Bias and the 4 Corners Gunns story

Respond to the comment made in Tuesday’s Crikey email that Ticky
Fullerton used unnecessarily provocative language in last night’s Four
Corners program, I lived in Tasmania from 1976 to 1988 and Ms Fullerton
only exposed the thin edge of the wedge.

The State is rotten to the core and the tragedy of it is that the
Greens are the only credible alternative to either Labor or Liberal.
Although Tasmania has some of Australia’s most pristine areas of
natural beauty, for decades it has been run by environmental
reactionaries from both parties who just do not seem to get that even
now in its early stage of development, the tourism industry employs far
more Tasmanians than the Forestry industry does. And it is a renewable
resource that will only become more important as time goes by.

I don’t believe Ms Fullerton was unnecessarily provocative, but if she
was, it was probably a case of sheer disbelief that a bunch of people
only one step up the evolutionary ladder from the Hatfields and the
McCoys could be in control of such an incredible environment as
Tasmania. Not to mention the unbridled belligerence directed against
her by Mr Lennon and the pettifogging responses of Mr Gay. As for Mr
Hidding whose family owned a chain of Mitre 10 hardware stores (Hidding
Hardware) across the state and who very conveniently ends up leading
the Liberal party and sitting on the Gunns board, in any other state
except Tasmania it would be a clear conflict of interest and liable to
some sort of investigation.

While Ms Fullerton touched on it briefly when she highlighted that
Tasmanian woodworkers have been denied access to the logging coupes,
the bottom line is that native timbers that have taken hundreds, if not
thousands of years, to grow could be used to make beautiful furniture
and countless other lasting products but instead they are being felled
to make woodchips. Tasmanian dairy farmers realised years ago that they
did not have the economies of scale needed to compete with other states
so they went for the quality end of the market by building Tasmanian
cheese, cream and other dairy products into brands. Surely this is a
far more viable strategy than that of woodchipping old growth forests.

Stephen Mayne has made a name for himself by crusading for better
corporate governance. Well Stephen, how about you add another cause to
your crusade. Help mobilise Australians whose super funds have invested
in Gunns to put pressure on those super funds to tell Gunns that high
returns or not, its business practices are unacceptable.

Darren Baguley

What a waste of such wonderful timber

Darren Baguley is absolutely correct to draw further attention to a
problem Ms Fullerton only skipped over in her story on Tasmania for
Four Corners – that of the ludicrous waste of beautiful hard woods that
could be used to build Tasmania’s reputation for high quality carpentry
and wood furnishings. I was born and raised in Tassie, leaving in 1990,
but my parents still live there. Every weekend my Mum and her husband
drive around the Midlands and the East Coast, speaking to various folk
in the communities. They’ve met several wood-workers who are unable to
get access to that wood, and who weep as they see it sold off to Gunns
at the criminally low price of $14 a tonne, when it could be destined
for a far more worthy fate (worthy of a tree that has taken centuries
to grow) as furniture.

Perhaps more importantly, they’ve also spoken recently with a bloke who
used to run one of Tasmania’s many sawmills and who employed a couple
of dozen people. His mill is no longer. He is now forced to drive a
truck, delivering logs to Gunns, taking risks with the traffic and
working long shifts just to make enough to get by. Many of his old
employees are out of work. The timberworking communities are not
benefiting from this situation. They are shrinking as the jobs are
mechanised and smaller mills close down. Yet Forestry Tasmania, Gunns,
and The Bacon Government continue with this absolutely hypocritical
line that Greenies are the enemy of ‘ordinary Tasmanians’ and will cost
them their jobs.

 Tasmania’s future, if it is to have one, lies in developing
tourism and creative industries. People all over the world will pay big
bucks to see unspoilt wilderness and to buy interesting, well made
furniture. They won’t come to see rows of monotonous pine and eucalypts.

One last thing that I heard recently: isn’t it true that China planted
huge forests for woodchipping some years ago, and they’re due for
harvesting in the next five years? When this happens, of course the
market will be flooded and the bottom will fall out of Tasmania’s
chipping industry. I have heard that this is the reason why Forestry
Tasmania/Gunns are grabbing as much as they can of the forests now,
while they can still make a buck from them, as they know full well that
this can’t last. Criminal.  Sustainable my arse.

Potts Point

Crikey joins 4 Corners

It amazes me that Crikey has the gall to call the 4 Corners program
“Lords of the Forest” bias when I have never read any media (except an
extremist greens publication) that is so bias and arrogantly so against
Australia’s native timber industry and anyone in it that has a go!
I expect this sort of looney raving from Crikey but usually you try and
get your facts right but hey, don’t let facts get in the way of a
timber-bashing story!
Paul Lennon is no longer the Forestry spokesperson for the Bacon
Government as he has been moved to Treasurer, the new Forestry
Spokesperson is Minister Brian Green whose name reflects the fair
dinkum people he represents, the true greens – the timber workers and
their families.
4 Corners was bias, it used emotive language and set out with an agenda
before they even arrived in Tasmania and that was to support their
extreme green friends.  Reading your continuing rubbish and
outright attacks on Gunns and Tasmania’s sustainable timber industry
makes we wonder if you and the ABC share friends!
Kersten Gentle
Victorian State Manager
Timber Communities Australia

Who are the real greens in Tassie?

