Cheap trees

Published: Sunday 28 February 1999

  Timber trade or pulp fiction the Australian government has denied that it was selling timber from Victoria's native forests at a very low price. According to them, the royalties for the "debris", that would otherwise be left to burn or rot, are as low as nine cents a tonne. The government came under attack over the revelation that it was charging an East Gippsland sawmill between nine cents and us $1.38 a tonne in a "residual log" licence. However, there was disagreement over the definition and quantity of the "debris". The Australian Democrats called on the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to investigate the royalties, while Green Party Senator Bob Brown denounced the pricing as a scandal.

Sawlogs from native forests are graded according to the quality with the remainder classed as "pulp". According to the Victorian Association of Forest Industries, about half the timber cut in East Gippsland logging areas is pulp.

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