NRE Blunders Exposed


Years ago, a Warner Bros Loony Tune TV cartoon featured the Acme Toothpick Factory. Whole logs were shoved into the jaws of a huge machine that ground the log down to a tiny toothpick, leaving a huge pile of waste. Back then, this was pretty funny. Now that NRE has adopted the Loony Tune Toothpick Factory idea as policy, it’s pretty alarming.

If you want an idea of how far down the Loony Tune Toothpick Factory track the Victorian Government has gone, pick up a copy of the Timber Pricing Review discussion paper.

You’ll find that 60% of the wood taken from native forests is either residual sawlogs or pulpwood. These figures are quite misleading. For example, on page 18 they reveal that the average recovery rate is 37%. This means that once they start sawing up a log, 63% of it ends up as waste. In fact, of the 2.3 million m33 of timber removed from state forests last year, a meagre 340,000 m3 or 17% ended up as sawn timber. Yet the NRE insist we still have a sawlog driven industry. This is ludicrous, as is their appalling grasp of basic arithmetic.


The logging industry has come up with a novel method of frightening workers in logging towns – the “mill closure scare survey”. Reported in the latest edition of the Institute of Foresters publication, Australian Forestry, forestry department boffins, with backing from Neville Smith Timber Industries, went down to Heyfield in Central Gippsland to conduct a ‘socio-economic’ analysis of the effect of the closure of the town’s mill.

The ethics of this piece of social ‘research’ are highly questionable, particularly since there are no current plans to close the mill and they just got a $1 million handout. The research team herded a group of workers into the mill conference hall and scared the daylights out of them with questions about a ‘hypothetical scenario’ involving the mill closing.

The report produced is a fine example of the very dodgy ‘socio-economic’ information put out by the logging industry. Tarted up with graphs and tables to look like a piece of respectable research, the report is riddled with industry propaganda like the ‘pressure for Governments to increase National Parks (that has seen) resource for timber processing decrease’.

Its predictable conclusion is that if the mill closed, Heyfield would be finished (and if it remained operating, the forests will be – Ed) Just how did Heyfield survive before the logger arrived?


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