The Tasmanian Greens today rejected outright the idea of a woodchip export facility on Hobart’s waterfront, describing it as a “mad idea” and said that the Premier should rule it out immediately.
Greens Leader Nick McKim MP said the Greens would not support a single taxpayer dollar going into a new woodchip operation, especially while cuts in health are causing so much pain to so many Tasmanians.
Mr McKim said also the Forests Intergovernmental Agreement signed by Premier Lara Giddings and Prime Minister Julia Gillard is intended to restructure the forestry industry and save Tasmania’s high conservation value forests, and called on Labor to honour that intent.
“The idea of a woodchip export facility on Hobart’s waterfront is a mad idea, and the Premier needs to simply come out and rule it out immediately,” Mr McKim said.
“While it appears that the Premier has ruled out a woodchip mill for Hobart, she has left open the possibility of an export facility including a giant pile of woodchips.”
“Labor needs to remember that they are not a majority government, and that these old-style ideas just entrench old problems and reopen old wounds. The intent of the IGA was to move Tasmania on from all that.”
“The people of Hobart will never support a woodchip export facility on their beautiful waterfront, and the idea of having a great big woodchip pile right next door to Hobart’s arts and tourism precinct is just plain crazy.”
“At a time when there is so much pain from the health budget cuts, the taxpayer should not be funding another loss-making woodchip export facility.”
Mr McKim said that if Labor is serious about continuing to export woodchips, it should remove blockages to a start-up of the Triabunna, mill which the owners have publicly committed to operating in accordance with the IGA.
“It is astonishing that on the one hand, Triabunna is being prevented from reopening and on the other hand, Labor is considering using taxpayer funds to build a new facility.”
Mr McKim said he is seeking further information from Labor on any woodchip facility plans as a matter of urgency.
• What Lara Giddings says: Triabunna opening remains priority
The Premier, Lara Giddings said today that the Government’s priority was to see the timely reopening of Triabunna and urged the new owners to show good faith in this process.
“There will not be a woodchip mill on the Hobart waterfront,” Ms Giddings said.
“However the State Government has always said that a long term solution would need to be found if Triabunna doesn’t reopen.
“The Intergovernmental Agreement on Forestry recognises that a wood chipping and export facility is vital, even in the transition to plantation timber,” Ms Giddings said.
• Mercury Monday: Giddings ruining mill efforts: Mr Marr slammed the comments, saying they were undermining attempts to find an operator. He questioned why anyone would invest up to $20 million to get the Triabunna site operating again if there was a chance the State Government was planning to back a rival mill.