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Liberals Do Deal with Company That Didn't Exist over Macquarie Point Exports

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 15 September 2016

Tags: Forests, Native Forest Logging, Environment, Subsidies, Freight Equalisation Scheme

Cassy O'Connor MP | Greens Leader and Forests spokesperson

The more things change in Tasmania's native forest logging industry, apparently the more they stay the same, with the Greens revealing in Parliament today that the Liberals negotiated terms over Macquarie Wharf native forest product exports with a company that didn't exist.

On 8 July this year, then Forestry Minister, Peter Gutwein, announced the terms of the EOI Southern Residues contracts had been agreed to and that the Macquarie Point export proposal was for a likely mixture of whole logs, containerised logs and woodchips.

On 18 July, an ASIC search reveals Majestic Timbers Australia Pty Ltd registered as a company.

Yesterday, Resources Minister, Guy Barnett, announced that Majestic Timbers was the successful proponent to export 180,000 tonnes of native forest products from Macquarie Point each year.

Who are Majestic Timbers?  How can a company that didn't exist when the Liberal Minister said terms had been agreed, and has only existed for two months, be announced as the successful tenderer for an EOI process that began in June 2015?

This smells, and it seems very much like the Tasmanian logging establishment just reforming itself to exploit native forests at taxpayer expense.

We are concerned that - despite the Minister's claim 'no government money has been, or will be, provided to either of the successful proponents' - the only way the mysterious, newly formed Majestic Timbers Australia can make these exports pay, is via a Commonwealth subsidy through the expanded Freight Equalisation Scheme.

The Minister didn't go near this question in his non-answer today.

If this is the case, by our calculation, Majestic Timbers will be able to claim from the taxpayer about $10 million in subsidy for these unsustainable exports each year.

Yet again, it's a case of the Liberals investing public money in the unsustainable and otherwise unprofitable plunder of Tasmania's high conservation value forests.