Saturday, February 06, 2021

Bob Brown Foundation loses Federal Court bid to end native forest logging in Tasmania

The Bob Brown Foundation took the Federal and Tasmanian Governments, along with Sustainable Timber Tasmania, to court in what environmentalists billed as "the great forest case".

It argued the state's Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) contradicted federal laws and was therefore invalid. It submitted Tasmania's RFA did not protect endangered species, particularly the swift parrot.

The foundation posted on social media saying the decision was "just a setback" and did not change its campaign to end native forest logging.

Bob Brown said "this will simply invigorate our campaign to protect Tasmania's forest and wildlife". "Tasmania's forests will be free of chainsaws before too long," Mr Brown said.

He said the foundation would now look at options to appeal to the High Court.

The foundation's case came after the Federal Court ruled last year that state-owned timber company VicForests breached environmental laws by logging sections of the Central Highlands inhabited by the critically endangered Leadbeater's possum.

The forest industry and government ministers said the decision was a "win" for forestry workers.

Assistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries Jonno Duniam said Mr Brown must now accept the judgement. "This is a victory for every hard-working man and woman in forestry across the nation," Senator Duniam said in a statement.

"Bob Brown said himself that 'it's time for a big winner' when it comes to the native forestry industry, and today's decision confirms forestry is that winner."

Tasmanian Forest Products Association chief executive Nick Steel said the outcome was good news "for Tasmanian jobs, the environment, and the Tasmanian community".

"Regional Forest Agreements were set up to provide an appropriate balance between the environment and jobs and to provide certainty to all parties, and the public can now be reassured about this balance by today's decision," Mr Steel said.

Tasmania's forestry industry employees more than 5,000 people, both directly and indirectly.

Australia makes HUGE move against China as it offers $10million for a key industry the communist government has dominated for decades

The Tasmanian Government will put $10million towards helping to revive a King Island mine to produce tungsten, a mineral seen as critical to national security.

China currently controls about 83 per cent of the world's tungsten production - a near monopoly on global supply.

The Trump administration in 2018 declared tungsten one of 35 minerals 'essential' to the United States' economic and national security, though the country does not have a mine producing tungsten.

Australia meanwhile currently only has a small working deposit, located in Tasmania, leaving the two countries vulnerable to controls on exports.

The King Island Scheelite company's Dolphin Mine has been closed since 1992 due to a downturn in global tungsten prices. It had been producing Scheelite, a form of Tungsten since 1917 on the island, located halfway between Tasmania and Victoria.

The price of tungsten, the second hardest mineral after diamonds, has rebounded in recent years with the mineral used widely in automotive and aerospace industries.

Tungsten is used to manufacture passenger vehicles, fighter jets, weapons, drill bits used in the mining industry and in mobile phone screens.

'Tungsten is a strategically significant metal and a key input to industries that are vital to national security,' King Island Scheelite Executive Chairman Johann Jacobs said.

'We note that several Western governments have recently identified a crisis in the supply chain for critical minerals, particularly tungsten, for which North America currently has no mines in production.

'We see a close alignment between the company's development objectives, the Tasmanian Government's interests in maintaining and growing both Tasmanian jobs and export revenue, and the strategic objectives of the Australian Government as implemented by Austrade and the Critical Mineral Facilitation Office.'

Tasmania's minister for state growth, Michael Ferguson, said the government had offered a $10 million commercial loan, repayable over 10 years, to help progress the Dolphin Mine.

'King Island Scheelite's Dolphin Tungsten Project has the potential to generate significant investment, create jobs and boost the economy on King Island,' he said.

'While the project is still contingent on a number of other requirements, which the company is progressing, this is an important step in moving it forward. 'This will allow the company to continue the additional capital-raising necessary to bring it to fruition.'

Mr Ferguson said the company estimates the project could create up to 90 full-time equivalent jobs during construction and about 55 ongoing full-time equivalent jobs. 'It would be great to see a clever, job-creating mine up and running again under this proposal, producing significant social and economic benefits for the King Island community,' he said.

