Tasmanian Times


No end to pulp friction

Matthew Denholm The Australian
Politically, it appears a clever decision. Gunns and the forestry union are unable to complain, at least in public, for fear of further damaging market and investor confidence in the project. The Opposition, which in office designed the process Garrett is now largely sticking to, has little room to manoeuvre, except to accuse him of overplaying the toughness of the decision. So is the decision a green, red or amber light for the mill? Gunns, who have hired Sydney-based public relations firm Cato Counsel to try to turn around years of bad publicity, insist it is “more green than amber”. Gunns corporate relations manager Calton Frame says that despite the withholding of final full approval, he is confident Garrett’s decision is enough to secure a banking syndicate and joint-venture partner to back the project. But others in the timber industry are less confident. The peak Tasmanian Forest Industries Association predicts Garrett’s decision will “foster further doubt over the mill”, while Timber Communities Australia complains its members face further frustration and uncertainty. Gunns executive chairman John Gay, who has made the mill a crusade, is said to have been in Europe last month trying to convince prospective Scandinavian joint venture partners, as well as a syndicate of bankers, to get on board. Gay claims finance may be secured in as little as six months. However, many Tasmanians take the company’s statements with a sea-full of salt. Read more here

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  1. Linda the nurse

    January 12, 2009 at 1:39 am

    I went to visit a friend in Scottsdale on 22 Dec from Ltn and commented I only counted 6 log trucks compared to the 60 counted in one hour on the east Tamar by my bro visiting from NZ one month previous.

    Wood chips are dead!

    I hope Gay and Gray do a Joh B. Peterson and depart to another place!

  2. Cheshire

    January 11, 2009 at 10:15 pm

    It is interesting that media reports comment that “the company has warned protesters it will not tolerate unlawful action”. Obviously this does not extend to how the Company itself receives personal information. Perhaps the police would like to make generally available the names of the forest contractors who were present but not charged at the site of the recent assault on forest protesters?

    Other comments have been made about the “apparently seamless manner in which private details are passed onto a powerful corporation”. Unfortunately this is far from new. Friends of mine were on public roads in a region of contentious forest operations a few years ago. They were not there to protest or to otherwise engage in any forestry or anti-forestry activity. Despite this, they ended up being trailed by Gunns vehicles. When they stopped, they were surrounded and told that they should leave the area. When they tried to introduce themselves, they were told that the local cop had already radioed details of the registered owner of the car, and that it was known who they were. They subsequently complained to the police that this was inappropriate, but were told the Gunns staff were “good sorts” and so there was no impropriety.

    Clearly this still happens, but has to be more carefully hidden. In the above instance, demonstrating such ready access to the information provided an additional form of intimidation. With the Triabunna 13 and current privacy laws, the company initially claimed that it had obtained the information from public documents before the police admitted this was not the case. The protestors should pursue this for all it is worth, because laws are now in place that were not available to protect others in the past.


  3. Annie

    January 11, 2009 at 1:41 am

    Further to your comment about lost revenue, Gerry – this whole thing is a joke, because the protest and the very expensive ‘hold-up’ occured just before Gunns stopped all of its wood-supply contracts for six weeks, because they can’t sell the bloody chips due to the big downturn in demand. Massive oversupply of pulp. Chips not wanted. Ships not leaving Japan to pick up chips.
    Hah! And they think they are going to build a monster mill? I don’t think so.

    Why aren’t these logging contactors up in arms about THAT! A few hours delay is nothing compared to a six week cancellation of contracts.

    Noticed how quiet it is on the roads without the log trucks?

  4. Factfinder

    January 11, 2009 at 1:28 am

    … And this chap is looking for balance…

    In today’s Sunday Examiner on line:

    Ignoring the fact that the previous pulpmill proposed some 20 years ago was of the chlorine bleaching type and would have had major impact on Bass Strait and the fishing industry, it is being used as an argument to push for a justification for this underhanded projectin 2009:

    Sadly MARTIN GILMOUR writes:
    …”Instead of the the barrows of the numerous self-interest groups being pushed, why not the TASMANIAN barrow!

    Instead of being sucked in by the distortions, partisanship and special pleading sparked by the State Government’s new guidelines, let’s assess the game now that the rules have been changed.

    First: The State Government deserves considerable credit for having the courage and far- sightedness to write into legislation the new environment guidelines which even non- development “greenies” must accept as the most advanced in the world.

    Second: Every Tasmanian should realise that if the environmental issue is resolved satisfactorily then Tasmania, but especially Australia, needs the North Broken Hill-Noranda mill for the income and its contribution to reducing the balance-of-payments imbalance (by about $300 million a year).

    Third: By having a mill which processes the wood into pulp, Tasmania is taking the first major step in putting an end to the demeaning business of cutting down trees which are chipped for export to other countries to process into pulp, paper, cardboard etc.

