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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Monday, 3 December 2007
Paul Sheehan's hopelessly ignorant, deceptive analysis of Brown v Garrett
Mood:  sad
Topic: aust govt

Picture: The Green Party were there first in an honest telling of the fall of Bennelong via Andrew Wilkie in the 2004 election and then Lindsay Peters in this letter 2007. And also the 2004 Valder inspired Not Happy John liberal Liberals. The ALP regularly drag their heels behind the Green or similar pioneers - when it's safe and financially comfortable. The ALP triumphalist revisionism is not very impressive or worthy.

Thankyou Paul Sheehan for sticking your ignorant head in the cesspit of ALP compromise of the Australian green movement. Thankyou for giving me this fertile opportunity to demolish the flake that dwells in the heart of Sheehan and similarly aging carpet bagger Peter Garrett.

Here is pudgy pasty faced Sheehan (infamous for his flaky unique water spruiking), doing his worst here attacking the sainted Senator Bob Brown:

Brown is the sell-out, not Garrett

PAUL SHEEHAN | When Peter Garrett emerged as a threat to Bob Brown's power base, he was subjected to a steady stream of claims that he had "sold-out".

Sheehan is one of your rich folks in the Big Media desperate to preserve the closed shop operation between Big Party and Big Media. The proverbial revolving door. Rich man Garrett has signed up for the 'snouts in trough' financial security of that existence and must be defended at all cost.

There is a grain of truth in Sheehan's referencing of a shopping list approach to big politics by the Greens diluting their green raison detre: We did egotistically tell the local Greens in Sydney's eastern suburbs in 2000 they needed this writer's ecological qualifications much more than vice versa. But the laughable idea Brown sold out in comparison to millionaire Garrett is simply toxic rubbish. It completely misconceives the real politik role of pulling the linked groupings on the whole political spectrum toward an ecological basis.

Not for nothing did ALP spinner Bruce Hawker one week out from the last federal election on abc 702 Trioli show say out of all federal politics there is no one more "a straight shooter than Bob Brown". Are you listening Sheehan? Brown has always been the most green in the Green Party firmament when it comes to nature protection to quote Sheehan's own criteria back to him. It's a scurrilous assertion to suggest otherwise and he seems to know it with the double talk weaved into the opinion piece.

On the other hand we do have a modicum of sympathy for the view the Green Party need to work in a proportionate way for the mainstream not only minority interests while noting everyone is some minority or other. This is the grain of truth that Sheehan correctly points to expressed at times here too on SAM, especially as the mainstream get so damn scared for their future, as they ought. The issue of a post Brown (and post Angel) future green leadership is also quite real.

Picture: Aging ALP hacks who need the financial security of a politician's superannuation, with their best years behind them? This picture ran p7, Dec 1 2007 The Australian.

Brown takes court actions against State ALP governments (refer Canberra Times below) for trashing old growth at Wielangta, that Peter Garrett takes hush money to avoid discussion about:

Nor does the Herald have clean hands in the integrity stakes. Sheehan squealed when confronted at a State Library function in 2005 about the pathetic lack of coverage of woodchipping of our native forests in his own newspaper, a landuse in breach of the Bob Carr election promise to end the practice by 2000. The 'journalist' blustered and inflated like a puffer fish but had no answer in front of the audience of the Independent Scholars Association. The green movement has a running joke about the Sydney Morning Herald taboo of the word "woodchipping". (The way the Age late last week ran a big story about the doubling of Port Botany and the SMH airbrushed it.)

And the intellectual corruption of forest destruction reaches deep and spreads very wide.

Garrett used the 1998-9, Visy Pulp Mill approval in Tumut to claim his role in supporting pro industry standard of 'world's best practice' for another mill in Tasmania. But the truth about the Visy project and Garrett's non existent role is alot murkier than that. This writer was a legally recognised party for Friends of the Earth (Sydney, not Melbourne and that's a big difference) to the hearings of the Commission of Inquiry before Kevin Cleland.

The ACF and then president Garrett were not. They didn't play any role in the assessment process of the so called 'world best practice' mill at Tumut. But they ate the canapes and no doubt drank some champagne under the marquee at the opening PR. No role in the untested load on the water catchment. Not the opposition of local landholders. Not the massive expansion to some 40,000 hectares of prime farm land for wood production with no hypothecation to reduced native forest logging on the western slopes. Cleland recommended a major strategic study of such impacts for decades but it's never happened. Hello Carpetbagger Garrett? Do you know anything?

Sure Garrett went to the opening of the Visy pulp mill as did other flake 'leaders' in the green movement having done none of the real environmental impact assessment analysis. Talk about chumps, dupes or both.

Garrett above all always played a dead bat to any pro Carr ALP industrial agenda. 

The Visy project is not nearly as bad the Tamar proposal today but the point is Garrett wouldn't have a clue about that either way. And it is dishonest for him to claim otherwise. Never did the work, made it up as he went along to gain his ALP career leveraging his fast exhausted Midnight Oil music career.

Truth is the rock band personna was finished with the last few dodgy albums a painful audio experience compared to the passion and cut through of the early years. He needed a new gig desperately. The proverbial daughters to educate etc etc.

