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NSW Government keeps $1.2 million forestry scoping study secret

July 03, 2020

The NSW Government will keep a five month, $1.2 million scoping study to privatise the Forestry Corporation secret after a freedom of information request to release it was refused.
Despite forking out around $10,000 a day on Sydney-based bankers, lawyers, accountants and consultants in the middle of catastrophic bushfires, the NSW Liberal and Nationals Government has refused to publicly release the report.
Labor Shadow Minister for Natural Resources, Paul Scully said he was surprised the Deputy Premier, John Barilaro and Treasurer, Dom Perrottet were determined to hide the study.
“The Berejiklian Government abandoned their bid to sell our forests but they haven’t abandoned their commitment to secrecy.
“The Government finally bowed to Labor pressure in February to abandon the privatisation plan for Forestry Corporation and stop the grotesque spending on Sydney-based bankers, lawyers, accountants and consultants.
“Taxpayers in timber-dependent communities paid for the scoping study and they are entitled to know what it said, what conclusions it drew and what recommendations it made.
“There is now no reason for the scoping study to remain secret.
“The Deputy Premier should release this report and stop hiding behind freedom of information technicalities,” he said.
Mr Scully sought the release of the scoping study on Forestry Corporation on 15 May 2020 under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (GIPA Act).
“The scoping study would have explored options for the future of the industry and given the Government’s admitted there’ll  be timber supply problems in the medium term, an assessment of future options is vital.
“The Government didn’t proceed with the privatisation but that is not a reason to keep a taxpayer-funded examination of the timber industry and its future secret”, Mr Scully said.