Monday, 26 February 2007
Sunday, 25 February 2007
Against the question: "How much wood will be processed in the proposed pulp mill?"
They provide the answer: "The pulp mill will not require additional intensification of forestry operations. It will instead divert resource that otherwise would have been exported in chip form to the pulp mill for value-added processing. In the initial stages of operation, about 3.2 million green tonnes of pulp wood per year will be processed."(My emphasis).
I thought this had been shown to be false last year, and that the huge increase in harvesting had been acknowledged by Gunns. Haven't they made it clear that the export woodchip trade is going to fund the building of the mill? Why does the government pretend to be surprised when people don't believe them? No doubt there are some clever semantics around the conflicting statements, so that nobody's actually "lying", but perhaps we could refer to them as "disingenuous" or maybe even "misleading". Of course, they'd see it as being in a good cause, theirs.
Saturday, 24 February 2007
The shine came off the "olive branch" from Forestry Tas to protesters today. The offer from Bob Gordon to meet with the Wilderness Society was in an email about truck washing from one of his foresters, not in any formal communication from Bob himself. Wonder how the story was broken? You'd have to think there had been an attempt at looking conciliatory in the last few days. On Thursday Mr Gordon said he was not trying to stifle free speech or the right to protest. He looks like the democratic, caring and sharing sort, do you think? To quote Monty Python, "He used ta buy his muvva flowers 'n' that".
- "Clauses 68 and 96 - addressing the effect of the Judge's interpretation of the meaning of the word "Protect"...The new clauses clearly state the intention of the parties to establish the reserve system and ecologically-sustainable forest management system and agree that this does protect threatened species and communities." (My emphasis.)
So all you silly conservationists can go home now. After all your effort, it really was as simple as a few words in a document (PDF, 84KB). Mmmm...
And I note in the reader comments for The Mercury's Wielangta story today that Erica was on Stateline last night, and he continues to spout disingenuous numbers. I would have expected better of Erica, but perhaps he really is just stoopid!
Friday, 23 February 2007
And just in passing, here's the list of members of the Forest Industries Association of Tasmania, who came out in support of the agreement to sell logs to FEA yesterday. They might be right, but given that FEA are a member, and Auspine ain't, I'm not clear why they're buying into it. They're hardly an independent arbiter.
Thursday, 22 February 2007
In response, Mr Wright has refused to meet with Mr Gay, said it will take until at least November, pointed out that there are still flaws in Gunns' paperwork and made it clear that the delay is Mr Gay's fault. Stick that where it fits! Now, is Mr Lennon scurrying back to his Congamaster's side as I write? I don't think he'd dare, but time will tell. (Latest RPDC stuff here)
Tuesday, 20 February 2007
And here's an ABC News report on the view from Scottsdale [PDF, 227KB]. They have their point of view, and the loss of jobs should give us pause. But not our Pauly. Now, if it turns out that the northeast is paying the price for the pulp mill, I think we'd have to say there's been a conspiracy. I know conspiracy theorists get ridiculed, but in this political climate, it starts to seem less far-fetched. Who can we trust?
And a quote from Tasmania Police in The Australian in relation to the protesters walking along a road in the Weld;
"Anyone acting illegally will be dealt with according to the law."
And finally, here's a link to a sad page that makes you wonder how the poor sod who produces honey is supposed to fight these people. It makes you want to find a more aggressive way of stopping the stoopidity and injustice, but of course I wouldn't, would I? Your leatherwood honey reading guide (unedited!).
Monday, 19 February 2007
And, a joke:
A study in the teaching of math over the years: Teaching Math in 1950s: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price. What is his profit? Teaching Math in 1960s: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price, or $80. What is his profit? Teaching Math in 1970s: A logger exchanges a set "L" of lumber for a set "M" of money. The cardinality of set "M" is 100. Each element is worth one dollar. The set "C", the cost of production contains 20 fewer points than set What is the cardinality of the set "P" of profits? Teaching Math in 1980s: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80 and his profit is $20. Your assignment: Underline the number 20. Teaching Math in 1990s: By cutting down beautiful forest trees, the logger makes $20. What do you think of this way of making a living? Topic for class participation after answering the question: How did the forest birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down the trees? There
are no wrong answers.
Teaching Math in 1950s: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price. What is his profit?
Teaching Math in 1960s: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price, or $80. What is his profit?
Teaching Math in 1970s: A logger exchanges a set "L" of lumber for a set "M" of money. The cardinality of set "M" is 100. Each element is worth one dollar. The set "C", the cost of production contains 20 fewer points than set What is the cardinality of the set "P" of profits?
Teaching Math in 1980s: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80 and his profit is $20. Your assignment: Underline the number 20.
