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Environment East Gippsland Forest Update

The Spring-Summer paper version of the Potoroo Review newsletter should hit your mail boxes in the next umpteen days! Those of our members who subscribe to this E-list will be up to speed, but many members who rely on the paper version might not be. Once you finish reading the Potoroo, please consider passing it on to help spread the news.
One story that didn’t make it to the latest newsletter was the recent dastardly act by the state government. They seem to have a new section which contrives and schemes to legally knacker environmental laws. If not, they simply disregard their obligations and accountability. Have you noticed how often Ministers aren’t available for comment these days?
If you’re as outraged as we are, see this Sunday’s action below – a backwards walk to represent the way this government is taking us. Meet at Parliament House on Sunday. A huge crowd would send them a strong message.

1. NEWS TO BE OUTRAGED about ...
  • Govt twists Code to approve endangered wildlife destruction.
  • Logging now being shifted to agriculture minister.
  • Forestry Tasmania derails the Tassie agreement.
  • Forest carbon, cash and crime – sell the carbon and log it too.
  • Blitz burning – out of control
  • Keeping it in the family

2. NEWS to SMILE about ...
  • Logging lobbyists letter.
  • Nippon woodchip company in slow-down mode.
  • DSE creates an old growth walk.

3. NEWS that you can DO SOMETHING ABOUT ...
  • Tell Baillieu we want rare wildlife protected.
  • Send in your comments to the formal public consultation.
  • Join in the ‘Backwards March’ this Sunday.
  • Help keep pressure on Harvey Norman.
  • Facebookers - help the cause against woodchipping.
  • Climate Change Adaptation – have your say.
  • Five tips for lobbying your local pollie.


Baillieu and Ryan’s Payback Policy

Question: What other private business that is the main threat to rare forest wildlife, gets an exemption from the law that protects that wildlife? Answer: none.
The plan to exempt logging from abiding by environmental laws is in direct response to our Brown Mountain Supreme Court win (September 2010). As we pragmatically predicted back then, rather than honour the law, they plan to alter it. Such is the hold the logging barons have over governments. If a species has an action statement (a ‘how-to’ plan to protect it) under our state’s endangered species act, it can be overridden by the Secretary of the DSE simply flicking his pen over a bit of paper!

“exclusion areas must be protected from timber harvesting ops... in accordance to the FFGA Action Statements ... (proposed newly worded insert) unless it is determined by the Secretary that the requirements of the Action Statement do not apply...” !!!

To prove that there are plenty enough rare wildlife elsewhere, to help the Secretary make ‘informed decisions’, the government will do wildlife surveys inside National Parks and then if they find these forests have a smattering of endangered Potoroos, gliders, owls and so forth, the secretary will give the nod to obliterate others living in prime old growth habitat elsewhere.
Baillieu’s media machine said they were going to ‘balance’ the protection of the logging industry with the protection of endangered wildlife!
Here are some cracker quotes from the ex-logger and now parliamentary secretary for logging in State parliament, Gary Blackwood MP.

“…it’s not about opening up more areas but using those areas we have at our disposal in a better way...”

Disposing of areas in a better way.

“… it’s about perhaps providing an opportunity to take a bit of pressure off that production forest because of the threat of a threatened species being deemed threatened …”

“Look - the demand for timber is growing there’s no doubt about that.”

This graph shows that 80% of our sawn timber use is from plantations... and growing. Hardwood sawn timber is less than 20%... and shrinking.

“…it’s far more responsible for us to harvest our (forests) in a responsible and sustainable way in consideration of all the values we need to protect, than to import timber from Third World countries that don’t have any forest management practices, or worse still, where the timber is actually stolen.”

With management practices - East GippslandWithout management practices - Indonesia

So much for Mary Wooldridge’s public promise to honour the court ruling, when she was shadow Environment Minister in 2010.

For more information go to

If you want to do something to help – see the section below ↓

Logging now under agriculture minister

National Party minister, Peter Walsh has been given huge powers to oversee various Acts that govern public forests.

The General Order for the Administration of Acts shows the latest additional powers Walsh has obtained since the new Government began. Walsh's Department shares overseeing the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act and will now determine where the no-go ‘public safety zones’ will be in logging areas.

