The report to Treasury on the performance of VicForests was revealed in late February via an FOI by the Age newspaper. >Read it here. . It details much of their mismanagement and appalling behaviour. They have illegally logged forests, not adhered to their charter, not regenerated thousands of hectares of logged forest, lost millions of public money and of course thumbed their nose at environmental regulations.
VicForests, being a Government owned logging monopoly, should have had its performance and books examined by the Auditor General years ago. But its political pimps have stopped it from coming under scrutiny. When it became inescapable that VicForests was losing money hand over fist, the Treasury Dept contracted URS, a logging consultancy group, to carry out a review of their performance. But even with the narrow terms of reference and a closed door to public input, URS still couldn’t put polish on the stinking mess that VicForests is.
And if the Age journalist, Ben Butler, hadn’t FOI’d the URS report, it would still be locked away in the govt vault.
We have evidence to believe VicForests is shamelessly breaching almost every law, code, requirement, order and plan it must abide by. Not only do they breach these but they brazenly flout them!
VicForests was fashioned by the Labor Government, so of course it was loath to admit their creation had become a hooligan. This latest exposé of their appalling incompetence is a timely queue for the economic rationalist Baillieu government to do a thorough dismantling of the government logging monopoly’s money wasting and lawless empire.
We’ve been documenting these blatant breaches of the law and presenting them to the government for years. This culminated in us being forced to do the government’s job for it by taking VicForests to the Supreme Court (and winning) last year.
If VicForests was a private company they’d have had the administrators in years ago and the board members would be behind bars. But being government owned, they seem to have full protection. We could probably launch another 5 or 6 legal cases against VicForests. Their disregard for obeying the law on protected wildlife is just the tip of the iceberg!
So just where does the buck stop? Who’s responsible for these bureaucratic louts? Is the Baillieu govt liable for the disgraceful management of our public assets?
VicForests must be dismantled. The CEO and board of directors should be made responsible for the debts. The thousands of hectares of illegally logged and non-regenerating logged forests must be restored. Offsets should be provided for the loss of these forests, as any private land owner would be forced to do if they had illegally destroyed native vegetation. Then there should be an investigation into the viability of logging native forests; in commercial jargon, a cost-benefit analysis, before any new logging entity is proposed.