Dan Broun, Daily Mail Pic* First published February 5
07.02.16 6:30 am
Wilderness photographer Dan Broun walked six hours into the bushfire ravaged area on Friday and camped overnight to document the damage.
• Carol Rea in Comments: #5 TGC and others I am no expert but I respect those who regularly walk and document these areas. The logging of areas below the plateau - mainly for woodchips - has decreased the wet forest buffer zone that has protected the Plateau for millenia. Rob Blakers comment on the Plateau fires “The fire that began as a lightning strike near Lake Parangana on Jan 13th was unstoppable as it roared up the Fisher River to Lake Mackenzie. Its spread across the Plateau over the following two weeks, however, could have been checked. We need to establish dual priorities for fire fighting. It is imperative that rainforest, alpine vegetation, peat soils and thousand year old pencil pines are prioritised, as well as human life and property.” This fire roared up an area that has been logged and replanted - it used to be diverse wet forest now dry eucalypt replanting. We change the landscape and we are responsible for what happens.
• Simon Warriner in Comments: I understand the distress at the loss of unique vegetation types and wilderness, and the attraction for some to find fault with “forestry”, and even the wilful ignorance of the likes of the first comment, but, and I am trying to be kind here. This is a bloody huge distraction from the one question that needs to be answered FIRST. “Why did our emergency response system wait for 6 days in the face of an unprecedented event with rapidly escalating consequences before calling for available help?” Had that help been applied early the consequences would not have been do dire. Had that help been applied early and those dire consequences been avoided, it is possible this discussion would not be taking place at this time in the process and possibly not at all …
Paul Harriss, Minister for Resources Media Release
07.02.16 6:00 am
Chris Harries* First published January 29 Pic*
05.02.16 12:30 pm
Without warning, Tasmania’s power link to the Mainland suddenly ruptured in December 2015, just as it was being called upon to shore up power supplies. This event has sent shockwaves through the Tasmanian administration.
… Tasmania generates approximately 90 percent of its power demand (in average rainfall conditions) thus requiring us to import the remaining 10 percent – so this need can be seen as a necessity in the absence of the state lifting its renewable capacity. By exporting high value peaking power and importing low value base load this gap could theoretically be made up at a profit and with a net greenhouse emissions reduction. Environmental arguments went both ways, but the Tasmanian Greens and the broader environmental movement generally disapproved the project fearing that it would result in a net transfer of coal-fired power from the mainland to Tasmania, thus breaching our valued reputation as an all-renewable electricity island. As it turned out this is, in fact, what has transpired. During the ten years since the project was officially started up in 2006 the net power transfer has been from north to south by a strong margin …
• Anne Cadwallader in Comments: Chris, which large industrial consumer is likely (as you write) to pack up and go? That does, as you indicate, seem to be a massive game changer.
Hydro industrialization was a major part of our state’s development, but can’t last forever. But if we once again become awash with electricity, surely it positions us well for a low carbon world? I never minded the idea of being Australia’s national park (a lot better than being its disused quarry, as W.A. is rapidly becoming). But being Australia’s hydro power battery pack sounds wonderful. We can be both profitable, and a positive force in the world. Then there will be no more dying old people lying on the floor of the Royal Hobart on towels:
• asoka nelson in Comments: on the 28th of jan 2016 a vast amount of moisture was in the atmosphere above the fires on the west coast, if a 747 aircraft was loaded with 50 ton of dry ice…..it would have induced a significant rainfall it the area it was most needed…..I contacted Greg Carson at Hydro Tasmania and he automatically said no we will not help you and we will not investigate the concept….I also contacted CSIRO and they said we do not investigate other peoples ideas…I contacted the fire department but they were all busy ...I sent an email to the premier and doubt it will be investigated….the fire team actually has large aircraft but did not fly on the 28th because there was cloud cover was too heavy,....50 ton of dry ice injected into those cloud could have produced 500,000 ton of rain. the fires are changing the weather system, as the hot air rises it pushes moisture out of that area….. cloud seeding is required to induce rain
• Andrew Wadsley in Comments: There never was a business case for Basslink to be profitable, even in the good old days. Submissions to the JAP on Basslink clearly showed that the project was uneconomic and under sustainable trading would lose at least $70m / year. Hydro Tasmania have been selling the State’s resources (in this case water) just like Forestry Tasmania sells our trees (Lapoinya?) for short-term gain with long-term loss.
