Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What happened to the Statement of Principles?....and....Crean's pulp mill push.

Have a listen to Tom Baxters interview with Leon Compton.

Baxters assessment show us that there is a very real chance that the Greens Party, ENGO's and indeed Tasmanians will be rolled on expected conservation outcomes promised through the so called forest peace deal, by the political patrons of the Tasmanian logging industry  - The State and Federal Labor party.

Whats left of the so called 430,000 hectares of reserves once they have been through the so called independent verification process will then require legislation through the Tasmanian Parlaiment, however that legislation wont be ready for a year. That legislation will then need to pass the upper house.
Looking at the current make up of the upper house i would argue that MLC's who are hostile to the further conservation of forests out-number MLC's who would support them. Paul Harris and Greg Hall have already flagged they will block the so called 'lock up' of more forests through the heads of agreement.
Keep in mind that over the next year there will be ample opportunity for MLC's to be lobbied to block the conservation reserves and based on how accomodating the upper house were to logging interests during the fast track pulp mill assessment, those who are opposed to conservation outcomes in the heads of agreement will get a good hearing.

In the meantime the loggers are guaranteed their money. It cant be challenged or blocked.
Have the Greens, and ENGO signatories been screwed, out-manouvered.......again?

How many times have we seen this happen in Tasmania with these deals around forests?

The risk that government would waltz in at 5 minutes to midnight, call the tune and pull the rug out from under conservationists was always a risk when the entire deal was dependent on Federal Funding.
Indeed, the sleeping giant in the federal government has been awoken by the incessant pleas by ENGO's to pay out loggers. Now the Feds have obliged, on their own terms showing that they are prepared to impose their will on Tasmanian forests. The Forest Heads of Agreement clause 6 effectively dictates that all conservation groups, including anti-pulp mill groups end protests against the logging industry and its interests.
Non-signatory conservation groups like TCT, SWST, Code Green and HVEC have already rejected this clause outright. Its a given that all anti-pulp mill groups would also reject this clause.

It could get worse.
Minister for Regional Development Simon Crean has also been quite vocal this week that Tasmania should get a pulp mill as part of any deal on forests.


Remember a few months back when a pro pulp mill open letter signed by 100 local businesses, led by John Pitt of Pitt and Sherry was published in local Tasmanian papers? A few days after, leaked correspondence about the pro pulp mill letter was published Here.
In the correspondence, campaign organiser John Pitt states- .....
..........."I'm working on a strategy to manage a community feedback - post publication. Our objective here is to increase the level of communityengagement with the project. With this in mind l'm engaged in discussions with Regional Development Australia { ). I think RDA could play a very useful role in facilitating/ leveraging greater levels of community engagement with Gunns after the advert is published. RDA functiors cauld include
--Receiving/ collating and representing feedback (not only in relation to this business stakeholder group but others as well)
--Connecting community groups or lndividuals with Gunns to discuss feeback
--Facilitating social benefit negotiations between the company and community groups - with subsequent agrcements aggegating to form the social contract (or accord) between the company and the community\
--Monitoring and evaluating the delivery of the social contract on behalf of the community over the project lifecycle - ie construction, commissioning & operations and decommissioning phases
Discussions to date are positive"

Is Simon Crean and the Gillard Government through Regional Development Australia preparing to spend more taxpayer dollars spruiking or directly funding Gunns proposed Tamar Valley pulp mill?
Baxter also raises serious questions about Gunns being 'compensated' for the wood supply contracts arguing that is difficult to see why Gunns should be compensated. Forestry Tasmania chief Bob Gordon also spoke strongly against Gunns recieving comp for getting out of Native forests.

To me Baxters assessment effectively highlights the willingness of government to continue to rort the public purse for the logging industry and subvert conservation outcomes, supporting a business as usual in Tassies forest. The ENGO's and Greens were warned about this entire shonky process. They chose not listen to their members and supporters and even gave a private commitment that they would not oppose the mill if there was a shift out of native forests .

The Tasmanian media and the handful of supporters of this deal still maintain the pretence that the forests deal will bring peace, yet the three groups who have driven forest protests in Tasmania, still wild still threatened and The Huon Valley Environment centre and Code Green  do not support the heads of agreement and continue to protest. All Tamar Valley anti-pulp mill groups as well as the Tasmanian Conservation Trust dont support the agreement and vowed to protest the proposed Tamar Valley Mill for as long as it takes.

Perhaps its time for Andrew Wilkie to step in.

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