by Tim Wilson, August 3, 2011
Last night on ABC1’s Foreign Correspondent there was a program on allegations of forest clearing in Sumatra by the company APRIL. SD was surprised at the story not because of its relevance, which is high, but at the nearly uncontested acceptance of WWF, Rainforest Action Network and Greenpeace allegations against the company, and the near dismissal of how much support economic development had in the area.
In short the story recognised in the most meaningless way that there’s actually quite a large amount of support for economic development amongst local owners.
But there were concerning dimensions to the story, particularly around the protection and preservation of property rights by local owners who claimed to have leases. According to one sago farmer he had a lease on some land which has basically been expunged because the government has given forestry rights to APRIL. SD has no way of verifying who is correct, but it is of deep concern that property rights would be waived without compensation.
Similarly, the ABC’s ongoing acceptance of allegations against industry without scrutiny raises equal concern. The ABC is supposed to be a balanced broadcaster that scrutinises all allegations. During this program that seemed lacking. Especially considering the lack of evidence that is continually found around allegations by these groups in the past by SD and others.