Tasmanian Times


Mill: the approval

Paul Oosting MR

“A Roy Morgan poll from November last year showed that a majority of Australian electors wanted an inquiry to review the assessment process that approved Gunns’ pulp mill . Instead of an inquiry we have Peter Garrett and the Labor Party approving the first stages of a environmental and climate change disaster.”

MEDIA RELEASE – Friday 1st February


In an act of cowardice that highlights the unpopularity of his decision, Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett, announced his approval for clearing of vegetation on Gunns’ proposed pulp mill site at 5:20pm this afternoon.

“In the hope of avoiding media scrutiny, Peter Garrett has highlighted his government’s unease with the pulp mill and shown total disregard for the people of Australia by approving parts of the pulp mill construction last thing on a Friday afternoon,” said Paul Oosting, pulp mill campaigner for The Wilderness Society. “This decision is not final approval for the mill, but limited approval to clear endangered species habitat on the pulp mill site”.

“Endangered species such as the Tasmanian Devil, Green and Gold Bell frog and the Mt Arthur Burrowing crayfish are known to inhabit the site and local populations of these species would be threatened by the clearing to make way for the pulp mill. “

“The impact on these species is greatly overshadowed by the impacts Gunns’ pulp mill would have on climate change, Tasmania’s native forests and forest dependent wildlife. These issues have gone totally unassessed by Minister Garrett,” said Mr Oosting.

Despite this approval, the development of the mill is still far from guaranteed. Gunns’ board is yet to agree to go ahead with the project, they are yet to meet significant environmental conditions such as the impact of effluent on Bass Strait and the ANZ bank have yet to decide on financing the project.

“Despite significant hurdles and the fact that Gunns’ still haven’t proven they can meet another 14 module’s, including how the daily discharge of 64,000 tonnes of effluent will affect Bass Strait, Peter Garrett is allowing Gunns to start destroying endangered species habitat,” said Mr Oosting.

“A Roy Morgan poll from November last year showed that a majority of Australian electors wanted an inquiry to review the assessment process that approved Gunns’ pulp mill . Instead of an inquiry we have Peter Garrett and the Labor Party approving the first stages of a environmental and climate change disaster.”

“Native forest logging needed to feed the pulp mill is conservatively estimated to add 2% to Australia’s annual greenhouse gas emissions, the equivalent of an extra 2.3 million cars on the roads every year. Claiming to tackle climate change on one hand and approving the pulp mill on the other is the height of hypocrisy for the Rudd Government.”

“As Minister Garrett has failed the people and refused to take into account the climate change implications of the mill, we call on Climate Change Minister Penny Wong to intervene.”

“To lead the world on addressing climate change the Rudd Government must reject Gunns’ pulp mill,” concluded Mr Oosting.

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


  1. David Alford

    February 7, 2008 at 3:39 am

    The environment and Tasmania’s “Clean Green Reputation” will take a huge hit if this mill is built, and the cost consequences of that will ultimately affect many thousands of Tasmanians for generations. How many in Gunns will reap the benefits? A measly few. How evil is that?

  2. crud

    February 4, 2008 at 3:05 pm

    the rudd govt.has shown its true colours with the jap whaling.what has gunns got over politicians,no other company gets away with this stuff.

  3. don davey

    February 4, 2008 at 1:00 pm

    May i watch ? heh,heh,


  4. Valleywatcher

    February 4, 2008 at 10:48 am

    Don – (23) – Yeah, mea culpa! I usually check what I write before I hit ‘submit’, but occasionally one slips through. One is only human after all. Thanks for pointing out the typo – I will now go and flagellate myself raw and try NOT to do it again!

  5. Cruxpuppy

    February 3, 2008 at 3:29 pm

    Thanks DD. Go ahead, make it your own. Do what you will.

  6. don davey

    February 3, 2008 at 2:33 am

    ” susatinable ” ?
    V.W. ! is that a word or did you mean sustainable ? we are ALL a little lazy sometimes, however ! in my case ,it was a lack of schooling and a disposition to dyslexia which in those days was not known of ! however ! oddly enough, i attained top marks for spelling for the short time i was there.
    touche ? d.d.

