Senator Eric Abetz

Liberal Senator for Tasmania

Adjournment Speech - Senate Chamber - Tasmanian Greens

The London Olympics have come and gone. One performance that has largely gone unnoticed is the extreme green groups' prevailing over contractors constructing the Olympic facilities not to use timber products manufactured by the Ta Ann timber processor in my home state of Tasmania. It should be noted that Ta Ann does not harvest timber in Tasmania.

It uses timber harvested by others that was previously destined for the woodchipper. Ta Ann value adds by veneering these previous woodchip logs into valuable veneer for plywood production.

The timber is sourced from regrowth and plantation. The oldest trees might be as old as our friend Senator Boswell—about 70 years old. Tasmanian Greens are continuing their deceptive campaign to cruel the markets of Ta Ann around the world, prejudicing Tasmanian jobs when our unemployment rate in Tasmania is well over seven per cent, and heading north.

Ta Ann's reputation is being defamed, and their markets drying up. Recently, I saw the stockpile of Tasmanian veneer in Sibu in the Malaysian province of Sarawak. I also saw their forestry operations in one part of Sarawak. If the Greens prevail, Ta Ann Tasmania will fail, jobs will be lost and trees used for veneering will simply return to the woodchipper. And people in Sarawak will lose their jobs, all thanks to the Greens.

So let us just keep this in mind: regrowth and plantation timbers destined for the woodchipper are being denied a market as veneer by the Greens. It begs the question: what products replace that which was destined for the London Olympics? Let us be thankful that it was not steel, aluminium, plastic, concrete or glass, all of which have huge energy intensity and, of course, which will leave large carbon footprints. In fact, I can report that wood was used from an alternative supply. Now, let us guess: was it from Europe? No. And here we have another example of the stark perversity of Green action and Green policy, because the alternative supply of timber came from a country that deforests at a rate of 3 million hectares per annum. Whereas Australia's forest estate is actually growing as we speak, the Greens were able to ensure that timber from Australia was displaced by timber from a country that deforests at a rate of 3 million hectares per annum and, of course, old-growth rainforest at that.

It was because of the Greens campaign that timber from this deforestation of rainforest exercise actually found itself a market at the London Olympics. In case colleagues have not guessed, the timber came from Indonesia. You have to ask: why do the Greens hate Tasmanian and Australian jobs, regrowth and plantation timber and growing forest estates so much that they want to prejudice all that in favour of providing a market for Indonesian rainforests that are literally being destroyed—not harvested and replanted but simply deforested—at the rate of 3 million hectares per annum?

My visit to the province of Sarawak also allowed me to consult with native title holders and their interest in matters forestry. And whilst one of the Green groups tried to get a news story up in recent times about my visit, Ta Ann, to its great credit, was negotiating—and was determined to get—what is referred to over there as the informed consent of the native title holders. And here we have the green groups besmirching the reputation of Ta Ann in circumstances in which it has held the forest licence over the area that the Penan people have, through the Sarawak government, since 2007. But the company has not felled one single tree, because it is anxious to ensure that proper informed consent is obtained before engaging in harvest practices.

You would have thought that would be something the Australian Greens, and the green movements in Tasmania, would actually celebrate. But no: they seek to condemn Ta Ann by placing deceptive photographs in the local newspapers claiming that a logging truck with a log on it and a native pointing at it was part of the activity of the Ta Ann forest company. Thank goodness people were able to identify the truck as belonging to another logging company completely. But that is the sort of deception the Greens go on with, with their manic campaign against all things forestry. The truth does not get in the way. That is one thing, but when perverse environmental outcomes are the result, surely you would think that the Greens and their fellow travellers would desist. But it seems not. The Greens are very happy that they stopped Tasmanian timber being used at the London Olympics. That was very clever, very smart: what they did was give a market to the destruction of Indonesian rainforests.

I do not know why some of these green groups cannot get it into their heads what the outcome of their perverse and quite dishonest campaigns will be—in this case, a campaign against the Ta Ann timber company, which, when they sought to expand out of Sarawak in Malaysia, had a choice. They could either go—they thought—to the Russian Federation or to Tasmania to try to expand their business interests. They deliberately chose Tasmania because they thought the forestry issues had been settled through the regional forest agreements, and they believed there was transparency, accountability and integrity in the way forestry was done in Tasmania as opposed to the Russian Federation. I would have thought the Greens would have embraced that. If there is one thing we know about the Russian Federation it is that illegal logging is very prolific and that the forests are being devastated. Instead, they chose Tasmania. Instead, they chose regrowth forests. Instead, they chose plantations. But that is not good enough for the Greens.

One really wonders what gives with the Greens sometimes. Here we have another example of how their extreme, manic campaigning not only costs jobs, not only costs investment but also has such a huge and detrimental environmental impact.

Meeting with the Penan people

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