Updated: September 28, 2012
Sinister moves: Minister Walsh and Premier Baillieu move to lock in native forest logging for the next 20 years
In a devastating move that will surely sentence the Fairy (also known as Leadbeater’s) Possum to extinction, the Victorian state government is attempting to change logging legislation to implement twenty year logging contracts.
Clearly, the amendment intends to remove VicForests' liabilities for things it hasn't done that it should have, and for things it shouldn't have done that it has.
On top of this appalling news for the future of our native forests and our state’s animal emblem, proposed amendments to existing laws were surreptitiously printed on the pages of the state government’s Gazette publication yesterday. If realised, these proposed amendments will dramatically erode the liability of VicForests to responsibly manage our publicly-owned native forests in the best interests of all Victorians.
So what’s really behind this shameless move?
Put simply, as public scrutiny and opposition of Victoria’s unprofitable and unsustainable logging industry gathers momentum, the government wants to change the laws to clear them of any fault and lock in longer logging contracts before they’re forced to abandon the agency altogether.
To remove oversight from logging our native forests at a time when pressure to end an operation that not only destroys our remaining stands of native forest but also wastes taxpayer’s money only highlights the obvious shortcomings of this terminal industry.
The draft amendments to the Sustainable Forests (Timber) Act (2004) would be a monumentally large step backwards for the state of Victoria.
The regressive nature of the proposed amendments is clearly evident in the dangerous power it gives to VicForests in terms of development and implementation of the logging agenda. It’s like putting Gina Rinehart in charge of a carbon reduction scheme. Quite frankly, it’s outrageous.
The draft recommendations propose to entrench the unsustainable native forest logging industry in this state. They are a short list of the industry and VicForests’ wish lists.
- The draft recommendations do not grapple with the serious over-allocation and over-logging of our native forests.
- They do not take into account the massive reduction in ‘resource’ availability from the impacts of recent fire events.
- The review does not investigate, nor does it look to innovate and adapt the native forest logging industry for the benefit of all Victorians.
- The review shows the government is wildly out of step with eNGOs, unions and the community.
- The review proposes a serious watering down of environmental controls (such that they are) and seeks to remove government oversight of, and capacity to intervene in, the native forest logging industry’s environmental impacts.
- The government’s promise to give VicForests a secure basis is a promise to log the state’s animal emblem, the Fairy (Leadbeater’s) Possum, to extinction.
- The Review is seriously misdirected as it considers logging in isolation from badly out-of-date and incomplete environmental controls. It does nothing to improve environmental protections that are currently poorly implemented and enforced.
In a nutshell, these developments are yet another addition to the litany of regressive environmental standpoints held by the Liberal-National state government. Let Premier Baillieu know what you think of him putting Dracula in charge of the bloodbank, which is what’s happening when VicForests are in charge of native forest logging.
Email Premier Ted Baillieu and let him know how you feel about these proposed amendments and how they will affect the future of our old growth forests and Fairy (Leadbeater's) Possum.
The review of the Sustainable Forests (Timber) Act 2004 is open for public submissions – details on how to have your say are here
You can read the Government Gazette and the regressive amendments on pages 37-38 here
To read more about VicForests' latest waste of taxpayer money click here
For more information, please contact:
The Wilderness Society Victoria Inc
288 Brunswick St
Fitzroy, Vic, 3065
Phone: 03 9038 0888