Tasmanian Times


Mill: Corruption

Andrew Wilkie

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

Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent="no" parentcategory="writers" show = "category" hyperlink="yes"]


  1. Dr Warwick Raverty

    June 23, 2007 at 3:38 am

    The CFMEU eh? I wonder if it would be the union that has members on the shop floor at Amcor’s Fairfield Mill and Australian Paper’s Maryvale Mill where I once worked. And I wonder if it was the CFMEU who were contacted by Mr Terry Edwards to ‘dig the dirt’ on me that appeared in his famous defamatory press release of 25 March 2007 stating that I knew nothing about modern kraft mills and that the only subject that I knew about was how to make cardboard boxes. The few true facts and the distortions that appeared in Mr Edwards’ press release could only have come from a corrupt CFMEU underground network. Don’t get me wrong. I am not anti-union – I belong to a union myself and I am proud of the fact. I am however, strongly against corrupt union officials who act against the interests of their members and who use bully-boy tactics in the work place. So is Kevin Rudd, fortunately. There are more things in this little debate with a bad odour around them than the kraft pulping process, and one of them is the CFMEU. How many parts per million of former BLF officials does it take to make a good union smell rotten? Can someone please tell me?

  2. Cameron

    June 22, 2007 at 7:08 pm

    Ahhh, the jobs, the jobs. While I probably shouldn’t compare pulp mills–after all, the one intended for Bell Bay will be unique in the world, a pulp mill that doesn’t smell or poison anything–it is interesting to look at one in Valdivia, Chile, which will be apparently be of a similar size to the one Gunns proposes. It employs about 300 people, of whom about 20% are locals.

    In the long term, after its achieved its other intended aim of offering training in conjunction with TAFE (as I believe the plan goes) perhaps the bulk of the mill’s task force will be sourced from, as Dave so eloquently puts it, the unemployed of Tasmania.

    But remember this people–the highest employment figures for this mill are for the period of its construction–a period of about eighteen months, maybe. My sources tell me that the firm Gunns ALREADY HAS A CONTRACT WITH to build the mill is based in Melbourne, and likely to provide a lot of its own labour. Similarly the mill equipment-a supply contract for which has also been drawn up–will come from an Austrian, and will probably require specialist engineers to instal it–not, I would hazard to guess, fortunate souls from Tasmania’s dole queues.

    Another fun game to play is to guess how many of those who work on the mill’s construction or at the mill afterwards–if it goes ahead, of course, and the jury is still well and truly out–will be members of the CFMEU. This is the union that in two seperate ads in newspapers has predicted up to 7500 jobs will be created by the proposed mill. What utter fallacious nonsense.

    Many CFMEU members in Austria, I wonder?

  3. Dave Groves

    June 22, 2007 at 12:34 pm

    The sullied mantra issued from those who peddle this perverted project has always revolved around “jobs”.

    The most common figure alludes to a rather precise 292 jobs.

    Now I am not aware of any list that has been disseminated regarding these positions, but then again I am one of many in the community that has had precious little time to trawl through the mountains of refined pulp that the proponent has apparently seen fit to use to lampoon those who seek transparency and ease of process.

    So if jobs are the keystone to this project, then perhaps a list of these 292 “jobs” could be made available to the public so we can all see our chances at being one of the lucky minority who may avail themselves to one of these positions.

    Does such a list exist?

    Are the jobs listed suitable for the unemployed of Tasmania?

    So to coin a phrase from a “Red”, perhaps a “Red Neck”, “So lets scotch the myth once and for all”.

    Bring out the jobs for all to see so the Tasmanian public can decide whether 292 jobs will go to Tasmanians or itinerant academics and their ilk.

  4. Frank Strie

    June 22, 2007 at 6:09 am

    Tasmania deserves better!
    Not much point in calling for help ‘after’!
    Here the latest from Chile:

    “…wiped out in less than a year!”



    (June 18, 2007) Chile’s CELCO has agreed to pay US$1.16 million to tourism operators in Valdivia to settle lawsuits filed against the paper pulp company in 2005. The extrajudicial arrangement absolves the company of responsibility for the environmental disaster caused to Region X’s Cruces River and Carlos Anwandter Wetland Sanctuary.

    The region’s tourism industry accused CELCO of severely contaminating the Cruces River in 2004 and crippling the area’s tourism industry, largely focused along the Cruces River.
    The pollution of the river killed thousands of black-necked swans died and forced the migration of many thousands more.

