Figures released by DNRE in August have revealed a massive increase in woodchipping for the second year in a row. Bracks allowed Victorian loggers to rip out 1.09 million m3 of residual wood – a new record for the State. He still claims the RFA is balanced!
At the same time as woodchip volumes are skyrocketing, the volumes of sawlogs have dropped substantially from 800,000 m3 in 1999/2000 to only 650,000 m3 in 2000/2001. The royalty income for all this has dropped by $2 million to only $24.4m last financial year, which would hardly cover the cost of overseeing this destruction, let alone new logging roads and the rest of the publicly sponsored logging support system.
East Gippsland is one of the worst hit areas and has seen the second massive increase in woodchipping that has more than doubled the volumes of woodchips over the last two years. Over the same period, sawlog volumes have fallen by more than 20%. Combining the residual wood with substantial volumes of sawmill waste (little more than 30% of the logs actually get turned into sawn timber) it is clear that only about 10% of the the trees plundered from the East Gippsland forests ever gets turned into sawn timber.
How much longer do we have to put up with Bracks telling us that an industry that looks woodchip driven, sounds woodchip driven and smells woodchip driven is still this wonderful sawlog driven industry that is going to provide jobs and looking after the environment?
The big drop in sawlogs coming out of East Gippsland has occurred despite East Gippsland loggers being the beneficiaries of more Government largesse.
This time the Government has apparently engineered changes to royalty rates in 2000/2001 so that the East Gippsland loggers end up with substantial royalty rate reductions while the rest of the state have had their royalties increased. Just who’s behind this?
In East Gippsland, the average royalty for A,B and residual grade logs fell respectively 16%,15% and 4% with the state average royalties increased 5%,8% and 2%. These royalty discounts effectively wiped about $250,000 off the East Gippsland loggers royalty bill. Just another handout courtesy of the mug Victorian taxpayer.
YEAR SAWLOGS (D+ m3 net) CHIP LOGS (m3 net)
1998/99 246,576 155,918
1999/00 245,262 237,637
2000/01 193,513 399,201
Table 1. East Gippsland plunder statistics