Chipmill help - what has the Government got to hide?

After 4 months, forest campaigner Harriett Swift is no closer to getting details of State Government help to the Eden chipmill following storm damage to its jetty in June last year.

Ms Swift, who is Convener of the Chipstop Campaign and Deputy Convenor of the South East Region Conservation Alliance (SERCA) has lodged freedom of information requests under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (GIPA).

She had asked the Forestry Corporation for details of financial assistance or help by way of regulatory or contractual concessions.

Ms Swift said she had been forced to resort to GIPA requests to obtain information that should be routinely available to the public.

"While few of the documents I sought were actually refused in full, in most cases large slabs of text were redacted so that virtually no meaningful information was provided.

"In one case, an entire page (see attachment) was blacked out, even the date," Ms Swift said.

"The only surviving words were the Allied Natural Wood Exports (ANWE) letterhead."

"The Forestry Corporation and ANWE have claimed that many of the documents I have sought are "Commercial in Confidence"," she said.

"I am arguing that this is not a valid reason to object. For pulp logs in this region there is one buyer and one seller and the concept of "Commercial-in-Confidence" is not meaningful," she said.

"The industry operates in an artificial market place, with the Wood Supply contract and prices paid for logs already known as a result of Questions in Parliament and other GIPA requsts.

"We heard politicians making vague promises on the chipmill during the last election campaign, but have been told nothing since about what, if any, assistance was provided."

Ms Swift has not given up and is currently awaiting the results of an "Internal Review" of the original decision.

"I believe the public has a right to this information and if the Government has nothing to hide it should ensure that I get all the documents in full," she said.

14 February 2017

Contact: 0414908997

Attachment: one of the redacted documents.