So why then is the Lennon Government not only supportive of the project, but so pig-headed about steam rolling forward with it? Because the Lennon Government’s corrupt, that’s why. Not in that it necessarily acts unlawfully, but …
THANK YOU. And if I could start my little speech by passing on a personal message from a great Tasmanian and tireless advocate for Tasmania’s priceless natural environment, Greens Senator Bob Brown who couldn’t be here today:
“Congratulations everyone on today’s rally for reason.
“We Greens are totally committed to Tasmania’s lovely lifestyle, its fine wines, organic foods, speciality agriculture, seafoods and tourism based on clean air, wild forests and natural beauty; not the smog and stink of Gunns’ proposed pulp mill.
“We may win the Senate balance of power in November and will work to see that future federal subsidies do not go to Gunns, but to hospitals and schools.
“This proposal should be flushed out the effluent pipe of history.”
Ladies and gentlemen, Bob’s effluent analogy is an accurate one because Gunns’ pulp mill hasn’t even been built, but already there’s a stench in the air from the corruption underpinning the project.
How else to explain how such an insane proposal, and one so at odds with the public interest, has got so far.
And truly insane it is when you consider just a tiny fraction of the mountain of credible evidence against the proposal.
Like the fact that the mill will source 80 per cent of its timber from native forests, despite the original promise to rely on plantations.
And the finding by Professor Andrew Wadsley that marine dioxin levels from the mill were underestimated by Gunns’ consultants by almost fourteen hundred times.
And the fact that the chlorine plant that Gunns would build alongside the mill is not world’s best practice, but instead a new and untried technology; thereby making the Tamar Valley, Bass Strait, and all who live and work here virtual guinea pigs.
So why then is the Lennon Government not only supportive of the project, but so pig-headed about steam rolling forward with it?
Because the Lennon Government’s corrupt, that’s why.
Not in that it necessarily acts unlawfully, but corrupt in that the Lennon Government lacks the inherent integrity to govern in the public interest; prepared instead to bully, mislead and abandon due process if that’s what it takes to achieve its misguided goals.
Hence it forced out RPDC Chairman Julian Green and scientific adviser Warwick Raverty, whom both attribute their departure to political interference by the Lennon government’s Pulp Mill Task Force.
Not that the RPDC is relevant to the mill anymore, considering how the Lennon Government ditched the Commission in favour of a deeply flawed fast-track process after little more than a call from Gunns head John Gay.
Another insight is the recent revelation that Gunns was advised by the Lennon Government that its mill information was deficient just days before the company pulled out of the RPDC process.
No wonder Gunns acted like it did, after the nod and a wink it’d received from the Government that the project was going nowhere as long as it was subject to a half-decent assessment process.
Of course this also means that the current fast-track assessment is also using incomplete information.
No wonder too that the Lennon Government refuses to establish an independent anti-corruption watchdog to respond to specific accusations of official misconduct.
The problem is that the Lennon Government just doesn’t seem to understand the meaning of the term “good governance”.
In fact some of the key players don’t even seem to understand the value of the appearance of good governance. Remember Premier Paul Lennon’s breathtaking decision to have his private residence renovated by Gunns’ commercial construction arm.
Now I could talk at length about the merits, or otherwise, of each political party’s position on the pulp mill. But their positions are clear, including the fact that it is only the Greens which unambiguously oppose the proposed mill in its current form.
But at the end of the day this isn’t about politics. Rather, it’s about right and wrong — regardless of your politics — and about the vital importance of putting the public interest in Tasmania ahead of a handful of commercial interests and their shareholders.
After all no company, regardless of it size or the weight of its political patronage, has any right to jeopardise our economic, social or environmental future.
So ladies and gentlemen, please remember that today is just the start of the rest of the campaign that must be waged to stop this filthy mill; not only at more rallies and in parliaments and courtrooms, but also in our homes, our workplaces and in the media.
The heroes of campaigns past have shown us what can be achieved by ordinary people prepared to stand up to power for what is right, regardless of the odds.
So too this fight can be won eventually.
So too it will be won.
It must be; if only for our children’s sake.
Andrew Wilkie’s Speech at the Anti-Pulp Mill Rally.
Launceston 16 February 2007