Brand-new Tasmanian Premier Lara Giddings appears not to have ruled her Labor Government out of continuing support – perhaps even as some form of guarantor – for the state’s most divisive project: Gunns’ $2 billion pulp mill in the Tamar Valley.

In an interview with ABC Local Radio’s Louise Saunders (Listen for yourself, HERE) Lara Giddings is asked to rule out suggestions that the State Labor Government could act as guarantor for the pulp mill.

She replies:

“We’ve had no requests as far as I understand.

No discussions?:

“Well, I haven’t had any in that sense that I’ve had with Gunns.

“But what I would say is that we do need development in this state.

“We do have a number of businesses in Launceston area that were all greared up and ready to be there to help build it and to supply it and so on.

“There are a lot of disappointed businesses around that area that it hasn’t already happened”

The further question of whether State Labor would in any circumstance offer guarantees on the mill – a Giddings’ line in the sand – was not asked.

Earlier Ms Giddings said:

“I do support the pulp mill for this state; I do support downstream processing of our wood resource here and people would know as a former economic development minister I was involved in the early days of the pulp mill project that was put forward by Gunns.

“That part in the project is no longer part of government in that sense.

“We have done all we had to do in terms of permits and processes.

“I know the process chosen caused a lot of anger in the Tasmanian community and we have learnt from that.

“We all make mistakes and we have learnt from that one in a big way in that sense.

“But we need industrial development in this state”.

Ms Giddings then said there was a need to look after the environment and the forest industry did not want to see rape and pillage. There needed to be common ground and the forestry industry and environmental EGOs were working towards that; they needed to come together and politicians were staying out.

ABC Radio ran a report late morning on the interview – in which Premier Giddings also foreshadows Public Service cuts (ABC Online: Public Sector jobs fears, HERE) – but the report has not been repeated.

However, it’s still on the ABC Northern Tasmania website: HERE:

Tasmania’s new Premier has not ruled out the Government acting as a guarantor for the Gunns pulp mill project.

Lara Giddings says the Government has learnt from its previous ‘mistakes’ in trying to get the controversial Bell Bay pulp mill project approved.

Ms Giddings told ABC Local Radio the Government supports the development but said she had not been personally approached by Gunns.

“We’ve had no requests as far as I understand from Gunns for that,” she said.

“I haven’t had any, in that sense, that I’ve had with Gunns but what I would say is we do need development in this state.”

“We have a number of businesses in the Launceston area that were all geared up and ready to be there to help build it and to supply it and so on.

“There are a lot of disappointed businesses around that area that it hasn’t already happened.”

Partial transcript from citizen journalist Garry Stannus:

Louise Saunders interviews Lara Giddings on ABC Hobart radio – 25 jan 2011. TRANSCRIPT

Recalling Barttlett’s ‘Line in the Sand’, the pulp mill and forestry issues, the following matter and question was read: “If you’re prepared to govern for the community, you’ll give certainty, fairness and peace to businesses in the Launceston and Tamar Valley, repeal the Pulp Mill Assessment Act “ also questions as to … “will Govt act as a Guarantor for the Pulp Mill?”

Q “Where do you stand and your govt stand on assisting the progress … I guess … of the Gunns Pulp Mill?”
A “We … I do support the Pulp Mill for this state … I do support downstream processing of our wood resource here and people would know that as the former Economic Development Minister I was involved in the early days of … ah … the pulp mill project that was put forward by Gunns. That particular project no longer is part of … ah … a govt in that sense, we’ve done all we had to do in terms of permits and processes and I know the process that was chosen caused a lot of anger in the Tasmanian community and we’ve learnt from that. As I’ve said, ‘We all make mistakes’ and we’ve learnt from that one … a big way in that sense.
But we need industrial development in this state too. We need to also look after our environment. It’s critical. Our environment is part of our natural asset and I even in talking to people who work within the forest industry – that’s something they tell me that they’re very proud of. They don’t want to see our forest … ah … raped and pillaged as is often said is happening. But … ah … they want to protect the environment too and they often say to me ‘Isn’t it funny that forests that we’ve worked over in the past are sometimes the forests put on the table as needing protecting today’. And that is an example of where they say we can and we do look after our forests.
So for me I think we’ve got to a position where forestry particularly has been very divisive in this state, we’r trying to find some common ground, I am pleased that that process has been driven by forest industry people themselves and the environmental NGOs with politicians keeping a backward position on it. We need those groups to come together rather than politics play its part and unfortunately what we’re seeing in the Liberal Opposition trying to turn it back into a political football rather than allowing industry to work through it.”

