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

Economy

Gunns silent on Giddings’ offer

The state government has confirmed that it has made a commercial settlement offer to timber company Gunns.

Premier Lara Giddings said the offer follows the appraisal by independent auditors Wise Lord and Ferguson.

Ms Giddings said the details of the offer would remain confidential until a formal response had been received from Gunns.

“Over the past week, Wise Lord and Ferguson has been reviewing all available evidence, including legal opinion that Gunns Limited has residual legal rights over native forest contracts that can best be extinguished through a legal settlement,” Ms Giddings said.

“The auditors have approved the process that has been entered into by the state government and the settlement offer, which includes a proposed resolution of disputed debts between FT and Gunns.

“It is my intention to release the Wise Lord and Ferguson report once this process has concluded.”

Examiner HERE

• What Lara Giddings said …

Commercial settlement offer made to Gunns

The Premier, Lara Giddings, today confirmed a commercial settlement offer had been made to Gunns Limited following appraisal by independent auditors Wise Lord and Ferguson.

Ms Giddings said the details of the offer would remain confidential until a formal response had been received from the company.

“Over the past week Wise Lord and Ferguson has been reviewing all available evidence, including legal opinion that Gunns Limited has residual legal rights over native forest contracts that can best be extinguished through a legal settlement,” Ms Giddings said.

“The auditors have approved the process that has been entered into by the State Government and the settlement offer, which includes a proposed resolution of disputed debts between FT and Gunns.

“It is my intention to release the Wise Lord and Ferguson report once this process has concluded.”

Ms Giddings said it was important to note that the offer did not constitute compensation.

“This is not compensation or reward for Gunns’ commercial decision to exit native forests, which has caused considerable uncertainty for forest workers, contractors and their families.

“The Government is acting in accordance with our legal obligations to extinguish the company’s residual legal rights so that we can provide certainty to the forest industry under the Intergovernmental Agreement.”

Ms Giddings reiterated the State Government’s position that no money would be transferred to Gunns until IGA funding begins flowing to contractors and forest workers.

“By entering into this process, we have satisfied the requirements of Clause 22 of the IGA.

“Money will begin flowing to contractors once the Commonwealth has finalised eligibility criteria and the application process.”

Ms Giddings said it was her intention to update Parliament tomorrow on the next steps to progress the Intergovernmental Agreement.

“This process is about providing certainty for the Tasmanian forest industry, including guaranteeing wood supply for the sawmilling, veneer and speciality timbers sector,” Ms Giddings said.

“Key milestones in the process will include the final verification by December of industry wood supply requirements and high conservation value forests by legislation to come before the Parliament in the Autumn session next year.

“As part of that package, it is the State Government’s intention to legislate for the provision of 265,000 cubic metres of peeler billets, along with specialty timber requirements to support fine furniture and value adding opportunities.”

• Nick McKim: Greens will not support peeler billet legislation

More special favours for industry means less native forest for everyone else

Nick McKim MP
Greens Leader

The Tasmanian Greens today said that under no circumstances would they support resource security legislation to guarantee 265,000 cubic metres of peeler billets, as flagged by Premier Lara Giddings earlier today.

Greens Leader Nick McKim MP said this legislation is not required by the Forests Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) and would simply amount to legislating to provide corporate welfare for Ta-Ann, the only company to hold a contract for peeler billets in Tasmania.

“This legislation would, if passed, lock in more native forest destruction when the signatories to the Statement of Principles process, including industry representatives, supported a transition out of native forest logging,” said Mr McKim.

“This is simply yet more special-interest corporate welfare for the timber industry at the expense of our ancient native forests.”

“Industry representatives did not put resource security for Ta-Ann on the table at any stage during any of the Statement of Principles negotiations process, yet are now trying to claim that the sky will fall in unless it is delivered.”

“The Greens will not support this legislation in Cabinet or on the floor of the House,” said Mr McKim.

Jenny Webber, Huon Environment Environment Centre:

Media Release

30/09/2011

Tasmania’s native forest destruction promised by Labor Government for
Malaysian logging giant

Tasmania’s grass roots environment organisations have today condemned
the Premier’s commitment to legislating Ta Ann’s peeler billet supply.

