By TONY MOBILIFONITIS
WHEN Hobart lawyer Roland Browne is not fighting the “evil” of gun ownership across Australia, he and his woke anti-industry cohorts are in the courts fighting feverishly to hobble, if not destroy the island state’s timber and wood chipping industry.
Decades on they have had some success and recent employment figures confirm the story. Tasmania’s biggest industry now is welfare and health care. The state’s official employment figure page for 2021 boasts: “Health Care and Social Assistance is the largest employer in Tasmania, making up 16.7% of total employment.” In other words, it’s up an unhealthy 2% since 2016 to 40,067 employees.
By contrast, agriculture, forestry and fishing make up only 5.2% of jobs. Forestry in particular, has been hit hard by decades of attacks by the state’s green community who see themselves as a more enlightened breed than the hard-working men and women who have worked the forests, mills and logging trucks for nearly 150 years. That’s real sustainable industry.
But not to worry, Canberra’s champion of renewable energy, the Tesla-driving Chris Bowen, has come to Tasmania’s aid with a $70 million hand-out to help build a $300m “hydrogen hub” at Bell Bay, northern Tasmania. The hub joins others in regional centres like Kwinana, the Pilbara, Gladstone, Townsville, Port Bonython and the Hunter.
Apparently this is preparation for the criminalisation of petrol and diesel in the year 2030, when rainbow ponies will prance in poo-free pristine paddocks and farm animals are liberated into human-free wild zones to be eaten by wild dogs or burnt by rampant wildfires.
The hydrogen plant is a another case of green virtue signalling and a concession to industry-starved Tasmania after Gunns Ltd spent a decade and $230 million on research and permits to build a clean-technology (chlorine-free) pulp mill in the area using only plantation timber.
But financial pressures got the better of the company which went into receivership in 2012. Construction and other permits lapsed in 2017. The Greens cheered. Tens of thousands of hectares of timber was preserved for the next major bushfire.
Fortunately for the people of Launceston and district, in April 2022 common sense prevailed and environmental red tape was overcome to allow the construction by Midway Tasmania of a $14 million woodchip mill to produce up to 500,000 metric tonnes of dry woodchips per annum at the Bell Bay Industrial Precinct. It was added to its existing Bell Bay facility which began exporting chips in October 2020.
But according to the Greens, how dare a lightly-populated state with thousands of square kilometres of forest and open spaces and coastline create industry and jobs out of the natural resources the island was endowed with. Indeed, “how dare you!” as the little Swedish anti-industry dimwit Greta Thunberg once sniffed.
Two visionary Tasmanians who did once dare to develop were brothers John and Thomas Gunn, who founded the timber company carrying their family name in 1875. It was one of Australia’s longest running companies, providing jobs and income for thousands of working class Tasmanians. It had over 900 square kilometres of plantations, mainly eucalyptus trees – Australia’s most common woody weed.
In 2001 Gunns paid $335 million for Tasmania’s biggest woodchip company, North Forest Products, making it Australia’s biggest exporter of woodchips. But in the mind of the global environmentalist cult fostered decades earlier by the Anglo-American eugenicist elites, the Rockefeller Population Fund, the UN Environmental Program (UNEP) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), people like the Gunns were simply environmental vandals and those who worked for them disposable proles.
In Tasmania, there was also Greens gay boy Senator Bob Brown, who was perpetually in the media spouting off his nature-worship rhetoric. To Bob Brown, Tasmania should be the Avalon of the South, a pristine island reserved for the professional/government class to enjoy on their weekend bush walks and winery tours.
Gunns, before running into financial trouble and going into liquidation in 2013, started as a small family operation and became the biggest exporter of woodchips in the Southern Hemisphere. But constant battling with the green cult, tough economic conditions and never-ending negative coverage by the “progressive” media eventually took its toll.
One of the green cult’s dirtiest operations against Tasmania’s timber industry (apart from metal spiking of timber logs) was the closure of the woodchip export facility at the deep-water port of Triabunna, previously owned by Gunns, on the East Coast. When Gunns were forced into asset sales a pair of multi-millionaire greenies, Jan Cameron of the retailer Kathmandu and Graeme Wood of travel agency Wotif.com, flicked Gunns a casual $10 million for the facility.
This sale was brokered by Alec Marr, a fanatical tree-hugger who became the well-heeled executive director of the Wilderness Society. It was hoped that the chipping facility might be kept operational and reopened in line with the state’s forestry agreement, but Marr, in cahoots with Wood and Cameron, had no such plans.
Essentially they wanted to literally disable the forestry industry’s only deep-water port in the south of the state, thereby ending an economic supply line and “preserving” the plantation and old-growth forests for the next big fire.
The duo promptly shut the facility. After all, who needs big, dirty industrial steel structures attended to by laborers, drivers, boilermakers, electricians, engineers and other such deplorables, loading up ships with chips made from left-over eucalyptus timber? Oh no, we’ll have none of that, they said, sipping their fine Tasmanian white, or was it a red?
