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Corporate spies involved in forestry dispute -

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Corporate spies involved in forestry dispute

Reporter: Annie Guest

TONY EASTLEY: An ABC investigation has revealed that a covert alliance of timber industry
interests, unions and at least one Federal Labor MP, swayed key government forest policy in a
campaign involving the infiltration of environment groups and ALP branches.

Tonight's Four Corners program reports the campaign, which was centred on Victoria's forest
battlegrounds in the 1990s, involved the paper-maker Amcor and its workers.

It's claimed the covert group, calling itself the A-Team, spied on green groups as it set out to
discredit environmentalists.

Annie Guest reports.

ANNIE GUEST: Four Corners has obtained records the paper maker Amcor never intended to see the
light of day.

They reveal the A-Team, the heart of an elaborate covert campaign to spy on and sabotage
environmental groups, infiltrate political parties and damage Amcor's corporate competitors.

One member, Graeme Morley, tells Sally Neighbour of his ethical view of the strategy.

GRAEME MORLEY: I questioned one or two little issues, I guess, on the aspects of whether you were
taking an unfair advantage et cetera. But as I've said, Sally, all is fair in love and war.

ANNIE GUEST: The A-Team's formation was sparked by the blocking of an ocean outfall pipe crucial to
Amcor's expansion plans for the Maryvale paper mill in Victoria's Latrobe Valley in 1989.

The company engaged Derek Amos, a former State Labor MP.

Four Corners says the lobbyists were funded by the company and their union, which later joined the

A-Team Vice-President, Oliver Raymond, says green politics was jeopardising his industry.

OLIVER RAYMOND: A complete threat. It had the power to close it down completely. If they'd said no
wood chipping in native forests in Victoria, the industry would have had to close.

ANNIE GUEST: Using workers posing as greenies, the A-Team infiltrated all the major green groups,
including Environment Victoria, the Wilderness Society and the Australian Conservation Foundation.

A-Team Founder Derek Amos describes the strategy.

SALLY NEIGHBOUR: What was the information you were after?

DEREK AMOS: Where protests were going to happen, and occur. What politicians were going to be
targeted with what campaign - those sorts of issues.

ANNIE GUEST: A Federal Labor MP was fed material to present to Parliament, aimed at discrediting
Environment Victoria and pressuring the Government to stop its funding.

The A-Team also successfully forced a wedge between Environment Victoria and local protesters when
crucial talks were underway for a new regional forestry agreement.

A-Team Vice-President, Oliver Raymond, rejects any suggestion of illegality or wrongdoing.

The A-Team also had Federal political success, lobbying the Keating Government to back down on
protecting native forests from wood chipping.

The A-Team turned its attention to targeting, stacking and taking over ALP branches, and later its
forest policy.

Cheryl Wragg was on Labor's Environment Policy Committee between 1996 and 1999.

SALLY NEIGHBOUR: They owned the forestry policy of the party?

CHERYL WRAGG: Of the party... they didn't allow any discussion about it and that this had been
going on for at least two terms.

TONY EASTLEY: Cheryl Wragg from Labor's Environment Policy Committee there. That report on Four
Corners tonight.