“The Tasmanian Premier’s promise of legislated supply to Malaysian
logging giant Ta Ann, does not reflect the Statement of Principles
promised transition out of native forests, rather this legislation
will lock in large scale clearfelling of Tasmania’s native forests”
Huon Valley Environment Centre’s spokesperson Jenny Weber said.

“The ongoing logging of native forests to supply 265,000 cubic meters
a year to Ta Ann is a move that will hold Tasmania in the dark ages.
This legislation will be the loss of a real opportunity to take action
on climate change by ending deforestation of Tasmania’s native
forests” said Miranda Gibson, spokesperson for Still Wild Still
Threatened.

“Recent protests in forests around the State have highlighted the
logging that continues within the promised 430,000 hectares of forests
to be reserved. These forests are being lost right now to feed Ta
Ann’s contract. And with a legislated quota Tasmania will continue to
lose our precious native forests” Jenny Weber said.

“Formalising Ta Ann’s quota through legislation is a breach of trust
on behalf of the State Government who worked to secure Federal funding
for an effective transition out of a minimum of 430,000ha of
Tasmania’s native forests as of August 7, 2011,” said CODE GREEN
spokesperson Ali Alishah.

“This entrenchment of Tasmania into yet another incarnation of an
economically unviable and environmentally unsustainable forest
industry by the State Government is using Australian taxpayer dollars
to protect a Malaysian company with an appalling environmental and
human rights record against the interests of all Tasmanians,” Ali
Alishah said,

“Our organisations stand in solidarity with the Tasmanian community
and the people of Sarawak, Malaysia, to protect the natural
environment in the face of corrupt corporate greed and the ineptitude
of a blinkered government,” said Ali Alishah.

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18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. mike seabrook

    August 31, 2011 at 12:24 am

    with a bit of luck for tasmanians the offer made by the tassie lab-greens to gunns- the proponent of the big stinker in the tamar valkley will be an offer which gunns can refuse or not properly comply with the conditions thereof.

    the lab-greens are really scraping the insolvency barrell now , by cutting micro amounts of funding from long mendicant small art groups etc.

    how does giddings expect the other ministers to economise when as tassie treasurer/finance minister she is handing out money & gifts to gunns, fed hotels & mainland footy clubs!!!!!

  2. Frank

    August 30, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    The thing I don’t understand – why don’t the Gov’t offer to wipe some of the $25 million debt from what Gunns owe FT as payment for this “offer”? It might be the only way FT ever get anything from Gunns.

  3. Barnaby Drake

    August 30, 2011 at 9:15 am

    I believe that it is now time for Gunns to cease their trading halt.

    All the conditions which they quoted as reasons for this halt are now resolved, although virtually none in their favour. This includes the posting of their company end-of-year accounts, the amount of money received for compensation for their wood supply agreement is now known and the pulpmill permits expire tomorrow and no joint venture partner has been found despite their every three monthly announcement of their wishful thinking.

    It is time to stop this farce and let the market back into trading. I am sure all those people sitting on Gunns shares wish to dispose of them considering the events of the last three weeks. It is the fear of the consequences of such action, and nothing else that keeps Gunns in a self-determined trading halt. They and the market are well aware that they are insolvent and this trading halt is merely a smoke-screen to hide the facts. No other company is able to hide behind this form of chicanery or to cheat their shareholders, so why should Gunns be allowed to continue this ploy indefinitely? The ASX refuses to take note and ASIC refuses to reply to what appears to be a deepening action. Any company trading on the stock exchange has a duty of disclosure, and Gunns is refusing to disclose anything that has or could affect their share price. There is already shareholder litigation before the High Court for a similar situation a couple of years ago, but it appears the Gunns has learned nothing from this action.

    If anyone is a shareholder in this company, I would suggest that they write or phone the ASX and/or ASIC and DEMAND that this trading halt is lifted and ask for specific reasons why if they refuse the request.

    It will probably not take more than one day of open trading to decide Gunns’ fate, and if it is as I hope, then all the other problems for everyone else will disappear with the company!

