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a truce in the timber wars? « Previous | |Next »
April 15, 2011

If you recall one of the striking images of the forestry wars in Tasmania was the forestry workers cheering on the anti-union John Howard during the 2004 federal elections. Another was the online footage of timber workers aggressively attacking forest activists who were trying to prevent the logging of the native forests in the Florentine Valley.

toot for.jpg Gary Sauer-Thompson blockade, Still Wild Still Threatened, 2011

Tasmanian forestry signifies the ethical decline and political corruption of the Australian Labor movement. There was, and still is, something rotten at the core of Tasmanian corporatist politics. The cravenness of successive Tasmanian governments and their unwillingness to make any decisions contrary to Gunns’ wishes shows how beholden Labor (and the Liberals) were, and still are, to its corporate agenda.

The Labor Government has, until now, shown little interest in forest peace talks aimed at a transition out of native forests to a plantation-based industry. Lara Giddings, the Premier of Tasmania, is claiming that you cannot have a sustainable timber industry without a pulp mill.

There has been a kind of truce and a deal in the making in the forestry wars in Tasmania. The deal is to end large scale native forest logging in Tasmania that has been undertaken by Gunns and is still being undertaken by the state government-owned Forestry Tasmania, which supplies Gunns with most of its wood.

My understanding was that a part of the December the deal involved a full moratorium on further logging and road construction in high conservation value forest reserve areas in three months and a shift to sustainable forest industry.

As I understood it the interim arrangement brokered by forest peace talks facilitator Bill Kelty will see all logging halted in nominated high-conservation-value (HCV) public forests by September 11. Key points of the agreement are that:

• The agreement is for a six-month period beginning immediately.

• The ENGOs have identified the boundaries of their claimed High Conservation Value (HCV) areas.

• Logging will not occur in that area, unless it is necessary to meet existing timber contracts or for the assurance of wood supply for existing industry, and

• There will be a transition period while the arrangements for the moratorium are finalised between the panel subcommittee and Forestry Tasmania.

A final peace agreement---the Kelty forest deal, which amounts to a forests-for-the-pulp-mill swap---- is to be signed by June 30.

As I said on junk for code the truce does not seem to be holding re the moratorium. 15 March 2011 was the deadline day for a full moratorium on logging in all Tasmania’s high conservation value forests.

The State Government failed to implement this promised moratorium Forestry Tasmania appears to be reneging, if they were ever seriously interested in the moratorium on logging. So I was informed by the activists in the Still Wild Still Threatened (SWST) group blockading the logging road into the Florentine Valley.

According to Sue Neales in The Mercury unless Gunns gives up its wood supply rights to 220,000 cubic metres of this annual native timber allocation obtained from Forestry Tasmania, FT will not be able to set aside the 572,000 hectares of high-conservation forests for protection desired by green groups, because there would simply not be enough forest "left" for FT to meet its wood supply obligations to customers such as Gunns.

Gunns has made it plain that it will only give up its native wood entitlements if its plantation-only pulp mill gets the green light. They have also made it plain that there is only one pulp mill around, and that is Gunns' amended project in the Tamar Valley.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 7:40 AM | | Comments (2)


Premier Lara Giddings, said recently that the $2.5 billion pulp mill is no longer represented the "icing" on the cake of the Tasmanian economy, but had become the cake itself.

She is living in the 20th century.

On the subject of this sort of politics, found myself very sceptical of Paul Howes/ AWU campaign for compensation of polluters tonight.Ny bs detector is ringing fiercly on two counts,a) the need to "compensate" Humunguous Great Corporations any more than they've already been "compensated" in various ways by other means.
b) the outing of factional lines within labor; I dont want be turned to over to Abbott's tender mercies because of Quislings undermining the government's re-election prospects.