• Jack Gilding in Comments: … Thanks Campbell (Gizmodo). A good summary of an aspect of the Basslink break that hasn’t got much coverage so far. It’s not explicit in your article but I presume that the fibre failed on 20 December at the same time as electricity connection was lost. I’m surprised we are not feeling more pain if we have dropped from 645 to 5 Gbps. Alternative explanation is that fibre is still in operation but will be lost when the cable is cut to repair the electricity break.
• Shaun in Comments: … I do think the media is a lot to blame however. Throughout the current situation there has been a lot of words but very little hard, factual data presented to the public. Very few seem to understand the true situation and there’s a real risk that we’ll end up spending a fortune on unnecessary and potentially pointless “fixes” as a result. What’s the bet that we end up over-building new sources of supply and the next problem is how to deal with the financial consequences of doing so? Pretty likely I expect given the general misunderstanding that we’re not actually short on long term electricity supply as such, it being a question of the very short term only in that sense plus a question of the merits of imports from Victoria versus gas versus something new. It’s like saying someone could have earned $130K last year in their occupation but chose to not work too much and is now short on cash. That doesn’t mean they need to move interstate or do another degree to increase their earning potential, it just means they need to go back to work.
Lyndall Rowley* Pic* First published February 3
05.02.16 5:15 am
Enough is enough.
• Professor Jamie Kirkpatrick, Professor of Geography and Environmental Studies in the School of Land and Food at UTAS, Mercury Opinion: Charred heritage the burning issue … It is easy to rapidly rebuild houses and bridges. It is impossible to rebuild the Huon pine and King Billy pine forests that make Tasmania so special and attract people from all over the world to admire their beauty. The East and West of Tasmania are different worlds, but in both areas our floral natural heritage is in danger. In the grasslands, heaths and dry forests of eastern Tasmania, a reduction in fire frequency has resulted in local losses of biodiversity, while protections against clearing and degradation of significant places for threatened vegetation types and plant species have been politically subverted. Forest and woodland dominated by black gum picks out the most fertile and moist ground in eastern and northern Tasmania, so only 4 per cent of its original area was uncleared in 1997, the time of the Regional Forest Agreement, which therefore “protected” it. Yet a casual perusal of the reports from the Forest Practices Board, which monitors forest clearance, reveals a continued substantial attrition of this vegetation type, all politically approved, if not encouraged, as in the case of the Meander Dam. The smoke screen of offsetting has been used with much of this clearance. …
• Isla MacGregor in Comments: I applaud Lyndall and Jamie for speaking out about this devastating problem of fires in our landscape and agree enough is enough with prescribed burning.
• WATCH Wandering Foxbat’s aerial pictures of the fires, captured February 1: HERE
• Download Expert Papers ...
• Simon Warriner in Comments: … Unfortunately the TFS play a major role in the SFMC and as can be demonstrated comprehensively, that organisation does not understand the mantra “a stitch in time saves nine”. A member of the government has sufficient details to institute a judicial inquiry into the conduct of the TFS management going back at least a decade, and while some of those responsible have retired, there are current officers who stood and watched and did nothing while bad things happened, and that calls into question their judgement and thus their suitability to be involved in such a critical role. It is clearly time for the government to differentiate between the TFS management and the firies on the ground, and hold the management to account for their actions. At present they use the rightful public appreciation of the actions of the troops as a shield against proper scrutiny. For our government to fail to properly scrutinize is to fail in a clear duty to the public good, and right now many in the public realm can see the problem very clearly and are getting more than a tad pissed off with the delay in addressing it. Clear enough? (I admit some culpability, in that I could have taken the facts to the media back in 2013 but elected to work through “proper” process because I was concerned that if the public knew what was going on in the TFS at that time the volunteer force would have been negatively impacted. That was a mistake and my family has paid a very high price for it. )
• Download SATURDAY Expert Papers UPDATE ...
Michael Simmons* Pic* First published February 3
05.02.16 4:44 am
In October 2015 Tasmania acceded to the Federal Government’s Safe Haven Enterprise Visa (SHEV) program, becoming only the second state to do so. Premier Hodgman proclaimed at the time that Tasmania was opening its hearts and doors to those in need. However, it seems that Tasmania’s generous spirit and the possibility for the State to derive significant long-term benefits from the SHEV program have been significantly undermined from the outset.
• SMH Editorial: No need to trade off children’s rights for border protection So Australia’s offshore detention regime at Nauru and Manus Island is legal, a majority of the High Court has ruled. But is it moral?
