Lapoinya consultation photos … Stewart Hoyt, tour leader, explaining Man ferns abundant in coup

Lapoinya consultation photos … Stewart Hoyt, tour leader, explaining Man ferns abundant in coup

A bridge is to be built over this riparian zone

Community consultation …

The Hollow Men (1925), a poem by T. S. Eliot ( Wikipedia here )

I never imagined that a poem created in the 1920’s would be relevant today. Even less did I imagine that it might be relevant to an iconic Tasmanian GBE also created in the 1920’s.The poem aptly describes the innate culture of Forestry Tasmania during the entirety of the succeeding 90 years and is even more pertinent today.

The lines below are entirely applicable to what I will enunciate below.

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw.


Many readers will have followed the ongoing debate and angst about the planned logging of Coupe FD053A at Lapoinya. Refer Prior TT articles including JL economics etc.

I had the pleasure of being invited by FLAG (Forests of Lapoinya Group) to a consultation session with invited FT representatives, including one purportedly representing the FPA. This session was pre-empted by an insightful tour of part of the proposed logging areas covering the extensive riparian zones, the numerous man ferns, and the endangered Brookers gum zones.

Many FLAG members made representation to FT covering subjects such as biodiversity and conservation values; flora protected species, communities and habitats; vulnerable crustacean and reserve (RFA 1997) issues; endangered marsupials devils quolls platypus; profitability and economic sustainability issues, community and tourism.

The session was polite and the audience listening and I thought now this is what consultation with FT should be like.

But the next lines of the poem now immediately spring to mind, viz:-

Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar


So if the session was so positive why would I reference those words?

While listening politely the FT reps were whispering, were hesitant in responses (except when enunciating FT and Government policy statements), and failed to answer many questions adequately
OK I thought, 25 of us, only 5 of them, foreign environment, obviously concerned and passionate community individuals.

And then examples of surveys not having been conducted e.g. search for Tasmanian Devil dens, review of the burrowing crayfish status, flora surveys of only one day duration, no recognition of the limited value of the LIST Atlas (which had been extensively relied upon) for species identification, NO aboriginal heritage survey. Note the Lapoinya name is that of the original landowners the Tommeginer nation.

Indeed their response suggested that they are clearly NOT following the Regional Forestry Agreement 1997 on a number of accounts. Remember this is the BIBLE of FT and other Jurassic foresters with the demise of the TFA. See attached commentary on the Freshwater Lobster. (“The Lapoinya Lobster”, download below …)

All of this was clearly symptomatic of the inherent culture of the Hollow Men. How pertinent are the next lines of the Eliot poem:-

Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;
Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death’s other Kingdom
Remember us—if at all—not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.

Lest it not be said that they were as reluctant to avoid the searching questions on profitability and economic sustainability. NO they were adamant about a profitable coup indeed “one of the best on FT books”.

Supply of new data viz:- decrease in the size of the coupe by 17.3%; an increase in the loggable area by 35%; an increase in their tonnage take of timber by some 70%; an increase in Cat1/3 sawlogs of 330%; the introduction of Cat2 logs, so an infinite increase; peelers increase by 72%; and chips increase by 45%.

This is Monty Python Dead Parrot stuff.

[Note 1: the original tonnages and area came from Forestry Tasmania’s Three Year production plan. Now if they can’t get their figures right in a three year plan, that is a requirement under the RFA that they must produce, then what hope is there for a current or future profitable GBE They should be accountable and not adjust figures to suit the political needs of their “owner”].

[Note 2: the latest three year plans on FT’s website they still show FD053A as 35.7 ha and the expected timber retrieval exactly as the John Lawrence economics are based on, TT, Lapoinya: It makes no sense, includes link to John Lawrence analysis].

And this is not just a little adjustment, this is an absolute FUDGE, and given the country at hand appears ludicrous. It is clearly designed to refute the economic- loss modelling done for FLAG, and take the FLAG community to a position of “no hope”. John Lawrence will add to this economic commentary in a separate article.

Pure bloody mindedness and greed I suspect. Oh and a bit of obfuscation and protection of their jobs and those of their bosses.

I suspect a few more lines of the poem describe the situation:-

Let me be no nearer
In death’s dream kingdom
Let me also wear
Such deliberate disguises
Rat’s coat, crowskin, crossed staves
In a field
Behaving as the wind behaves
No nearer—Not that final meeting
In the twilight kingdom


But the Hollow Men were not finished….

