The Australian’s Matt Price had an interesting column on
Saturday after taking a walk through Tasmania’s magnificent Tarkine
forest in which he seemed surprised that Federal Environment Minister,
Senator Ian Campbell, professed an admiration for the forest and a
desire to save more of them.

The Minister, unlike green sceptics such as Andrew Bolt and Christopher
Pearson, claims to have read the science and formed a view that global
warming is real and something has to be done. On this score, he joins
business heavies like Insurance Australia Group CEO Michael Hawker.

The likes of Bolt and Pearson find themselves in a unique position
given that Australia is arguably the world’s worst polluter and they
work for the Murdoch family which has been responsible for the
consumption of more trees, including heaps of Tasmanian hardwoods, than any other media empire in history.

However, to get a feel for the Tasmanian forestry debate, you also need
to take
in some of the devastation caused by clear felling of native forests,
something which mainland Australia is rapidly phasing out. I was taken
to such an area near Launceston by a Greenie last
Wednesday and was quite shocked.

The contrast with the 40 metre stretch
of beautiful rain forest next to the burnt out remains left by the
Gunns contractors was stark indeed. This tract of forest couldn’t be
felled because of a nearby stream. Boosting protection around waterways
and reserving parts of Senator Campbell’s beloved Tarkine were the two
key aspects of this year’s deal between the Federal and Tasmanian
governments which Mark Latham says he would have jumped at last year if
the Lennon Government had put it on the table.

In one of life’s coincidences, I found myself sitting next to
Campbell’s colleague, Federal Forestry Minister, Senator Ian Macdonald,
on the plane back from Launceston last Thursday having failed to make
it onto the board of our one of the world’s biggest native forest
slaughterers, Gunns Ltd.

Senator Macdonald also looks after Fisheries and Conservation and was in Tasmania for a
Federal Ministerial Industry Council. It was a shame he couldn’t drop
by the Gunns AGM to see what sort of show the cowboy tree-loppers run.

The Minister seemed quite pleasant and softly spoken, in stark contrast to this spray
he gave us in the Parliament on August 8 after Hugo Kelly reported his
press secretary’s “bong brigade” comments and a Green group then
confused him with his NSW Labor namesake, another Ian Macdonald (same
spelling too), who also happens to be responsible for forests.