Tasmanian Times


John Gay must resign

Geoffrey Cousins

John Gay must resign as chairman immediately. Demonstrably he has destroyed shareholder value and the board has failed to keep the market properly informed.
Statement from Geoffrey Cousins

Re: Developments regarding the proposed pulp mill in the Tamar valley

Friday 29th August, 2008

For immediate release

Gunns’ statement to the stock exchange yesterday rings a final bell on its proposed pulp mill in the Tamar valley. Gunns have finally admitted they have no guarantee of funding and will not have any by November 30th 2008.

That is the date of expiry of the wood supply agreement with the Tasmanian government which gives certainty of both pricing and supply. Premier David Bartlett has said “Tasmanians deserve finality on this matter” and has stated that he will not allow uncertainty on the mills future to continue beyond that time.

Without a guarantee of supply and pricing there is no prospect whatever of Gunns obtaining financial backing.

Further, October 4th 2008 is an additional deadline by which Gunns is required to respond to federal minister Garrett on 11 environmental approvals. The company is unable to do so by it’s own admission.

Peter Garrett must issue an instruction that no further approvals of any kind are to be given to Gunns in the light of their inability to meet deadlines or obtain funding. A company that cannot proceed in an orderly fashion at this early stage and continually issues statements which prove to be untrue cannot be trusted to operate an environmentally sensitive project.

John Gay must resign as chairman immediately. Demonstrably he has destroyed shareholder value and the board has failed to keep the market properly informed.

When Wal King, CEO of Leighton Holdings Ltd, the proposed builder of the mill, said recently that the project was dead, Gunns responded by stated that he was misinformed. Gunns new statement makes it clear Wal King was well informed.

The Gunns pulp mill is dead. With no money, no supply or price certainty, no plan of action, the Tasmanian and Federal government should put Gunns and its long suffering shareholders out of their misery now.

Geoffrey Cousins

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  1. crud

    August 31, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    GUNNS shareholders deserve all they get,they happily went along with them at every turn and now gunns want them to throw in more money after bad,which the stupid shareholders will.hurry up and lose it all,SUCKERS.

  2. David Obendorf

    August 31, 2008 at 12:54 pm

    Gerry, please email your open letter to David Barlett, Kevin Rudd, Will Hodgman, Jeremy Rockliff, Peter Garrett and Jodi Cambpell and anyone else who might need this reality shown to them.

    Gunns must stop playing Tasmania as if it was a game of MONOPOLY for only one player!

    This crazy game should carry the disclaimer: “The one who WINS still dies [just like the rest of us]!”

  3. David Leigh

    August 30, 2008 at 6:15 pm

    If Kevin Rudd and Peter Garrett were anything other than marionettes, dancing to the tunes of the mining and forest industries, they would have been down here to see the disgusting display of undemocratic behaviour, by the state government in Launceston, last Wednesday. In Tasmania we have become almost blase` over the long-running Punch and Judy show that is performed daily in our Parliament. Now and again big ol’ Punch resigns, only to replaced by little punch, but the story remains the same. Judy cops a hiding, because wife beating is allowed in this show, except it is Tasmania’s forests and those who try to defend them that cop the hiding. We should send Kevin Rudd and Peter Garrett tickets for the show, it could be educational at best and entertaining at worst. We could call it “Who Stole the Carbon Credits?” and laugh as Bartlett yells “Oh no I didn’t!”

  4. (Dr) Warwick Raverty

    August 30, 2008 at 1:50 am

    Continued from previous post.
    Thousands of ordinary citizens (and many extraordinary ones like Bob and Suzie McMahon) have given thousands of hours of their free time to protecting our democratic rights and to ‘keeping the bastards honest’. I congratulate all of them. Democracy in Australia is safe while people with such spirit are prepared to sacrifice their leisure hours in this way. Such sacrifice should be unnecessary under the Australian constitution, however, in the absence of a tablet that eliminates greed, avarice and shear lust for power, rogue elements of the business community like the executive of Gunns will probably always make that which should be unnecessary very necessary indeed. Today should be a day of deep reflection for all Australians.
    The views expressed above are my own personal views and do not reflect the views of my employer.

