The ‘charcoal log’ cut up by conservationists last week to prove there was good timber in it was actually a feature grade log from St John’s forest block near Nannup, Forest Products Minister Paul Omodei said today.
The log was sawn by conservationists who brought the timber to Perth as a media stunt on Sunday to ‘prove’ that the Government was ‘wasting’ valuable timber.
Mr Omodei said the contractor who harvested the site in the 1997-98 season recognised the log as soon as he saw it on television and went to his bush landing to find that it was gone, with only fresh sawdust to show where it had been.
“He remembered the log well because it is unusual to find a dry log with so little defect,” the Minister said.
“He had separated it from the remaining logs on the landing because of its value to feature grade buyers.
“The log would have been offered to buyers with feature grade contracts when the time came to remove all the material from the landing. Forest Products Commission staff are extremely confident that it would have been bought for feature grade uses.
“The value of the log is estimated at $265 - not the $40 claimed. The theft of the log may cost the contractor $70 in production costs.
“After Sunday’s media stunt, the timber was dumped at Simcoa’s plant at Kemerton. It has been recovered and taken to Harvey where eventually it will be sold at one of the periodic auctions of specialty timbers.
“If the greenies who claim the timber is worth $3,500 want to put their money where their mouth is, they will be able to bid for it at the auction.
“The so-called conservationists involved in this stunt are either desperate to deceive the media and the public or they are ignorant of the facts and can’t recognise a feature grade log when they see one.
“Last Sunday’s stunt was a continuation of the false information spread by a group of doctors who took photos of logs in the bush and made wild accusations about waste and mismanagement in the forest. Sunday’s stunt was supposed to prove that this ‘waste’ was real.
“It should be a salutary reminder to the media and the public that it is the foresters who know the forests, not the self-appointed.
“Claims of waste and mismanagement should be tested on the spot in the company of expert foresters before being fed to the public.
“For too long now, the self-opinionated have been allowed to make whatever claims they like and Ministers or CALM staff have been expected to answer the claims without appropriate information about the basis of the claims and without the opportunity to check the facts.
“The same thing happened on Sunday, but this time the foresters have had the chance to demonstrate what a crass deceit was being perpetrated.
“Last year we had the farcical situation of former Eagles coach Mick Malthouse standing in front of a rotten log and claiming that the Government was wasting good timber.
“Now we have another impassioned greenie trying to pass off a feature grade log as waste in order to convince the world that the Government does not know how to manage the State’s timber.
“If the greenies and their mates believe they can take genuine charcoal logs, firewood logs and other logs the industry won’t buy and turn them into high value furniture they are welcome to put their money up and establish a business to do it.
“Until then, they should stop pretending that they alone know how to manage forests and run the timber industry.
“Western Australia has an excellent furniture industry, serving the local market and exporting to Europe and the US.
“It is successful and growing at a strong rate because it is run by people who know their business and know the timbers they buy.
“Stunts based on falsehood are an insult to this industry as well as to the men and women of the Forest Products Commission and CALM.”
Media contact: Hugh Ryan 9213 6700