WANNON candidate Tim Emanuelle stumbled yesterday when asked about the Greens’ policy on managed investment schemes.
Quizzed by ABC presenter Simon Rogers on a regional radio community soapbox, Mr Emanuelle had no knowledge of the schemes.
“I don’t quite understand what the question is about,” the Greens candidate said.
Mr Rogers explained that some managed investment schemes (MIS) throughout the south-west had proven to be ineffectual methods of investment.
There was a long period of silence from Mr Emanuelle before Mr Rogers offered to move on.
“Sorry,” was all Mr Emanuelle could offer.
Thousands of hectares of farmland across the region were planted with commercial blue gum plantations in MIS projects about 10 years ago, offering tax breaks to investors, but dividing rural communities.
Taxpayers, investors and farmers all lost money in the deals when companies, including Great Southern and Timbercorp, collapsed in 2009.
Sitting Liberal member Dan Tehan was yesterday finally able to welcome a Coalition commitment to include MIS in a “root and branch” review of the taxation system.
In his first speech to Parliament after being elected in 2010, Mr Tehan called for action.
“With MIS companies now insolvent, banks having no confidence to lend to the scheme, leading CEOs calling for it to be axed and timbered land in prime food and fibre production areas lying unproductively dormant, now is the time for us to act,” he said at the time.
Three years later he admits the collapse of the major MIS forestry companies have had a “devastating impact” on local communities in Wannon.
“Many of the issues that arose from the collapse of these schemes are still being felt in 2013, such as farmers being left with plantations on their properties, but still no rental income being paid and ongoing maintenance issues.”
Mr Tehan said the MIS system should either be abolished or radically overhauled to protect farmers, investors and communities in which they operated.
“The Coalition’s review will examine the operation of these schemes and assess their viability to ensure that this type of situation doesn’t occur again in the future.”