Monday, June 28, 2010

TAP claims of "being shut out" without substance

Roger Hanney's article (here) says TAP report being shut out of "negotiations between major players, as the pulp mill debacle enters its next phase under a Gunns now devoid of former chair John Gay".

For starters I attended a forum of environmental and community groups in TAP's hometown of Launceston on Sunday which bought together community and environmental groups from the north of the state and Hobart for the express purpose of giving them a forum and a very clear pathway into stakeholder discussions which as it turned TAP were alreay involved in.

Despite being invited, TAP was a no show.

This meeting was an incredible opportunity and for TAP to not make more of an effort to be represented is bemusing.

A TAP member who did attend the meeting on his own steam told me that at last Thursday night's the TAP meeting TAP's top dogs expressed a real ambivalence about attending this forum and that was of course born out yesterday in the TAP leadership's no show.

It was also revealed by a number of participants at yesterday's forum that TAP have been invited to participate in the stakeholder group discussions to which TAP claim they are being excluded.

There has in fact been a real attempt, as with other groups, to include TAP these stakeholder/groups discussions about the meetings with industry.

TAP were invited to and attended the 1st of a multi stakeholder meeting convened by Christine Milne – where strategy re. the Premier's Bartlett’s roundtable was discussed, talks with industry, the need for broader engagement with community were discussed and some plans put in place.

Indeed TAP have been invited to all 3 of Christine Milne’s forest meetings, including today's. TAP only turned up for the first one.

Sources inside TAP also tell me there also been ongoing email dialogue between a senior TWS staff member and TAP spokesman John Day over the last weeks
I also know that a senior member of the Wilderness society travelled to Launcestoon last week for the express purpose of giving TAP a forum to express their concerns about TWS and the discussions.

TAP also continues to be a member of the No Pulp Mill Alliance which is also closely linked to members of the reference group discussions and where TAP can have direct access to stakeholder group members. At a recent meeting of the NPMA TAP explicitly distanced themselves from statements made by Greens West Tamar Councillor Karl Stevens about the No Pulp Mill alliance.

So for TAP to "report" as Mr Hanney claims to have been shut out is very curious indeed.

The fact is that the key environmental groups have included TAP in a number of meetings directly relating to the talks between industry, ENGO's & ET.

It is common knowledge amongst the groups involved in the stakeholder discussion that groups have bent over backwards to give TAP a voice.

Yet even last week TAP once again circulated a very negative media release declaring that the "Forest talks" were "set to fail" .... “Private discussions between environmentalists and forest industry groups to solve conflict over logging in the State are doomed to fail if the wide-ranging concerns of the public are not considered”, said John Day, spokesman for the community group TAP Into A Better Tasmania.The proposed forestry roundtable to thrash out a way forward for the industry in Tasmania has been sidelined in favour of private talks between environmentalists and the timber sector.“Environmentalists do not speak for communities hit by aerial spraying, lost jobs in food production, depleted water supplies, and many other impacts from the way forestry is currently practised”, John Day said

TAP continue to attack the organisational structures in the Tasmanian enviromental sector, structures that have taken decades to arrive the point they are now.
I support TAP's right to challenge those structures, however I suggest that TAP also have a duty to its members in the Tamar Valley to ensure their concerns about the proposed pulp mill are being represented effectively at such a crucial moment in the debate.
TAP's attacks on and obsessive preoccupation with changing these structures and the consequent alienation of other's in the campaign at such a pivotal point in the forests debate are ill-timed. It is a high risk, low percentage strategy and means that TAP is wasting more of its precious energy railing against a network that is and has been for a long time demonstrably friendly to TAP.

By all means try and change the system, but do it by winning support from your peers and do it through genuine diplomacy not megaphone diplomacy and do it when the time is ripe and not at the expense of your members and your core mission.

My own opinion is that senior TAPPER's are demonstrating a real lack of maturity in on the one hand claiming ENGO's are either attempting to subsume TAP or exclude them when the evidence points to the opposite being true.

The real irony about TAP's claims, and this is this based on direct experience is the only group demanding that other groups take on their policies and ideology are TAP.

My experience is that other stakeholder groups are more accepting of TAP than TAP are of them.

My experience in the campaign is that TAP are accepted for who they are and have been accommodated probably more than most other stakeholder groups.

Everything I said here can be verified and supported by other participants & stakeholders in the current campaign.



  1. You have expressed this far better than I ever could have Rick. The vast general membership of TAP are good resilient people who are determined to do what they can to prevent the Gunns pulp mill going ahead.
    More power to them.

    They would be unaware of the senseless paranoia and suspicion that exists amongst the few at the committee level.
    I should know. I was one that was there.

    TAP has the opportunity to do good work, but it needs to be introspective and restructure its ethical issues and work cooperatively in order to have positive outcomes.

    Gunns/Forestry will only exploit division.

  2. Thanks Tony.
    Its takes courage to be a whistleblower, so I appreciate you coming forward with your comments.
    I agree with you and believe that TAP are long overdue a change at the top. All organisations risk getting stale unless they bring in new faces and fresh ideas. I agree with you that the vast membership of TAP are great folks. Surely it is time for the current leadership to look to its large membership for some fresh faces and ideas.

  3. I can only endorse Tony's comment, and agree with your assessment Rick about senior TAPpers, and their paranoid and petulant view of the world as they see it. A view that is being insufficiently questioned and challenged by TAP's general membership.

    Unless some of those good people recognise the damage that is being done - both to TAP's former good name and the group's high standing in the community - by the extreme and irrational position that for far too long has been adopted by certain members of their board, then TAP will disappear down the same gurgler as its predecessor, TRAC.