Peter Walsh's annual report on forestry - makes use of the crooked audit figures (done by private logging consultant URS) and dodgy logging industry employment figures produced by logging supporters in the previous Government.

The Sustainable Forests (Timber) Act and Forest (Wood Pulp Agreement) Act were all shifted out of DSE last year. Walsh's Department also shares administration of the Forests Act.

Given all the changes to put logging and forests under the control of the Ag Minister, it is hard to see why DSE still has any involvement in forests at all, aside from transferring thousands of hectares of public land to VicForests each year.

The other alarming development is that the administration of the Salvage Logging pork barrel fund (worth millions in free cash to VicForests and the woodchippers) has been shifted out of Treasury and is now also administered by Walsh's Department!

Maybe the Baillieu government is finally admitting that their logging of native forests is converting them to agricultural tree crops so therefore they should be administered by the Agriculture Minister.

This photo shows ex-old growth as a regrowth crop of trees,
with tree species of identical age at neat spacings, and no potential for wildlife or other biodiversity.

Tasmanian government agreement being derailed by logging department

Clauses 25 and 26 of the Inter-governmental Agreement (IGA) for Tasmania’s forests are crystal clear. No logging is to occur within the 430,000 hectares set aside is to be protected from logging. Yet the premier, Lara Giddings is sitting by allowing Forestry Tasmania to destroy the best of these forests.

The Greens’ Christine Milne has asked the federal government’s forestry minister to intervene, but he has capitulated and remains silent.

Forest carbon, cash and crime – sell the carbon and log it too

If governments agree to use forests for CO2 offsets, here’s an interesting read on the potential for criminal involvement in this.,%20Cash%20and%20Crime.pdf

"Corruption in the forest sector has until now been overwhelmingly linked to logging, both illegal and legal, ...the potential for future REDD+ earnings is bringing about new corrupt practices, (and) ... is also likely to lead to new forms of corruption not previously seen in the forest sector..."

Selling carbon credits to big polluters cheaply (to allow them to keep polluting) could be the next unscrupulous way to make profit from forests in developing countries. There is little opportunity for principled or verifiable claims on forest areas being protected under such a scheme.

Code of Practice for Fire Management on Public Land

‘‘Fire and ecology’ was a symposium held in Melbourne in mid October and had many experts speak on the topic of fire in the ecosystem. Guess what, the way the government is doing it is just plain WRONG. It probably causes more fire prone forests and destroys our already struggling wildlife and plants. Even where we think the bush has evolved to deal with fire, it’s adapted to infrequent hot fires, not constant ground fires. The ground life is where the bottom of the ecosystem pyramid begins; the food chain, fungi, other composting microbes and the 93% of the living ecosystem that isn’t understood or studied. As one speaker said, the government has generated huge public terror of leaf litter.

I plan to summarise the essence of the two days of information for the next update. But if you also have concerns, if you feel the 5% target is unachievable, ineffective and down right destructive and if you feel it’s based on nothing but fear politics, you might like to tell the government. See below under the ‘things you can do’ section for details.↓

Baillieu’s cousin appointed to VicForests board.

VicForests has announced its new board members. The list includes Ted Baillieu’s brother in law and Alpine Grazing fanatic Graeme Stoney! What experience does he have in the logging industry? Probably none, but no doubt a political manoeuvrer of the sort the Baillieu government value.

This is what Peter Walsh said in his annual report released a few weeks ago:

"DPI is working to deliver the State Government’s commitment to increase forest industries experience on the VicForests board through an open and transparent recruitment process and the appointment of new members to the VicForests board in late 2011."


Meet Trevor Brown from Timber Communities Australia

I found it difficult to choose which heading to put this under but figured it can only be laughed at. In reply to some great Age letters in response to the above story, this one came in late from the TCA logging lobbyists. Part of it said: “... No more forest will be available to the industry; changes to the code will only alter how the forest is managed.”

In other words - instead of the current protection of endangered wildlife and their habitat on public land, it will now simply be subjected to total obliteration via clearfelling and burning. See? They’re ‘only altering the management’. Now we can all relax.

