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Tasmania cannot sell a lie

When I developed the Tasmanian Business and Industry Strategy in the 1990's to transform our failing economy from a dig it up and cut it down "quarry" to one based on our world renowned natural advantages, I emphasised that "Clean and Green" would only be successful, if it was authentic.

You cannot sell a lie and get away with it indefinitely. Protection of the brand is all important in business and it is all important to Tasmania.

That is even more so today with Google Earth and the Internet providing immediate access to maps, photographs, live footage and information so that anyone can check claims that are made in a matter of minutes. Premier Giddings, Senator Abetz and their Legislative Council colleagues need to recognise that trying to engage in cover up, in a "keep logging but don't tell anyone" strategy, only leads to greater scandals when the cover up is exposed.

Senator Abetz says that Ta Ann uses regrowth and plantation timber younger than Senator Brown. Go to www.observertree.org and see for yourself. Miranda Gibson is sitting up a tree in a native forest coupe that has never been logged. These areas are often called 'regrowth' because a fire went through it in the past 100 years but the use of the word regrowth makes people think the area has been logged. So who is engaging in misinformation Senator Abetz?

Miranda Gibson's forest coupe is inside the area of high conservation value forests which Prime Minister Gillard and Premier Giddings said would go into immediate interim protection. It didn't, so whose word is truthful? If Ta Ann was not using high conservation value forest, this area would not be logged because Gunns' quota has been retired. Ta Ann is driving the destruction of high conservation value forests and that fact is being conveyed to world markets which have been lied to in the advertising of Ta Ann's "Ecoply".

No wonder the London Olympics dumped Ta Ann as a supplier, because it is trying to be the most environmentally sustainable Olympic Games of all time and could not afford the reputational damage of using timber sourced from high conservation value forests. The Markets for Change campaign is helping to protect the reputation and brand of companies that want to do the right thing and these campaigners are now being subjected to the very intimidation of which Senator Abetz complains. How proud are we as Tasmanians of a political leadership which tries to silence those who have no vested interest but only a commitment to environmental protection?

Senator Abetz needs to realise that the world is now demanding transparency and the market at the high end wants to be sure of ethical standards, which is why footage of environmental destruction or animal cruelty or workplace abuse is so powerful. Rather than try to hide what really goes on in our forests, Senator Abetz should be joining the community groups who are demanding that the forest industry stops undermining Tasmania's global reputation of being Clean and Green and transforms itself to reinforce our environmental competitive advantage.

Senator Abetz's claims that corporate campaigns are blackmail campaigns, using unethical tactics by self appointed activists are more appropriately levelled at the real blackmail campaigns driven by some of the wealthiest most self-serving people in the nation. He did not mention the campaign against the super profits tax by Twiggy Forrest, Gina Reinhart, the Minerals Council and the big miners who paid $22 million in TV advertising to blackmail and intimidate a Government into letting them off paying back to the nation a reasonable return on the super profits they were making. This means less schools and hospitals for everyone right across Australia including Tasmania's North West coast.

Senator Abetz is not worried by Rupert Murdoch owning 70 percent of the print media in Australia and using it to destroy the policies of democratically elected governments. Senator Abetz supports those self-serving and anti-national public interest corporate campaigns and those that undermine action on climate change or try to stop the health system being made fairer. In Senator Abetz' world, it is okay for vested interest to use corporate campaigns to protect their profits but not environmentalists in the public interest. Hypocrisy writ large Senator Abetz.

Tasmania's challenge is to have all its industry sectors - tourism, agriculture, forestry, fisheries, services, education, manufacturing, and the arts - all moving to secure long-term jobs and investment based on a high quality of life underpinned by our magnificent environment.

This appears as an opinion piece in The Advocate online.

 

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