  4. Robin Halton

    August 30, 2011 at 3:17 am

    Fantastic news for FT, common sense has prevailed despite profits and losses FT rightly so remains as manager of Tasmania’s State Forests for Wood Production, Special Values and for Recreation.
    Premier Gidding by sidelining public concerns now founders in uncharted waters with her strong support for the Tamar Valley pulp mill and compensation issues with Gunns!
    #16 Sorry Wiilliam our highly skilled flambe flame throwers will remain to rule supreme in our native forests.
    #7 Tin Tin, the facts of life in forestry, a realistic view, definitely not a task for the tree huggers to comprehend.

  5. William Boeder

    August 29, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    As best as I can determine the where what and how of this supposed residual rights business, in that this should be held apart from the qango of Forestry Tasmania and Gunns Ltd, being that these 2 proponents are the only 2 whom should be involved in the tit for tat of debt/payment claims between themselves.
    How the State government, through its Premier, (whom no doubt is being heavily influenced by a whispering silver-haired person moving about in the silence of night,) and the State’s forestry minister, have got themselves involved in this civil matter, is to my way of thinking is not in any way warranted.

    In fact “each” forestry entity is claiming a benefit from these residual rights through the agency of a discontinued contract of log supply.

    Now moving to the issue of legislating log supply to a foreign corporate on the behalf of Forestry Tasmania, this becomes another instance of the qango of Forestry Tasmania leaning on the State government, “for the gaining of favorable to them and Ta Ann only,” specific log supply legislations.

    This log supply matter alone is still riddled with contention when consideration has to be taken into account with the agreed accord of the exiting of HCV Native Forests?

    Such are the confusing disarrays now being argued, but in a conjoined confusing manner when it is incorporating (1) the civil matter, as referenced above.
    (2) Forestry Tasmania–Ta Ann friendly legislation.
    (3) The battle of residual rights.

    Each of these issues must be kept separate, yet there seems to be a certain dark influence that insists they be lumped together?
    Why is this so?

  6. salamander

    August 29, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    Lara’s new bit of forestry welfare legislation risks the demise of the IGA, and all that lovely federal lolly that is attached. No doubt the blinkered and powerful are behind her, pulling her strings.

    How long will she survive in the opinion polls while she continues to sideline most Tasmanians?

  7. Mike Adams

    August 29, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    No 6. Given the influence that FT has over the government and the evident animosity between FT and Gunns I suspect that Karl is in the right of it. Gunns is diving deep into a hole and the government has decided to squeeze the lifeline. Exit Gunns, but not the pulp mill dream…

  8. john hayward

    August 29, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    If I were giving $23million or so of John Q Public’s money to an old friend of mine, I would feel obliged to explain to John Q what the “residual right” occasioning the payment was, particularly when the “residual right” was something my old friend had voluntarily relinquished after receiving it from me for an undisclosed sum, if for any sum at all.

    For that matter, I would feel even more embarrassed to tell John Q to cough up $276 million to pay for the native forests which were being returned to me by an industry which doesn’t own them, and then immediately handed to an off-shore company for the same purpose for which John Q had just ransomed them.

    Lara has problems articulating even simple ideas, but it’s time she had a go at these.

    John Hayward

  9. Roger

    August 29, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    No comment: Sino-Forest Corp. Says Its Chief Has Resigned

    OTTAWA — The Sino-Forest Corporation, a Chinese company that is the focus of a Canadian securities investigation, said on Sunday that its chairman and chief executive, Allen T.Y. Chan, had resigned.

    The announcement came after the Ontario Securities Commission halted trading in the company, which is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange, on Friday after finding that Sino-Forest might have inflated its revenue and exaggerated the value of its timberlands.

    In brief statement on Sunday, Sino-Forest said three other employees had been put on “administrative leave” and that the duties of a fourth employee had been restricted.

    The securities commission, which is Canada’s most significant market regulator, initially on Friday ordered Mr. Chan and four other Sino-Forest employees to resign. It withdrew that portion of its order, however, after concluding that such a step could not be taken without a hearing.

    Through a representative, Sino-Forest said that Mr. Chan had submitted his resignation to the board “within the past week” and that the four employees were the people named earlier by the securities commission.

    The value of Sino-Forest’s shares fell significantly in June after Muddy Waters Research issued an extensive report by a short-seller that called the forestry company an “established institutional fraud.”

