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


Giddings: Gunns eligible for up to $23 million. Brown: Open the books, FT

Lara Giddings:

The state goverment will appoint an independent probity auditor to oversee a commercial settlement with Gunns to end its involvment in native forests in Tasmania.

According to (Premier) Ms (Lara) Giddings, any settlement amount will come from the Intergovernmental Agreement funding which has been provided for this purpose.

She said that the maximum Gunns could receive under the arrangement would be $23 million.

“I recognise that for many in the community there is little appetite for payments of any kind to be made to Gunns, especially amongst the workers affected by the company’s decision to exit native forest harvesting,” she said.

“I have sympathy for this view, however the Solicitor General has advised that the complex legal issues surrounding Gunns’ native forest contracts with Forestry Tasmania must be resolved in order to progress the Intergovernmental Agreement.

“Section 22 of that agreement requires that a process must be entered into before payments can begin flowing to contractors. This has now occurred.

“While the State Government has received legal opinion that Gunns has elected to terminate its contracts it is also apparent that, as a result, the company has certain residual legal rights.”

Ms Giddings said the appropriate course of action was to attempt to reach a commercial settlement with the company to extinguish those rights and end any commercial relationship between Gunns and Government.

“A key condition of any arrangement made with Gunns will be that no money will be transferred to the company until payments have begun flowing to affected contractors and forest workers.”

Read the full Examiner story, HERE

Bob Brown:

Brown calls for Forestry Tasmania to open data bank

Greens Leader Bob Brown has attacked Forestry Tasmania’s clamp on basic information and its failure to open up its data bank to public scrutiny.

“Forestry Tasmania’s data bank is a public asset. That data – and not just modelling using selected fragments of it – should be publicly available,” Senator Brown said today.

In the Senate, Senator Brown yesterday attacked Forestry Tasmania’s selective use of information and its refusal to open up its data bank so that Tasmania’s forest resource could be evaluated independently.

The following motions are intended to be voted on next week:

That the Senate condemns the Opposition’s ongoing attacks on the Inter Governmental Agreement on Tasmania’s forests and the Opposition’s failure to provide a constructive alternative for scores of contractors facing business ruin, closures of three export woodchip mills and regional areas of Tasmania welcoming the development opportunities the package will provide.

That the Senate calls on senators from the Liberal Party of Australia and The Nationals to account for the $240 million of public money given to the Tasmanian logging industry by the Howard Government in 2004 and to explain to the parliament why this money did not halt the loss of markets, the closure of woodchip mills and the loss of hundreds of jobs in 2011.

• ABC Online:

Forest peace hangs on Gunns settlement

Tasmania’s Premier has revealed the $276 million forest peace deal will not proceed if a commercial settlement with timber company Gunns over its contract rights can not be reached.

Lara Giddings says her legal advice is Gunns has a legal right to settlement money despite the company voluntarily handing back its native forest contracts.

The Premier says an agreement is needed to extinguish Gunns’ right to renegotiate contracts and clear the way for the forest peace deal.

“And that’s the element that the government is very keen to resolve,” she said.

Commonwealth assistance to forest contractors will not flow until the matter is sorted.

“That’s the issue that is really at the heart of this,” she said.

Ms Giddings says she knows a decision to compensate will be unpopular but the Government is legally bound to do so.

“I’m very aware that the broader community are feeling quite angry at the moment of the behaviour of Gunns in recent times and the impact that they have had on decisions like Triabunna and in fact many people have come up to me and said they don’t want to see one single dollar go to Gunns as a result.

“There is an absolute interest in this issue.”

The money will come from a $23 million federal funding pool.


Kim Booth MP
Greens Forestry Spokesman

The Tasmanian Greens today responded to the Premier’s announcement that a Probity Auditor will be engaged to advise on an appropriate commercial settlement process to resolve outstanding contractual obligations between Gunns Ltd and Forestry Tasmania.

Greens Forestry spokesperson Kim Booth MP said that these outstanding issues need to be resolved and appropriately, to ensure that key conservation and forest workers assistance goals of the Forests IGA can be implemented.