  7. don davey

    February 3, 2008 at 2:19 am

    c.p. PLEASE ! tender that post to the the EXAMINER, the ADVOCATE, and the MERCURY ! and if you do not wish to ! (as one has to tender their name, address, ph. no, etc!) i will be happy to do so ? however , because of the rules it would appear under my name.

  8. Valleywatcher

    February 2, 2008 at 10:29 pm

    Dear Cruxpuppy (love the name!)
    You are absolutely right! The Greens/Wildo’s have been studiously ignoring this somewhat obvious point, but we in TAP (Tasmanians Against the Pulp Mill) have been hammering this it for a long time now. We have had many meetings with comcerned farmers on this very subject, and you may be interested to know that we kicked off 2008 with a Forum – The Real and Present Threats to Tasmania’s (and Ausralia’s) Survivability – Robert Belcher of Susatinable Agriculture Communities Australia was the very knowledgeable and somewhat disturbing (in what he had to relate) keynote speaker.

    Last year we hosted Tyrone Hayes from the USA (atrazine expert who was featured on Strange Days on Planet Earth, ABC, last week)

    We plan to run a number of these forums this year and you and others would be well advised to get on the TAP email list to be informed in advance (tapcontact@gmail.com) Our group is very strong and growing and our fortnightly meetings are so well-attended that we outgrew our previous venue late last year and had to find a bigger one. The talent that has surfaced in TAP is truly astounding – from scientists to engineers, doctors etc – all experts in their fields. We are certainly not all “pong and eagles”. Be afraid, John Gay, be very afraid!

  9. Cruxpuppy

    February 2, 2008 at 6:01 pm

    What is highly disturbing is that the Wilderness Society (TWS) and the Greens are ignoring the most powerful arguments available to stop the mill.

    These center around disrupting our food production capacity by replacing it with trees, further depleting food production capacity by planting too many trees in the catchments creating droughts for real crops, and subsidising all these activities from the public purse to the extent of hundreds of millions of bux per year.

    The total value of these disruptions well exceeds any fantasy about the mill’s value, or its contribution to Tasmania.

    So why aren’t these groups following up on these risks? Why is it all pong and eagles?

    Why have they accepted the Environment Minister as the main decision maker when it’s clear that the Cabinet ought to be involved.

    Surely this is a socio-economic issue more than environmental?

    Something is very wrong here folks.

  10. Dr Kevin Bonham

    February 2, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    Time to dust off the psephologist hat again:

    Re #18, there were nine seats which Labor won which they would not have won had the preferences with the Green candidate at the time of exclusion split evenly between Labor and Liberal. These were Bass, Braddon, Bennelong, Corangamite, Solomon, Robertson, Page, Deakin and Hasluck. All the rest Labor were winning anyway, though some may be interested to know that Franklin misses this list by only ninety votes. So without the tendency of Green preferences to favour Labor the result would have been a hung parliament with 74-74-2.

    But in fact the Greens do not automatically preference Labor on their how-to-vote-cards, and did not do so this time in any of the Tasmanian Lower House seats. It makes remarkably little difference to voters. Labor’s average share of Green preferences in Tasmania at this election decreased by a trivial three points (ranging from up one point in Denison to down five points in Lyons) and remained above 70% in every seat. The Greens could preference the Liberals in every seat in Tasmania and 65+%, possibly 70+%, of Green voter preferences statewide would continue to go to Labor. Labor thinks it can rely on Green preferences because the fact is it *can* rely on the preferences of most Green voters even if it cannot rely on the how-to-vote preferences of the party. I have made this point a number of times before – Green voters are not solely motivated by issues like forestry and the pulp mill and policy decisions on such issues affect only a fraction of Green voter preferences.

    Indeed, of the nine seats I mentioned above, a change in how-to-vote card would not have made a difference in all of them. The impact of a switch in how-to-vote card preference from one party to another is generally considered by those psephologists who have studied it to affect at most ten points of preference share. The Tasmanian example (three points difference for a switch from a preference for Labor to a neutral preference) is among many points of evidence that suggest that ten points is on the generous side, but let’s go with it anyway – ten points difference for a reversal of preference direction, and five points for a shift from neutral.

