Tasmania needs help

Whistle blower exposes corruption in Tasmania

A greying Tasmanian forester of 32 years experience has spilt the beans on broad-scale illegal destruction of the state’s public forests. He claims corruption and collusion by and between the logging industry and Tasmanian Government has been rampant since the signing of the RFA five years ago. Bill Manning was giving evidence to the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs Committee in October. He gave evidence under subpoena.

Bill Manning was one of only two Government officers with the authority to check that logging complied with legislation such as the threatened species act, and issue tickets if it didn’t.

He said that in the last five years he witnessed the most appalling deterioration in management of Tasmania’s forests. The Regional Forests Agreement was signed five years ago, and the 20-20 Vision was announced to encourage more plantations. Mr Manning said the woodchip industry had come to dominate so strongly that regulators were just rubber stamps.

He reported dozens of breaches of the Act, but said the Government never prosecuted and no action was taken. He said there was a culture of “cronyism, intimidation and deception”.

In exasperation Mr Manning finally tried to prosecute Forestry Tasmania, but his charge books were taken from him and he was shifted elsewhere in the public service.

Mr Manning found Tasmania’s claim to be using world’s best practice in forestry laughable.

He said the Forest Practices Board received only the cover sheets of 20-page forest practice plans, and that documents were changed retrospectively (as they can be in East Gippsland).

In his time as auditor, Mr Manning said he found more than 80 breaches of fauna protection provisions and nearly 100 breaches of the Forest Practices Act. The Forests Industry Association of Tasmania defended the system of loggers regulating logging saying these were “good men doing a job to the best of their ability”.

Of course the Government has labelled him sensationalist and outrageous, with marred judgment and a “mind-set of conspiracy, secrecy and corruption”. The Tasmanian Greens introduced a motion in Parliament calling for an inquiry in response to allegations of institutionalised corruption.

The State Government rebuts the claims of corruption and will oppose any move to have a Commission of Inquiry into the logging industry.

Jill / TWS / The Greens

“If the intent of the RFA and the 20-20 Vision was to oversee the widespread destruction of native forests, and the attendant unique flora and fauna by an unsupervised and negligent industry, then it has succeeded”

GUNNS load Bacon’s piggy bank

Gunns, Australia’s largest woodchipper gave the Tasmanian ALP a $40,000 donation in the lead up to last year’s State election, but not a brass razoo to the Libs.

Gunns is the state’s first billion dollar company so can well afford $40,000 – given it guts Tassie’s forests for a tidy little profit of $600 million a year! The ALP refuses to confirm or deny the donation and said any donations will be reported in accordance with the law, in February next year. What other group of people have until February 2004 to tell us what happened in 2002-03. If Gunns made the donation on July 1 this year, we wouldn’t find out about it for 20 months until February 2005.

crikey.com / Ecology Action / Jill

But Liberals miss out

Tasmania’s former Opposition leader, Bob Cheek, wants to end old-growth clearfelling but his views on forestry lost the Liberal Party up to $30,000 in donations from Gunns in the lead-up to last year’s election.

Mr Cheek said that 12 days before last year’s state election, Gunns chief executive John Gay summoned him for a late-night meeting where he said he’d give him $10,000 immediately towards the Liberals’ state campaign. There was discussion of another $20,000 but Mr Gay was unhappy about the then-Liberal Party leader’s position on ceasing old-growth clearfelling.

Gunns ended up giving nothing to the Liberals but gave the Labor Party $40,000. Mr Cheek, still a Liberal Party member, says the party’s leadership remains beholden to the forestry industry.

ABC 19/11.03

Woodchippers rule!

It’s official – Tasmania’s logging operations are woodchip-driven.

The lie that forest logging is firstly driven by the need for sawlogs, and woodchippers kindly mop up the waste, has again been shown to be a big fat lie.

In late November, Tasmanian Greens leader, Peg Putt, produced leaked documents from Forestry Tasmania that instruct loggers not to set aside veneer or sawlogs. Instead they should go into the woodchip log pile. Why? The demand for export woodchips has resulted in vast landscapes being clearfelled, leaving more good sawlogs being cut down than mills can process.

Jill / The Greens 27.11.03

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