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

Media Release

Backing our forestry sector in Southern Tasmania

Sarah Courtney, Minister for Resources

The Hodgman Liberal Government supports the forestry industry as a foundation of the Tasmanian economy and employer of more than 5700 people.

Today I have announced an initial package of strategic infrastructure measures that will support the sustainability of our Southern production forests. This has been informed by the work of forest industry leader, Evan Rolley.

The industry in southern Tasmania was hit by the closure of the Triabunna export facility under the previous Labor-Green Government and, more recently, the bushfires that have impacted production forest in the Huon Valley, and temporarily shut down the Southwood processing mills.

Firstly, the Government is committed to maintaining the long-term availability of the Port of Hobart as a working port, and Macquarie Wharf will continue to be an export port for break-bulk and containerised wood products. The exclusion of woodchips for export from the Port of Hobart will continue.

The use of the Port of Hobart as a working port is entirely consistent with the Government’s aspirations for this precinct, including Antarctic and Southern Ocean research, cruise ship visitation and the plans for Macquarie Point.

This brings to a close the exploration of alternative port options in the State’s south for the export of southern forest residues.

We are also working with TasRail to increase both the capacity and efficiency of moving forestry freight from south to north, including a new loading facility at Parattah, near Oatlands, and investment in rolling stock and increased operations at Brighton. This will see extra wagons dedicated for forest products and an expansion of rail services to meet demand.

When opened, the new loading facility at Parattah will provide a dedicated facility to load wood from the southern forests. This rail boost will provide a link to the northern Tasmania Forestry Hub, recently announced by the Prime Minister.

These new initiatives demonstrate that the Hodgman Liberal Government is committed to a strong and sustainable forest sector in Tasmania, which will give industry the certainty and confidence it needs to make long-term investment decisions.

Further initiatives are also being actively considered in the context of the recent fires.  The Government continues to work closely with STT, private growers, the Bushfire Recovery Coordinator and the broader industry and will evaluate other options as the extent of the resource impact is understood

The Rolley Report is available at: www.stategrowth.tas.gov.au/energy_and_resources/forestry/residues

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


  1. William Boeder

    March 23, 2019 at 7:19 pm

    MJF, I refer you to the John Hawkins comment 19th March 2019 if you are interested in fact rather than DPIPWE invented fantasy, of the likes of all former State forestry ministers. Each have proved themselves to be useless as sources of fact and truth. Unfortunately this state is formidably over burdened by the Fairy-inventing Guy Barnett.

    Incidentally, there were a great number of trusting persons that became MIS investors, notwithstanding, those that had been taken in by the impure beguiling by the reprehensible Abetz, a’fluttering with his poisonous manifesto.

    Mr. Trevor Burdon being but one of the many State of Tasmania trusting investors that were stung belatedly by Korda Mentha, initally by Forestry Tasmania as a proxy for this State’s government, then by the State government Stoat ministers themselves.
    MJF, you cavil and clamour for your alternative biased and barely credible opinions, please understand these same cannot override the historical fact.

    • MjF

      March 24, 2019 at 12:39 pm

      Mr Boeder

      Concerns noted.

      I’d still like to know how any investor thought buying GPL woodlots was going to save ‘natural forest with unique conservation value’. Do you know ?

      • Trevor Burdon

        March 24, 2019 at 1:39 pm

        Instead of old-growth clearing, we have pulping timber from farmland, pulping timber from regrowth sites and then from those same sites again and again. My first single lot was with Willmott plantations and those pine trees provided a viable timber alternative to encroaching further on the native forest verge of the Snowy escarpment. Same deal in Tassie.
        Planning may not have envisaged the plantation timber as a replacement but as an additional timber source.

  2. MJF

    March 20, 2019 at 1:22 pm

    “Much of the plantation area was planted on clearfelled native forest, very little was planted on what was once farmland”

    This is rubbish Pete. You could remind yourself MIS plantations started out relatively low key in about 1995 and slowly built up to include several developers competing for land by around 1999/2000. During that period and prior to1995, plantations were being established by FT on State Forest and private companies with private landowners as JV arrangements which were not MIS projects.