    “What was probably the largest population of black-necked swans in South America has been wiped out in less than a year.
    It is an environmental catastrophe,” said Clifton Curtis of the World Wildlife Federation after visiting the area in 2005. “Before the pulp mill, there were more than 5,000 black-necked swans in the Carlos Anwandter Nature Sanctuary. When we visited the core of the sanctuary in August, we could find only four.” (ST, June 14).

    The settlement funds will be distributed to Valdivia’s tourism industry in monthly installments for a period of three years. According to the settlement document, “Neither the company, nor its executives, directors, employees or staff are responsible for environmental changes…that affect the Cruces River, the nature sanctuary and its tributaries.” Additionally, the document states that the settlement funds are only meant to “contribute to and promote tourism, especially tourism along the river.”

    This is not the first or last time CELCO has been blamed for environmental problems. Earlier this month the company was accused of poisoning Region VII’s Mataquito River where thousands of fish were discovered dead…

    By Deborah Guterman (editor@santiagotimes.cl)

  5. Kate

    June 21, 2007 at 7:42 pm

    “The Indecent Proposal”

    Island of vibrant beauty
    threatened by Corporate greed
    shafted by its very own Government
    ignoring its people’s need
    to hope and embrace forever
    all that is honest and true
    simple basics like fresh air and water
    and pollies who at least ‘have a clue’

    Governments must be made accountable
    Let’s have some transparency here
    Everybody must answer to someone
    let politicians understand the word fear
    to make laws to accommodate one Company
    is so manifestly wrong – its unjust
    We don’t need two heads to work out
    that the evil of ‘corruption’ kills trust

    So bring forth a Royal Commission
    or even better still
    Our own Crime & Corruption Commission
    just think about the thrill
    to see those smooth-tongued pollies
    choking on the pollution of their lies
    only then to be ignored as we are
    to the tune of the “no pulp mill’ cries

  6. feedup

    June 21, 2007 at 3:21 pm

    The only reason for mounting a defamation action would be to bluff and intimidate Mr Wilkie. If the answer to any of these three questions is “yes”, then he has not defamed lennon:

    1. Is it true?
    2. Is it already common knowledge?
    3. Is the issue a matter that should be of general public concern?

    I think the answer to all three is yes. If lennon tried to sue Mr Wilkie then it would allow Mr Wilkie to proove his claims in court! Maybe that is what Mr Wilkie is expecting to do?

  7. Garry Stannus

    June 21, 2007 at 3:11 pm

    RE #3 wedge tail who responded to Andrew Wilkie’s “the Lennon Government is corrupt”.
    Wilkie’s speech sounded like cliched electioneering to me.
    I’ll be interested to see the extent of Federal corruption. Both Gunns and Mr Turnbull are now aware of the pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles in whose range/territory the mill is to be built. This mill will have a significant impact on the birds. As well as the mill on the river side of the highway, on the other side of the highway, closer to their actual nest, the bush will be cleared for the dam which will hold Trevallyn water, for the ‘landfill’ site to bury 148,000 tonnes of waste p/a, for the quarry from which will be blasted the 180,000 tonnes of dolerite.
    These birds are one of 95 estimated pairs in the state to have bred successfully this year. In spite of the recent bushfires, they have this year successfully fledged a chick. This pulp mill would pump into their air 146,000 tonnes p/a of greenhouse gases which are predictd by Gunns to be at their most intense in the vicinity of the wedge tailed eagles nest.
    The Tasmanian Wedge-tailed Eagle is the largest of Australia’s raptors. I urge readers to take a google-earth bird’s-eye-view of the shrinking habitat available to the ‘Bell Bay Birds’. They are listed as an endangered species and under the EPBC Act of 1999, must be protected from the type of significant impacts proposed by Gunns.
    For further details of the proposed mill’s impacts onto these Bell Bay Eagles, and to see from space an overlay of the mill footprint onto their territory, email me at garrystannus@hotmail.com and I’ll send you
    your free copy of what Gunns and Mr Turnbull would rather ignore.

  8. crud

    June 19, 2007 at 3:46 pm

    WHATS happened to the new make over of mr lemon,there is about as much chance of him changing as a packet of tim tams surviving in casey donavans fridge.

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