Scope and Guiding Considerations
Structure and Process
Appendix 1: Policy Context
Appendix 2: Structure Diagram
Appendix 3: Engagement Diagram
Appendix 4: Consensus Decision-Making
Terms of Reference: Working Group on Coupes
The Victorian Government is supporting an Industry Taskforce (Appendix 1), to provide a forum and process for dialogue and leadership amongst the major stakeholders in the forest, fibre and wood products industry, unions and forest conservation groups.
The purpose of the Industry Taskforce is for the major stakeholders to reach common ground on a durable, long-term set of recommendations and proposals to government, about future issues facing the industry, job protection, economic activity, protection of our unique native flora and fauna and threatened species, such as the Leadbeater’s possum.
The outcomes will be reached by consensus, and involve robust dialogue and considered negotiation. The process will rely on expert evidence, analysis and facilitation, and the engagement of relevant other affected groups and interests, and the broader Victorian community.
The Industry Taskforce will aim for recommendations that will enable us to successfully create and sustain jobs and industry growth in a changing economic environment, to conserve high value ecological assets, to protect key species such as the Leadbeater’s possum and to implement a durable plan for the good stewardship of Victoria’s forests that can be embraced by the Victorian community.
The Taskforce will provide to the Victorian Government, recommendations about how best to ensure that Victoria conserves high value ecological assets, maintains healthy forests and builds and maintains a vibrant world-leading forest, fibre and wood products industry, based on:
- secure fibre and wood supplies including from native forests and existing and new plantations,
- jobs maintenance and growth,
- protection of unique native flora and fauna and threatened species, specifically including the Leadbeater’s possum,
- new conservation reserves and national parks, and
- forest management which maintains forest health and supports the full range of economic, social and environmental values and benefits at state, regional and local levels.
The Industry Taskforce will seek to jointly achieve broad community and cross-parliamentary support to adopt and implement the agreed outcomes.
In recognition of Traditional Owners, strategies and actions should, with the support of government, support the determination, recognition, consideration and acknowledgement of Traditional Owner rights, interests and aspirations in relation to public forest areas and related industries.
The focus will be on future use and management of Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) state forests east of the Hume Highway and will be informed by consideration of:
- whole of community benefits including the full range of economic, social and environmental values
- existing plantations and development of new private and/or public plantations
- wood resource on private property
- state-wide supply chain
- industry economics and the competitive environment it operates in
- conservation values in RFA areas, and in existing and new national parks, and other reserves
- landscape-wide biodiversity, and
- fire and climate change impacts.
Some primary questions for consideration will be:
- What would the scope and scale of any new national parks and reserves in eastern Victoria be?
- What would be required to ensure the viability of threatened species and forest health across the broader forest ecosystem?
- Where would any fibre and wood come from to provide a secure, sustainable resource for industry and enable opportunities for future industry growth?
- Where would any jobs maintenance and growth be?
- What other economic, forest use and recreational activities, if any, ought to be taken into account in future state forest use and management decisions?
- How would any public forest areas outside of the protected area estate be robustly managed in the future?
- What funding, management and review mechanisms, if any, would be required for the care and management of any new protected areas?
- What role could any new plantations provide in future wood supply for industry, and how could government(s) facilitate this?
- How would any outcomes relating to all of the above be delivered in a robust manner and for long-term durability?
Stakeholders have diverse perspectives and interests. Reaching common ground amongst a multi-stakeholder group around issues of high complexity is challenging: there is no precedent solution to draw from, addressing the problems piece by piece is not enough to deliver long-term solutions. In recognising that one stakeholder or organisation alone cannot solve the challenges, stakeholders are committed to work together, and have co-designed the process to enable this.
The structure will be based around:
- The Planning Group to provide consistent leadership and to facilitate regular reporting to government via the Premier’s office, and to work with the chair to drive the process.
- The Core Group of negotiators, representing key stakeholder sectors and with a responsibility to engage and involve others.
- A series of Working Groups to undertake more detailed consideration and report back to the Core Group. The Working Groups will, as required, comprise relevant expertise, including scientists and other experts.
- An independent chair whose role includes overseeing a fair and robust process and, together with the Planning Group, being the interface with government and the Victorian public.
- Independent Facilitator/s to assist working through contentious discussion around problems and differences.
- A secretariat to support administrative tasks, communication, policy development and access to information and expertise.
This structure is indicated in Appendix 2; Appendix 3 shows the range of constituents and affected groups.
The process will be three broad phases:
Phase One: Scoping
Develop a shared information and understanding of the challenges and concerns.
Phase Two: Deliberating
Co-develop a range of options and possible solutions.
Phase Three: Deciding
Make decisions and reach a set of agreed and durable solutions and recommendations.
The Taskforce will make agreements by consensus, which means decision-making will be inclusive, participatory and collaborative, and a process through which stakeholders seek and reach consent, as described in Appendix 4.
