Tasmanian Times

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TCT seeks Federal Court review of Burke’s mill decisions

TCT seeks Federal Court review of Minister Tony Burke’s 10 March decisions in relation to the Tamar Valley pulp mill

On 6 June 2011, the Tasmanian Conservation Trust commenced a case in the Federal Court of Australia against the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, Tony Burke.

The case seeks a judicial review of decisions made by the Minister on 10 March 2011 relating to the proposed pulp mill in the Tamar Valley, Tasmania.

The TCT is wanting the court to over-turn the Minister’s approval of a new freshwater pipeline route and strike-out a new condition (Condition No.49) that would allow fast-tracking of future changes to the environment management plan for the pulp mill.

The TCT Director Peter McGlone said in Hobart today “The TCT believes that the Minister did not comply with the law in making his decisions on 10 March 2011 and we seek the intervention of the court to reverse a number of important changes made to the proposed pulp mill.”

“The TCT believes the new pipeline route for the proposed pulp mill is invalid and should be over-turned.

“The Minister incorrectly accepted reasons for approving the new water pipeline route which relate to land owner approvals, while failing to consider the impact the new pipeline route would have on nationally listed threatened species, as the law required him to.

If the TCT succeeds in over-turning the approval of the new pipeline route the previously approved route is re-instated. The previous pipeline route goes through properties whose owners did not allow the pipeline through their land.

“The Minister also approved a new ‘fast-tracking’ condition, ‘Condition No.49’, which would allow changes to the environment impact management plan relating to the proposed pulp mill without any public knowledge or public input and the law does not allow him to make such a condition,” Mr McGlone concluded.

The case has been brought in the Federal Court at Canberra. We expect the first hearing of the case to be a directions hearing 1 July 2011.

Summary of the TCT’s case:

1. The Minister decided to vary the route of the pipeline needed to transport fresh water to the pulp mill. The Minister varied the pipeline route because Gunns Limited asked him to and Gunns Limited made this request because a number of private land owners refused to let Gunns Limited construct the pipeline across their land. The TCT believes that the relevant federal environment law does not allow the Minister to make decisions for these reasons and therefore the new pipeline route is invalid and should be set aside.

2. When deciding to vary the pipeline route, the Minister did not consider the impact that the new pipeline route will have on threatened species. The TCT believes the law requires the Minister to have considered the impact that the new pipeline route will have on threatened species. Because the Minister did not do so, the decision to vary the pipeline route is invalid and should be set aside.

3. The Minister also decided to create a condition that allows the Minister to seamlessly make changes to the environment impact management plan relating to the proposed pulp mill. The new condition enables changes to the EIMP to be made without transparency. TCT believes the law does not allow the Minister to make the new condition. As a result, the decision to make the new condition is invalid and should be set aside.

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15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. David Obendorf

    June 8, 2011 at 10:36 pm

    Worth a try TCT but please don’t expect financial support in lieu of your Federal Court action against Tony Burke. Who are your lawyers?

    As for the forestry “peace talks” and the Kelty roadshow, maybe its time to change the negotiators and put in some new ones.

    In my opinion, it’s time for ET Inc director, Dr Pullinger to pull out and give someone else a opportunity to mess with the forestry industry folk. Perish the thought!

  2. William Boeder

    June 8, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    #14. Yes that’s well remembered Mike Adams, that was back when the ill-intending Forestry Tasmania spiders conspired with John W Howard’s Federal government and Premier Paul Lennon’s State government to overturn the legal obligation then held upon Forestry Tasmania, to show onus of care and accountability for all of their present and future wildlife slaughters.
    Thus to then be free to run amok in any forested area of their choosing.

    Twas surely a black day for Tasmania’s forests and wildlife that will go down in history as an evilly contrived victory to the killers of Tasmania’s iconic forests and wildlife species therein!

  3. Mike Adams

    June 8, 2011 at 8:44 am

    I wish them every success, but I remember Wielangta.

  4. Estelle Ross

    June 7, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    I would be interested to see if this case even gets to court as I thought that Section 11 of the PMAA 2007 prohibited anyone from complaining about any part of the pulp mill process? I hope I am wrong??

  5. Baz

    June 7, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    #8 .. #9 … and I thought this thread was about the TCT’s court action …

  6. Shan Welham

    June 7, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    Every time I see that picture of Burke, I’m reminded of a young Ronnie Howard, “(s)he’s got skinny eyes…like the bad ladies in the comic books!”