“The Greens’ position has been consistent in support of an independent probity auditor advising on the appropriate process to settle the outstanding contractual issues between Gunns and Forestry Tasmania, and we welcome the Premier’s announcement,” Kim Booth said.

“This is a transparent and accountable mechanism to allow the State to move forward, in a manner which should provide community confidence.”

“It is important that the stand-off between Gunns and Forestry is resolved in an appropriate manner to ensure that key aspects of the Forests IGA can start to be acted upon, crucially the roll-out of the emergency exit money for forestry contractors, as well as the retiring of contracts to facilitate the 430, 000 hectares of high conservation forest being put into Informal Reserves.”

“Our understanding is that the Probity Auditor process will be advising on matters pertaining to any potential commercial settlement for the Parties. The Greens do not support financial compensation being provided.”

• What Gunns says …


GUNNS LIMITED | ABN 29 009 478 148
PO Box 572 Launceston Tasmania Australia 7250 | 78 Lindsay Street Launceston Tasmania Australia 7250
T 03 6335 5201 | F 03 6335 5406 | www.gunns.com.au
18 August 2011

Gunns Limited Managing Director, Mr Greg L’Estrange, today welcomed the
Tasmanian Government’s decision to appoint a probity auditor to review Gunns’
contracts but sought assurances that the process would be expedited to end the
onerous uncertainty the decision has created.

Mr L’Estrange said the transparency that an audit process should bring was
welcomed but was concerned with recent comments made about Gunns
involvement in the Forest Agreements process.

“We feel misled. We were asked to take part in a process to end the 30 year
conflict over Tasmania’s native forestry,” Mr L’Estrange said.

“When we made a decision early in 2010 that we would exit the native forest
industry to focus on our plantation strategy, there were two plain choices: sell our
businesses as going concerns for material value, or seek to assist in the restructure
of the native forest industry through the Forest Principles process,” he said.

“Gunns decided in good faith to go through what we expected to be a
transparent process to bring to an end what was essentially an ongoing battle
over native forests, to provide the balance for a continuing industry and a
conservation outcome.”

“Having been at the epicentre of that conflict for many years, we decided that it
wasn’t in the best interests of Tasmania to hand the poison chalice to someone
else. We could have easily sold those native forest businesses and gotten on with
building a pulp mill.”

“But we were encouraged by all of the parties to stay in there with the explicit
understanding of funding for a smooth transition out of native forestry.”

“Our position from the start was that we were happy to be party to the process,
and we have said from day one that we would stay the course if our employees,
contractors and shareholders were fairly compensated.”

“There are precedents in most other states where this has been done in a fair and
objective manner.”

“We chose to stick with an open, collaborative process and now it appears that
we are being punished for that,” he said.

Mr L’Estrange urged the Premier and the Government to stick to commitments
made, especially in relation to timing.

“When the Inter-Governmental Agreement was announced, Ms Giddings said it
would take seven days to resolve the financial outcomes. It has now taken two
weeks to reach what is still essentially a non-decision,” he said.

“We have contractors out there waiting for a decision on this, workers waiting to
see if Tasmania is going to be mature enough to manage the restructure of the
native forest industry and to develop a world scale plantation business.”

“There has been a reference to forest workers being angry about Gunns’ decision.
It is my understanding that the union poll earlier this year around the forest
agreement found overwhelming support for action.”

Mr L’Estrange said he would also like to remind the Government that a decision to
exit the native forest industry was directly linked to Gunns’ ability to bring the Bell
Bay pulp mill project to a reality.

“The pulp mill is the largest single private investment in Tasmania, a venture whose
success is dependent on a plantation-only environment. Tasmania’s global
reputation needs a plantation industry, not a continuation of the conflict,” he said.

Gunns is giving up over 3,500 kilometres of forest roads, which Gunns has
constructed on public land, licences for over 210,000 cubic metres of high quality
sawlog per annum and two million green metric tonnes of pulp wood per annum.
Given this background, to characterise Gunns involvement in this process as a
“grab for cash”, as propounded by some participants in the debate, is both
misleading and offensive.

