28 December, 2006

LETTER: Guess who saved our forests?

Peter Sheehan, Camberwell
The Age, December 28, 2006

My forester daughter was fortunate to spend Christmas Day with us after two weeks in the mountains near Matlock fighting the bushfires. With others, she was planning and setting out control lines that were then constructed by a team of bulldozer operators. Their collective skills in dangerous bush operations held those fires until the rain came. They stopped the Mount Terrible fire from burning through Melbourne's catchments.

Guess where these saviours of the forests came from? Not from the Wilderness Society, but primarily from the timber industry. They mainly used access constructed for previous logging. So Melbourne's catchments are saved for another blow-up day when, after another lightning strike, they will need saving again.

Unfortunately, most foresters in Victoria are public servants and so constrained from responding to the mangled forest science that passes for "the forestry debate". They deserve better thanks for this most recent effort than pre-emptive and opportunist distortions.

Gavan McFadzean of the Wilderness Society sure knows how to defend a weak position ("Trees don't start fires", Opinion, 27/12) — imagine and exaggerate any potential opposing argument and then mount a scattergun attack on things never claimed! We do agree on one thing, though, within the stream of inaccuracies: the logging and regeneration of forests probably has little net influence on the frequency of bushfires.

What McFadzean conveniently omits to mention, though, is that the timber industry undoubtedly does make a huge contribution to controlling the inevitable and potentially more frequent bushfires.

27 December, 2006

ARTICLE: Trees don't start fires

Gavan McFadzean, Victorian campaigns manager for The Wilderness Society
The Age, December 27, 2006

More management of forests does not necessarily make them less fireprone.

Don't be taken in when the anti-national parks lobby feigns concern about bushfire risk. Their latest contributions to the debate have been unscientific, insensitive and opportunistic.

Insensitive and opportunistic because while exhausted fire crews fight blazes across three states and people's lives and property are at serious risk, the logging industry launches another round in its attack against national parks to get greater access to forests for logging.

Unscientific because the more "managed" a forest is for logging, roading and four-wheel-drive access, the more fireprone it becomes.

The anti-national park lobby argues for greater access to our forests — not for logging, of course, but to prevent bushfires. Unmanaged forests, they say, are a firebomb waiting to explode; they need to be logged and burnt regularly to make them less fireprone. But letting loggers into our old-growth and native forests is like giving Dracula a key to the blood bank.

More management of forests does not necessarily make them less fireprone, and national parks less fireprone than areas managed for logging.

Parks are not "locked up" — they are managed as part of fire protection plans. Management burns are routinely made in most parks, and firebreaks are found in most of them or along their boundaries.

Contrary to popular opinion, most fires start outside parks and burn in. Of the most recent blazes this summer, 70 per cent started in state forests. This is consistent with the average, where about 70 per cent of fires start in state forests and burn into national parks.

The fires of Black Friday, 1939, burnt 10 times the area of the 1983 Ash Wednesday fires, yet there were few national parks back then. We can, and should, take sensible measures to reduce the risk and severity of bushfires, but it's a case of horses for courses. Controlled burning can reduce fire hazard around towns and urban centres, but may also create a fire timebomb in the bush.

Forests are ecosystems; they respond to whatever you do to them. Their response to regular hazard-reduction burns is for fire-tolerant plants to take over from fire-resistant plants, because they thrive in a regular fire environment. As a result, so-called hazard-reduction burns may, in fact, create a more fireprone landscape.

Advocates of more fuel-reduction burning talk as if it is risk-free. Remember Wilsons Promontory last year, where a fuel-reduction burn got out of control, burnt vast areas of the park and threatened campers? Controlled burning has many risks.

In the past few years, numerous controlled burns have escaped in Victoria, NSW and Tasmania. Premier Steve Bracks is right to say drought conditions can make controlled burns in the lead-up to summer too dangerous, and impossible to control. This is not to say we should never have hazard-reduction burns, but you have to pick the right environment and day.

The 2003 bushfire inquiry noted that the "prescribed-burning debate has been at times ill-informed and peppered with gross exaggerations and the view by some that one size fits all". The inquiry noted that there are only about 10 days a year when conditions are right for prescribed burning.

The oversimplification of this issue by some sectors of the public is dangerous. Bushfires are a complex phenomenon, and no single land-management practice will reduce the extent and frequency of large, intense fires across the entire landscape.

The argument that we should engage in widespread and regular burning of the forest because that's what Aboriginal people did for years is, as the 2003 bushfire inquiry put it, "a highly attractive philosophy".

But the inquiry rightly concluded that unfortunately "we do not know enough about traditional burning in southern Australia to be able to re-create an Aboriginal burning regime".

Since European settlement, the landscape has changed dramatically. Trying to replicate Aboriginal fire practices in southern Australia would unfortunately now be a risky experiment. Instead, the goal must be to produce a fuel-reduction management plan that protects biodiversity and reduces the effects of wildfire for protection of people and assets.

As for the pro-logging interests, their hypocrisy is breathtaking. They say a logging industry is essential to help fight the fires, yet this is the same industry that has contributed to making the forests of south-eastern Australia so fireprone in the first place.

Logging destroys old-growth forests and rainforests, which are less fireprone, and replaces them with young, dense, fireprone regrowth over vast areas.

The Ash Wednesday and Black Friday fires were mostly in managed regrowth forests recovering from logging. The royal commission on the 1939 Black Friday fires concluded that logging had increased the severity and the extent of the fire.

The Canberra suburbs of Duffy and Curtin, which were razed in 2003, were surrounded by pine plantations and grasslands. Pine plantations are managed forests with plenty of roads and easy access, yet these forests created a firestorm.

Logging and regeneration burns create big gaps in the forest, which in turn create a drier, more fireprone environment. Huge amounts of debris are left on the forest floor after logging, adding to the fire hazard.

About 75 per cent of fires are started by humans, and logging roads provide greater public access to the forest.

If the logging industry really cared about reducing the bushfire hazard, it would be calling for an end to the logging of native forests.

In big bushfire seasons, national parks are demonised. We need to remember that these areas are huge carbon sinks that buffer us from the impacts of dangerous climate change. Our parks take the equivalent emissions of 250 million cars for a year out of the atmosphere.

Prime Minister John Howard's comments that the recent bushfires are unrelated to climate change are alarming. CSIRO has predicted global warming may double the very high and extreme fire danger days. South-eastern Australia is already one of the three most fireprone areas in the world.

Fire is a natural and vital part of Australian landscape; it has been a key process in shaping Australia's unique biodiversity.

With the onset of dangerous climate change, fire frequency and intensity is likely to increase unless we take a different approach to forest management.

Original article

26 December, 2006

LETTER: The cattlemen versus fire furphy

Adam Pepper, Ringwood East
Letter, The Age, 26/12/06

People such as Suryan Chandrasegaran (Letters, 23/12) who argue that grazing cattle through alpine areas reduces the severity of fires should produce the scientific research that supports their claim. I can't see cattle eating the dried bark or leaves off trees affected by one of the hottest and driest years on record.

We have not seen smoke like this before because we have not seen weather like this before. From what the maps have shown, the fires have swept through former cattle grazing areas, logging areas, wilderness areas and state parks with equal severity.

The reality with changes brought by climate change is that we are going to need new approaches to managing our environment. Management should be based on scientific evidence, not the interests of lobby groups whether they be cattlemen, environmentalists or the logging industry.

21 December, 2006

ARTICLE: Warning on forestry

Phillippa Duncan
The Mercury, 21/12/2006

Premier Paul Lennon has warned a Federal Court decision to protect two rare birds and a beetle could destroy Tasmania's forestry and agricultural industries.

Mr Lennon said Greens senator Bob Brown's legal win stopping logging in the Wielangta State Forest could also have "serious ramifications for the Tasmanian economy".

Forestry Tasmania would be unable to continue to offer long-term wood supply, threatening sawmills and the proposed pulp mill.

Mr Lennon has asked Prime Minister John Howard to urgently change the law to protect the milling industries, 10,000 forestry jobs and farmers' livelihoods.

He said the decision could extend to all activities in Tasmania's environment and had introduced a "whole new set of requirements".

The court had ruled people whose activity impacted on the eagle or its habitat had to protect and enhance the species' population.

Mr Lennon said legal advice indicated the ramifications of Justice Shane Marshall's decision "go way beyond" Wielangta and forestry.

"The wedge-tailed eagle does not confine itself to a particular forest," he said.

"Activity outside a state forest could well find itself in the same position as activity inside the forest.

"The situation is very serious."

The court ruled that logging would have a "significant impact" on the endangered Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagle, swift parrot and broad-toothed stag beetle.

It also ruled that Forestry Tasmania had not adequately protected the three species and had breached the Regional Forest Agreement in the forest near Orford.

In the biggest blow, Justice Marshall removed Forestry Tasmania's exemption from the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

Mr Lennon said Tasmania had locked up 40 per cent of its landmass in reserves and parks for the exemption, which Mr Howard should restore.

Mr Lennon has indicated the State Government will not appeal the decision because it would only extend the action and not end the uncertainty.

He is "optimistic" Mr Howard will amend the law and possibly the RFA to protect forestry and farming jobs.

"We can't have a situation in Tasmania where 10,000 families and their livelihoods are put at risk," he said.

The Forest Industries Association of Tasmania predicted the decision could even impact on tourism which depends on the state's natural wilderness.

FIAT chief executive Terry Edwards said the state and federal governments had to act urgently to restore wood-supply certainty.

He said the decision had undermined the intent of the RFA and jeopardised $1 billion of industry investment and 10,000 jobs.

