"An American-based company accused of bulldozing trees in koala habitats in Victoria has emerged as the buyer of Queensland's major forests in a $603 million deal with the State Government”, said the May 19 Courier-Mail. “The deal is the first major privatisation of state assets by the Bligh Government.”
This is the first of several fire-sales of public assets, including forests, rail, ports and motorways, proposed by the state Labor government since last year. Unions and community groups have strongly opposed the privatisation plan.
The US company that bought the licence for Forestry Plantations Queensland is an offshoot of the US-based Hancock Natural Resources Group, which also bought large tracts of Victorian forests in 1998.
Federal Greens candidate for Wide Bay Dr Jim McDonald said on April 15: “Hancock's clear-felling practices in rain catchment areas and in koala habitats have been questioned by Victorian environmentalists concerned about the sustainability of Victorian timber resources.”
Ewan Saunders, Socialist Alliance candidate for Brisbane, told Green Left Weekly: “This garage sale of the state's vital public assets by the Queensland Labor government is a crime against the interests of the people.”