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Branchline Dec 1, 2010

Branchline Dec 1, 2011

I thought I would write a short note about the Government Business Enterprise Scrutiny committee hearings today.

As you might be aware, once a year the Parliament of Tasmania brings the state owned companies and business enterprises to parliament to be quizzed about their performance, their aspirations and their concerns.

In some respects, the hearings are a little like the annual general meetings that publicly listed companies are required to hold.

This morning, Forestry Tasmania's Managing Director Bob Gordon, Chairman of the Board Adrian Kloeden, our Executive General Manager Hans Drielsma and our stakeholder minister Bryan Green spent three and a half hours answering questions by representatives of the government, the Liberals and the Greens across the breadth of Forestry Tasmania activities.

As you might imagine, much of the hearing dealt with the new Forest Statement of Principles negotiated by the timber industry and conservation groups and how it might impact on Forestry Tasmania.

The last financial year was tough for the international timber industry, and FT weathered the storm better than many, posting an underlying operating profit of $1.2m. (The Chairman's speaking points)

However, as Bob Gordon pointed out at the hearing, it's better to focus on the long term opportunities, rather than dwelling on the short term challenges. It is time to consider options that have not been considered before.

Today's hearings also provided a platform to discuss the need to conduct more hazard reduction burns around the state.... critical if we are to learn the lessons of the past. In spring 2010, Forestry Tasmania was able to reduce fuels on about 4,600 hectares, but we are the first to acknowledge that we and other land managers need to do more.

Despite the financial challenges, Forestry Tasmania is continuing to invest heavily in science. Understandably, some of the research focus is on carbon and the contribution forestry makes to mitigating climate change. Our Minister Bryan Green is very supportive of this research work and with a strong interest in the agricultural sector, Mr Green has taken keen interest in our Trees on Farms project, which seeks to integrate tree growing with agricultural production.

And on a final note, Bob used the hearings to announce plans for the Tahune AirWalk Lodge - accommodation that will enable people to stay overnight at the Tahune AirWalk - one of Tasmania's iconic tourism attractions.

Ken Jeffreys
General Manager Corporate Relations and Tourism
Forestry Tasmania


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