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


  1. Barnaby Drake

    August 20, 2011 at 3:03 am

    36.La La has cut $100 million from the health budget, and I believe has made 200 staff from various areas of the health system redundant….

    Surely Lara must be pressing the Federal government to supply ‘compensation’ money for all these redundant health workers; or aren’t they as important as Forestry timber workers and private corporations like Gunns? And how are the out-of-work school teachers and policemen going to manage?

  2. Freddi Mazoudier

    August 19, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    La La has cut $100 million from the health budget, and I believe has made 200 staff from various areas of the health system redundant, and some how can magically find $ 23 million to squander on a failed privately owned company, Why? Our health system is already in crisis, and chopping such a huge amount from the budget can only cause all sorts of hardships and risks for the Tasmanian people, how many untimely deaths will this financial butchery result in?
    Lara forget the $23 million for Gunns and give it to the hospitals instead, do you care so little for the people you are supposed to care for and represent, don’t worry they won’t forget you come election time, enjoy what little time you have left as Premier, F.M.

  3. alan taylor

    August 19, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    talk, talk, bloody talk. point making, point taking… you all know the drill: pants down, bend over, brace yourselves.

  4. Russell

    August 19, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    The Woodchip Blues:

    I here that gravy train comin’
    It’s rollin’ ’round the bend
    And I been where the sun don’t shine, since
    I don’t know when.

  5. Barnaby Drake

    August 18, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    It must also be remembered that while there is this deadlock over money for Gunns, Forestry is ignoring the moratoruium and using it as an excuse to continue to log into forests that fall within the HCV area and they are intending to open even more coupes while this argument is going on. It they can extend this conflict, I am sure they will only be too willing to do so. It suits their ends. Just read carefully what Bob Gordon published on TT a couple of days ago!

  6. Barnaby Drake

    August 18, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    When considering Gunns ‘residual rights’, will they also consider gunns ‘residual liabilities’?

    According to their wood supply agreement, there was an non-compliance clause stretching for the next twenty years that basically said they would compensate forestry for NOT taking their alloction of timber. As Gunns has now cancelled this agreement, surely they must now be liable for this payment for the next twenty years of non-compliance?

    That alone should see off the $23 million that Lara wants to give them!

  7. Anne

    August 18, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    “However, their contracts also have residual rights to renegotiate those contracts and that is the element that the Government is keen to resolve,” Ms Giddings said.

    Pardon? There is only one residual element in the sludge from this slippery deal, and that is the amount of verbal contortion on display – from all sides. What a grotesque and embarrassing pantomime; one that is clearly designed to persuade Tasmanians Gunns is deserving of yet more taxpayer millions.

    The sooner we can adminster last rites to this company the better off Tasmania will be.

  8. PB

    August 18, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    It is incredible that the so-called corporate regulator can allow Gunns to manipulate the Stock Exchange with propaganda dressed up as company announcements issued to fulfil its continuous disclosure obligations.

    It is also incredible that the ENGOs who participated in the SoP process have been so duped that Gunns can now publicly reveal that it has contracts “for over 210,000 cubic metres of high quality sawlog per annum” out of the current legislated 300,000 cubic meters quantity which leaves a balance of 90,000 cubic metres for all the remaining saw millers in the State. However, the abject ENGOs have signed up to an erroneous agreement that under Clause 17 guarantees “at least 155 000 thousand (sic) cubic metres per year of high quality sawlog to the industry, by regulation.”

    As well as this obvious error, the sorry drafters of the IGA have also failed to apply the correct measurement for peeler billets by stipulating metres rather than cubic metres.

    Also, given that FT claims that low quality peeler billets “arise” from the production of high quality sawlogs then the (unverified) annual supply of 265,000 metres per year of peeler billets should be reduced by half in line with the reduction of supply of high quality sawlogs.

    I also fail to comprehend how Gunns can have any financial claim for “residual rights to renegotiate those (native wood supply) contracts” as claimed by Lara Giddings when it sought to terminate the contracts of its own free will and publicly declared its move to plantations prior to the instigation of the SoP process to which it is not even a party.