Is Kersten Gentle, the Victorian State Manager for Timber Communities
Australia having a go at comedy when she states that the true greens
are the timber workers and their families?  Anyone attempting to
justify cutting down trees that are hundreds of years old for wood
chipping is really pushing sh!t up a hill with a chopstick.  Most
people appreciate efforts of sustainable logging, can Kersten confirm
that all the logging taking place in Tasmania is of trees planted
specifically for logging?

When will this idea that the well being of humans, both physically and
economically, is more important than the environment that has taken
hundreds and thousands of years to develop?  The amazing
selfishness of this accepted norm will be not so obvious to a people a
few generations down the track.  Sorry kids, but we destroyed
millions of hectares of forest so a small group of people could make a
few bucks.  Why these people couldn’t move into other sustainable
employment, such as tourism, will be hard to justify.  I’d rather
them all be on the dole if that’s what it takes.  At least after a
generation the logging industry is gone, but the forests remain.

Paddington  NSW

Hypocritic armchair greens

Brett Paddington thinks that I, Kersten Gentle of TCA is having an
attempt at comedy.  He’s wrong, I’m fair dinkum about timber
workers being green and caring for the environment as we are not
armchair greens but are pro actively working in our forests and
communities to ensure our children have a future in Australia’s
sustainable native timber industry.
It never ceases to amaze me that people are so ignorant to claim that
future generations won’t have forests because we are currently cutting
them down or as I like to say, sustainably harvesting them.  The
forest industry in Tasmania has been around for close on 200 years yet
we still have most of the state covered in forests and you can be
guaranteed that future generations will still have the access to the
magnificent forests in Tasmania and the rest of Australia for
commercial and recreational activities for generations to come.
Timber workers do not think they are more important than biodiversity
concerns because we realise that people and communities are in fact
part of Australians unique biodiversity.  The Regional Forest
Agreement was the first forest agreement in the world that gave equal
weight to biodiversity, sustainability and people – this is something
all Australians should be proud of.
I wonder if Brett Paddington is aware that it is through Australia’s
ONLY renewable industry that he has a house, shopping centres, office
buildings, schools, hospitals etc.  I wonder if he has any timber
products in his house or uses paper products that come from our
sustainably managed forests.
It’s easy to be an armchair green, enjoying the pleasures of timber
workers hard work, but what does Brett Paddington and others actually
do for the environment.  At least Australian timber workers are
ensuring our forests are here for future generations and you can be
assured that Australia’s forest industry is participating in
reafforestation, not reafforestation which goes on in our cities.
Kersten Gentle
Victorian State Manager
Timber Communities Australia

Kraehe position

I am a little concerned with the role Graham Kraehe has been given at
the National. Mention is made of how he improved the share price at
Southcorp but all their subsequent problems, can I believe, be traced
back to his period in office.

The sell off of all the other groups such as Water Heaters and
Packaging got rid of the cash providers that in the past had helped
Wine survive the down turns in the market. He and the Board appeared to
think the up market position would last forever.

The inability to look at history and learn is not a good history for someone taking over our top bank.

Michael Lee and the Carr Government

The chickens are at last coming home to roost with Bob Carr, Michael
Egan and all the rest.  You can see it all in Michael Lee – a very
nice and personally talented guy – he has a First Class Honours
Electrical Engineering Degree from UNSW.  But tragically he has
been brought up in the NSW Right’s
world of “group speak” where there is no debate or difference of opinion about any political issue once
the leadership group has decided on a position or course of action.  On all other issues, group members
are to maintain silence and speak when told to.

The result – a docile, dull gang with all the freshness of a stale
cheese sandwich that, for instance, hits nationally well below its

The usual suspects have decided Michael Lee’s position on every
important local government issue well in advance.  He is not there
to exercise any discretion or personal independence or, frankly, even
to have a personal opinion on anything.

The basically very average record of the Carr Government should also be seen against this
background.  Since it came to office the Government’s actual
performance record has been masked by things like Bob Carr’s posturing,
Michael Egan’s pyrotechnics and (until now) a dead and dull Opposition
going nowhere fast.

Some of the Government’s problems are beyond their control: more
professional public service management and advice could have averted
some; but most of them have got out of control because of sheer
negligence, arrogance and/or indifference.

Can Michael Lee do differently at the Sydney Town Hall?  I don’t think so.


Could Carr, like Kennett, be heading for a crash?

I was lucky enough to buy a modest beach house up the far north NSW
coast a few years back when they were affordable! I have had the NSW
valuer put a land value on it every 3 years, the last being Jul 02. At
that time it just crept into Carr’s egregious land tax grab and I paid
a small (less than $500) bill for the pleasure (mistakenly thinking it
might help improve public services in the state like rail or health –
but that’s another matter!).

