    August 5, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    Ms Davis said, “…that the deal was meant:

    • to deliver ENGO support for a pulp mill and that was not going to happen”.

    What have we been saying all along; that this ‘forestry peace deal’ was always about Gunns getting a ‘social licence’ for their proposed white elephant pulp mill, while keeping the status quo in regard to logging native forests for wood-chips. Nothing more, nothing less. Thanks Jan Davis for putting that in writing so clearly.

  2. Andrew Ricketts

    August 5, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    Dr Bradbury is suggesting that flawed is okay. It is not. Imagine if a master pastry chef took that approach, doesn’t matter if the cake doesn’t rise because the recipe has the wrong ingredients – perhaps salt instead of sugar – or maybe the wrong implement was used to beat the mix. Would you eat it?

    He goes on to say: “Settlement must be achieved. Peace must be achieved. That is the greater goal.” I see the greater goal is achieving a durable, equitable solution for all sectors and for all regions, for all interests; an inclusive settlement for the whole community. It is the quality of the settlement that is paramount, not the urgency of reaching some half-baked partisan agreement. Peace will not be achieved with a flawed agreement.

    The current Heads of Agreement proposal is not a quality proposal and will not even provide a brief illusion of peace and will not serve the public interest.

    Mrs Smyth is right; the TFGA was infiltrated with forestry interests many years ago. No matter, they are still a stakeholder.

    This is not a two-sided fracas and many interests have been excluded in an abysmal and exclusive, non-transparent process.

  3. mjf

    August 5, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    To liken PTR’s to an MIS investment is about as silly as it gets. PTR’s can apply to any form of PP timber resource whether it be softwood or hardwood, plantation or native forest. They do not lock the resource exclusively to woodchip markets but afford the owner confidence to manage their timber for the long (or short) term for whatever products they decide.

    Not understood is that MIS woodlot owners have the legal right to source and sell to their own markets and don’t have to accept the managers offer.

    The general assumption on the managers parts was that most investors (being absentee tree owners)will not actively manage their investment and would just go along with the standard offer. Naturally, if owning say 1 ha of trees within any specific plantation does not give the tree owner a lot of market leverage, some multiple woodlot owners could be in that position to actively manage if they wanted to.

    While it is true most if not all MIS plantations are under PTR status, many private forest resources under a PTR are not MIS related.

    Should the landowner choose a different legal land use at any time, they must have the PTR removed by application. An example being that if a PTR landowner decided to join a Redd Forests carbon storage scheme for 25 years which means he cannot harvest for that period, then the PTR would need to be removed as he clearly has no intention to produce any conventional timber products.

    Regardless, PTR does not = MIS as is popularly misrepresented here.

  4. John Alford

    August 4, 2011 at 10:23 pm

    Peace will never be achieved in the forests of Tasmania without much broader representation from the community. The point has been made again and again; there will never be peace over this issue whilst narrow and vested interests presume to speak for everyone on an issue that impacts everyone on this island. Native forest logging, plantations on agricultural land, water catchments, profligate pesticide use, industry and political corruption – these issues affect us all.

    Although I do not agree with all of the TFGA’s points here, I do agree with Jan Davis’ statement, that, “We need to start this discussion again with an open and transparent process open to all members of the community,”. The so-called forestry principles were and are a public relations sham.

  5. john hayward

    August 4, 2011 at 10:21 pm


    The TFGA reportedly was rewarded for steering farmers into PTRs, one of the classic dud investments, similar to MIS, which tied them to an uncertain share of a woodchip harvest.

    Now Jan is promoting the conversion of private land forests to further plantations which will also be at the mercy of the plantation manager or buyer.

    Jan needs to explain in more detail as to why she is pushing an activity which is so clearly a buyers market.

    John Hayward

  6. Dr Gordon Bradbury

    August 4, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    Dear oh dear! So now we have the farmers and private forest owners wading in demanding that the forestry wars must continue. 30 years of conflict is apparently not enough. Can the forest industry survive another 30 years of conflict? I don’t think so!

    Can the politicians come up with a better solution to the problem? Not yet they haven’t. Can the TFGA come up with a better plan? I’m still waiting for that one.

    Since we don’t like the current plan, and we can’t come up with a better one, then it’s time to “spit the dummy”. Goodbye forest industry!

    Yes we all know that the HOA is flawed, just like every previous forest “deal”. So what! As I’ve said before, that is the nature of negotiation. But as soon as some people start speaking to each other (a rare thing in itself), everyone else becomes fearful and outraged. What a way for adults to behave. How very sad.

    Nobody seems to get it. The forest industry is dying through lack of investment and markets because people cannot come to a settlement, and the politicians keep wading in. Mr. Lennon is just the latest example. Can’t the TFGA see that no industry can survive in such an environment. It is dead!! Settlement must be achieved. Peace must be achieved. That is the greater goal. The longer we keep the wars going the greater the pain and loss will be for everyone.

    Come on Ms. Davis. Please adopt a more positive, constructive approach to the situation. Otherwise you just increase the risk of greater damage to private forest growers.

  7. Mrs Smyth

    August 4, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    Yet again the TFGA goes out and stands up for forestry when many of its farming members do not agree with what Ms Davis says. Why does the TFGA do this? Because it has a branch that is solely forestry interests and not formers, this branch has its own members and committees and general seems to be abit rogue relative to the normally conservative rest of TGFA. When Ms Davis says tree farmers she really mean plantation companies and those private timber reserves which are outside most legislation that all other farmers have to abide by. As a primary producer I refuse to pay any levies to this organisation.

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