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

‘Bob Brown backs Malaysian inquiry into Abetz-backed Sarawak logging’

*Pic: Eric Abetz from his website …

Tasmania’s Bob Brown Foundation is supporting the Swiss-based Bruno Manser Fund’s call for Sarawak’s former premier and political ‘godfather’ Abdul Taib Mahmud to be a focus of the anti-corruption inquiry after Malaysia’s stunning change of government.

Sarawak is a state of Malaysia.

As Greens Senator for Tasmania, Bob Brown hosted crusading Sarawak-born British journalist Clare Rewcastle Brown – largely credited with blowing the cover on the deposed Prime Minister Najib Razak government’s multi-billion dollar corruption scandal – and other anti-corruption campaigners (including Bruno Manser Fund’s Lukas Straumann) to Tasmania after Taib-linked logging corporation Ta Ann set up in Tasmania in 2006.

Taib’s cousin, Hamed Sepawi, heads up Ta Ann. Australian and Tasmanian government grants to Ta Ann total at least $44 million, including a Tasmanian Forest Industry Development Grant of $7 million for Ta Ann to set up in Smithton in 2006.

Senator Abetz, formerly a Minister for Forests in the Howard government, visited Malaysian forests in 2012 to tout Ta Ann’s logging and, in a consequent adjournment speech to the Senate (Thursday 16 August 2012) lambasted the ‘extreme, manic campaigning’ of the Australian Greens against Ta Ann whose timber products were refused by the London Olympics.

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak had close relations and political dependency on Taib who is blamed with looting Sarawak’s forests from its Indigenous peoples.

Former Forestry Tasmania CEO Evan Rolley became Ta Ann’s principal in Tasmania.

Ta Ann’s Tasmanian operations are based at Smithton and Judbury. The company has been the key to controversial logging operations in the Southern Forests, Tarkine and at Lapoinya where local residents and Brown were arrested during protests in 2016.

Taib studied at the University of Adelaide and has hotel investments in Australia.

23 Comments

23 Comments

  1. Ted Mead

    May 21, 2018 at 4:04 pm

    No mention of former state minister Paul Harriss, who we know was heavily connected to Ta Ann having done a trip/s over to Sarawak.

    I suspect any inquiry to Ta Ann would have Mr Harris sweating it out. Such an inquiry might reveal why he resigned as a politician.

  2. Geoffrey Swan

    May 21, 2018 at 4:25 pm

    Small point Jenny … Southwood and Ta Ann are technically located in Lonnavale which is adjacent to Judbury.

  3. Geoffrey Swan

    May 21, 2018 at 4:45 pm

    #1 … the often cited “family reasons”, Ted … surely you believe that?

  4. John Hawkins

    May 21, 2018 at 10:46 pm

    I extract from my article published on Tas Times : “Ta Ann, Forestry Tasmania and the loss making Take or Pay Contracts” :

    We should investigate the parts as played in this saga by …

    1). Erich Abetz in Sarawak, bearing in mind his behaviour over a gift of $50,000 made to the Liberal Party by Gunns Ltd (a company pushing for a pulp mill in Tasmania) three weeks after he was made the Minister.

    2). Evan Rolley, as CEO of Forestry Tasmania, who signed the two now loss-making Agreements between Ta Ann and Forestry Tasmania, and later to accept the job as CEO of Ta Ann Tasmania.

    3). Paul Harriss, who as an MLC, admitted and declared that he had received inducements from Ta Ann. Harriss is now the Minister responsible for Forestry in Tasmania and was a key player in the bid to roll back World Heritage listing of Tasmanian forests on the iconic Western Tiers for the purpose of logging.

    4). Bryan Green, the former Minister of Forests, whose job was to represent the people of Tasmania on the board of Forestry Tasmania, a man who has been three times before the courts in Tasmania and is currently the Leader of the Tasmanian Opposition.

    Uniquely, in Tasmania, the offence of “Misconduct in Public Office” is not in the Statute Book, hence in the matter of the Take-or-Pay contracts the Tasmanian Integrity Commission has no teeth.