  5. (Dr) Warwick Raverty

    August 30, 2008 at 1:49 am

    Well said Mr Cousins – you are a credit to the business community of Australia, which is a lot more than can be said about the senior management of Gunns Limited. I fully support your call. Lest anyone conclude that the failure of this major development is the result of a ‘rabid deep green’ section of the Tasmanian community let me disavow them of that misconception. Polls show that over 70% of the Tasmanian community would have supported this development under three conditions:
    1. That the mill was built at Hampshire (35 km south of Burnie in the epicentre of Gunns eucalypt plantations served by a direct rail link to the Port of Burnie) instead of in the buffer zone beside Bell Bay 2 km away from wineries, fish farms, olive groves and pleasant domestic dwellings;
    2. That the mill was fed with 100% plantation woodchips from day 1, instead of over 50% of public native forest sold to Gunns at knock-down prices between $8 – $13 per bone dry tonne by Paul Lennon’s yes men in Forestry Tasmania; and
    3. That the mill use totally chlorine free bleaching technology.
    Astute readers will notice the similarity between conditions 2 and 3 and the promises made by Paul Lennon to the public in November 2005 when he announced the proposal. I consider myself fortunate that the incompetence of both Paul Lennon and his deputy Steve Kons forced me to resign from the RPDC Assessment Panel in January 2007. Following the withdrawal of Gunns from the RPDC and Paul Lennon’s decision to force the iniquitous Pulp Mill Assessment Act 2007 through the State Parliament, removing the right of Australian citizens to take legal action against Gunns, or the government for damages caused by the mill, I chose to assist a group of small business people in the Tamar who, legitimately in my view, feared for their own livelihoods and those of their hundreds of employees. Such was the political culture in Tasmania at the time, and possibly still, that all of the members of this group felt that they had to keep their identities secret in the belief that, had their identities been published, all Tasmanian public servants and consultants would have been told to boycott their businesses. People in better, more ethically governed mainland states may find that statement hard to swallow, however, I can assure readers that it is absolutely true.
    In order to try and find a sensible solution to the bitter divisions caused in the Tasmanian community by Gunns actions and those of the Lennon Government, members of the Tamar business community and I spent 3 days at our own expense wandering the halls of the Federal Parliament in the dying days of the Howard Government trying to convince members of the Government and the Opposition to formulate a government assistance package that would make it attractive for Gunns to satisfy the 3 conditions listed above by subsidising export of Victorian and SA plantation woodchips to Tasmania (these are currently exported to kraft pulp mills in Japan). Such subsidies are common in more environmentally enlightened countries like Germany and Finland. We were greatly assisted during our visit by two public spirited Tasmanian senators, Christine Milne and Bob Brown. To his great credit, Senator Bill Heffernan championed our proposal and took it into the Liberal Party Room in September 2007, where it was rejected. The word around the corridors of Parliament was that Senator Heffernen then stormed out of the Party Room shouting ‘You’re all a bunch of f**king d**kheads’ – an assessment with which I completely concur. Based on what I have seen and learned since of the quality and personalities of Gunns’ senior management, I no longer believe that Gunns Limited is a fit and proper company to build or operate a kraft pulp mill anywhere on this planet, let alone in the beautiful Tamar Valley.
    The second failure of Australia to secure sustainable value adding for its carbon sequestering plantation forests is a national tragedy. Contrary to other assertions on these pages, the failure was not brought about by extreme green anti-development protests, or by the global economic downturn. It was brought about by the intransigence, greed and lack of foresight by a handful of greedy, third-rate, highly paid senior executives and directors in Gunns Limited and by near sighted, unimaginative and sometimes corrupt politicians in both the Federal and State Liberal and Labor Parties. The recognition of these failings in their elected representatives has, of course, caused an enormous and very appropriate upwelling of protest and political consciousness in tens of thousands of Tasmanians. It has forged the people of the Tamar into a true Community the depth of which is rare in most other parts of Australia.

