South Sister St. Marys, Tasmania

South Sister Correspondence

st marys hung out to dry

Dr Peter Davies
Deputy Chair
Forest Practices Authority
30 Patrick Street
HOBART 7000

Mr G Wilkinson
Chief Forest Practices Officer
Forest Practices Authority
30 Patrick Street
HOBART 7000

Bryan Green MHA
Minister
DIER
GPO Box 1470
HOBART 7001

20th February 2006

Dear Dr Davies

SisterGate - St Marys Hung Out to Dry by FPA

I provide this response for the public record, in respect of a failure of due process by Ms I Stanley, Dr P Davies and Mr G Wilkinson.

Having regard to the precedent set by the Chair of the FPA, Ms Stanley on 3rd January, 2006, in providing a joint reply to different correspondents, I make this reply to you in response to your letter of 3rd February, 2006, but with copies to the Chief Forest Practices Officer and to the Minister, addressing the issues raised in your collective correspondence.

1) I was not 'initially a party to the action brought before RMPAT', as the Minister states he was advised by Forestry Tasmania. I have never been a party to the application. As has been consistently the case throughout this matter, the Minister has been wrongly advised by Forestry Tasmania, an administrative echo of the lack of care and diligence in planning coupe NI1114A. The attitude by the FPA is that if Forestry Tasmania say that such is the case, then it is, no evidence to the contrary will be entertained, nor any acknowledgement of error conceded, and as the forest practices system is self regulating, so eloquently described by Mr Wilkinson at Kuching in 2001 as 'a one stop shop', then no independent review of any scientific or technical matter will be undertaken.

2) Individually and collectively, the Deputy Chair of the FPA. The Minister, and the Chief Forest Practices Officer have, by their replies of 2nd, 3rd and 6th February, directly and unequivocally joined themselves in a failure of due process and an attempt to cover up substantiated and evidenced claims of a failure to meet the professional standards required for certification of a forest practices plan by virtue of the incompetence, failure of due diligence, lack of qualification, selective use of evidence, false and misleading statements, lack of scientific method, error and contrivances of the officers whose evidence and reviews were relied upon for certification of the plan.

You have failed to address the issues raised by me, the allegations made, and the evidence provided, and instead have responded by reference to matters irrelevant to the certification of Plan PWJ 0010, in an orchestrated attempt to divert attention from the real matters of complaint.

3) The Minister has stated that 'he is not in a position to make scientific judgements in lieu of the Tribunal (RMPAT)'. He was not asked to make scientific judgements, nor is RMPAT in any way relevant to the certification of Plan PWJ 0010. He was referred to matters of probity, competence and process affecting the certification of a Forest Practices Plan on 4/1/05.

4) The Minister is incorrect in his comment that the application by local residents to RMPAT was discontinued 'in light of scientific evidence submitted on behalf of Forestry Tasmania', and 'on the basis that Forestry Tasmania's scientific evidence was more likely to have been accepted than that from the applicants'. This is a mantra that is not only incorrect in fact, but is totally irrelevant to the issues regarding certification of a Plan on 4/1/05, weeks before the application was made to RMPAT.

5) The Forest Practices Plan for Coupe NI114A was certified on 4/1/05, and the prescriptions for the reasonable protection of water on and around the coupe were based on the evaluations and reviews by Dr S Roberts and Dr P McIntosh. They failed to exercise proper standards of professionalism and diligence in the matter, as has been evidenced to the Chief Forest Practices Officer, the Chair of the FPA and the Minister. They did not seek advice from the other experts referred to by Dr Davies for the purpose of certifying the plan. That assertion is wrong. These other experts provided information at a much later date for a Hearing before RMPAT. It is, however, notable that the evidence of Dr Roberts was recognised by Forestry Tasmania as so flawed that it was not submitted to the RMPAT. However, Mr Wilkinson, Dr Davies and the Minister refuse to address and respond to the documented evidence that the report of Dr Roberts used for the certification of the FPP for Coupe NI114A was so flawed that the Plan should be revoked.

6) A decision not to revoke the plan is an administrative decision made under an enactment.

7) Advice by Dr Davies that the Authority has made a decision 'based on a thorough consideration of the expert evidence' is simply the Wilkinson mantra that has been trotted out [every] time whenever a complaint has been made in respect of the planning of this coupe. The evidence provided to the Authority about the flawed nature of the evidence provided by Drs Roberts and McIntosh for certification of the Plan cannot sustain such an assertion.

8) Mr Wilkinson declares that 'further analysis and review of previous matters is not justified'. These matters were central to certification of the Plan, because they raised substantial matters relating to the assessment and prescriptions for the protection of water, were submitted in support of a request for revocation of the plan, and were totally ignored and no response provided. The issues which he refuses to 'review' are issues he has never addressed in the first place.

Was the (then) FPB ever consulted about matters raised as a basis for revocation of the plan, or has Mr Wilkinson consistently used his delegated powers to deal with them, denying the Board the opportunity to exercise its power under the Act? How many times has a request for revocation of the plan for coupe NI114A appeared on the Agenda for a FPB meeting between January 2005 and May 2005?

9) Local residents have advised Forestry Tasmania of the intention to seek compensation in the event of adverse impacts on their water supplies as a result of forest operations on the coupe. The Break O'Day Council has now (13/02/06) requested the Minister to provide the resources and instruct MRT to carry out a geotechnical survey of the area, and to instruct Forestry Tasmania not to proceed with forest operations until this has been undertaken.

10) I ask that the Board of the Authority provide detailed answers to the various allegations made in correspondence from me to Ms Stanley, Mr G Wilkinson and the Minister between 22/12/05 and 23rd January 2006 inclusive. The response from Dr P Davies is evasive and unsubstantiated, fails to answer particular and specific charges against Dr McIntosh, and fails to address the specific and particular allegations regarding the flawed nature of the reports provided by Dr Roberts which were central to the certification of Plan PWJ 0010.

D W CLEMENT

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