Photo: Stephani

Today the No Pulp Mill Alliance placed advertisements in The Financial Review, The Australian, The Age and The Examiner and warning ANZ that if they continue to fund Gunns’ pulp mill, there will be a nation wide campaign to let ANZ customers know that this bank is funding a polluting, corruptly approved and financially risky pulp mill.

The No Pulp Mill Alliance is participating in a national campaign to warn ANZ that if it renews its debt facility to Gunns Ltd., then groups from the No Pulp Mill Alliance and beyond will renew a national campaign targeting ANZ. Apart from placing national advertisements, groups will be undertaking direct actions, sending letters/petitions, and anything else it takes to let ANZ know that we don’t want it to finance Gunns’ Tamar Valley pulp mill.

As at June 30 2011, Gunns had a net debt of $628 million, of which a $350 million bank debt facility is maturing at the end of January 2012. ANZ is Gunns primary financing facility and therefore is the Australian Bank that keeps Gunns standing. Current site works taking place to prepare for construction of the proposed pulp mill are directly financed by the ANZ bank.

With Gunns’ share price at its lowest ever and its market capitalisation of only $114 million, Gunns Ltd is in serious financial trouble. It is selling everything to try and get its pulp mill built. 

Gunns’ Chairman stated in his Annual General Meeting speech in November 2011 that Gunns Ltd is in discussion with ANZ to extend the debt with the: “objective of these discussions is to provide financing terms which facilitate the completion of the asset sale program and financial close of the Bell Bay pulp mill project.”

Lucy Landon-Lane, speaking on behalf of the No Pulp Mill Alliance said “Member groups of the No Pulp Mill Alliance demand that ANZ does not extend the debt facility for Gunns Ltd, and warn ANZ that if it does announce an extension of the debt facility, then our national campaign will result in letting its customers know that it is backing a polluting project that does not comply with the Equator Principles.

“The first stage of this campaign is placing advertisements in the Financial Review, The Australian, The Age and The Examiner on January 17, two weeks before the debt repayment is due.  The advertisement is a warning to ANZ that if they continue to fund Gunns pulp mill, we will step up the campaign against ANZ.” she said.

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• Letter to three ASX executives; the Misconduct & Breach Reporting Dept at ASIC; several senior ANZ bank executives – including CEO Mike Smith - ; ABC’s 4 Corners program; and the Examiner’s editor.

Dear Mr Li,

I write on behalf of Pulp the Mill to express concern at the selectively worded and misleading statement, posted by Gunns Limited on the ASX website following the decision about the validity of pulp mill permits handed down in Launceston’s Magistrate’s Court on Thursday 12th January.

In its media statement Gunns claims this case was ‘dismissed’ due to Pulp the Mill’s failure to ‘produce any particulars whatsoever in support of their complaint’.

This statement is inaccurate and misleading.

Pulp the Mill sought leave to have the case withdrawn at the previous hearing on 22nd December 2011. The reason being a second, subsequent complaint against Gunns on the issue of permits’ validity had also been lodged in the superior Supreme Court, by a different and entirely separate organisation - Tasmanian Conservation Trust.

“As the same matter is now being dealt with in the Supreme Court in Hobart, led by the TCT, Pulp the Mill sought to withdraw its case . . . . . We do not wish to waste court time and resources when the matter is being heard in the Supreme Court, which is why we requested our case be withdrawn.” (Pulp the Mill’s spokesperson Lucy Landon-Lane, media release 12/01/2012)

However despite his acknowledgement there was a precedent to accept the application to withdraw the complaint, Magistrate Tim Hill said: ‘he was disinclined to follow it in Pulp the Mill’s case’.

Pulp the Mill’s legal team has compiled considerable evidence to support the claim Gunns had not ‘substantially commenced’ working on the Long Reach site before the permits’ expiry on 30th August. PtM’s lawyers elected not to submit this evidence however given the magistrate’s decision to dismiss the case.

Pulp the Mill and its lawyers did not refuse to do so as the Gunns’ statement suggests.

Pulp the Mill is a community group with limited resources. In addition to seeking not to duplicate court time and resources on the same issues, the group also sought to avoid adversely influencing the TCT case being brought in the Supreme Court.

By its attempts to discredit a community group through issuing misleading information regarding its controversial development, that has caused anxiety and division within the broader Tasmanian community for almost eight years, Gunns does its shareholders and the financial market in general, a grave - and arguably fraudulent - disservice.

Yours sincerely,

Anne Layton-Bennett
On behalf of Pulp the Mill