Tasmanian Times

Economy

Corrupt or incompetent? The $44 million question as Leg Co report revealed …

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The scandals continue with the release today of the Australian National Audit Office’s report on the administration of the Tasmanian Forest Intergovernmental Agreement Contractors Voluntary Exit Grants Program.

“The big question is, as it was with the Tasmanian Community Forest Agreement, is the Federal or State government corrupt or incompetent when overseeing these grants programs?” Senator Christine Milne said today, announcing she will move for a Senate inquiry immediately.

“We need to know why $44 million of taxpayers’ funds was allocated to contractors exiting logging, but the reductions in forests harvested and logs hauled was more than 33% less than promised? Fail.

“10 applicants (16%) were offered grants totalling $3.59 million despite not providing the required documentation to demonstrate eligibility, including financial information and evidence of ongoing arrangements or evidence of activity in public native forestry.

“The lack of documentation has raised questions about whether everyone had fair access to the funding program. The report shows that people who met the program’s requirements got funding and people who failed to meet the requirements were also funded. How is this possible and how did the department decide?

“This is not the first time this has happened. Without an ICAC to oversee the public service, DAFF keeps getting away with a complete failure of accountability.

“A Senate Inquiry needs to get to the bottom of this once and for all.”

• Read for yourself: REPORT OF THE AUDITOR-GENERAL––Report no. 22 of 2012-13––Performance audit––Administration of the Tasmanian Forests Intergovernmental Agreement Contractors Voluntary Exit Grants Program: Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry: HERE

Read these key points:

1. Failure to meet proposed reduction in wood to be harvested, para 19, p 15, paras 2.36 and 2.38, p 56.

2. Forestry Tasmania reference regarding letters sent but not authorised is footnote 87, p 69.

3. Payment to ineligible applicants, para 5.19, p 97.

4. Applications with a merit score of zero progressed through assessment process, para 36, p 21.

5. All eligible applicants irrespective of merit scores were recommended for grant funding, para 39, p 22, para 3.32, p 72.

6. DAFF failure to follow grants management processes para 2.50, p 60, para 23, p 17.

7. Managing compliance of the exit from the industry…Commonwealth must provide advance notice of impending compliance visit para 5.31, p 100.

8. Failure to keep detailed records para 4.30, p 84. The Advisory Panel chair advised the decision maker but details of the briefings were not recorded.

• Statewide Mornings with Leon Compton, CHRISTINE MILNE, Australian Greens leader: The Australian National Audit Office has been critical of the management of $45 million in exit packages for Tasmanian forest contractors. Senator Milne says the handling of the payouts suggests “corruption or incompetence”. ED VINCENT, Forest Contractors Association and Legislative Council candidate: Says questions need to be answered about the way some forestry contractors were dealt with. Listen HERE

• ABC 936 Mornings with Leon Compton 15 March 2013

Transcript of Interview with Christine Milne, Tasmanian Greens Senator for Tasmania, by David Obendorf

http://blogs.abc.net.au/tasmania/2013/03/mornings-on-demand-150313.html?site=hobart&program=hobart_mornings

Leon Compton: The Australian National Audit Office has found that the Department of Agriculture, Forests and Fisheries didn’t comply with previous recommendations that had been made to it in administering to the $45 million that have been paid out to Tasmanian forestry contractors & harvesters to leave the industry in the last 12 months.

So why does that matter? Well, the Greens say the $45 million was intended to reduce harvest and transport quotas in Tasmania by 1.5 million tonnes a year. And in end the money – $45 million – only achieved around 60% of that. Christine Milne, is the Leader of the Greens and also a Greens Senator for Tasmania. Senator, good morning to you. You say that this suggests the performance of DAFF and the federal government more generally suggests corruption or incompetence. How do you draw that conclusion?

Christine Milne:Good morning Leon. Oh, absolutely Leon and I would urge listeners to go to the National Audit Office website and look for the Performance Audit Report No. 22 and actually look at it for themselves.

This is de javu; the Departmentof Agriculture, Forests and Fisheries has demonstrated complete incompetence in the past in overseeing these grants, that’s why the Audit Office has an ongoing audit because they keep pointing it out; every time the Department then comes back say: “Oh yes, sorry we’ll do better next time”. But the point is, its taxpayers’ money – in this case it’s $45 million of taxpayers’ money that was meant to assist contractors to get out of the industry and therefore reduce the pressure on native forests.