  7. Karl Stevens

    June 7, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    The 3rd ENGO selected by Nick McKim to sit at the ’round table’ has no Tasmanian presence, no Tasmanian board members and has never campaigned to save Tasmania’s forests. Why did the ACF, a mainland-based group get to decide the future of Tasmania’s forestry industry, land use, pulp mill, water consumption and chemical exposure? I suspect it has to do with Greens senators Brown and Milne’s ex-staffer Emma Belfield. Emma is on the ‘council’ of ACF.
    http://www.acfonline.org.au/articles/news.asp?news_id=1119
    Considering The Wilderness Society was born in the same house as the Greens, then all 3 groups in the ‘Statement of Principles’ agreement could be controlled by the Greens. That is why the first ever complaint concerning a Greens minister to an ethics commission or an ICAC in Australa is being lodged.

  8. Frank Strie

    June 7, 2011 at 1:32 am

    And what about the triple bottom line approach Karl Stevens?
    The Kelty Round Table agreement can spin as much as they like, with the pretender agreement working group Tasmania is in a loose – loose situation.

    The globally recognised “Forest Stewardship Council” FSC process?
    How come many still talk about the typical (well outdated) two sides of the fence choice = industry versus environment?

    The language used in the international debate is about to address the reality of the ‘triple value situaton’:
    A: Commercial / Industry issues / concerns,
    B: Social / Community Value issues
    C: Environmental issues

  9. Karl Stevens

    June 6, 2011 at 10:44 pm

    The Tasmanian ‘Statement of Principles’ agreement can no longer be considered a valid document.

    The reason is that signatory ‘The Wilderness Society Inc’ signed the agreement twice.

    ‘The Wilderness Society Inc’ is a member of umbrella organisation ‘Environment Tasmania’.

    That means TWS were also being represented in the talks by Dr Phil Pullinger, who signed the agreement on their behalf. The list of ET member groups is here: http://www.et.org.au/member-groups

    The Wilderness Society were also represented in the talks initially by Paul Oosting, and the document was signed on behalf of TWS Inc by David Mackenzie.

    That means TWS Inc has effectively signed the document twice.

    Not only that, but other community organisations such as ‘TAP Into A Better Tasmania’ were excluded from the negotiations, just so TWS could be given two seats at the table.

    The Wilderness Society cannot leave the talks as has been reported, without also leaving Environment Tasmania.

    TWS are still being represented in the talks by Phill Pullinger. If this is not the case then why have none of the member groups and general membership been informed that The Wilderness Society in no longer a member of ET?

    Some of ET’s member groups don’t actually exist or are only made up of just a few people.

    The Wilderness Society appears to be ET’s largest and most influential member.

    I am lodging a complaint with the Tasmanian Integrity Commission concerning the role of Nick McKim, Labor-Greens Minister for Education in personally selecting environmental negotiators that would arrive at what I believe is a predetermined outcome in the Statement of Principles Agreement.

  10. Michael Swanton

    June 6, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    #6. Isn’t that what politicians do.
    Who is the Burke? Michael Swanton.

  11. Stephani of Rowella

    June 6, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    Well done TCT and good luck in Canberra. I am sure you will get a fairer hearing than other cases held here in Gunnsmania have had.

  12. john hayward

    June 6, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    From the description, it looks like Burke might be infringing judicial powers by making up his own laws, which could also be invalid for uncertainty.

    I do hope the TCT is not using either a Tasmanian barrister or solicitor, a number of whom have shown a distinct proclivity to tank cases where Tas Inc is the opponent.

    John Hayward

  13. Allan Beams

    June 6, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    Well done TCT. Should be interesting to see how things go at the directions hearing.

  14. salamander

    June 6, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    I am grateful to TCT for reading the detail of Burke’s approval and for taking this action. I was not aware that Gunns had found a way round the pipeline problem.

  15. john hawkins

    June 6, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    At least this case will be held outside the all embracing close knit Tasmanian Courts.

    In Tasmania the judges owe their appointment to the lockstep, Lib/Lab, slash, chip and burn,bpro Forestry Pollies.

    When I arrived in Tasmania some 8 years ago, my lawyer informed me that no Solicitor in this State would instruct over a matter relating to Gunns if he could possibly avoid it and rarely would a Judge would find against them.

    A Federal judgement is not so easily controlled.

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