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