Image for Gunns lobbies against repeal bid. The Blackflagging. Doctors’ mill health fears. Dear Mr L’Estrange,

The head of timber giant Gunns has written to Tasmanian newspapers ahead of debate on a bill aiming to revoke approval of its Tamar Valley pulp mill.

The Tasmanian Greens want to repeal the 2007 Pulp Mill Assessment Act which was fast-tracked through Parliament.

The Greens will lead debate on their Pulp Mill Assessment Repeal Bill during Private Members Time this afternoon.

Gunns’ managing director, Greg L’Estrange, has written to newspapers saying the $2.3 billion pulp mill project will be a credit to Tasmania because of its environmental and economic benefits.

He says whether or not people like it, Gunns has been given its permits by a legitimately elected Parliament and there is growing community support for the project.

“They’re the people that we’re focussed on not a group who we don’t think will ever, for whatever reason, want to change their mind,” he said.

Anti-pulp mill protesters say they will surround Parliament House during the debate, carrying black flags as a sign of mourning for the mill’s approval.


• Nick McKim, Greens Leader:

The Tasmanian Greens Leader, Nick McKim, will today bring the Pulp Mill Assessment Repeal Bill 2011 which was tabled in March, on for debate at 4pm with the vote to take place at 5:20pm. This Bill seeks to repeal the controversial Pulp Mill Assessment Act 2007 and the Pulp Mill Permit.

• Blackflgagging the Parliament: HERE

• Paul O’Halloran’s question in Parliament this morning in relation to health impacts from the pulp mill.

Premier, as you know, no assessment has been undertaken on the potential health impacts of Gunn’s proposed pulp mill.

These unassessed areas include, Dioxin, furans and particulates into the Tamar Valley airshed and the Bass Strait., and the increased spraying of herbicides and pesticides of plantations that will be used in the pulp mill. 

I remind you that 100 doctors signed a petition requesting a full and complete assessment of the health effects of the mill and fully references research findings that indicate the health impacts could be disastrous. 

I am advised that you were sent a letter on the 19th April which reminds you that no assessment of health impacts have been completed, despite 100 medical practitioners calling for this to be addressed at the time of the RPDC process.

Premier, can you confirm receipt of this letter dated the 19th of April?  Have you advised the Health minister of this correspondence, and have you responded in writing??

Further, Mr Speaker, I seek leave to table the letter ...

Download letters


• Dear Greg L’Estrange,

The Mercury quotes you this morning (25/5): “The pulp mill should be seen as a step towards Tasmania finding a balance between economic development and environmental values, writes Gunns managing director GREG L’ESTRANGE”.

No, Greg. You are right that Tasmania should find that balance, but a pulp mill of the size you have in mind is NOT a step in the right direction. What it is is simply a perpetuation of our old, outdated, stupid ways. Putting all our eggs in a few mega-projects which initially promise a glowing future, but end up delivering nothing worthwhile except to their absentee shareholders and their overpaid executives. Think what the vast power subsidies to a couple of metal smelters do to our Hydro’s profitability and our domestic power prices as one example. Seemingly in perpetuity.

What we need instead is a DIVERSITY of much smaller projects. Their managers are then much more accountable. And they are not all going to fail at once. Entrepreneurial ingenuity can evolve on a continuing basis, in a series of small steps, improving our economy and our social fabric again and again. The few failures will be more than compensated by the successes, and any workers laid off will find ready re-employment just down the road.

Greg again: “Gunns’ future lies in making peace, and contributing responsibly to the community in which it operates”.

Yep, now you are on the ball. If Gunns is to have ANY future you must make this peace. The process which approved your mill stinks to high heaven. If you have any sense and any commitment to peace you too, Greg L’Estrange, should support the repeal of the PMAA.

And if it isn’t repealed, you can be the hero. Just refuse to progress your mill under existing permits. Start again. Something much smaller and smarter, please.

Neil Smith
Western Creek

• Phill Pullinger

Time for the Liberal Party to leave the politics of division in the past

Environment groups request Liberal party briefing on forest conservation areas

Environment Tasmania is supporting calls by timber workers for the Liberal party to leave the politics of division over forests in the past, and get on with playing a constructive role in creating a positive future for Tasmania. 

“Constantly opposing reform of the timber industry for the sake of it, is not productive and does nothing to secure a sustainable future for Tasmania or our natural environment,” said Dr Phil Pullinger Director of Environment Tasmania,

“Tasmanians are sick of politicians deliberately trying to play timber workers and conservationists off against each other for their own political gain and at the expense of a solution.  It is time for the Liberal party to move away from the old-style politics of division over forestry,”

Environment Tasmania recently requested a meeting with the Liberal Party’s Forestry spokesperson Peter Gutwein.  This would enable the opportunity to; present the Liberal Party with information on the High Conservation Value forests reserve area that the ENGOs have developed, provide explanations of the conservation value of the forests that will be protected as part of the agreement, and outline the need for the logging and then long-term restoration of some small specific areas of plantations within the new reserve areas to native forests. 

We have not yet received a response to that meeting request, and unfortunately Mr Gutwein instead chose to make ill-informed statements in parliament that do nothing to support forestry workers, unions, the environment or the future of Tasmania.  The Liberals can play a better role than opposition for opposition’s sake and should be demonstrating that the Liberal Party does have a sustainable vision for the future of our wonderful State.

“Environment Tasmania is firmly committed to achieving a positive outcome via the current process and urges the State Liberals to act constructively in assisting the State and Federal governments, unions, industry and the environment movement in implementing this once in a life time opportunity” concluded Dr Pullinger.