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Pentarch does not support transition from native forestry as activist claims

Stephen Dadd Pentarch Group

Pentarch executive director Steve Dadd has rejected claims he favours an orderly transition away from native forest logging in New South Wales. Source: Timberbiz

Mr Dadd, who is also Australian Forest Products Association Chairman, issued a statement yesterday clarifying statements attributed to him in an Australian Associated Press media release issued last week.

In that media release businessman and activist Geoff Cousins was reported as supporting a campaign against the New South Wales government’s continued support for native forest logging.

Mr Cousins was reported as saying he had recently met with Environment Minister Penny Sharpe and Agriculture Minister Tara Moriarty, and that they both “accept that the status quo cannot continue”.

Mr Cousins also claimed the Forestry Corporation’s two biggest customers, Pentarch Holdings and Brambles recently contacted him.

Mr Cousins says both companies needed to understand that buying Forestry Corporation products resulting from the destruction of koala habitat is like supporting multinational companies that pay sweatshop workers a pittance.

He claimed both companies expressed the desire for an orderly transition away from native forest logging to avoid the “shambles” Victoria saw when the government abruptly shut its business down, years earlier than expected.

“The chair of the Forest Products Association, he said ‘yeah the last thing we want is what happened in Victoria’. I said Well you’re going to get it unless you take a lead.”

But Mr Dadd said Mr Cousins’ claim that he expressed the desire for an orderly transition away from native forest logging was false.

“I made no such statement about a transition out of native forestry,” Mr Dadd said.

“We do not support any form of transition away from native forest harvesting.”

Mr Dadd also clarified other statements made in the media release.

“I did indeed meet with Mr Cousins in good faith to hear his views and invite him to visit our operations and unfortunately found him unwilling to engage on the many benefits of native forestry or acknowledge scientific evidence,” he said.

“He is either denying the irrefutable science that native forestry has little impact on koala populations or is ignorant of the facts which are clearly stated on the Natural Resource Commission website.

“To scurrilously compare native forestry to sweatshops is clever spin from an experienced advertising executive to further corrupt public opinion about the sustainable harvesting and regrowing of hardwood from just 1% of our forests.

“Mr Cousins does not appear to recognise the benefits of carbon stored in hardwood products or the sequestration of carbon in regrowing forests where wildlife thrives.

“He refuses to acknowledge the $1.1billion benefit the industry brings to the State of NSW or the 8900 families directly supported by the industry.

“So, it’s difficult to understand how Mr Cousins can consider himself to have a balanced view on native forestry and we hope the NSW Government sees his opinions for what they are.

“We accept the commitment to establishing a Great Koala National Park and are working with the NSW Government to ensure it achieves both a sustainable future for our business, the people and communities who rely on us and maximises benefits for the climate and koalas.

“We are also hopeful that native forestry is recognised for its many scientifically proven benefits for the environment, as expressed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

“We should accept our global responsibility in supplying ethically and fully certified hardwood rather than rely on imports from countries which do not have in place the same checks and balances as we do here.”

Australian Forest Products Association CEO Diana Hallam said the group reached out to Mr Cousins after recent media reports about his views on native forests.

“As Australia’s peak forest products industry advocacy body, we appreciate hearing people’s views and concerns,” she said.

“Those who campaign against Australia’s native forestry sector are campaigning for worse environmental and climate outcomes. Our objective is to make sure more people understand that.”