King Island Scheelite is still hoping to obtain $15million in federal government funding and further money from equity and debt markets.

China’s Ministry of Education has issued another warning to students wanting to study in Australia

Chinese students have again been warned against studying in Australia in a move that could worsen the already strained relationship with Beijing.

State-owned media has reported that China’s Ministry of Education on Friday told students to make a “full risk assessment” about studying in Australia following reports of racism and concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

“It noted that a series of vicious attacks on Chinese students that have happened recently in multiple places in Australia have posed a serious threat to their personal safety,” the Global Times wrote.

“The raging pandemic also makes international travel risky.”

Australian universities rely heavily on the Chinese, who make up the largest cohort of international students.

Beijing first cautioned students about racist incidents against Asians and the pandemic in June last year in the midst of Australia’s plans to allow international students to return to the country.

However, the burgeoning number of Australian citizens wanting to return from overseas and restricted quarantine capacity has thrown a spanner in the works of returning planeloads of international students to campuses nationwide.

The Global Times reported that the education department warning was evidence that Australia had “poisoned” the relationship with China.

Shanghai-based Australian scholar Chen Hong – who had his visa cancelled by Australian officials after an intelligence investigation – said the “worsening discrimination problem” that Chinese students face in Australia has reached “an alarmingly high degree”.

“The Australian government’s continuous attacks against China, which have been echoed by the media especially after the COVID-19 pandemic, has misguided the local Australian people to generate hostility toward the Chinese,” he said.

The Scanlon social cohesion study released this week found there was a “relatively high level” of negative opinion towards Asian Australians in 2020.

Three in five Chinese Australians responded the racism in Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic was a ‘very big’ or ‘fairly big problem’.

The UK and Canada have been raised as alternatives for Chinese students wanting to study overseas, heightening concerns from Australian universities that they could lose their pre-pandemic share of the market.

Google opens paid-for Australian platform in drive to undercut Government's proposed content payment laws

Google has launched a platform in Australia offering news it has paid for after striking its own content deals with publishers.

It's part of a drive to show that world-first legislation proposed by the Federal Government to enforce payments is unnecessary.

Only rolled out previously in Brazil and Germany, the News Showcase platform was originally slated for launch last June.

But Alphabet-owned Google delayed plans when the Government moved to make it a legal requirement for Google and Facebook to pay Australian media companies for content.

The tech giant, still lobbying the Australian Government in private meetings, has previously said was the legislation was "unworkable" and would force it to pull out of the country altogether if implemented.

With the legislation now before a parliamentary inquiry, the launch of News Showcase in Australia will see it pay seven domestic outlets, including the Canberra Times, to use their content.

Financial details of the content deals weren't disclosed, and Canberra Times publisher, Australian Community Media, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Google said it looked forward to striking agreements with more Australian publishers, whose position has been bolstered by Canberra's aggressive push back against Facebook and Google.

"This provides an alternative to the model put forward by the Australian Government," said Derek Wilding, a professor at the University of Technology Sydney's Centre for Media Transition.

"What remains to be seen is if larger publishers sign on to the product."

Last month Reuters said it had signed a deal with Google to be the first global news provider to Google News Showcase. Reuters is owned by news and information provider Thomson Reuters Corp.

Google declined to add a further comment when contacted by Reuters.

Last month, Google and a French publishers' lobby agreed to a copyright framework for the tech firm to pay news publishers for content online, in a first for Europe.

Crushed: Digital giants vs Australian media

Within a couple of years the likes of Google and Facebook will devour more than half local ad revenues, leaving only crumbs for traditional media players.

Under the proposed legislation in Australia, Google and Facebook would have to pay publishers and broadcasters for content included in search results or news feeds as well.

If they failed to strike a deal with publishers, a government-appointed arbitrator would decide the price.




No comments: