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More controversy with Taib-linked Ta Ann

An advert countering Ta Ann's claim to producing 'eco-wood' from Tasmania has drawn a response from the Australian Election Commission.

(Free Malaysia Today) - The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) has dismissed a complaint by the Liberal Party about an advertisement which clarified the status of the Tasmanian wood produced and marketed by controversial Sarawak timber company Ta Ann.

Liberal Party state director Sam McQuestin said he had received a five-page response from the AEC to his complaint about an advert headlined “Truth in Advertising”, which he claimed promoted Australia’s Green Party.

The AEC, however, was of the view that the advert was not an attempt to promote the Greens.

The advert published in Tasmania’s largest-circulating daily newspaper, The Mercury, last week was placed by online Sarawak Report founder-editor Clare Rewcastle Brown.

Rewcastle Brown had placed the advert to counter Ta Ann’s claims that its Tasmanian produce was “eco-wood”.

In the advert, RewcastleBrown states that Ta Ann has accused the Green Party of not telling the truth in advertising when in fact it was Ta Ann’s company advertisements promoting its timber as eco-wood which is a “lie”.

In an e-mail to FMT, Rewcastle Brown said: “The ‘Truth in Advertising’ was the story I placed.

“Our reports have shown that adverts describing Ta Ann’s wood from Tasmania as eco-wood are false.

“None of it is eco-wood. It is all taken from valuable old growth jungle that the Australian government has been trying to put a protection order over.

“The logging of much of the wood is in defiance of an agreement between the state of Tasmania and the Australian federal government to protect these areas in return for a grant of millions of dollars.”

Ta Ann ‘on notice’

Meanwhile, a disappointed McQuestin said he would accept the AEC’s decision.

Another Tasmanian publication “The Examiner” quoted McQuestin as saying that AEC chief legal officer Paul Pirani had noted in his five-page letter that “the advert did not constitute electoral material”.

The AEC also said it was beyond its jurisdiction to act on the complaint “because it was organised overseas”.

Ta Ann has been mired in controversy over its involvement in the Tasmanian timber industry.

Early this month, the Green Party had put Ta Ann Tasmania “on notice” over its logging activities and six years of losses despite being awarded “numerous perks and subsidies” by the state.

Rewcastle Brown in her FMT column said the “tactics of Sarawak’s logging industry are causing increasing dismay in Australia, where Chief Minister Taib Mahmud-linked Ta Ann group has opened two major timber processing mills.

“There has been a level of intrigue ever since 2005 as to how it was that Tasmania’s state government was persuaded to welcome this foreign company at what have been clearly give-away rates.”

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