Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Bob Brown vs the turds

Gunns have an ongoing 'special relationship' with a series of Tassie governments …
/Jed waits for a knock on the door/ ;)
… and nothing the Feds do would surprise me.

I've always been in favour of a sustainable forestry industry - and have earned a living from it.
The way I see this issue, sustainable forestry and Gunns' philosophy - and methodology - are worlds apart.
But, before anyone discounts me as yet another hippie (some of my best friends are damn hippies!), please read this through.

In my experience, a true 'green' has plenty of common sense and knows what s/he's talking about.
Where 'the environment' is concerned, passion is a bonus - not a foundation.
Many, on both sides of the 'debate', really need to do some homework.
(Yeah, I know, you can get a pheromone buzz from hysteria.)

Simply, Bob Brown is an absolute legend.
Australia owes him bigtime: even though half the country still don't realise it, history will provide the proof.
Sooner than most think.

No wonder the bastards at Gunns are trying to ruin him: that's the way they operate.
They're mafiosi; knee-cappers; profit-whores.

Some context for my point of view.
(My experience is exclusively within Victoria but the issue is surely a global one.)
I've worked in two owner-operated sawmills and done marketing work for one.
I lived in a dedicated Timber Town for several years and talked to a few independent millers who lost their allocations (some to corporates) and closed down, due to circumstances beyond their control.
'That's progress,' you might say. Fair enough.
The writing was on the wall for unsustainable logging - in Victoria, at least - well over half a century ago when a future plan was mapped out. This has already expired.
(Joan Kirner explained this to me in 1985 during an extended discussion while she was the responsible minister. Smart woman.)

The savage irony of this 'progress', however, is that these independents largely focussed on value-adding and extracting the maximum from every log. And the few survivors still do.
Sawn F-rated / structural timber for houses. Dressed and moulded timber for architraves, etc. Kiln-dried boutique timbers for furniture, sculpting, woodcraft.
And so forth.
One mill actually specialised in redeeming low-grade logs as fence palings and tomato stakes.
All the legitimate residue became firewood … woodchips … even sawdust, which sustained other small local businesses.
I learnt how they did it. I helped them do it.
Being relatively low-tech, they also employed a lot of people 'per log' (and, incidentally, supported any number of community efforts).
In about 1993 I spent a loooong day walking three coupes (in separate locations) with a contractor as a guide, who explained his practices and accountability in detail - and showed me how these principles were applied.
One of his coupes was adjacent to a property owned by a State MP (at the time) who had flouted any number of codes - without penalty - in clear-felling his 250 hectares within a local catchment.

The wood pulp and woodchip industries have never been about value-adding. They've never been about a sustainable environment. They've never been about empowering communities. (That's us, BTW.)
So, what are they about?
The way I see it: high-volume inputs (regardless of quality);
high volume (low-quality) outputs;
minimum employment;
fat profits (subsidised as required);
'special' favours from their suckhole mates in government;
bashing up their opponents (whom, in due course, will prove to be genuine heroes).

I could go on - about the CFMEU repeatedly betraying its membership base (and the ALP its constituents); about the deliberate downgrading of sawlog for chipping in Gippsland during the 80s (which may still continue) - but I'll pull my head in for now.

Bob Brown. Legend. GO YOU GOOD THING.

[Edits 11/6/09: 'value-adding'!]

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