Melbourne University Press, 2007. Octavo, paperback, black and white illustrations.
After four decades, the wars over Australia’s forests continue to collect scalps and to make strange bedfellows of politicians.
The forest debate played a role in ending the political careers of Paul Keating and Mark Latham, and led to the extraordinary instance of John Howard embracing the leaders of the CFMEU’s Forestry Division in the lead-up to the 2004 election.
And yet, as forest expert Judith Ajani contends, Australia is in the enviable position of being able to meet nearly all its wood needs from economically superior plantations. We have the potential to benefit fully from the value of native forests as carbon sinks, water catchments and wildlife habitat. There is no irreconciliable conflict between development and environment.
So why do the major parties not have coherent forest policies? Ajani reveals that standing in the way are silenced plantation interests, failing bureaucracies, destructive union behaviour and government-created super-profits from native forest woodchipping.