    How the Premier could even consider any payment to Gunns when it owes FT over $25M is totally inexplicable and the Premier must therefore publicly release all legal advice that supports her position.

  9. moo

    August 18, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    Are the shafted contractors organising a class action against Gunns for not honouring their contracts? Does anyone know?

  10. John Biggs

    August 18, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    No, Russell, #1. If Gunns is to be paid $23 million of tax payers’ money in “compensation”, then it should be paid directly to those small private businesses to whom Gunns’ owes money. That way it will do some good. Paying it to Gunns directly will be pouring it into a black hole. And not to FT for God’s sake.

  11. John

    August 18, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    Given the maximum amount payable to Gunns is $23m (which they don’t appear to dispute in their release to the ASX which has been reproduced above) then surely they can return to trading on the ASX and let the market determine their worth (given they requested suspension from trading until this amount was determined to avoid a ‘false market’).

  12. Jack B Nimble

    August 18, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    Re # 23,
    I was thinking the same way, maybe the Libs can finally see that Gunns are broke and on the brink of collapse, past their use by date, no more bribes ( donations ) coming from Gunns, now the Libs can say what they feel without the fear of financial loss.

    Jack Nimble.

  13. jabsert

    August 18, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    Isn’t it funny how people like #23 Maddie try to rationalise the complete collapse of Green ethics ?

    Say what you like about Will Hodgman but he is a man who sticks to his word. It’s been Liberal policy for months now that they wouldn’t give any to Gunns.

    But the Greens are twisting and turning like a trapped rat trying to rationalise their support of cash for Gunns.

    Kim Booth has made totally contradictory statements over the past couple of months both in support of money for Gunns and against.

    Strip away the spin and the end result is that the Greens support giving millions of dollars to Gunns.

    I’m not surprised that Nick and Cassey have collapsed on this issue. They sold out long ago. But Kim, well, what a turn. His credibility is starting to look very threadbare indeed.

    You can’t get out of this one Kim. Either you’re helping shovel more truckloads of cash to Gunns or you’re with the Liberals (!!!) and oppose it.

  14. Keith Antonysen

    August 18, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    What a bloody mess; the stocks of the Labor Party decreasing by the day, the Premier having been an apologist for Gunns appears to have begun to change her mind slightly, a Company wanting to build an Enterprise which appears beyond their means, and a Liberal Party that appears to not understand the issues involved. A perfect setting for Monty Python.

    I think emotions have warped decision making in the early history of the Mill venture these being unbridled anger and bloody mindedness. Unbridled anger being directed at Conservationists; and bloody mindedness in relation to the choice of the proposed Mill site.

    Gunns now seek compensation for deciding to leave native forests. A fair question might be did Gunns treat their sub contractors as well as they, Gunns, wish to be treated?
    We are told that Tasmania is on the brink of financial disaster, so the question arises where do the millions come from to pay Gunns when the State is broke?

    If it is deemed that Gunns ought to be compensated, then it is only appropriate that anything owing to Forestry Tasmania should be deducted first.

  15. Maddie

    August 18, 2011 at 10:41 am

    Think it’s amusing that the Libs have condemned any payout to Gunns. If they’d be in Govt. they would have done exactly the same thing…. and pushed for more.

  16. moo

    August 18, 2011 at 2:24 am

    #17 Simon Too Right!

  17. abs

    August 18, 2011 at 1:29 am

    “Mr L’Estrange said he would also like to remind the Government that a decision to exit the native forest industry was directly linked to Gunns’ ability to bring the Bell Bay pulp mill project to a reality”.

    and yet we are told that no compensation money shall flow to forward Gunn’s pulp mill…???

  18. john hawkins

    August 18, 2011 at 1:20 am

    Well that is a step in the right direction Premier.

    Wise Lord and Ferguson.

    Maybe just maybe they will act in the best interests of Tasmania rather than Gunns.

    If Gunns have a problem over an exit from the contracts they were gifted and walked away from they could take FT and the Government to court for breach of those contracts preferably, as with the Gunns 20, in Victoria.

