Thursday, August 5, 2010

Perfect storm my arse Terry! Latest logger demand for taxpayer handout truly bizzare

Have a read of the ABC news report below.
Have you finished?
O.k. No its true. Its not a joke. Read it again if you have to.
The Tasmanian Forest contractors want over $100M of cash freebies from you the taxpayer over the next 12 months.
To quote the great 20th century American philosopher Mcenroe "You cannot be serious man"!

To put the logging contractors request into perspective, the total Tasmanian budget this year was around 5 Billion. Remember that the Tasmanian Forest contractors are but one small component of what we are told is a multi-faceted Tasmanian forest industry, which in turn is just one part of tasmania's overall economy.
We are consistently reminded by the Tasmanian logging industry that it is a crucial contributor (thats a giver not a taker) to the Tasmanian economy. How many times have Tasmanians been lectured that forestry has underpinned growth in the Tasmanian economy.
Here is UTAS economics professor Graeme Wells on this very issue: -
"Given their constituency, such behaviour is understandable and appears to have been successful. In 2007, for example, 24% of survey respondents thought that forestry had ‘made the greatest contribution to the growth of Tasmania’s economy in the last few years’ – second only in importance to tourism. It is hard to reconcile this response with the reality that Tasmanian woodchip exports had declined since 2000, and forest contractors had, in 2007, asked the Commonwealth for a $93m package to help them exit the industry. While it might be difficult for the general public to discount repeated but erroneous claims, more is expected from the responsible ministers. But Bryan Green, then Minister for Infrastructure, Energy and Resources, was infected by the lobbyists’ enthusiasm for forestry and wood products industry. For example, in his submission to the Australian Government’s review of taxation treatment of plantation forestry, he claimed that ‘these industries contribute ... 23 % of Gross State Product ... and directly employ around 10,700 people (1 in 13 workforce participants)’. These claims, which appear to have been sourced from a CFMEU website, were wildly inflated. Schirmer (2008) estimated employment in the forestry and wood products industry to have been 6300 in 2005-06 which, given the Tasmanian workforce of 222,000 persons, is 2.9% of the total. That is, the industry employed one in 35 workers, not one in 13 as claimed by Minister Green. Data on value added in the forestry and wood products industry are not compiled by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, but even in the unlikely event that workers in the industry were twice as productive as the Tasmanian average, their contribution to Gross State Product would have been 5.8%, not 23% as claimed by Minister Green".

Yet here we are again seeing the industry demanding government handouts to sustain that growth.
The TFCA is requesting $50m plus $1m per week which comes in at $100m for the next year.
Whilst the money is being requested from the feds if given it would be a handout to the equivalent of 2% of Tasmania's total budget.
It tells us a few things about the relationship of the loggers to the Liberal and Labor parties from whom the industry are putting this latest handout request.
The logging industry believe that taxpayer money is their birthright and that the public should pay for the loggers to exploit the publics natural heritage. It also tells us what a monster the lib/labs have created through its cosy & mutually dependent relationship. The claim is probably ambit, but even if they were given $5-10, maybe $20m which is what they are probably hoping for it is still very scary and very wrong.
I supported the state govts recent support packages However this latest handout requests is the most breathtaking and obscene grab for public money i have seen in a long time.


Forest industry's big multi-million-dollar wishlist(from ABC news online)
The forest industry has asked for a multi-million-dollar assistance package, and released a big ticket election wishlist. (ABC News: Fiona Breen)
A call to provide Tasmanian forest contractors with a multi-million-dollar assistance package has been backed by the nation's peak industry body.
The Australian Forest Contractors Association has called on both major parties to provide $50 million to help prop up struggling Tasmanian contractors.
The association has also asked for an additional $1 million a week in ongoing aid.
Terry Edwards from Tasmania's Forest Industries Association says local contractors have been hit hard by a "perfect storm" of events, including the global downturn, a strong Australian dollar, and campaigns by environmentalists.
"From that point of view I think there is a need for government to step in, and I think they do understand and accept that," he said.
"The Tasmanian Government has stepped up to the plate on three separate occasions, but this is becoming a pretty big ask."
The National Association of Forest Industries' chief executive Allan Hansard has backed the call.
"The contractors are an essential piece in the supply chain," he said.
Mr Hansard says it is vital to keep contractors in the industry for when the market improves.
"Their claims are all about ensuring that the viable operators, the viable contractors, stay in the business for when we do sort out the future of the timber industry in Tasmania."
Most of the contractors who would benefit are based in the marginal electorates of Bass and Braddon.
'Election wishlist'
NAFI is also lobbying both major parties to help increase Australia's wood production.
At the top of its election wishlist is a call for the Federal Government to guarantee long-term wood supply under the Regional Forest Agreements.
Allan Hansard says Australia is in danger of running out of wood to fulfill its own needs, let alone meet export demands.
"We just will not have enough wood to provide for houses and our shelter, going forward," Mr Hansard said.
The association is also calling for more government incentives for investment in plantations.
"It could be tax arrangements, it could be grants," he said.
'Request "laughable": Greens'
The lobbying to increase production in the forestry industry has riled the Tasmanian Greens.
Spokesman Kim Booth says the industry has been oversubsidised already.
"It's actually laughable," Mr Booth said.
"I mean NAFI is largely an organisation that appears to me to be looking for charity status, the way it appears to be seeking more and more contributions from the public purse."

and Sue Neales from the Mercury


  1. The Tasmanian forestry industry is full of bludgers.

    They're a worse impost on the State and nation than any dole bludger and do less for their exorbitant money handouts without having to fill in the fortnightly forms.

    It would cost us less to have them all (what's left of them) line up at Centrelink and be made to look for a real job like everyone else.

    No more frigging handouts.

  2. One hesitates to use the analogy about not being able to see the wood for
    trees given the industry we're talking about here, but why is that the forestry union & it's members are unable to see what is so blindingly obvious to everyone else: Forestry Tas should rightfully be in the hands of
    receivers. It's a basket case. This is a private company for goodness sake, but it's been poorly managed and run for decades. Had FT been truly viable it wouldn't have needed constant injections of public money - eagerly,
    recklessly, and irresponsibly given by our state government. And regardless
    of whether that government was Labor or Liberal.

    The writing was on the wall for FT a long, long time ago. Any other business, be it large or small, has a business plan. You cannot get a bank loan without one. And rightly so. Anyone who lends money needs to know it will be repaid. Yet the government has provided truckloads of cash (our taxes!) to a business without any certainty it will be repaid. Why? Any other company would have been justly declared bankrupt long ago.

    Several years ago the Greens prepared a forest transition policy knowing that the industry would need to be radically restructered if it was ever to exist in a truly sustainable and profitable manner. A policy that would allow forestry workers to exit the industry with dignity.

    Perhaps it's time this Greens' policy was now given the serious attention it deserves, and should any further government money be provided then ensure it is used to completely restructure the industry. And that includes sacking the current crop of totally incompetent managers.