Charcoal Plant? No Thanks! (The Hon. Dr. Arthur Chesterfield-Evans, M.L.C.)

Media Release September 19th 2002

Australian Democrat NSW leader Arthur Chesterfield-Evans today urged people from outside the South Coast region to support Saturday’s anti-charcoal plant rally.

“This plant must be stopped,” Dr Arthur Chesterfield-Evans said.

“The Premier must be made to realize that this is not just a local issue. It’s a State-wide – indeed, a national- issue”

“The forests are on public land, and should be managed by the government on our behalf – not on behalf of a West Australian company which acts in the interests of its far-away shareholders,” he said.

“Forests are a State asset. The people of the South Coast have said “no” to having their forests plundered for this charcoal plant, and the government has an obligation to act on our behalf.

“Sensibly used, forests can provide sawn timber for homes and buildings indefinitely. But this charcoal plant will wolf 230,000 tonnes of hardwood a year. We have the barest minimum harvestable forests left. They must be used wisely, not squandered.

Proponents of this charcoal plant claim they’ll use waste wood which will otherwise be left to rot on the forest floor. The same arguments about “waste wood” were used to establish woodchipping industries in NSW and other States. The result? Beautiful cabinet and furniture timber, much of it from old-growth forests, has been chipped and sent to Japan to be turned into paper. We can’t let these forests be destroyed in the same way. The government and the WA company claimed they would take “stumps and branches”. That’s a lie! The Timber Agreement, reluctantly released by the Premier, acknowledges that the charcoal plant will take whole logs.

The State Government treats South Coast residents with contempt. It’s put the interests of a West Australian company before those of the people who live here. We need parliamentarians who will truly represent the interests of the region and give us a real chance to stay prosperous and vibrant.

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