    In other words, the industry begins its climb from being a “quarry” to manufacturing status; Tasmania begins its climb out of Third World status.

    Fourth: As long as the balances are correct, how can, and why should, Tasmania spurn a $1 billion investment?

    The key is balance.”

    It really is amazing that 20 years has passed since Michael Courtney wrote this column and, barring a couple of company name changes, it is still on the money today.

    MARTIN GILMOUR is deputy editor (Sunday Examiner)

    Believe me Martin Gilmour, I am not against Tasmania, nor Australia, nor against good, responsible, clever forest practices…- but Tasmania has gone backward over these 20 years!
    Scottsdale is a classic example and the 2 existing Mills on the North West Coast me just be a job swap for some of the specialist pulp workers.
    Can Martin investigate if there is a future for the two mill in case the GUNNS mill would go ahead???
    540 jobs swap for 280 or so???
    Job creation???

  5. Gerry Mander

    January 10, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    As an addendum to my last comment, if timber is valued at such a low cost, how can Gunns claim they have lost $500 000 when Triabunna mill was held up for a mere seven hours?

    Maybe they could be forced to produce some of these figures. It could be a bit of a revelation.

  6. Gerry Mander

    January 10, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    What exactly IS the price that Gunns is paying for its timber?

    In previous announcements by Bob Gordon, we were told it was fixed to the world price of pulp, and when that went up, Tasmania would gain by getting a better price for its timber. We were not told what would happen if the price of pulp dropped.

    Currently the world price is at an all-time low, having lost over $200 a tonne since October 2008, and since the last figures I saw were about $12 per tonne – dry weight. It takes TWO wet tonnes to make one dry tonne, so if this is correct, Forestry must be selling timber to Gunns at LESS than $6 per tonne.

    No wonder Bob Gordon announced that they were moving away from a ‘Profit oriented’ timber industry and were going to concentrate on ‘science’ instead.

    When are they going to come clean and let the public know just how much they areselling our assets for? Is there any way to force them to do so, now they have been exempted from the FOI Act.

    To me it sounds like another huge financial scam, with the backing of the Government to get Gunns pulp mill over the line.

    Maybe this alone deserves a commision of enquiry!

  7. Dave Groves

    January 10, 2009 at 9:47 am

    Ooops…too many buttons…cont’d…

    Make the testing fit the limits.

    If the reading is too high….test a little bit further away till you find the perfect reading.

    If by some stroke of misfortune that doesn’t work, then calculate the fine (if in horror that should ever occur) into the price paid to FT (the Tasmanian people) and have our iconic forests given to Gunns for free to cover any bill that may come up.

    The other option is to invlove Gunns lawyers and fix the legislation to suit the mill. Although this is how the whole thing went wrong in the first place, it could still work if they tried a little harder.

    Look at what a great thing the changing of the Air Quality Act 2004 was for the mill in exempting it from some horrible emmisions when everyone else has to toe the line.

    Despite all this though, it would have to be some ignorant, perhaps blind company/syndicate that would be called upon to fund this rinky dink behemoth, because if Gunns primary finacier walked away from involvement, then who in their right mind would shake hands with this leprosy riddled rat nest?

  8. Dave Groves

    January 10, 2009 at 9:35 am

    All Gunns have to do is make the modelling fit the module.

    If the coffee is too hot, then add more milk.
    This dodgy Gay/Lennon lemon has access to Tasmanina’s drinking water, so if the putrid effluent is too brown, then just pump the Great Lake through the pipe line to dilute the filth.

    What of monitoring though you may well ask?

  9. Dave Groves

    January 10, 2009 at 9:35 am

    All Gunns have to do is make the modelling fit the module.

    If the coffee is too hot, then add more milk.
    This dodgy Gay/Lennon lemon has access to Tasmania’s drinking water, so if the putrid effluent is too brown, then just pump the Great Lake through the pipe line to dilute the filth.

    What of monitoring though you may well ask?

  10. john Hayward

    January 9, 2009 at 11:12 pm

    What is blindingly obvious is that the federal government has eagerly surrendered its jurisdiction over the biggest environmental issue, the Wood Supply Agreement, to the logging industry via the Regional Forest Agreement. The state government has done the same through the Forest Practices Act, the PAL policy and a plethora of supporting legislation.

    The ludicrous Garrett, meanwhile, sits alone in his tinnie 12 km offshore, shaking a tiny fist at a pirate fleet which includes his own party. The inshore pollution approval surfed in without getting wet.

    John Hayward

  11. Bob McMahon

    January 9, 2009 at 10:47 pm

    Congratulations to Matthew Denholm. This is a very good summary of the current state of play.

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