Miranda’s Daily Blog – Day 5
Day 5 – Why would the Prime Minister risk the controversial act of breaking her own promise and allowing logging here? This was a question I was asked yesterday and yes… I was wondering the same thing! Only Julia can know her own motivations, but I have a sneaking suspicion it might have something to do with Ta Ann – a company fast becoming known as “the new Gunns,” due to their position as the driving force behind logging in Tasmania since Gunns Ltd took a step back.
Ta Ann are a Malaysian company based in Sarawak. They started operations here five years ago, with an attractive deal from our government – the offer of wood prices far below the cost of logging in their own country. Executive Chairman Datuk Hamed Sepawi told the media that rates were lower in Tasmania than Malaysia or Indonesia. While the company is by no means poor (being part of a corrupt network of companies under the control of the wealthy Taib family) their operations in Tasmania are propped up by tax payers money. Not only do they get the wood at rock bottom prices they also receive tax payer funded subsidies. Despite this they still managed to record an $18 million loss last year.
The company has a deplorable record internationally. They are responsible for the displacement of Indigenous people in Sarawak to secure access to forests for logging. The company should not be welcomed in Tasmania, let alone supported by tax payers money.
Ta Ann is now a major driver of forest destruction in Tasmania, with their contract of 265,000 cubic metres of wood per year now being used as an excuse for continued logging in high conservation value areas ear-marked for protection. The contract lasts until 2027, though the government has also given an option of a 15 year extension. The company has lobbied Forestry Tasmania (FT) and the government to secure on-going wood supply, undermining the Statement Of Principles and the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA). When the IGA was announced FT managing director Bob Gordon claimed forest protection could not be achieved due to 59 logging coupes on the plan that were “critical to the supply of logs to Ta Ann.”
Ta Ann’s continued pressure on the government for access to native forest is a major block in Tasmania moving forward. These past 2 years during the negotiation process the Tasmanian community has shown determination to see an end to the so-called “forest conflict” that has gone on for generations – by moving out of an unsustainable native forest logging industry. It seems now that the only thing holding us back is a Malaysian company that is hell-bent on destroying the forests at no benefit (financial, social, environmental or otherwise) to the Tasmanian community. That and a government that appears to lack the back bone to stand up to them.
Writing this has felt like “extreme blogging!” I’m sitting here gripping tight as I write. My tarp like a wild animal trying to free itself from the ropes holding it down… the wind plunging it this way and that. The noise deafening. The tree is swaying … the movement intensified by the counteracting sway of near-by trees, so that the whole forest itself seems to be in motion. Although it feels hectic, it also makes me feel like a part of this landscape as it heaves and moves in the wind, taking me along for the ride. It seems impossible to imagine one day the wind might whip up these slopes and touch no trees, stirring only the ash from a burnt out and lifeless clearfell.
Please take action to help make sure this tree I’m sitting in doesn’t end up as veneer flooring beneath your feet. Thank you for following my blog. I’ll be updating with more about Ta Ann and the forest negotiations over time. For now check out this article that appeared this week in the Asia Sentinel.
Talk to you tomorrow ~ Miranda.