So this year when the “generous” Mr Carr announced an increase in the
threshold for the tax I was pleasantly surprised that I now would fall
outside the grab – taxes don’t really go down in Australia do they? But
no – as Mr Carr was busily trumpeting his tax reduction he was ordering
the clowns at the Office of State Revenue to get new valuations outside
of the usual 3-year cycle. Armed with the new valuation he intends to
slug me with 3 times the tax I paid last year – so much for the tax

Now I know many Australians will say “oh you poor Silvertail” and,
frankly, I’m not complaining about the unrealised gain on this
investment over the past few years. I just object to the disgraceful
way Carr promotes the higher threshold and then sneakily revalues
everyone up to grab even more tax. I’d be interested to know if this is
a statewide trend – my guess is that is will be.

Carr’s popularity has well and truly peaked and he looks more and more
like Kennett – perhaps he will lose the unlosable election next time
round. His only saving grace is that he doesn’t have to go to the polls
this year – I’m predicting the 2004 electoral global trend will be very
poor for incumbents.

Many happy years in the future to you and your team,


GST and voting in the 1998 election

“Howard put the GST to the electorate, and they voted for it” (Craig,
Yoursay, 13/2). Er, no. Only 48.9% two-party-preferred voted for the
Coalition, and some of those were giving their first preference to
minor parties who’d promised to block it in the Senate. “Howard was
re-elected after promising a GST”, yes; we have to take the electoral
system as we find it. But please don’t tell us people voted for it.

Charles Richardson

Will a bipartisan Dick Smith call for change again?

As a Keating government staffer, few things pissed me off more than
Dick Smith running about the country at election time in 1996 saying
that he wasn’t Labor or Liberal, but he thought Australia needed a
change of government. He urged everyone to (effectively) vote for John

I am looking forward to Dick Smith coming out this year and advocating
change for its own sake after three terms of Conservative government. I
suspect I will be disappointed.

Keating staffer

McCrann’s dashing grammar

Re: Crikey on McCrann

“Most writers are happy to fit two dashes in a sentence but “Dasher”
McCrann managed to include three in this garbled construction,
“Yesterday Telstra, the old public sector telephone monopoly – if it
ever had a corporate goal, it was probably something like a phone in
every home. Tomorrow Telstra, the wireless and broadband – one of many
– player”.”

McCrann’s “sentence” is actually two. Notwithstanding, the par is a
mess and isn’t helped by the use of a piece of punctuation that lazy
grammarians resort to because they don’t know how to use a semi-colon.
An en dash — so called because it is the width of the letter ‘n’ — is
appropriate to separate a clause within a sentence; it is, however,
over-used. Where a sentence contains a break that is not sufficiently
dealt with by a comma a semi-colon should be used instead. For example:
“Yesterday Telstra was an old public sector telephone monopoly; if it
ever had a corporate goal it was probably something like a phone in
every home.” It still isn’t a pretty sentence, but it’s grammatically


Sydney-centric ABC

The Sunday Herald-Sun (Feb 15) gave AFL CEO, Andrew Demetriou a half
page spread on page 81 which heavily criticised the ABC’s decision to
base its sports news service in Sydney which he said is “insulting” to
say the least to Melbourne viewers.

It is a pity that the AFL did not publish the same sort of open letters
that heavily criticised the Free to Air Networks for the minimal
coverage they give AFL in the Metropolitan and Regional Areas in NSW
and QLD, under the current TV Rights agreement.

I think the term the AFL used was that all parties used “their best
endeavours” to ensure that free to air coverage would be maintained in
these areas. I guess this is correct if you consider that AFL fans in
Sydney, Brisbane, and the surrounding Regional Areas have to use their
own “best endeavours” to view coverage on the Free to Air Networks (if
any is available) at around 1 to 2am in the mornings.

Mr Demetriou may want to ensure the AFL’s own house (with respect to
ensuring Free to Air AFL football is delivered to the public) is in
order before he starts criticising the National Broadcaster for the
coverage that it provides AFL. I would suspect it is the average viewer
of free to air football who
should feel insulted about the current free to air broadcasting
agreement that the AFL negotiated with the Free to Air Broadcasters.

Michael Agrotis

Be still, my beating heart!

I wish to offer my hand in marriage to Dan McNutt.  Rarely have I
heard (in this benighted country) the proper attitude towards sporting
‘heroes’.  Dan, to paraphrase Dorrie Evans – my sentiments
exactly.  Dan should leave behind the public transport woes in Sin
City and move to the bucolic wonderland of Central Queensland, where
all we worry about is how well the fibreglass cows are breeding. 
I will welcome him with open arms, and a ready supply of geriatric
tomatoes to adorn the laurels of Warnie, Waugh, the Poo and little
Leighton.  Bombs away!

Yours very sincerely,

Cassandra Richardson

One Nation’s Frank Hough

I was appalled at the way you denigrated Frank Hough.  He is an
extremely hard working MP and to insinuate that he is a racist is
outrageous.  He has done a lot of good work for the Noongar community
in Perth.  Naturally you would never have met the man but you make
these one-eyed sweeping assertions and it is disgraceful.


If there were more members of parliament like Frank and some of his One
Nation colleagues, this country might get on track.  As it is it’s
lurching from one disaster to another.


Bob, WA

Peter Fray

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