• Urban Wronski in Comments: People smugglers are a no threat to our sovereignty postured Malcolm Turnbull in Question Time, Tuesday, as the beleaguered PM dug into the same dung-heap Tony Abbott once bucketed us with, in order to engender a sense of crisis, foster division and justify extreme measures. Operation Sovereign Ordure was up and running all over again. Or was it? Desperate to stop the rats in his ranks, Turnbull drops his pitch below rodent poop to win the support of his party’s rabid right and Abbott-government-in-exile, the Monkey Pod Bros, a rabble of unhappy nut-bags, deposed prime ministers and other trouble-makers. Top banana, former QLD copper Peter Dutton, claims to be in charge. He orders the Chinese takeaway and with Jamie Briggs helps set the table and the moral high ground …
• Liz Breen: Let Them Stay, says Amnesty International Launceston Action Group ...
• Waleed Aly, Fairfax: Nauru: How long can we keep lying to ourselves? The history of asylum seeker policy in Australia will be remembered as a story of how successive governments legislated their lies to justify a world of make-believe borders and imaginary compliance.
• Carol Bristow (Tas Refugee Action Group), Alex Kline Community organizer/ Amnesty: “Let Them Stay” Honkathon Action ...
Sky News. Pic*
05.02.16 4:32 am
British police have insisted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will be arrested if he steps outside the Ecuadorian embassy, where he has been holed up for more than three years.
SATURDAY February 6 ...
Bob Burton. First published February 1
04.02.16 6:00 am
The Tasmanian branch of the Liberal Party has disclosed the origin of less than one-fourteenth of the income they received in the last financial year.
• ABC: Political donations: Here’s what the latest data doesn’t tell us The Australian Electoral Commission has released its annual figures on political donations but much of the real action remains hidden due to Australia’s political donations laws, which are among the most lax in the Western world. So why don’t the figures tell the full story, and what can be done to change that? …
• Mercury: Tasmania’s political parties see dip in donations for last financial year ONLY small percentage of donors who contributed to Tasmanian political parties last year have had their identity made public …
Leo Schofield AM Artistic Director, Brisbane Baroque. Artistic Director, Sydney Sings. Pic: of Leo ...
04.02.16 5:55 am
Letter to Tasmanian Times … The dates of the new festival and a couple of elements thereof were mentioned in the Minister’s press release and in the Sydney Morning Herald, but no detailed program was announced. And yet for some unaccountable reason, Mr.Tony Bonney, with whom I am unacquainted, chose to see sinister motives behind the bland details of name and dates. Mr. Bonney, who it transpires is the director of Hobart’s annual Festival of Voices, telephoned the Deputy Arts Editor of the Sydney Morning Herald to accuse me of ‘stealing’ his event. Why did he not speak to me? …
• Luke Martin in Comments: Oh, gawd, haven’t we heard enough from this bloke?
• Leo Schofield in Comments: Ah yes, Luke Martin. How soon we forget. Isn’t he the soi-disant tourism guru who never returns telephone calls, never keeps appointments and is so alert to the possibilities of a good idea that he didn’t even know the dates of the baroque festival and went to nothing. Too busy I suppose issuing daily press releases, the all-purpose pundit. if anyone qualifies for the sobriquet of ‘media nymphomaniac’ it’s good ole’ Lukester. His understanding of cultural tourism is on a par ...
Ray Norman, Tasmanian Ratepayers Association
04.02.16 5:34 am
Big Public Meeting, Tramsheds Function Centre, 7pm Tuesday February 9
04.02.16 5:22 am
The CSIRO’s climate science divisions are expected to be pared back as part of a massive shake-up of the organisation.
• Peter Whish-Wilson in Comments ...
Chris Simcox, Animals Tasmania Media Release
04.02.16 5:16 am
Animals Tasmania are appalled that 56 cattle died on a ship travelling from Tasmania to Victoria ( ABC HERE ).
Greens spokesperson for Trade, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson Media Release
04.02.16 4:59 am
Today Andrew Robb has signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) on behalf of the Australian government. Greens spokesperson for Trade, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, provides the following comments ...
Urban Wronski* http://urbanwronski.com/ First pub: February 3. Pic*
03.02.16 3:45 am
Don’t tell waste your breath telling the Federal Treasurer his tax plans are unpopular. Being unpopular will only serve to flatter his colossal ego. Don’t ask how he can ignore the will of the people. Or delay the hundreds of submissions to his green paper on tax reform options. ScoMo knows what’s good for us. He’s about to launch a 15 % GST hike upon us.