    In Sunday’s announcement, Sino-Forest said that Mr. Chan had also stepped down as a director but added that he would assume the title of founding chairman emeritus. Mr. Chan will continue to assist a special committee of directors with their investigation into the Muddy Waters accusations, the statement said.

    As the company has previously suggested, the special committee’s inquiries have not been going smoothly over the last 10 weeks.

    “The company’s business is complex, the scope of the review is significant and there are enormous amounts of data that have been marshaled and are under review,” the announcement said. “In these circumstances, the independent committee has not yet reached any conclusions.”

    Earlier this summer, Sino-Forest dismissed the Muddy Waters findings as well as a lengthy report in The Globe and Mail newspaper that reached similar conclusions, if in a less inflammatory manner. On Sunday, Sino-Forest said the accusations by the securities regulator, “while unproven, are of a serious nature.”

    Mr. Chan has been succeeded by William E. Ardell, a director who is also leading the independent committee.

    Mr. Ardell was formerly the president and chief executive of Southam, once Canada’s largest newspaper publisher. After a holding company controlled by Conrad M. Black completed a gradual takeover of Southam in 1996, Mr. Black fired Mr. Ardell and assumed operating control of the newspaper chain. Southam has since changed hands two more times and no longer exists in its previous corporate form.

    Sino-Forest is one of several Chinese companies that came to be listed in Toronto by taking over a dormant Canadian company trading on the exchange.

    Such reverse-merger companies have become a subject of increasing concern for regulators in both Canada and the United States.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/29/business/global/sino-forest-corp-says-its-chief-has-resigned.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=sino-forest&st=cse

  10. Russell

    August 29, 2011 at 11:34 am

    Another secret deal by Labor.

    “We’ll let you know about it after it’s all done. You can trust us, we’re the Government.”

  11. Ros Barnett

    August 29, 2011 at 10:43 am

    I wonder if another squiggly line in the sand might be drawn after this hand out / bail out. Or perhaps we could re-brand. Or employ another communications advisor. How about we call the state Ta(s)annia? There must be a truck driver out there who could work for DPaC to give them advise on how to run fifty tourist coaches a day down Macquarie Street to make the CBD look busy. Oh, the thinks you can think.

  12. Mark

    August 29, 2011 at 10:15 am

    It is also time to place some pressure on the various saw millers as they have been as complicit as FT in attempting to wreck any agreement. Their new contracts with FT should be scrapped with negotiations to commence again..

  13. Karl Stevens

    August 29, 2011 at 3:31 am

    The offer made by Lara Giddings to Gunns appears a ‘take it or leave it’ offer. Does anyone expect Gunns to come back to Lara asking to unravel the whole FT contracts dispute and the wood supply abandoned contracts legal advice, as well as the independent auditors advice and ask her for more money? Hardly. There is somebody in DPAC thats has decided to euthanase Gunns.

  14. Barnaby Drake

    August 29, 2011 at 3:02 am

    Speaks for itself, yet our government and Forestry are falling over themselves to promote this company at the expense of our HCV forests.
    ——————————————
    WWF “highly concerned” about Ta Ann corruption allegations

    Faced with corruption allegations against its Malaysian partner, the Taib family-linked Ta Ann group, the global conservation organization announces a review of its Global Forest & Trade Network

    BASEL/GLAND, SWITZERLAND AUGUST 22, 2011 –/WORLD-WIRE/– WWF, the World Wide Fund for Nature, is “highly concerned ” about corruption allegations against the Malaysian Ta Ann Group, a member of the WWF’s Global Forest & Trade Network, and has announced a review of its sustainable forestry programme that involves close to 300 companies, communities and NGOs in more than 30 countries.

    In a letter to the Swiss Bruno Manser Fund and to the Australian Greens leader, Senator Bob Brown, the WWF’s Director General, James P. Leape, is stating that “WWF is highly concerned about the claims against Ta Ann and has taken up the issue directly with the company.” According to Leape, the Malaysian timber group is currently developing a public document in reponse to the latest corruption allegations.

