Sunday, 3 February 2008

A worrying conjunction

Clearfelled hillside, Southern ForestsSeveral reports recently suggest Tasmania faces a bleak future:

The Mercury reported on 31 January that Access Economics' investment forecast for Tasmania shows we are reliant on large projects.:

Tasmanian Times reported that a respected economist (in a report completed at the behest of the Wilderness Society) has suggested the median likely result of building the pulp mill will be a $300 million dollar loss for Tasmania. This doesn't include the impenetrable web of govenrment subsidies propping up the whole forest industry, because he assumes these will continue whether or not the mill goes ahead.

Meanwhile The Australian reports that the Australian Government view is that "TASMANIA'S forest industry faces a bleak outlook", in a report prepared for the federal Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, and only released publicly after an FOI request.

Just to remind you, as we go back in time, Naomi Edwards wrote a clear warning about this to the RPDC and anyone else who would listen. Of course the government did a quick and dirty assessment of the benefits of the pulpmill, ignoring the costs and risks, thus demonstrating appalling mis-management of Tasmania and its future. Sure, the pulpmill might be of benefit to the shareholders of Gunns (although it appears the ANZ are still considering that), and maybe to a small number of remaining forestry employees. The overall value to Tasmania has to be seriously in doubt. Don't expect any coherent rebuttal of these reports from the government.

Maybe it's time for us to go back and look at some other options for Tasmania's future. They can't be any worse can they. The Greens Forest Transition Strategy (brief version here, Greens' forest site here) might be worth a look.

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