But what happened here and to an extent tho Ministers are responsible as well – the federal and State ministers – and that’s why I want a Senate Inquiry to just see where the responsibility falls. Because for a start, in order to be eligible to get a grant initially it was recommended that you had to have had a logging contract in 2 or the previous 3 years. Well that was changed to say you only had to have a contract in one of the previous 4 years and only 50% of that contract had to be in public native forest. And then they changes the compliance period – that is – the time you had to fully get out, up to 10 years. So what’s happens now there are contractors in Tasmania that are completely outraged about the fact that they didn’t apply because they wanted to stay on and then we now find that, ahh… 10 of the people that were paid out were given grant funding of $3.59 million despite the fact that they couldn’t provide documentation to demonstrate that they were eligible. And in fact 2 of them got grants when they had a merit score of ‘zero’ out of 100 for their grants. And yet they were still given the money and Forestry Tasmania is up to their neck in this as well, because Forestry Tasmania provided the letters to the contractors to say that they [b]had[/b] ongoing native forest contracts. And then in January 2012 Forestry Tasmania informed the Department [DAFF] that all the letters of support that they had provided to their contractors were not duly authorised and should be disregarded, and in 7 cases those contractors couldn’t get the letters to say that they had a contract that still paid…. [interrupted]

Leon Compton: OK, at what point did Forestry Tasmania make that correction, because the money was paid out in the middle of last year [2012]?

Christine Milne: January 2012, but the point is you had to have a letter of… Well the first thing is, Leon, whyis… who in Forestry Tasmania is giving the contractors a letter to say that they’ve got a contract and then Forestry Tasmania says: “Whoops, actually those letters went out and they weren’t authorised.”…. [interrupted]

Leon Compton: In other words, you’re suggesting what that did was – in the eyes of DAFF – made people look eligible who may not have been?

Christine Milne: Exactly, and it increased their merit score in order to get grants and, of the ones that Forestry Tasmania sent out, the original letters for 7 they didn’t send out second letters for… which begs the question: Who in Forestry Tasmania sent out those letters in the first place?

But the other things are, Leon in terms of this, is that – and I’ll give you a specific case. One grant applicant actually told the Department [DAFF]that they didn’t have contract in place, therefore, confirming that they were ineligible, but the Department, or the people giving out the grants at least said: “Never mind, we’ll give it to you anyway”. And they gave that contractor and the sub-contractor $697,000, even though they had admitted they had no contracts in place… [interrupted]

Leon Compton: But they… did they

Christine Milne: How is that possible?

Leon Compton: Did they decommission their machinery? Did they do the things that were required to prove that they [the equi
pment] could no longer be operated; or that they would no longer operate in Tasmania?

Christine Milne: No, not at all, because the eligibility requirements says very specifically that you have to demonstrate that you had a contract to log and haul native forests, ahhh… at some time, once in the previous four years. Now when someone says: “I don’t… I can’t do it, I’m therefore not eligible”; why on Earth were they then paid out, with their sub-contractor, $697,000.

But what is also really unfair to the contractors, is that the Department [DAFF] changed the way that they assessed the applications after the people put their applications in, and they never told the contractors that they changed the application. So the contractors that scored highly on the merit order got less money than they should have, and those that score practically zero and had virtually no forest contract to get out of were paid out.

So, those who deserved it least got more and those who deserved it more, got less. Now that is not an efficient use of public money.

Leon Compton: Senator, $45 million in this program was intended to reduce harvest and transport volumes by 1.5 million tonnes a year. In the end the money achieved, it seems, only around 60% of that. But, it would already seem that those involved in the industry that remain, believe that the amounts that will be left for harvesting and processing is barely enough to keep the industry going. So if it had fully delivered on its promise, where would we be?

