Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Brown Mountain old growth forest is being logged.

It is with a heavy heart that I bring you the shocking news that the wonderful old growth forest of Brown Mountain in East Gippsland is now being logged. There are more than 50 trees over 300 years old in this area of forest, which is adjacent to Errinundra National Park.

The Labor Party pledged during the 2006 State election that

"In addition to the Goolengook Block, a Labor Government will immediately protect remaining significant stands of old growth forest currently available for timber harvesting by including them in the National Parks and reserves system."

The Brumby Government has broken this promise. The bulldozers moved in last week.

When queried about this decision to destroy the old growth forest, the response from Premier Brumby’s office was

“since VicForests have moved the contractors in, there is nothing we can do”

It is worth noting that none of the forest areas specified for protection have actually been protected yet either, 2 years after the election. It seems that the Brumby government supports clearfelling old growth forest as "business as usual" despite the forest's critical role in storing carbon (over 1000 tonnes per hectare) and providing water for the depleted Snowy River catchment.

These forests also provide habitat for threatened species such as the Powerful Owl, the Spot Tailed Quoll, mainland Australia's largest marsupial carnivore, and the Long-footed Potoroo, Victoria's rarest marsupial.

Locals have recently constructed East Gippsland's first old growth forest walk in these forests, which the Department of Sustainability and Environment knows about.

Please Take Action

Brown Mountain needs everybody’s help.

Please email and/or brief all your networks, family and friends and have them contact the Premier’s office.

Call: 03 9651 5111
Please act immediately…..

In your calls and emails, simply express your opposition at the logging of old growth forests in absolute contravention of the Labor's commitment to protect old growth forests in East Gippsland.

More information and photos

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Will Labor stop logging Melbourne's water catchments?

I understand the Victorian Labor (ALP) State Conference this weekend considered the following motion:


Climate change is already well under way and consequently Victoria’s water supply is very seriously endangered in both rural and urban regions.

Despite this, logging continues unabated in what remains of our mountain ash forests and in the areas supposedly set aside as water catchment.

This is permitted to occur because of contracts with logging companies that have export commitments for wood chips that are sold to millers at ridiculously low prices (in the order of $8.50 per ton) i.e. the State is subsidizing the millers at the expense of our water supply.

Given that Victoria now has plantation timber available to fulfil all our requirements for construction and for paper, it is clear that continuing to destroy the source of our water supply is an unsustainable practice.

Conference therefore resolves that it request the State Government to:

1. Immediately ban logging in all water catchment areas
2. Review forest management practice overall with the intent of transferring all logging activity to plantation timber.

Proposed by Upper Yarra branch October 2008

As I have mentioned in previous postings, it is past time that logging in Melbourne's water catchments must stop, because every drop counts.

I wait with interest and hope that the Brumby Labor government here in Victoria displays some real leadership on protecting our water supplies and our forests.


Still waiting for some "official information" on the outcome.

However, on the grapevine, I have heard that:
  • Labor factional heavyweights combined forces minutes before the motion went up and departed en masse, despite the fact Jennings was going to speak on the motion, so they were short on quorum. They did this to avoid voting on the motion - so much for "democracy" inside the ALP.
  • Joe Helper has apparently instigated some sort of investigation (a witch hunt?) into why the Upper Yarra ALP branch put this motion up. Seems like an attempt to silence any discussion on this very important issue.
  • Rob Mitchell is apparently undertaking the "investigation" even though he was so 'proudly green' in the last federal election, embracing of climate change and the necessary directives.
Looks like more "dirty deeds done dirt cheap".

By coincidence I was speaking with the Yarra Ranges Shire Mayor Tim Heenan today. He said that local sawmillers are getting virtually none of the timber from the logged catchments - it is all being sent for woodchips to the Paperlynx mill in Gippsland, and that there is a total of only 92 jobs associated with this catchment logging in the shire. So there is no longer local support for this logging in Warbuton.

In addition, this summer the Department of Sustainability and Environment plans to allow more logging in the picturesque Cement Creek catchment above Warbuton, which also contains the rainforest aerial walkway among ancient Myrtle Beech and old growth Mountain Ash forest.

Shame Brumby, shame. Every drop of water counts, with Melbourne's reservoirs now 70% empty near the start of Summer.

Perhaps DSE should be renamed to the Department of Clearfelling, Logging and Water Loss?

Monday, October 06, 2008

Another letter to Minister Batchelor on his clayton's feed-in tariff

Here is a letter I have just sent to Peter Batchelor cc to Victorian Ministers and some other MPs on feed-in tariff legislation.

Feel free to use any or all of the content if you would like to write them an email (or letter) too.

It seems this legislation is about to go through the Victorian parliament!

Melissa Fyfe sums up the situation well in this article:


Dear Minister Batchelor,

I have received a letter from the Department of Primary Industries (your ref: ME003562) in response to my three recent queries to you regarding the Brumby Government's proposed feed-in tariff legislation. Unfortunately, the letter does not answer any of the queries I have raised with you. It provides me with a summary of the proposed legislation and a "fact sheet" on it. I was not requesting further general information on this ill-considered legislation, my queries relate to specific issues concerning it, none of which have been addressed in the letter I received.

To reiterate, my previous questions, to which I still request answers from you, are listed below in bold.

1. When will your feed-in tariff legislation be introduced?
2. When can a copy of it be sent to me?
3. What is the purpose of the 2kW array size cap?
4. Why are you not able to model the tariff for gross metering similar to successful tariffs in place in Germany and elsewhere?
5. Why you have chosen to keep the economic modelling that you say your decisions were based on secret?
6. When can I meet with you to discuss these concerns?

My further questions to you are numbered in the text below:

I also note that the national RENEWABLE ENERGY (ELECTRICITY) AMENDMENT (FEED-IN-TARIFF) BILL 2008 being considered by the Australian Senate is framed around a gross metered tariff, in accordance with world best practice.

I also note that the Labor ACT feed-in tariff legislation pays on gross metering (the full production amount) and has a generous 10kW cap on array sizE.

7. Why is the Brumby government proceeding with a feed in tariff for Victoria that will be completely ineffective and conflicting with the proposed national legislation?

8. What is the Brumby government's target for domestic solar panel installation (in MW) for 2009 and 2010?

If your proposed feed-in tariff legislation proceeds it will simply not deliver any of the benefits you claim. The 2kW cap on array size means that residences will not be able to install a big enough array (e.g. 3 to 4 kW) to generate a significant net output so nobody will actually be paid the premium rate. In addition, all power generated should be paid the gross tariff as it is reducing the power that would otherwise be sourced from the coal-fired electricity on the grid.

It is not clear to me how you have constructed such abrogated legislation, hence my questions seeking clarification. If this legislation proceeds in its current form, it will soon be regarded as an enduring bad legacy of your government, and a missed opportunity for the people of Victoria.

By contrast, and gross feed in tariff with say a 10kW cap on array size would greatly boost installation of solar panels and green jobs associated with this, both of which will greatly benefit Victoria.

I am seeking an urgent response from you to my eight questions.

Peter Campbell
0409 417 504

My previous emails:
  • Subject: Re: Solar Feed-in Tariff Date: Thu, 10 Jul 2008 18:58:48 +1000
  • Subject: Re: Solar Feed-in Tariff Date: Mon, 09 Jun 2008 23:38:12 +1000
  • Subject: Re: Solar Feed-in Tariff Date: Thu, 08 May 2008 22:29:08 +1000
  • Subject: LETTER: Please introduce a feed in tariff Date: Wed, 19 Mar 2008 11:26:37 +1100