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The Forum > Article Comments > Has the ABC’s Four Corners passed its use-by date? > Comments

Has the ABC’s Four Corners passed its use-by date? : Comments

By Mark Poynter, published 11/7/2019

Promoting favoured causes by ignoring inconvenient truths and/or alternative views is not true investigative journalism.

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The same can be said about the recent program on the Murray Darling Basin. The Four Corners Team simply do not understand the way water allocations are managed, or if they do the indictment is even worse, because the uninformed viewer could be excused for believing the totally biased. one sided presentation.

The MDB Plan may not be perfect, but it has resulted in a substantial reduction of water extracted from the system, and the new arrangements will have long term benefits for rural communities and the completely ignored, increased, valuable, future agricultural production from which all will benefit.
Posted by Ian McClintock, Thursday, 11 July 2019 8:30:08 AM
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Mark keeps side-stepping the 'mountain ash' issue: in my view he does not mention that of the reserved and non-reserved 'mountain ash forest types', most of it in Victoria is already gone.

So what he is claiming is that more than two thirds of the remnant mountain ash is reserved/unavailable for logging...

...two thirds of the little that remains.
Posted by Garry in Liffey, Thursday, 11 July 2019 8:47:48 AM
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If any OLO contributors would like to recognise me in Sydney, I am the bloke driving a round in a silver Fortuna with my self made "ENEMY OF THE ABC" sticker on my rear window.

The ABC is a publicly funded left wing advocacy organisation. Either it abides by it's charter to be a source of unbiased news, or it should be abolished. My preference is that it should be abolished. I would just love to see all those lefty luvvies looking for a job in the privately owned industries which they hate
Posted by LEGO, Thursday, 11 July 2019 9:17:05 AM
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The entire ABC is well past (not 'passed') its use by date. But it should not be judged on the strength of the moaning of one industry. The recent exposure of the abominable Murray Basin rort, for instance, was excellent
Posted by ttbn, Thursday, 11 July 2019 10:36:28 AM
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The abc's gender/race politics is disgusting. Australia would lose little if the feminist dominated tax payer funded organisation was prevented from its marxist propaganda.
Posted by runner, Thursday, 11 July 2019 11:42:04 AM
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I am in total agreement with Mark, particularly about the leadbeaters possum. The demise of large tracts of Mountain Ash is largely due to wild fires which kill young trees.

David
Posted by VK3AUU, Thursday, 11 July 2019 11:59:34 AM
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Obviously there should be more done to avoid inaccuracies, but when I watched that 4 Corners episode, I was pleased it had given me an understanding of the issues that Mark Poynter's previous biased articles (here) had not.

______________________________________________________________________________________

Ian McClintock,
>The same can be said about the recent program on the Murray Darling Basin.

Really? Then why have you failed to offer any objective criticism of its findings, and instead resorted to vague allegations of bias and failure to understand the issues?
Posted by Aidan, Thursday, 11 July 2019 12:09:07 PM
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Definitely not! Four corners is a current affairs leader and one of the highest rating programs that goes to air in Oz. To be sure a number of ideologues want it and freedom of the press shut down or constrained.

These (Murdoch friendly) types can be relied on to limit freedom of the press every which way, every way they can. Why? because it harms a preferred narrative!

Four Corners has to stay, given it well may be, one of the last of a very few, last bastions of free and fearless informed fair and truthful reporting. And never fails as far as it is able to see, to allow those affected by their exposes, to have an INVITED right of reply and defence!

The only thing passed its use by date with regard to the ABC, is the funding limitations that a politically inspired Government has placed on it!

And needs to be lifted forthwith, without any further, infantile perverse political pervarication.

Next, on Four corners expose hit list has to be energy and our available choices and how soon will we have, if ever, a federal ICAC!? The latter, a likely reason for this Article?
Alan B.
Posted by Alan B., Thursday, 11 July 2019 12:15:46 PM
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Four corners?
And here I was, thinking the world was round and flat.

badly named, it should go!
Posted by diver dan, Thursday, 11 July 2019 9:23:12 PM
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Dear Mark,

You complain; "Clearly, being a professional forester with a varied 40-year career, including writing two books examining the enduring conflict over native forests, meant far less to Four Corners than being an ecological researcher."

The program was about the absurdly high extinction rates in Australia. I would much rather hear from an ecological researcher than for you to trot out the line that logging is somehow good for leadbeater possums.

Four Corners is exemplary in with quality of its reporting. There is nothing else which comes anywhere close.

More strength to their arm.
Posted by SteeleRedux, Thursday, 11 July 2019 10:16:52 PM
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Four corners is for people living in the space defined by them, with a tv for a thinking brain.

Sad really.