    This would provide real evidence in the public eye.

    A result we could all agree with or appeal to a higher court.

  19. Russell

    August 18, 2011 at 12:37 am

    Re #13
    I won’t bet against you, john.

    I like chess, sometimes.

    Recently I beat the girlfriend’s son in two moves. I didn’t know it could be done. Well, he beat himself really, just as the woodchip industry has.

  20. Simon Warriner

    August 18, 2011 at 12:24 am

    Far beyond betraying our state, Giddings and fellow Gunns supporters, past and present, betray the sacrifice made by thousands to protect the ideals of democracy. Ideals we should reflect on, not just on 25th April, but every day of the year.

    There is a reason the line “lest we forget” is intoned at the end of the service.

    Obviously our leaders have forgotten or perhaps they lack the wits to understand.

  21. William Boeder

    August 17, 2011 at 11:48 pm

    As per the tenor of the comments so far directed to a Gunns Ltd payoff that cost Gunns Ltd ‘each degree of nothing’but winded promises to obtain.

    Furthermore, I never thought I would see the day that the majority of the ministers in the Greens Party would become an advocate of Gunns Ltd to support them of further encroachment upon the taxpayers of Australia generally.

    The huge financial attrition suffered upon the Gunns Ltd fortunes had been initiated and guided along to achieve this ultimate self destructor destiny, by those noted past and present directors of this very company.

    This flaccid attempt by Gunns Ltd to lay claim to any further taxpayer monies whatsoever, will ultimately be traced back to its originating source, particularly so when a public examination is held into the rapid collapse of said Gunns Ltd, but not before the success of the class action laid against this same company, comes to the fore.

    This whole epic journey into financial ruin is a further gruesome testament to the fact that this State government and the State’s opposition party of Liberal ministers had joined hands in going against the interests of this State’s citizens, thus engaging in such a flaunting of themselves in political concert, both hoping to win the political donation favor of Gunns Ltd.

    Then we must look upon the sly colluding joint approval processes to providing such past recorded huge financial support toward such a reprehensible plundering and ruinous business enterprise.

    How low do government ministers go in acting against their electing voters?
    The above actions are a mere sample of the tragic failures that is the lot of all the past and present pro-Gunns Ltd serving State Labor and Liberal ministers.

  22. Monika Szigeti

    August 17, 2011 at 11:17 pm

    Well well well did I not smell that one coming on

  23. Tim

    August 17, 2011 at 11:04 pm

    Warren Zevon said it all. “Send lawyers, Gunns and money.”

  24. john hawkins

    August 17, 2011 at 10:58 pm

    I bet the probity auditor will be KPMG a local franchise that audit Gunns books ….conflict of interest….nah

    Gunns exited Native Forests only because there is no money in clear fell and burn without FSC.To sell the chips on the International market you need FSC which Gunns knew they could never get.

    The two G’s should call everyones bluff and cancel the IGA.

    No one can make any money out of Tasmania’s Native Forests; the proof being that all the players are bankrupt.

    Those still in the game have increased allocations under the IGA so are unaffected.

    One such is Ta An an operator selling into Malaysia funded by cheap FT subsidised timber and the Australian taxpayer, with or without FSC.They can use saw logs for billets see photo on TT all processed using mostly Malaysian labour and government grants.

    This IGA cancellation as a lateral thinking move on the chessboard will checkmate all the party’s ,Gunns FT ,CFMEU, The Loggers,The Liberals Labour and The Greens a perfect result.

    It will save the the taxpayer 275 million and ensure everybody exits stage right with their chain saws well and truly between their legs!!!

  25. Garry Stannus

    August 17, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    Money for Gunns?

    Our premier seems mad. We’ve now got to the point where it seems these lunatics in power cannot be reasoned with.

    I usually try to provide reasons, try to explain, to be reasonable. What is the point with madmen? The Labor party in Tasmania has sunk far from honour. Its dreams and ideals are sacrificed. I’m a worker, unionist, left wing, libertarian socialist and green. And I say to anyone out there supporting money for Gunns:

    Is this your role in life? Is this why you entered Parliament? Is this why you joined the party? As far as I’m concerned, Labor has betrayed our state. Traitors!