Christine Milne: Well that’s the whole point here; it was to assist them to get out of the industry and lower the amount of forest volumes that would be available. That’s the whole point of providing the money to get people out. But what has happened is, because there are no serious compliance provisions written into this, people were able to take the money and there is no follow up about whether you handed the truck over to a brother, or uncle or son… and just took the money and they stayed on in the business in some way. And what’s more, they [?DAFF] got written into the compliance arrangements that the federal government had to give notice before they made any compliance checks of the properties of the people concerned. So … [interrupted]

Leon Compton: We’ll be talking to Simon Crean a little bit later on this morning. He’s been driving much of the restructure that’s been happening and the money allocation in this.
What culpability, in any, do you think the federal government have in this process?

Christine Milne: Ah, well… the federal government has hugely culpability. This is the Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries; this isJoe Ludwig’s Department, and in the Tasmanian context it as Bryan Green, I understand, who was the Minister [responsible]. But this issue here is, Simon Crean was part of a federal Ministerial team, but overwhelming responsibility lies with, ahh… the federal Minister Joe Ludwig and his Department, and they are required under the Financial Management Act that approval must not be given to approve a grant unless it is a proper use of Commonwealth resources.

And the question I’d ask is: ‘How can you say giving someone who scored zero on merit and wasn’t eligible; how can you explain giving them Commonwealth money?

Leon Compton: So what happens now? The money has been paid out, and here we are… what happens now?

Christine Milne: Well, this is exactly where we were last time, Leon. We don’t have a national ICAC; a national Corruption Commission. Ahh, … you get all these reports saying this money was paid out wrongly. That’s why I’m moving for a Senate Inquiry so that we can get the Department in and actually ask them these questions directly. And also ask them why they didn’t keep the documentation.

Last time with the Tasmanian Community Forest Agreement (2006), they [the Department] said, when they were asked … actually they committed a breach of the Forest Management Act – which is a criminal offense. When I put it to them: ‘Why haven’t you acted on that?’, they said: ‘We lost the paperwork.’

Well, the Nation Audit Office [in Canberra] told them they had to have better records, and this time round [2012], the spread sheets or the data on which the decision-maker made his decisions, they decided not to keep.

Now I just don’t accept that. In this day & age you can’t just decide not to keep some of those critical documents.

Leon Compton: Senator, what support will you have for a Senate Inquiry into the handling of this money?

Christine Milne: Well, I would like to think both the Government and the Coalition would support it, because surely they don’t accept that this money being paid out in this way. And I know that contractors have written to DAFF to ask for an explanation and DAFF still didn’t tell them that they changed the way that they made the assessments, and those contractors will be angry. So hopefully we will get more detail and I certainly encourage people who have got details about what has gone on, which I think is… it is probably some corrupt and some incompetence. But I would like to know that in detail, and that’s why a Senate Inquiry would be a good thing. And if the Labor and Liberal Parties don’t support it, then that speaks volumes that they just don’t want accountability.

And of course the tragedy is, as you mentioned before, the logging industry is continually trying to wind back the areas that were meant to go into reserves because they say they don’t have enough, and here they had the opportunity to maximise the volumes in the payout and they didn’t do it.

Leon Compton: Appreciate you talking to us this morning. Greens Senator for Tasmania and Leader of the Greens, Christine Milne.

Chrstine Milne, Anna Reynolds: Rorts in forest contractor grants …

• Leg Co’s Key Findings, Final Report on the Tasmanian Forests Agreement Bill 2012

The key findings are here:
http://www.parliament.tas.gov.au/ctee/Council/Reports/TFA%20KEY%20FINDINGS.pdf

The final report is here:
http://www.parliament.tas.gov.au/ctee/Council/Reports/TFA%20FINAL%20REPORT.pdf

ABC Online: Dairy growth centres on forestry deal

South East Forest Rescue, NSW: Open Letter to ICAC

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29 Comments

29 Comments

  1. Carol Rea

    March 17, 2013 at 6:51 pm

    Ha ha – just lit the fire for the first time this year to dry out the soggy shoes. As I put flame to paper I noticed this article from October 2012 Saturday Soapbox “Let’s see wood for the trees” Judy Tierney it’s time for an update. The last para reads
    ” Corruption and bribery, inappropriate favours, sloppy forest practices and political deals must be left behind in a dark and ugly era of Tasmanian history. ” http://www.themercury.com.au/article/2012/10/20/364360_opinion.html

  2. Tim Thorne

    March 16, 2013 at 11:11 pm

    I agree with the sentiments in comment #27, but this means that there is not the slightest hope of there ever being an inquiry, as suggested by Andrew in comments #26 and #28.