"We call on both governments to reinstate the original intent of the RFA and to take whatever actions are necessary to ensure the principles agreed upon by them in negotiating that agreement are honoured," he said.

Senator Brown predicted any legislative change would "enhance and accelerate the extinction of species".

"If they do this in an election year, they do this at their own peril," he said.

Forestry Tasmania and the state and federal governments have until February 9 to appeal the decision.

Original article

19 December, 2006

ARTICLE: Rudd shuts out green groups on Tasmanian forest plans

Andrew Darby, St Helens, Tasmania
The Age, December 19, 2006

KEVIN Rudd has infuriated green groups by shutting them out of a key national environment debate, the formation of Labor's Tasmanian forest policy, and pledging strong support for the island state's forest industry.

In one of his biggest policy moves since assuming the Labor leadership, Mr Rudd has rejected the party's previous position on Tasmanian forests and backed existing deals between the Howard Government and the pro-logging Lennon Government.

Stopping in Tasmania on his national "listening" tour, Mr Rudd declared that former Labor leader Mark Latham had got it wrong with his pledge on forestry conservation before the 2004 election — which was blamed for Labor losing two seats.

In rejecting the Latham policy, Mr Rudd confirmed that there was no place for the conservation movement in shaping Labor's new policy on Tasmania's forests.

Green groups reacted angrily, with the Wilderness Society saying Mr Rudd had paved the way for a sell-out on forests.

Mr Rudd also came under fire from Australian Greens Leader Bob Brown and conservationists for not taking new Labor environment spokesman Peter Garrett with him on his trip to Tasmania.

But the local forest industry warmly welcomed Mr Rudd's pledge to support the existing Regional Forests Agreement and Community Forests Agreement, negotiated between the state and the Howard Government.

Mr Rudd's statement on forests came days after he pledged to push for relaxation of Labor's restrictive policy on uranium mining — a move that has put him at odds with Mr Garrett.

On Tasmanian forests, Mr Rudd said Labor's guiding principle was that it wanted to see a long-term sustainable industry, based on three pillars:

  • Close consultation with the State Government, unions and forest industries.
  • No overall loss of jobs.
  • Consultation with the State Government over conservation and protection of old growth forest areas.

Mr Rudd said he was in Tasmania to listen carefully to local communities, but confirmed that he had spoken to no-one in the forest industry on his visit. He said he would talk to the conservation movement from time to time. "But when it comes to the architecture of our forests policy here in Tasmania, it is as I've described before, based on those three principles and two sets of agreements which we support."

Labor's loss of two seats in Tasmania at the last election, Bass and Braddon, was attributed to Mr Latham's $800 million package that would have secured nearly all remaining contested old growth areas.

Industry and unions instead backed the more modest Howard conservation package in what was widely portrayed as a poll-eve political coup by the Prime Minister.

Mr Rudd followed his predecessor, Kim Beazley, in distancing himself from the Latham policy. "Labor got it wrong. Part of the reason it got it wrong was that it didn't listen to the local community," he said.

His statement yesterday was welcomed by the Forest Industries Association of Tasmania. "We support and endorse the approach that Kevin Rudd has outlined," said executive director Terry Edwards.

The conservation movement, which has fought for more than 20 years for the protection of the state's old growth forests, came out swinging.

"The policy Kevin Rudd is set to adopt is the one endorsed by the Lennon Labor Government which is destroying our forests," said the Wilderness Society's campaigns manager, Geoff Law.

"It is desperately ironic that it comes almost 20 years to the day after Peter Garrett came to the Lemonthyme forest in Tasmania, and stood beside Bob Brown and said these forests must be saved."

The Australian Conservation Foundation said it was surprised that Mr Rudd was closing doors during a "listening" tour.

"I think he should be certainly talking to the wide range of environmental stakeholders to get a full picture of issues as complex as these," said Matt Ruchel, Manager of Land and Water for the ACF.

Mr Rudd deflected questions about Mr Garrett, the former rock star and ACF head who now holds the Climate Change and Environment portfolio on Labor's front bench.

In 2004, Mr Garrett described the Tasmanian timber industry as logging gone mad and carnage in the forests.

Mr Rudd said that he was now leader of the party, and Mr Garrett had a job to do on climate change.

Mr Rudd was speaking on a visit to bushfire-ravaged areas of Tasmania's east coast, where he said he had seen no indication of any gaps in the federal response to the fires. The main east coast fire has burned more than 20 homes and 25,000 hectares of land.

With AAP

Original article

14 December, 2006

ARTICLE: Crunch time today for Thomson Dam

Daniella Miletic and Ben Doherty
The Age, December 14, 2006

As bushfires continue to push towards the Thomson Dam in the state's east, firefighters fear today's return of high winds and hot temperatures may threaten efforts to protect Melbourne's water supply from contamination.

Fire authorities believe forecast 36-degree temperatures and north-westerly winds could push the Mount Terrible fire into the catchment. "(Today is) the big day … It could burn the catchment," the Country Fire Authority's state duty officer, Gary Weir, warned.

Using more than 60 bulldozers, including five from the army, firefighters were racing against the clock last night to build containment lines. But they said backburning would not be finished by today.

If the threat does not eventuate, the week ahead is expected to bring cooler conditions. Fire authorities hope to use the reprieve to finish backburning.

Small business owners and farmers burnt out by the blazes, meanwhile, could be eligible for grants up to $10,000 for clean-up and restoration of their livelihoods. Prime Minister John Howard announced the cash lifelines yesterday, stressing that they would come on top of the existing federal commitment for much of the personal hardship payments, loans and infrastructure rebuilding.

Non-profit groups affected by the disaster would also be eligible for small grants, and financial counselling will be offered.

Authorities were able to get a good idea of how far the bushfires have spread when clouds and smoke lifted yesterday.

The fires have consumed an area roughly equivalent to a 35-kilometre radius around Melbourne — spanning as far as Frankston to Belgrave to Whittlesea and Sunbury.

Fires have blackened more than 409,000 hectares.

The Mount Terrible fire, threatening the Thomson Dam reservoir, has burnt through 36,000 hectares.

Department of Sustainability and Environment spokesman Duncan Pendrigh said fire reaching the Thomson catchment would be a worst-case scenario. "The fire didn't do that last Sunday when it was much hotter and winds were stronger, so we are hoping it won't happen (today)," he said.

Melbourne Water spokesman Ben Pratt said if fire hit the water catchment, the supply could be stopped for up to three months to allow ash to settle.

In the north-east yesterday, CFA crews took advantage of favourable conditions to conduct backburning and containment work. The largest fire — an amalgamation of fires in the alpine region — has now burnt through more than 370,000 hectares.

Communities to the south and east of the big bushfires will come under the greatest threat tomorrow. A statewide total fire ban has been declared for 24 hours from midnight tonight.

Yesterday the Jamieson area remained under ember attack. Glencairn residents were put on high alert as the Mount Terrible bushfire closed in, and winds are keeping towns such as Heyfield and Briagolong and Valencia Creek at high risk."

Original article

12 December, 2006

ARTICLE: Reports of a dying catchment 'greatly exaggerated

Glen Kile
Executive director of the Forest and Wood Products Research & Development Corporation
The Age, December 12, 2006

THE impact of logging in Melbourne's water catchments is topical, given the drought, but has been greatly exaggerated.

While it is true logging results in fast-growing regrowth that uses more water than mature forests, the fact that less than 0.2 per cent is harvested annually means the effect is small.

Overall, timber production for saw logs is only permitted within a 13 per cent portion of the total catchment area and this is planned for logging on an 80-year cycle.

The claim that stopping logging will save water is largely theoretical given it relies on the unlikely long-term absence of severe fire that has traditionally determined the extent to which regrowth reduces stream flows.

If dense forest regeneration is a concern, it can be thinned. This is the most efficient, cost-effective means of increasing run-off and is being practised in at least one Perth water catchment in response to reduced rainfall and low storage levels. A potentially warming and drying climate may make it an imperative here in the future.

Catchment thinning could substantially improve run-off into Melbourne's storages, and the capability to do it in the future relies on the continuation of a sustainable timber industry.

There are also claims that Victorian native-forest logging emits 10 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year that contributes to global warming. However, as timber harvesting is sustainable and mostly occurs in regrowth stands, carbon uptake across the whole forest exceeds the carbon removed in harvesting.

Furthermore, much of the harvested carbon has a long storage in wood products both in-service and subsequently in landfills. The situation in Victoria is consistent with the conclusions of the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory that Australia's managed forests are a net carbon sink.

The harvesting of "old-growth" forest has long been used as an emotional hook for enlisting community support to shut down timber industries.

While old-growth forests are important repositories of biodiversity, they are nearing the end of their life and their management, either in parks and reserves or wood-production forests, raises important questions about forest renewal.

Ecologically sustainable forest management at the broad landscape level ideally requires a mixture of age classes to maximise biodiversity and ensure continuity.

Contrary to popular perception, "old-growth" forest is not endangered. About 94 per cent — or more than 4 million hectares — of Australia's old-growth forests are reserved. In East Gippsland, the current focus of the debate, there are 224,000 ha of old-growth forest, of which 191,000 ha (or 85 per cent) is in reserves. The balance is an important source of timber scheduled for harvesting over the next 30 years.

A further 124,000 ha of reserved East Gippsland forest will become old growth over the next 50 years. From this it is evident that the "old growth" debate is essentially about ideology rather than environmental outcomes.

Environmental activists in their single-minded pursuit of a "no-logging" agenda have ignored or downplayed the implications of closing the local hardwood-timber industry. One critical impact is in developing countries, as higher Australian demand for hardwood imports contributes to production of tropical-rainforest timbers, some illegally logged.