A whole civilisation captured by an electronic magnet, the flickering cathode ray, the digital conversion therapy, the flat screen matching the flat unthinking earth, with It's sister ship human destiny, mirroring an orbiting electron, bound by the masters of the technological innovation of crowd control...destined for a firey reentry into Trump land.

Control to Donald Trump...Control to Donald Trump...this is Hillary...

Oh..and Dan.
Posted by diver dan, Thursday, 11 July 2019 10:37:08 PM
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No, Diver, that's not 4 Corners.

That's Sky News!
Posted by Aidan, Thursday, 11 July 2019 11:45:32 PM
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A very good morning to you too Aidan.

I was wondering, maybe there is a synister and secretive connection between us not yet recognised.

Ai-Dan and Diver Dan.

Are you the alter ego?

A theory which may identify two of the four corners, leaving me wondering of the other two. Maybe the other two are a TV set and an empty chair.

Dan.
Posted by diver dan, Friday, 12 July 2019 7:59:31 AM
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Steel Redux
You might be interested to know that the loggers have to leave the old stags which are the homes of the possums. Then after the coops have been replanted, the young gumleaves provide food in abundance for the leadbeaters possums.
You don't want to believe all the BS that is spouted by these university armchair academics. Mark actually does know what he is in about.
David
Posted by VK3AUU, Friday, 12 July 2019 12:37:17 PM
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VK3AUU,
How much evidence is there of Leadbeaters possums in replanted logged areas?
Posted by Aidan, Friday, 12 July 2019 1:24:32 PM
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Aidan

"How much evidence is there of Leadbeaters Possum in replanted areas?"

Since 2014, 535 new LBP colonies consisting of 3 to 11 individuals has been found. This includes possums in regenerating areas as soon as 6 years after logging or bushfire, as long as there is nesting habitat. The animal is being found to be far more resilient and numerous than has been expected prior to 2014. Further to this, a recent study has detected 6 colonies living in mixed species forests up to 15 km outside their previously known range in which they were thought to be restricted to mountain ash forest and snow gum woodland. It is for these reasons that the forestry sector is railing against efforts to portray LBP as exceedingly rare as a lever to close a timber industry.
Posted by MW Poynter, Friday, 12 July 2019 9:30:47 PM
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Garry in Liffey

"Mark keeps side-stepping the 'mountain ash' issue: in my view he does not mention that of the reserved and non-reserved 'mountain ash forest types', most of it in Victoria is already gone".

Well, most of the mountain ash forest in which the Leadbeater's Possum lives is contained in Victoria's Central Highlands Forest Management Area where it still occupies 97% of its modelled pre-European range. So your claim that most mountain ash in Victoria 'is already gone' doesn't ring true I'm afraid.
Posted by MW Poynter, Friday, 12 July 2019 9:35:00 PM
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Steele Redux

"The program was about the absurdly high extinction rates in Australia. I would much rather hear from an ecological researcher than for you to trot out the line that logging is somehow good for leadbeater possums".

As I said in my article, if the program was meant to be about the 'absurdly high extinction rates', why did it spent half of its time on forestry which in Australia is acknowledged to have never been responsible for any extinction?

Your other point about the supposedly unimpeachable veracity of ecological researchers is clearly a view that is shared by the ABC and its audience, except when the science challenges their values. In this case the ecological researchers are advocating for forest management change to close a timber industry, so the ABC and most of its audience supports them.

And therein lies the problem, because ecological researchers advocating a complete overhaul of forest management have no practical expertise in broadscale forest management such as dealing with fire, and in most cases have little or no knowledge of the forestry policies, plans and practices which govern such management. That is why a series of ecological research papers are wrongly claiming that 80% of the mountain ash forests are designated for logging, when the actual figure is 30%, and by so doing are grossly overstating the threat that timber production poses to the possum.

Ultimately, following the advice of researchers in this instance will lead to perverse unintended consequences. Leadbeaters possum, like many other animals, is undoubtedly threatened by unnaturally frequent severe fire, natural decline of older hollow bearing trees, and feral carnivores, but simply closing a timber industry founded on a minor portion of younger regrowth forests will actually hinder its conservation by removing the most experienced practitioners from the fire management workforce while effectively allowing forest access to eventually become unusable, thereby making rapid fire attack far more difficult.
Posted by MW Poynter, Saturday, 13 July 2019 10:25:46 AM
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‘Only ~1886 ha of old growth forest – just 1.16% of the 161,200 ha Mountain Ash landscape – remains following the last 100 years of logging and wildfire’ [‘Interacting Factors Driving a Major Loss of Large Trees with Cavities in a Forest Ecosystem ’ /David Lindenmayer; 2012. (source of his stats: Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment unpublished data 2012).
Posted by Garry in Liffey, Saturday, 13 July 2019 9:52:48 PM
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Four corners should present alternatives instead of telling us at great expense what we already know !
Posted by individual, Saturday, 13 July 2019 10:48:24 PM
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MW Poynter,
"Since 2014, 535 new LBP colonies consisting of 3 to 11 individuals has been found. This includes possums in regenerating areas as soon as 6 years after logging or bushfire, as long as there is nesting habitat."