    As a push for land increased, the appetite for already cleared land gained in popularity. This was land that was readily available for tree planting and on the market. No need to clearfell heavy native forest stands of timber and delay clearing and planting for another year or two depending on market directions.

    I would estimate just as much pasture was sourced and planted out as there was NF converted from yr 2000 onwards for MIS plantation establishment. Accurate figures are difficult to obtain and there appears to be no overall summary available, certainly not pre 2000 anyway, which compares NF conversion with ex-pasture for MIS. The most useful reference I can find is contained within the current FPA Financial Report:


    Refer Figure 1.3.1, page 20.

    Admittedly this is a candle graph but it serves to highlight the similarities in area between NF conversion and establishment on cleared land for trees, year by year. It also demonstrates the almost complete decline of new establishment since 2010-11.

    Also keep in mind not all these annual areas in the graph are MIS driven but the vast majority would be. Lets also not forget the “once farmland” as lamented by many was once native forest before that, so part of that loss was already booked 150 years ago long before it became fashionable to reserve native forest.

    • Pete Godfrey

      March 20, 2019 at 6:26 pm

      Don’t know what you are on there MJF.
      Gunns and FT in particular did a massive amount of conversion.
      Between 1999 and 2009 FT put in 35,303 ha of plantations on what was forested land, in otherwise conversions.
      On private land in the same period 44,967 ha of plantations were put in on what was forested land. Again conversion.
      From my reckoning 80,207 ha is a lot of land to convert over that period.
      I don’t have figures before 1999 before me but just that 10 year period shows just how much conversion went on.
      These figures do not include Pine Plantations.
      Once the MIS money ramped up Gunns, and the other plantation companies were able to pay handsomely for farmland but before it really took off there was a lot of conversion.
      Take the Tarkine along South Arthur loop road, Blackwater Road and the Frankland river for examples. You said you worked on a block on Quamby that was conversion, I have plenty of pre photos of that block. Then there was the Huntsman area, plenty of State Forest and Private land converted there. Christians Marsh up on the Central Highlands comes to mind too.
      I was just trying to point out to Trevor that MIS did not actually save much native forest from the chop. Gunns and FT just went to town on native forest while they were exporting woodchips , saving their plantations for the pie in the sky pulp mill.

      • Trevor Burdon

        March 20, 2019 at 8:44 pm

        Thanks Pete and MJF. Naively, I thought I was saving ‘heritage’ forest while conversion was being applied to regrowth forests and farmland. I invested before the Tamar mill was mooted and the MISs scaled to a crazy feedstock size with questionable regulatory oversight. Up to the 2002 Gunns Plantations scheme, 17k ha were established under plantation; by the last 2009 GPL scheme that was 104k ha.

        I agree growers were duped. Not by the schemes, but by people.

        If you’re interested in transparency, there will be less under the private, largely untaxed Forico moving forward:

        Likely developments in the operations of the company and the expected results of those operations in future financial years have not been included in this report as the inclusion of such information is likely to result in unreasonable prejudice to the company.”
        — Director’s Report, Special Purpose Financial Report for the year ended 2018.

      • MjF

        March 21, 2019 at 9:05 am

        Pretty straightforward Pete. You state very little establishment was undertaken on cleared land as opposed to native forest conversion did you not ?

        I’ve given you a reference to an official graph which demonstrates the similarities in respective areas of establishment of NF conversion and cleared land planting from 2000 onwards.

        While 80,207 ha (if that is correct) is a lot of NF converted, you are completely ignoring an equivalent amount of cleared land that was utilised as well.

        Conversion of native forest is not in dispute. MIS establishment on cleared land did save a lot of native forest though, almost as much again as was converted from NF. Those are the facts.

        Trev – what are these heritage forests you hoped to save ? If you were an ethical investor then olives may have been more your go. What was the attraction of E nitens trees apart from the fanciful income stream predicted ?

        • Trevor Burdon

          March 21, 2019 at 4:26 pm

          Stands of natural forest with unique conservation value. Olives? – what would they have saved? My holding included blue gum as well. E nitens was chosen by industry experts and for pulping is harvest ready earlier than originally forecast I believe.

