Legislative Council Thursday 24 August 2017
Ms FORREST question to ACTING LEADER of the GOVERNMENT in the LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL
(1) With regard to the 29 000 hectares of plantations earmarked for imminent sale -
(a) How much of the 29 000 hectares of hardwood plantations up for sale were established and maintained using funds provided by the federal government since the mid-1980s?
(b) How many were established with internal funds from Forestry Tasmania and how many were acquired from Gunns' receivers or liquidator?
(2) What was the cost of establishing and maintaining these plantations since the mid-1980s?
(3) What was the cost of the acquisition of the Gunns trees?
(4) Does the minister accept that a fair and reasonable sale price would be, at a minimum, the cost to the taxpayer to establish and maintain these plantations since the 1980s? If not, what does the minister consider constitutes a fair and reasonable value to the taxpayer?
Mr Deputy President, I thank the member for Murchison for her questions.
(1) Federal government funding received under various state and Commonwealth agreements has been aimed at supporting the forestry sector and to provide compensation for production areas transferred to reservation. Components of these agreements have provided the capital funding to establish and promote the growth of plantations to supplement the production of high quality sawlogs from public production forests.
Of the approximately 29 000 hectares of hardwood plantations being offered for sale, 60 per cent were established by Forestry Tasmania, either with Helsham, RFA, TCFA funding or with internal funds, with the remainder being either established under joint venture or leased area arrangements. A precise breakdown per funding arrangement is not available due to the limitations of interrogating historical financial records from the 1980s to the 1990s, with the exception of the TCFA funding arrangement, which established 14 000 hectares in total.
(2) An estimate of the cost to establish and maintain these trees is not available due to the limitations in interrogating historical financial records from the 1980s to the 1990s.
(3) Sustainable Timber Tasmania acquired the former Gunns plantation estate on Permanent Timber Production Zone land in a mutually agreed outcome with the Gunns liquidator. The deed of settlement and release signed in September 2016 was ratified by the Supreme Court of Victoria. The terms of the settlement are confidential.
(4) Sustainable Timber Tasmania is conducting the sale in a manner which has fairly tested the market via an international expression of interest and competitive bid process that has been designed to maximise the value of the sale. It is the Government's expectation that the sale price achieved will be a fair market price for the asset.