    The only avenue of redress open to the public over this loss-making matter is a Royal Commission.

    A Royal Commission should now be mandatory into the loss-making Take-or-Pay contracts between Forestry Tasmania and Ta Ann Tasmania and the subsequent payment of $28.6 million dollars of public money for their in-part cancellation.

    The ongoing Tasmanian financial disaster that is Forestry Tasmania is now costing the Tasmanian taxpayer a million dollars a week to (in-part) subsidise a company from Sarawak … money this state can ill afford.

    Interested readers are referred for more detail to my “Background to Forestry in Tasmania” lodged 4 June, 2015 by Andrew Wilkie MP in the House of Representatives, and now published in Hansard.

  5. john hayward

    May 22, 2018 at 12:00 am

    Our Eric must be bright green with envy to see what his idol Taib has accomplished by simply scalping around 90% of the lush, dense tropical jungles that once covered Sarawak just a few decades ago.

    He has turned his attention to surviving trees elsewhere in the world, and has established a beachhead on the corruption-rich isle of Tasmania where he has been able to enlist the former head of that state’s forestry, he who is also the former head of the public service.

    But Eric hasn’t given up on his dream. While hampered by World Heritage listings, other international conventions, and by the abeyance in which they are presently held, he maintains his devotion to what is Right in Tasmania and to the final destruction of all things green.

    John Hayward

  6. Sleepless in Franklin

    May 22, 2018 at 5:23 am

    #s 4; 5; 8; 9 …

    Wow. Thank you. I’ve been in Tassie four years and knew some of this, but these really expose the depth.

  7. Russell

    May 22, 2018 at 1:10 pm

    Re #10 … No, it goes a lot deeper than that.

    We shall see if the new/old Malaysian government does anything at all. It’s been going on for a long time there, so it’s not unlikely members of the current government will also get caught in any enquiry.

  8. TGC

    May 22, 2018 at 1:34 pm

    With Tasmania being regarded pretty well world-wide as the most corrupt place on the planet, it’s unlikely anything will ever come of any inquiry into anything.

  9. john hayward

    May 22, 2018 at 8:44 pm

    #12, TGC … While you’re right about the outcome of an inquiry, you’ll have to accept that Tas is a mediocrity amongst the planet’s most corrupt places. But you never give up.

    John Hayward

  10. TGC

    May 23, 2018 at 12:10 am

    #13 “…Tas is a mediocrity amongst the planet’s most corrupt places.”

    That’s not the impression I get from many TT contributors.

  11. Robin Charles Halton

    May 23, 2018 at 11:12 am

    Its all old hat to silly people. There is nothing you can do by dredging up the past. It’s over – finito!

    The BBF are bored as it cannot find anything else to protest about. NSP won’t release any public information about the Dover Wharf project. In the meantime there is really nothing much for the BBF to get their grubby hands on to seek media attention.

    Life must move on, and so it should for all of us!

  12. Isla MacGregor

    May 23, 2018 at 3:15 pm

    When will Cassy O’Connor and her Green colleagues step up to the mark on Vedanta’s criminal conduct, in the same manner that they have done in the past, against the human rights and environmental crimes committed by Ta Ann?

    Today on Tas Times: http://oldtt.pixelkey.biz/index.php?/weblog/article/stop-hodgman-liberal-government-subsidies-to-vedantas-mt-lyell-mine-/show_comments

  13. John Hawkins

    May 23, 2018 at 3:19 pm

    Halton … this matter is not old hat.

    These are serious crimes against the State of Tasmania.

    The Ta Ann deal signed by Rolley, for less money than Ta Ann could source the timber in third world Malaysia, still costs Tasmanians a million dollars a week.

    This money could be spent on the people of Tasmania rather than subsidising a corrupt Malaysian company to which our pollies have so far gifted $44 million of public money.

    Do Ta Ann pay tax on the value of the peeler billets, or is the profit taken in Malaysia after the veneer is exported?

    We will get those Tasmanians involved, despite your forgiveness and the protestations of the sycophantic.

    Halton, do you have values or principles – or is this a weakness of those you deride as the Greens?

