The sale of publicly-owned plantations to ‘pay down debt and fund the transition’ of the state logging agency amounts to a desperate and short-sighted fire sale of an important future resource of the industry, simply to prop up loss-making native forest logging, The Wilderness Society said today.
Hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars was given to Forestry Tasmania to establish plantations, at great cost to the environment, and the Tasmanian Audit Office reports Forestry Tasmania acquitted its grants using a $3500/ha figure for ‘establishment cost’[i]. At this rate, the 29,000 ha plantation estate cost the taxpayer over $100 million to plant.
"Flogging-off publicly-owned plantations, at a massive loss, to subsidise unviable native forest logging operations is a desperate last-ditch effort to hide the ongoing failures of Premier Hodgman’s chaotic approach to forestry," said Vica Bayley, spokesperson for The Wilderness Society.
"Premier Hodgman has just privatised a publicly-owned asset in a fire sale, making a massive loss on taxpayer investment and divesting an important future resource for the timber industry to an unknown multi-national company.
"This is not only short-sighted, but it maintains the Hodgman Government’s heavy subsidisation of Forestry Tasmania, coming on the back of a $30 million equity transfer from TasNetworks in 2015 and recent government absorption of expensive Forestry Tasmania liabilities, like staff superannuation.
"According to the Tasmanian Auditor General, these plantations cost the taxpayer over $100 million to establish. They offer a future resource for the logging industry and yet, Premier Hodgman has offloaded them at a loss, simply to subsidise state-sanctioned native forest logging."
For further comment, please contact Vica Bayley on 0400 644 939.