THE State Government last night “guillotined” debate on new laws giving Gunns two more years to start building its Tamar Valley pulp mill.
The curtailing of debate on the Pulp Mill Clarification Bill drew outcry from the Greens for its similarities to former premier Paul Lennon’s gagging of the original fast-track assessment Bill in 2007.
The declaration of the Bill as an urgency Bill at 7.20pm limited the debate to four hours and 45 minutes, and came after the Greens had been debating the title of the Bill for almost an hour.
Greens leader Nick McKim said the move was a fallback to the “bad old days” of the Lennon Government.
“The first pulp mill Act was gagged by a Paul Lennon-led Labor Government and here we are again to give the kiss of life to a dead project, this time by a Bartlett Government,” Mr McKim said.
“I remember in the early days of the Bartlett Government it was all about the new broom, the line in the sand, clever, kind and connected — the cliches were rolling off the tongue but he has been exposed as a fraud and a charlatan.”
From the debate:
FORESTRY – PROPOSED PULP MILL PERMITS
Mr BOOTH (Question) – My question is to the Minister for Environment,
Parks and Heritage. Minister, with regard to the expiry of Gunns’
operating permit for their proposed pulp at Long Reach, on what date did
the Director of the Environmental Protection Agency inform you and/or the
Government that he had concerns and how and if so, was advice was received?
Mr Llewellyn – What did you have for breakfast this morning?
Mr SPEAKER – Order. I don’t know that that is relevant.
Mr BOOTH – He is obviously applying for a job as a clown in a circus, Mr
Speaker. Are you applying for your next position as a clown, are you?
Mr Llewellyn – If it was the same as what I had you’d all have a
conspiracy that there was something about it!
Mr SPEAKER – Order. The Leader of Government Business should not
interfere by directing questions and interjecting while the member for
Bass is endeavouring to ask a question. I ask that he cease and that the
member for Bass continue with his question.
Mr BOOTH – As I was saying, my question is to the Minister for Environment
. Minister, with regard to the expiry of Gunns’ operating permits for the
proposed pulp mill at Long Reach, on what date did the Director of the EPA
inform you or the Government that he had concerns, and how and if so, was
that advice received? Was the proponent, Gunns Ltd, informed by the
Government or the department that there were concerns about the validity
of the permits and that the Government intended to legislate to extent the
permits issued under the Land Use Planning Approvals Act? If Gunns were
informed, how were they informed and when?
Mr Will Hodgman – Your department was demolished right under your nose.
Where were you that week?
Ms O’BYRNE – And funnily enough, we still have an Environment department –
Mr SPEAKER – Order.
Ms O’BYRNE – Yet another mistruth, Mr Hodgman. You merely illustrate,
time and time again, my view of you, that you could not be honest about
Mr Will Hodgman – Little mushroom weren’t you, that week? Didn’t know
what was going on!
Mr SPEAKER – Order.
Ms O’BYRNE – Mr Speaker, I know that Mr Hodgman has a bit of a glass jaw.
He does not like it when someone steps up and tells him he is being
dishonest and misleading the Tasmanian public but I remind people that it
is very rare that I hear something out of his mouth that –
Mr Will Hodgman – I’m just telling you the facts.
Mr BOOTH – Point of order, Mr Speaker – I actually asked the minister a
Mr Will Hodgman – She’s easily distracted.
Mr SPEAKER – Order! The Leader of the Opposition should cease his
interjections and the minister should answer the question that has been
asked by the member for Bass.
Ms O’BYRNE – Thank you, Mr Speaker, and I do thank the member for his
question because it is important to reiterate that this Government
believes that it is important that the proposed pulp mill complies with
the strict environmental conditions contained within the pulp mill permit
that was approved by both Houses of the Tasmanian Parliament on 30 August.
As the House would be aware, in the last month the Government received
advice from the Solicitor-General that uncertainty had arisen. That
advice was provided to the Government as a result of a letter from the
Director of the EPA, which is an independent statutory body, and the
director clearly takes action as appropriate in his independent statutory
role. I do not have the date he advised me that he was intending to seek
that clarification but I am comfortable to find that information for you.
There are no secrets about this, Mr Speaker.
The Director of the EPA identified that he thought there might be a
question and advised me that he was writing to the Solicitor-General in
his independent statutory role, as he has every right to do, and he then
received advice from the Solicitor-General and last month communicated
that advice to the Government.
Mr McKim – Can you explain why we have to ask three times to get half an
Mr Booth – For someone who is not going to support the mill any more – no
wonder no-one believes you.
Mr SPEAKER – Order.