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

Article

Re: STT – GPL Settlement: No Board Response …

Trevor Burdon
(address)

Secretary, Jacqueline Puig
The Board, Sustainable Timber Tasmania
Level 1, 99 Bathurst Street
Hobart, Tasmania 7000
8th Nov 2018
Re: STT ~ GPL Settlement – No Board Response

Dear Secretary,

I first mentioned my concerns over the Settlement reached between Forestry Tasmania (now Sustainable Timber Tasmania (STT)) and Gunns Plantations (GPL) (in Liquidation) with Minister Guy Barnett at Salamanca Place in Feb 2017.

On his advice, I took the matter up with his Chief of Staff, Adrian Lacey, who referred me to staff at Forestry Tasmania (FT). Over an extended period, and repeated follow-up, I have been unable to ascertain who settled, on what terms they settled, or why they failed to fairly value the timber asset originally grown by MIS investors in Tasmania.

STT staff directed me to you, but my letter to the Board of 4 Oct 2018 has generated no response.

Approaches to Chair Rob de Fegely, messages left for Directors, and calls to government offices have been to no avail.

I have no confidence in Board procedures or that the Board has been kept informed.

I was advised the Board meets monthly, and a month has passed. I have determined to re-issue correspondence via multiple channels, and to track the response.

I look forward to a formal response from the Board, and invite any party to contact me directly.

Yours attentively,

8/11/18

Trevor Burdon

MIS grower of viable trees with realised value
Enc: TBurdon_STT Board_20181004.pdf, Published Tasmanian Times, 4 Oct 2018: HERE
Enc: TT_STT NowGiveItBack_20181025.pdf, Published, Tasmanian Times, 25 Oct 2018: HERE
Cc: RdF, CM, SB, LB, MH, GB, SC, PG, SW, Tasmanian Times

Trevor Burdon is a Business and IT Consultant, who most recently was decommissioning Telstra’s original Silver Lining cloud. Resident in Melbourne he expects to eventually return to Tasmania when he can see a clearer sky over a better government. Though critical of Gunns, he invested in early MIS schemes to protect heritage forest and provide resource for new value-added industry. On ASIC’s pathetic advice that he complain in Court, he appeared at the commencement of the Gunns Plantations Liquidation (Proceeding SCI Vic 2013 2095). Uniquely, as an individual grower investor, he has been in attendance ever since, alongside the properly-resourced Liquidators and Receivers’ counsel at the bar.

Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent="no" parentcategory="writers" show = "category" hyperlink="yes"]
17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. Rob Halton

    November 13, 2018 at 11:40 am

    MjF … It’s only grandstanding by the Greens who want all of this state’s remaining native forests as Reserves.

    Pity that so much NF was converted to HWP. Many of the areas that I grew up with, and worked amongst, have been left literally bare of any native habitat.

    This has nothing to do with burning, whether it be controlled or by wildfire, but rather the sheer misery associated with former native forest landscapes. Fortunately South Bruny was saved from HWP development but the Tasman Peninsula, also with essentially prominent native forest landscape character, has suffered with forest landscape loss due to various attempts to grow HWPs, some of which have been altered by wild fire during the Dunalley fires of 2009.

    Basically the Greens could not give a damn about forestry in Tasmania. They are only interested in their patches as Reserves.

  2. Rob Halton

    November 13, 2018 at 1:07 am

    Trevor, I am pleased that MJF has taken the time to point you in the right direction in an attempt to rectify your position with your Plantation investments.

    I am completely lost within the mess that had been created through luring investors into hardwood plantations, post MIS, post Gunns and post SST who no longer plant nitens as a reliable timber source crop .. all bitten by the speculative Pulp mill bug with the sawn timber option.

    An attempt to build a world class pulp mill went out the door at least 30-40 years ago as third world countries took up the opportunity. The suckers at APPM created the native forest conversion process. Rolley soon followed destroying the State Forest natural environment in the process. Nitens crap splattered from one end of the country to the other.

