Company jobs hang in the balance over possible long-term dispute
San Francisco, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 11/02/2012 -- Tasmania’s largest surviving timber processor is now in doubt after the state’s marathon forest peace talks collapsed over the weekend.
The Malaysian-owned veneer producer Ta Ann Tasmania is under renewed attacks regarding its export market, which has reignited a campaign that is already so highly divisive in the island, as needs for jobs continues to rise.
Industry leader Terry Edwards stated that the market campaign posed a reprehensible risk to the Ta Ann company’s future. “"The environment groups are promising to destroy Ta Ann's markets,"
Mr. Edwards, chief executive of the Forest Industries Association of Tasmania, told Fairfax. "They intend to injure their reputation as a company internationally."
Options are being reviewed by Ta Ann, and the company plans to examine operations of two mills that employ more than 100 people. Markets for Change, a national group, stated that global customers were turning away from products that resulted in subsequent destruction of threatened forests such as Tasmania.
"Markets for Change has no choice but to continue with its market campaign given the lack of agreement to protect Tasmania's world-class forests," chief executive Tim Birch said.
Peace talks were nearly derailed early in the year when Ta Ann said a cyber campaign cost half of its sales to Japanese customers.
This time around, Ta Ann maintained its inter-government backing agreement between Tasmania and Federal governments that currently underpin talks, suggesting partial solution that might be salvaged.
The Wilderness Society and Environment Tasmania, an Australian Conservation foundation, declared that more than two years of talks with the industry had collapsed after two years of negotiations.
The WS negotiator, Vica Bayley, stated the breaking point came when the industry refused to allow saw log quotas to be removed, and wanted redistributed quotas.
"This is incredibly disappointing and incredibly frustrating," Mr Bayley said. There was an agreement there for the taking."
The original bid earmarked 572,000 hectares of high-conservation-value forest, which was then reduced by 50,000, according to environment groups.
Environment Minister Tony Burk stated that the package would have to be wound back, and Burke appears deeply pessimistic regarding a possible agreement being reached.
"Now people have to look down the barrel of being without an agreement," Mr. Burke said. "Let market forces run their course without a higher level of support than was on the table."
Tasmanian deputy premier Bryan Green said: "There's no way we can shoehorn them into an agreement. That is never what it's been about."
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