Like many, I wake dreaming of the beleaguered pulp mill.
It’s not a sane thing, but after five years of head banging, it is the only thing to be expected.
It was never going to be a proposal which would satisfy the demands of the environment or NGOs set up with that charter in mind.
From day one it was a matter for changing legislation, heavy propaganda, SLAPP suits and any other malicious mischief to drag a nineteenth century paradigm into the noughties.
The state was a ready bride, but the Feds were a little slower to become mistress, but eventually they succumbed to the force that drives this wretched antique ideal.
There is not enough bandwidth to list this sorry tale, but a few points still remain close.
Firstly, and for me, the most important reason why this proposal remains, comes from the never answered question: how can this concept ever make money?
The proponent happily clearfells and chips, while paying pittance for inputs at the vast expense of taxpayers and contractors, yet make a very slim profit.
As a sideline, they have happily clearfelled 60% of their share price since announcing this proposal, despite several “successful” floats which saw shareholders come off second best…but still they come.
If it’s not about the environment, then it’s about money.
Despite a mantra delivered of “deep in negotiations”, “selected venture partners” ad infinitum, they are as far away from getting this dead horse to run the cup, as they ever were.
I will quote approximate figures from the olden days, when I first put this question forward, and I still remain an ignorant layman when it comes to the root of all evil, so an expert may enlighten me.
Suffice to say if no one will lend them the money, then it must be a financial blunder.
Gunns buys our native forest for $15 per tonne and sells it for $150.
Aside from a few minor outputs, when you are talking five million tonnes per annum, then it sounds like a company awash with dinero.
Somehow their share price is a fizzer?
Ok, let’s move to the saviour of Tasmania, the “you know what”.
Four tonnes of our native forest equals one tonne of air dried pulp.
One tonne of air dried pulp equals $600.
So, they double their money.
Hang on a tick, that all sounds too easy.
How do they double their money?
Well, that is my question.
To make that extra $600 per tonne, they need to outlay billions (it’s a flexible figure, but let’s just say it’s a fair wad), so add in a workforce of 292 (that was the first figure), add in chemicals, maintenance and all the other on costs……
Why would you bother?
Now you can build Meander Dam, alter the Air Quality Act 2004, devise the Pulp Mill Assessment Act, and spread evil propaganda about those who defend their planet from destruction, build roads and add infrastructure at the expense of hospitals and education…the list is endless….but still no one on planet earth has jumped up and said, “what a bloody great idea, let’s fund this baby and get on with the greatest infrastructure project in Tasmania’s history”.
So I put it to you, that this always was, always will be, the greatest lemon that Tasmania has ever had to digest.
I put it to you, that despite all tiers of government embracing this concept tighter than their political pensions, that we as a community have flourished without the support of our alleged leaders.
We have grown strong and engaged with each other.
We have, and continue to show, that after five years of toil, of degrading humiliation, of endless stress and torment, that we are community.
We walk tall, with truth beside us, we fight the good fight, and for that, and the lack of their pulp mill we should celebrate this remarkable achievement, against the odds, of corporate and government alliance against community.
We should celebrate that this idea is fatally flawed and despite their vain attempts, and millions of taxpayers dollars used illegitimately to lever its birth, they have failed so very miserably.
They have desperately tried to divide and conquer, but still they fail in their evil quest.
So, despite the ongoing suffering we feel, know that this proposal is a financial disaster, find comfort with the fact that it remains nothing more that a vast area of dirt five years on, and join our brothers and sisters in celebrating this marvellous linking and strengthening of community.
Think of all the animals, we have saved, think of the friendships we have found, the joy in knowing we are participating in creating a better planet for our children and grandchildren.
We are not passengers; we all have our hands on the wheel.
Keep at the good fight.
Picture: Wilderness Society