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Thursday, November 10, 2005

Spitting chips over logs' fate

The Mercury: Spitting chips over logs' fate [11nov05]

WHOLE Tasmanian logs originally destined for veneer peeling in Korea have ended up as Asian woodchips.

Forestry Minister Bryan Green revealed yesterday under parliamentary questioning by Greens leader Peg Putt that some of the eucalypt logs planned for veneer peeling had been chipped.

Forestry Tasmania has been exporting logs to China and Korea for about three years as part of rotary veneer peeling trials, with the aim of attracting overseas customers to buy the product, which will eventually be made at Huonville and Circular Head.

About 170,000 cubic metres of eucalypt logs were exported from Tasmania in 2003-04.

But Mr Green has now revealed that of the 13,961 tonnes of logs earmarked to leave the state whole last month, one per cent, or about 140 tonnes, were chipped in Tasmania instead.

"When cut, as far as I am aware, they were always destined for China and went as veneer logs," Mr Green said.

"We did cull some logs before they left because they had been structurally deformed with cracking, dozens not hundreds."

Angered by the news, Ms Putt said the logs had cracked only because they were left on the Macquarie Point wharf too long and deteriorated.

She said the revelations indicated deals with Korea had fallen through and she called on the Government to stop the clear-felling of such important resources.

"We have had plenty of breast-beating from Labor about their Korean rotary peeling plans but

a deathly, embarrassed silence now they have come to nothing," she said.

But Mr Green said no deals had ever been made.

"I'm unaware of any deals falling through because we've not signed any deals with anyone," Mr Green said.

"Many negotiations are going on with respect to veneer peeling operations in Tasmania.

"As result we are very hopeful we will get an investor looking to set up here in Tasmania."



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