After an absence of a year the Forestry Tasmania 2013/14 Annual Report belatedly includes data on the mill door log value (MDLV) of the various product classes sold including special timbers (Appendix 2 – Supplement to table 3.1). This together with other data in the annual report has allowed me to update a chart I originally published in this blog in June 2013.
As most readers will know Forestry Tasmania places a very low priority on commercial matters like getting the best possible price, and making a profit. It is difficult to understand FT’s approach to issues such as sales processes, pricing, markets, costs, supply and demand. None of these issues are discussed in their annual reports. What little information is available shows that good commercial management is absent at Melville St. By behaving in this reckless manner Forestry Tasmania is undermining the profitability and livelihood of all existing and potential future private tree growers and destroying the very industry it is supposed to be supporting. Such is the inevitable outcome of crony capitalism.
Of course Forestry Tasmania is aided and abetted in this behaviour by legislation and politicians that support crony capitalism.
Remember that Forestry Tasmania is by far the largest grower/supplier of premium quality special timbers logs in Tasmania/Australia. But it is not the only existing or potential future grower!
The updated chart shows total special timbers and blackwood sawlog harvest for the past 9 years. 2006 was the first year that Forestry Tasmania published Mill Door Log Value data. For some reason no MDLV data were published in 2013.
As can be seen, blackwood makes up the majority of the special timbers harvest from public native forests in Tasmania. The chart also shows the total special timbers mill door log value (effectively what the sawmillers paid for the logs delivered to their mill). I have then calculated the average MDLV ($/m3) by dividing the total value by the total volume, effectively the per cubic metre royalty paid.
As can be seen the average MDLV is effectively a straight line with a gradient of 3.1%. In other words the price paid by sawmillers for these premium timbers is fixed in line with long term inflation. In other words their value does not increase in real terms – exactly the same real price today as 9+ years ago. That’s what I call a great deal!
In 2013/14 the average special timbers MDLV was $132 per cubic metre. That value includes all the administration and overhead costs, plus the costs of harvesting and transport to the mill. One can only guess what the effective stumpage price was, maybe $40 per cubic metre!! What a joke!!
The other obvious trend in the chart is that special timbers log prices are not affected in any way by market conditions – supply, demand, costs of production, etc. For example the Global Financial Crisis of 2007 had absolutely no impact on prices.
And finally the trend in special timbers revenue over the last few years suggests that 2014/15 will see revenue drop below $1 million. We have no idea what the costs are in special timbers management and harvesting because Forestry Tasmania does not provide separate accounts for these “non-profit” activities.
But it doesn’t matter because Forestry Tasmania sends the special timbers bill to the Tasmanian taxpayer! 10,000 cubic metres (or 500 truck loads) of some of the world’s best timbers sold for a song, AND teachers and nurses lose their jobs. Does anyone care? Apparently not!
Is it any wonder that many Tasmanians regard Forestry Tasmania as an albatross around the neck of the community?
Despite the fact that Forestry Tasmania deliberately operates its special timbers operations at a loss, it:
- Fails to provide separate financial statements for these operations;
- Fails to provide any commercial management model and objectives that might identify limits to costs and losses;
The Tasmanian community is left with an unmanaged out-of-control special timbers liability. And the situation is going to get worse with the proposed logging inside the World Heritage Area!