A report to the Australian Government by Poyry Consulting recently noted that Australia imports about $5 billion of forest and wooden furniture products a year, and that while we could be self-sufficient, our hardwood timber industry now has neither the resource access nor the processing capacity to meet this goal.

Since 2001, imports of tropical sawn hardwood have risen by more than half (our suppliers are mainly Indonesia, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea) as end-product prices for Australian native-hardwood products such as Brush Box flooring have more than doubled over the same period.

Across all product types, the equivalent round-log volume of tropical imports from suspect origins now equals the combined Tasmanian and Victorian harvest of native-forest sawlogs. The upward trend of tropical-timber imports will no doubt continue if the area of Australian native forest available for harvesting is further eroded.

Australia's native-forest timber industry has suffered for years from dishonest and deceptive anti-logging campaigns attributing it with supposed impacts way out of proportion to its actual nature.

The philosophical and policy arrogance of a small minority seeking to dictate to the rest of the community the conditions of access to their forests is somewhat breathtaking — combined with an insatiable demand for taxpayer funds to shut a sustainable industry.

Perhaps environmental groups should quantify the economic, social and environmental benefits of their policies so there could be a more informed discussion.

Original article

22 November, 2006

ABC ONLINE: Labor announces logging policy, gaming review panel

Friday, 17 November 2006.

The Victorian Labor Party has promised to end logging in significant old growth forests, including the Goolengook Block in East Gippsland if it wins next week's election. Labor also promised to expand Victoria's National Parks by 33,500 hectares and create a new National Park at the Cabbobonee Forest in the state's south-west.

Labor leader Steve Bracks has guaranteed there will not be job losses because the timber industry will be set up to log smaller regrowth timber. "This is a policy which increases our biodiversity which increases the protection of old growth forest," he said.

Timber Communities Australia's Kersten Gentle has welcomed the plan. "It's fantastic, it's the first time in decades that we've actually gone to the polls on election day with no timber job losses on the table," she said.

But Gavin McFadyen from the Wilderness Society is disappointed. "Over 90 per cent of our old growth forests available for logging will still be available for logging," he said.

In a move designed to deflect criticism of his gaming policy, Mr Bracks has promised an independent panel will review the issuing of Victoria's gaming licences. Mr Bracks says a panel led by a retired judge will probe reviews of the state's gambling licences. "This will be an independent and pristine process," he said.

Labor has been under pressure over its deals with the gaming industry, after Mr Bracks defended having dinner with a Tattersalls lobbyist three years ago, and scrutiny over the delay in issuing the lotteries tender.

Liberal leader Ted Baillieu says today's announcement is an admission there are probity issues surrounding gaming licences. "I think there should be an urgent inquiry and a review of exactly what's going on," he said.

Labor says the new panel will make its recommendations public.

Original article

LETTER: Roll out the barrel

Alex Schlotzer, Sunshine North
The Age, 22/11/06

IT'S a sad fact that the ALP and the Liberals have not much to offer except the usual pork barrelling. More empty promises, more huge excesses of money pledged and not much else.

But let's look at what the ALP supports: "clean coal" (a dangerous oxymoron), logging of old-growth forests and water catchments, extending the life of the Hazelwood power station, dredging Port Phillip Bay, 4WDs tearing up sensitive areas, and shooting ducks. It wouldn't be "balanced"' if we didn't consider the Liberals: they support "clean coal", nuclear power stations and nuclear waste, logging of old-growth forests and water catchments, 4WDs tearing up sensitive areas, shooting ducks, Howard's IR reforms, and destroying the Maribyrnong.

But let's dig a little deeper into that shady part of elections, the preferences. The ALP is supporting Country Alliance with preferences. Country Alliance stands for apparently nothing else except being anti-Greens and wanting to hunt, shoot and 4WD in sensitive parts of state and national parks. And the Liberal Party is supporting Family First with preferences. Family First stands for nothing with no policies and nothing to say except they're for families and reducing petrol prices.

Interesting how when it matters for getting Victoria moving again, the Greens' policies for a renewable energy industry and water-saving and emissions reduction targets are being adopted by the ALP and Liberals.

LETTER: No to Alpine grazing

Charlie Sherwin, director, Victorian National Parks Association
The Age, 22/11/06

The Liberal Party's support for cattle grazing in the Alpine National Park is bizarre when set against the party's calls for water conservation and better national park management.

Alpine grazing was wrecking the headwaters of Victoria's major eastern river catchments and sending our native animals and wildflowers to the brink of extinction. The Victorian National Parks Association condemns the Liberal Party's policy of overturning Labor's wise ban on alpine grazing. Political parties should be protecting our public lands and catchments for all 5 million Victorians, not giving them away cheap to private timber and grazing interests.

And logging in Melbourne's water catchments is a false economy — which so far has both major parties ducking for cover.

21 November, 2006

ABC ONLINE: Forest action group threatens to run against Greens


A new environmental alliance known as the Global Warming Forest Action Group is threatening to run candidates against Western Australian Greens, after accusing them of supporting the logging of native forests.

The group wants all logging in the state's native forests to stop.

Group member Mark Sheehan from the Northcliffe Environment Centre says the Greens' forest policy supports the Labor Government's continuing logging.

Mr Sheehan says if it does not get a commitment from Greens' south-west MLC Paul Llewellyn, the group will campaign against them at the next state election.

"If they don't, we will run candidates against Paul Llewellyn and Giz Watson, stating that they have a policy of logging our forests and with global warming increasing by the week, we believe that people will be very disgusted with the Greens' policy," he said.

Mr Llewellyn says he is willing to hear the group's concerns, saying he acknowledges the important role forests play in climate change.

He says his party does not support the logging of old-growth forests.

"The Greens have never been pro-logging. What we've always said is that we should be getting our forest products from the plantation sector and from the farm forestry sector and that's where we believe that our real forestry of the future lies," he said.

Original article

20 November, 2006

ABC ONLINE: Brown voices support for logging protest


Greens Senator Bob Brown has come out in support of environmentalists protesting against old growth logging in the Weld Valley in southern Tasmania.

The arrest tally for activists is now up to 16 after two protesters locked themselves to a log and a bulldozer.

Forestry workers are trying to build a road for further logging, but conservationists are trying to get world heritage listing for the area.

Jenni Webber from the Huon Valley Environment Centre says the protest will continue despite the arrests.

Senator Bob Brown likens Tasmania's forest practices to those in the Amazon and Indonesia, in terms of the clearing and burning of forests.

He calls Tasmania's forest policies madness and says they are contributing to climate change.

"It's the Minister for Forests who should be in the dock, because what's happening there is a crime against nature," hesaid.

Senator Brown says using police to protect forestry interests is a mismanagement of resources.

Original article

18 November, 2006

THE AGE: Pledge to protect forests

Peter Ker and Liz Minchin
The Age, November 18, 2006

Labor would prematurely dismiss an investigation it launched and immediately protect a parcel of Victoria's old-growth forest if re-elected next week.

In a move labelled cowardly by timber industry supporters, Premier Steve Bracks travelled to the far west of Victoria yesterday to announce plans to protect more than 33,000 hectares of old-growth forest, mostly in Eastern Gippsland.

The protected area would include 5000 hectares of old-growth forest known as the Goolengook block, which has several endangered species.

The policy, which Mr Bracks said balanced environmental and logging needs, also included plans to create a national park near Portland, create a forest link between the Errinundra and Snowy River national parks, and deliver about $4.5 million in support to the timber industry.

With many experts tipping the strongest ever result for the Greens at next week's election, Mr Bracks was stressing Labor's environmental credentials. "If you want to vote for the environment, vote for Labor," he said.

Funding for the timber industry included $250,000 for the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union. Mr Bracks rejected suggestions the money was an attempt to quell protests.

The CFMEU later released a statement praising the Government for not sacrificing any logging jobs in yesterday's policy.

The move to dismiss the report into Goolengook, which is being carried out by the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council, prompted an angry response from the National Party.

The council was last year asked to investigate the impact that extra forest protection would have on communities.

The report was due in mid-2007, but the Premier promised yesterday that Labor would "immediately wind up the investigation" if re-elected.

Members of the five-person board of the council — who met yesterday to discuss red gums in the Murray River regions — have been told not to comment.

But one member told The Age it was "business as usual" and the Goolengook investigation was still going ahead.

Yesterday's policy also promised to create a red gum national park, but only if recommended by the council.

National Party spokesman Peter Hall said Labor's promise would make a mockery of the Environmental Assessment Council, and said the Premier was a coward for not making the announcement in East Gippsland. "To make this announcement in Portland is one of the most cowardly decisions I have seen," he said.

The Wilderness Society said the policy was a good start, but would protect only a small portion of the estimated 400,000 hectares of old-growth forest in Victoria.

Greens forests spokesman and Western region candidate Marcus Ward said the policy was "underwhelming". "It's vintage Bracks: big headlines and terrible details," he said.

Predicting an electoral backlash over the policy, independent Gippsland East MP Craig Ingram argued the Government should not have extended the state's national parks because existing parkland was poorly managed due to inadequate funding.

Article source

THE AGE: Walking the line on forests

Liz Minchin
The Age, November 18, 2006

No matter what Labor announced in its forestry policy yesterday, someone was bound to complain.

Protect too much and risk the ire of industry, and accusations of selling out jobs. Protect too little and face the fury of conservationists and accusations of selling out Victoria's natural heritage.

Either way, politicians can expect to cop it from all sides.

So the forestry package was a classic case of compromise to minimise the inevitable barbs.

Fearing major new cuts in land available for logging, this week the timber industry and its supporters stepped up pressure on the Government.