    In Braddon, Labor won 72.68% of Green preferences on a neutral ticket. 53.2% would have been sufficient. Had the Greens preferenced the Libs, Labor would have still won easily.

    In Bass, Labor won 74.14% of Green preferences on a neutral ticket. 68% would have been sufficient. Had the Greens preferenced the Libs, Labor would probably still have won, although it would have been extremely close.

    In Solomon, Labor won 77.06% of Green preferences. 75.1% would have been sufficient. Had the Greens preferenced the CLP, Labor would have lost.

    In Robertson, Labor won 73.1% of Green preferences. 71.9% would have been sufficient. Had the Greens preferenced the Liberals, Labor would have lost.

    In Page, Labor won 83.86% of Green preferences. 61.65% would have been sufficient. Had the Greens preferenced the Nationals, Labor would still have won easily.

    In Hasluck, Labor won 75.78% of Green preferences. 64.13% would have been sufficient. Had the Greens preferenced the Liberals, Labor would probably still have won although it would have been very close.

    In Deakin, Labor won 79.74% of Green preferences. 65.61% would have been sufficient. Had the Greens preferenced the Liberals, Labor would probably still have won although it would have been close.

    In Corangamite, Labor won 79.91% of Green preferences. 70.6% would have been sufficient. Had the Greens preferenced the Liberals, on the 10% assumption I am using here the Liberals would have squeaked across the line by a handful of votes.

    Lastly in Bennelong, Labor won 75.36% of Green preferences. A mere 54.74% would have been sufficient so even had the Greens preferenced John Howard in a fit of electoral insanity, it still would have been goodbye rodent.

    Thus Solomon and Robertson are the only seats that were clearly won by Labor as a result of the Greens’ decision not to preference the Coalition on the how-to-vote cards. Corangamite may also have been won on this basis depending on the exact impact of a how-to-vote card call, while three other seats won by Labor could have been close.

    It’s one thing to say the election was won on Green preferences and another to say that preferences are an effective tool of threat. If the Greens made such a threat and executed it they would probably only be depriving Labor of two or three seats, and the serious damage to their own reputation and vote in the Senate would simply not be worth it.

  11. Duncan Grant

    February 2, 2008 at 10:25 am

    As Labor essentially won the federal election on the back of Green preferences, I hope the Greens will seriously consider their `automatic’ preferencing of Labor. As there is little difference between Labor and Liberal these days, preferences should be used as a political tool to threaten to make this a one term government. As long as Labor thinks it can rely on Green preferences it will be business as usual. Another thing, and I can’t believe I am writing this; I think I have more respect for Gay than Garrett. At least you know what you are dealing with with Gay.

  12. Lester Barker

    February 2, 2008 at 12:52 am

    Now come on boys and girl, don’t you know that you should feel privileged to be managed by the the Gunns board – you can bet your life that they were born to the position of paying for people to do things for them. There is no reason to get heated, you don’t need to worry about anything, the managers can get it fixed without getting their hands dirty. They will use someone else’s money to make sure you are looked after, and the commission they take is so small.

    You are secure, lay down your arms, unlatch that deadlock dd. Be glad that a clear-felled cranium will help see you are looked after.

    “Don’t you worry about a thing”.

  13. Charles and Claire Gilmour

    February 2, 2008 at 12:30 am

    Well obviously! we will be able to rely on Tony Burke, the new Forestry minister, to ensure Peter Garrott is truthfully informed about the feedstock (forestry) side of the pulp mill. The threat to old growth forests, temperate rainforests and watercatchment forests. And their important natural heritage role, in helping to protect us all against the dangers of climate change.

    Or is Rudd’s Federal Labor as big a dud as Tassies Lennon’s Labor? Only eight weeks in and are true ‘yellow’ colours shining through? Are they proving already the Aussie ‘true blue’ is an enigma to governments in Australia?

    Just a quick reminder to Federal Labors Forestry minister, (who seems to be very very very quiet so far), on his previous ‘labor committing’ words.

    “We do not want to be remembered as the generation that left our world in a worst shape then when we inherited it.”

    “Labor is committed to: Protecting our natural heritage including: Old growth forests”
    “Labor is committed to: Protecting our natural heritage including: Halting land clearing”

    “Labor is committed to acting now to avoid dangerous climate change and to protect our natural heritage.”