    To ask for a Royal Commission or any form of adequate and open inquiry is like asking an alleged criminal to try him/herself and to appoint the judge and jury.

    Those who have the real power not only control the decisions of current Liberal, Labor, Green and Independent politicians, but also of those who will be our representatives and our grandchildrens’ into the forseeable future.

    The system is working perfectly, to benefit those whom it was designed to benefit. There is no incentive to change it, at least for those in a position to do so.

    When it no longer works, then there will be changes. What those changes will be will depend on who has made the best preparations. My prediction is that when the current system collapses things will get a lot worse for us and for the planet. My hope is the opposite, but hope on its own is useless.

  3. Andrew Ricketts

    March 16, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    Re 25 Claire Gilmour: Good questions, to which I do not have the answers.

    Yes the ‘club’ seems all pervading. An inquiry is obviously essential to get to the bottom of this complex web.

  4. Andrew Ricketts

    March 16, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    Re 18, Seemingly, if the TFA Bill’s Select Committee’s report is anything to go by, the Legislative Council Select Committee has sadly failed to comprehend (or more likely simply ignored) the many good suggestions made for a future forestry industry, relevant considerations of course.

    Re 22, I am amazed re the statement “A new industry has opened”, what are you talking about? Nothing new has been designed as far as I can see.

    Regarding the call for a Senate Inquiry, we actually need an independent Royal Commission and its terms of reference should be far reaching and the process thorough and diligent.

  5. Claire Gilmour

    March 16, 2013 at 8:53 am

    (7) Andrew, that’s very interesting. Further to that I’ve always wondered what was the agreement and price paid for the Gunns (now milk factory) site in Smithton. I believe there was government Regional Development money via the IGA which was available (and used?) for the development, (as 8 – Caro Rea suggests). In what context was it used? Was it essentially another government payout to Gunns? Did the government essentially buy the site off Gunns for the project? How much went towards building it? Whilst I like to see good new development, I’d like to see it done for the benefit of the community, not simply for a couple of the same old ‘club’ players. If it squeezes out the little dairy farmers in the future, just like Gunns and co did to so many sawmillers, then it’s not really beneficial money for regional community development, in a true context, is it? In that regard I agree with (21 – jonno).

  6. David Obendorf

    March 16, 2013 at 1:25 am

    Both MLC [b]Paul Harriss[/b] chairman of the Upper House committee inquiry into the Tasmanian Forest Agreement and federal Minister [b]Simon Crean[/b] have endorsed the call by Senator for Tasmania [b]Christine Milne[/b] for a Senate Inquiry into the matters raised in the Performance Audit Report #22 of the [i]Australian National Audit Office[/i] investigating the allocation of $45 million of Commonwealth funds to forest contractors exiting the Tasmanian public forest industry.

    The Austraian Greens motion from Senator Milne calling for the inquiry will be presented to the Senate on Monday 18 March 2013.

    References:
    1. ABC 936 – Leon Compton [i]Statewide Mornings[/i] program 15 March 2013 – interview with Simon Crean
    2. ABC radio – [i]Tasmanian Country Hour[/i] – 15 March 2013 – interview with Paul Harriss, MLC for Huon.

  7. Simon Warriner

    March 15, 2013 at 10:23 pm

    re 21, could it be they do not like the strings that come attached? Or maybe they cannot stand the grubby grasping scoundrels that turn up for the photo ops.

  8. Carol Rea

    March 15, 2013 at 10:08 pm

    16 and 17 I am a pragmatist. A new industry has opened let’s see people put their efforts behind it. That’s called independence. Diversification is good – surely you agree on that? The idea that Tasmania is a mendicant state has to end.I do not believe in government picking up the tab for everything. Pilko your post made no sense – weasel words – come on. If the TFA does not go ahead then the Smithton factory will still be there. It just needs more people/investors to get on board to get to full capacity. There are options.

