Let me speak plainly. I do not believe the Heads of Agreement deal is a good deal.

By locking in large volumes of sawlogs and peeler logs it has created a mechanism for the continuing destruction of Tasmania’s high conservation value forests. By failing to reform Forestry Tasmania it has left intact an institution that has deformed Tasmanian public life, debauched our public finances, and which will continue to use our taxes to destroy our forests and damage our democracy.

By failing to address the issue of private land, it leaves vast swathes of forests vulnerable. And by failing to link compensation to a guarantee of conservation it has trusted the future not just of our forests but of our island to those very people who have demonstrated again and again that they cannot be trusted.

Over the last decade we in Tasmania had the opportunity to transform our island into a jewel celebrated around the world, a transformation that would have brought prosperity and a great future to our island.

Instead, we blew it.

Over the last decade we mortgaged our future to the forestry industry and now we must pay for our folly with our jobs, with our services, with a devastated economy and a despairing people. For the best part of ten years our government has had only one policy and that policy was called Gunns.

Within a few weeks Gunns—a company that poisoned this island— may well go into receivership and cease to exist. The pulp mill will never be built. The last straw for the company came when early this year it very nearly got a deal with the NGOs to trade our native forests for their pulp mill. That deal did not happen, not because of the good faith of the NGOs, but because of the pressure brought publicly to bear on the NGOs to not agree to such a vile trade.

It is not the role of those who love this island to agree with those who would only destroy it. We have no choice now but to fight from the outside to improve this deal, to encourage those on the inside, the NGOs and state Green parliamentarians, that this issue must be resolved properly, that they must take on the status quo not endorse it. Because appeasement of the racketeers who use our taxes to pervert our island will never ever be acceptable. This deal can be made made far better and must be made far better.

Because in the end, in the preservation of our forests lies not just the glory of the natural world, but our future. And until we end this conflict, Tasmania cannot move ahead, and our lives will continue to be lived under the yoke of the greed and stupidity of others.

I have here a stone from the Franklin River. When the battle for that river grew ferocious in the early 1980s, a deal was offered. In exchange for the Franklin River a dam on the middle Gordon River.

Bob Brown said, No. No dams.

He was reviled as an unrealistic fool who would lose everything in consequence.

But he won. We won.

The south west was saved, and on a misty day like today these rocks can still be found in their countless millions on the Franklin, glistening in wonder. Let us take this ancient Franklin River stone, shaped by the great and terrible forces of nature and time into a thing of beauty, as our compass for hope into the future.

Thank you.

Matthew Newton’s picture of Richard Flanagan. Peg Putt, right

John Williamson lets it rip … rip woodchip. (Not Matthew Newton’s pic)

Bob Brown lets rip: Forestry jobs at 3000; Tourism at more than 20,000, he told the crowd (Not Matthew Newton’s pic)

First published: 2011-08-07 03:58 AM