Good.

However the way you've phrased it does appear to be designed to mislead. So please be a bit more specific: since 2014, how many LBP colonies have been found in regenerating areas after logging?
Posted by Aidan, Sunday, 14 July 2019 10:18:50 PM
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You are flogging a dead horse Aiden. Mark and his associates are actually out in the forest observing what is taking place in the real forest.
David
Posted by VK3AUU, Monday, 15 July 2019 10:08:27 AM
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VK3AUU,
If that's the case, he should have no trouble answering the question. So why do you think I'm flogging a dad horse?
Posted by Aidan, Monday, 15 July 2019 10:28:36 AM
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I stop reading as soon as I see this worn out, tired old cliche - "...The ABC is a publicly funded left wing advocacy organisation..." Really gang, you are becoming so boringly predictable and need to come up with something honest.
Posted by Aries54, Monday, 15 July 2019 12:38:21 PM
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Garry of Liffey

So …….. old growth forest is just a sub-set of the total forest area, which as I said earlier, still occupies 97% of its modelled pre-European area. Fire is by far the greatest impact on the structure and age of these forests. About 80% of the mountain ash was burnt by the combined 1926 and 1939 bushfires, and that is why the forest is dominated by 80 year old stands. About 10,000 ha of old growth was burntin 2009, leaving just 1800 ha.
Posted by MW Poynter, Monday, 15 July 2019 5:18:10 PM
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Aidan

"However the way you've phrased it does appear to be designed to mislead. So please be a bit more specific: since 2014, how many LBP colonies have been found in regenerating areas after logging?"

I'm told that dozens have been detected in the regrowth following the 2009 bushfires and in recent logging, but you will have to look in the Victorian Biodiversity Atlas to get an exact number.
Posted by MW Poynter, Monday, 15 July 2019 5:23:40 PM
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Thanks, Mark. The threatened-species-scientific-committee, established under the EPBC has provided Conservation Advice to the Minister who has approved this advice and retained the Leadbeaters-Possum (LBP) in the Critically-Endangered category, effective from 22 June 2019.

The Committee’s advice is here: https://tinyurl.com/y2ecrnbw

It lists the following as threats to the LBP:

Habitat loss and fragmentation:
- collapse of hollow bearing trees, extensive wildfire, logging and climate change.

Invasive species:
-predation by feral cats, competition for nest hollows with Sugar Gliders

It establishes that the number of hollow-bearing trees (HBTs) may be used as an index for the number of LBPs. Decline in the number of HBTs is likely to produce decline in the number of mature individuals in the LBP population. The Committee, noting new areas of distribution had been found, observed that since this population is also exposed to wildfire and harvesting “its discovery does not substantially alter the risk of extinction for the species.”

The Committee estimated that between 2000-2018 some 13360 hectares of habitat were lost due to harvest. In that period, it is calculated that HBTs decline due to logging, fire and ‘ambient’ decline was between 54.8% and 59.5%. Using the data (pp 11&12), it seems that in this period logging reduced the number of HBTs by 7.7%

The Committee projected in the period 2018-2038, decline of LBP potential-habitat could be 72.9% For this calculation, the maximum estimate of fire-induced decline was used: 50%. (This figure was adopted due to recognition that “both modelled projections and weather observations over past decades show with a high degree of certainty that extreme fire weather will increase in frequency over the next three generations and beyond” and that due to the 1939, 1983 and 2009 fires, more than 98% of the habitat is in a state of regrowth and “hence of elevated flammability”. The decline in potential-habitat due to logging was calculated to be 4.9% over that period.)

Similarly using logging, fire (50%) and ambient decline for the period 2006-2024, HBTs are projected to have declined by approximately 83.4%. It is this figure which has confirmed/strengthened the critically-endangered listing.
/…
Posted by Garry in Liffey, Wednesday, 17 July 2019 8:21:05 AM
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.../
To sum up: Logging has contributed to the decline of HBTs/LBPs, while the 1939, 1983 and 2009 fires are seen to be the greater factors.

At the end of the Conservation Advice document, the section ‘Conservation actions’ allows for timber harvesting to continue following negative pre-harvest surveys and thus, in spite of its own analysis of having a causal role in the decline of the HBTs/LBPs, it allows for logging to continue to have a role in the reduction of the populations of this critically endangered species.

It is surprising that a Great Forest National Park was not included as an action that would help to arrest the decline. Surprising too is that although extensive wildfire/climate change is/are identified as impacting on the Leadbeater’s Possum, tackling climate change is not included among the list of conservation actions to be taken to protect the species.

