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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

Harder than pulling teeth : Council pussy foot around native forest logging

Today's Council meeting carried an agenda item around the long term cessation of logging of State Forest in the Eurobodalla. Councillor Alison Worthington gave notice that she would move that Eurobodalla Shire Council supports an end to native forest logging in Eurobodalla Shire. Her intention was pretty simple: That Council notes the growing evidence that native forest logging is both economically and environmentally unsustainable and is incompatible with our shire’s and our region’s investments in nature-based tourism enterprises, climate change mitigation and the protection of biodiversity. What she called for was for Council to advocate to the NSW State government for the urgent development of a plan for the just transition of the native forest industry to ecologically sustainable plantations and to enact plans to manage our State Forests, in partnership with south coast communities and local councils, for their nature-based tourism assets, recreational opportunities, biodiversity values and for carbon sequestration.


The overall intention was sound. But it took over two hours of deliberation, debate and arguing the value, intent and delivery of each and every word of her motion. The pedantic, the pussy footing, the snivelling, the snide remarks made what seemed a reasonable idea so difficult that, having watched it, I still have no idea what they finally agreed to with all the amendments. In principle it was agreed that something needed to be said by Eurobodalla Council. The community has its own mechanism in place with a 20,000 signature petition that will cause the issue to be debated in Parliament but at a local level the Council was being asked to also offer a perspective. The motion was being delivered by a Green's Councillor. This raised the hackles of one councillor who offered the opinion that the motion was little more than "Philosophical, partisan, zealotry". What if the motions had been delivered by a teal independent saying: "Let's write to the Ministers and tell them that the logging of State Forests in Eurobodalla is shit. They do a shit job, they leave the place looking like shit, they ignore the rules, they get fined, they don't give a shit, the industry makes no money, the bulk of the timber goes off shore as wood chip, little of it is actually used for fine timber product, the industry employs bugger all people and basically what they are doing is pretty shit, pretty useless, and they really need to have a bit of a think about how they could do better and follow the lead of others. Until they do something better and show us they are fair dinkum with a transition plan from the shit job they are doing in the South East to something economically viable and of benefit to the community rather than just providing arse-wipe then we are calling them out because we are sick of the shit job they are doing tearing up our roads, leaving our forests looking like wastelands and we are sick of seeing the waste of potential whilst learning about the bucket loads of our money that continues to subsidise them doing a shit job." That is pretty much what most of the presenters agreed with today along with the last time this came to council. But everyone was too polite to say so. There were naysayer voices in the wilderness however, starting with one Public Forum presenter and then backed up by a single councillor during debate. Today we heard their alternate truths around labour numbers and production percentages and the debate managed to disappear down rabbit holes by way of being told by Council staff how terrific Forestry NSW was with their support of the local mountain bike tracks and allowing the use of their land for the Botanic Gardens. Added to this we were told how wonderful they were in clearing forestry roads after the bushfires. At no point did anyone set out to dismiss any of this but it was verbalised to paint Forestry as the good guys, implying that we can't be horrible to them because they are friends and they do so much and that they only log 1% of the local forest per year...... you could hear the love in every whimper of defence. Nice try but the reality of the situation and the focus of the motion intent was brought home time and time again to remind the councillors that the local industry is proven to be uneconomic and unsustainable, that it breaks the rules, and that this needs to be recognised and remedied. It was also acknowledged time and time again that the intent was not to cease the operations over night but to ask that a transition plan be put in place for workers who might be offered alternate employment in a like industry such as viable, economic, sustainable hard plantations. Once again the arguments boiled as to where these might be and, if not on State Forest land, then what might become of Forestry NSW land. Argument followed argument, as did amendments. It was painful. In the end the Councillors (with the exception of one) agreed to write something to the Ministers. God only knows what it will be. My suggestion: Ministers, Your logging of south east forests is shit. You are subsidising a dying industry with top dollar for no other reason than because you always have and you have export woodchip contracts to fill. Everyone knows they break the rules. They get fined and nothing happens. You leave our backyard looking like shit and we are trying to market your mess as the Nature Coast. There is a good local industry potential here but it needs to begin today. Why not have a good long think about this and grow some balls to call it a day and make a transition into something that gives back to the community, the economy and the land instead of the shit show we currently have. If you can't then bugger off and let someone else have a go. signed Everybody.


NOTE: Comments were TRIALED - in the end it failed as humans will be humans and it turned into a pile of merde; only contributed to by just a handful who did little to add to the conversation of the issue at hand. Anyone who would like to contribute an opinion are encouraged to send in a Letter to the Editor where it might be considered for publication

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