  9. johno

    March 15, 2013 at 8:17 pm

    #8, Simon Crean’s comments were unequivocal. No TFA bill thru LegCo, no further Fed money to diversify Tassie industry.
    The Smithton milkos have already got their project up and running. They just need to double the milk supply and hence the VDL land clearance.
    What is frustrating is that it appears that it is only the usual suspects who have put their hands up for the cash. Where are all the other new, vibrant businesses that we hear about that are ready to take off with a little start up money?

  10. David Obendorf

    March 15, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    [b]Sid Sidbottom[/b], Labor MHA for Braddon is looking rather irrelevant and was just needing to bather out a Labor response to a very damaging development for Labor’s approach to forestry compensation payments.

    Senator [b]Christine Milne[/b] has highlighted a Commonwealth Auditor General’s report and it is damning to [b]Forestry Tasmania[/b] as much as to [b]Joe Ludwig[/b] and [b]DAFF[/b].

    Senator Milne has got a cracker of an issue that is the latest straw that further waekens the camel’s back.

    I will be looking to see what support Senator Milne receives from her [b]Tasmanian Greens[/b] MP colleagues that champion the passage of the TFA bill based on an incompetently administerd and/or corrupt IGA.

  11. Bob McMahon

    March 15, 2013 at 5:39 pm

    I heard Sid Sidebottom’s response to Christine Milne on ABC radio on Friday. Siddy was seriously out to lunch. He was so full of it that his babbling incontinence was so gruesomely embarrassing I began to feel sorry for the silly bastard. God knows why because he sure didn’t deserve anyone’s sympathy. The interviewer let him make a fool of himself without interjection. I assumed she’d left the room and gone for toilet paper and nappy liners.

    Siddy said the Greens and the LegCo had the same agenda and that was to sink the forest peace deal. I suppose we should give Siddy a break on that one because he had apparently just returned from orbiting Mars.

    Siddy claimed Milne’s allegations were unproven and he demanded that she, or anyone else for that matter, provide proof that any of the saints and disciples of the forest industry were less than pure. The fact that the Auditor’s Report was the proof that the system of pouring tax payer’s money into the industry begging bowls was riddled with rort and failure slipped past Siddy as he banged on with his aggrieved blubbering.

    The interviewer really should have picked him up on that one, but she was probably preoccupied with how to get rid of the git rather than providing him with the opening to shoot himself in the foot after first placing it in his mouth.

    We pay you good money to go to Canberra Siddy. So just stay there and keep out of the way.

    .

  12. Karl Stevens

    March 15, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    Andrew Ricketts 7. So if Evan Rolley and Ta Ann don’t get the Forest Agreement passed then Evan Rolley and Woolnorth miss out on a very big milk factory? That is just so obvious. No wonder Paul Harriss and the Leg Councillors needed another 3 months to comprehend it?

  13. pilko

    March 15, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    #8 Spoken like a true politician Carol.

    Your mastery of weasel-speak is impressive.

    Would you reccomend an apprenticeship with the Wildo’s or govt dept? 6 of one, half dozen of the other i s’pose.

    xxx

    Pilko

  14. Karl Stevens

    March 15, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    Wrong Carol Rea 8. The Smithton plant is only at half capacity and thousands of people saw Crean’s ultimatum to the upper house.

  15. alan

    March 15, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    Corruption or incompetence or both. Christine should have added cronyism and nepotism to that. It just goes on ad infinitum in the Tasmanian forest industry and no one is ever accountable.

  16. mike seabrook

    March 15, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    #3

    crean ( the fool – it won’t work) thinks he can act like mr wilkie

    – give me $100s of millions for a hospital in hobart & other goodies for my denison electorate & voters & promise to get stuck into the pokies promotors who are devastating my voters lives or i won’t vote for you.

    – this will work for mr wilkie for a few more months yet.

