Otway Ranges Environment Network



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Timber Communities Australia

Otway Ranges Environment Network
Press Release

Timber Communities Australia exposed

Timber Communities Australia is a Public Relations front group - Wednesday 30th October 2002

Otway Ranges Environment Network today accused the Timber Communities Australian Ltd of being a public relations front group paid for by woodchip companies. Documents received from the Australian Securities and Investment Commission reveal that Timber Communities Australian Ltd is in fact a company that has received at least $1.617 million dollars or 76% of their funding from industry groups between June 1999 and July 2001.

“The businesses that profit from woodchipping are putting a huge investment towards the deception of the general community. The woodchip industry is using Timber Communities Australian Ltd (TCA Ltd ) to create the false impression inttgenine grass roots support for clearfell logging and woodchipping in the Otways.”, aid Simon Birrell spokes person for the Otway Ranges Environment Network (OREN).”

“In the world of public relations, TCA Ltd is nothing more than a “astro-turf” or fake grass roots organisation. No one ever believes the woodchippers when they says clearfell logging is good for the environment and the community. So instead, the woodchip companies pay TCA Ltd close to a million dollars a year to spread this deceptive message to the community.”

“OREN has obtained financial data that shows that in a two year period the TCA's total income was $2,128,212 of which $1,617,752 or 76% is listed as "industry contributions". Industry funds may well account for more in some of the other incomes categories and we can safely say that we believe over 76% of the TCA's income comes from industry groups. We assume that this mainly comes from woodchipping companies.”

“On the other hand OREN gets all its funding through memberships and sales of publications such as the OREN calendar. OREN does not receive any government funding.”

“It is interesting to note that the Executive Director of both Timber Communities Australian Ltd and the National Association of Forest Industries is the same person. This connection shows the influence the peak woodchipping lobby group has over the day to day activities of TCA Ltd.”

“Since TCA Ltd was set up in Colac, they have set out to deliberately misrepresent the views of genuine community groups that are oppose to clearfell logging. They have tried to build the perception that conservationists are extremists and down play the impact of logging on native forests.

“Some people feel that the presence of the TCA Ltd in the community is a source of intimidation against genuine conservationists. An example of this occurred when TCA Ltd organised a bus load of loggers to stack out a council meeting in Apollo Bay in June this year.“

“We expect the level of misinformation from TCA Ltd to increase as the state election campaign intensifies and logging season starts. There are a few people making a lot of money from woodchipping publicly owned forests. They have historically played a dirty tricks game and we see no signs of them giving up yet.”


Funding focus in timber fight
Colac Herald

An Otway Ranges environment group has told an Otways timber organisation it must disassociate itself from its national body to be considered a genuine community organisation.

Otway Ranges Environment Network spokesperson Simon Birrell has accused Timber Communities Australia of being a big-business funded public-relations front group instead of a grassroots community organisation

“In the world of public retaliations, TCA Ltd is nothing more than an `astro-turf' or fake grass roots organisation,” Mr Birrell said.

"No one ever believes the when they say clearfell logging is good for the environment and the community," he said.

"So instead, the woodchip companies pay TCA Ltd close to a million dollars year to spread this deceptive message to the community.”

But TCA Otways branch president Peter Dynes said the branch was financed solely by fundraisers and received nothing from the national branch.

"We don't get any money from the local mills or the national branch or anything." Mr Dynes said.

“We are in the true sense of the word a community organisation concerned with the needs of the people in our community," he said.

Mr Birrell said the TCA Otway branch members should disassociate themselves from the national group if they wanted credibility.

“He can't escape the fact that Timber Communities Australia gets this sort of funding from industry groups,” he said

"If he was genuine about not being connected with the national group then they should resign from the national group and change their name to something else," he said.

Mr Dvnes said Mr Birrell's funding accusations where hypocritical because OREN received money from Earthshare violating the group's funding "You can be an environmental group and get money from Earthshare if you aren't engaged in any direct confronting action," Mr Dynes said.

"They’re quite happy to accept that money under false pretences every time one of their members steps onto a site," he said. "If they want to talk about fund ing, well, bring it on.

Mr Dynes said he had offered to meet OREN to work through issues confronting loggers and environmentalists in the Otways, but his offer fell on deaf ears.

"I realise we live in a Western society with freedom of speech and freedom of thought and they're entitled to say what they want," Mr Dynes said.

"It's also a fundamental human right to be able to go to work free of workplace harassment," he said.

"We want them to leave the workers alone and protest through the proper channels."

Mr Birrell said OREN meeting with Timber Communities Australia would give the timber industry credibility. "We won't meet with a public relations group that's paid for by the industry,” Birrell said.

“It would just give credibility to their group,” he said.


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