Yesterday their response was more muted, having won concessions that there would be no net job losses, no net loss of timber despite some old-growth forests being protected — although where the replacement timber will come from is yet to be decided — and a promise not to turn any more forests in East Gippsland into national parks.

By pre-empting its own inquiry and immediately protecting the long disputed old-growth forests of East Gippsland's Goolengook valley, as well as creating the new Cobboboonee National Park near Portland, the Government won some restrained applause from environment groups.

But the ongoing logging in parts of Melbourne's water catchments remains a sore point. As Labor knows all too well, if it does get back into office, this policy will do little to end the fighting over Victoria's forests.

Article source

HERALDSUN: Old growth forests protected

Ashley Gardiner
Herald-Sun, November 18, 2006 12:00am

LABOR'S pledge of new national parks and a move to end logging in old growth forests has been welcomed by the timber industry.

Forestry union national secretary Michael O'Connor said the policy was a victory over green extremism. But environmentalists were disappointed, pointing to the failure to stop logging in water catchments.

Premier Steve Bracks yesterday promised to protect the last significant stands of old growth forest available for logging in East Gippsland. This includes the Goolengook Block, the site of much protest against logging in recent years, and will add more than 33,000ha to protected forest areas.

As well, Labor plans to create a Great Alpine National Park by adding 5000ha of state forest, currently able to be logged, to existing national parks in the high country. National parks – Cobboboonee near Portland on the southwest coast and a red gum national park in the north – would be created.

Mr Bracks guaranteed that no timber industry jobs would be lost but said logging would end in East Gippsland's old growth Goolengook forest if he was re-elected. "I think this is a balanced policy," Mr Bracks said. "This policy will not require any job losses."

Mr Bracks made the announcement in the Cobboboonee State Forest, near Portland, which will become a national park under the policy. He was joined by local Labor candidate Roy Reekie who needs only 0.8 per cent swing, or 292 people to change their mind, to snatch the seat of South West Coast from Liberal Denis Napthine.

A new 35,000ha national park will be created at Goolengook, where logging has been suspended but will now be banned.

Labor has promised a $4 million package to help workers and the industry adjust – including $250,000 for the forestry union. Environment Minister John Thwaites defended the hand-out to the union. "It's all about helping the transition in the industry from the old logging practices to the new," Mr Thwaites said.

Three national parks will be linked with a new 5000 ha reserve to create the Great Alpine National Park. Labor has also promised more protection for heritage sites at Point Nepean and 15 new park rangers.

Original article

17 November, 2006

ABC ONLINE: Labor announces logging policy, gaming review panel

Friday, 17 November 2006.

The Victorian Labor Party has promised to end logging in significant old growth forests, including the Goolengook Block in East Gippsland if it wins next week's election. Labor also promised to expand Victoria's National Parks by 33,500 hectares and create a new National Park at the Cobbobonee Forest in the state's south-west.

Labor leader Steve Bracks has guaranteed there will not be job losses because the timber industry will be set up to log smaller regrowth timber. "This is a policy which increases our biodiversity which increases the protection of old growth forest," he said.

Timber Communities Australia's Kersten Gentle has welcomed the plan. "It's fantastic, it's the first time in decades that we've actually gone to the polls on election day with no timber job losses on the table," she said.

But Gavin McFadzean from the Wilderness Society is disappointed. "Over 90 per cent of our old growth forests available for logging will still be available for logging," he said.

In a move designed to deflect criticism of his gaming policy, Mr Bracks has promised an independent panel will review the issuing of Victoria's gaming licences. Mr Bracks says a panel led by a retired judge will probe reviews of the state's gambling licences. "This will be an independent and pristine process," he said.

Labor has been under pressure over its deals with the gaming industry, after Mr Bracks defended having dinner with a Tattersalls lobbyist three years ago, and scrutiny over the delay in issuing the lotteries tender.

Liberal leader Ted Baillieu says today's announcement is an admission there are probity issues surrounding gaming licences. "I think there should be an urgent inquiry and a review of exactly what's going on," he said.

Labor says the new panel will make its recommendations public.

Original article

HeraldSun: Forest film fight

Karen Collier
Herald-Sun, November 17, 2006

Bureaucrats spent more than $110,000 fighting a marathon Freedom of Information battle with a documentary maker filming forest protests. The State Government has been accused of squandering taxpayers' money after amassing the legal bill in a dispute over the release of videotapes and the names of public servants. The Department of Sustainability and Environment racked up the legal costs over more than three years in a secrecy war with filmmaker Peter Vaughan.

The costs included $36,700 to try to stop the release of the names of staff who discussed charges laid and later dropped against Mr Vaughan while covering an anti-logging protest in Goolengook in East Gippsland. The DSE eventually agreed to hand over five names contained in emails when staff consented after retiring or shifting from the department.

A further $74,000 was spent thwarting Mr Vaughan's bid to get access to DSE footage of a raid on protesters in March 2002 that in part aired on TV news bulletins. Activists blockaded Goolengook for five years in a bitter fight over old-growth forests. Mr Vaughan recently gained full access to the department's outside legal fees spent on the FoI actions at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

He accused the DSE of waging a bloody-minded secrecy campaign. "It has been an incredible and absurd waste of money," Mr Vaughan said. He said his documentary, The Last Valley, already used his own and TV footage showing some DSE staff the department fought so fiercely to protect.

His 56-minute documentary tracking East Gippsland's declining timber industry had its Melbourne premiere at the Capitol Theatre last night.

A DSE spokesman defended the expense of the FoI case and accused Mr Vaughan of making false claims to promote his film. The spokesman denied the department tried to sabotage Mr Vaughan's documentary. VCAT had backed officer concerns about being threatened, assaulted, abused and intimidated if their videotape was publicly released, he said.

The department released more than 100 pages of documents to Mr Vaughan but was legally obliged to protect requested privacy and had to defend demands to divulge confidential legal advice and 50 personal names."

Original article

16 November, 2006

ARTICLE: Timber body fears deals

Sarah Wotherspoon and Ellen Whinnett
Heraldsun, November 15, 2006

Victorian timber workers are concerned preference deals between the major parties and the Greens will threaten their livelihood in exchange for votes in the state election. Forest industry groups yesterday called on both Labor and the Liberals to reveal any preference deals done with the Greens in the Lower House.

Victorian Forestry Industries Association CEO Tricia Caswell said any deals between the major parties and the Greens would spell the end for timber towns in East Gippsland. "We are calling all political parties to draw a line in the sand. No more cuts to resource, no more buy-outs of the industry, towns and jobs," she said.

The 2002 Our Forests Our Future report committed 567,800 cubic metres of forest for the timber industry.

Victorian Timber Communities national co-ordinator Kersten Gentle called on Labor to release its forests policy and reveal any preference deals. "We are concerned Labor has not yet released their forests policy and are yet to commit to standing by the sustainable timber industry," she said. "We are just sick and tired of back room deals that put our families and our livelihood at risk."

The major preference deals for the Lower House are currently at a stand-still with Labor, Liberals and the Greens yet to finalise their deals. Labor prefers the Greens in the Upper House. However, a deal seems likely that would see the Liberals preference the Greens ahead of Labor in four inner-city seats where the Greens stand a strong chance of beating the Labor MPs.

In return, the Greens look likely to agree not to preference against the Liberals in nine suburban and regional seats where they have not yet done deals with Labor. The Greens have agreed to send preferences to Labor in 22 marginal seats, in return for preferences in the Upper House.

And Labor is yet to decide whether it will preference the Liberals ahead of the Nationals in seven Lower House seats held by the Nationals. The move could kill off the Nationals but seems unlikely as Labor has a preference for the Nationals ahead of the Liberals in the Upper House."

Original article

09 November, 2006

LETTER: Politicians must save our forests

Ellen Sandell, East Brunswick
Letter, The Age, 9/11/06

Our politicians should heed the advice given in the Stern report: "Action to preserve the remaining areas of natural forest is needed urgently" ( The Age, 8/11). With only 10 per cent of Victoria's native forests remaining, something needs to be done to protect what is left, particularly of our old-growth forests.

Politicians from both major parties seem to be sidestepping the issue, with Ted Baillieu and Steve Bracks both seemingly more worried about loss of jobs in the timber industry than the threat of climate change. But if we don't take measures to halt climate change, more jobs will be lost than the few that remain in the native timber industry.

This is not something that we can afford to put off: emissions from deforestation are responsible for about 18 per cent of global greenhouse emissions — more than that of the global transport sector. So come on, Mr Bracks, move the timber industry to sustainable plantations rather than logging our native forests and destroying our future.

LETTER: Single-issue activism

Mark Poynter, Victorian media spokesman, Institute of Foresters of Australia
Letter, The Age, 9/11/06

THE Wilderness Society's contention that native forest timber production enhances global warming ( The Age, 8/11) highlights the dangers of single-issue activism setting the environmental agenda.

Their claims are based on presumptions of permanent deforestation and unsustainability that are irrelevant to the Australian context where timber production is limited to within less than 10 per cent of forests being logged and regenerated on a sustainable cycle. While unlogged forests are valuable carbon sinks, sustainable timber production within designated zones can add substantially to this. The concept of sustainability dictates that harvested carbon transferred into wood products or lost to the atmosphere is replaced in vigorous new growth in previously harvested areas.

The enhanced sequestration of vigorous post-logging regrowth over and above the slow or static sequestration of older forests allows Victorian native forest timber production to provide an overall net gain in carbon storage that is currently estimated to be seven to eight times greater than the emissions being saved by wind farms. Losing this benefit by closing the native forest industry would be an environmental tragedy that would largely counteract government and community initiatives to embrace cleaner energy.