    A modest investment of native grown timber followed up with radiata would have provided the State with both a resource having both long term high grade eucalypt timber and a large forest industry within the state for softwood milling, processing and marketing.

    One day someone might wake up and start replanting radiata as a reliable alternative timber investment, instead of that useless nitens rubbish dotted across the landscape.

    MJP, I reckon Hermal has got cold feet as the recent nitens trials at Britton Bros did not go too well, and Barnett’s subsidies were insufficient for the Hampshire investment. Yo ho, roll on the export woodchips and export peeler logs you talk about.

    It will be interesting to see how the other new chum in the timber game fares if Patraich can further utilise the nitens resource economically within the State without large taxpayer handouts. Then good luck, they have my blessing.

    Also, good luck to you Trevor. Here’s hoping that you and others can eventually get a return on your good money that you invested in the state’s timber resource industry!

    • Mjf

      November 13, 2018 at 8:03 am

      RCH, you are still sadly off topic, but if you check the latest article here by mouthpiece Weber (re the veteran Greens & labeling) they advocate total exclusion from native forests and using current plantations Australia wide to supply all our timber needs. To that end I can assure you there is a lot of radiata and nitens being replanted in the main, while some marginal and inferior sites are being sold by current investment manager owners.

      This Green dogma is at odds with your native forest wish list.

  3. Mjf

    November 12, 2018 at 9:50 am

    Trev

    At last, so the woodlots were situated near the Lea River (Riverlea ?) SW of Moina.

    Your settlement link photos provide some interesting points. The clearing of three separate areas within the plantation appears to be not for regular harvest and replanting purposes. Clearly a quarry or mine has been established at the western end, and the other two clearings are probably to accommodate infrastructure or activities associated with the mine/quarry. That puts these three clearings out of sync with expected normal activity scheduling for the site as a whole. Secondly, I see no indication of any pruning or thinning in your photos. Between 2002 and 2015 you would reasonably expect both to have been undertaken, with pruning at least twice. I just don’t see where you get standing trees at 400 tons/ha unless from the prospectus. The area appears to still be at full stocking .. unless photos are not representative.

    As the default responsible entity, PBB clearly was responsible for your interests, and that is where your problem is. The fact that it did a poor job is why your issue is with them. STT would clearly play hardball to get the best outcome for themselves.

    The final resting place of the $84 million that you mention GPL had accrued is a very good question. It was no doubt siphoned off by the liquidator for themselves or the banks.

    If I was you I would have pursued STT up hill and down dale to at least attempt to maintain the rental over my individual woodlots.

    While not entirely agreeing with your net potential value, it’s probably not completely out of the ballpark. I think 400 tonnes/ha may be a tad ambitious though. Did you factor in at least one thinning that would’ve produced mid stream income ? What was the proposed rotation length ? This may be significant for comparison purposes when you factor in annual CPI.

  4. Rob Halton

    November 11, 2018 at 8:18 pm

    Martin, That is why I ask you, as you are most likely to be up with the latest on forest produce movements! I may have overlooked the export logs as export peeler logs. Perhaps those from the stock piles which I am sure are native forest logs at Macquarie Point!

    I also heard that Majestic Timbers, who own the stockpiles at Macquarie Point, are in some sort of bother financially being unable to pay their contractors. I didn’t catch that media report a few weeks ago so I have no idea where we are with forest produce exports other than woodchips which seem to be going well!

    Has Majestic Timbers been able to avoid receivership?

    Cheers for now from RCH

    • Trevor Burdon

      November 12, 2018 at 8:33 am

      Rob, you are off topic.

      Please respect the intent of my recent articles, namely to ensure proper scrutiny of the liquidation that has taken place.

  5. Mjf

    November 11, 2018 at 2:33 pm

    RCH … I know nothing of the Patriarch & Sons proposal, but I expect STT to be fully engaged, however.