    Stick to the Australian. It publishes your sort of anti-Green ‘climate change is crap’ rubbish.

  14. William Boeder

    May 23, 2018 at 5:01 pm

    I commend you Jenny Weber, for your accurate article regarding the plight of the Sarawak and Malaysian indigenous once-upon-a-time jungle-dwelling people.

    There can be no question about the relationship between Najib Razak (alleged to be the mastermind of the $US multi-billion dollars loan speedily arranged through Goldman Sachs) and Taib Mahmud, with the latter now busily engaged in advising the former Prime minister, Najib Razak, over his alleged embezzlement of the loan transaction that was touted to become Malaysia’s major infrastructure development fund, 1MDB (with its 3 component government agencies) being the recipient of that Goldman Sachs transacted $US multi-Billion dollar loan amount: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-malaysia-scandal-goldman-sachs-idUSKCN10F2NJreport.

    I myself had just earlier this week concluded my own deeply researched report that compares almost line for line to this Jenny Weber news article published on Tasmanian Times.

    My letter was intended for delivery to Guy Barnett, with a copy to the grossly unpopular Senator Abetz, to have each made aware of the potentially corrupt allegations now known to be circulating within the realm of Tasmania’s Exclusives. To add credibility to my opinion in this article, I advise that I have been an active subscriber to both the Jakarta Post and Ms Clare Rewcastle Brown’s Sarawak report for the past 5 years.

    Ms Rewcastle Brown is married to the brother of England’s former Prime Minister, Gordon Brown. I add that this M. Rewcastle Brown lady happens to be known World-wide for her outstanding achievements primarily based on her compelling fact-filled investigative-based news bulletins. Her most recent accomplishment is the latest international expose of the alleged fraudulent dealings that had lead to the end of the rule of the despotic corrupting former Prime Minister, Najib Razak.

    I am comfortable in my opinion that Ms Rewcastle Brown is one of the finest and most credible investigative journalists this world has to offer. Interestingly, I have kept pace with each revelation of her factual news updates as were presented in her Sarawak report.

    #15 … Robin Charles Halton, I am being kind to you in advising you that your comment is little more than an offensive attack bent on ruining the respected credibility of each of the eminent persons you referred to. There is no popular consensus of opinion that any others would deign to support your damaging defamatory remarks.

  15. john hayward

    May 23, 2018 at 7:04 pm

    #14, TGC … Flagrant as things may be here, you have to remember that Abetz is not yet president for life.

    John Hayward

  16. Robin Charles Halton

    May 24, 2018 at 2:59 am

    #18 William Boeder, and #17 John Hawkins … I thank you both for your assessment of my comments but you both must realise that it is unlikely a State Liberal or Labor government will ever take on any form of inquiry into the TAT business arrangements in Tasmania.

    The Greens will never have the numbers to stir up an inquiry.

    With China on our doorstep maybe there is something we can learn from this. There is doubt in my mind by doing business with some of these Asian countries where it involves control of resources, buying up Mines, and then trying to operate them on shoe string budgets when it is not working according to Australian workplace standards and business practices.

    Same for Ta Ann, but you both must realise that the Peace talks back in 2013, with two of the signatories from the Wilderness Society as close associates of the Greens, gave Mr Rolley, as CEO of Ta Ann, open sesame for FT/STT as a must supply up to 130,000 M3 of regrowth billets pa until the contract is up for renewal as of 2021 – as far as I can ascertain!

    In returns the Greens got their share of the bargain 170,000 ha of mainly top quality State Forest literally horse traded for WHA additions and Interim Reserves all muddled up with remaining Production Forests along with complex issues relating to ongoing management.

    The only hope is for somebody to make a noise, closer to the termination of billet contracts period, to sort out these taxation, royalty and resource access issues with the parent company.

    I would reckon by then there will be issues over saw-log supplies coming from the screaming saw-millers if supply becomes scarce, as it seems on each occasion I observe log trucks on the road the logs are getting shorter in length, and more frequent loads of butt logs indicates the strong possibility of trees harvested from younger forests.

