David Pollard, VicForests CEO, was the Commissioner of State Revenue, from 1997 until 2002. Any wonder that he was very defensive when questioned on radio in early December about the loss he'd made for Victorian's.
The information coming out of the logging coupes was that contractors are being directed to smash up good quality salvaged ash sawlogs so they can be sold quickly as pulplogs, but this was of course, denied. Mr Pollard said that if that was happening they'd hear about it and their monitoring would pick it up. Well, we hear it's actually VicForests staff direct loggers to smash the logs!
Pollard also said they sell their logs cheaply because they are competing with a globally competitive market (ie. third world log prices) and that they are in competition with plantations. Plantations sell their logs for three times as much, so even if Pollard doubled the prices VicForests would still be 1/3 as cheap as plantations.
Pollard stated that clearfelling native forests for woodchips is much more environmentally sound because there are no pesticides used. Then the absolute pearler was when he tried to sell the radio audience this one - that in a carbon constrained economy, logging forests is the best way to manage our carbon. He said that:
'we can't sit back and let late stage forests sit there and burn to the ground every 50 years".
It's about science vs emotional green arguments, he said. If that's the best they can do they should sack their spin doctor.
The final clanger was in answer to a question regarding how much he'd made for VicForests in past years. After some mumbling and coaching from an advisor he quickly and unconvincingly said '$10 million'. When this was checked, the $10 million was the profit made before the costs were taken out.