Gunns Woodship Deal Exposed

Forestry Tasmania stonewalling attempts: Allston’s intervention followed several point-blank refusals by Forestry Tasmania to supply details of its deal with Gunns after an initial application by Greens native forests spokesman Tim Morris in July last year. Both Gunns and Forestry Tasmania "strongly objected" to the wood contract Memorandum of Understanding, signed in April 2004 between then-Forestry Tasmania chief Evan Rolley and Gunns chairman, John Gay, being made public. The two companies claimed the contract was commercial-in-confidence" and its publication would harm both companies’ competitive advantages.

Ombudsman decision to open up debate: But the Ombudsman has now decided this is not sufficient grounds for keeping the entire deal top secret. But he agreed to continue to conceal the key price paid per tonne of timber and the timber volumes involved. However, the ruling is expected to reveal how Gunns has convinced Forestry Tasmania to give it cheaper access to the state’s native timber if the world pulp price falls below a certain level.

Forestry Tasmania loses FoI exemption claim: Forestry Tasmania indicated it would supply the document immediately. Allston specificially pointed out in his finding that since July 2005, Forestry Tasmania had lost any special status exempting it from the state’s FoI laws.

The Mercury, 13/4/2007, p.13

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