Cassy O’Connor MP | Greens Leader and Forests spokesperson
Forestry Tasmania's Annual Report 2014-15 paints a blithely optimistic picture of the GBE's financial fortunes, glossing over a continuing reliance on public subsidies and bailouts at public expense.
Tasmanians will rightly be wary of the Liberals' claims that their forest 'policy' has turned around the GBE's fortunes, after decades in which FT has been unable to turn a profit and has relied continuously on public subsidies to destroy forest ecosystems.
The report states that Forestry Tasmania "effectively had no debt for the start of the 2015/16 financial year" when it is clear this was enabled by a $30M injection from TasNetworks, straight out of the pockets of electricity customers.
Sacking 59 employees in total has also provided a boost to FT's bottom line which has nothing to do with the Liberals' 'vision' for forestry.
The Annual Report makes it clear that the GBE's current liabilities have almost doubled from $32M to $60M, with current assets decreasing from $51M to $40M. These numbers are not heading in the right direction, despite the Liberals' rhetoric.
The biggest challenge for Forestry Tasmania is the achievement of Forest Stewardship Certification, a subject on which the Resources Minister is unusually coy.
The FSC auditors draft report was handed to government in April this year and is understood to have identified major non-conformities including logging that impacts on threatened species and forests of high conservation value.
Six months later and not a word. Without FSC certification, Forestry Tasmania will remain a moribund entity, reliant on handouts and operating on a failed business model.
Unfortunately, all the language coming from their Minister, Mr Harriss, is stuck in the past and dishonest about the industry's history in Tasmania as well as its future.
Mr Harriss is a major impediment to Forestry Tasmania achieving FSC because he fundamentally doesn't get or support contemporary forest practice which treats the forest as a whole ecosystem, rather than just timber for the taking.