Baillieu to protect loggers above threatened species

(Forest Flogging Guarantee Act?)

Driven by our Brown Mountain win a year ago, the Baillieu government is planning to rewrite the 23 year old environmental law that was to protect threatened species – to allow better protection of the logging industry.

The deliberate inaction and disregard of the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act by the government, coupled with an assumption that no one would ever have the funds to take them to court, proved to be not enough to protect the historical over-logging operations of the hooligan industry.

DSE bureaucrats are being dictated to by the logging heavy weights, via the ex-logger and now parliamentary secretary for forestry, Gary Blackwood. Rumour has it that it’s he who has been driving the push to change various laws and codes. It remained a secret until it hit the front page of the Age on 17th August.

If the government persists with this crazy plan, it will become another ‘scientific cattle grazing fiasco’ that the government will lose credibility over as it tries to excuse and cover for the exploiters of public land.

Tandberg toon

Are we going to see more clumsy expediency and laughable excuses at the expense of the environment? Is Baillieu going to let the Nationals run the State or has he got what it takes to slap them into line?

Blackwood has implied that the National Parks are probably teeming with rare species. So if they find enough in parks, his logic is that the rest of our forests and old growth can be ‘freed–up’ for a final going-over with chainsaws and bulldozers.

Even if this claim was plausible, National Parks don’t always provide the optimal habitat, and have often been declared when no other use can be found for the land.

The richest sites for endangered species coincides with the richest sites for the logging industry’s takings, and in the past agricultural needs and development.

When we successfully sued VicForests, the then shadow environment Minister Mary Wooldridge, promised the public on the steps of Parliament House in Melbourne that her government would honour the court ruling and not change the laws. Now who lies?

VicForests , our government owned logging monopoly, has neglected to carry out both of the court rulings after winning the case on 10th August last year. EEG is still waiting for our legal costs from VicForests and no surveys have been carried out at Brown Mountain or no protection given to the area. There was no time limit put on these court rulings.

The good news in all this seems to show a picture of chaos within the government; the Nats and Libs, logging bureaucrats and the pollies, some say they’ll be re-jigging the FFG Act and others deny there are any plans.

The sad joke underpinning all this is that the loggers don’t need any more access to forests. They can’t find buyers for what they rip out as it is. It’s just a bloody-minded fight to maintain ideology – there is really no need to find more mountainsides to flatten.

What we see here is simply ongoing rot to undermine existing weak environmental laws.

Earlier this year, the Baillieu Government made a significant change to the administration of the FFG Act. Shortly after winning the election, Baillieu signed a General Order for the Administration of Acts which changed the way the FFG Act is administered. Previously, the Act was overseen by the Department of Sustainability and Environment. The Government changed this by making the Act a joint responsibility with National Party minister, Peter Walsh and his Department of Agriculture.

The change allows Walsh to be directly involved in the key parts of the Act i.e. Part 3 (Listing) and part 5 (Interim conservation orders). These changes make possible the involvement of pro logging extremists like Blackwood in a “review” of the Act, which would have previously been done only by DSE. You can track the history of changes from the site below if you’re interested.


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