Once again last week we saw the spectre of Tasmania’s most hated project dominating the public discourse and once again we saw (Matthew Groom – Listen here, http://blogs.abc.net.au/tasmania/2012/02/the-pulp-mill-investment-and-political-tension.html ) Will Hodgman’s Liberal opposition attempting to use the issue to drive a wedge between Labor and the Greens.
Hissy fits by Matt Groom and Peter Gutwein with calls for Lara Giddings to sack Greens leader Nick Mckim from cabinet were classic political grandstanding and left Will Hodgman’s party looking too much like hypocrites. The Liberals’ calls came after Nick Mckim urged (Here: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-02-09/gunns-pulp-mill-warning/3819840?section=business) new Gunns main man Richard Chandler to steer clear of the Tamar Valley Pulp Mill project.
Will & Lara’s lynch mob
Only a few months ago two of Australia’s most successful entrepeneurs, Jan Cameron and Graeme Wood bought up the dilapidated, unprofitable and unsaleable Triabunna Woodchip Mill ($10M investment) on Tasmania’s East Coast from Gunns Ltd with plans for a slow phase-out of woodchip operations and long term plans to develop the site into a tourist hub.
To say the $10M investment in the struggling East Coast Town was not welcomed by either of the big political parties in Tasmania is an understatement.
Shadow Treasurer Peter Gutwein led the Liberals’ trashing of the investment, screaming blue murder and making the utterly ridiculous demand that the Tasmanian Government compulsorily acquire the Triabunna site from its rightful and legal owners.
It was the Tasmanian Liberal Party who led the charge, whipping up a hate campaign against Cameron and Wood’s $10M investment in Tasmania. They were of course cheered on by a hypertensive looking Robert Wallace and the TCCI.
As Premier Lara Giddings, in my view, who could barely conceal her contempt for the two successful entrepeneurs led an ugly public campaign against Cameron and Wood, Will Hodgman raised no objection about a $10M dollar investment being talked down, rather unleashing the Liberals’ attack dogs and cheering on the Premier.
The knives were out for Jan Cameron & Graeme Wood. It was an unedifying spectacle particularly from the Premier of Tasmania.
It’s this aspect that particularly exposes the Liberals’ claims that Mckim’s sacking is warranted because of his senior role as a goverment minister.
Indeed Will Hodgman’s Liberals cheered on as Tasmania’s most senior minister – The Premier, publicly trashed a $10M private investment in a struggling Tasmanian town. Yet Mr Mckim apparently should be sacked for continuing the Greens’ long standing public campaign against the proposed Tamar Valley Pulp Mill.
No-one should be under the illusion that Will Hodgman’s Liberals wouldn’t have monstered Cameron &Wood if the Libs had the reigns of Government. Nor doubt that a Hodgman Government led by greenie hatin’ Bass MHA Peter Gutwein, would have pushed ahead with its call to compulsorily acquire the Triabunna Mill from its rightful owners and in doing so confused & scared potential investors as governance in Tasmania were taken to new lows.
Imagine the wonderful publicity as Tasmania (and the public purse) was dragged through an ugly high profile legal battle with two of Australia’s most successful and forward thinking business people.
The Liberal and Labor parties clearly prefer to back a failing company like Gunns who would almost certainly be dead now without its major asset – a large plantation estate which was acquired with large thanks to MIS taxpayer-assisted help.
The Liberals’ concerns appear less about investment in Tasmania per se; rather their own love affair with polluting, volatile & unprofitable industries like woodchipping and pulp.
The Shadow Treasurer’s cycnical call for the Giddings government to compulsorily acquire the Triabunna Mill shows the Liberals’ woodchip & pulp mill bondage even overrides the Libs’ so called belief in the free market economy.
Couple this with the Liberals’ nod & a wink to the most corrupt legislation ever to pass through the Tasmanian Parliament (The Pulp Mill assessment act 2007) and the Libs’ willingness to turn a blind eye to the abuses of process that kept the project alive and one has to be fairly pessimistic about a prospective Hodgman government’s commitment to Tasmania’s statutory planning processes and ethical governance.
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