Latest news (via the ABC) is that this last month of June was the hottest June ever recorded globally (according to NASA). Sure, we have to ‘act local’ to conserve this species, but also we have to act global.
Posted by Garry in Liffey, Wednesday, 17 July 2019 8:21:53 AM
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Garry in Liffey

I am all too aware of all this, and the Institute of Foresters of Australia is currently preparing a critique of the TSSC's undated Consultation Document, which was in fact a report produced in response to a review of the LBP's critically endangered status agreed to in Sept 2017. As such, the TSSC had invited interested parties to submit new evidence given that that improved surveying techniquies were finding the possum to be far more numerous and resilient and widespread than anyone could have predicted. This includes finding them living in other forest types up to 15km outside there previously known mountain ash forest range.

Unfortunately, it is clear that the TSSC has ignored much of this new evidence, including the expansion of its known range into other forest types and does not acknowledge the 200 recent detections found since 2017. Furthermore it uses a worst-case assumption that 50% of the mountain ash forests will be burnt over the next 20 years, even though the study which it relies upon for that figure says that 20% burnt is the most likely reality.

It also takes no account of the fire threat mitigation benefit of continuing timber production and ignores the fact that 70% of the mountain ash forests are already reserved. The estimated decline of hollow bearing trees assumes total loss due to logging and bushfire, despite the reality that some/many trees are retained or survive, especially after fire.

Given the threat of climate change, it would make no sense to close an industry that produces renewable materials, and which makes a major contribution to addressing the bushfire threat.
Posted by MW Poynter, Wednesday, 17 July 2019 9:35:20 AM
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From memory, Mark, the Conservation Advice [ https://tinyurl.com/y2ecrnbw ] mentioned increased sightings and raised these in the context of new techniques being used. I believe the conservation advice made the point that the increase in sightings was not necessarily indicative of an increase in populations, but rather was possibly a function of the newer techniques being better able to locate individuals/colonies which, when the ‘older’ techniques were being used, had been going ‘under the radar’.

The other part of the Conservation Advice that (in my view) throws some light on this question of increased sightings is the ‘index’ that I mentioned in my previous comment. In other words, it seems counter-intuitive to conclude populations are increasing while the number of hollow-bearing trees is decreasing. I also believe the Conservation Advice mentioned that the species is still in overall decline, while the new techniques simply give a picture of a species whose numbers and range is apparently/possibly greater than previously known.

I’m sorry that I’ve not had time/space to comment on your ‘Four Corners is past its use-by date’ thrust. From my limited understanding of the Leadbeater’s Possum issue, and having viewed the program online (after reading your article) I’d not support closing the program down. However, I would have thought that you should have been included on the program: you have made ongoing and relevant contributions to the ‘forestry vis a vis conservation’ debate for quite some years now.
Posted by Garry in Liffey, Wednesday, 17 July 2019 5:24:15 PM
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Really gang, you are becoming so boringly predictable and need to come up with something honest.
Aries54,
Really ? So, why not change the same old boring tune of presentation ? How about presenting alternatives ? How about not keeping on telling people what hey don't want to hear anyway ?
Tell people how they can have a decent living without pollution & environmental degradation ?
How about showing us solutions to over-population & excess greed ?
If the ABC does that they'll have a very captive audience who doesn't feel their tax dollars are wasted !
Posted by individual, Thursday, 18 July 2019 8:23:22 AM
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Garry in Liffey

"....the Conservation Advice …. mentioned increased sightings and raised these in the context of new techniques being used. I believe the conservation advice made the point that the increase in sightings was not necessarily indicative of an increase in populations, but rather was possibly a function of the newer techniques being better able to locate individuals/colonies which, when the ‘older’ techniques were being used, had been going ‘under the radar’".

Yes, I don't disagree. However, the TSSC has continued to rely on the past data from the using the less effective survey technique on approximately 30 long-term monitoring plots. This data shows a decline in possum occupancy, but Vic Govt scientists using the new techniques have since used the new technique on these same plots and found the possum to be still present. The TSSC was provided with this information but have ignored it. Also, the new survey technique is showing that the possum was never particularly rare, and this suggests that the controversy surrounding the supposed impact on it of logging and regenerating forests should never have happened.

" ….it seems counter-intuitive to conclude populations are increasing while the number of hollow-bearing trees is decreasing".

Yes, except that it seems now that the possum is more resilient and widespread, and that it is able to live in areas where it was never thought able to. The TSSC has exaggerated the rate of hollow tree loss by adopting a worst-case assumption that 50% of the mountain ash forests will be burnt in the next 20 years, and then wrongly presuming that fire represents a total loss of hollows. It is these extreme assumptions that enable the possum to be listed as critically endangered.
Posted by MW Poynter, Thursday, 18 July 2019 10:17:12 AM
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