A democratic government respects the will of the people. It does not trash popular opinion to follow its own agenda of protecting privilege by offering tax cuts to its mates. It cannot merely be the servant of entrenched division and inequality. It cannot seek tax reform submissions and just sit on them. It cannot offer slogans instead of explanation of its aims. If it seeks more tax revenue it must make its case for increased prosperity for the common good. …
BirdLife Tasmania convenor, Eric Woehler Media Release. Pic: of Geelong Star. First published January 31
03.02.16 3:30 am
WEDNESDAY February 3 ...
• Rebecca Hubbard in Comments: More Wildlife Killed by the Geelong Star Super Trawler as Fisheries Management Continues to Fail the Australian Public ...
SUNDAY January 31 ...
BirdLife Tasmania has condemned the news that the factory freezer trawler Geelong Star has recently killed seven albatrosses, including 5 in a single shot of their net. “Albatrosses are already under pressure globally from fisheries by-catch, “ BirdLife Tasmania convenor, Eric Woehler, said. “They are amongst the most threatened of seabirds anywhere in the world”, he added. “The killing of these iconic seabirds by this trawler is completely unacceptable,” Dr Woehler said.
John Lawrence, Tasfintalk: http://www.tasfintalk.blogspot.com.au/ First published February 1 Pic*
02.02.16 4:15 am
TUESDAY February 2 ...
• Mike Buky ... Dear Friends of a Dying Lapoinya ...
• Bob Brown ... … These were also the first arrests under the Hodgman government’s draconian anti-protest laws, specifically designed to stymy people from peacefully defending Tasmania’s forests and wildlife. Minister for Forests Paul Harriss’ bullying and counter-productive invasion of Lapoinya may not be unrelated to the resignation of Forestry Tasmania’s CEO and 3 board members this week. FT’s efforts to get green certification risk being scuttled by Harriss’ wanton destruction of this protected species’ habitat. But the invasion of the Lapoinya Forest is far from over. I was arrested on Monday for making a stand with the local community. More arrests are occurring. But you can help save Lapoinya and all Tasmania’s life-filled forests too, without being arrested …
• CNN: Did ancient Egypt suffer from climate change? ”(It was) a crucial period when the Old Kingdom started to face major critical factors: The rise of democracy, the horrific impact of nepotism and the role played by interest groups,” he says, adding that climate change also played a role in bringing an end to not only the Old Kingdom empire, but those in the Middle East and Western Europe at that time. Within 200 years of the Queen Mother’s death, the Nile no longer flooded and drought consumed the kingdom.
MONDAY February 1 ...
• FT directors quit ... … Directors come and go but Boards work best if there’s some continuity. The three replacement directors are mainly from forestry academic backgrounds. Which is a little strange given that FT is chronically insolvent. Reconstruction and marketing skills might’ve been handy around the Board table? Instead Minister Harriss has stacked the Board with forestry academics and is proceeding with his plan to sell immature hardwood plantations to cover operating expenses for the next 2 years so that it can concentrate on unprofitable native forest operations. It does suggest the impotence of the Board given Mr Ferrall’s role as de facto Voluntary Administrator. …
• Are Forestry Tasmania’s losses even greater?
• Ta Ann dossier ...
• Mercury Talking Point: … The loss of Bob Annells, who decided not to seek another term as FT chairman, needs to be viewed alongside the investor confidence trashing actions of Mr Harriss in revelling in an old-style “greens versus loggers” fight over a forestry coupe that no one thinks is particularly important, except the locals who live alongside it. Mr Annells is a highly experienced and politically savvy director with a strong track record in Victoria and Tasmania of understanding how government enterprises work. He has said nothing about his decision not to seek another term. Sometimes silence is the statement itself. Other directors who retired at the same time as Mr Annells include highly capable businessman Rob Woolley. The FT board has lost serious intellectual horsepower when it most needs it. What led to this untidy state of affairs? …
• Mike Bolan in Comments: 20 years ago Tasmania’s forestry leaders were being heavily buttered up, flown around the world and congratulated on their ‘world class’ operations by Nordic hustlers for pulp mills. Harriss, Lennon, Gay, Gray and others were all in the conga line for international strokes. Supporters of ‘industrial forestry’ became so enamoured of their own far-sighted brilliance that they ignored the obvious contradictions in attempting to profit by trashing trees that took decades to grow, converting them to undifferentiable woodchips and putting them onto declining international commodity markets. … Enter Paul Harriss whose frown, pursed lips and accusatory speech is backed by laws (not designed to punish ordinary Tasmanians) that punish ordinary Tasmanians. Could this be the face of our future? “Revenge of the Suckers”?
