VicForests is a State Government owned logging monopoly with almost no supervision, ethics or accountability.
It was established in 2004 as a semi-corporatised government owned enterprise to operate:
“…with prudent commercial practice … be commercially focussed (sic) and deliver sustainable and value for money… in a manner which will maximise the long term economic returns to Victoria”
In fact it has done none of this in its years of clearfelling public forests.
But it has:
received $25million in grants and subsidies to help it
haul $300million worth of free logs from public forests
which it still owes Victorians $74million in unpaid dividends for
In 2012-13, VicForests made a mere 'profit' of $802,000 after selling a whopping $104 million worth of trees. To put this into perspective, this logging entity also handed over $1.5 million to their executive and board members!
This makes a mockery of its second objective to be:
Operating a streamlined, effective, focussed and profitable business.
VicForests also has a charter that states it must:
‘...operate its business … as efficiently as possible consistent with prudent commercial practice’
Its claimed values are:
Professional: We operate in an ethical, efficient and accountable manner
(translation) We will tell the public whatever we can get away with and we have a large, well funded propaganda division to make sure the message gets drummed in. Whenever we get caught out, we lean on the Government to shift the goal posts.
Sustainable: We respect and care for our environment and the communities in which we operate
(translation) To help keep everyone in these communities compliant and sweet, we bribe them with handouts from our community pork barreling fund.
And again - when we get caught out, for example overlogging, we just ask the Government to get rid of the rules that made us have to break them in the first place.
Safe: We aim for zero harm in all that we do
(translation) Our goal here isn’t to do zero harm, we just need to make sure we don’t get caught. Now that we have such a spineless Government that allows almost no checking or enforcement, we are proud to announce that we have not had our backsides kicked for over three years.
Customer Focused: We are responsible in our commercial dealings.
(translation) Whenever things go pear shaped, we can always run over to the Treasury for a huge low interest loan to tide us over the rough patches or just get another hand out under a fancy name.
But just in case anyone wants to find out what we are really up to, just remember it’s all ‘commercial in confidence’, even under FOI. Suckers!
Victorians get nothing from the destruction of our forests – which we as the public own. VicForests justify its dismal commercial management and shoddy adherence to rules and regs by trotting out the line that ‘logging plays a major role in supporting rural communities’. This claim is rubbish. Logging employs less than 1% of the workforce in ‘major logging regions’ like East Gippsland. Plus, these forests belong to everybody in the State. VicForests has never been given a mandate to transfer wealth from public forests to a handful of logging interests. This is most often to the detriment of other bigger rural industries such as tourism and agriculture.