  17. Claire Gilmour

    March 15, 2013 at 9:58 am

    cont.
    Senator COLBECK: So what liaison do they have with you around that?
    Ms Freeman: This department offered some assistance in the design of the program guidelines—looking at some of the principles that you might put into that. That was really our engagement, at the request of the Tasmanian government some months ago. Since that time, it has really been a matter for the Tasmanian government.
    Senator COLBECK: So there is no reporting back to the Commonwealth government as part of this process of how that is progressing and applicants and those sorts of things?
    Ms Freeman: If you will bear with me, Senator, notionally, the formal arrangement was that it was a matter to be administered by the Tasmanian government. We have been kept abreast of applications and where it is up to, and I can certainly provide you with those details. But it really is a matter for the Tasmanian government.
    Senator COLBECK: How much money has been paid out? Do you know?
    Ms Freeman: I will take that on notice of where it is up to.
    Mr McNamara: The regional saw millers program has closed and bids have been received, but my understanding, on checking with the Tasmanian officials, is that no funds have been paid out as yet.
    Senator COLBECK: How much have we paid to the Tasmanian government?
    Mr McNamara: The funding provided to Tasmania as part of the intergovernmental agreement is $15 million for that particular program. Senator, can I go back to an earlier question to asked about codes of practice?
    Senator COLBECK: Yes.
    Mr McNamara: The Commonwealth is still in consultation with two states, Queensland and South Australia. We expect that those consultations with those states will be completed in the next two or three months and at that point we will write to all the various state forestry ministers to seek agreement to the codes of practice.
    Senator COLBECK: Can you just run past me again please?
    Mr McNamara: CSIRO has done the work on the codes of practice. In terms of the report that we have received from CSIRO, or that the states have received from CSIRO I should say, both Queensland and South Australia are still in discussions with CSIRO and we are awaiting the completion of the outcome of those discussions which we expect to be in the next two months or so. At that point we would write to the various forestry ministers in each state and territory seeking their agreement to update the codes of practice.
    Senator COLBECK: Is the CSIRO document available?
    Mr McNamara: It is still in draft until those discussions with the outstanding states are finalised. At that point it will be a document that is published.
    Senator COLBECK: So, South Australia and Queensland. This work was supposed to be done in 2011. What has been the key cause for the delay?
    Mr McNamara: It was quite a large piece of work to actually update all the codes of practices for all the various states and territories. CSIRO has certainly put in a significant effort to get that work done. The report that it initially did has gone through a number of drafts with the various states. Obviously state governments have also changed in that period. It is a very complex piece of work, but as I say we are down now to having two states left. In terms of those two states my understanding is that the issues still to be discussed are fairly small, so I think we are at a point where we are pretty close to getting this finalised.
    Senator COLBECK: Effectively what we are doing is redrafting the guidelines for plantation forest codes of practice across all states?
    Mr McNamara: No, Senator. My understanding is that what we are doing is checking to see whether those codes of practice still meet the requirements as set out by the government, and CSIRO is the body that is undertaken that assessment.
    Senator COLBECK: What are the requirements of the government? Where would I find that information? If we are trying to see whether they all meet those requirements, there must be some benchmarking and there must be some documentation that underpins that work.
    Mr McNamara: There is documentation but I do not have it with me. I could take that on notice.
    Senator COLBECK: Where would I find that?
    Mr McNamara: It would be on our website, and we will table a copy later on.
    Senator COLBECK: If it is on the website I can chase it down through the weblink. That is fine with me. We expect that that should be available fairly soon.
    Mr McNamara: Yes, we do, Senator. As I said it is a complex piece of work.

    http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id:”committees/estimate/55fdc2c0-3fb6-4a6e-90ab-57aef9a591cd/0003″

  18. Claire Gilmour

    March 15, 2013 at 9:57 am

    Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee – 11/02/2013 – Estimates – AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FORESTRY PORTFOLIO – Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences

