*Pic: Image from Sarawak Report, here

As you might know by now, I really did appreciate the former Resources Minister Paul Harriss. I don’t know if anyone else who did but I’m prepared to go out on a limb, so to speak, not to bury but to praise him.

Remember that without blushing he announced Forestry Tasmania’s staggering loss of $40 million had been turned around in just one year to become a $31.7 million profit.

I hear they found $70 million (the presumed sum total of that miraculous economic turnaround) stuffed in a hollow log in the Lapoinya forest. Good thing they looked before FT burned the whole joint down. I don’t know who left it there but it certainly wasn’t the greenies’ usual suspects, Paul Lennon or John Gay. They are much more careful with their money than FT is with yours.

Anyway don’t worry about the small stuff. The main thing is FT is cashed up again and back in the game. And despite changes at the top, I suspect there is nothing the economic rationalists can do about it.

All of which has been good news for consultants who have so far got their hands on half a million dollars worth of FT’s money. Now ‘consultant’ is an interesting word sometimes meaning a former public servant who took a redundancy on Friday and is back at his desk on Monday in a well-paid consultancy.

You might hope that isn’t the case with any of the half dozen consultants reported to be on the job for FT. (Mercury P10, Feb 8, 2016). Generally though I think we would all be happier if The Mercury stopped fearlessly publishing this stuff. In Little Cuba ignorance really is bliss.

I have long expressed admiration for the former Resources Minister’s skill with Orwellian ‘double-speak’ or ‘weasel-words’ as we now know them.

Remember how he brilliantly tweaked the language to efface the word ‘wood-chips’ and replace it with the ingenious ‘forest residue’. ‘Moving forward’ as they say in consultant speak we are now talking about ‘forest off-cuts’ and ‘bio-energy’ and ‘wood mass’.

Though I am not so impressed with the latter phrase and would advise the new Minister to discard it. I think I can actually spot a tree in that forest of verbal deceit.

I reckon the half a million bucks is well spent if it went to those same consultants who came up with the amazing not so hi-tech idea of turning, ahem, ‘wood mass’ into firewood, and burning that to turn water into steam to drive a turbine and produce electricity.

Not having being burdened with a Science Degree, out-going Minister Harriss (Gosh I will miss him!) had been able to contradict the second law of thermodynamics and create a perpetual motion machine.

We chop up the forest and burn it to produce energy, which we use to chop up the forest and burn it to produce energy which we use to chop up the forest and burn it to produce energy which we …

Were I a consultant and paid by the word I would go on forever. But the point is this. Finally we have a solution to that pesky tree problem that has plagued our otherwise beautiful island since the day we first arrived at Risdon Cove.

Paul Harriss might have left us with the ‘ultimate solution’, so to speak.

I always make it clear that this is column is opinion and not advice. The only advice I would ever give is to be very wary of any advice I would ever give.

Especially recent advice on composting. “The Compost Bin Tumbler 190L with Wheels” seemed such a bargain, even though others had to assemble it for me.

As miraculous as the FT machine that turns loss into profit, this device (get a consultant to assemble it) promised to convert kitchen green waste into lovely, rich, garden compost in only a few weeks.

I don’t know whether it’s still on special at a certain hardware store but if you bought one based on my enthusiasm then I unreservedly apologise.

What my plastic rotatable barrel has produced is not one ounce of compost, but a vile smelling sloppy gruel that would surely kill a brown dog.

Worse, every time I unscrew the lid to add to the foul mess, a hundred thousand fruit flies are disgorged. Being environmentally responsible I hunt down each one with massive quantities of DDT but still I fear I might have become a threat to sustainable agriculture.

In my defence, if you have bought one of these diabolical devices, the absurdly complex eight-page instruction manual always suggested it was the blue print for a compost bin on wheels and not for a mobile fruit fly farm.

Indeed, in the detailing of more than sixty, to my mind, ill-fitting nuts and screws and innumerable other mysterious parts, never was there even one mention of fruit flies.

They were an unexpected free extra and they came a week later.

Due to the diligence of that annoying and nosey little brown dog at the airport, you, like me might have been under the misapprehension that we don’t have a fruit fly problem in Tasmania. Well we do now. “Where did they come from?” I hear from you ask?

Well my research has revealed the shocking fact that every time you buy imported fruit it can likely come with cunningly concealed fruit fly eggs on the skin. When you put the peelings into a warm humid receptacle like the much touted “Compost Bin Tumbler 190L with Wheels” those eggs will hatch and beget more eggs and so the plague begins.

Where I live, above River City, up on High Dudgeon, I doubt they will survive the alpine rigors. But the smarter ones might head downhill to the balmy gardens of Sandy Bay. I just hope the impending catastrophe doesn’t get traced back to me. How could it?

Luckily I have a very nice neighbour. He loves his garden, so I generously offered him the “Compost Bin Tumbler 190L on Wheels” and he was only too happy to relieve me of the infernal thing. I can’t believe my luck. I am rid of it forever.

I fear, in my enthusiasm, I might have forgotten to mention the fruit flies, but if any do survive at his place, I’m sure they will be much happier there.

My neighbour has a small orchard.