    Just remember that despite the fact STT manages the forestry show, it is continually under political pressure to supply these confounded billet logs. At present, STT is lucky it can manage sufficient sawlogs for industry, so far!

    As time closes in each year, sustainable yield for sawlogs is somewhat at the expense of having to supply peelers, which in fact are using younger and younger timber that should be allowed to grown into milling timber with peelers being and add on to pulp in the case of the TAT arrangement.

    Forest management and forest politics outside STT are two distinctly different approaches.

    It would take someone brave enough within State government to speak out. There is one person who is capable of doing just that who may strike, when the time is right, to challenge Hodgman and his Forestry Minister, Barnett!

    It may eventually happen as the Chinese syndrome is likely to flow on to force a change in business relationships, within the foreseeable future, for States and territories to change tack.

    As #16 Isla points out, the Vedanta issue at Mt Lyell is not acceptable with the government giving them a $30 Million grant with nothing in return. Good point, and I hope to see this applies to all foreigners who want to fleece our goodwill and run with the cash.

    At the same time, no one is foolish enough to loan Adani $1 million for initial rail infrastructure development. It seems Turnbull has shied away from the deal. Good on him, free lunches are over!

    Don’t worry too much. Mr Wilkie can make his concerns known in Canberra as a Federal election is looming, and we all want to see a reduction in Asian ownership and loans, and changes to tax deals within Australia.

    Turnbull has to make these decisions as Shorten is weak in areas of governance and trust.

    My advice to Jenny Webber and the BBF is to leave the issue to Mr Wilkie to make it known in Canberra, before the next Federal election, to at least get the tax issues sorted out with TAT.

  17. William Boeder

    May 24, 2018 at 6:56 pm

    #20 … Robin Halton, at no stage of events can the Tasmanian people condone the corrupt activity of dealing with Ta Ann in the manner of Ta Ann having a measure of control of Tasmania’s forest resources, particularly as this was based on the fact that they were allocated a log supply under some sort of anonymous logger industry tryst.

    There can be no point in denying the person responsible for this. We in Tasmania are all knowing about who this person of questionable character happens to be.

    One must consider the cost to Tasmania already for having Ta Ann in the midst of our State, along with their volume of 457 Visa employees that contribute little to this State.

    No amount of wrongs will, nor ever should, constitute a right.

    I hope to get in touch with Clare Rewcastle Brown and gain some additional crucial evidence that might put the controversial Ta Ann and this State government under the blow-torch for many reasons. One of those reasons is to nail down the involvement of a certain “sinister go-between that is of no recognisable value to the State of Tasmania” because in fact, this Senator is considered as nothing more than an impure burden upon the people of Tasmania.

    Furthermore, I cannot accept any reason to not call a spade a spade. If corruption is apparent then it must be investigated by persons external to this State.

    Your own standards of integrity disposed you to support this troubling element of the grossly unacceptable methods of Ta Ann being permitted to demand whatever it decides upon. This in itself is not in the best interests of Tasmania’s people, as inevitably Ta Ann continues to cost the Tasmanian taxpayers a proportion of their compulsory taxes.

  18. Robin Charles Halton

    May 27, 2018 at 1:21 am

    #21 … William, I clearly offered my advice on the subject ( foreign stranglehold on Australian resources and trade) in good faith.

    I am unable to provide an immediate solution, but resources such as younger age regrowth are not finite!

    Time will eventually show up the weaknesses in the TAT arrangement as it stands at present!

  19. Robin Charles Halton

    May 27, 2018 at 11:48 am

    Those in favor of a siege on TAT’s business could also choose to ask the Wilderness Society why it gave open sesame to our younger prime regrowth to be exploited en masse, when two our their representatives, Bayley and Schnieders, signed the Tasmanian Forest Agreement legislation document, 2013.

    It just goes to show what hypocrites the Greens are in exchange for a land grab.

    Talk about the Bob Brown and Ms Weber calling the pot black!

    #21 … Boeder, as you are a self acclaimed expert on these matters, what is your drift on the Wilderness Society interference?

    The Greens are in this deal up to their necks as they continue to show no interest whatsoever in good native forestry management!

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