In a dirty kick in the guts to the timber industry they despised, Wood and Cameron appointed Marr as “mill manager”. Journalist John van Tiggelen wrote in The Monthly that Marr “longed to wreck the mill’s infrastructure” and hired welders and an electrician to do the job in secret. The site manager, who lived on site with his family, was sacked and sent on leave. Sorry plebs, go get your dirty little jobs elsewhere.
Van Tiggelen’s account of Marr’s takeover of the mill and port reads like an extract from a horror movie script. He wrote that in the board room Marr “laid out sledgehammers, axes large and small, angle grinders, spanners, pliers, bolt cutters and gloves. “For me, the sound of those grinders tomorrow will be the singing of angels,” said Marr, grinning broadly.”
As it soon turned out, an illegal campaign of vandalism was exactly what Marr had in mind. Starting with what he called “some neurosurgery” he and his team attacked the high-voltage switch room, power to which had been disconnected after Marr told the power company there was a fault. Van Tiggelen noted that Marr look wild-eyed and pledged to “turn the monster (switch room) into a brain-dead quadriplegic.”
Switchboxes worth $400,000 each to replace were pulled apart, all wiring snipped and key components crushed. Big parts were dragged to the truck parking bay and run over with a bulldozer. No commonsense dismantling and selling of parts, just fanatical, wanton destruction. And then they attacked and wrecked the control tower for the main operating parts of the facility with Marr bragging “This is about as much fun as I’ve had before lunch in my life.”
Marr could be called a modern-day Luddite, after the fanatics who attacked industrial machinery in Britain in the early 19th Century because they saw it as taking away their jobs. But Marr was worse. He was destroying machinery simply because he perceived it as the enemy of his tree gods. This was the machinery chopped his beloved eucalypts into little chips to be sent off and be made into paper.
It also amounted to wilful destruction of property in which the state and federal governments had an interest by virtue of the Tasmanian Regional Forestry Agreement. It was also a betrayal of a promise by Wood and Cameron “to operate the mill to give the industry time to shift to plantation timber”, The Australian reported.
These days Marr, no longer head of the Wilderness Society, has become an “environmentalist entrepreneur” in Canberra, running a company called TTT Analytics, that “brings together capital market specialists and environmental strategists to amplify the efforts of environmental organisations and activist investors to ensure that environmental risk is properly factored into the share price of publicly listed companies.”
In other words this obsessed hater of the timber industry is a paid environmentalist cop who marks up companies that do all the green virtue signalling and avoid “dirty” things like coal, oil and timber that actually keep the country running. Of course he would make an exception for lithium, cobalt and rare earth miners who feed the battery factories.
Wood and Cameron, meanwhile, turned the once proud industrial site into yet another trendy entertainment venue with an “industrial edge”, for seminars, weddings (particularly gay ones) and conferences. That’s “green economics” for you. Wood co-opted the help of the trendoid Bohemians who run Hobart’s Museum of Old and New Art and who hosted the “spirit cooker” Marina Abramovic in 2015 and specialise in exhibitions that outrage public decency.
Wood planned on creating a “world top 20 landscaped garden” full of of “botanic wonders including a cork oak forest, a food garden, an indoor rainforest” and precincts for sculpture, marine research, horticulture, a cooking school, concerts and perhaps a whiskey still. He reckoned it could attract 400,000 visitors a year. Yeah right.
Tourism is invariably the “magic solution” for areas suffering industrial and population decline. Wood’s site also features a giant sun dial, but of course any connection to the giant sun dial on Epstein Island is purely coincidental.
But Wood and Cameron didn’t stop there in their anti-industry campaign to keep “Avalon of the South” the exclusive preserve of the Davos class and tourists. The pair, calling themselves Triabunna Investments Pty Ltd, hired Roland Browne’s woke law firm to fight a planned fish farm in nearby Okehampton Bay. The Bob Brown Foundation was also in on the action, naturally.
Fortunately for the remaining Triabunna locals looking for jobs in real industry, the fish farm went ahead in 2017, but not without constant harassment from Brown and others whose environmental foundations rake in millions from tax-deductible donations from corporate “partners” – the same corporate crowd that pays the likes of Alex Marr millions to tell them how green a potential investment is.
Tasmanian fish farms, incidentally, are now all in the hands of foreign corporations, who most likely pay tribute to the hordes of green and indigenous NGOs and bureaucrats. In the end we the consumers pay. But we can at least be thankful for the salmon fillets that are now commonplace on supermarket shelves.
Triabunna, incidentally, is surviving thanks to the fish farm and a new industry that grows a special type of seaweed for stockfeed. Apparently it’s “carbon neutral” because it doesn’t encourage stock burping and farting like other feed. The town also has its promised marina and wharf upgrade to encourage seafaring visitors.