• Mercury Talking Point: It’s a special place called home … It’s ludicrous and embarrassing on a global scale. We are not hippies or extremists chaining ourselves to trees. We are not even anti-logging, but we are against unsustainable logging such as clearfelling as proposed for the Lapoinya forest coupe. We are teachers, nurses, councillors, scientists, tourism operators, artists and the list goes on. We are everyday people who do not want to pay for the destruction of this forest, this habitat which many plants and animals call home …
Peter Coad Mayor HVC Media Release. Pic: of Mayor Coad campaigning ...
02.02.16 4:00 am
… Mayor Coad said he had endeavoured to obtain the credit card information from the General Manager, but had been denied, the GM arguing that it was not within the role or functions of the Mayor to obtain this information. He said approval of Cr Mackintosh’s motion was a positive step by Council towards becoming more open and transparent. It was not about whether things had been done inappropriately, he said. Rather, it was about Council meeting its fiduciary responsibilities under the Act. Cr Mackintosh’s motion was supported by Mayor Coad and Crs Lydia Eastley, Bruce Heron and Liz Smith. Deputy Mayor Ian Paul and Crs Pav Ruzicka, Ken Studley and Mike Wilson voted against the motion.
01.02.16 4:05 am
The list of properties to be de-registered from Tas Heritage List ...
• John Hawkins in Comments: … Here at Bentley in Tasmania I am helping the village as they fight to prevent the destruction of an idyllic landscape by the creation on the high ground of the proposed new village of Chudleigh North a creation forced on us against the best wishes of the village residents who virtually en block petitioned against it to the Meander Valley Council. When we succeed it will be as a result of the efforts of those in the village making a supreme effort to protect themselves from those they have elected who seem to act entirely out of spite. Tasmania has no Landscape Legislation, no Cultural Landscape Legislation and the Heritage Council has actively campaigned to maintain this crazy exemption to facilitate the vested interests of the bankrupt logging industry. Today at lunchtime in the village there were two large coaches, the Honey Shop was packed not a logging truck in sight and all the tables were full in the Village Store. We will succeed.
• Bob Hawkins in Comments: … What has happened since 1975? That wise and insightful 349-page document has mouldered somewhere in the Commonwealth archives. Today, we are in an era when antique, heritage, history, intrinsic, and other such words redolent of the sense of “the things that you keep” are so unfashionable that government authorities (so many of which have been found to be corrupt in recent years) can treat them with contempt. To the valiant rearguard up there in Bentley, I say: “Don’t let the bastards grind you down”. And to John Hawkins: “May your cry of, ‘We will succeed’, put fear in the hearts of barbaric, money-hungry developers.
Isla MacGregor First published February 1
01.02.16 4:00 am
On the first day of every month we celebrate the beauty and wonder of the natural world of Tasmania ...
Mark Temby* First published February 1
01.02.16 3:25 am
Channel Highway Confusion and Business Development The Channel Highway is on a published and promoted tourist route known as the Huon Trail. The Huon Trail is a circular drive from Hobart south through Kettering, Cygnet and Huonville and is popular with families, cyclists and motoring enthusiasts on their weekend tours. It is also the access road onto Bruny Island with its international tourism reputation. Unfortunately, as it runs across both the Kingborough and Huon Valley Council regions variable maximum speed limits create uncertainty for motorists. The maximum speeds are 100kph and 90kph for Huon Valley and Kingborough respectively.
In particular, there were three high profile businesses that agreed to support a review of speed zones across the Huon-D’Entrecasteaux region in the public sphere. They are attuned to current tourism trends through their business successes and, as locals in business, recognise the dangers of business accesses from high speed traffic flows. These businesses are the award winning Willie Smith’s Cidery (Grove), Grandvewe Cheeses (Woodbridge) and Home Hill Winery (Ranelagh). Such supportive surveys within the residential and business communities demonstrate how councils and state departments are out of touch with current community sentiments and needs. The perspectives of business are important and a survey where two thirds support a review should be noted in any deliberations by Huon Valley and Kingborough Councils or the Department of State Growth.
Urban Wronski* http://urbanwronski.com/ . Pic*
01.02.16 3:00 am
In the 1990s, when Malcolm was still a merchant banker, the Turnbull family commissioned one of Lucy Turnbull’s father’s artists, Lewis Miller, to paint a portrait of Malcolm.