The Core Group of stakeholders recognises that a durable outcome will only emerge from a process that recognises the complexity of the situation and builds a broad-based community consensus. That is why the Core Group is willing to participate directly and in good faith, with the support of the government.
The Planning Group comprises:
- Jane Calvert (CFMEU – Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union)
- Tim Johnston (VAFI – Victorian Association of Forest Industries)
- Amelia Young (TWS Victoria – The Wilderness Society Victoria)
The Core Group comprises the Planning group plus:
- Jess Abrahams (ACF – Australian Conservation Foundation)
- Vince Hurley (ASH – Australian Sustainable Hardwoods)
- Julian Mathers (AP – Australian Paper)
- John McConachy (representing harvest and haulage contractors)
- Alex Millar (CFMEU – Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union)
- Sarah Rees (MyEnvironment)
- Matt Ruchel (VNPA – Victorian National Parks Association)
The Taskforce will deliver a set of agreed recommendations to Government by the end of June 2016, unless extension is formally and jointly agreed by Government and Taskforce members.
The Taskforce, including the Chair, will:
- make use of a variety of means of communications, including a website
- jointly make all statements and media comment about the work of the Taskforce
- prepare communication and engagement plans, with assistance from the secretariat.
The Taskforce seeks ongoing financial support from Government for the chair, facilitators and for the Planning and Core Groups to undertake engagement and communication activity as well as for expert advice, science and data.
Key data to inform this task may include but might not be limited to:
- current and future projected resource requirements of the Victorian forest, fibre and wood products industry
- volumes, condition, cost and utility of available and projected resources and services, and the capacity of forests to continue to provide these
- current and projected employment
- ecological values and ecosystem services
- protected area and off-reserve management requirements.
Policy context: “Labor strongly supports a consensus approach in the establishment of any new national parks. We will facilitate and support the establishment of an Industry Taskforce to provide leadership to reach common ground on the future issues facing the industry, job protection, economic activity, protection of our unique native flora and fauna and threatened species, such as the Leadbeater’s possum. The taskforce will have members from the forestry and forest products industry, unions, environmental groups and scientists, threatened species experts, land owners, timber communities and other relevant stakeholders. A Labor Government will consider any reasonable recommendations and proposals reached by consensus of the major stakeholders through the Industry Task Force, but will not impose solutions.”
Back to top of page
Back to top of page
Consensus decision-making is inclusive, participatory and collaborative.
It is a group decision process for seeking and reaching consent that reflects the will of the group.
As such, it is about reaching a decision, and the process of reaching that decision. Consensus is not the same as unanimity (but it does not preclude the possibility of achieving unanimity). It is not necessarily about reaching a single agreement per se. Rather, it is where a group of decision‐makers reach a place of consent about an issue, and any objections to that decision are resolved as part of the process.
Before any attempt to make a decision on a complex or contentious issue, the process of consensus building needs to commence, otherwise there is a high risk that any decision reached might be flawed, unsupported or unsustainable.
Consensus building ensures that decision‐makers:
- are heard
- are consulted
- fully understand the options available and the possible outcomes
- have trust in the process
- share an understanding of consensus.
When all of these contextual conditions are in place consent can be reached. Reaching consensus takes responsibility, time and energy. As such, it needs to be pursued efficiently by people with genuine stake in the issue.
Responsibilities of consensus decision‐makers include:
- acting in the best interests of the group, recognising that in order to deliver group consent, the interests of others in the group need also to be met as well as one’s own interests
- dealing constructively and efficiently with the question at hand
- contributing ideas and presenting alternative solutions
- resolving issues at the time of making decisions at meetings
- undertaking the responsibility not to block consensus unless a decision‐maker has a fundamental belief that the proposal is not in the best interests of achieving the group’s objective.
Working Group on Coupes Terms of Reference
There is a shared recognition that the proposed Industry Taskforce has a role in providing leadership to reach common ground and make recommendations to Government on the future issues facing the forest, fibre and wood products industry, job protection, economic activity, protection of our unique native flora and fauna and threatened species, such as the Leadbeater’s possum.
Upon approval from the Victorian Government to proceed with the proposed Industry Taskforce, a Taskforce Working Group on Coupes will immediately be established and, in the context of the Taskforce role, work with VicForests to consider appropriate action, including consideration of coupe scheduling, to protect high conservation values whilst maintaining suitable wood flow.
The Taskforce Working Group on Coupes will ideally be comprised of, but not be limited to, representatives from the CFMEU, Forest Conservation Groups, and Industry as well as VicForests and others, as appropriate, and will provide advice back to the Industry Taskforce.
The Taskforce Working Group on Coupes will meet within ten working days, or as otherwise agreed, of approval from Government to proceed with the Industry Taskforce.