    Oh yes Mr Rudd, “committed” is a very promising word for a political party and we will hold your government and your labor representatives to their word! Our memories are getting longer, and people power growing, we can help make you or break you! Just like we did Howard.

    What will Mr Rudd’s government’s legacy be for Tasmania? Will they leave it in worse shape by committing our natural heritage (our water, air, forests, wildlife, our climate) to the hands of those with gunns, or will they consider the future and those who will inherit the negative effects of such greed and lack of foresight?

    Does Mr Rudd want to be remembered in the same context as Howard and Lennon? A mistake that went on for far too long? Is he a leader for the people or for white elephants?

  14. anne

    February 1, 2008 at 11:12 pm

    Dear Peter, Kevin, John & Paul

    Did it ever cross your mind
    that we might dare to
    disagree with your rear vision
    for our future?

    When you stitched us up
    with woodchips, and wrapped us in
    their charred and patchwork remnants
    did you ever contemplate
    we might not want their dark
    and poisoned patterns
    in our days.

    And now that others are
    snapping at the threadbare heels
    of your assurances
    do you tremble?

    As they stack the
    weight of your words
    on their economic scales
    and find them wanting
    are you worried?

    You should be.

    We’ve got our permits.

    And it will be your future
    that’s pulped.
    Not ours.

  15. Dr Kevin Bonham

    February 1, 2008 at 10:56 pm

    The press release says “Endangered species such as the Tasmanian Devil, Green and Gold Bell frog and the Mt Arthur Burrowing crayfish are known to inhabit the site”.

    Unless there is some very recent record I am unaware of (and I’m sure an enormous deal would have been made of it in the debate if the species was recorded), the claim concerning the Mt Arthur Burrowing Crayfish is absolute rubbish. This species is a local endemic in the Mt Arthur region where it occupies quite a different habitat. It was widely documented during the mill process that there are no records closer than 10 km from the site, and surveys to be carried out were precautionary only.

    I suspect that Mr Oosting has taken the list of threatened species known to occur vaguely within cooee of the site and asserted that they are actually present. If so, let’s hope this was unintentional, but I doubt it.

    Disclaimer: this post represents my own views and not necessarily those of any other entity.

  16. dave

    February 1, 2008 at 10:23 pm

    Very true Bob. The ignorant and corrupt mafia of political and business mates that form the pulp mill axis camp have bought this on themselves. They have willed into being that which the RPDC tried to stop. That the people of Tasmania tried to stop. I know so many people who have, as you say, ‘resolved’ to fight this thing till it is gone. Should the unpopular government and the unpopular company press on with the unwanted mill they will meet with an unwanted fight. It will be Tasmania’s shame. It will be their shame. They will be exposed and embarrassed as Tasmania’s abusive, corrupt, greedy, stupid and oppressive landlords. We all know who is on the gravy train. Who they are. But the gravy train that nearly got away WILL come to a grinding halt. Bring it on

  17. Justa Bloke

    February 1, 2008 at 10:01 pm

    I can assure the Piper that it won’t necessarily be all that civil. Not if me and my mates get involved.

  18. don davey

    February 1, 2008 at 9:11 pm

    Not only did that “RAT” Garrett leave it until the last possible moment to anounce the approval thereby ducking the media, we are now informed that we are not getting any reasons for, or conditions under which is has been approved, that will be left to Gunn’s to divulge, talk about putting the fox in charge of the chickens.

    This labor rabble are even worse than the Libs in my opinion.

    “A fair go for everyone” said RUDD “and the buck stops with me” Are those words about to bite him on the arse ? you f——g well bet they will !


  19. don davey

    February 1, 2008 at 8:23 pm

    It ain’t for to say “tolyaso!” but this Labor rabble are no better than those they replaced, at least it was “the devil we knew” and in fact i have long held the opinion ! that both sides have been long indulging in a huge chuckle at our expense, whilst playing ” GOOD COP –BAD COP ” think about it ! you know it makes sense ! for instance why did the encumbents go to such great lengths to win what they now say is perhaps a failing economy, whilst claiming that they have inherited the problem ? ,i mean ! did they not know that before the election ? also has no one noticed that whilst making an effort in appearing to make a fight of it , the Libs mob did just about everything possible to lose !