They rolled out the new coupe map showing the variations to their methods etc.

That map was dated 23 December 2014. The prior one given to FLAG was a July 2014 version.

This was then presented to the community on 13 February 2015 some 6 weeks later.

The FT representative then dictated that FLAG had two weeks to provide any comments as to the new proposal.

Why only two weeks? The answer was that FT was going to make a decision to proceed or not with the coupe by 28 February.

This deadline was reconfirmed during an open question time.

Remember that ……. FT was going to make a decision to proceed or not with the coupe by 28 February.

Then there were some paid political announcements re Government locked in contracts for supply of 137,000 tonnes; FT has no ability to vary; this coupe is part of our obligation; no ability to be flexible; and the underlying employment in the timber industry “jobs are at risk”.

I will let FLAG personnel directly make commentary about their reaction to these gratuitous comments.

Any sympathy with the community concern – none obvious!

So where are the Hollow Men now?

Let’s review the poem again for the answer…

The eyes are not here
There are no eyes here
In this valley of dying stars
In this hollow valley
This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms
In this last of meeting places
We grope together
And avoid speech
Gathered on this beach of the tumid river
Sightless, unless
The eyes reappear
As the perpetual star


Multifoliate rose
Of death’s twilight kingdom
The hope only
Of empty men.

That is not the end of the story or the poem.

After the session and during the departure of the FT representatives this article and comment was brought to the attention of FLAG representatives.

A Forestry Tasmania spokeswoman said 35.7 hectares of the forest would be ‘‘harvested’’, despite the meeting.

When asked about this FT indicated no such comment had been made, not once but twice.

Subsequent contact with the relevant author at The Examiner confirmed that FT had indeed made the statement.

They had a leak! This fundamentally voids the consultative process as does the date on the new harvest plan map showing additional areas to be harvested because it was dated 23 December 2014 and presented to the community on 13 February 2015 thereby giving notice a two week deadline to show cause as they will make a decision on that date to either go forward or not with a harvest plan.

What extraordinary deception by the Hollow Men as the poem dictates:-

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom
Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow
Life is very long


But that is still not the finish of this charade

I understand that a Forestry Manager, has gone onto the FLAG Facebook and challenged FLAG to get their facts right re: the economics within hours of changing the goalposts and the figures from which John Lawrence has worked from. This comment appears to have been deleted.

Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow


Without a doubt, the actions of ALL the FT representatives over the past 36 hours has established that they are indeed good examples of the Grim Reaper.

If this is how Premier Hodgman, Ministers Groom, Gutwein, and Harriss wish to demonstrate that their Government is OPEN FOR BUSINESS then I suggest they look northwards to Victoria, Canberra and Queensland and see what the People think of that!

… because I reckon I know what SCS Global will think of it and the future of FSC accreditation …

P.S. I am reliably informed that Cat 1 sawlogs are by definition from mature forests (not regrowth). I wonder what SCS Global will think of that?

P.P.S There was one female FT representative. I publicly apologize for including her in the euphemistic “Men” category

Full poem and depictions from:-



• John Powell, in Comments: In the article I quote The Examiner viz:- “A Forestry Tasmania spokeswoman said 35.7 hectares of the forest would be ‘‘harvested’’, despite the meeting”. In today’s edition the Examiner indicates, inter alia, that “no decision has been made”. I understand this has occurred as a result of direct contact by a FT Senior Manager to the “Chief of Staff” of the paper. Note it is NOT a retraction of the statement published on Friday 13th. May I also note that the Forestry Practices Plan (which is available and was promised to be provided at the meeting) for the new coupe layout has NOT YET been received by the FLAG personnel. Interesting way to conduct consultation.

• John Hawkins, in Comments: MJF. I have been in business for nearly 50 years with a modicum of success. I like many others only remain in business because I make a profit. If : ” ….too much is going out in terms of wages, salaries, bonuses, redundancies, rent , leasing, debt servicing…..” I am forced to cut my cloth. I suggest that FT as it has been run in Tasmania is a bad business, run badly, by bad people. It survives as a result of political largesse only gifted to the industry in an effort to buy votes. I cannot make it much plainer.