Nippon woodchip company in slow-down mode

The current shipping schedule for the Port of Eden (where EG’s forests end up) has no woodchip carriers for the rest of the year. Loggers supplying tree trunks to South East Fibre Exports (SEFE) have been told to slow down in the lead up to Christmas thanks to a ‘softening in demand from a major Chinese customer’.

Ex Victorian logging bureaucrat Peter Rutherford, and now front man for the export woodchip mill said they were “still pulling in 5000 tonnes of logs a day, which is down between 500 and 800 tonnes on peak”.

DSE copies our Old Growth Walk idea

After years of us lobbying for the promotion of forest tourism, the state Labor government last year decided to build an Old Growth Forest Walk near Brown Mountain – in an area not threatened with logging. It was to be opened as part of last year’s election campaign but wasn’t finished by then. It’s now almost completed but people are still using it

Check out the comments received on their facebook on this link and if you’ve been there, add your own comments:

The massive old Darejo tree, a feature of the official government old growth walk on Gap Road. It was planned for logging until discovered by locals years ago.


Tell Baillieu and the ALP that rare wildlife needs more, not less protection

Anyone who lives in the seat of Bellarine – you could contact Lisa Neville. She’s the ALP shadow minister for the environment now. Ask her directly if she’ll repeal this latest idiocy if the ALP gets in? Get it in writing! Ask her to speak out against this plan. She holds the forth most marginal seat in the state. If you live in another marginal seat, call your local pollie and let them know as well. The Liberal and National members are mostly concerned about what their supporters and local voters think. So if you’re a long-time conservative voter get in touch.

Here are some seats and their margins.
      Eltham - 50.8% two party preferred
      Ballarat west - 51.1
      Macedon - 51.3
      Bellarine - 51.4
      Ballarat east - 51.4
      Ivanhoe - 51.7

Also – please read the 'five tips for lobbying your MP' below. ↓

Send in your comments about plans to change the Code of Forests (logging) Practices

The government is calling for comments on their proposed change of the Code that will allow destruction of endangered wildlife and their habitat. We have until 1st February to get a letter (submission is their fancy term) in. Go here to get the details: and send your comments here:

Baillieu Government takes us Backwards on Environment

Join the Backwards March and call on the Premier to stop taking Victoria backwards!

WHEN: THIS Sunday, 13 November from 1.00 - 2.30pm
WHERE: Parliament House, Spring Street, Melbourne
WHY: In just one year Premier Baillieu has taken Victoria decades backwards on the environment:
    • Cattle trampling our national parks
    • New wind farms blocked
    • CO2 emissions target ignored
    • Endangered species habitat logged
    • New coal-fired power station approved
    • Green Wedges threatened
    • Westernport destruction fast-tracked
Premier Baillieu said he would 'fix the problems, and build the future', but when it comes to our environment his government has created new problems and is threatening out future!

The rally is being organised jointly by tate and national environment groups to highlight the fact that Victoria is going backwards under the environmental policies of the Baillieu government.

Please get along if you can. And practice your backwards walk...

Harvey Norman – help add some pressure from your seat

The Last Stand has launched an online action targeting Harvey Norman's board of directors to follow on from the fantastic global action recently (40 actions in 16 countries!).

Go to and help stop our furniture being the excuse to obliterate vast tracts of forest. For every one stick of sawn timber, 50 times that amount is woodchipped, burnt and wasted.

Facebookers – join the cause against woodchipping.

The forest campaigners on NSW’s SE coast have stepped up their Nippon Paper campaign and now have a Facebook cause. It is called: Nippon Paper must stop using native forest woodchips.
If you are on Facebook, please join.

In the first day they had 140 signatures from an enormous range of countries: Korea, Netherlands, USA, Canada, Croatia, Australia, Switzerland, Italy, Belgium, Portugal, UK, Spain, Greece and Yemen. This is amazing and good in terms of its impact on a global paper giant. After Australia, the next biggest group is from the US, many different states.

These Facebook causes can be a really handy campaigning tool. The cause is designed to attract members from other countries whose forests are destroyed by Nippon Paper, such as US and Canada. Inevitably it will have an Australian focus. Please tell your friends and sign up todayIf you are a member of an email list or on Facebook or Twitter, please help to promote it.