Le Weekend Cygnet Organising Committee
01.02.16 2:45 am
It started as the mere germ of an idea or as the French would say ‘une petite idée.’
ABC. Pic: Matt Newton
01.02.16 2:37 am
Radio network Triple M has come under fire after former Labor leader Mark Latham used his podcast with the station to say men hit women as a “coping mechanism”.
01.02.16 2:30 am
Dear Chilliwops, Today I was reading a web page that delivers the quote of the day. Today’s “nature quote” said, “Let us permit nature to have her way. She understands her business better than we do.” The author was sixteenth century French writer and philosopher Michel de Montaigne.
Tanya Hill Honorary Fellow of the University of Melbourne and Senior Curator (Astronomy), Museum Victoria
01.02.16 2:05 am
For the first time in more than 10 years, it will be possible to see all five bright planets together in the sky. Around an hour or so before sunrise, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, the five planets that have been observed since ancient times, will appear in a line that stretches from high in the north to low in the east.
Tony Orman Journalist/Editor P O Box 939 BLENHEIM, 7240 New Zealand
01.02.16 1:30 am
New Zealand’s half a century of anti-wild animal campaigns and associated hired deer killers and aerial bombardment of forests with 1080 poison for possums may have been a total waste of public money as well as ecologically damaging to the country’s wilderness areas with use of poisons. That is one conclusion to be drawn from recent findings by Canterbury Museum work using “state of art 3D modelling”. The work had given greater insight into New Zealand’s vegetation prior to humans migrating here and how the vegetation had evolved.
Peter McGlone Director, Tasmanian Conservation Trust Inc Media Release. Pic: of Freycinet Lodge
31.01.16 6:10 am
With public submissions due tomorrow on proposed changes to the Freycinet National Park Management Plan, the Tasmanian Conservation Trust has called for the state government to scrap the changes entirely in light of its deception over the true extent of the changes. The TCT Director Peter McGlone said that “The implications of the proposed changes go well beyond the government’s stated objective of allowing the expansion of the Freycinet Lodge. “The effect of the amendment will be to allow the Minister to issue licences or leases for built accommodation, without limit, in the entire Coles Bay Visitor Services Zone, opening up the entire area to new built accommodation.
Ted Mead. First published January 25
31.01.16 6:00 am
Tasmania’s precious World Heritage forests are currently facing the worst crisis in decades.
• Bob Brown’s letter to Malcom Turnbull ...
• Carol Rea in Comments: Why isn’t there an Aircrane deployed here. Two of these could have made all the difference a few days ago. Now there is a window of opportunity. Greg Hunt and Malcolm Turnbull need to step up to protect our WH and Tarkine reainforests. There are 6 Aircranes in Australia - three in Victoria. The S64 Aircrane can drop 2,650 gallons (7,500 liters) of water on fires in a single pass. With specialized snorkels, the Aircrane can also refill the tank in nearby bodies of water in less than 30 seconds. Fire Aviation HERE
• Guardian: World heritage forests burn as global tragedy unfolds in Tasmania A global tragedy is unfolding in Tasmania. World heritage forests are burning; 1,000-year-old trees and the hoary peat beneath are reduced to char. Fires have already taken stands of king billy and pencil pine – the last remaining fragments of an ecosystem that once spread across the supercontinent of Gondwana. Pockets of Australia’s only winter deciduous tree, the beloved nothofagus – whose direct kin shade the sides of the South American Andes – are now just a wind change away from eternity. Unlike Australia’s eucalyptus forests, which use fire to regenerate, these plants have not evolved to live within the natural cycle of conflagration and renewal. If burned, they die. To avoid this fate, they grow high up on the central plateau where it is too wet for the flames to take hold. But a desiccating spring and summer has turned even the wettest rainforest dells and high-altitude bogs into tinder. Last week a huge and uncharacteristically dry electrical storm flashed its way across the state, igniting the land. While these events have occurred in the past, says David Bowman, a professor of environmental change biology at the University of Tasmania, they were extremely rare, happening perhaps once in a millennium. “It’s killing trees that are over 1,000 years old; it’s burning up soil that takes over 1,000 years to accumulate,” he says. If this truly were a once-in-1,000-year event, says Bowman, then to be alive when it occurs is like “winning TattsLotto” for a fire scientist. But we no longer live in the same world. “We are in a new place,” he says. “We just have to accept that we’ve crossed a threshold, I suspect. This is what climate change looks like.” …
FRIDAY January 29 ...
