09 June, 2015

Forestry Tasmania debt guarantee increased to $41 million by State Government

Rosemary Bolger
ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation),  9/6/15

Forestry Tasmania logging coupe
The Tasmanian Government has increased the level of debt it will guarantee for the state-owned forestry business.

Treasurer Peter Gutwein has revealed he signed off on another Letter of Comfort for Forestry Tasmania (FT) in February, increasing the debt level covered by $10 million to $41 million.

The letter allows the ailing business to continue operating in deficit.

Forestry Tasmania will also get a $30 million equity transfer from the state-owned energy business TasNetworks.

The reassurance was initially issued in 2009 to allow the state-owned lender Tascorp and Forestry Tasmania to negotiate new lending arrangements.

Greens treasury spokesman Nick McKim said Mr Gutwein had repeatedly failed to explain how Forestry Tasmania could ever pay back the money it owed.

"We know that Forestry Tasmania currently owes $27.8 million, yet the Treasurer has no idea whatsoever how and when FT can ever become financially viable," he said.

"The simple fact is that logging native forests is a loss making enterprise, and there is no realistic prospect of that changing in the future.

"It's now clear that Mr Gutwein has no plan for Forestry Tasmania except continuing to throw public funds at it and allowing it to rack up debts and sell assets."

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