  26. Barnaby Drake

    August 17, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    $23 Million will not even pay the bill that Forstry are claiming, let alone what they owe elsewhere. Suppliers are refusing to supply, due to non-payment and the Bank is owed $560 million plus a $200 million extra loan.

    The company is worth only $165 Million in share value and falling, in line with the asset sales and the realisation that the company books do not show these assets at their true market value.

    The asset value includes cash payments already spent on promoting the mill project, with nothing so far to show for it. It is merely a book entry at present. If they are refused planning permission AND/OR a joint venture partner is not found almost immediately, the $216 million they have spent so far on their project then becomes a liability and makes the entire value of the company negative by over $800 million! If this happens, then they cannot continue trading without breaking the law and the company must be
    Ccmpulsorily wound up.

    As the amount they are liable to receive has already been announced by the Premier, what further excuse have they to continue in a shares trading halt?

  27. glennis

    August 17, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    An independent probity auditor to be appointed? Hm, I’m sure Gunns have someone in mind!

  28. Karl Stevens

    August 17, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    So Lara is simply paying Gunns Forestry Tasmania debt with our money? Makes you wonder why they bother putting it all into contracts in the first place.

  29. Estelle Ross

    August 17, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    Surely Gunns had already declared some time ago, before the signing of the IGA, that they were exciting native forests so I fail to see why clause 22 is valid. Their quota is therefore already available for anyone else to take up and they did this voluntarily in order to try and acquire FSC certification. They broke their contract with FT so why is Lara to kowtow and pay them any compensation? If she does then the least she can do is to deduct the debt they owe Forestry Tasmania.

  30. Scotty

    August 17, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    A long way short of the $400 million they wanted and the $250 million they reckon they deserve.
    And its a hell of a way from $2.3 billion to build a mill.
    Big announcement due soon to say everything is on target me thinks.

  31. slamander

    August 17, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    Time for FT and government to admit that it is their own mismanagement that has brought down the timber industry.

  32. Len Fulton

    August 17, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    There is no doubt that clever ole Greg has done a good job with the cards they dealt him and that desperate times require desperate measures. But when is the bullshit going to finally stop? Now that the ‘fear factor’ of losing Gunns’ work no longer prevails even their former contractors, employees and even Bob Gordon acknowledge that Gunns was, is and always will be a collection of stand over deceitful bullies. They never gave a second thought to their loyal work force, apart from filling them up with free grog a couple of times prior to sending them off to a rally or two. The ASX suspension is a charade. Every man and his dog knows that. The company is now despised in all circles. At best they can only see $23 million on a distant horizon. That won’t save ya Greg. Time to stop stuffing many good people about. People on both sides of the divide. The game is up Champ. The game is up.

  33. Jack B Nimble

    August 17, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    The Gunnerment should take from the $23 million payout the $15 million Gunns owes FT, also the cost of Gunns culvert on the east Tamar log truck highway, the ANZ can have the rest.

    J Nimble.

  34. john hayward

    August 17, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    This kicks off with a whopper of a compound oxymoron: “The state government will appoint an independent probity auditor…”.

    And what exactly does Lara mean by “complex legal issues” and “certain residual legal rights”? Do they refer to things she can’t explain, or to things she’d rather not explain.

    $23m is small beer to a government which has handed out ten times that amount without explanation, but it would be an opportunity for our Integrity Commission to show off any residual life signs it may have.

    John Hayward

  35. Tim Thorne

    August 17, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    So now Gunns can pay back most of what they owe FT before declaring bankruptcy. Pity about the rest of their debt, but I guess ANZ knew what they were doing.

  36. Russell

    August 17, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    Just what exactly are thses “certain residual legal rights” that Gunns is supposed to have, Lara?

    Regarding the $23million though, you should deposit that straight into FT’s account for monies owing to them (us) and other suppliers by Gunns.

    The only “appropriate course of action” Lara, is to cut the public welfare lifeline with the private company.

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