    The Bruno Manser Fund and Senator Brown had criticized the WWF’s partnership with Ta Ann because of the timber group’s close association with the Malaysian Taib family, one of South East Asia’s largest corruption networks. Ta Ann has also been identified as being the major driver for high conservation value forest destruction in the Australian state of Tasmania.

    Ta Ann is one of 49 companies blacklisted by the Bruno Manser Fund for its close links with the Taibs. The company is controlled by Hamed Sepawi, a cousin of the Sarawak Chief Minister, Abdul Taib Mahmud (“Taib”) and by Wahab Dolah, a Member of the Malaysian Parliament for Taib’s party, PBB. The group controls 362’000 hectares of logging concessions and 313’000 hectares of plantation concessions in the East Malaysian state of Sarawak. All these concessions have been granted to Ta Ann without public tender.

    Ta Ann chairman, Abdul Hamed Sepawi, is a key crony and business ally of the Sarawak Chief Minister, Abdul Taib Mahmud, one of South East Asia’s longest-serving and most corrupt politicians. The WWF’s partnership with Ta Ann has recently been criticized by Global Witness because of the timber group’s responsibility for large-scale destructive logging in the Heart of Borneo, one of the WWF’s priority conservation regions.

    Bruno Manser Fund,
    Socinstrasse 37,
    4051 Basel, Switzerland
    Tel. +41 61 261 94 74

  15. Steve

    August 29, 2011 at 1:18 am

    2: Bit near to the bone there, Mark. “Business plan”, “details”, “projected profits”?
    This is Tasmania, you must be from the mainland?

  16. William Boeder

    August 29, 2011 at 12:29 am

    At last, we finally have it out in the open, as was spoken by Nick McKim, the whole basis and structure of what Forestry Tasmania is all about!

    For so long this “clear-felling forestry non-caring steward of the forests, the woefully inadequate mindset possessed by all those that do the plotting at Forestry Tasmania, (including the executive directors,) has been about trying to feed the corporate interests of those who have issued their demands upon Tasmania’s forestry overlords.

    Private property foresters can do as they want, but to see just how much and for so long, did Forestry Tasmania position itself to become a corporate feeding juggernaut, even to the stage of being subsidized by the taxpayers.

    Surely now those “pro-forestry cut it all down now” geeks will understand the lunacy that has been the basis of operations of the logging arm of Forestry Tasmania.

    Feeding the corporate Gorgons with thousands and thousands of hectares of our Native Forests so that they at corporate headquarters can laugh, giggle and urinate into each others pockets and say how great businessmen they are in shafting Tasmania with all its accessible forests.
    For so many years the silly governments here have let so much go for so little return to the people of Tasmania, yet even now Forestry Tasmania are agitating to keep up the very same uncaring mindless strategies.

    By travelling back to the time of the Robin Gray Premiership era then through to today, how much of our forests have since been turned into wood-chips and or windrow-ed and burnt?

  17. Mark

    August 28, 2011 at 11:27 pm

    Until FT and the government can present a business plan that details actual projected profits to be made by substituting peeler billets for woodchips with nominated people to be accountable for any future losses, no-one should be fooled by this crap.

    How about 265,000 cubic metres of fine furniture with the remnants for billets? Now that would be value-adding.

  18. Barnaby Drake

    August 28, 2011 at 11:22 pm

    “The auditors have approved the process that has been entered into by the state government and the settlement offer, which includes a proposed resolution of disputed debts between FT and Gunns.”

    Tazzileaks has it that the deal consist of exchanging the pulp mill and about $12 million with Forestry to eliminate Gunns debts to them and the other $12 million goes to paying the slaries of the top executives so they can scarpa before the air conditioning unit makes contact with the effluvia when the ASX starts trading in their shares again.

    Meanwhile Forestry is trying to onsell the mill to Ta Ann but they only have agreed to accept it providing it comes with a free allocation of peeler logs as compensation.

    The workers? Well FIAT and the CFMEU, having chucked out Jularia’s offer have agreed to pay them out of union funds and Barry Chipman’s and Terry Edwards’s Christmas bonuses.

    By an incredible piece of political chic… oops… astuteness on the part of Lara, all the forests have been saved and the forest war is over — hip, hip, hooray!

    Now we can all relax again and get back to the the important business of the footy!

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