Q “Okay, well two aspects there.
1 One is just firstly again on the pulpmill … so the role as you said for the govt. is I guess the passive provision of the proper circumstances in which business can … ah … can flourish … ah … would that then rule out any suggestions – they are out there – that the govt may act as a guarantor for the pulp mill?”

A “We’ve had … ah … no request as far as I understand”
Q “And no discussions?”
A “for that well I …”
Q “that you’re aware of?”
A “I … I haven’t had any … that I’m … in that sense … that I’ve had with Gunns … but, (indrawn breath) what I would say is that we do need development in this state. We have a number of businesses in the Launceston area that were all geared up and ready to be there to help build it and to supply it and so on. There are a lot of disappointed businesses around that area [sic] that it hasn’t already happened.”

Q “The other thing is the forest precipice [?]… principles agreement and the progression of that and you mentioned the Liberal Party, they had as Will Hodgman reiterated yesterday – they are politically opposed to it, so they will obviously maintain that position, so in terms of politics being involved, it is necessary though isn’t it, in terms of working hopefully with the Federal Govt to achieve financial assistance to progress that.”

A “I think it’s really disappointing that the Liberal party have taken that position just to oppose. Being in opposition is more than just opposing everything for the sake of opposing. There are times, particularly in minority govt. situations where the Parliament has a lot more power … that Oppositions step up and actually be part of the solution rather than just negative … knocking back of a process that didn’t come from the Labor govt, nor did it come from the Greens, it came from industry and it came from the environmental NGOs.
Govt then had the role to facilitate that and that’s exactly what the Commonwealth and the State Govt are doing now. With the appointment of Bill Kelty as the independent peron, not as the politician, an independent person to help now build the meat that we need around the bones of the statement of principles. That’s not to say that there won’t be even signif … significant restructuring required in forestry. And I wanna make this point too that it’s not restructuring that the govt necessarily wants or is driving – we’re not driving it – it’s market forces that are driving it. And it’s the fact that we’ve lost markets in places like Japan for our wood product that is driving the change. It is the fact that … ah … people who purchase wood product now want proper certification of that wood product that is driving the change. So we actually need Will Hodgman to stand up on this one and to show some backbone, with the govt, with the Greens and provide the political leadership that’s rquired to see families and businesses go through some tough, tough times.”

Q “You mentioned the Greens and … ah … they are of course an issue and you … I don’t think I’ve ever quite found the right word to describe what the arrangement is. There is an arrangement between Labor and the Greens. You’ve spoken about the move to the next election taking place either to seek govt in its own right. Do you think that that statement and that commitment in any way undermines or weakens the arrangement you currently have with the Greens?”

A “No I don’t in that I believe that the greens would love a Green govt one day, just as Labor would love a Labor govt. and I think we would be not being honest with the Tasmanian people if we didn’t say that. But what we’re also saying – and I’m certainly saying – is that if the Tasmanian people say ‘we actually quite like the arrangement that we’ve got, minority govt, two parties coming together and that’s what we’ll deliver at the next election’ [then] Labor will be mature enough to stand up and take on the opportunity to once again work with the Greens.”

EXTRA NOTES of other matters covered:
On Water Meters: “People like the opportunity to be able control their own financial situation as best they can.” … “in times like now when the cost of living is going up … rising costs” and “But if you have a water meter you can make your own decision as to how much water you’re using. Yes there is a base cost that you have to pay but there is another element that you can yourself control”

On gambling: Is it up for review? – She and Cassy are both working on the issue.

On AFL Footy: She supports it at Bellerive Oval, but govt would eed business to provide sponsorship and local Council support (Hobart and Clarence). The club would most likely be North Melbourne … it’s not just about the footy on the Saturday afternoon, it’s about the various economic spinoffs from it.

On reduced spending: We’re not in a crisis situation, “but we do have a serious situation that needs dealing with”. Can’t rule out public sector cuts – they are open to consideration. “Our expenses are outstripping our revenue”. “We need decisive decision-making in the times we are facing now”

On Bryan Green: “We’re all human, we all make mistakes” the same old ‘he made a mistake “of which he has apologised”, we all do, he’s learnt from it, he even supports the ICT now, he’s an experienced Minister and with the strengthening of accountability measures within govt brought about by David Bartlett, it won’t be possible to make those sort of mistakes again…

Giddings born to be Premier, says Lennon:

25 Jan, 2011 05:16 PM

Lara Giddings was “born to be premier”, former Labor premier Paul Lennon said yesterday.

