Loggers campaign to contain the Otway/OREN outcome.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Platschinda secured 15% of the primary vote but still failed to beat the ALP candidate Brendan Jenkins.
4. Did Australian Paper funded the loggers "lavish" advertising campaign in Morwell?
Big thanks to Australian Paper 'pulp and paper and timber workers'.
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
CFMEU state organiser John Parker yesterday distanced the union from the successful campaign of Morwell independent candidate Brad Platschinda.
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