Brickworks political donation interests extend to native forest burning and logging

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Brickworks owns the largest mill in East Gippsland. It is a dodgy company which makes large political donations and has huge influence over the Liberal Party. It was mentioned in the NSW ICAC inquiry into corruption. It played a big part in pushing to have the logging and incineration of native forest logs in electricity generators to be defined as 'renewable' and therefore collect subsidies or credits for doing so.

Auswest Brodribb Mill

The Greens have picked up on this and below is Janet Rice's media exposé of what seems like a very dirty deal.

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The Greens reiterate their call made on ABC's 7.30 program for an investigation into Brickworks and the influence of its political donations, saying the picture gets even more grubby when considering the company's interests in logging and burning of native forests for industrial heat.

Senator Janet Rice, Australian Greens spokesperson for forests, notes that Brickworks is the parent company of Auswest Timbers, one of the largest native forest wood products company in the
country. Brickworks is also a major donor to the Liberal Party. It gave $263 000 to the federal Liberals during the last election campaign.

Brickworks was a big campaigner against the price on pollution, a big supporter of allowing the burning of wood from native forest to be eligible for renewable energy certificate subsidies, and also has a strong interest in the eligibility of native forest burning for industrial heat under the Renewable Energy Certificate program, to fire their brick kilns.

"The push for native forest biomass for heat to be eligible for the subsidies of Renewable Energy Certificates is a campaign currently being waged by the logging industry, in order to find new
markets as the value of woodchips for paper declines," said Senator Rice. "Over 80% of the wood removed from native forests currently ends up as woodchips and could potentially be burnt for
energy and heat".

"The big question is - will the government cave to these interests, and what effects will political donations have on government policy on forests and energy?

"We've already seen dead forest power included in the RET as 'renewable energy' by the Abbott Government last year. We don't want to see its further expansion to industrial heat generation.

"Our forests are just pawns in the political game. This is another case study in the power of big business over the old parties. We need a national corruption watchdog to prevent undue influence and to investigate allegations of misconduct.

"Our forests are worth more left standing for their value for wildlife, tourism, carbon storage and clean water. We should be investing in real renewables, like wind and solar," concluded Senator Rice.

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