Tasmania’s forest conflict has been quiet for years, but that could all be set to change in 2020

Wedgeforest

This article was in the news media recently:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-01-09/tasmania-to-refocus-on-forestry-in-2020/11844326

It says so much about how dysfunctional Tasmania has become.

I especially like the quote from Kate Crowley from the University of Tasmania:

“The sad thing is that it seems so old-fashioned and that we’ve moved past it, but maybe Tasmania’s never going to move past adversarial politics and maybe the forest peace process was always doomed because of that.”

I completely agree with this sentiment!

Tasmania is now utterly addicted to Wedge Politics. Our political system depends upon Wedge Politics for its survival!!

There is no other option in Tasmania but community division and conflict!!

But now in addition to public native forestry, we now have fish farms and tourism added as weapons to the arsenal of Wedge Politics in Tasmania. The tourism and fish farm industries have readily taken on the confrontational rhetoric of wedge politics; more than happy to divide and destroy the Tasmanian community.

Yes Ms Crowley! There will be no peace in Tasmania. Our politicians and business leaders are working to ensure that!!

ACCC suing Government Business Enterprise (GBE) over alleged anti-competitive conduct

ACCC

At long last the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is taking action against anti-competitive State Government businesses.

Hooray for that!!

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-12-09/accc-suing-tasports-over-alleged-misuse-of-market-power/11781852

And it is in Tasmania!!

Now who would EVER imagine anti-competitive GBE behaviour in Tasmania?

https://www.accc.gov.au/

I’ve written about this issue previously as it relates to the forest industry in Tasmania, particularly public native forestry:

https://blackwoodgrowers.com.au/2016/10/17/competitive-neutrality-in-forestry/

and

https://blackwoodgrowers.com.au/2019/05/13/fsc-supports-illegal-forestry-in-australia/

ACCC Chairman Mr Rod Sims said the case against Tasports was the first of its kind under the amended misuse of market power provision, an “important law reform designed to protect the competitive process and help us address the harm that anti-competitive conduct does to consumers and the Australian economy“.

Does handing out $100 millions of taxpayer dollars over decades to a failed State-owned forest enterprise, which is in direct competition with private forest growers, amount to anti-competitive behaviour?

It sure does!

Does selling 99% of your forest produce “off-market” in long-term secret sales contracts, with absolutely no competition or price transparency, amount to anti-competitive behaviour?

It sure does?

Now is the ACCC prepared to take on any more anti-competitive Government Buisness Enterprises?

I sure hope so!

Wouldn’t it be a laugh for Sustainable Timbers Tasmania to gain FSC Certification, only to then be prosecuted by the ACCC for anti-competitive behaviour?

Only in Tasmania!

Tasmania will never have a proper commercial forest industry until anti-competitive welfare forestry is stopped.

 

“They should have been planting extra trees 15 years ago,” one frustrated sawmill owner said

sawmill3

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-11-09/why-the-victorian-government-is-taking-an-axe-to-timber-industry/11687952?fbclid=IwAR0J9KGJbcZCmbexgIqHsrj47aV44vpqJXPjWRmgW2KYhbnZve_hWgExAFI

This quote from a native forest sawmiller pretty much sums up for me why the forest industry in Australia is in such a crisis!

Sure, it’s historical.

It comes from having a forest industry that up until 20 years ago was almost 100% Government run.

Why would anyone other than Government, take responsibility for growing the industry?

That is what the sawmiller meant when he said “they”. Politicians plant trees! Sawmillers cut them down! A complete absence of personal responsibility!!

And that attitude is still the dominant attitude within the forest industry in Australia, even when most timber now grown and harvested in Australia is privately owned.

Here we are in the 21st century and no one in the forest industry in Australia takes any responsibility for ensuring the industry’s future.

And when I say forest industry here I mean anyone whose business relies on wood, from retailers, craftspeople and manufacturers all the way back to loggers and sawmillers.

It is the job of the marketplace to ensure the forest industry has a future, not politicians or taxpayers.

This means an end to Welfare Forestry and a focus on profitable tree growing.

It also means a complete change of attitude and thinking within the industry.

And it means building strong enduring relationships with rural communities.

So when do we begin?

The End of Welfare Forestry

Native forest

Last week the Victorian State Government announced that public native forestry would cease in 2030.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/nov/07/native-forest-logging-to-be-phased-out-by-2030-as-victoria-plans-timber-transition

https://www.theage.com.au/politics/victoria/immediate-end-to-old-growth-logging-as-thousands-of-jobs-set-to-go-20191107-p5388w.html

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-11-07/regional-forestry-reax-to-end-of-native-logging-victoria-by-2030/11680544

https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/feds-fellers-furious-over-andrews-plan-to-halt-native-forest-logging-20191107-p538e8.html?fbclid=IwAR2AKHO9rL9su9gXOQQoDmx2dklqEKri37rV13oYROEGV90Qq8KKQotGkA4

Victoria, being a relatively progressive State, has been wrestling with the “forestry” issue for decades, with numerous Plans, Strategies, Reports, industry and community consultations, promises and backflips. This was just the latest manifestation:

https://www2.delwp.vic.gov.au/futureforests

The public native forest industry has been in decline for decades, but the industry wants to ensure that the end, when it comes, is as slow, painful and costly as possible.