Teaching Math in 1990s: By cutting down beautiful forest trees, the logger makes $20. What do you think of this way of making a living? Topic for class participation after answering the question: How did the forest birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down the trees? There
Sunday, 18 February 2007
And here's a photo from around 4pm.
Saturday, 17 February 2007
Let's just try to follow the logic of this. This resource, sawmilled, directly employs 300 people in Scottsdale, and indirectly employs some other quite large number of people in the surrounding area, estimated by some as a total of up to 1000. The pulpmill, when built, is only going to employ 292 people. There will be some indirect jobs as well, we could even say 2000 (over 25 years!!), as the pulp mill taskforce does, but that’s probably as reliable as the 1000 for Scottsdale. You can argue about which bit of resource is used where, but at present the whole resource is used somehow, employing someone, except for those logs going overseas. Furthermore, surely some of the pulpmill jobs of course ought to be people previously employed producing and exporting woodchips, who move over into producing and exporting pulp. Now excuse me, but even if we don't take into account any intangibles, it seems that there's a high risk of the pulp mill being financially negative for Tasmania, even if positive for Gunns, if the jobs "created" are scavenging heavily from other existing industries. This story and pdf on Tasmanian Times looked at the issue a while ago. If we took account of lost opportunities, cost of water, road damage etc etc, potentially the only people winning would be Gunns’ shareholders.
Given that FEA have no sawmill yet, and a mill is "at least 14 months away", you'd have to say there could be some legs to this speculation. If FEA are indeed acting as a "warehouse" for the softwood required by Gunns' pulpmill, then we see the quite frightening connection of all the dots across all these individually disturbing stories. Now, what are the connections between Gunns and FEA?? Can the fearless reporters from the Examiner shed any light, can they glean any gems of evidence from the Launceston cocktail circuit? Or maybe if I get on the Net and do some more searching, it will all become clear?? Will Gunns now buy up FEA? Do they already have an agreement to get FEA's residue? What threats about the likelihood of Gunns dealing with Auspine in future could have been made? I do know that the FEA CEO used to work for Gunns, but then almost everyone in timber in Tasmania must have at some stage.
This missive from Richard Flanagan is worth another read. And this story in the Mercury just further confirms the impression of ongoing mismanagement in Tasmania's forests. What a waste this is, see photo.
Wednesday, 14 February 2007
And just a question here - how would it work if our pulp mill went to Victoria? Would we chop down our trees to export there? I don't know where that thought process goes.
Tuesday, 13 February 2007
You can see Frenchmans from there. Here it is in the picture, the lump, centre of the photo, in the distant background. It looks much better when lit by the early morning sun, when you can see the white cliffs. That's Mt Riveaux in the foreground, with Lots Wife behind it and to the left. Mt Riveaux scores a peak point I believe, but I'm told it's a "oncer", really too scrubby to be bothered with.
Monday, 12 February 2007
Sunday, 11 February 2007
It's interesting to see the same problem besetting the grape industry, as this report notes. One has to wonder what's going to happen to all the money invested in these schemes. Will it turn to dust? Can we estimate the returns on these schemes? If there is a permanent wine glut for instance, what value a vine, or the MIS that owns it? I think this demonstrates the potential danger in skewing the apparent value of investments with such a high incentive as the 100% tax deduction which can be available for investors in an MIS.
Rumour has it of course that Tasmania's pine plantations have been badly managed, and we know that a lot of logs have been exported unprocessed. Who lost what on that then? I wonder how long the exported logs would have kept 300 people employed at Scottsdale. And how many people will this pulp mill employ in the end anyway? And if the bottom falls out of the plantation market, how cheaply will Forestry Tasmania sell our native forests just to keep big business IN business. You should read this quite hard-nosed assessment of Tasmania's forestry business from the end of 2005.
Saturday, 10 February 2007
So what has the government done? It's moved in exactly the opposite direction. It removed the tax breaks on EVERYTHING EXCEPT TIMBER PLANTATIONS. Previously tax breaks had applied to a variety of traditional agricultural crops. No more! Those evil people who were planting walnut and stonefruit trees, using tax breaks, won't be able to get away with their travesty any more. At least everyone seems to be outraged about this [and here, or see the search].
I have to assume that this means that over time we will see timber plantations slowly take over even more former farmland. We all know the old Cree Indian saying about being unable to eat money.
Now, it's quite possible that timber plantations do require some assistance to make them attractive investments. It would seem however that the balance isn't right. Do we need plantation timber to be more attractive than growing food crops or pastoral agriculture? Perhaps the government should revisit the scale of the tax break, and do some careful analysis of the capacity for traditional agriculture to compete.
This article shows how grumpy some people are about this, and gives a better explanation of the schemes.
