Aug 21, 2012

Tasmania’s forestry sector akin to ‘work for the dole’

Tasmania's ailing and highly subsidised forestry industry should finally be subject to market principles, write Andrew Macintosh and Richard Denniss.

Late last week, the details of an interim agreement between the forestry industry and green groups on the future of Tasmania’s native forests was released, showing the distance between the two parties has narrowed considerably. Both sides now support the creation of additional reserves and a permanent native forest timber production area, and want governments to help the industry through a process of reform.

So close are the parties to a lasting truce that, upon seeing the agreement, the Deputy Premier of Tasmania, Bryan Green, declared Tasmania’s forest wars over.

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5 thoughts on “Tasmania’s forestry sector akin to ‘work for the dole’

  1. Microseris

    Brilliant work! The detailed analysis we have been waiting for. Confirms what I have long suspected, that we have a public asset destroyed to benefit private companies at a loss to the taxpayer. Seems to contradict everything the neoliberals (Liberal & Labor) stand for.

    In Victoria its the same story. VicForests has posted losses totalling $10.9M in the last two years to destroy thousands of hectares of forest. Which begs the question, why are we destroying these forests including the small remaining habitat for the critically endangered leadbeaters possum at a financial loss? Its the definition of insanity.

    Goes to show the economic rationalists only want the market to decide, when it suits them.

  2. Holden Back

    To play devil’s advocate, where are the IPA and the Centre for Independent Studies on all this?

  3. Tom McLoughlin

    I break my self imposed exile on the comment strings to say just this:

    To restate the problem from a land use transformation perspective helps explain where the profitable economics reside in this debate;

    The plantation sector is very profitable given the effect of agri intensification, just as broadacre cropping out performs gathering nuts and berries in the wild forest. Native forest logging is the ‘gathering of nuts and berries’ in this metaphor and will NEVER be profitable in comparision to plantation timber. The private native forest industry companies well know this and are effectively involved in thrashing public lands for transformation into a regrowth scenario for higher timber production, higher profit eucalypt plantation on public land.

    The land use resource economics of logging make sense for private industry but only if you factor in a ‘conversion to plantation’ business model to annexe the public land with the suitable rainfall for defacto tree farms. Arguably this quasi privatisation is the industry agenda over decades now, and not the mere lifespan of governments.

    I advocate sale of the public plantation (to realise the asset and remove it from umbrella of the state agencies facilitating the quasi privatisation), and locate ALL remaining public native forest into national park. This way the profits from plantations are realised up front, the dodgy cross subsidy by the plantation sector to the native forest sector is further weakened and more of the remaining public heritage is sustained.

    Arguably there is an ecological case for high employment and low impact thinning of the smallest saplings (instead of targetting the biggest trees) in euc forest to acclerate growth of high humidity fire resistant mature canopy style native forest, but that’s another story – probably very labour intensive and not profitable but a good landscape, employment, fire safety and environmental service. Arguably for this kind of ecological logging to promote accelerated Old Growth canopy you could really get loggers and greens on the same page.

  4. John Bennetts

    Tom McL: Welcome back. Couldnt’a sed it betta.

    Holden Back: Quick and pertinent, as usual. Your questions will receive no response.

  5. wyane

    I missed something … are they paying their employees $20.80 for 12 hours work each fortnight?

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