Susan Austin

It’s easy to get confused about forests and climate change. Deforestation and forest degradation contribute to around 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions, second only to the burning of fossil fuels to produce energy. Climate scientists say that preserving our forests is a quick, easy and cheap way to prevent further global warming.
The River Runs Free: Exploring & Defending Tasmania’s Wilderness
By Geoff Law
Viking, 2008
292 pages, $32.95
The chainsaws are poised to enter Wielangta Forest in south-east Tasmania, despite ongoing community opposition and a long legal battle led by Greens senator Bob Brown.
The campaign to stop the damming of the Franklin River in Tasmania’s south-west wilderness resulted in a historic victory for the environment movement in 1983. More than 1000 people came together on July 1 to mark the 25th anniversary of this victory in a night of celebration at the Grand Chancellor’s Federation Ballroom.
The Socialist Alliance is joining the growing number of people and organisations campaigning for a big increase in all pensions and other welfare benefits. It is outrageous that people on welfare were almost totally ignored in the recent federal budget.
On April 2, federal environment minister Peter Garrett approved the third stage of the controversial Gunn’s pulp mill. Bulldozers have been given the go-ahead at the Tamar Valley site in northern Tasmania.
Tasmanian public sector workers will be attending stopwork meetings in the week beginning May 5 to consider a government offer on wages and conditions. In a negotiation process that has dragged on for over 18 months, members of the Health and
Tasmanian deputy premier Steve Kons resigned in disgrace on April 9 following the eruption of a new political scandal for Premier Paul Lennon’s Labor government related to its support for Gunns Ltd’s planned Tamar Valley pulp mill.
On February 26, Forestry Tasmania, the state-government-run corporation that manages Tasmania’s forests, revealed that it had signed a 20-year deal to supply wood to Gunns Limited’s proposed Tamar Valley pulp mill.
“We start the campaign of 2008 without a pulp mill. Who would have thought that after more than three years [Premier Paul] Lennon and [Gunns Ltd CEO John] Gay would still not have their pulp mill?”, said Bob McMahon, one of the founders of Tasmanians Against The Pulp Mill (TAP).
The United Firefighters Union (UFU) of Australia Tasmanian branch plans to escalate industrial action on February 11 if their demands are not met. Members are calling for a fair resolution to a superannuation dispute from last year and for a proper pay increase. They also want an independent review into workload and other problems at the dispatch and communications centre.
The following article is excerpted from a speech to a November 5 Council on the Aging (COTA) forum in Hobart by Susan Austin, who was the Socialist Alliance’s candidate for Denison.
Dear fellow workers,
In the latest attempt to intimidate forest protesters and restrict freedom of speech in Tasmania, the state government’s Forestry Tasmania agency is suing forest activist Allana Beltran, who is also known as the “Weld Angel”.
Hundreds of people packed out the State Cinema in Hobart to watch the premiere of The Wilderness Society’s (TWS) pulp mill film Tasmania’s Clean Green Future: Too Precious to Pulp. The short film was made by award-winning film-maker Heidi Douglas, who is one of the “Gunns 20’’ defendants being sued by Gunns for previous films. It aims to counter the Tasmanian government’s latest propaganda campaign supporting the proposed pulp mill in the Tamar Valley, which consists of television and newspaper ads and large glossy brochures.
Federal ALP leader Kevin Rudd took a further step to the right on July 23 when he announced full support for logging old-growth forests in Tasmania. Rudd also announced his support for Gunns Ltd’s $2 billion pulp mill project proposed for the Tamar Valley, north of Launceston, in the federal electorate of Bass.

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