Tasmanian Times


Pulp friction in Tasmania

Four years on and Tasmania remains an island divided over Gunns’ proposed two billion dollar pulp mill…

Pulp Friction in Tasmania: A review of the environmental assessment of Gunns’ proposed pulp mill

On 14 March 2007, Gunns Ltd withdrew its Tamar Valley pulp mill proposal from the environmental assessment being conducted by Tasmania’s planning authority. The proposal subsequently underwent three other assessments: by consultants hired under the provisions of the State’s specially legislated Pulp Mill Assessment Act 2007; by the Department of Environment and Water Resources under the provisions of the Commonwealth’s Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999; and by a specially commissioned Scientific Panel chaired by Australia’s Chief Scientist. The mill was finally approved for construction on 4 October 2007.

Given this level of scrutiny, one might reasonably conclude that the pulp mill’s impacts have been comprehensively evaluated. But have they? Situating the pulp mill proposal within its broader historical, political, legal and philosophical contexts, the book’s 15 contributors investigate the rigour with which the mill’s impacts on natural heritage, Aboriginal heritage, the sea, the air and the economy have really been assessed.

Fred Gale is a Senior Lecturer in the University of Tasmania’s School of Government whose research interests are national and global environmental governance focussing on the political economy of forestry. He is the author of The Tropical Timber Trade Regime (Palgrave Macmillan 1998), Setting the Standard (UBC Press 2008), and Global Commodity Governance (Palgrave Macmillan 2011). He has edited two other books: Nature Production Power (Edward Elgar 2000) and Confronting Sustainability (Faculty of Forestry and Environmental Studies Press, Yale University 2006).
The book’s contributors, listed alphabetically, are Wendy Aitken, Giorel Curran, Ronlyn Duncan, Fred Gale, Kathy Gibson, Robyn Hollander, Murray Johnson, Tony McCall, Linn Miller, Gary O’Donovan, Michael Stokes, Joanna Vince, Graeme Wells, Rob White, and Graham Wood. For more information see www.pencilpinepress.com.


1. People, Place and Identity in the Tamar Valley Precinct (Johnson)
2. Tasmania’s Development as Cargo Cultism: a Political Historical Perspective (McCall)
3. The Wesley Vale Pulp Mill Proposal and its Aftermath (Curran and Hollander)
4. Planning Tasmania’s Tamar Valley Pulp Mill: a Political Economic Analysis (Gale)
5. The Right to Dissent: the Gunns 20 Legal Case (White)
6. Environmental Assessment in Tasmania: the Resource Management and Planning System (Stokes)
7. The Pulp Mill and Habitat Loss (Duncan)
8. The Pulp Mill and the Sea (Vince)
9. The Pulp Mill and the Air (Aitken)
10. The Pulp Mill and Tasmanian Aboriginal Heritage (Miller)
11. The Pulp Mill: an Economic Assessment (Wells)
12. The Pulp Mill and Business (Gibson and O’Donovan)
13. The Validity of the Pulp Mill Permit (Stokes)
14. The Pulp Mill, Bleached Kraft Paper and Sustainable Development: an Ethical Analysis of Necessities Versus Luxuries (Wood)
15. Hard Lessons from Soft Power: Global Environmental Governance and the Pulp Mill (Gale)

Sue Neales, Mercury: Mill battle leaves locals war-weary

MANY Tamar Valley residents are desperately tired from the “emotionally draining” debate over the past six years about the proposed $2.5 billion pulp mill.

The unexpected response among both opponents and supporters of the mill is one of the findings of a social sustainability report commissioned by Gunns.

The survey of 72 locals and community representatives found, perhaps unsurprisingly, that the proposed Gunns pulp mill remained controversial and divisive.

It also revealed a deep “scepticism of Gunns as an environmental custodian”, a “chronic distrust” of the timber firm in many sections of the community and a lingering reputation for the company as a “bully”.

“This distrust means Gunns has been unable to be convincing with claims of the environmental diligence of the mill,” the report by Melbourne sustainability adviser Pax Populus said.

“Gunns suffers such low levels of trust [it] hampers its ability to garner support for its shift to a more modern paradigm, of which the pulp mill is the central strategic plank.”

Rest of the story HERE

Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent="no" parentcategory="writers" show = "category" hyperlink="yes"]


  1. Ron

    March 27, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    Where can I download the West Report in full?

  2. Mike

    March 18, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    Universities and logging companies come from very different traditions Tomas. Well at least in free democratic countries they do.
    UTAS academics producing a publication that dissents from the government and corporate line is consistent with a long and great traditions of Universities in the free world.
    Your corporatist views and lickspittle allegiance to government mean that to me you have a warped expectation of what universities should stand for.
    Try North Korea or Libya Tomas. I suspect you may feel more at home there.

  3. tomas

    March 18, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    The UTAS B team at work again. These tomes are academically offensive as:

    1. They have a naked political purpose, rather than an academic one.

    2. The association with a University is supposed to be interpreted as argument from authority or evidence

  4. abs

    March 17, 2011 at 11:35 pm

    #10, you are out of your depth, stick to the merc (where childish ranting is abundant), or provide evidence, logic, rational debate, etc, like um.. like.. like scientists do (he, he).

  5. Dave Groves

    March 17, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    Poor cobber #10. You sound a little all over the shop mate.

    Come join the good fight.

    This Gunns thing has only ever been about clowns at the helm, men who care little for other men.

    Its not about forestry or pulp mills, as I’m sure we all use products from these places quite regularly one would hope.

    It about process, doing what is fair, equitable, reasonable and right.

    And fair dinkum you really must know this deep inside.

    If you are caught somehow in this spiralling toilet bowl of an industry, I hope you find your way out.