08 November, 2006

THE AGE: State logging greenhouse warning

Rachel Kleinman, November 8, 2006
The Age

Native forest logging in Victoria releases as much greenhouse pollution as putting 2.3 million new cars on the road each year, an environment group says.

The Wilderness Society yesterday renewed calls for the Bracks Government to restrict logging to plantations after the British Stern Review last week identified deforestation as a major cause of climate change.

Australian National University fellow James Watson, a Wilderness Society lobbyist, said Government figures showed that 8995 hectares of Victorian forest and woodland were logged in the past financial year. That amounted to 9.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, the equivalent of 2.3 million new cars, Dr Watson said.

But Environment Minister John Thwaites' spokesman said there were "vastly differing scientific opinions about the impact of logging".

The Government would release a report next year that evaluated logging in catchments against economic, social and environmental criteria, the spokesman said.

Dr Watson said recent Government initiatives to tackle climate change were welcome but were not enough. "They cannot be seen to be seriously addressing dangerous climate change without also stopping logging in old-growth forests and water catchments," he said.

Clearing trees releases back into the atmosphere carbon that has been stored, often for many centuries. Dr Watson said it took up to 150 years for new trees to absorb the carbon released through logging of old trees.

In February 2002, the Bracks' Government's Our Forests Our Future policy committed to a 31 per cent reduction in logging across the state's native forests. There is no date yet for a new Labor policy on logging.

Under a Bracks Government, logging in the Otways would end by 2008 and parts of Gippsland's Strzelecki Ranges were now protected, Mr Thwaites' spokesman said. "Victoria is on the right path to sustainably managing its forests," he said.

Former chief economist of the World Bank, Sir Nicholas Stern, in a report commissioned by the British Government, said emissions from deforestation were responsible for about 18 per cent of global greenhouse emissions — more than that of the global transport sector.

"Action to preserve the remaining areas of natural forest is needed urgently," Sir Nicholas said.

His report said that 8000 years ago 50 per cent of global land surface was covered by forest, compared with 30 per cent now.

Orignal article

07 November, 2006

LETTER: Tired old parties just don't get it

Alex Schlotzer, Sunshine North
Letter to The Age, 7/11/06

We have seen over the past week an unprecedented number of reports saying that we need more action to prevent environmental disasters. But what do we get from the tired old political parties? We get more rhetoric and empty promises.

I'm tired of the environment being treated with electoral contempt. We've had decades to do something about the water crisis and climate change, but history quite clearly shows us that the ALP, Liberals and Nationals have done nothing but pontificate. The ALP extends the life of Australia's dirtiest coal station (Hazelwood), supports "clean coal" and will not ban logging of our water catchments. The Liberals support nuclear energy, logging in catchments and want to build a dam that will cripple the Maribyrnong River. The Nationals continue to be lost in the wilderness on how to address climate change and the deepening water crisis.

It seems that the lavish promises being made are nothing more than hot air. The Greens are the only ones who take climate change, water and energy seriously, with comprehensive policies for real action.


04 November, 2006

THE AGE: Vic election debate fires up loggers

The Age, November 4, 2006

Premier Steve Bracks' election campaign performance has fired up both the logging industry and a forestry union. Mr Bracks and Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu came head to head on Friday night in what commentators described as a dull and unsurprising debate over issues such as water, road tolls, industrial relations and health.
Neither side was prepared to claim a win, with Mr Bracks rejecting Mr Baillieu's suggestion of a repeat performance.

But Scott Gentle from Timber Communities Australia (TCA) warned the ALP would face a major backlash in regional areas because Mr Bracks had not ruled out further cuts in the industry. "I think on this issue he had a real chance to stand up and make a firm stand - and he didn't," Mr Gentle said. "The premier recognised that he had made the tough decision to cut the industry by 31 per cent to ensure it was sustainable, yet he couldn't promise there wouldn't be more cuts to our already sustainable industry, which is weak." Mr Gentle said Mr Baillieu did "an excellent job" in the debate and made a firm commitment to protect forestry jobs.

The ALP's performance also came under attack from the forestry division of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU). CFMEU National Secretary for forestry, Michael O'Connor, said his union would defend its members' interests. "Any political party, or employers or greens who attempt to implement policies that will harm our members' job prospects will suffer the consequences," Mr O'Connor said.

State Liberal president Julian Sheezel repeated the call for another debate, saying a second round would give voters a chance to properly scrutinise the policies of both parties. "The Liberal Party challenges Steve Bracks to a debate (to) be held after the release of the government's pre-election budget update when the state's finances are open to proper scrutiny," Mr Sheezel said. He said the second debate should be held in country Victoria.

But Mr Bracks said there would be no second debate.

Monash University's senior politics lecturer Nic Economou declared the debate a "dull, nil-all draw". He said voters were probably more interested in the soccer than the debate. "Such a bad night to have it on TV - the Melbourne Victory (soccer team) are playing," he told ABC radio. "You can imagine that the people who did watch it were turning off as the thing went on, but I think it's important for the leaders to go through this ritual."

Original article

ABC ONLINE: Timber industry to back Baillieu in election

ABC Online
Saturday, November 4, 2006

The logging industry is backing Victorian Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu in the election campaign after last night's leadership debate.

Timber Communities Australia says Mr Baillieu gave a clear commitment to the industry but Mr Bracks would not.

The industry group says the Government faces a backlash similar to the one Mark Latham faced in the last federal election when timber communities united against Labor.

The Victorian manager, Scott Gentle, says regional communities will rally against Labor MPs in marginal country seats.

"His failure to commit to the industry is going to see us, we're going to start organising people and unless something is announced in the next week or two that shows that commitment, we'll be going pretty hard against them," he said.

A spokesman for Environment Minister John Thwaites says the Government will release its policies on logging and the environment soon.

Original article

SMH: Vic election debate fires up loggers

November 4, 2006

Premier Steve Bracks' election campaign performance has fired up both the logging industry and a forestry union. Mr Bracks and Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu came head to head on Friday night in what commentators described as a dull and unsurprising debate over issues such as water, road tolls, industrial relations and health.

Neither side was prepared to claim a win, with Mr Bracks rejecting Mr Baillieu's suggestion of a repeat performance.

But Scott Gentle from Timber Communities Australia (TCA) warned the ALP would face a major backlash in regional areas because Mr Bracks had not ruled out further cuts in the industry. "I think on this issue he had a real chance to stand up and make a firm stand - and he didn't," Mr Gentle said. "The premier recognised that he had made the tough decision to cut the industry by 31 per cent to ensure it was sustainable, yet he couldn't promise there wouldn't be more cuts to our already sustainable industry, which is weak."

Mr Gentle said Mr Baillieu did "an excellent job" in the debate and made a firm commitment to protect forestry jobs.

The ALP's performance also came under attack from the forestry division of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU). CFMEU National Secretary for forestry, Michael O'Connor, said his union would defend its members' interests. "Any political party, or employers or greens who attempt to implement policies that will harm our members' job prospects will suffer the consequences," Mr O'Connor said.

State Liberal president Julian Sheezel repeated the call for another debate, saying a second round would give voters a chance to properly scrutinise the policies of both parties. "The Liberal Party challenges Steve Bracks to a debate (to) be held after the release of the government's pre-election budget update when the state's finances are open to proper scrutiny," Mr Sheezel said. He said the second debate should be held in country Victoria.

But Mr Bracks said there would be no second debate.

Monash University's senior politics lecturer Nic Economou declared the debate a "dull, nil-all draw". He said voters were probably more interested in the soccer than the debate. "Such a bad night to have it on TV - the Melbourne Victory (soccer team) are playing," he told ABC radio.

"You can imagine that the people who did watch it were turning off as the thing went on, but I think it's important for the leaders to go through this ritual."

Original article

03 November, 2006

ARTICLE: Greenies 'hijackers' Charged

Nick Higginbottom with AAP
Herald-Sun, November 03, 2006

Two protesters have been charged with public nuisance after chaining themselves to a logging truck that was "hijacked" by a group of environmentalists today. Lauren Caulfield, 25, from Brunswick and a 29-year-old Goongerha man were arrested this morning and will be summonsed to appear at the County Court at a later date. They were part of a demonstration that blocked part of normally busy Swan St in Richmond to stop a logging truck carrying timber to a Geelong woodchip mill, about 4am. They were cut free by police almost five hours later.

Truck driver Steven Reed from Warburton, east of Melbourne, said he stopped his truck when he saw a car that appeared broken down. "I sort of had to slow down to a stop, then I noticed there were people on the footpath. They came running out and everybody went around the truck," he told ABC radio. Mr Reed said he was annoyed at the protest and he considered running the group of protesters over. "I would have loved to have but you can't do it. I don't feel like getting charged with manslaughter at four o'clock in the morning for something I am not really in control of," he said.

A joint media release from Friends of the Earth and the Australian Student Environment Network said the group of about 20 protesters had "hijacked" the truck in protest at the logging of old growth forests in Victoria. Speaking to Southern Cross Broadcasting from the back of a police divisional van after her arrest, Ms Caulfield said Victorian Premier Steve Bracks had failed to act to protect the state's forests. "Obviously, this is a very, very serious issue and it is a real shame that Victorians have to get out there on the streets and get into this kind of situation in order to send such a strong message to government," Ms Caulfield said.

Greens leader Senator Bob Brown said the alleged protesters represented majority public opinion. "Every day of the week, Victoria's high conservation value forests are being hijacked by the Bracks government," he said. However Premier Steve Bracks was critical of the demonstration. "I don't believe it is an appropriate way to present your views," said Mr Bracks.

