The “clean, green” brand underpinning Tasmania’s tourism, fine food and wine industries is being undermined by “excessive” logging and appalling animal welfare practices, warns one of the country’s leading businesswomen.
Jan Cameron, the founder of the Kathmandu retail chain who has settled in Tasmania, told The Weekend Australian the island’s vital brand was strong but also at risk. “Brand Tasmania is very strong and they can build on that, but they are doing things at the same time to damage it,” she said. “There are a lot of activities going on that are contrary to that (brand): (fishermen) shooting seals, excessive logging and unrestricted use of 1080 (poison used to protect crops and seedlings from animals).
“A brand has to be consistent with actions. It’s something you have to be true to.”
Ms Cameron said regulation and enforcement of animal welfare was a “joke”.
Often it was left to animal rights activists to gather evidence of mistreatment. “Government and organisations like the RSPCA are very conservative and tend to follow public opinion,” Ms Cameron said. “It’s not until there is a public outcry and a change of public sentiment that they are willing to act.”
The Brand Tasmania Council, which has stewardship of the state’s brand, conceded the issues raised by Ms Cameron needed to be “carefully managed” to avoid damage.
But chairman Lyndon Adams denied such issues were having an impact on the brand. “Generally, the research we have done shows the brand is not being damaged by any of those issues,” he said.
“In saying that, all those issues need to be managed very carefully to ensure that in the future they don’t damage the brand.”
Ms Cameron, who has until now kept out of contentious local issues, was also concerned that the debate over native forest logging was holding back the state.
She likened the “polarisation” of Tasmanians over logging to a similar debate in New Zealand in the early 1970s. The difference was that New Zealand had moved on.