LETTERS by News WeeklyNews Weekly
, April 22, 2000
Facts about the timber industry
I wish to correct some widely held opinions about the current state of the timber industry in the Manjimup Shire, in the south-west of Western Australia.
There seems to be a perception that there is almost no "pristine" or "old growth" forest left.
Many years ago, my father, who was born at Bunbury in 1898, told me that there was only a small area of bush near Shannon River that had not been logged in the last 150 years. He had worked in the timber industry for many years, after my family settled at Diamond Tree in 1911.
Recently two groups of Eastern States tourists called at the local Bureau, and, when asked why they were looking through the firewood pile, stated that they wanted some jarrah before it was all gone. They were referred to a local small mill where they each purchased a piece of wood to take back home to put on display in their homes. This may sound incredible, but it is an indication of the perception that the "green" movement and their supporters have been able to create in the minds of the public.
There is anger among the mill workers and conservation department employees at the way they are being criticised and accused of all kinds of "ill" treatment of the forest. The way the protesters can operate in the forest - stopping workers going about their lawful business - is really a "scandal". These protesters seem to be able to camp anywhere, do what they like with impunity, yet try to use every avenue of the law to stop people working.
Conservation department employees with university degrees are asking why their activities and research is being ignored or dismissed, but protesters and "green" movement people with equivalent or fewer qualifications have their opinions presented by the press and others as being far superior.
I have been told that because of the immediate closure of Karri logging, fifteen years of research into "Karri value-adding" by the CSIRO, without threatening the regeneration of the forest, will be wasted. The statement that "plantation timber" will be able to take the place of "Old growth forest" has a number of serious flaws that are not being publicised for fear of causing a loss of confidence in the tree planting industry.
1) The 125,000 acres of trees already planted in the south-west are genetically modified plants (the lenticels in the wood have been modified so that the wood breaks down when the chips are immersed in the chemical used in paper making). This means that the wood from these trees will not be suitable for structural use.
2) The effect on the soil by long-term use of land for plantation timber is unknown.
3) It is already evident that these fast growing trees draw far more water from the soil than "natural" long growing trees do.
Manjimup, WA Asian holocaust
The article by Michael Scammell on "Where, When and Why 85 million people died" (News Weekly, March 11), ends by saying that "we cannot choose between our memory of Auschwitz and our memory of the Gulag" - and quite rightly.
But we also must remember the millions of Chinese and South East Asians, the Japanese murdered - not to mention our fellow countrymen who suffered and died on the Burma Railway and in prisoner-of-war camps.
Is our Aussie memory so short? Or are we afraid of our financial overlords?
On the other hand it should be better realised that the most outstanding Christian of this century is a Japanese, Toyohiko Kagaura.
He also wrote most moving poetry in "Songs from the Slums".
York, WAAged care issues
Max Teichmann in his article "Aged Care: where to from here?" makes some comments makes are downright irresponsible.
While rightly acknowledging the selfishness surrounding much of contemporary family life, he wrongly attributes this selfishness as a root cause to the aged care problem.
He blames "changes in the attitudes of the children ... rather than [changes] originating from the aged parents themselves." This is patent nonsense. The medical facts are that people are now living much longer than they did thirty years ago. Conditions once terminal are now partially treatable. The result is an increasing number of the frail old are saved from death, but unable to survive without fairly intensive medical supervision - a task physically and professionally beyond many families (read women) that are themselves on the upper limit of middle age and often exhausted from a lifetime of bringing up children. In some cases they have to supplement the family income as well.
Allow me an anecdote. The day I watched my ninety-seven year old, post-stroke mother sign the forms for admission to a nursing home was the worst day in my life. She had led a full, happy and interesting life as my next door neighbour, with a lot of backup support from my husband as myself. We had also looked after my mother-in-law, who shared the house with mum.
However, after her stroke, my mother needed on-going medical care and continual supervision. I wanted to take her home with me. I was advised against it by the hospital staff, who thought it would be impossible for me to provide a safe and healthy environment that met her changed needs.
We are not all selfish, uncaring families these days. Give us a break.
Stafford Heights, Qld