          I feel we’re repeating ourselves. It easy to be wise with hindsight, but did you ever find any reference that questioned the viability of the MIS schemes from 2000, 2001 or 2002?

          What was not predicted, was theft of investors assets should management have to be restructured. And while forestry and industry workers were happy to have their livelihoods supported, now as high as ministers of the state they conceal their involvement with no shame at all.

          Some are curious smartarses to boot, as in: ‘you invested in me you should have known better’

          • MjF

            March 21, 2019 at 6:39 pm

            No need to be like that Trev. MIS olives went into 1000’s of ha’s of already cleared land only therefore posed no risk to native forest conversion. That might have been important to someone who was concerned with protecting “heritage” forests while still looking for future income. Many so-called ethical investors wouldn’t touch trees because of that reason alone. No problem, you could also buy barrels of Nant whisky, perfect. Some were filled, some weren’t, some didn’t exist, some got quietly decanted and onsold.

            I’m curious to know why you thought buying GPL woodlots would save native forest with or without high conservation values. Is this something the PDS alluded to ?

          • Trevor Burdon

            March 23, 2019 at 12:29 pm

            I was concerned over the loss of heritage or old-growth forest.

            Olives did not figure at all as Gunns was, I thought obviously, not harvesting olives anywhere. The PDS sought funding for plantation forestry on implied ongoing, short rotation, and more certified pulpwood has been supplied more quickly than would otherwise have been the case. You may not be aware that UniSuper was a large investor with forestry MIS chosen on an ethical basis.

            Again, the “why didn’t you do something different” approach does not acknowledge the current issue and can be read as victim blaming.

            Did you manage to find any strong criticism of 2000-2002 MIS viability – newspaper, industry report, forestry agency? Was the view one of “proceed with great caution” within the Planning Permit department at the time?

    • Mike Seabrook

      March 21, 2019 at 8:12 pm

      all that mostly mis mainland cash ( which was mostly lost) kept the tassie economy afloat and pumped up rural land values

      • Trevor Burdon

        March 23, 2019 at 12:31 pm

        And not just the cash but the grown timber – firesold to Forico and effectively stolen by Forestry Tasmania.

    • William Boeder

      March 25, 2019 at 10:55 am

      MJF, I call into question your dismissal of the comments submitted by Pete Godfrey.
      I offer that if the Tasmanian logging industry were to be under the strict perview and supervision by persons bearing the ethics and the stature of Pete Godfrey, then the destruction and dereliction along with the feeble regulatory framework that has underlain Tasmania’s Crown Land forests all these many years, would never have seen daylight.

      The causes by which this State has lost such great volumes of Crown-Land Old Growth HCV forests all falls back on the sleazes permitted and often perpetrated by this State’s Lib/Lab government ministers.
      Please think this matter through before your response please, also if interested, research into the persons complicit that permitted the indulgences allowed to the former John Eugene Gay in his capacity to rampage through said forests by purchase of former State Premiers to succeed in his ‘knock-’em down agenda’ access to these people-owned Ancient forests .
      Were one to remove the John Gay Factor and the State government complicity the Tasmanian environment would not have suffered its territorial demise.
      Why not a read up on how John Gay was permitted to plunder and pillage huge tracts of Crown Land Forest up over my way in the North-West of Tasmania.
      Add to that the gambling traits and personal greed traits held among Tasmania’s past and present senior positioned political charlatans, to confirm my claims.
      Hence Tasmania having its own unique timber mafioso for a great many years.

      Much of this comment content is difficult to dismiss when one recollects the recent history of Tasmania’s past commencing from the late 1980’s.
      Any and all reports and inquiries conducted during this past 40 years or so era, were replete with flowery ink-printed words bearing very little fact and substance.

      • MjF

        March 25, 2019 at 12:29 pm

        Yet the tourists keep streaming in by whatever means to pay homage to VDL’s unparalleled natural assets.

        How is this possible given the “territorial demise” inflicted ?

        • William Boeder

          March 25, 2019 at 7:02 pm

          MJF, have you undertaken my suggested read-up of the State government conspired agreement to plunder the the Crown Land old growth and ancient forest plunder and ruin of a greater portion of the North-West portion of this State?
          The vagaries inherent in your avoidant-syndrome responses tell me you have not.
          I’ll make it easy for you MJF, why not acqire [borrow] a copy from your nearest library, The Rise and Fall of Gunns Ltd.

  3. Rob Halton

    March 20, 2019 at 6:11 am

    Initially I always considered that Mac Point was the best central location to economically export both logs and woodchips from the south of the state!

    Given that major roading infrastructure required to support Greater Hobart’s and surrounds, growth has never been seriously considered by State government then the whole issue of export forest products from the south especially with woodchip will now remain reliant on “hidden” subsidies such as the planned rail upgrade and some enabling roading upgrades along the Plenty Link Road, a dedicated log cartage bridge across the Derwent River to enable cartage and a rail base at Parattah to facilitate cartage onto the northern ports, that is according to the Rolley Report!

    On one hand we are growing forest products both HWP and NF, neither are that useful for long term value adding timbers, HWP wood being only suitable as a pulp mill feed stock and NF that hasnt a hope of ever reading a 90 year rotation cycle with peeler operations believed to be outstripping future supply of future high grade sawlogs.

    Adding to that the bushfires so far this century given the accumulation of East Coast fires, those at Circular Head and more recently in the Huon are believed to be severe enough to downgrade the potential of our remaining NF resource to a level where future supply of high quality sawlogs is in doubt!

    The TFA legislation of 2013 has reduced the availability of high quality sawlogs to industry, it is getting to the stage where the export timber industry is deemed as far more important than local high value forest industry processing !

    I do wonder for how long this stance can be sustained for dealing with NF residues and HWP pulpmill feed stock for export whereas our valuable wet forest high quality timber resource is either subject to earlier a harvest or the advance of downgrade of remaining stands by advancing wildfires.

    Getting back to Mac Point , local government politics will dominate the scene, the KIngborough Coincil will never allow for the removal of the Antarctic base from Kingston, the business it generates is too important for the area to let it go elsewhere.

    Some other facts, the Sewerage treatment plant will never be removed from Mac Point as it is centrally located for any future upgrade, the majority of the site lends it self to industrial development only, the Hobart City Council are now loaded with more Green dreamers along with the MPDA CEO Mary Massina, all continue make up fairy tale stories to promote the site for fancy developments, it wont happen!

    • Mike Seabrook

      March 21, 2019 at 8:19 pm

      and the politicians are pushing for est. $140 million of taxpayers ( mainlanders?) funding to relocate an adequate sewerage treatment plant as the stench effects are a prohibitive public liability exposure from any prospective adjacent structural developments ( and are hated by the cruise ship passengers) – surely this funding could be prioritised for other causes

  4. John Hawkins

    March 19, 2019 at 11:11 pm

    This press release is indicative of a pollie with no knowledge or understanding of her portfolio, one having been passed the parcel after the music has stopped in the tango that is forestry politics in Tasmania.

    Minister: please detail how and where 5,700 people are employed in this industry.

    Minister: Rolley is a very bad appointment. His compromised position over contracts for peeler billets freely granted by Forestry Tasmania to Ta Ann, and then cancelled with a substantial payment to his new employer, could, if put before a Royal Commission, place him before the courts.

    Minister: The closure of Triabunna was preceded by a corrupt process of sale that nearly cost the Tasmanian taxpayer a fortune. It had nothing to do with the Greens.

    Minister : You state “These new initiatives demonstrate that the Hodgman Liberal Government is committed to a strong and sustainable forest sector in Tasmania, which will give industry the certainty and confidence it needs to make long-term investment decisions.”

    I question if this is really so.

  5. Trevor Burdon

    March 19, 2019 at 3:06 pm


    in the early days some MIS investors, like me, invested to protect heritage forest, and in so doing created the certified plantation product that is preferred for supply to pulp and paper mills. The tax deductibility up front rather than at the end of the first year did distort the schemes purpose. It was more a case of tax advantaged on Tax Commissioner rulings, rather than avoidance which is illegal. Investors did spend and then lose much more than they got in deductions.