The letter is going directly to Nippon Paper in Tokyo and to the Trade Attaché at the Japanese Embassy in Canberra.

Climate Change Adaptation – issues paper. Have your say.

Another submission is due at that favoured time of governments – when we’re all too busy to write them. By the 16th December the Productivity Commission is wanting your thoughts on the ‘Regulatory and Policy Barriers to Effective Climate Change Adaptation’. Governments’ blessing the ongoing destruction of forests is a big part of that barrier.

There’s an issues paper that lists a range of matters the commission wants information and comment on.

Download it from:

Printed copies can be requested by phoning 03 9653 2253 or 1800 020 083.

Make a submission
This is a public inquiry and the Commission invites interested people and organisations to make a written submission. Information on how to prepare and submit comments is available from: but don’t be daunted, it’s a just a glorified letter.

Further information
If you have any queries call the numbers above or email:

Draft Code of Fire Management

DSE has prepared a draft Code for public comment in response to the Bushfire Royal Commission’s recommendations. The comment period closes on the 9th December. A copy of the draft Code is available here - with details of how you can make a submission/comments.

If you’d like to comment but feel you need some pointers, or summary of the recs/changes, let me know.

For those who’ve never spoken to/emailed their MP ...

The below ‘five tips on how to lobby an MP and not be ignored’ comes from an MP who was bombarded about an issue. It makes a lot of sense.

"This morning I awoke to find 43 unread emails about the issue of access to homebirth for Australian women on my blackberry. By the time I was on the train into the office this had grown to nearly 100 and continues to grow." The campaign, although worthy, was a text book example of what not to do to get the attention of an MP and expect them to take some positive action on your behalf.

"Having spoken to a number of my colleagues this morning who have also received these exact same emails, here are 5 tips on how to lobby MPs and not be ignored"

Tip #1: If you are going to send emails, include where you live.
MPs are elected geographically. They have a democratic responsibility to respond to those that live in the area they represent. If you send a form letter that does not include the postcode or even the state that you live in, MPs can and will ignore it.

Tip #2: If you want your email read and responded to - original is better.
When my blackberry filled up this morning with exactly the same email I did two things. I set up a rule so the emails are diverted into a folder that I won't look at again. I then drafted a standard response for automatic reply. For many MPs they will simply delete.

Send an original email, in most cases you will get a considered response in reply.

Tip #3: Be clear about what action you want the MP to take in response to your contact.
A general call to do the right thing lets the MP off the hook and means your time and theirs has been wasted. Always ask the MP to take action on your behalf. Be specific.

You can ask MPs to: raise the issue in parliament, write to the person responsible for making the decision that will help fix the problem, respond to you with their views on the issue and/or what action they have taken in response to your contact. You can also ask to have a meeting with you to further discuss the issue.

Tip #4: Make sure that what you are asking is something the MP can actually do.
Before you press send (or if you are developing a website for a campaign), find out who is responsible for making the decision that will fix/address your issue. Knowing the answers to these questions will increase your chances of the email getting to the best person who can take action on your behalf: In what jurisdiction does your issue fall? What action is required to address my issue? Does your issue require legislation? Can the Minister make a decision to change a policy and have it implemented?

As an example, asking a state MP to fix something that is the responsibility of the federal government will result in your email being ignored or flicked back to you.

Tip #5: Do your research and target.
If I receive an email that I can see has gone to every MP in Australia. I ignore it. On any given issue your first contact should be: your local MP, the relevant Minister, the relevant Shadow Minister plus others whose opinion you are trying to sway.

If you or the organisation running the campaign website, have done the research you will also know which MPs are already supportive of your cause and those that it is not even worth bothering to talk to about your issue. Target those with power and those you need to persuade. For those who are supportive enlist them to help you make the argument to their undecided colleagues. Don't be afraid to ask your supportive MPs who they think you should be targeting on your issue.

Final thoughts.
Sometimes email campaigns are a way that MPs get a sense of the public mood of any issue. Volume can be important and does have its place but if you actually want engagement on an issue, bombarding MPs with form emails and/or letters is considered very low value constituent contact and the time you spent sending it is wasted as it will often be deleted.

           Jill and the team.

            Environment East Gippsland Inc      FORESTS - our breathing space!