Original article

26 October, 2006

LETTERS: Blind ideology endangers sound debate

Mark Poynter, forestry consultant, Institute of Foresters of Australia
October 26, 2006

The outraged response to my article about the GHG abatement benefits of native forest wood production reinforces my central point that blind anti-logging ideology threatens to counteract alternative energy initiatives that are addressing global warming.

Despite evoking a passionate save-the-forest tirade, my article clearly stated that wood production is only permitted within a 10 per cent portion of Victoria's forests, and so concerns that logging threatens forest survival and integrity are irrelevant.

If our society is to advance, we must address environmental issues in a clear-eyed rational manner. This cannot occur if public debate continues to be dominated by ill-informed armchair environmentalists whose only answers lie in tired rhetoric, self-righteous indignation, and discrediting the informed thoughts of scientists who grapple with environmental issues on a daily basis.

Foresters know what they are doing
Norman Endacott, Warranwood

Your four correspondents (Business, 24/10) pillory Mark Poynter (Business, 18/10) for dutifully sticking to the truth in debunking the misinformation perpetrated by Gavan McFadzean, who has attributed bad global warming outcomes to the harvesting and concomitant regeneration of our native forests. Those forest management practices have been honed over the years, and cannot be accused of depleting or degrading those forests, in terms of environmental values or long-term timber sustainability or carbon retention.

Those four people have an ignorance of the life cycle of a tree, a forest, a forest landscape mosaic, or an ecosystem, and they just cannot perceive the waxing and waning associated with the interplay of the foresters' ministrations and nature.


21 October, 2006

ARTICLE: Gunns must pay Greens costs

Xavier La Canna
The Heraldsun, 21 October 2006

Tasmanian timber company Gunns must pay legal costs for a group of environmentalists it tried to sue for millions of dollars, a Victorian judge has ruled.
Supreme Court Justice Bernard Bongiorno yesterday ruled that Gunns must pay the costs, which relate to an unsuccessful claim that 20 environmentalists took part in conspiracies against the company.

Greg Ogle, the legal coordinator for the Wilderness Society, one of the defendants, said the costs would probably amount to more than $1 million.

But Mr Ogle said it was unlikely the environmentalists would be given the money for at least one year, while the exact amount was decided.

Gunns had tried to sue the 20 defendants, who included Greens Senator Bob Brown and Tasmanian Greens leader Peg Putt, for almost $7 million.

Since December 2004 the company has filed three separate statements of claim, which have all been thrown out of court.

In August, Justice Bongiorno ruled three of the defendants should be given a total of nearly $87,000, which related to the first statement of claim.

Yesterday's ruling relates to the third statement of claim Gunns made against the environmentalists.

Wilderness Society spokeswoman Virginia Young welcomed the ruling but said it would not cover the organisation's total costs.

The costs will include the expense of reading and responding to the statement of claim, as well as researching and formulating the legal arguments, and the costs of the three-day hearing in August last year, the society said in a statement.

Justice Bongiorno also gave Gunns until November 2 to seek leave to file a fourth statement of claim in relation to the alleged conspiracies against the company.


Original article

LETTER: Give us water, not timber

Ellen Sandell, East Brunswick
The Age, Saturday 21 October 2006

The Bracks Government has finally gone mad. The decision not to end logging in Melbourne's water catchments ( The Age, 20/10) is irresponsible, shortsighted and stupid.

With countless reports highlighting the fact that logging causes a significant water loss, the Government sits on its hands and spits out rhetoric about jobs and money from timber. Isn't it aware that the amount of water that would be saved is worth more money than the timber coming out of the catchments?

Labor's forest policy was hijacked in the 1990s by forest industry staff who planted spies in environment groups and blocked discussion on forest protection. Now, with the ridiculous decision about our water catchments, one cannot help but wonder if this is happening again.

20 October, 2006

ARTICLE: No end to logging in catchments

Liz Minchin, Environment Report
The Age, October 20, 2006

Loging in Melbourne's water catchments will continue for at least another two years, despite government-appointed experts conceding it reduces the amount of water running into the city's biggest dam.

This week the State Government released its strategy to supply Melbourne, Geelong, Ballarat and the Latrobe Valley with water for the next 50 years.

But the strategy did not include any decisions about continuing to log water catchment areas, including higher rainfall areas above Melbourne's main reservoir, Lake Thomson.

Four years ago, an expert committee appointed by the Bracks Government said phasing out logging in the Thomson catchment by 2020 could increase Melbourne's long-term water supply by an estimated 20,000 megalitres a year by 2050 — enough to supply 80,000 Melbourne homes.

Their report, 21st Century Melbourne: a WaterSmart City, called for an investigation to be completed within two years into whether logging in the Thomson Reservoir catchment should be phased out.

Similar recommendations were made in a 2003 Department of Sustainability and Environment paper.

The Government has now commissioned studies into how much water is being lost from logging and whether it could be replaced with timber from plantations outside catchment areas.

But its new water strategy says those studies will not be completed until December 2008, with a Department of Sustainability and Environment spokeswoman confirming that "the project is still at an early stage".

A spokesman for Water Minister John Thwaites defended the time the Government was taking to act, saying "any decision on logging in catchments has to balance any potential increase in water yields with the impact on regional jobs and the economy".

In response, the State Opposition and environment groups accused the Government of trying to delay controversial decisions until after next month's election.

"This is another example of the Bracks Government hiding critical data ahead of the state election," Liberal environment spokesman David Davis said.

Central Highlands Alliance president Sarah Rees said studies going back to 1968 showed that logging reduced water flows into water catchments.

"How many more reports do they need before they'll finally do something?" Ms Rees said.

Meanwhile, Latrobe Valley power workers have called for reassurances about the Government's $2.4 billion plan to use recycled water to cool Victoria's biggest electricity plants, after a Government report suggested it may increase their chances of catching legionnaire's disease.

The feasibility study for the Eastern Water Recycling proposal notes that more chemicals will be needed to treat recycled water used in cooling towers "due to expected higher nutrient levels in cooling water … to control biological growth including legionella".

"I'm concerned that introducing new impurities, new toxins or nutrients into our system … presents a potential risk of increased outbreaks and perhaps the introduction of new bugs," Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union spokesman Greg Hardy said."

Original article

18 October, 2006

ARTICLE: Campaigners can't see forest for trees

Mark Poynter
Forestry consultant, and member of the Institute of Foresters of Australia.
The Age, October 18, 2006

THE start of Victoria's renewable energy trading scheme in January signifies a welcome Government willingness to step up the fight against global warming.

Yet environmental groups continue to pressure the Government to act against native forest logging and close Victoria's hardwood timber industry - a debate that was reignited recently by an ABC Four Corners program.

Although not obvious to most Victorians, there is a counter-productive link here that needs to be acknowledged if we are to make headway against global warming.

Sustainable logging is now restricted to just 10 per cent of Victoria's native forests. Yet anti-logging campaigns continue to attribute it with damaging environmental impacts out of proportion to its nature and extent. This includes the erroneous claim that timber
production promotes global warming by diminishing the capacity of native forests as carbon sinks when the opposite is true.

It is widely appreciated that growing forests sequester atmospheric carbon that effectively counteracts greenhouse gas emissions. But rates diminish as growth slows with age. Over time, undisturbed forests store carbon but sequester little new carbon once they reach maturity and
become "old growth".

But sustainable harvesting maintains a continuous cycle of vigorous growth that actively sequesters carbon at high rates while annually transferring carbon storage from trees to various wood-based products.
Losses of carbon occur along the way, most notably through greenhouse gas emissions from mechanised timber harvesting, log cartage, primary processing, and from slash burning to promote forest regeneration. But the losses are relatively small compared with the rate of enhanced carbon sequestration and storage by logging regrowth.

Sustainable logging in Victoria's designated wood production zones produces about 1.5 million cubic metres of hardwood sawlogs and residual logs a year from an estimated total harvested biomass of about 2.1 million cubic metres, including roots, bark, branches and foliage. The
concept of sustainability dictates that annually harvested amount is replaced by an equivalent volume of growth.

Carbon sequestered each year in new biomass growth in Victoria's production zones is estimated to be equivalent to saving 2.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. This is net of emissions from fuel and power use inherent to timber production and emissions from the regeneration process. It is also additional to the carbon that could have been sequestered if the forest had alternatively been left unlogged.

Putting this into perspective is that clean energy produced from Victorian wind farms has been estimated to save 250,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year. Put another way, if anti-logging campaigns were to close Victoria's native forest timber industry, 10 times as many wind turbines as now exist would be required just to make up for the carbon sequestration lost by "locking up" wood production forests.

Enhanced carbon sequestration is only part of the "greenhouse" benefit of sustainable logging. Australian domestic hardwood production also offsets imports of tropical hardwoods and the use of steel, aluminium and concrete that offer poor environmental outcomes.

Tropical timber imports - often illegally produced from unsustainable sources - have increased by 50 per cent since 2001 as state governments have reduced the native forest harvest. This has been accompanied by additional greenhouse gas emissions inherent to international freight.
Unfortunately, this is likely to continue as we have few hardwood plantations being grown for solid wood production.

The use of substitute products is also believed to have increased as governments have reacted to anti-logging campaigns. These are problematic because they rely on finite resources and because their manufacture involves substantially greater carbon emissions compared with producing a similar unit of renewable solid timber. In particular, greenhouse gas emissions from steel and aluminium making are several hundred times greater than that associated with timber.

No one disputes the benefits of focusing on conserving biodiversity as is now the case in most of our native forests. But it must be recognised there are also substantial environmental benefits associated with sustainably harvesting wood from a portion of our forests.