    If one goes back over the past 50 years or so it has pretty well been a regular occurence,

    shit ! i’d better do sumpin about those deadlocks !

  20. don davey

    February 1, 2008 at 7:22 pm


    hold that thought ! “Piper”


  21. David Mohr

    February 1, 2008 at 7:00 pm

    Are they able to start clearing without the finance squared away?

  22. Valleywatcher

    February 1, 2008 at 5:55 pm

    Monkey Wrench Gang forming as we speak. Piper!

  23. Bob McMahon

    February 1, 2008 at 5:50 pm

    When Robert Belcher and I met with Peter Garrett shortly before the election, I painted the shadow Environment Minister a picture of the sort of Tasmania he would inherit in the likely event of Labor winning government and in the unlikely event of the pulp mill going ahead.

    I informed him that the people of Tasmania, the Tamar Valley in particular, were resolved NOT to have the pulp mill and were resolved to do whatever it takes to defend their lives, livelihoods, property and families from those who would steal all this from us.

    Having granted the first permits officially sanctioning the transformation of the Tamar Region into a no-go zone, the picture I painted for Garrett of an incredibly angry and disaffected populace will soon begin to manifest itself in many and surprising ways as the campaign to stop the mill enters the second phase, by comparison with which the last three years will seem like no more than pre-season training.

    If he doubts this statement let him accept the invitation from the community to come here and listen to the people and gauge the temperature himself. He knows his reception will be scorching and I’ll put money on him not having the guts to show his face around here.

    Bob McMahon

  24. The Piper

    February 1, 2008 at 5:43 pm

    I can feel a civil war brewing

  25. Dave Groves

    February 1, 2008 at 5:40 pm

    The so called shadow who casts no shadow has surfaced to cast an inky blackness across Tasmania, its people and of course the flora and fauna who have no voice.

    For years now we have fought for truth and transparency with the steamrolled saga of this sorry process.
    We have called from deep within an endless hole while our taxpayer funded representatives have dozed in toxic earth to silence our voices.
    Still we shovel hard to gasp for air while the tracks for the gravy train are laid across the top of the hole.

    Now in the face of the knowledge of climate change our leaders are fuelling up the gravy train for its maiden voyage.

    Should this train leave the siding, its only destination will be the abyss.

    Keep shovellin’.

  26. john Hayward

    February 1, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    Kevin Rudd seems to be sending the giant invertebrate that is his Environment Minister out on a political sacrifice mission with the mill.

    Another noted control-freak, John Howard, was renowned for the same tactic. It seems to work famouly if the public is gullible enough, and the minister suitably gormless.

    The obvious reponse would be to ignore the stooge and make the organ grinder wear it. In the face of ruin, it seems worth a try.

    John Hayward

  27. Mike Adams

    February 1, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    Well done, Garrett. When next Penny Wong attempts to add her pennyworth to an international debate on deforestation and climate change, you’ll have undermined any credibility she may have gained through Bali and signing Kyoto. “Why criticise us?’ say Indonesia, Brazil and co. ‘Look at your own back yard!’

    When the Rudd lot came to power we hoped there might be a change for the better. Now it’s mixture as before.

  28. Shirley Glen from the Sacrifice Zone

    February 1, 2008 at 2:55 pm

    Well that was no real surprise was it, but a disappointmnet just the same. Good old Peter, following in Turnbull’s footsteps, a bit of support for big business to keep them on side because THEY have the real power. He probably hopes that if enough of us little people are really against a filthy pulp mill in our comunity after all, then we will do his dirty work for him and go to jail trying to prevent a disaster that he could easily and legally prevent. Representation of the people and care for their needs are less important in the long run than upsetting Gunns’ plans for our air and water, or for local business. Forest retention is for the benefit of the whole world, but Peter doesn’t see that (or the squashed frogs and bandicoots that used to live in the clearfelled bush). I’m starting to feel like a squashed frog, unimportant and unnoticed by those in power. But I’ll go down kicking and screaming – I suppose the bush animals scream too, as they are being squashed and burned.

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