    If you want real tax ‘minimisation’ – what about Forico? Now generating ~10x as much revenue as Gunns Plantations ever did, while paying ~1/10 as much in tax! ASIC and the ATO let them get away with a special purpose report, and service costs from a trust.

    How do you feel about $196k tax paid on $142M revenue by Forico? That’s < 0.14%. Apparently the economic activity is actually offshore and not in Tassie at all.

    The really stupid people here are our governing organs – ASIC, the ATO and the Courts. They have been captured by insolvency practitioners and the Big 4, who got big bucks for transferring assets to their international corporate mates.

    • mike seabrook

      March 19, 2019 at 6:35 pm

      and any council rates, road service charges and no land tax of course and who paid to stop the trees from being burnt and the extortionate cost of dynamiting them if they were dangerous to chop down?

    • Pete Godfrey

      March 20, 2019 at 7:34 am

      Unfortunately Trevor we were all duped by the MIS schemes.
      Much of the plantation area was planted on clearfelled native forest, very little was planted on what was once farmland.
      So we all lost. The forests are gone, probably forever, the MIS investors lost their money, we lost control of the land and someone made a lot of money and received plenty of donations.
      It was definitely a lose lose situation.
      Having the titles of vast areas of Tasmania transferred into freehold by Forestry Tas, and also leasing out around 250,000 ha of plantation area is about as stupid as it was leasing Darwin Port to the Chinese.

  6. Pete Godfrey

    March 19, 2019 at 8:35 am

    As usual here is a politician playing games.
    To blame the closure of the Triabunna mill on the previous government is just stupid.
    Did the government make stupid investment decisions, did they cause the Global financial crises which collapsed the MIS (tax avoiders ) investment funds. Answer NO.
    When they say that they are supporting the Tasmanian forest industry they should say that they are supporting overseas investors instead.
    Not much of our forest is owned and run by us anymore.
    Nor will they be in the future as this government have given away the plantation resource for a song.
    Good for Canadian retirees whose funds are in Forico , not so good for the unfunded super liability that FT ( sorry unsustainable timber) have. Or did have until it was shifted to the taxpayers as another subsidy to the foreign owned companies.

    • MJF

      March 19, 2019 at 9:49 am

      All Tasmanias native forest on public land is still owned and run by us. ‘Us’ being a two horse race between industry and conservation with conservation comfortably ahead. But that means the majority is still managed locally. I wouldn’t mind having it.

      A large portion of euc plantations on public and STT owned land were sold cheaply to an international investor with an associated 99 year forestry right and site leases. That’s the salt in the wound.

      The pine resource was cherry picked and sold out long ago and is largely forgotton about. Second rotations are being harvested under this deal. It’ll be history repeating itself with euc if they can keep the damn fires mostly out. It’d be almost worth Global Partners investing in some heavy artillery fire kit themselves to protect their investments here.

      Agree, no point in lying about Triabunnas causal. Spin doctors must think we have short memories.

      How’s the Wood rebirth coming along, btw ?

  7. Mike Seabrook

    March 18, 2019 at 11:00 pm

    should cut out all taxpayer subsidies though – freight in particular surely the canberra loot could be more effectively spent in tassie on jobs for tasmanians

    note the tas freight equalisation scheme being rorted $700 per container of logs across bass strait = est. $35.00 per tonne.

    if not for this handout the trees would not have been chopped down or if chopped down processed in tassie with jobs for tasmanians

    • MJF

      March 19, 2019 at 2:12 pm

      How is qualifying for the TFES rorting the system ? Shipping logs in containers to a mainland port as a part cargo either qualifies or it doesn’t.

      Is every other commodity that qualifies also rorting ?

  8. MJF

    March 18, 2019 at 4:14 pm

    ‘We are also working with TasRail to increase both the capacity and efficiency of moving forestry freight from south to north’

    Good luck with that Minister Courtney. Are there any eligible males at Tasrail or are you still spoken for ?

    I have to say “The Rolley Report” is an unaccustomed lightweight document from Evan who normally serves up a bit more substance. Maybe he didn’t charge for this. I wonder if the Rattle from Rosebery could enlighten me as to what’s gone on here with this commission.

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