Despite disastrous logging practices in our public forests, the Victorian state government is proposing amendments to forest laws that if passed, would have devastating results for Victorian people, our forests and the wildlife that inhabit them.
The proposed Amendments to the Sustainable Forests (Timber) Act 2004 would:
1. Provide unlimited logging contracts.
2. Effectively privatise the exploitation of the state’s most valuable public natural asset.
3. Promise to supply logs into the future that won’t exist due to decades of over-logging and the impacts of bushfires.
4. Dilute government oversight of logging agency VicForests.
5. Expose tax-payers and future governments to paying hundreds of millions in compensation when wood can’t be provided .
6. Drive endangered animals, like the Fairy (Leadbeater's) Possum even closer to extinction. [Pictured above. Photo by Emma Campbell]
State government logging agency VicForests is already a highly controversial body.
It has failed to regenerate our public forests, been taken to the Supreme Court for logging endangered species habitat, and has not made a return public purse for logging the public’s forests.
Little wonder that the Victorian Auditor General is currently conducting an inquiry into VicForests.
Because there’s an Inquiry under way, logging laws shouldn’t be amended until the Auditor General’s office has handed in their report. Even then, logging laws need to be strengthened, not weakened.
The native forest logging industry says it needs long-term contracts to attract long-term investment. But there is no long-term resource available in native forests anymore.
New laws aren’t a magic wand – they won’t change the fact that our forests have been overlogged and can’t be committed for greedy long-term contracts. The wood just isn’t there.
In 2011 alone, VicForests incurred debts of $7.3 million. The government says their assets are worth only $31million. And now the government wants to ask taxpayers to underwrite contracts for hundreds of millions of dollars.
The Amendments to the Sustainable Forests (Timber) Act 2004 are not in the best interests of our forests, wildlife or Victorians.
Sign the petition to Premier Denis Napthine, Treasurer Michael O’Brien, Minister Peter Walsh, and Minister Peter Hall to defer the Sustainable Forests (Timber) Amendment Bill 2013 until the Auditor-General’s Office hands down its findings from its inquiry into VicForests.
Help encourage the Premier to protect Victoria’s forests, not lock them in for long-term logging – send Denis Napthine a tweet at @Vic_Premier
For tweets on logging in Victoria’s forests @wildernessVIC
Find out more visit www.wilderness.org.au
 The state will be obliged to pay hundreds of millions of dollars, as evidenced by but one contract, the current agreement with Australian Paper: the Wood Pulp Agreement guarantees Australian Paper 350,000 m3 of pulplogs per year. At a conservative $50 /m3, over a 20 year contract, the state could be liable for $350,000,000.
Long-term contracts would expose the Victorians to massive liabilities. It is environmentally and economically irresponsible to require taxpayers to pay-out contracts in the event of future resource unavailability due to either over logging or bushfires. Liabilities could extend to hundreds of millions of dollars.
VicForests is already highly controversial with years of failed regeneration, numerous instances of unlawful logging and losses of taxpayers’ money. I don’t want to have to pay for bad logging and broken contracts.
I do not believe the proposed Amendments to the Sustainable Forests (Timber) Act 2004 are in the best interests of the state, our magnificent native forests or the public.
Because VicForests is being audited by the Victorian Auditor-General, I respectfully request that your government defer the Sustainable Forests (Timber) Amendment Bill 2013 until the Auditor-General’s Office has handed down its findings from its inquiry into VicForests.