How desperate only became clear in February 1999 with he refused to attend this event at Sydney Town Hall to avoid any criticism of the the Carr Govt broken election promise on forests by reinforcing the Eden chipper's devastation of South East Australian habitat. That was a big sellout by Carr and Garrett both.

Neither Senator Bob Brown or Peter Garrett are on the poster for the line up for this forum which was specifically designed by moi as a pre election test of green environmental integrity: But those who attended know that Senator Brown did front to challenge ALP vandlalism along with Ian Cohen MP for the Green Party. Garrett made no response whatsoever despite the pleading of his own local ACF group in Sydney (led by such as Noel Plumb and Margaret Barnes). It was left to Don Henry fax late Friday afternoon for ACF which we still have. Not good enough.

Sell out. I do so swear.

But it doesn't just end there. Jabiluka 1998. We wrote up 400 case histories of protesters to oppose the despised uranium mine in the Northern Territory. 1 week in the field at the protest camp legal tent, 2 weeks banging out files at the NT Environment Centre. False arrest by the police prosecutor in the foyer of the Jabiru Court House for getting all but one bail application approved for 106 detainees.

Garrett traipsed in on the shoulders of all the protesters only a month or so earlier, including now current Green Senator Kerry Nettle:

Greens senator sticks to what she believes in - Federal Election ...

The contrast was stark. The theatrical front man, quick with the slick words and love affair with the stage but nowhere to be found when the hard foundation work has to be done for weeks and months. In fact when it comes to the hard background work the guy is more likely to faint like he did in the surf on a hot day.

Give me Senator Bob Brown any day of the last 15 years of our greenie vocation. Garrett is a fizzer as the ALP travesty on forests marches on, as per Canberra Times 2 days ago:

Garrett facing his first forest fire
Rosslyn Beeby

Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett faces a tough early test of his new portfolio powers after a Federal Court decision yesterday to allow logging in the Wielangta forest on Tasmania's east coast.
Under federal law, Mr Garrett has the power to intervene to prevent logging of the old growth rainforest.
If he refuses to act, furious opposition is expected from the Greens and peak conservation groups, which would quickly embroil the newly elected Labor Government. Greens preferences delivered about 21 seats for Labor during last Saturday's election.
In Hobart yesterday, the appeal bench of the Federal Court unanimously over-ruled a previous decision by Justice Shane Marshall that logging in the 10,000ha old growth forest was illegal because of its impact on the habitat of endangered wildlife.
After a trial involving scientists and 33 days of hearings, Justice Marshall ruled last year that logging would destroy the habitat of Tasmania's wedge-tailed eagle, swift parrot and one of Australia's rarest insects, the Wielangta stag beetle.
The Federal Court win by Australian Greens leader Bob Brown was hailed by environment groups and scientists as a watershed decision upholding the protection of Australia's native forests.
But after yesterday's decision upholding an appeal by Forestry Tasmania, Senator Brown faces more than $25,000 in costs and the prospect of another costly battle if he has legal grounds to lodge an appeal with the High Court.
Senator Brown has written to Mr Garrett asking him to take "urgent action to protect Wielangta and other native forests in Australia." The Federal Court appeal bench upheld the Justice Marshall's previous finding that logging had "a significant and unacceptable impact" on endangered species in the Wielangta forest, but ruled logging was exempt from federal environment protection laws.
Forestry Tasmania and the National Association of Forest Industries welcomed the decision as providing the forestry industry with certainty for future timber supplies.
"This has been an expensive, emotionally draining and time consuming exercise but it has been worth it. There is now no doubt that our forestry operations are legal," Forestry Tasmania's managing director Bob Gordon said.
The court found once a 20-year regional forestry agreement was signed by state and federal governments, the impact of it could continue if both signatories agreed to allow it.
"It's a case of the law intends to protect endangered wildlife but if Canberra and Hobart ignore logging which endangers their existence, they can," Senator Brown said.
In his letter to Mr Garrett, Senator Brown pointed out the minister had the power, under clause 102 of the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, to "insist that the intention of the Regional Forestry Agreement to protect rare and endangered species be upheld".
Senator Brown wrote, "Or else, you may nullify the RFA and bring forestry operations directly under the Act."
Mr Garrett's office did not return calls yesterday.
The two high-profile politicians and environmental activists were friends when Mr Garrett was president of the Australian Conservation Foundation and singer with Midnight Oil.
But when Mr Garrett, as opposition environment spokesman, declared his support for the controversial Tasmanian pulp mill last month, Senator Brown publicly declared their long friendship was over and accused Mr Garrett of abandoning his principles.
The decision to allow logging to proceed in the Wielangta forest could be an embarrassment for the Australian government delegation at the United Nations climate change conference in Bali next week.
One of seven priority mitigation measures listed for discussion is curbing greenhouse emissions from clearing of forests.
"It sends a message of contempt and indifference to critical climate change issues by the government of Australia," Senator Brown said.
About 15,000 politicians, government officials and lobbyists are due to attend the Bali conference.
UN officials have warned the meeting is not expected to result in "big announcements on cuts" to emissions but say deforestation is one area where the meeting might break new ground.
Developing nations will seek to establish incentives and financial support from developed nations to stop cutting down their forests. Australia is the only developed nation among the world's top 20 land-clearing countries, a list that includes Cambodia, Burma, the Sudan, Bolivia and the Philippines.