• What The Examiner Editorial reckons (also known as the Troglodyte pronounces ...) IT is politically naive for the Greens to seek funding for fighting fires in remote World Heritage areas while the rest of the community is stressing over the defence of their homes and livestock. It makes you wonder at times if the Greens holiday on another planet. We know that they are definitely not saying: sacrifice life and property for the sake of the wilderness. Their emphasis, however, on protection of the World Heritage area, while not being strong advocates of burnoffs, does not endear them to the broader community …
• UTAS Professor David Bowman, The Conversation: Fires in Tasmania’s ancient forests are a warning for all of us … The fires are extremely destructive for two main reasons. First, the fires are threatening vegetation that is unique to Tasmania, including iconic alpine species such as the Pencil Pine and cushion plants, as well as temperate rainforests. Second, the fires are burning up large areas of organic soils upon which the unique Tasmanian vegetation depends. It is extremely unlikely burnt areas with the endemic alpine flora will ever fully recover given the slow growth of these species and the increased risk of subsequent fires given the change to more flammable vegetation and the slow accumulation of peat soils, which takes thousands of years. …
Bob Hawkins*. Pic: of Peter Gutwein. First published January 27
30.01.16 6:05 am
Huon Valley Guessing Games Unless the two-person board of inquiry into the Huon Valley Council has sought another extension of time, its report should be with Minister for Local Government Peter Gutwein by close of business Friday (January 29). Few think its findings will be a clean-sweep exoneration of all involved. That would be far too embarrassing for Gutwein because he knows he must be seen to be doing something about problems afflicting some councils in the South.
FRIDAY January 29, SATURDAY January 30 ...
• Bob Hawkins’ Updates ...
• Bob Hawkins in Comments: #4 Hi Linda: If I were 20 years younger, and I thought I had any chance of becoming a councillor, I would have stood for election long ago. But I’m nearing the end of my eighth decade; there’s no way I’d get elected without joining a political team; and I can’t find anyone to take on the task of trying to keep our council up to the mark. And, anyway, who would want to be gagged by an establishment-orientated local government act that makes it almost impossible for anyone inside council (elected or staff) to speak out freely should they spot something that is not being done according to the rules? As a citizen of a parliamentary democracy, I’m entitled to an opinion, and — because, at least for the moment, we are still entitled to freedom of speech — to express it. I’ll continue to attempt to bring balance to the political debate in the Huon by offering views that run counter to years of council spin, which the valley’s media have been happy to publish, mostly verbatim, and mostly without question. I receive no remuneration for my articles; I have no business interest in Tasmanian Times; and I do not stand to benefit financially in any way as a result of what I write. Whenever you raise a valid criticism, I’ll do my best to respond fairly, or to concede that you have a point. In the meantime, each of us is entitled to to do our master’s bidding. In my case, I like to think I take orders from my conscience. Who do you take yours from?
Pete Godfrey. Pic* First published January 28
30.01.16 6:00 am
We have been told by our Government that all will be well with the Power system in Tasmania, and that the Hydro Power will be able to cope until Basslink comes back online.
Is this really true?
• John Lawrence in Comments: Pete, those figures look pretty right. Except, part of AETV, a Rolls Royce 60 Mw machine, is overseas being repaired. Some say wind in Tassie operates at 40%. Shenhua supposedly did their figures on Woolnorth and Musselwroe at 38% but output hasn’t been quite to expectations? HT only has a minority (25%) interest in the joint venture, so it doesn’t disclose too many details in its Annual Report. Solar operates at around 15%.
• Chris in Comments: How prudent was it to reduce the feed in tariffs to 5 cents per KWH thus turning people off installing household solar? Just imagine if 10,000 homes were to install say 5 KW units with some incentives, (like headwork gifts to developers) then there is a potential for a further 50MW to be added to the system …
• Steve in Comments: #19; Mr Harriss; if you have been following this debate on TT, you would be aware that John Lawrence has done a detailed economic assessment which indicates that it’s very improbable that the logging of Lapoinya is going to turn a profit: HERE .You are obviously across the economics of the situation, as indicated by your costings of protest action. Please could you supply a rebuttal of John Lawrence’s analysis, indicating which of John’s assumptions are unreasonable, and why. As a tax payer, I’m concerned that fellow taxpayers, such as the residents of Lapoinya, are forced to suffer the destruction of an area that’s special to them, and all at a net cost to the State. It would be of great value to have the economics of the situation explained in detail.