    Senator COLBECK: We will have to come back to that topic. I want to go on to the forest contractors exit package. We asked in question on notice 43 about the ability of an individual to take the exit package and the family still continue in the business. You said you had received no formal allegations around sale of a business within the family and the family continuing to operate. You also said in the response to question on notice No. 43:
    … there were no conditions placed on the sale of a business or of business machinery to a family member.
    However, the business entity if sold could not access native forest contracts.
    Would it be possible for someone to sell their equipment to a family member, receive an exit package and then go to work for the family member if they sold the equipment?
    Ms Freeman: Yes, as I understand it, they can. I should say that DAFF has, since the October estimates, received three allegations. Two of them have been investigated and it was found that there has been no matter of fraud with regard to their application. Both of those have now been referred as part of our compliance program for that exit program, and we will be looking to make sure that people are complying with the terms of their deed. So we will be doing follow-up on that as part of our compliance activities for that program. The third matter is currently being investigated by DAFF’s fraud and ethics area.
    Senator COLBECK: Sorry, but I completely lost that in all the background noise.
    Ms Freeman: Just to confirm: there have been three allegations. Two of them have been investigated and it was found that there was no case, and the third matter is still be investigated.
    Senator COLBECK: Still being investigated?
    Ms Freeman: Yes. Just to reassure you, on the two cases that were looked at by our fraud area with regard to allegations made by individuals the people had not acted fraudulently as part of their process of putting in their application or the claims that they made in their application, but, as part of the compliance activities for this program, we will be making sure that people are sticking to the terms of their funding deeds.
    Senator COLBECK: So there is a continuing monitoring process?
    Ms Freeman: Yes.
    Senator COLBECK: Effectively of those allegations?
    Ms Freeman: It is with regard to all recipients of the grants.
    Senator COLBECK: So the compliance review process is being applied across the board to all of grants under that program?
    Ms Freeman: Yes, it would apply to all—
    Senator COLBECK: It has become an element of your day-to-day operations?
    Ms Freeman: Yes, as part of the normal program.
    Senator COLBECK: Would it be possible for a person that received an exit package to subsequently have a level of ownership of another business in Tasmania or another state or territory?
    Ms Freeman: I would have to check—
    Senator COLBECK: I know there is a distinct difference between in Tasmania and other states. I think that is something we should put on the record to start with.
    Ms Freeman: Yes, that is correct. So this was regarding people exiting the Tasmanian sector?
    Senator COLBECK: Yes. So they could not take a share in another Tasmanian business?
    Ms Freeman: I would have to confirm this to be sure but, if there have been commitments made to exit native forest contracts, regardless of the business, depending on what they are working on, there would be commitments made for whatever business they are involved in. The exit was in relation to native forest contracts.
    Senator COLBECK: Yes.
    Ms Freeman: I think to be really clear, what someone may or may not do as part of that, they have met a condition of a deed to not operate that business and they have withdrawn those contracts that they had with native forest. So depending on what they are or are not doing speculatively with another business, I think it would depend on the terms of the deed that that other business may or may not be involved with. So it is a bit hard to answer that conclusively.
    Senator COLBECK: I think I understand what you are telling me. Is the one that is still being investigated at a different stage or a different type of process to the other two?
    Ms Freeman: No. We just received that one subsequent to the others. It is purely a timing issue.
    Senator COLBECK: Okay. Are you currently rolling out any other funding under the IGA process?
    Ms Freeman: From this department or this portfolio, no.
    Senator COLBECK: So who is dealing with the process for sawmill exits?
    Ms Freeman: The Tasmanian government.
    Senator COLBECK: So all that funding has been allocated to the Tasmanian government?
    Ms Freeman: Yes.

  19. Claire Gilmour

    March 15, 2013 at 9:53 am

    (*) The 2010 -2011 ($17 million) Tasmanian Forest Contractors Exit Assistance Program

    http://www.daff.gov.au/forestry/national/tfceap

    http://oldtt.pixelkey.biz/index.php/article/forestry-payout-fraud-probe

  20. Claire Gilmour

    March 15, 2013 at 9:52 am

    Just a little bit more background … for any inspired investigative journalists … who wants vegemite and toast, when there’s the potential to have fraud, rort, graft and corruption for breakfast …

    2011-2012 ($45 million) Tasmanian Forests Intergovernmental Agreement – Contractors Voluntary Exit Grants Program

    http://www.daff.gov.au/forestry/national/aus-govt-tas-forests/igacep

    “$45 million forestry exit hailed” …

    22 October 2011 – “Mr Green (Bryan) said he was confident there would be no repeat of last year’s (*) problematic $20 million exit package which paid 30 contractors amid rorting allegations.”

    http://www.themercury.com.au/article/2011/10/22/270691_tasmania-news.html

  21. phill Parsons

    March 15, 2013 at 8:25 am

    1. Hayward’s dark cloud of self serving cronyism and correuption darken the Federal skies through an ill thought out process.

