Tiwi Islands – Northern Territory

Melville Environmental Mess – June 12, 2009

Posted by tiwiccbb on June 12, 2009


The Age
Tom Arup
June 12, 2009

Company collapse leaves huge clean-up headaches
Tiwi Islands landclearing story

The demise of agribusiness company Great Southern has left environmental damage unfixed on the Tiwi Islands.

THE Federal Government has become embroiled in the collapse of agribusiness company Great Southern, which has a major environmental clean-up bill.

Last year, after mediation with Environment Minister Peter Garrett, Great Southern agreed to do $2 million of environmental repairs on the Tiwi Islands, 80 kilometres north of Darwin. The company had illegally cleared 500 hectares of protected rainforest and wetlands.

Great Southern also agreed to pay $1.35 million over three years to the Tiwi Land Council for the removal of feral pigs and weeds.

But The Age believes that none of the environmental recovery work has begun, and the Federal Government has no legal recourse to claim the money for the work after the $3 billion company collapsed last month.

A spokesman for Great Southern’s administrator, Ferrier Hodgson, confirmed the Government had no legal right to claim the money the company was to spend on the environmental clean-up.

He said the Government might be given preferential treatment over unsecured creditors but only in the unlikely event there was money left after the company’s interest-bearing debt of $785 million was paid to secured creditors.

The Environment Department has told Ferrier Hodgson of Great Southern’s obligations under last year’s agreement. A spokesman for Mr Garrett said he was taking “an active interest” in the situation.

Last year, Great Southern was charged with breaching a “buffer zone” when it cleared native vegetation around a 30,000-hectare managed investment scheme tree plantation on Melville Island in the Tiwis.

The buffer zone was created to safeguard protected rainforest and wetlands, home to 38 threatened plants and animals.

In the mediated outcome, Great Southern agreed to do the $2 million of environmental repair work by December 2015 and pay the Tiwi Land Council $1.35 million over three years.

Before it fell, Great Southern paid a $1 million bond to the Government, which Mr Garrett can now use for some of the work.

The company had also devised a plan for the environmental work, but the Environment Department rejected it.

Great Southern has paid $125,000 to the Tiwi Land Council so far.

Ferrier Hodgson has told the land council to send an invoice for the next quarterly payment, due next month.

Brian Clancy, the land council’s development manager, said he hoped the money would still be paid.

The Tiwi Land Council will meet with Great Southern’s administrator next week to discuss the fate of the plantation on Melville Island and the environmental recovery work.


4 Responses to “Melville Environmental Mess – June 12, 2009”

  1. silence is stupid said

    Brian Clancy and CEO John Hicks, the white men who run the Tiwi Land Council are not fit to represent anything to do with the Tiwi Islands’ precious and now precarious environment, now well and truly destroyed by their friends from Great Southern.

  2. silence is stupid said

    Investigate Tiwi Land Council: Scrymgour
    Posted Tue May 19, 2009 3:22pm AEST

    “I know a lot of Tiwis don’t have confidence in their own land council” … Marion Scrymgour. [File image]. (Anna Henderson)
    Map: Darwin 0800
    The Member for Arafura, Marion Scrymgour, is calling on the Federal Government to investigate the Tiwi Land Council’s finances and its efforts to stimulate economic development on the islands.
    Marion Scrymgour says she is sick of seeing failed commercial projects on the islands, including the marine harvest fish farm and the Matilda Minerals project.
    Now the future of forestry projects on the Tiwi Islands, which are run by Great Southern, are in doubt after the company went into administration.
    Ms Scrymgour says the land council was unwise to set up the deal with Great Southern.
    “I know a lot of Tiwis don’t have confidence in their own land council,” she said.
    “They’ve never had that confidence and until the Federal Government steps in with a bit more commitment, they’re never ever going to move forward with any economic prosperity.”
    But the land council’s chief executive, John Hicks, says he thinks the Melville Island forestry plantation will still be a success even if the Tiwi people have to take it over.
    He says Marion Scrymgour’s concerns about the market for woodchips from plantations are not valid.
    “It is an asset that will be harvesting 3,000 hectares a year in 2013-14,” he said.
    “And as long as you plant them back, you have an economy that involves $40 million worth of contracts a year, every year, for Tiwi workers and returns something like $50 million per annum.”

  3. Anonymous said

    New ant species discovered on Tiwis

    By Emma Masters

    Posted Tue Aug 25, 2009 3:25pm AEST
    Updated Tue Aug 25, 2009 3:24pm AEST

    * Map: Darwin 0800

    A CSIRO entomologist predicts the Tiwi Islands, about 80 kilometres north of Darwin, are teeming with species of insects that are yet to be discovered.

    The organisation’s chief research scientist in Darwin, Alan Anderson, says 20 new species of endemic ants have been discovered on the islands this year.

    He says the islands also have many plant and animal species that are not found anywhere else in the world.

    “Because Tiwi is so much wetter than the mainland, there’s a lot more of these rainforest patches,” he said.

    “And one of them in particular, the Jump Up Jungle, is very famous from a plant conservation point of view.

    “But we found at least five species of ants there that are known nowhere else.”

  4. Anonymous said

    ABC Rural Online
    Ants come to light on the Tiwis

    Wednesday, 26/08/2009

    While much of the world is lamenting the loss of biodiversity and the extinction of species, on islands off the coast of Darwin, new species are still being discovered.

    In fact, this year, 20 new species of ants have been discovered on the Tiwi Islands.

    Alan Anderson, chief research scientist for the CSIRO in Darwin, says the Islands have the perfect environment for such discoveries.

    “The Tiwi Islands are really interesting from a biogeographic perspective, because they’re the most northerly part of this part of Northern Australia and the wettest part,” he says.

    “So there’s a lot of plants and animals species that are only found here.”

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