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Loggers campaign to contain the Otway/OREN outcome.


  1. Anti Otway 2002 election campaign focused Morwell, not Geelong.
  2. Morwell electorate sends a warning regarding the Otways.

    2.1 Forestry Union candidate
    2.2 Victorian Association of Forest Industries
    2.3 Victorian Liberal Party

  3. Loggers and Liberals declare success in Morwell. Bracks destroys Liberals everywhere else.
  4. Did Australia Paper fund the loggers "lavish" advertising campaign in Morwell?
  5. Other trade unions did not support Forestry Union's candidate.

1. Anti Otway 2002 election campaign focused on Morwell, not Geelong.

The electorate of Morwell located in the Latrobe Valley is over 300 km from the Otways. Woodchip and sawlogs logs from Otway native were never sent to the Latrobe Valley hence the decision to stop logging in the Otways had no direct effect on industries associated with native forest logging in the Latrobe Valley.

Yet the native forest woodchippers needed to send the Victorian State government a warning to not repeat the ban on logging in the Otways. Hence a defensive campaign to protect ongoing logging in the forests of eastern Victoria, in particular the Melbourne's Water Supply Catchments, began in earnest in the second week of the 2002 State election campaign, with the focus on the electorate of Morwell.

So why Morwell?

Morwell has a strong pro-logging community centred around the employees at the Australian Paper pulp/paper mill at Marysvale and the associated native forest logging industry.

Australian Paper, the manufacturer of popular paper product brands such as Reflex, is the biggest user of native forest woodchips in Victoria. Australian Paper has a legislated supply arrangement with the Victorian State government under the Forests (Wood Pulp Agreement) Act 1996). This legislation means over a third of all public land native forest woodchips from Victoria are sent to Australian Paper every year (about 450,000 cubic meters per annum).

Under Section 14(2) of the Act, the Victorian Government is required to find at least 300,000 cubic metres of woodchip per annum for the Latrobe Valley pulp mill until the year 2030. An average of 130,000 cubic meters of woodchips have been taken from the Melbourne State Forest water catchments over the six years to 2004-2005. This rate is projected to continue until the year 2030.

The Act defines a “Forest Area”, shown within the thick line on map (page 29 of the Act) as the area where Australian Paper woodchips must be sourced. This “Forest Area” includes almost all of the Melbourne State forest water supply catchments as shown highlighted in blue.

A campaign in Morwell had a better chance of applying some political leverage over the State Government to not expand its Otways policies.

2. Morwell electorate sends a warning regarding the Otways.

The anti-Otways campaign in Morwell involved the forestry division of the CFMEU, people associated with the Australian Paper pulp mill at Maryvale, the Victorian Association of Forest Industries, Timber Communities Australia and the Victorian Liberal Party.

Current Issues Brief
No. 13 2002–03
Victorian Election 2002
Commonwealth Government

Morwell (page 18 extract)
The Bracks Government's promise to end logging in the Otway ranges brought out much timber worker hostility. After toying with nominating for the Labor marginals of Geelong or Narracan, Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union organiser for Gippsland, Brad Platschinda, decided to challenge Labor in the Gippsland seat of Morwell, a seat where the union was said to have more than 1200 members. A resident of Moe, Platschinda accused Labor of chasing Green votes at the expense of its long-term supporters.
Download whole document (PDF)

2.1 Forest Union Candidate

Soon after Bracks announced new Otways policies, the CFMEU forestry union began promoting a pro-logging candidate, Brad Platschinda, who was prepared to stand in a marginal seat. Geelong was initially considered by Mr Platschinda but soon rejected, presumable due to the fact the he would get no votes.

Morwell was eventually chosen and Mr Platschinda made it publicly very clear he was standing as candidate for the native forest logging "industry" to stop the Otways "precedent" from having "devastating flow-on effects".

Mr Platschinda ran against the ALP candidate Brendan Jenkins, who was in a safe ALP seat and expected to win. Given the seat of Morwell was about 300 km by road on the other side of the State from the Otways, it was possible Mr Jenkins new nothing about the formulation of the ALP Otways polices.