    More material to Malaysia is just what the place needs. Already there are various buyers for nitens export peeler spec logs shipping from Burnie, Bell Bay and Hobart. I do not know why you consistently believe this is only about woodchips for nitens wood. If Hermel don’t get a move on with their Hampshire facility, there’ll be no nitems logs left for them to mill. How many more opportunities do you reckon owners of E nitens need ? At currently $30/tonne more for export peeler than chipwood (if meeting the specs) that’s not a bad incentive to segregate and value add for growers.

    Trevor .. As I stated before, I consider STT owe you nothing. You had no contract or agreement with them. Gunns went belly up as we know and all your eggs (as in exposure) were in the one basket .. theirs. Please add a copy of the lease between Gunns and FT that underwrote the establishment and allocation of your woodlots. If STT inherited a value added asset by way of your pruned woodlots in lieu of a defaulted lease, then good for them. BTW, where is Riverlea, as still haven’t heard of it.

    • Trevor Burdon

      November 11, 2018 at 5:26 pm

      MjF, I’m not going to repeat myself unnecessarily, especially as you’re able to reach a trenchant view without checking the evidence yourself.

      The key point is that growers were not shareholders as they owned the tree rights themselves, not Gunns and not GPL. Gunns and FT did not underwrite anything .. growers did.

      On entering administration, Gunns held $84M of surplus grower proceeds swept from GPL – see GPL Annual 30 June 2011 Annual Report Current Assets note 6. You will find the GPL~FT lease in the first exhibit, under the Settlement of claims against Forestry Tasmania – S CI 2013 2095, https://www.abl.com.au/Gunns/Gunns-Plantations-Limited/Current-Supreme-Court-applications. It does not stipulate forfeiture of any third-party MIS property for debts incurred by their subletting landlord – GPL. It would be remarkable if it did.

      My expectation is that STT should be able to justify why it acted as it did, namely by not taking the small fraction of the plantations, which was GPLs at harvest rather than the lot. They have contrived to socialise their own losses across innocent growers.

      The Riverlea plantation is at the head of the River …

  6. Rob Halton

    November 10, 2018 at 5:54 pm

    MJP, while you are “streaming live” you might be able to throw some light on a West Australian company which is interested in setting up a veneer mill at Bell Bay, thereby creating up 80-100 full time jobs! The proposal is said to be good news for the Georgetown Council, according to Mayor Bridget Archer!

    Patriarch and Sons has lodged an application with the EPA for setting up a rotary veneer mill as a competitor for Ta Ann. It is understood timber products would be exported to Malaysia!

    The Mercury Newspaper contacted the company, but there has been no reply. At this point it is unclear whether or not the company will be using plantation wood or wood from Native forests!

    A staffer from Richard Colbeck’s office said the senator was aware of the proposal, but he could not say whether the company would be eligible for any Commonwealth subsidies!

    MJP, through your northern contracts, could you indicate the type of forest resource the company wishes to use? Hopefully an opportunity for Hardwood plantation owners other than masses of woodchips!

    • Trevor Burdon

      November 10, 2018 at 7:49 pm

      Rob, but not for MIS investors as their asset has been disclaimed.

  7. Mjf

    November 10, 2018 at 11:28 am

    Mr Ted – There is also freehold land that was bought along the way. Lots of it.

    Re this pointless witch hunt by Burdon, why isn’t he pursuing the liquidators ?

    These are the real villains here. He knows not to bother wasting his time, that’s why it’s better to pick on his deemed softer target with perceived greater levels of accountability.

    Why did the Gunns’ investors not club together and represent their own interests, just as FEA growers did with some success ?

    • Trevor Burdon

      November 10, 2018 at 7:45 pm

      MjF … STT is obliged to act with integrity on behalf of all Tasmanian stakeholders, and I presume that includes you. Others in your name have stolen from me as they have from 16,000 investors in your state.

