A watchdog for Tasmanian forests?
“Mismanagement” is far too polite for what is happening to Tasmania’s forests (Bob Brown, “The tree of mismanagement”, September 2-8). They have long been the special ingredient in the pork barrels of both the major parties when in government despite being a massive financial rathole and the most destructive of extractive industries. At the height of the woodchip export frenzy, Tasmania had the highest proportional rate of native forest destruction in the OECD. Plans for the aborted giant pulp mill included the gifting of billions of dollars in state forest roads and surrounding public forest to the mill proponent in freehold. An alarmed public servant leaked, to no avail, the covert gifting of 77,809 hectares of the state’s plantation estate, worth maybe $200 million, to the state’s forestry Government Business Enterprise, presumably to pay off debt. The Tasmanian political establishment makes no secret of its contempt for conservation in principle, but has yet to openly renounce basic financial integrity. Before they do, we need to impose on them a seriously independent Independent Commission Against Corruption or at least something like the fiduciary duties notionally incumbent on corporate chiefs.
– John Hayward, Weegena, Tas