And then there is this in The Age yesterday:

How to turn $99 million worth of trees into a $17,000 loss.

Peter Weekes
December 2, 2007

THE State Government sold the equivalent of 4745 MCGs of native forests to private timber companies last year for less than it cost the Government to fell the trees and ship them to the buyers.

Despite selling the timber for $99 million, and other revenue of $4 million, VicForests ended in the red with a $17,000 loss once expenses such as haulage were taken out, according to the agency's annual report.

VicForests is the quasi-government body charged with commercialising the state's forests. Most of the timber sold at a loss went into pulp.

"We have got a situation where the three south-eastern state governments are underpricing the forest resources," said Judith Ajani, an economist at the Australian National University who managed Victoria's forest policy in the 1980s. "This will favour those companies exporting native forest-based chip against those who have invested in plantations."

In an emailed response to The Sunday Age, VicForests chief executive David Pollard defended the result: "A loss of $17,000 is because the incurred expenses were greater than the revenue derived."

He added: "We expected to sell more wood during this period but our operations were disrupted because of the 2006-07 Great Divide bushfires." He did not clarify whether greater sales would have led to a proportional increase in haulage and harvest costs.

The timber take this year was 1.59 million cubic metres, down 243,000 cubic metres from the previous year.

In a bid to improve profits, VicForests underwent a shake-up this year, taking on all harvesting and haulage.

The agency sold about two-thirds of the trees, including 100-year-old mountain and alpine ash, for pulp. It charged mills $9.97 a cubic metre, or $8.52 a tonne, plus delivery, Mr Pollard said.

Plantation pulp, largely owned by management investment schemes, on average sells for about $35 a cubic metre, not including delivery, according to a survey of prospectuses. Once the timber is processed, the pulp sells for about $US860 ($A971) a tonne.

Mr Pollard said Victorian native-forest pulp was cheaper than pulp from other states because of the haulage distances and its poorer quality, particularly compared with plantations.

Two of the three big mills that bought the timber $B!=(B Australian Paper, a subsidiary of PaperlinX and Japanese-owned South East Fibre Exports $B!=(B posted a combined profit of $87 million last financial year, according to Australian Securities Exchange and Australian Securities and Investments Commission filings. The privately held Midway did not release its profit.

Ms Ajani said VicForests' result showed that native forest logging could not economically compete against plantations, which now provide about three-quarters of the state's wood.

"Native forest logging businesses Australia-wide have always been problematic commercially," she said "As economically superior plantation resources come in, the capacity for native forest-based operations to be profitable becomes more and more problematic."

She said forest logging $B!=(B which necessitates clear-felling $B!=(B posed many costly problems, including biodiversity issues, that plantations did not face.

"When you grow wood in a plantations regime, you don't have to compromise on ecological factors: you can select your species, you can plant them in rows, you can plant them relatively tightly, you can use fertiliser to make them grow faster, and you can reduce your harvesting and transport costs by putting them close to the mill," she said. "Everything about a plantation regime is cost-attractive for a wood product industry and that's ultimately the problem when you are a wood grower in a native forest $B!=(B you can't provide the volumes and quality of the resource to suit the processing interest of your sawmillers and pulp producers."

Despite the loss, VicForests paid the State Government a dividend of $2 million.

But for at least the second consecutive year, this was paid out of retained earnings. Companies usually pay dividends from current-year profit, as retained earnings from previous years are normally used as "rainy day" funds.

VicForests received a $10 million State Government grant to expand its salvage operation following the Christmas bushfires; but it used only about $868,000. It also received $2.25 million worth of services from government departments.

At a time when there are fears that native forest logging is fuelling climate change, Ms Ajani and the Wilderness Society have accused state and federal governments of subsidising the sector at the expense of the more economically viable plantation sector.

"Many plantation sawmillers have commented on how hard it has been to win market share, largely because of the subsidies that have come from state governments," Ms Ajani said, adding that about two-thirds of timber jobs were in plantations and paper-making.

$B"#(BHOW TO MAKE A LOSSPulp sales 1 million cubic metresSawlog sales 500,000 cubic metresTOTAL 1.59 million cubic metresTotal sales revenue $99 millionTotal revenue $103.36 million Harvesting $34 millionHaulage $34 millionNET LOSS $17,000SOURCE: VICFORESTS 2007

TOTAL EXPENSES $103.34 million


$B"#(BWHO MADE A PROFIT, which owns Australian Paper that operates the Maryvale Mill in Gippsland, posted a profit of $80.1 million last financial year.


South East Fibre Exports, which operates a mill in Eden, posted a profit of $6.8 million.

Midway, which operates a mill in Geelong, is privately held and not required to release its profit.

Posted by editor at 10:07 AM EADT
Updated: Tuesday, 4 December 2007 8:47 AM EADT

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