    Continued in next post.

  6. Sven Wiener

    August 30, 2008 at 1:25 am

    I think Robin Gray is more the brains behind the machinations. John Gay is a stubborn self-made plodder however Gray has the sophistication to be contriving all of this damage to the state. Gray’s the one that needs to be targeted. Even with Gay out of the way, Gray will still be there pulling the strings either in the Tas Liberals or via the Gunns CFMEU subsidiary (since Gunns bailed them out financially), of the ALP.

  7. phill Parsons

    August 29, 2008 at 8:39 pm

    Unfortunately Robert the government had not declared itself clever the agreement was made and now is only clever in recognizing the need to disatnce itself from the followership of Lennon and the carcase left by Gay and Gray as they went a project size too big and came undone.

    Once the Premier and Forestry tasmnaian agree whether the Wood Supply Agreemnet is extended or ended we can move on to ensuring a fair and proper return for wood sales.

    Returns that take into account the carbon sequestration potential and the trading value of carbon.

  8. Mike Bolan

    August 29, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    Australia’s ‘most inarticulate CEO’ has taken Australia’s ‘most ethically challenged company’ to the brink of self destruction.

    He has pillaged the public purse, trashed forests, poisoned rivers and fouled our air.

    His favourite project has collapsed because of his own choices – outdated ideas, insufficient information, big debts, alienating the public upon whom he relies…it’s been one own goal after another.

    The story wouldn’t be complete without him standing proudly on the bridge as the entire ship sails gracefully under the waves.

  9. salamander

    August 29, 2008 at 2:42 pm

    Good one no. 2., it would be nice to think that our pollies had that much intelligence – but I doubt it. Terry Edwards is still supporting the timber agreement with Gunns – he has the tenacity of a British Bulldoog, with unfortunately the same amount of imagination.
    Gunns can continue as a company in this state, they can continue to harvest trees, for money & jobs. But the megolamaniac greed that decided on the type, site, size and profit scale from the pulp mill has proved their downfall. Any new ventures should include a reasonable economic profit for the state, and a guarantee of continued investment by the company so they can’t put people out of work when it pleases them.

  10. Christine Milne

    August 29, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    Time for Governments to draw line under Pulp Mill saga

    Time for Tasmania to move on

    Canberra, Friday 29 August 2008 Australian Greens Senator Christine Milne today called on Federal Minister Peter Garrett to draw the same line under the Pulp Mill that Premier David Bartlett has promised, and to help Tasmania regain its global edge as a clean, green and clever state.

    Senator Milne said, “Gunns has made fools of a succession of State and Federal Governments. It has toyed with the Tasmanian community and the integrity of our democracy. It’s time for the umbilical cord of funding and favours to be cut.

    “October the 4th is the deadline for the Pulp Mill’s Environmental Impact Management Plan to be completed. It is clear that the modules submitted to date are grossly inadequate and cannot be approved.

    “Minister Garrett must refuse any extension of the deadline and inform Gunns that he will not transfer any approvals that have been given to Gunns to a new joint venture.

    “John Gay threw down the gauntlet when he threatened that, unless both governments gave full approval by 31 July 2007, the mill would not proceed. Both governments rolled over and compromised the assessment processes accordingly.

    “13 months later, Gunns says it still doesn’t have the money to build the mill and the evidence to support its claims regarding environmental compliance is still totally inadequate.

    “Prime Minister Rudd and Minister Garrett now have a fantastic opportunity to work with Premier David Bartlett to protect Tasmania’s native forests as carbon stores and for Tasmania to be front and centre of the Australian effort to make 40% cuts in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.

    “No-one should underestimate the enormous boost to Tasmania’s global reputation, jobs and skills-base from becoming a leader in reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD), putting our State at the cutting edge of climate solutions.

    “Prime Minister Rudd and Premier Bartlett have this one window of opportunity to restore public faith in our democracy and to bring Tasmanians together around a positive vision for the future.”

    Come join the discussion at http://greensblog.org

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