Miranda’s Daily Blog – Day 5

Day 5 – Why would the Prime Minister risk the controversial act of breaking her own promise and allowing logging here? This was a question I was asked yesterday and yes… I was wondering the same thing! Only Julia can know her own motivations, but I have a sneaking suspicion it might have something to do with Ta Ann – a company fast becoming known as “the new Gunns,” due to their position as the driving force behind logging in Tasmania since Gunns Ltd took a step back.

Ta Ann are a Malaysian company based in Sarawak. They started operations here five years ago, with an attractive deal from our government – the offer of wood prices far below the cost of logging in their own country. Executive Chairman Datuk Hamed Sepawi told the media that rates were lower in Tasmania than Malaysia or Indonesia. While the company is by no means poor (being part of a corrupt network of companies under the control of the wealthy Taib family) their operations in Tasmania are propped up by tax payers money. Not only do they get the wood at rock bottom prices they also receive tax payer funded subsidies. Despite this they still managed to record an $18 million loss last year.

The company has a deplorable record internationally. They are responsible for the displacement of Indigenous people in Sarawak to secure access to forests for logging. The company should not be welcomed in Tasmania, let alone supported by tax payers money.

Ta Ann is now a major driver of forest destruction in Tasmania, with their contract of 265,000 cubic metres of wood per year now being used as an excuse for continued logging in high conservation value areas ear-marked for protection. The contract lasts until 2027, though the government has also given an option of a 15 year extension. The company has lobbied Forestry Tasmania (FT) and the government to secure on-going wood supply, undermining the Statement Of Principles and the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA). When the IGA was announced FT managing director Bob Gordon claimed forest protection could not be achieved due to 59 logging coupes on the plan that were “critical to the supply of logs to Ta Ann.”

Ta Ann’s continued pressure on the government for access to native forest is a major block in Tasmania moving forward. These past 2 years during the negotiation process the Tasmanian community has shown determination to see an end to the so-called “forest conflict” that has gone on for generations – by moving out of an unsustainable native forest logging industry. It seems now that the only thing holding us back is a Malaysian company that is hell-bent on destroying the forests at no benefit (financial, social, environmental or otherwise) to the Tasmanian community. That and a government that appears to lack the back bone to stand up to them.

Writing this has felt like “extreme blogging!” I’m sitting here gripping tight as I write. My tarp like a wild animal trying to free itself from the ropes holding it down… the wind plunging it this way and that. The noise deafening. The tree is swaying … the movement intensified by the counteracting sway of near-by trees, so that the whole forest itself seems to be in motion. Although it feels hectic, it also makes me feel like a part of this landscape as it heaves and moves in the wind, taking me along for the ride. It seems impossible to imagine one day the wind might whip up these slopes and touch no trees, stirring only the ash from a burnt out and lifeless clearfell.

Please take action to help make sure this tree I’m sitting in doesn’t end up as veneer flooring beneath your feet. Thank you for following my blog. I’ll be updating with more about Ta Ann and the forest negotiations over time. For now check out this article that appeared this week in the Asia Sentinel.

Talk to you tomorrow ~ Miranda.

Posted on December 18, 2011, in Daily Blog. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Thank you Miranda for your thoughts on Ta Ann. They’ve been on my mind too in the last couple of days. Coincidence perhaps.

    Oh boy! Your description of the wind! I know what the bush is like in the wind. The roaring of every gum leaf. And sometimes at night how you can hear it coming like a freight train, down the slopes of the mountain, and I wait for it to hit the house. And sometimes I feel my bed quaver in the dark. It must have been quite an experience.

    I suppose by now the change has gone through, and the wind dropped. So now it’s dark and raining (up here in the north). Any leaks? You must be so busy. Can you tell us, if you have a little spare time, if you have been in tree sits before and what’s it like? Being on your own. Getting bored? What’s your legal status?

    Have you emailed Julia Gillard? I liked your film which told us what you were doing etc – must have been about day 1.

    Code Green had a fund raiser last night, up at Rowella. We raised just on $2000 from the kind folks who came along. Kim drove up in a snazzy old red sports car that he’d done up. A girl called Emma (blown in from Melbourne) played a metal-faced guitar upside down (she’s a leftie) and sang full on. Lucy L-L danced three pieces!! Jared and April showed a collection of film and stills of Code G’s various activities over the years and also some SWST/HVEC actions. There was plenty more. A good turn-up, and people from Friends of the Tamar Valley came, as well as TWS, the Greens and Pulp the Mill. There were others there too, ‘unattached to groups’, but supportive of Code G. There were some rank and file TAPPERS, but officially, TAP doesn’t seem to approve of ‘activist’ protests.

    We had a great time when everyone had gone and we were packing up. Amy got out a big broom and started to push it round the edges of the hall. A chap played blues off that special guitar, and Benny drummed. The women started doing a dance line following Amy round the hall. then it broke up and became a bit of an impromptu dance. Patricia got her banjo mandolin and with some help did a few Christmas songs while everyone was packing.

    In the end, everyone remaining racked off to Lucy and Chris’s to crash/kick on. Not me and Marie. i took the Batman bridge and drove back down the East Tamar Highway to Launceston. The new log-truck road is easy driving at that time of night. Susie Clarke was the fund-raiser-organiser. She did a great job.

  2. Hi Miranda, thanks for the update. Its very disturbing to learn of Ta Ann in Tassie, especially considering whats been happening in Indonesia’s forests for years. You are very brave being where you are! I’ve spent a few windy nights in the bush (at ground level) that were worrying to say the least. I can’t even imagine how scary it must be so far above the forest floor. Good luck and stay safe!

  3. Thank you Miranda for your updates. Very informative about Ta Ann and their trail of destruction. heartbreaking to think of the wind stirring the ashes instead of the souls of the trees. Stay safe beautiful forest defender xxxxx

  4. Thanks Miranda for your efforts, we are doing all we can to help spread this message to the unaware and painfully uninformed.

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