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Green Campaigning - Controversy

After the 'success' of stopping the Franklin Dam, when the High Court ruled in favour of the Commonwealth's external affairs powers to sign the world heritage convention against Tasmania's constitutional rights to manage its land, the Greens outlined their media strategy:

"We have grabbed ideas from wherever we could," Bob Brown explained in a 1983 interview. 'We looked at the way other people who sell cheese and paper tissues, how they do it, and thought that if that sells an idea then how much more important that [it] be grafted by us into saving wilderness'.[1]

In 1986 to 1987 Jonathan West was National Director of the Wilderness society implementing that strategy including a "fun run" to Farmhouse creek, the site of the Alec Marr's tree sit, and of Bob Brown being dragged from in front of road making machinery by forest workers.

Twenty five years later West appeared before a Legislative council inquiry as the Chair of the Prime Minister and Premier's Independent Verification Group to advise:

"There is no question that it is a very controversial industry and there is no question that a small group of people is determined to try to deny the industry access to markets, and to capital, and are successful in doing so. In fact, it is my conclusion that it is almost inevitable that they will succeed in that."

One environmental leader outlined it to me very simply. He said to me, 'Why do you think we ask people to chain themselves to machines down at Ta Ann?' [A manufacturer, not a logger, who's machines can only process regrowth or plantation small diameter logs]

I said, 'Obviously you're trying to generate publicity, and through publicity get people to focus on the issue. That will build public support and put pressure on politicians to reserve the areas you think should be reserved, and it will dramatise the issue'.'

He said, 'We couldn't care less about any of that. All we need to do is show that there's a controversy. Then you go to Europe and say to potential purchasers of Tasmania's products, Which would you prefer, controversial plywood coming from a battle in a far away place that you've barely heard of, or non-controversial plywood? Same price, same material; which one do you want?" [2]

Only a week after the Tasmania peace talks collapsed (2 November 2012) an organisation called Global Witness that employs former Greens leader Peg Putt as a consultant launched a scathing attack on HSBC, the international bankers of the Ta Ann Group via the United Kingdom's Daily Mail and Economist. In demanding they no longer provide commercial loans to Ta Ann the report states:

"Ta Ann has one subsidiary in the Australian state of Tasmania, certified to the weaker PEFC standard, but this subsidiary is itself a controversial operation owing to its logging in areas of Tasmania's old growth forest."[3]

Whilst PEFC is a robust international certification standard, Ta Ann Tasmania is not a logger and cannot process old growth, because green groups have chained themselves to its machines is "controversial".

[1] Richard Flanagan and Cassandra Pybus 1990 The Rest Of The World Is Watching Green Images

[2] The Legislative Council Committee, Government Administration 'A', Met In Committee Room 1, Parliament House, Hobart, On Tuesday 15 May 2012 Inquiry Into The Tasmanian Forests Intergovernmental Agreement Independent Verification Group 'Report of The Chairman'

[3] Global Witness, 2012 'In the Future There Will Be No Forests Left'

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This story is from Brett Chatwin a Tasmanian and keen fisherman, as you know you meet the most interesting people while fishing and Brett did some months ago, you will find it interesting and some of these newspapers that only seem to look at the green's news releases.This article makes an interesting read in light of TNC recent claims on the the tassie devils in the Tarkine.


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