The Labor stalwart was in Parliament when Ms Giddings first got in in 1996 and said her talent was immediately apparent.

“She’s an old head on young shoulders – that’s the first thing that struck me,” Mr Lennon said.

“I think Lara was born to be premier.”

Mr Lennon, who gave Ms Giddings her first ministry in 2004, said her election loss in 1998 had been unlucky after voters got Ken Bacon in Lyons confused with Jim Bacon and voted him in.

He said Ms Giddings’s four years out of politics might have been a “blessing in disguise”, allowing her to travel and work before being re-elected in Franklin in 2002.

Mr Lennon said he had seen first-hand how hard Ms Giddings worked and how talented she was.

“I’ve been a close colleague of hers. I’d like to think I’ve been a bit of a mentor (too),” he said.

“I have a lot of respect for her as a politician, as a social reformer.”

Mr Lennon said she had worked in the health portfolio with “great distinction through difficult times”, as well as stints in economic development, infrastructure and now treasury.

“I think she’s ready (to be premier),” he said.

Mr Lennon also said David Bartlett’s decision to step away from the top job to spend more time with his family should be respected.

He said he understood the pressures that being premier could have on a family, and the job affected everyone differently.

“He didn’t have an easy run as premier because he had to deal with the global financial crisis,” Mr Lennon said.

Full Examiner story HERE

First published: 2011-01-25 01:05 PM

The Abdication and Ascension: The Australian Financial Review wasn’t fooled …

The mainland media are more sceptical of David Bartlett’s professed motives. This morning’s (Tuesday) AFR editorial claimed “Mr Bartlett’s resignation at the ripe old age of 43 really takes the biscuit. He says he wants to be a better dad, which is something any father who’s been wiped of the screen at Halo would aspire to be. But it is stretching credulity to suggest that the challenges of combining a demanding career with parenthood have only just dawned on Mr Bartlett, or that he could not have found more time to spend with his children with better planning and prioritisation.”


Wednesday, Nick McKim

Nick McKim MP
Greens Leader

The Tasmanian Greens today reiterated their opposition to the controversial Gunns’ pulp mill proposal for the Tamar Valley, saying that the stalled project was out of step with community aspirations.

Greens Leader Nick McKim MP said that it was a fair expectation held in the community that the proponent should wear any and all associated costs and that publicly-funded subsidisation must cease.

“The Greens position on the Gunns’ pulp mill proposal is not now, not ever. This is quite clear and unchanged,” Mr McKim said.

“We are also remain consistently of the position that it is incumbent on the proponent to meet all costs associated with the project, and that any publicly-funded support is inappropriate.”

Friends of the Tamar Valley


Tamar Valley community group, ‘Friends of the Tamar Valley’, (FTV), are dismayed and outraged that Premier Lara Giddings is considering using public funds to again prop up the pulp mill project being proposed by private company Gunns Ltd.

Less than 24 hours after becoming Tasmania’s new Premier, Lara Giddings admitted that the approval of the pulp mill was a mistake, while giving strong indications that the proposed pulp mill may yet go ahead with more Tasmanian Government financial support.

Gunns Ltd has received generous assistance from the Tasmanian government since the pulp mill was first mooted.

Now Tasmanians are expected to guarantee at least $2.5 billion to underwrite a private company project.

Relative to the Gunns pulp mill, Tasmanian taxpayers will have funded:

• $2m for the ‘Pulp Mill Taskforce’
• $239,008 for an unused pipeline culvert
• Free access for a pipe line easement
• $300 million (minimum) over the mills lifetime.
• $5m Federal grant for IIS development

By providing further assistance Premier Giddings will be benefiting Gunns and its interstate shareholders at the expense of Tasmanian taxpayers, who will bear the costs of all the financial and environmental risks, as well as suffering the impact from odour and pollution from an unwanted industrial project that will provide limited returns.

Instead of uniting Tasmanians, Premier Giddings has chosen to continue the divisive policies of her predecessors, who as a result of their stubborn support for the pulp mill resigned with historically low approval ratings.

Karl’s view HERE