    One day it will all come good and forestry will proudly become sustainable…really sustainable, not just waffled, and enjoy the fruits of pure worth.

    When the day comes that forestry truly cares for man and nature and works with them for the good of all, I’ll be there standing beside you defending the good work.

    I hope its a day close by.

    When we ALL win, nobody loses.

  6. Steve

    March 17, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    #10; You are totally incorrect to direct your comments towards “forestry haters”. “Gunns haters” would be far more accurate. Many on this site are ardent forestry supporters, just not the current practices.
    It’s apparent that you consider that economic, legal, and social viewpoints should be totally ignored in the pulp mill debate. It’s exactly this viewpoint that has made this project so universally hated. It’ll never be built and people like you will still continue to blame the greenies without ever looking in the mirror and realising the real reason the project failed.

  7. Barnaby Drake

    March 17, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    Perhaps if they had some ‘real’ scientists on board, the report woud have been even more damning?

  8. VoiceofSanity

    March 17, 2011 at 11:01 am

    Dear Forestry Haters

    Don’t pretend or fool yourself that Arts / Politics / Philosophy / Law etc are sciences.

    Most of you have a starting point that the mill is evil, and that forestry in general is corrupt and environmental vandalism.

    There is never any requirement that you examine or even consider the underpining science of forestry, because, like all members of a cult, you KNOW you are on a righteous path.

    I hope you make it to the promised land.

  9. ookpik

    March 17, 2011 at 10:00 am

    Dave@8 – Re your second para, Dave: Funny how what was a few short years ago the best, the acme, the zenith, the shiniest, greenest thing in the world has become, in recent weeks according to Mr L’Estrange, much improved.

    Wow – that’s some company! They have managed to improve perfection……………..or it’s all bullshit designed to hoodwink a few gullible naives. I believe the latter.

  10. Dave Groves

    March 17, 2011 at 6:19 am

    A review of the environmental assessment of Gunns’ proposed pulp mill……….

    I imagine this would take less than a page and be comprised of words like “approved, world’s best practice, world’s greenest mill, world’s cleanest mill, 292 direct jobs, 5000 construction jobs (there’s George Town fully employed), sustainable forestry, $870, effluent you can drink, nothing but steam etc etc”.

    Also #6, there is science in the forest industry in Tasmania….”Lucky Science Department” or “LSD” was the original formed in the sixties, but the outcomes were somewhat hazy and not conformist with government views.

    LSD has been replaced with unilateral panacea science known as “Government Orchestrated Nationally Accepted Departmental Science” or GONADS.

    Over the years GONADS have grown from the heady days of LSD, but there has been some pressure in recent times to squeeze GONADS out of forestry and of course forestry would like to hang on to GONADS if possible, because its about all they have left.

    A yearning for the free and easy days of LSD will only cloud judgement.

    Forestry needs to make some difficult decisions very quickly if it is to survive in the modern world and only time will tell if they have GONADS or not.

    This show rolls perpetually.

  11. John Regan

    March 17, 2011 at 12:41 am

    Well, VoiceofInsanity perhaps the issue isn’t one that requires expertise in Forestry but one that relates to humanity for that is what is being talked about and what they are talking about – how we as humans relate to our environment and what we do to our environment. By environment I mean political, social, economic and physical environment. It is time we looked at what we are doing to each other and the world around us and what impact his is having to the world around us and us as individuals. I can’t see any positives in what is being presented by Forestry and it is clear that Forestry cannot stand independent of the soil it stands on, the water that feeds it and the people who live in it.

  12. john Hayward

    March 16, 2011 at 11:49 pm

    Without having read the book, it’s nonetheless cheering that Tassie academics finally feel sufficiently emboldened to openly criticise the ailing emperor, and that the industry claque are already barking furiously.

    The supposed role of science in the state’s phenomenally inefficient and destructive woodchip industry is something that still escapes me completely.

    John Hayward

  13. Mark

    March 16, 2011 at 11:46 pm

    Economics, Finance, Commerce and Environmental Studies are certainly sciences missing from most forestry cupboards.

  14. abs

    March 16, 2011 at 11:42 pm

    voiceofsanity, did you read before you ranted??

    “Situating the pulp mill proposal within its broader historical, political, legal and philosophical contexts, the book’s 15 contributors investigate the rigour with which the mill’s impacts on natural heritage, Aboriginal heritage, the sea, the air and the economy have really been assessed.”

    you have a weirdly narrow idea about what science is

  15. VoiceofSanity

    March 16, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    Mark, you raise the point of their scientific qualifications:-
    1.Commerce / Aboriginal Studies
    2.Arts / Environmental Politics
    3.Geography / Environmental Studies
    4.Arts / Environmental Studies
    5.Business / Finance/ Environmental Politics
    6.Commerce / Arts / Politics
    7.Arts / Aboriginal Studies
    8.Arts / Politics
    9.Arts / Philosophy
    10.Business / Commerce
    11.Constitutional Law
    12.Arts / Ocean Governance and Policy
    13.Economics / Finance
    14.Arts / Criminology / Sociology
    15.Arts / Environmental Studies

    Not a pure scientist amongst them!
    Zero expertise or understanding in Forestry!
    I rest my case

  16. Mark

    March 16, 2011 at 8:03 pm

    I could have sworn they came from various scientific disciplines no matter their political perspectives. Isn’t this the same argument presented by forestry and its supporters when it claims “science over emotion”, no matter how dubious their claims may be?

  17. VoiceofSanity

    March 16, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    $49.50 for that tripe.
    Just a bunch a green activist academics having a lend of themselves.
    I doubt we’ll see PencilPineFiction publish anything else – the poor professors can’t afford it.

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