At a time when environmental awareness is starting to drive urgent political action to tackle global warming, unwarranted campaigns to "save" a minor portion of our forests from sustainable timber production threaten to counteract much of the good work being done by governments and Australians to embrace cleaner "green" energy alternatives.

13 October, 2006

NEWS: Govt to protect Strzelecki forest

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Victorian Government has struck a deal to permanently protect 8,000 hectares of the Strzelecki forest in Gippsland.

After six years of negotiations, the Government has paid Hancock Plantations $7 million for the Cores and Links.

The new reserve features cool-temperate rainforest and mountain ash and will link Tarra Bulga National Park to the Gunyah Rainforest Reserve.

But Deputy Premier John Thwaites says a pocket of plantation timber within the reserve will be logged under the deal.

"They'll be able to log once and then it will never be logged again," he said.

Greens candidate Louis Delacretaz says the compromise is inappropriate.

"It's incredibly difficult to put back the biodiversity after you log an area," he said.

This morning's announcement in Gippsland by the Deputy Premier was kept secret to prevent protests by green groups.

Original articles

02 October, 2006

THE AGE:Revealed: spying on Greens

Michael Bachelard
The Age, October 2, 2006

Multinational packaging company Amcor stacked the Labor Party, infiltrated environment groups, sent people pretending to be greenies to forest protests and paid bribes overseas to secure its supply of native hardwood in the 1990s.

Company documents obtained by the ABC's Four Corners show that, for more than a decade from 1989 to 2001, the company funded its staff, through the so-called "A-team", to spy on and sabotage its opponents.

The union, the pulp and paper workers, which later joined the forestry division of the CFMEU, co-funded the A-team.

It was led by Derek Amos, a former state Labor MP and shadow minister for energy, and Victoria was the epicentre of the group's activities.

At its height in the late 1990s, A-team representatives were in the majority on the state ALP's environment policy committee, hindering any discussion of forest policy in the party.

They had got their places on the committee by working through the union, but also by taking over the Traralgon branch of the ALP.

"Oh, it was stacked, there was no doubt about that," the Labor MP for Morwell, Keith Hamilton, told the program.

A-team spokesman and mill worker Chris Moody became the branch's president and Mr Amos' daughter, Leanne Martin, the secretary.

"We would sit around a table and the A-team would sit in a group together; they were extremely well organised," former environment policy committee member Kerry Baker said.

Another member, Cheryl Wragg, said "any time that people other than the Amcor A-team mentioned forestry policy, they would be yelled out of the room". Calls by non-A-team committee members to ALP head office for an investigation fell on deaf ears.

But in the lead-up to the 1999 state conference, an election year, something was finally done. The environment committee drafted a forest policy, which would have opened up 40 per cent of Victorian old growth forest for logging, but, as non-A-team members threatened open revolt, ALP head office, under state secretary John Lenders, took the policy in and rewrote it.

Mr Amos has also confirmed that the A-team infiltrated the Australian Conservation Foundation, the Wilderness Society and Environment Victoria, where a spy, "Tracy", would get paid time off from her shifts at Amcor's Maryvale pulp and paper mill to attend meetings, photocopying any documents she could get hold of.

She took "copious notes" and filed written reports on Environment Victoria's discussions.

Some of those reports found their way to the then member for McMillan, Barry Cunningham, a Labor MP whom the A-team had helped to get elected to Federal Parliament. When he started quoting Environment Victoria minutes in Federal Parliament, the environment group realised they had been infiltrated.

Mr Amos said this was part of "a program to discredit environmental groups" through "covert operations which included the planting of volunteers as bogus greenies in targeted environmental organisations".

A-team players were active on the front line of the 1990s environment movement: the forest protests.

In 1993, the team's members joined in as the green protesters set up camp in Goongerah, East Gippsland, to protest against woodchipping in national estate forests.

According to veteran green campaigner Jill Redwood, the two spies, "David and John", turned up at the camp in "a big, clean, white four-wheel-drive ute" and "nice neat clothes".

The spies' report to Amcor says the protesters were "unkempt" with "matted hair and dishevelled clothing, similar to early '70s styling".

Mr Amos claimed success, through the help of federal Labor MPs, in convincing the Keating government in 1995 to institute a more pro-logging policy. He also admitted to international bribery, saying in a document he had paid the customers of Amcor's competitors to find out commercially sensitive information.

The A-team was disbanded in 2001 after Amcor's paper-making operations were spun-out into a new company, PaperlinX. Amcor went on to further notoriety when its executives were sacked two years ago for their part in a cartel to fix prices for cardboard boxes

Original article

08 September, 2006

LETTER: Simplistic take on logging and water

Mark Poynter, Victorian media spokesman, The Institute of Foresters of Australia
The Age, 8/9/06

Recent correspondents (Letters, 1/9 and 7/9) who simplistically advocate excluding regrowth as a solution to our water problems have seemingly forgotten the recent massive bushfires in north-eastern Victoria and the Grampians.

That these have sparked regrowth events that will reduce stream flows for several generations clearly demonstrates that nature, not a tiny amount of logging, is the ultimate determinant of how much flows into our storages.

If anti-logging activists were serious about water beyond it being just a convenient argument for their agenda, they would rethink their opposition to active catchment management.


07 September, 2006

LETTER: Logging our way to a long, hot summer

Ellen Sandell, East Brunswick
The Age, 7 September 2006

With an increased risk of bushfires this summer due to lower than average rainfall ( The Age, 5/9), the CFA has questioned whether there will be enough water to deal with the fire season.

As logging in our water catchments loses 1000 litres of water every second, perhaps if we stopped logging we would have enough water to fight bushfires! Logging also increases the risk of bushfires as old, damp forests are replaced with young, dry regrowth. Perhaps if we just left our old-growth trees alone we wouldn't be complaining about water restrictions, bushfires and climate change.

01 September, 2006

LETTER: Why lug buckets if we continue to log our forests?

Lee O'Mahoney, Diamond Creek
Letter to the Editor, The Age
September 1, 2006

Once again, we're being asked to shower with a friend, lug buckets of water around and rinse our brushed teeth with a smidgen of water. Fair enough. I support us developing more respect and care for our water resources.

But there's a glaring anomaly, one that the Government is loathe to acknowledge: changes we make to our showering, gardening and tooth-brushing habits are mere drops in the dam of our dwindling water supplies when trees in our water catchments continue to be logged.

Logged forests suck up 50 per cent more water compared with areas that aren't logged. Young trees are off-the-wagon waterholics compared with oldies. What's more, there's simply no need for it: supplies from plantations that aren't in our water catchments are sufficient to meet our needs for wood and woodchips.

Come on, Mr Bracks, put our water where your mouth is. Stop stealing water from our water catchments and reducing our already scarce supplies.

Original letter

ARTICLE: Forestry row taken to the marginals

Ellen Whinnett
Sunday Herald Sun, September 1, 2006

Environment groups are planning a high-profile pre-election battle to have logging banned in vast tracts of Victorian forest.

A coalition of environment groups will launch its campaign shortly. They will focus on important marginal seats held by both the Liberal and Labor parties in an effort to have their message heard.

Areas in Gippsland are shaping up as the next forest battleground. Environmental groups are concerned about wood-chipping in old-growth forests, logging in water catchments, and the impact of the loss of habitat on 12 endangered species of birds, animals and frogs. The group wants clear-felling banned in all Victorian forests and all logging ended in areas worthy of conservation.

The move could set the scene for a repetition of the conflict in the Otways forests in the lead-up to the 2002 election. This eventually led Premier Steve Bracks to agree to phase out logging in the Otways by 2008.

Campaign spokesman Luke Chamberlain, from Environment East Gippsland, said two years had been spent mapping significant areas of forest that he said should be protected from logging. He said Victoria's state-owned forests were being turned over to woodchips, which were mainly sent for export and were no longer providing a great number of jobs. "It's a land grab to turn the old-growth forests into woodchip farms," Mr Chamberlain said.

Environment groups involved in the coalition, including the Australian Conservation Foundation, the Wilderness Society and the Central Highlands Alliance, will focus on several marginal seats in regional Victoria and suburban Melbourne. They include Labor's Ferntree Gully, Mt Waverley, Prahran, Mordialloc, Bentleigh and South Barwon, and Liberal marginals Nepean, South-West Coast and Bass.

They hope to reinforce the message that logging in catchment areas is continuing while water restrictions are being introduced in Melbourne.

Mr Chamberlain denied that the group would automatically support the Greens, saying they would endorse whichever party had the strongest environmental policy. But he said the Greens' policies were the best they had seen so far.

Independent MLA for the seat of Gippsland East, Craig Ingram, said the group was seeking to end all old-growth logging in his electorate, which would jeopardise up to 500 jobs. "Basically 85 per cent of old-growth is already reserved," Mr Ingram said.

He said banning logging in old-growth forests would affect the industry "everywhere east of Bairnsdale", and would hit saw-millers hard. The issue was important to voters in the timber towns of Cann River and Orbost and on into Bairnsdale. "It would be absolutely devastating to my community -- basically, death by a thousand cuts," Mr Ingram said. "It really has the potential to be a winner or a loser at the election, and I'd call on the major political parties to hold the line and protect the industry."

Mr Ingram said the environmental group was highly organised and had been putting serious pressure on all MPs. "They are spending as much time in Parliament House as some of the members of Parliament," Mr Ingram said."

Original article

29 August, 2006

THE AGE:Gunns, greenies and the law

Andrew Darby
The Age, August 29, 2006

The Tasmanian timber giant is adamant it will sue environmental protesters, despite a legal setback yesterday. Is free speech in the firing line? By Andrew Darby.