Forest industry apologists bleat about how vital public native forestry is to the future of humanity!! Apparently the world will end if we stop chopping down public native forest.

Industry apologists also love talking about “balance”; that there is a balance between conservation and exploitation of our native forests. The industry has in the past attempted to impose a “balance” on our forests but without success.

Why?

Because public native forestry is 100% politics. To say there is a “balance” in public native forestry is to say there is a “balance” in politics! There is no such thing!

Does anyone believe 2030 will be the year welfare forestry ends?

Not likely. There are plenty of elections between now and then with plenty of changes of Government.

But this is definitely another nail in the coffin of the industry.

The only reason Victoria logs public native forest is to subsidise a few jobs. It is a very expensive wasteful employment program. That is all!

Private tree growers do NOT grow trees to subsidise jobs.

Public native (Welfare) forestry prevents a real forest industry from becoming established in Australia.

As a forester I look forward to the day Australia finally has a real forest industry.

Could forest policy in Tasmania get any worse?

pines

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-08-04/tasmanian-forest-logging-moratorium-end-looms/11379976?sf216949275=1&fbclid=IwAR1ZNEK86E5bz4Y7Aer6JaddK3-Dl9Okh06DtRnitt50LzmO7SaZ0G10lkU

This recent news article tells us that the next battle in the 30+ year Tasmanian forestry wars is due in April 2020. Players and stakeholders are already arming themselves and lining up on both sides of the frontline.

Given the belligerent nature of the Tasmanian State Liberal Government this will be another bitter fight with plenty of casualties.

In 2014 the newly elected Liberal State Government together with the special timbers industry deliberately reignited the forestry wars. Now it seems the Crown sawmillers are rejoining the wars, citing resource losses due to recent bushfires.

You see the so-called sustainable yield for Tasmania’s public native forest is based on the maximum possible production from the current State forest. There is no allowance in the sustainable yield for losses due to fire, storm or plague. Any such losses that are incurred must be made up for by logging outside State forest such as Conservation Reserves.

That is a perverse definition of sustainable.

A plea for peace? How can there be peace when there is no dialogue? How can there be peace when the last attempt at peace was deliberately scuttled by Tasmania’s political system?

Nevermind the fact that the forest industry wants the taxpayer to continue funding this ongoing plunder of Tasmania’s public native forests. How many teachers and nurses will we do without this year?

Tasmania’s public native forests long ago ceased contributing any economic value to the State economy. For the last 20+ years they have been a burden on taxpayers as is made perfectly clear in this article:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/mar/29/tasmanian-forest-agreement-delivers-13bn-losses-in-giant-on-taxpayers

Tasmania’s public native forests are now just a political weapon to be used to embitter and divide the Tasmanian community. This article shows that perfectly!

And after 30 years Tasmanian’s just love playing the same old game!

The forestry wars will continue whilst Tasmania continues to waste scarce taxpayer’s money logging public native forest. That is the bottom line no one is prepared to acknowledge.

Tasmanian forest industry – at long last something positive!

PFT_forum

It is a rare treat to be able to write something positive about the forest industry in Tasmania.

It may be only a tiny step along the road to commercial and social redemption but I’ll cheer nevertheless!

On the 3rd of July 2019 Private Forests Tasmania (PFT) organised an industry forum to help generate some positive media and momentum, not to mention communication.

A summary of the forum is now posted on the PFT website:

https://www.pft.tas.gov.au/home/home_articles/summary_of_private_forestry_forum2

The summary of the forum is hardly enough to get anyone out of their seats with excitement, but the general tenor of the discussion gives me a small dose of hope for the future.

It seems most/all of the discussion was about commodity wood, with little discussion about high value wood like blackwood or macrocarpa.

If the forest industry wants to have a future it needs to spend at least half of its time and resources working out how to encourage farmers to plant trees. That job IS NOT the responsibility of governments!

History has shown that cutting down forests is easy.

History has also shown that the forest industry has never understood how to get farmers to plant and grow trees (excluding tax-avoiding and investor-robbing scams). In fact history is littered with examples of the opposite trend.

This forum may just become the first small step in the right direction.

It is a shame that the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association (TFGA) wasn’t present. The TFGA would be a useful ally for the forest industry.

https://www.tfga.com.au/farming-enterprises/forestry

It is also a shame that Ministers and politicians can’t keep themselves away from these events.

Most Tasmanians know that as soon as politicians get involved in anything then things very quickly turn bad. The history of the forest industry in Tasmania is one of too much politics.

There have been industry forums like this before but they have been nothing more than soapboxes for politicians. Completely useless and boring to attend.

So full (Ok 8/10) credit to the forum organisers!

Can the formula be developed and extended?

Forums in the north east and the south east of the State?

Perhaps even a forest industry developed Plan that focuses on creating full and positive engagement with the Tasmanian farming community!!

Blackwoods – selecting the best trees

NZFFA BROWN

Ian Brown is a blackwood grower and co-author of Blackwood A handbook for Growers and End Users, the New Zealand bible on all things blackwood.

He has recently written a fine update on blackwood research including some new findings about clonal blackwood. It is available on Ian’s blog on the New Zealand Farm Forestry Association website (link below):

https://www.nzffa.org.nz/nzffa-member-blogs/ian-browns-blog/blackwoods—selecting-the-best-trees/

Well worth reading.

Thanks Ian!!