Mike Bolan
I’m not sure why these discussions keep shifting into the technicalities of forestry and whether or not forestry is ‘sustainable’. From a ‘cost to the public’ perspective it’s pretty easy to understand what’s happening without needing regard to forestry techniques. Even the most basic costings of the various favours, exemptions, below market resources, research, free infrastructures and so forth show that it costs the public at least $250 million per year to subsidise forestry in Tasmania. (e.g. see http://tasmaniantimes.com/index.php?/weblog/article/mill-doing-the-sums/ ). In exchange Gunns posts a profit of $65 million - $85 million in good years. The low profit appears to be a result of so much effort going into producing a high volume, low profit international commodity - fibre. That portion of the forestry industry that produces specialty timbers and other high value products probably performs far better, and is probably responsible for raising the average return. Thus the public pays about $180 million each year for a couple of thousand forestry jobs which allows Gunns to post a profit of $65 - $80 million. Read more, Comment here