As pirate ships go, the Weld Ark is more feral Australian than Jack Sparrow's Black Pearl. The Jolly Roger up the mast is where the similarities end. The Ark is built of poles and corrugated iron, and has no hull to speak of. Then there's the location at the end of a forest road - a long way from the Caribbean. But against the odds this "ship" is still causing trouble, nearly eight months after it was rigged to block access in one of Tasmania's more tenacious forest protests.

Through a sub-zero winter, a small crew of activists have stuck to the ark despite worries that opponents who wrecked a car, fired shots nearby, and offered verbal abuse, were returning more often to intimidate them.

Behind the camp, a flowing blanket of tall eucalypt rises up mountain foothills to the boundary of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. About 5000 hectares of this forest outside the heritage area is earmarked for logging. The environmentalists, mainly from the nearby Huon Valley, have blocked access for more than 20 months.

For a similar time, 20 people and organisations have been prosecuted by the timber industry giant, Gunns Ltd, and a logging contractor, in a landmark case at the Victorian Supreme Court. In its latest claim, thrown out yesterday, Gunns sought $6.9 million in damages from the environmentalists over protests they made against it.

Earlier this year, 40 British lawyers wrote to The Guardian newspaper to express their concern at Gunns' decision to sue the 20, an act that they said could financially cripple individual defendants, and have a chilling impact on freedom to protest.

Australian lawyers also warned that increased litigation against community participation in public issues silenced voices that should be heard. Led by eminent figures such as the Australian National University's Professor Hilary Charlesworth, dozens signed a statement in support of law reform.

Out in the Weld Valley, the pirate ship stands as evidence that Tasmania's forest debate is entrenched. As Gunns confirmed yesterday that it would pursue the action, what effect has the case had?

When it was lodged in December 2004, the Gunns writ was a surprise, even though the company had sued before, over a protest at one of its woodchip mills. Another forest contractor had also started a damages case over an action near the Weld, but the scale of the Gunns' writ was unprecedented.

The massive suit covered 10 different protest actions, in the state and overseas, over four years. Greens leaders Bob Brown had a $1.7 million claim against him. Four people from the Wilderness Society each faced claims in excess of $1.3 million, and the organisation itself a further $3.9 million. Those sued range from a country grandmother to a town dentist, and a filmmaker to a law student. Some had assets, others not.

Since the case began, the world has changed for both plaintiff and defendant. Prime Minister John Howard's Tasmanian forests protection package took the fire out of the hottest protests. Gunns moved further down the track towards a goahead for its contentious $1.4 billion Tasmanian pulp mill at Bell Bay on the Tamar River, spending $11 million to reach the public assessment stage, but its share price has plunged.

Some of those sued said the case was causing anguish, others claim to be disregarding it and one opponent of Gunns' pulp mill plan had prepared for prosecution, though it hasn't happened. Others were said to have been deterred from joining protest.

The Burnie dentist, Peter Pullinger, his wife Leonie and their four grown children, have much at stake. Locals for 30 years, they campaigned to protect one of the southern hemisphere's largest remaining tracts of temperate rainforest, the Tarkine, and largely won.

But there is now a $784,000 claim against Dr Pullinger for action he is alleged to have taken against Gunns, linked to a protest at a woodchip mill, and over a stockpile on the wharf at Burnie.

"I ignore this case, and literally don't think about it day to day," said Pullinger. "It's almost as if I made a conscious decision to say: 'well stuff this for a game of darts'."

The legal action seems to have made little difference to his general standing. He recently went to Canberra to meet John Howard and the Environment Minister, Ian Campbell, to talk about federal plans for protecting the Tarkine.

But in the Pullinger marriage, Leonie has always been the administrator, and the burden of dealing with the case has fallen to her. She went to the last Gunns shareholders' meeting, where she took the floor, held up a large photograph, and explained to the directors what sort of people her family were.

"We are not ratbags. That's the message I was trying to get across. We are ordinary, everyday Tasmanians who became involved in the environment because of what was happening on our doorstep."

She said the board did not respond. Outside the meeting, Gunns executive chairman, John Gay, told a reporter for the Hobart Mercury he regretted Mrs Pullinger had been affected - a sorrow that extended to his employees and their families who had been damaged by the green movement, and indeed, even to his own family.

"I'm very sorry that she is in there, but they should have thought about what they did before they did it," he said.

Jenny Weber and her partner Adam Burling are in a different phase of life. Burling is one of the 20, prosecuted over his alleged role in a road blockade at Lucaston in the Huon Valley.

Plans they had to marry have been postponed, as have those of buying a house. Burling now works in Senator Brown's offi ce. Weber remains an activist - the spokeswoman for the Weld protest. "Some people say I have courage, and they're the nice ones," Weber said.

In recent months, 10 people have been arrested in this protest as they chained themselves to logging machines and the gates of a nearby timber plant. She said threats had been made of further law suits.

"I don't want to be intimidated by a company who might want to silence me or what I work for," she said. "This is about free speech rights."

Brown believes the democratic implications of Gunns' action are as great as those of forest protection. "We're in the main getting on with life and trying to save Tasmania's forests with no less vim and vigour," he said.

"People are worried about the huge expenses involved, but it's made world news and certainly attracted support . . . It's helped make the protest more durable."

He felt no constraint in speaking out. Recently he issued a media release pointing out that Gunns' share price had fallen from $4.35 to $2.54, refl ecting the investment advisory service CommSec's prediction of $2.56 a share and an even lower $2.38 if the company proceeded with the pulp mill. Yesterday the shares closed at $2.56.

Near the mill site, the main community opponent of Australia's largest single timber industry investment has hung up his spurs. Les Rochester cited a feud with the Greens for the demise of the Tamar Residents Action Committee. It had absolutely nothing to do with Gunns, he said. "When I started this . . . I divested myself of anything I owned," he said. "I'm not worth a zac."

But he believes others in the community were still frightened of speaking out against the mill.

John Gay broke a lengthy silence on the case as he confi rmed yesterday it would be pursued, at least against some of the individuals. "Gunns isn't about silencing the Greens," he said. "What we're sick of is the malicious damage some people are doing to us. We will continue to chase that down to the nth degree."

Terry Edwards, the chief executive of the Forest Industries Association of Tasmania, believes the case hasn't prevented people from "expressing their opinions, however ill-founded those opinions might be".

"A contractor was picketed out of a coupe in the Denison forest, there are those people with the pirate ship in the Weld, and it hasn't resulted in any attempt to shut them up," he said. "They have done that with complete impunity.

"I don't think Gunns has tried to trammel free speech. In fact, quite the contrary. Gunns has been quite genuine about opening the company up to debate, particularly with the pulp mill."

The loggers - the small businessmen who contract their men and machines to supply Gunns - are currently in a pinch. Their contracts are lapsing in a depressed market for old growth chips.

"The high Australian dollar's competitiveness is contributing to that," said Rodney Bishop, chairman of the Forest Contractors Association. "And our (overseas) customers are telling us they have been told what we are doing is environmentally wrong."

Bishop defended his members' decision to commence legal action. "Not being specific to any case, we have a legal right to do what we do."

Louise Morris is one of the Gunns 20. She also discovered, a year after the event, that she had been separately sued by a logging contractor for a protest in the Denison Valley in January 2004, when she acted as media spokeswoman.

"If life ground to a halt around this I would be a rather useless campaigner," said the 29-year-old who now lives in Melbourne, where she is continuing with a university course, and becoming involved in anti-nuclear work. "In 10 years' time this will all be a lovely chapter in the story of how we managed to get free speech legislation enshrined in the constitution."

DECEMBER 14, 2004 Process servers working on behalf of Gunns hand writs to 20 environmentalists and organisations involved in Tasmanian forests campaigns, over alleged conspiracy, interference with contracts, and interference with trade and business.
APRIL 9, 2005 Counsel for six defendants, Mark Dreyfus, QC, foreshadows applications to strike out parts of Gunns’ statement of claim in the Victorian Supreme Court, describing it as embarrassing and confused.
JULY 18, 2005 Justice Bernard Bongiorno dismisses the first and second statements of claim saying: "It would be a singularly unprofi table exercise to attempt to describe every defect in it which needs correction." The court allows the claim to be refi led.
MARCH 9, 2006 The defence argues for the third statement of claim to be struck out, saying it is substantially the same as the earlier statements. Justice Bongiorno asks Gunns to provide a single document for his consideration, which runs to 641 pages. He reserves his decision.
AUGUST 28, 2006 The third statement of claim is thrown out, being ruled "too general" by Justice Bongiorno. "Too much is sought to be alleged against too many," he says. Gunns has until October 19 to tell the court if it will attempt to introduce another statement of claim.

1. ALEC MARR, national director of The Wilderness Society (TWS)
$1.56 million
2. GEOFF LAW, Tasmanian forest campaigner, TWS
$1.45 million
3. RUSSELL HANSON, chief executive, TWS
$1.35 million
4. LEANNE MINSHULL, business analyst, former TWS
$1.55 million
5. HEIDI DOUGLAS, filmmaker, TWS
$3.97 million
7. ADAM BURLING, Huon Valley environmentalist
8. LOUISE MORRIS, environmentalist, student
9. SIMON BROWN, new media artist
10. SENATOR BOB BROWN, Greens leader
$1.76 million
11. PEG PUTT, Tasmanian Greens leader
$1.47 million
12. HELEN GEE, environmentalist
13. BEN MORROW, environmentalist
14. LOU GERAGHTY, cafe owner
15. NEAL FUNNELL, law student
16. BRIAN DIMMICK, filmmaker
19. DR FRANK NICKLASON, physician

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