On the 3rd February 1997, the $830 million Regional Forest Agreement process signed over its first casualty – the much sought after forests of East Gippsland. Other areas around Australia followed suit.

Gazillions of dollars profit have gone into the pockets of overseas woodchip and paper companies and a few of their middlemen here in East Gippsland. We can only guess what amount goes into various officials’ and unionists’ pockets.

PR polishing toonLet’s compare the grim 2007 reality with the 1997 promises. It wasn’t just a “no job losses”, but “400 new jobs” and more mills on top of the 20 or so that existed. The “$150 million investment” would provide “new industries ranging from particle board to veneer production” with shiny new patented value-adding machines sending vital building material to an anxiously awaiting public.

So where are we now?

We have ever more precarious populations of threatened species, 50,000 ha of old growth, mature forests and rainforests all bulldozed and burnt to oblivion, a sawlogging industry that has all but collapsed, woodchip volumes skyrocketing to Pluto and a government that is finding it more difficult to keep up the charade of the RFA’s ‘balance’.

There’s no point wasting more expensive polish on a tarnished turd.

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