    2. Even the Leg Co can find the obvious failures with an agreement between 2 self interezt parties and no way the community was allowed input or involvement

    An ill thought out rushed rescue package to save a company from a bankruptcy everyone knew was coming to further the broken pulpmill dream for its supposed political [voting intention] value has left the underbelly of the underperforming forestry industry exposed further.

    If you at all wonder why the Tarkine has been sacrificws to small mining projects look to the same political value.

    A people who believe in cargo can never find their own way out of begging.

  22. Carol Rea

    March 15, 2013 at 1:09 am

    #3 Come on Karl, Simon Crean did not threaten to take funding from the Smithton milk processing factory at all. He was at the opening of the Smithton milk processing factory!It’s a regional community funded project via the TFA. The factory is up and running and at half capacity already. He said there are more funds for regional projects if the TFA goes ahead. It’s called diversification. New industries in previously forest dependent communities.

  23. Andrew Ricketts

    March 15, 2013 at 12:24 am

    Oh yes: Lets connect forests and cows.

    Evan Rolley is the Projects Advisor for the Van Diemans Land company(VDL). You know, up beyond Smithton. Yes, we are talking about the same Evan Rolley, being the former Forestry Tasmania CEO and now Ta Ann Tasmania’s Executive Director.

    Van Diemans Land (VDL) a foreign owned corporation with a significant Tasmanian land holding is focused on cows, dairy cows, in fact. But VDL interestingly wants to clear a large swathe of wonderful lowland native forest on private land.

    Surprisingly the subject land happens to be important habitat for the Tasmanian Devil and Spotted Tailed Quoll. The clearance proposal is a large one over 2,000 Ha. The matter has been referred as a Controlled Action under the EPBC Act.

    Accordingly, I cannot see how dairy cows and forests are not linked, at least in Tasmania. Evan Rolley even appeared before the Legislative Council Select Committee, indeed he was the last witness.

  24. Robin Halton

    March 15, 2013 at 12:22 am

    The key findings/principles by Leg Co are about what I would have expected considering that I already have a wide range of forestry knowledge.

    Chairman Harriss Huon MLC interviewed well with Airlie Ward tonight and I suspect that he is on a winner by showing continued support for forestry.
    I dont doubt for one moment that the Bill has not been thrashed out properly and seems as if the Ta Ann factor is not going to give Evan Rolley and the Sarawak owners easy money.
    I am betting that a well thought out plan will see them stay if they wish to, but it wont be as a generous Federal cash grab would create a political scandal of the entire Leg Co assessment.

  25. L.Barker

    March 14, 2013 at 11:17 pm

    Fuck me. Theyre onto us.

    I’m off to Brazil for a few weeks.

    Creany can you sort this out ol cock?

    Regards

    Lester

  26. Emma Goldman

    March 14, 2013 at 10:20 pm

    Where is the Green’s Ni/cassy voice on this.

    ……….and still in bed with Labor.

  27. Karl Stevens

    March 14, 2013 at 10:06 pm

    Saw Simon Crean on TV tonight threatening that either the upper house passes his forest peace deal or they lose funding for a milk factory at Smithton. Why are milk and forests connected in Simon Crean’s brain? Why did Christine Milne sign an agreement to keep Simon Crean’s faction in power? Why should a bloke who can’t even disconnect cows and forests be expected to maintain coherent, rational and sane standards of probity while he flushes another $40 million tax dollars down the logging industry toilet?

  28. john hayward

    March 14, 2013 at 9:07 pm

    In answer to Christine’s headline query, is the Pope a Catholic?

    How many times do the Tas Parliament/logging industry/LibLabs have to act out the answer?

    John Hayward

  29. David Obendorf

    March 14, 2013 at 8:26 pm

    Three years on and this ‘exclusive’ TFA trough has fed a few desperate types hungry to get their fill.

    Mr Harriss has selected the poorer performers for consignment to the knackery and will let some others in the mob grow out a little bit more – they still need a little more filling out!

    If only those doing the Our Common Grounding in 2009 had allowed other voices to be heard.

    But nupe, they were the smartest guys in the ET Board room.

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