It’s the kind of destruction we’re used to hearing about in the rainforests of South-east Asia, not in our own backyard. The Auditor General’s investigation into the Yalmy Road illegal logging during the 2003 fires, was released in early May. It criticises the Bracks government for allowing three laws and 17 prescriptions and guidelines to be broken during the intended construction of a major fire control line. It also said the DSE’s internal investigation was inadequate.
It was unforgivable opportunism. Not only did the logging industry steal logs from a National Park they tied up valuable fire fighting machinery that was needed elsewhere and used tax payers money to do it.
EEG requested the investigation into the Yalmy Road fireline by the Auditor General’s Office in 2004. Amongst the report’s 15 pages it finds that:
- Thousands of dollars of logs disappeared without a trace from the Snowy Park.
- The line was up to 10 times the width of a normal fire break.
- The control line width varied according to the value of the trees.
- Profitable trees were taken and more dangerous but less valuable trees were left.
- A huge line of bonfire-like logging rubble was pushed up into fire side of the forest wall that endangered fire fighters’ lives.
- The area was made more fire prone not less.
The AG’s report said the conflict of interest is clear. Garry Squires runs a large logging company yet was allowed to take total control of the fire line in a manner that benefited the logging industry. It is outrageous that the Government says it can’t prosecute anyone. The DSE secretary responded to criticism of this fire control line by saying it was only “a potential threat” to fire control, as the fire front never arrived (!).
This AG’s report comes after a lengthy process by EEG to gain access to the DSE’s internal report. It was eventually given to us on March the 5th but with all names deleted.