The Australian Greens have called on Federal Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government, Simon Crean, to guarantee the Tasmanian people Labor will not attempt to buy Gunns Ltd’s pulp mill permits, nor provide additional resourcing for the project.

Senator Peter Whish-Wilson said, The Government needs to assure the public no further support for the project will be forthcoming.

“The Tasmanian Government last week officially placed the pulp mill project on Tasmania’s economic development investment list.

“Premier Lara Giddings and Ex-Premier Paul Lennon’s followed this up with attempts to revive the failed mega-project in the media last week in further manoeuvring to resurrect this white elephant.

“It is questionable if the business case for this project ever stacked up. The fact that it hasn’t been able to obtain finance is a clear message to Labor that its obsession with this single mega-project underwriting our economy is over .

“Tasmania has dodged a bullet with this project not proceeding.

“If Gunns had borrowed an additional $2bn prior to its collapse, imagine how many more investors, farmers and businesses may have been left out of pocket”.

• Wednesday, Feb 27: The motions calling on the feds to commit to no further support for the Bell Bay pulp mill project:

Both Labor and Liberal opposed the motion ... leaving the door open for future support.

The Motions:

*1142 Senator Whish-Wilson: To move—That the Senate—
(a) notes:
(i) the comments by the Tasmanian Premier Ms Lara Giddings at the Press Club in the week beginning 17 February 2013 calling for the Tamar Valley pulp mill project to be revived,
(ii) the comments by the Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government in late 2012 in support of a pulp mill in the Tamar Valley in Tasmania, and
(iii) the Federal Government funding promised to Tasmania under the Intergovernmental Agreement with the Tasmanian Government; and
(b) calls on the Government to guarantee they will not buy the Tamar Valley pulp mill permits and that no more Government resources will go to supporting this pulp mill.

*1143 Senator Whish-Wilson: To move—That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(i) the Minister for Environment and Water Resources under the Howard Government approved the construction and operation of the Gunns proposed pulp mill in Tasmania in October 2007,
(ii) under Condition 45 of the Federal Approval for the pulp mill it states ‘If, at any time after five years from the date of this approval, the Minister notifies Gunns Limited in writing that the Minister is not satisfied that there has been substantial commencement of construction of the pulp mill, then this approval lapses and the action must not thereafter be commenced’,
(iii) it has now been more than 5 years since that approval was granted and no substantial commencement of construction has begun, and
(iv) the passing of the Pulp Mill Assessment Act 2007 by the Tasmanian Parliament bypassed the environmental impact assessments usually required for a project of this significance; and
(b) calls on the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (Mr Burke) to notify the receivers of Gunns Limited that the approval has lapsed.