Tasmanian Times


Milne: Stop protecting Gunns

Christine Milne

Senator Milne’s FOI request to release this CSIRO report was rejected on the basis that it may impact on Gunns’ commercial interest, after first being blocked on the basis of exorbitant costs and bureaucratic processes. Senator Milne said, “Gunns financial difficulties and failure to raise the funding for the mill is no reason for the Commonwealth to try to protect it by refusing to release critical information which is in the public interest.

MILNE: Garrett must release critical CSIRO pulp mill report: stop protecting Gunns

Launceston, Thursday 21 August 2008 Australian Greens Senator Christine Milne today called on Environment Minister Peter Garrett to release a CSIRO report relating to Gunns’ intention to dump 64,000 tonnes of effluent into Bass Strait per day and the probabilities of it exceeding the allowable effluent concentration.

Senator Milne’s FOI request to release this CSIRO report was rejected on the basis that it may impact on Gunns’ commercial interest, after first being blocked on the basis of exorbitant costs and bureaucratic processes.

Senator Milne said, “Gunns financial difficulties and failure to raise the funding for the mill is no reason for the Commonwealth to try to protect it by refusing to release critical information which is in the public interest.

“Since when has the Commonwealth Environment Minister seen himself as the protector of the interests of big business at the expense of the environment and the public interest?

“How outrageous is it for Minister Garrett’s Department to refuse to release a report because ‘it could mislead the public and create uncertainty, pressure and complexity for Gunns in its dealing with stakeholders, including the general public?’

Senator Milne said, “With Gunns stock in freefall, and rife speculation in the investment community as to the content of scientific studies, this is not the time for the Government to prioritise Gunns’ commercial interest over the public interest.

“What about the public interest in how much pollution the Pulp Mill will pump out, Peter?

“What about the commercial interests of all the businesses in the Tamar Valley whose clean, green and clever brand will be ruined by a dirty, stinking pulp mill?

“The letter rejecting my FOI request informed me that third parties, including Gunns, had been consulted as to whether or not to release this document. The fact is Doctor Michael Herzfeld is a coastal environmental modeller with the Marine and Atmospheric Research Section of CSIRO and is a member of the Gunns pulp mill Independent Expert Group. He wrote the report to provide independent scientific and technical input and advice on materials submitted by Gunns. The Report does not belong to Gunns and as a professional scientist Dr Herzfeld will have made clear the assumptions on which he has based his report. For the Commonwealth to invent excuses, such as ‘this report is preliminary rather than final’ and that it ‘was not commissioned’ and ‘has not been peer reviewed’ is an insult to the public intelligence.

As the financial markets are clearly now assessing whether this pulp mill will ever be built, the health or otherwise of Gunns’ balance sheets, and not to mention whether it will ever get environmental approval, it is incumbent on the Minister to provide all the information he has to all the players so that every financial analyst is fully informed, Senator Milne concluded.”


Interesting comments by Peter Garrett this morning on RN Breakfast this morning now at http://www.abc.net.au/rn/breakfast/stories/2008/2343266.htm Replayed by Tim Cox:

“…. all we have at this present point in time are 4 of the 16 modules that make up that Environmental Impact Management Plan – the remainder haven’t reached my desk yet.
…. [Re Oct 4 deadline] I’ve been advised by both the Independent Experts Group and my Department that that’s insufficient time for these process to be completed. …. we’ve only had 4 modules to come forward and given the time that these modules have taken to be delivered to the Department satisfactorily then it’s unlikely that Gunns are going to meet October 4 deadline. …”

Garrett says he hasn’t had any request for an extension yet and will write to Gunns today re that.

Plus comments re refusal of Christine Milne’s FOI request for CSIRO report: see http://www.christinemilne.org.au/600_media_sub.php?deptItemID=532

Peter Garrett audio at http://www.abc.net.au/rn/breakfast/stories/2008/2343266.htm

New concerns over Gunns $2 billion pulp mill
listen now | download audio

With shares in timber giant, Gunns at an eight-year low and placed on a trading halt yesterday, the future of the company’s planned $2 billion pulp mill in Tasmania’s Tamar Valley seems more problematic than ever. Even Tasmanian Premier, David Bartlett, reportedly told anti-mill protesters he didn’t think that the mill will ever be built. And yesterday, Greens Senator Christine Milne challenged Environment Minister, Peter Garrett, to release a potentially damming CSIRO report on the 64,000 tonnes of effluent from the mill that will be pumped every day into Bass Strait.

Peter Garrett
Environment Minister

Producer Gregg Borschmann

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


  1. Garry Stannus

    August 23, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    Yes it is disappointing to see Garrett telling the world he would consider an extension for the approval process of the EIMP when Gunns formally request one.

    It’s a curious thing, feeling so alienated from own’s own leaders…

  2. Dismord

    August 22, 2008 at 3:44 am

    I’ve been saying this until I’m blue in the face. Nothing in relation to federal and state Labour Party dealings with Gunns will change until and unless the connection between the Labor Party and the C.M.F.E.U. is broken. Why no journalist has yet been brave enough to ask searching questions of Rudd & Co about this I can’t figure.

  3. phill Parsons

    August 22, 2008 at 12:29 am

    Garrett is now being portrayed as some sort of hero for telling Gunns their time to comply with supplying the additional info is almost up, reminding Gunns to seek another extension of time for their dumb pulpmill.

    Rumored is a requirement that the mill be smarter by further treating the effluent water to a third stage. In sewage terms this is back to a clean water standard and if this is possible then why not a closed loop pulpmill.

    Here we are 20 years on and the same conditions as required of Wesley Vale by a Hawke Labor government are rumored to become a requirement of the Rudd one.

    Der. So much for the fast track any process wil do mate deal of the tasmnaian Pulpmill Assessment act approved by the old parties and their followers in the anachronistic upper house of the parliament.

    What next, Totally Chlorine Free, plantation only feedstock, relocation of the mill?.

    This dinosaur proposal should be confined to the dustbin and a smart low carbon emissions project be submitted for the processing of Tasmania’s plantation timber leaving the natural forest to resume its carbon carrying capacity absorbing and storing the equivalent of 24% of the nations emissions at this critical time in the growth of emissions, when we need to turn emissions around to avoid dangerous climate instability.

  4. Frank Strie

    August 21, 2008 at 11:18 pm

    Whatever Happened to Frank and Fearless?

    The impact of new public management on the Australian Public Service
    Kathy MacDermott

    In this evidence-based and closely argued work, Kathy MacDermott plots the changes in the culture of the Australian Public Service that have led many contemporary commentators to lament the purported loss of traditional public service values of impartiality, intellectual rigour and — most importantly — the willingness of public servants at all levels to offer frank and fearless advice to their superieors and their ministers. MacDermott brings to her analysis an insider’s sensibility and a thorough forensic analysis of the impact of some 20 years of relentless adminisatrative ‘reform’ on the values and behaviour of the APS. Although this story has its beginnings in the Hawke-Keating eras, MacDermott convincingly argues that structural and cultural changes compromising the integrity of the public service reached its apogee towards the end of the eleven years of the Howard government. This is a ‘must read’ for students of Australian political and administrative history. MacDermott offers cautionary observations that the new national government might do well to heed.


    ISBN 9781921313912 $19.95 (GST inclusive)
    ISBN 9781921313929 (Online)
    Published July 2008

  5. Richard C Butler

    August 21, 2008 at 7:54 pm

    Having that twitching twerp Garrett as Minister for the environment is like having Paul Lennon in charge of an ethics commission in Tasmania.

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