Vica Bayley, The Wilderness Society

In October 2005, at the instigation of The Wilderness Society, I met with Damon Thomas. This followed their infamous pulpmill tour to Scandinavia and the positive, if not blinkered, reports home about the benefits of a pulpmill. Later that month, after the pulpmill promo DVD was released, TCCI chairman Michael Kent joined the greenie bashing campaign being rolled out by supporters of the pulpmill and levelled the now familiar accusations of the use of misinformation and scare tactics by those opposing the mill.

This prompted another letter on November 8th, a request for a meeting and a very clear call that Michael Kent was obliged to substantiate his allegations. To this date, despite numerous phone calls, I have received no contact from the TCCI. No letter, no phone call, nothing.

After all, it is The Wilderness Society who organised a public forum and invited Gunns, Forestry Tasmania, Timber Communities Australia, CFMEU and others along to address the crowd and answer questions. Only the Pulp Mill Task Force showed up. It is The Wilderness Society who has written to Gunns, to request a briefing and discussion on wood supply issues. John Gay has declined. And it is the Wilderness Society who have repeatedly asked for the opportunity to talk with the TCCI and repeatedly requested evidence of the misinformation and scare campaigning as alleged by Michael Kent. Nothing forthcoming.

THE Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (TCCI) have re-entered the pulpmill debate with a glowing endorsement of Gunns’ proposal and much ado about the “unprecedented benefits” to be reaped by Tasmania and Tasmanians.

They also take another swipe at environmental and community groups and their efforts to highlight the significant impacts the pulpmill will have on Tasmania for a generation and beyond.

In a report aired on the ABC news on Sunday the 16th July, Chief Executive Damon Thomas suggests opponents of the mill should engage with “supporters” of the project in an effort to begin dialogue and break down differences. In addition, he claims opponents should cease using misinformation and stop “bullshitting” as a part of their campaign.**

The letters published here on TT, highlight why these comments can be taken as both insulting and inflammatory. Mr Thomas’ comments should be exposed as the hollow rhetoric more commonly used by any one of the front groups who actively participate in the PR campaign promoting this pulp mill.

In October 2005, at the instigation of The Wilderness Society, I met with Damon Thomas. This followed their infamous pulpmill tour to Scandinavia and the positive, if not blinkered, reports home about the benefits of a pulpmill. Later that month, after the pulpmill promo DVD was released, TCCI chairman Michael Kent joined the greenie bashing campaign being rolled out by supporters of the pulpmill and levelled the now familiar accusations of the use of misinformation and scare tactics by those opposing the mill.

This prompted another letter on November 8th, a request for a meeting and a very clear call that Michael Kent was obliged to substantiate his allegations. To this date, despite numerous phone calls, I have received no contact from the TCCI. No letter, no phone call, nothing.

In a follow-up letter over seven months later, on 20th June 2006 , I reminded Mr Thomas of the meeting request in the November letter and clearly articulated my attitude to his silence. “I am disappointed to have this request unacknowledged for so long, despite numerous calls to your office.”

Interest groups who use hollow rhetoric

Now, almost a month on, still no contact from the TCCI.

Calls for dialogue between opposing camps and honesty in public statements and information are noble initiatives to put forward into the public arena and I welcome them both.

After all, it is The Wilderness Society who organised a public forum and invited Gunns, Forestry Tasmania, Timber Communities Australia, CFMEU and others along to address the crowd and answer questions. Only the Pulp Mill Task Force showed up. It is The Wilderness Society who has written to Gunns, to request a briefing and discussion on wood supply issues. John Gay has declined. And it is the Wilderness Society who have repeatedly asked for the opportunity to talk with the TCCI and repeatedly requested evidence of the misinformation and scare campaigning as alleged by Michael Kent. Nothing forthcoming.

It is not an unreasonable call on the TCCI to walk their talk, to practice what they preach and engage with those who make real and repeated attempts to have the dialogue they hold in such high regard. And it is not an unreasonable ask for the TCCI to substantiate or cease the allegations they have levelled at those who do not share their attitude towards this pulpmill.

Failure to do this could see the TCCI relegated to the pool of interest groups who use hollow rhetoric and well rehearsed attacks to patronise and vilify anyone with an opposing philosophy. It could see them join the ranks of the narrow focused front groups, the taxpayer funded pulpmill promotions unit and a complicent state government who spin the pulpmill to a sceptical Tasmanian public in the roll out Gunns’ pro-mill public relations campaign.

Letters to Mr Thomas: TCCI_Letters.pdf

Letter to Mr Gay: gunns_refusal.pdf

Reports:
**
ABC Online
The Mercury

*Picture from here

Tuesday, pulp wood supply deal:

MEDIA RELEASE – 18th July 2006

GREEN MUST REVEAL PULPMILL’S SECRET WOOD SUPPLY DEAL
Restore transparency and public confidence – release the details!

The secrecy behind the pulpmill’s wood supply agreement for logs from public forests must be lifted by the minister responsible at the time of the deal, Bryan Green.

With fresh claims today that Gunns will not process oldgrowth forests in the pulpmill, The Wilderness Society renews calls for transparency in the wood supply deal and the release of its details.

“An agreement has been signed that will sell millions of tonnes of Tasmania’s public forests to Gunns, a private company already embroiled in controversy over its logging of oldgrowth forests, its law suit against conservationists and its cosy relationship with the State government,” said The Wilderness Society spokesperson Vica Bayley.

A “20-year agreement” between Forestry Tasmania and Gunns is mentioned in the pulpmill IIS and “this projected data has been used in the Gunns’ pulpwood resource modeling.” (Volume 1: 6- 232)

“With a high level of public concern over the pulpmill’s demand for native forest wood, including oldgrowth and high conservation value forest, this wood supply agreement must be released,” continued Mr Bayley. “It is vital that Tasmanians are informed of the price, source and volume of wood coming out of the forests that they own.”

“It is a sad irony that Gunns produce a mammoth document, with so much information about the pulpmill project, yet they don’t divulge the details of the fundamental ingredient – the wood. Worse still, it is wood that all Tasmanians own.”

“Not releasing the details of the deal will only heighten skepticism of the pulpmill project. Tasmanians deserve to know the basis on which Gunns’ long-term access to state-owned has been secured. The date this agreement was signed, especially in relation to the recent state election, is also of critical importance.”

“While the wood supply deal is veiled in secrecy, there is an unspoken call from government and Gunns to ‘trust us’. History may show that trust is not warranted,” concluded Mr Bayley.