• Derbytas in Comments: … Tasmania has more than a Billion Dollars of Debt, from the building of these dams, still unpaid. The punters of Tasmania have been paying the interest on this debt and subsidising these bulk users for decades. But that seems to be how things are done in Tasmania.
• Clive Stott in Comments: I am not sure why the Basslink fault cannot be accurately pinpointed, the type of fault known and communicated to the public? Someone is not telling us the full story, unless I have missed it. I cannot believe we have to physically dig up a cable to see where and what the fault is …
Peter Boyer, http://www.southwind.com.au First published January 26
30.01.16 5:45 am
FRIDAY January 29 ...
• Stewart Hoyt, convenor for Forests of Lapoinya Action Group (FLAG): Government Conducts Phoney Forest War ... Adrian’s letter to Joan Rylah: … You stated that you “strongly believe compassion for others is the glue that holds community together” in your maiden speech. If this is how you show compassion, by sticking it to the locals and sticking up for a foreign-owned company? Our small community is destined to go the way of Muenna. Low quality forestry plantations and maybe some dairy, soon after that, just low quality plantations. I wait somewhat apprehensively for your reply, and would very much appreciate a reply from you, not an automatic response or even better, call in for a cup of tea and a chat …
• John Biggs in Comments: #19. “Every time a protester enters the coupe at Lapoinya, Forestry Tasmania has to suspend operations in order to protect the safety of workers, and the protester.” Mr Harriss, that is not true. FT doesn’t have to suspend operations. People standing by are not stopping anyone from working, they are not obstructing or damaging machinery. They only “prevent”: people from working because that is your edict. You and FT seem to be deliberately inflaming the issue.
TUESDAY January 26 ...
When representatives of industry, timber workers and the conservation movement signed an accord back in 2011, some of us hoped Tasmania’s crippling forest wars were over.
When a government is elected, it has a responsibility to govern for all. Will Hodgman should know that hostility towards portfolio stakeholders is no basis for a ministerial career. He should not have put Harriss in charge of forestry operations. But it was the blind leading the blind. The premier has for many years echoed Harriss’s extreme pronouncements. Held captive by their shared ideological spin, Paul Harriss and Will Hodgman have dug themselves a deep, dark hole, and it’s only getting deeper.
• Mark Temby in Comments: A personal observation I’ve had from the first day of the Hodgman government was the speed of enacting the enabling legislation to criminalise and gaol these protesters. My goodness, I never saw so many alert “independent” Legislative Councilors keen to put their stamp of approval on legislation. These are the same ones who drag their knuckles on every other change, hide beneath their cloaks of independence and, together with the government, reject moving forward at every other opportunity.
• John Biggs in Comments: … As to the economics, economist John Lawrence estimated that the Lapoinya operation will not make any money at all, but cost the people $250,000. So we destroy what the local community desperately wants for a net loss to the taxpayer. And by the way, when MLC, Harriss declared a pecuniary interest he had been given gifts by Ta Ann. And now as the relevant minister he is delivering for Ta Ann. Surely a serious conflict of interest. Does anyone know of any connection between Harriss and Ta Ann? Has anyone in the Liberal Govt and in FT any integrity at all?
• Dr Kevin Bonham: Lapoinya Scrapes The Barrel Of Tasmania’s Forests Conflict Tasmania has seen some big environmental contests down the years. Lake Pedder, the Franklin dam, Farmhouse Creek, Wesley Vale, the Bell Bay pulp mirage, Ralphs Bay. The latest flashpoint, Lapoinya, isn’t one of them. To many veterans on either side it must be astonishing that we now have a barney over the logging of forty-nine hectares of regrowth - that anyone would bother protesting it, let alone getting arrested over it, or on the other hand that anyone would bother with the logging or arresting. To put it into perspective, bushfires in Tasmania have burnt almost 900 Lapoinya-coupes worth of native vegetation in the past fortnight alone. The Lapoinya argument seems like nothing more than a vintage example of Sayre’s Law (the contest is so bitter precisely because the stakes are so small). Behind what has become a comically petty contest in the context of the battles of the past, however, are some players with a bigger game to play. But before I get onto specifics of Lapoinya (then all that), I’d like to look at how we got here …
• Steve Biddulph in Comments: Thanks to Peter Boyer for this great perspective and inside story. “If these are extremists then I don’t understand the word” is a wonderful observation. And attributing the whole thing to bloody mindedness by Harriss has the ring of truth. Its a tiny coupe, being logged at a loss, even before police time is taken into account. And its destruction is deeply opposed by a local community who love their valley and care for it well. Everything good about Tasmania is on the line once again.