Taskforce members – from the forest, fibre and wood products industry, union and conservation groups – welcome Professor Don Henry as independent chair of the Forest Industry Taskforce.
Professor Henry has extensive experience building relationships of mutual respect between people of different views, in regional, national and international contexts.
These skills are welcome as the Taskforce reaches its most intensive stage of discussions to develop recommendations by consensus. The appointment is unanimously supported by the Taskforce members.
Professor Henry sees his role to support and facilitate, rather than lead, the work of the Taskforce.
“The Taskforce members have to reach common ground and have to agree on a future. The Chair is there to assist in that effort. In many ways I’ll be their servant. If they request, I will assist them with their work with their constituencies and with any representations to government,” Professor Henry said.
Professor Henry is impressed with the amount of work the Taskforce has done so far and with the genuine and respectful working relationships they have developed.
“This is very difficult work as, legitimately, there have been differences of views about the future of the forests between forest conservation interests, industry interests and workers’ interests. I think it’s to the great credit of the group that they’ve come together and are looking to find a different future.
“What I’ve observed so far is, even though people have differing perspectives, and all of those perspectives are legitimate, people are working very respectfully together and they’re taking the time to learn and understand the different perspectives in the room,” Professor Henry said.
Professor Henry is currently a Public Policy Fellow – Environmentalism with the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute at the University of Melbourne. He was previously CEO of the Australian Conservation Foundation for more than 15 years.