Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Removing pokies

All’s quiet on the western front as Labor ponders its position on poker machines ahead of the March election.

What if and when pokies are reduced or removed from communities, players gamble at casinos instead? Will the community be better off? The consensus view seems to be confining pokies to a couple of enclaves will solve all problems. Will it?

The parliamentary select committee into Future Gaming Markets reported at the end of September. The written submissions were already on the public record, as were the transcripts of the public hearings. The minutes of the Committee’s meetings published at the time of the Report’s release revealed additional written evidence mainly from correspondence with interested parties.

One additional piece of evidence not mentioned in the Report was an eight page note from Treasury on the estimated economic impact to State tax receipts if EGMs were removed from hotels and clubs and a $1 bet limit was imposed on casino EGMs. It was a study worthy of more attention than it received.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Forestry Tasmania's demise in detail

Forestry Tasmania’s slide from its peak in 2004 has seen it lose $1 billion. Almost half have been cash losses. The rest have resulted from the loss in value of the trees entrusted to it. FT entered commercial arrangements with customers, particularly major customer Gunns, which effectively forfeited its commercial advantages as a monopoly supplier. As a consequence it fortunes closely tracked those of the industry particularly Gunns, and since the latter’s demise has only survived courtesy of government patronage.

After numerous inquiries, reports and years of procrastination, the government appointed Treasury Secretary to the Board in May 2015 to act as de facto Voluntary Administrator to see if FT could be resuscitated. An interim report was presented to government on 29th September 2016.His tenure lasted until February 2017, FT was restructured as much as its political masters would allow before being handed back for directors to run under the new name of Sustainable Timbers Tasmania (STT).

The following is a more detailed report on FT’s demise following the period of administration. It covers the events leading to insolvency, the actions taken and the prospects for the future.


The 2016/17 year

The plantation sale

The superannuation transfer

Overview since 2004

Other assistance to the forest industry

The Ta Ann deception

Insolvency signs

Problems with the current model

The future

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Forestry Tasmania's final report

A survey of the wreckage left behind by Forestry Tasmania (FT) reveals since its peak in 2004 it has lost over $1 billion from forestry activities.

 During that time cash outlays were $440 million more than trading revenue and the value of the forest estate fell by over $600 million. Add the two figures together give the aggregate loss over the past 13 years of $1 billion. Equal to $40 for each tonne harvested.

Spending on plantations ($106 million), property and plant ($33 million) and roads ($105 million) added nothing to FT’s asset base. Together with the continual losses from forest harvesting meant FT’s cash losses totalled $440 million over the last 13 years.

Then there are non-cash losses, often called book losses, principally the fall in the value of the forest estate. This has occurred because a lot of trees have been chopped down and sold and because as maintenance and harvest costs rise faster than prices for forest products then the value of remaining forests consequently falls. Over the past 13 years the value of FT’s forests has fallen by over $600 million. Trees entrusted to FT are now worth a fraction of their former value.

So how did FT cover its cash losses?