Media from the Forest Union candidate

The fact the Otways decision did not directly affect the local logging industry in Morwell was publicly acknowledged by Mr Platschinda several times.

Union official to run for M’well
Latrobe Valley Express
14 Nov 2002 pg 3
Neil Hickey

THE seat of Morwell has a fifth candidate alter CFMEU Gippsland organiser Brad Platschinda confirmed yesterday he would contest the safe Labor seat as an independent.

(Article continues)

Mr Platschinda has never been a member of the ALP but acknowledged as a union leader his decision to oppose a Labor candidate was unusual.

However he was quick to argue the recent State Government decision to place restrictions on timber harvesting in the Wombat and Otway forests was equally

He said the move would cripple the timber industry and have devastating flow-on effects.

(Article continues)

“Obviously Morwell’s not currently a seat that’s directly affected by the Bracks Government’s decision over logging. But it’s one where we believe we can maximise the vote because Brendan’s taken Keith Hamilton’s place in the ALP. And for myself we have a lot of union members in Morwell.”

(article continues)

Note: Other Unions did not endorse the Forestry Unions campaign. See below

brad platschinda
This full page advertisement was run four times in the Latrobe Valley Express on the 18, 21,25,28 of November 2002. In most of these editions, there were multiple advertisements for this candidate.


Independent preference blow to Labor candidate
Latrobe Valley Express
21 Nov 2002 pg 8
Neil Hickey

INDEPENDENT candidate for Morwell Brad Platschinda has delivered a blow to Brendan Jenkins’ election chances, placing the Labor candidate second last in his preferences.

(article continues)

His decision to place Mr Jenkins second last was in response to the government’s decision this month to put an end to logging in the Otway forest by 2008, a decision certain to cost more than 70 jobs.

“The Labor Government has for gotten its core values. It’s prepared to bow down to minority political groups all for the possibility of chasing some cheap votes in place of timber workers’ jobs.”

(article continues)

“I would suggest Steve Bracks will have to take a look at his policy because the feeling I’m getting is that I’m going to go pretty well down here and he might want to change what he’s doing,” he said.

(article continues)

Mr Platsehinda accepted the Morwell electorate would feel the effects of timber industry cuts less than others, but maintained he was concerned at the precedent it created.

“The way the State Government has gone about practically tearing up the RFAs in the Otways and the Midlands areas, anything’s possible,” he said, before highlighting his concern the government may “grab at every Green vote” to claim a second term.


Job Security in Valley laid to rest
Latrobe Valley Express
28 Nov 2002 pg 8
Neil Hickey

IN easily the most memorable campaign stunt of the election campaign, a mock funeral was held in Traralgon this morning for job security.

The stunt was the brainchild of Morwell independent candidate Brad Platschinda who said job security - my apologies, Job Security - was dearly loved by all in the Latrobe Valley and that its untimely death would be
widely felt.

Mr Platschinda’s mock funeral was the latest installment in what has been a sustained campaign against the Labor Government’s commitment to job creation and employment in the timber industry in particular.

“Job Security will be sorely missed,” Mr Platachinda said.
‘We all know that Job Security has been sick for a while, Unfortunately, grubby deals between Labor and the Greens, the selling off of jobs for preferences and the continued threat to the power industry was just too much for poor old Job Security to bare. It seems the Premier’s own physician, Spin Doctor, was unable to help.”
A wake was held in Victory Park after the “funeral”.

Mr Platschinda said Job Security was survived by Political Opportunism, Rising Unemployment and Economic Decline.

2.2 Victorian Association of Forest Industries

The Victorian Association of Forest Industries also advertised during the 2002 State election campaign in Morwell. In the example advertisement below, there is mention that a Regional Forest Agreement has been cancelled, (with no reference specifically made to the Otways). The advertisements message was about containment by electing people who will protect access to forest resources.

This advertisement from the Victorian Association of Forest Industries was run in the Latrobe Valley express on the 28th November 2002, only days before the actual poll.

2.3 Victorian Liberal Party

The Liberals also ran a similar media scare campaign in the Morwell electorate in 2002 focused on a message that the "greenies" were coming to town.

Libs allay timber concern
Latrobe Valley Express
18 Nov 2002 pg 7
Renee Kurowski

LIBERAL Upper House Leader Bill Forwood was in Latrobe Valley on Friday to discuss issues of concern such as the forest policy, Kyoto Protocol and Dutson Downs.

(article continues)

Mr Forwood believes it is crucial for the timber industry to have certainty.

“It’s crucial in particular for the whole of the Gippsland forest timber
industry..,  that’s where we need the certainty. If we don’t have the
certainty we won’t get the investment, we lose all the jobs.

Mr Tyler said the timber industry concern was highlighted by Morwell
electorate independent candidate Brad Platschinda.

“Brad Platschinda, who’s in the timber industry, has chosen to stand
against the Labor Party,” Mr Tyler said.

“We’ve got probably 1200 jobs out at the mill that rely on certainty of timber. Frankly I think even this sort of level of infrastructure could be at risk if there’s not certainty.”

(article continues)

Policy good for Gippsland
Latrobe Valley Express
14 Nov 2002 pg 5
Renee Kurowski

THE Liberal Party’s forestry policy has won strong backing from local candidates Peter Tyler (GippslandProvince), Diane Blackwood (Morwell) and Karen Stoll (Narracan).

Announced by Liberal Leader Robert Doyle at the weekend, the candidates claimed the policy underlined the party’s commitment to a long term and sustainable Victorian forestry industry, based on the harvest of both regrowth forest and plantation timber.

Ms Blackwood and her husband Chris run a logging haulage company in Traralgon which she claims has already been affected by the Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) through increased protection of conservation reserves in Gippsland.

It’s scary because it’s affecting us greatly - there’s no planning for the future,” Ms Blackwood said. “A Liberal Government would provide stability and basis for the timber industry in this area.”

(article continues)

“Otway and Wombat have already been significantly affected; what stops Erica and Rawson from being next?” Ms Blackwood asked.

(article continues)

3. Loggers and Liberals declare success in Morwell. Bracks destroys Liberals everywhere else.

The native forest logging industry declares their campaign a success in Morwell despite the fact every sitting Liberal in the Geelong region who supported logging in the Otways under the Regional Forest Agreement was wiped out.
See case study: Liberals lose Bellarine and South Barwon.

Mr Platschinda secured 15% of the primary vote but still failed to beat the ALP candidate Brendan Jenkins.

In The Age Mr Platschinda made public comment regarding the reasons he stood as a candidate in Morwell . The Age reported that Morwell is the home to two large timber and paper companies (Australian Paper) and that Platschinda stand in Morwell was a protest over the Otways policies and a "long term warning" over jobs "should the government continue to limit logging".


Timber worker undercuts Labor swing
The Age. 3/12/02, Page 7.
Paul Robinson
Workplace Editor

An Independent timber worker has sent a scare through the red-ribbon ALP seat of Morwell, recording almost 15 percent of the primary vote.

Brad Platschinda, backed by the militant Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union, stood in the traditional Labor stronghold as a protest against the Bracks Government's forestry policies.

While the ALP achieved an 8 per cent swing across the state, voters in Morwell cut more that 5 percent from the party's vote after the retirement of front bencher Keith Hamilton.

Although many electorates embraced the Greens, Mr Platschinda and the CFMEU rode a wave of local and anti-environment pro-jobs sentiment after the government foreshadowed bans on logging in the Otway and the Goolengook State Forest.

Morwell is the home of two large timber and paper companies that employ more than 1300 people in the Latrobe Valley. Angry at the government's policy of appeasement to the Greens, the CFMEU spent heavily on the Platschinda campaign winning almost 4500 primary votes for its investment. The campaign which included two weeks of advertisements on local television and radio and in newspapers, served as a strident long-term warning on jobs to the Labor Party.

Mr Platschinda said yesterday the sharp swing away from Labor indicated the depth of feeling in Morwell about the potential loss of timber jobs should the government continue to limit logging.

"If both of the major timber companies in this areas went down, much of the areas would collapse," he said. "I think many people were disillusioned that the ALP were prepared to throw hundreds of jobs away in an area devastated by unemployment."

ALP campaign director David Feeney yesterday remained confident of retaining the seat. "The last time I looked, it appeared to be ours," he said.

The Liberal "logging contractor" candidate for Morwell also warned there would be a "big fight" if there was any moves to stop logging in the Gippsland region.


Morwell backlash
Labour should hold on but seat will be very marginal

Latrobe Valley Express
2 Dec Nov 2002, Page 1 & 4.
By Lynne Smith and Neil Hickey

IN defiance of a huge state wide swing to Labor, the seat of Morwell suffered a swing of around seven per cent against ALP candidate Brendan Jenkins in Saturday’s state election.

(article continues)

Mr Platschinda, meanwhile, said the result exceeded his expectations. He said an aggressive advertising campaign had played a large role in his healthy vote but revealed dozens of timber workers had dipped into their own pockets to help out.

Ms Blackwood described the vote as a win for the timber industry and a
strong personal vote against Mr Jenkins.

(article continues)

Ms Blackwood conceded the big swing against the Liberal Party, locally and statewide, was a concern. “But now this (Morwell) is a very marginal seat, the union (CFMEU) achieved what they set out to do and that was to bring more focus to the area. Should they (the Bracks Government) decide to close logging in the Gippsland region, they’ll be in for a big fight. They’ll sacrifice the seat of Morwell for good.”

(article continues)

4. Did Australian Paper funded the loggers "lavish" advertising campaign in Morwell?



A lot of money was spent on Mr Platschinda campaign that resulted in 15% or 4733 primary votes in the Morwell electorate in 2002.

So who did paid for the 'lavish' election campaign?

Brendan Jenkins
Brendan Jenkins elected ALP Member for Morwell (2002-2006), caught up in the politics of the Otways debate.


On the 2 December, just after the election results were becoming clear, winning ALP candidate Mr Jenkins described Mr Platschinda advertising campaign as "lavish " and asked the question, where did the money come from?

Jenkins vows he will govern for all voters
Latrobe Valley Express
2 Dec Nov 2002 page 5.
Neil Hickey

LIKELY new Labor MLA for Morwell Brendan Jenkins has vowed to overhaul his combative style after Labor’s comfortable margin in the Latrobe Valley seat was decimated on Saturday night.

(article continues)

However Mr Jenkins said Mr Platschinda’s. impressive result had centred on a negative and lavish advertising campaign.
            Mr Platschinda’s advertising campaign included a string of full page ads in The Express and several blanket mail-outs to householders in the electorate.
            Other candidates had also expressed concern at Mr Platschinda’s use of a Tullamarine printing company for his material, despite the independent running a campaign calling for local jobs to be protected.
            “He spent more on his advertising than all the other candidates combined,” Mr Jenkins said.
            “You have to ask the question where did all the funding come from? I know I’m asking that question. His campaign had a negative effect and that’s something we’ll have to overcome.”

(article continues)

On the same day, Mr Platschinda acknowledged a lot of money was spent, and offered an explanation that his campaign was funded out of the pockets of workers.

Independent may run again
Latrobe Valley Express
2 Dec Nov 2002 page 5
Neil Hickey

INDEPENDENT candidate Brad Platschinda will give serious consideration to standing again for the now marginal seat of Morwell after attracting a massive slice of the vote in the weekend’s election.
(Note: Mr Platschinda never ran in the 2006 Vic State election.)

            Mr Platschinda –running for a state seat for the first time - attracted almost 15 per cent of the primary vote with his pro-timber industry campaign.

(article continues)

Mr Platschinda agreed an aggressive advertising campaign had played a large role in his healthy vote, but revealed dozens of timber workers had dipped into their own pockets to help out. “I think it had a fair bit to do with it. We only had two and a half weeks so we had to go pretty hard regarding that,” he said of his advertising.

            ‘With regards to who was bankrolling us, we had an overwhelming response from timber workers around the state. Timber workers were putting in the equivalent of two weeks pay just to help out. It’s their jobs, their livelihood. I had support from all over the state wishing me well.”
            And he predicted the result would make the major parties pay more attention to the timber industry in the future.
            “I guess what it means is timber workers jobs do mean something to a vast proportion of the community even more than the major parties,” he said.
            “The amount of support and the efforts from some of the people around me. They’ve put their lives on hold, some of them. It’s amazing when an industry has its back against the wall how many people will step up and fight. It’s the true spirit of Aussie people. It’s a credit to timber workers across the state.”

Big thanks to Australian Paper 'pulp and paper and timber workers'.

In the next edition of the Express (5th December), Mr Platschinda made a public statement that he had stood as an independent to represent the interests of the "industry".

Candidate defends use of Melbourne company
Latrobe Valley Express
5 December 2002, page 5.
Neil Hickey

THE success story in Morwell at last weekend’s election, independent candidate Brad Platschinda, has defended his use of a Melbourne printing company during his election campaign.

            Mr Platschinda had come under fire from many of his opponents for his lavish advertising campaign, which included full page newspaper advertisements and several blanket mail-outs to householders.
            Much of that promotional material was printed by a company in Tullamarine, which critics argued was hypocritical considering Mr Platschinda’s campaign was centred on securing local jobs.
            But Mr Platschinda said the timeline of the election left him with no other choice.  

        “The reason we used the company at Tullamarine was because we started the campaign so late, and a few of the local printers were in no form or shape to get the sheer volume out that we needed,” he said.

            “I’m not sure who we tried, but it was two or three (printers) locally. I actually made the point to a couple of people in the office in the week they came out: no local company could do it in such a short time.

            “One we tried said they couldn’t get it done until Monday (the Monday after the election). Obviously that wasn’t going to work.”

           Meanwhile, Mr Platschinda was this week refusing to concede defeat although admitted he was a “horribly long shot”.

            “I’d probably be a 10,000 to one shot. (National Party candidate) Jenny (Hammett) is probably in the best position (if anyone is going to topple Brendan Jenkins).”

            But he was otherwise pleased with his performance he polled almost 15 per cent of the primary vote – the profile his campaign gave the timber industry and local jobs, and with Morwell returning to marginal status.

            “It gets most of the major parties looking at the area,” he said of the swing against Labor.

            “I’m pretty happy. I’ve had some phone calls from other workers and from bosses, even. It brought our issues on to the map. At the end of the day I was never in it for myself - I made that really clear - I was in it for the industry.”

The Express on the 5th December 2002 also contained a full page advertisement thanking the "pulp and paper and timber workers" for voting for Mr Platschinda.

The 'pulp and paper and timber workers' are essentially people who work directly or indirectly for Australian Paper. They include people who work at the pulp and paper mill and people who log and cart woodchip logs to the Australian Paper mill.

Australian Paper has a long history of financing its employees to run political campaigns against community groups who oppose or may threaten Australian Paper commercial interests. See ABC TV Four Corners "The A Team"

So which wealthy loggers dipped onto their pockets after the election was over to pay for yet another full page advertisement?

This full page thank you advertisement was run on the 5th of December 2002, after the State election. Who paid for this advertisement?


5. Other trade unions did not support Forestry Union's candidate.

Other trade unions made a public statement on the 5th December distancing themselves from the forestry unions Morwell electorate campaign.

Union angry at claims
Latrobe Valley Express
5 Dec Nov 2002, page 5.

CFMEU state organiser John Parker yesterday distanced the union from the successful campaign of Morwell independent candidate Brad Platschinda.
Mr Parker said the candidate’s claims he had broad union support were untrue. “He doesn’t have the support of the construction division and FEDFA and I would doubt he had the support of the miners,” Mr Parker said.
“Certainly we’re pretty ropable he gave preferences to the National Party and Liberal Parties...some of our members are pretty ropable.”




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