      I joined SCI 2013 2095 in the Supreme Court of Victoria over four years ago, as a contradictor, that is, in contradiction to the Liquidator’s position. I have had PPB in the dock in cross-examination and been cut short by presiding Justice Judd. I quote “Mr Burdon, I cannot be seen to place the Liquidators in a position where they may incriminate themselves”. I am the only party keeping that proceeding open, and I am seeking an extension of the Financial Services Royal Commission to extend its terms to include insolvency practice. Furthermore, I have two current complaints lodged with ASIC re PPB Advisory .. or now PWC. A little research on your part would confirm this.

      It takes a very serious budget to coordinate and represent growers in the Corporations Division. Both Macquarie Bank and Clayton Utz partner growers left very early, and poorer, with their tails between their legs. FEA was a much simpler insolvency with cooperative liquidators.

      As it is, PWC is unlikely to accede to my request for grower contact details without legal argument. My course of action, to date, is all that I can manage, and has been determined by what has been feasible as the circumstances have evolved.

      If you are able to offer any constructive assistance with calling STT to account that would be appreciated. It’s your integrity at stake as well.

  8. Rob Halton

    November 9, 2018 at 1:50 pm

    Trevor, it is highly unlikely there is such a thing as a value added component forthcoming from nitens hardwood plantation investments!

    Apart from the current woodchippers, who paid fire sale price for the Gunns estate, there remains the issue of getting a return from pruned plantation wood. With the oldest plantation being around 30 years there is maturity of the wood to deliver a high quality sawn product. This has not occurred yet, as the investment may have to wait at least another 20 years before clear felling.

    It remains a gamble with hardwood plantation to ever reach the point of cutting select grade boards similar to those from natural grown regrowth forests of 50 years age, plus.

    To my way of thinking, if one is serious about high grade merchantable timber then either invest in pruned radiata pine plantation, or be patient and manage an area of native forest on the long term that has not suffered from fire damage.

    • Trevor Burdon

      November 9, 2018 at 4:11 pm

      Rob, you’ve already made your point regarding HWP and native forest. Again, you are conflating your long-term strategy with the issue under discussion.

      My estimate of what was owed to growers in “a fact’s a fact … now give it back” was based on realised sales by STT, which was for logs for chipping. These have been leaving the state at record levels. Further the trees left standing in the photo from Riverlea from “Invest in Tasmania – bah!” are slated for later production off-take by STT. They, at least, are taking that gamble, and will have more timber for more woodchip if they fail.

      The issue is the lack of transparency over the deal with PPB acting for GPL in Liquidation, and the contrived, forced default by STT. The $30.3 Million I say we’re owed is NOT contingent on any HWP for sawlog. And it was discounted for GPL debts to STT for those MIS lots, AND GPLs 12% share where that applied. but NOT owed by MIS growers. I suggest you submit your own article, rather than muddy the issue I’m raising here.

  9. Trevor Burdon

    November 9, 2018 at 9:33 am

    The author is interested in hearing from the 1600 investors who grew trees on Tasmanian state land. They will be in receipt of PPB Advisory correspondence “Grower Update – 16 February 2017” which itemised returns prior to, and including FT proceeds. They will have received a final installment just before or up to the distribution dates of 5/3/17, or 28/3/17, or 4/8/17.

    He can be contacted on forestryatfirstnamelastnamedotcomdotau.

  10. Pete Godfrey

    November 9, 2018 at 9:05 am

    Tony, I’m sorry to hear that you are getting the runaround so much.
    I would suggest trying the Fraud Squad first, then maybe finding a law firm that would take it on as a class action.
    It stacks up as a fraud, and a giant ripoff of investors.
    Good luck.
    Pete

  11. Ted Mead

    November 9, 2018 at 6:47 am

    Trevor, you will never become enlightened about who knew what, and when! This dodgy deal was nothing short of a fire-sale to keep STT afloat for a very short time. The bucks stops with Barnett’s brain-dead belief that the state forests are infinitely sustainable and profitable.

    These mismanagement buffoons know there is no more family silver to flog off any more .. beyond the freehold land they were gifted.

    It’s going to take more than just creative accounting to keep the well-oiled gravy train alive into the next decade!

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