Erica Strikes Again And lastly, can I just note this letter from Erica Betts seems to imply that we only make woodchips from the little bits of timber left over after cutting round logs into square boards. Actually the vast bulk of timber taken from our forests becomes woodchips, or is left to burn, rather than becoming sawlogs. Most trees just aren't suitable for sawlog production. The question is why we chop them down at all, and whether they might be worth more if we left them standing up. The letter from Erica is either disingenuous or thick, take your choice. I don't think he'd try to peddle this tripe in Tasmania, but maybe he thought he could get away with it in The Age.
Thursday, 8 February 2007
Tuesday, 6 February 2007
What we really need is for someone to be allowed to independently assess all the costs, benefits and risks associated with forestry in Tasmania. I did speak to someone in the mid-90s who had given up trying to do a PhD on the subject, because their employer (and PhD sponsor) wouldn't cooperate in allowing any intangibles to be considered, like opportunity costs of Tourism. Have a look at some of the issues canvassed here. Is there a long term cost of not having food crop farms for instance? Bear in mind that tree farming is subsidised via the tax system.
Whatever the detailed, mathematical truth, the continued difficulties for Tasmanian forestry contractors, their struggle to survive on subsistence income and the continued loss of jobs must give us pause to question who or what big business is actually interested in. The people of Tasmania? Their contractors? Forests? Wedge-tailed eagles? Shareholders? Their own enrichment?
There's clearly something wrong at Forestry Tasmania. Their financial reports tend to be chock full of excuses for poor returns, and they make either losses or small profits. They were sprung borrowing more than they earned a few years ago to stay afloat, yet still claimed to have made a small profit. The truth is they don't charge high enough royaltys for our forests. As a result, we barely cover the costs of forestry. If you take into account other indirect costs, we clearly subsidise forestry heavily. And all the time we damage our own environment. Check this story by Tom Ellison in the Examiner. (The Examiner!!) And the follow up comment on Tasmanian Times.
Monday, 5 February 2007
Sunday, 4 February 2007
"Many springs or seepages from dolerite display what appears to be an oil scum. FeIII oxide phases (haematite, limonite) dissolve in near neutral water under reducing conditions produced by organic environments (soils). When these waters interact with the atmosphere FeII iron is also oxidised at the surface and the films are a mixture of iron types. Fe bacteria may form part of these processes and the films can thicken to look like rust if nutrient resources are sufficient...Oil has been observed to seep through dolerite...and it is important to identify the nature of any films. Metal oxide films break into irregular plates if stirred with a stick, whereas oils will swirl on a thinner intact film. Most occurrences are oxide films."
So when you see an oily scum on the surface of a puddle, stir it with a stick. If it breaks into plates, the water isn't polluted with oil, and is ok except perhaps for those iron-eating bacteria!
Friday, 2 February 2007
Bill Bale now appears to be on the wrong side of the Premier too, having let the cat out of the bag - The Mercury reports that he has said the Premier directed him to negotiate Julian Green's $140,000 payout. Can the Premier survive this? Probably.
Tasmanian Times have obviously lost patience. This comment is worth a read for a pessimistic view, which fits the facts, and may turn out to be sadly accurate. See the statement from Warwick Raverty in there. Mmmm...
1. On the front page, Bob Gordon told Julian Green to "Get Lost". Bob's a good mate of Paul Lennon apparently, and told Julian this. Sounds like he's about as clever as our great buffoon of a Premier too. If your powerful mate's going to nobble the independent umpire on your behalf, it's really not very clever to tell the chairman of that committee about it, with witnesses! John Gay must be wondering what a bunch of chumps he's got "helping" him build a pulp mill. Maybe we should breathe easy, the Premier and his "mates" all semm to be too stoopid to get anything done.
2. On page 13 is a short story (I can't find the story on the website yet [here tis] - here's one from the Examiner the other day) about the Meander dam, suggesting the economics of the project aren't all the government had expected. Perhaps the government should go and pull out the Treasury recommendations on the project. It's pretty well known that Treasury repeatedly recommended against the project on the basis that the dam couldn't pay for itself (as reported regularly in the Customs House Hotel). The government has known this for years, but chose the politically expedient route of pork-barrelling in the Deloraine area. Craig Woodfield from the Tasmanian Conservation Trust had this to say:
"The only way that farmers can afford the water is if they are sold it at a less then commercial rate".
Looks like so far the farmers literally "don't buy it" though. This is just another Bacon-Lennon fiasco.
Seriously though, our state is becoming a banana republic. Our premier is too ignorant to understand that good governance is the basis for economic success. The feudal system Paul Lennon is trying to operate is what kept Europe in poverty during medieval times. The rule of law has to operate predictably for all, not just the Barons.