The auditor of Forestry Tasmania’s (FT) environmental certification application has rejected the state’s Greens Leader’s comments about a delay in the process. Source: ABC New
Last month The Greens’ Kim Booth said the state owned forestry company’s failure to achieve Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) accreditation by February this year, is a sign of serious problems with its application. But in an email to ABC Rural, FSC auditor Robert Hrubes of SCS Global Services, said this assertion is an “unfounded inference”.
“It was never stated by me, the FSC, or FT that a certification decision was to be rendered in February,” he said. “Rather, it was stated (in December) that it was expected that the draft certification report would be conveyed to FT by February.
“The reason that the draft report issuance has been delayed has nothing to do with the prospects for FT achieving certification, nor is it attributable to FT in any way.
“It is attributable to my schedule and that of the other audit team members (all with many other professional obligations).”
Forestry Minister Paul Harriss said Mr Booth’s comments that delays suggest there is a serious indication of serious problems for Forestry Tasmania, are an attempt to sabotage the process.
“He is being scurrilous in the criticism and he’s wrong and he knows it, entirely unfounded,” he said.
“This is nothing less than a desperate attempt by Kim Booth to sabotage the whole process.”
Minister Harriss said he has not had direct contact with the SCS Global Services because it needs to be a process independent of government.
Tasmanian Greens Leader Kim Booth has defended his comments and fired back at Mr Harriss.
“That’s up to Mr Hrubes to make that comment, but Mr Harriss should be making public statements so that the public understand what’s happening to their forest and the certification process,” Mr Booth said.
“He has in fact created this uncertainty and the government has in being abusive to people who have made representations.
“I’m speaking on behalf of a large segment of the Tasmanian population as the leader of the Greens and a member of parliament about public forests.
“It’s up to the Minister to answer my questions not Mr Hrubes. If Forestry Tasmania, which recorded a $40 million loss last financial year, is successful in its bid for FSC accreditation, it will open up premium international markets for its woodchip exports.”
Forestry Tasmania’s General Manager of Forest Management Suzette Weeding said the delay is due to the complexity of the FSC certification process.
“Without commenting on politics, I’m not making any comment on the politics of the situation,” she said.
“The inference that it’s difficult and that’s the reason why it’s taking a longer period of time or that there are major issues and that’s the reason why the timeframe’s pushed out is incorrect.
“These processes take time.”
Mrs Weeding said a summary of the final certification report would be released to the public when it’s received, which is expected to be in June.
Forestry Tasmania received a draft certification report in April, from SCS Global Services, an organisation that audits forestry companies on behalf of the FSC.
In an email to ABC Rural, SCS Global Services auditor Robert Hrubes said Forestry Tasmania has been issued with findings of major non-conformities with FSC standards and will be required to correct these before certification.
“I have never conducted a FSC certification audit, in over 20 years of audit projects around the world, where no findings requiring corrective actions were issued,” Mr Hrubes said.
“So, again, there is nothing out of the ordinary or indicative of ‘serious problems’ that conveyance of the draft report has been delayed or that Findings were issued to FT, in response to which FT is now developing and implementing corrective actions.”
Mr Hrubes declined to provide the exact details of areas where Forestry Tasmania does not conform to FSC standards or its corrective actions.