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Pulp Mill Assessment Repeal Bill 2017
Parliamentary Activity - Wednesday, 1 November 2017
Ms DAWKINS (Bass - 2R) - Mr Acting Deputy Speaker, I move -
That the bill be now read the second time.
I rise today to make a plea for unity in the House to put the pulp mill permits for the Long Reach site in the Tamar Valley to bed once and for all and to repeal the Pulp Mill Assessment Act. There is nothing to be gained from continuing the pretence that there could be a state-of-the-art, closed-loop, mechanical pulp mill in Tasmania. It was never on the cards for Gunns and it is highly unlikely to ever be on the cards for any future developer. Gunns was deficient in its strategy and in the process it employed to bring the project to fruition.
During that painfully protracted process which started back in 2003, a generation of people were relegated to living in the beautiful Tamar Valley under the cloud of the potential environmental damage and social unrest the planned mill caused. Gunns chose the Tamar Valley as the site for the mill because it was cheaper to pump dioxins into Bass Strait than it was to build and operate a closedloop system. There was no planning for the climate disruption we are now experiencing and no local water supply for the water-hungry mill. The Tamar Valley is notoriously dry and Gunns was not a company to look into climate science and make determinations based on climate disruption modelling.
The Gunns board was closed and introspective, with a reliance on a close association with the then Labor government and the former Liberal Party premier on board to bring the project to fruition. That close association is now the central theme of books and papers, with comments around the systemic and structural weakness of successive Tasmanian governments which have enabled the Westminster system to become subverted to vested interests. In Quentin Beresford's award-winning book, The Rise and Fall of Gunns Limited, what has been described as a difficult and painful story was recounted with eloquence. Beresford said:
I was reading about fast-track legislation being put through the Tasmanian Parliament about the pulp mill and I just had a light bulb moment about the way in which politics is so susceptible to the influence of corporations and vested interests.
Of Gunns during that time, he said:
This is a massive corporation. It has its tentacles in all parts of politics and in all parts of the commercial operations of this island. The Gunns leadership group must have thought they were untouchable.
Proper planning processes were ignored. In fact, during the now famous dinner between the current Federal Hotels lobbyist Paul Lennon and John Gay, it is contended that the Gunns boss knew the planning laws were going to be an issue and sought the support of the then premier, Paul Lennon, to circumvent those processes. There were structural weaknesses in the Tasmanian system which allowed the pulp mill plans to progress as far as they did and outside the laws in which other Tasmanians have to work with.
We saw, and continue to see, how the old parties line up together to continue the exploitation of Tasmania's natural resources without a thought for future generations, our ecosystems or climate disruption. That lack of scrutiny, banding together to oppose good environmental management, persists to this day and is now being played out in the industrial salmon farming sector. It is also being played out with Federal's pokies deal. The community wants pokies out of clubs and pubs but the old parties choose to ignore that fact and back in the vested interests.
In March 2007, pulp and paper expert Dr Warwick Laverty reached the sad conclusion that Gunns is not a fit and proper company to build a pulp mill anywhere. The pain that was inflicted on the community in the Tamar Valley and beyond seemed to matter so little to a company who could not feel the times changing and did not understand that the success the once-proud company had achieved could be as flimsy as gossamer and float away on the breeze.
On 14 March 2007, Gunns Limited withdrew its Tamar Valley pulp mill proposal from the environmental assessment being conducted by Tasmania's planning authority. It later emerged that just weeks before Gunns abandoned its assessment process, the head of that process had drafted a letter to Gunns stating that the project was critically non-compliant. Dr Tony McCall said it was impossible for a Tasmanian bleached kraft eucalyptus pulp mill to compete with the existing mills in Chile, Brazil and planned Chinese mills. Whether it complied or not, the writing was on the wall very early in this famously failed project.
As Launceston-based academic Fred Gayle described in his research, moving from the RPDC process to the Pulp Mill Assessment Act process was done at the expense of good environmental governance framework composed of eight criteria - transparency, accountability, openness, balance, deliberation, efficiency, science, and risk. The comparison reveals that although the RPDC process fell short of that ideal, it was markedly superior to the PMAA process that then replaced it. The case highlights how political economic power can be used to the detriment to public planning and the communities and environments that rely on it.
Gunns had made comments about not pursuing the mill should it not meet the environmental regulation requirements, but that promise and others were broken with ease by this company in its pursuit of a project that overcame logic, good governance and financial sustainability. The community was asking legitimate questions, too. We wanted to know how other industries would be affected, how local vineyards, tourism, farming and fishing, industries which cause less environmental harm and were ripe for expansion, would fare in proximity to the polluting mill.
We were also asking questions about the wood supply. FSC had not been desirable for the Gunns management team until it was too late. In 2010 Gunns made tentative steps towards FSC's lesser controlled wood status for any plantation converted after 1994, meaning the wood meets five basic criteria, among them that it excludes wood from high conservation value areas or areas being converted to native forest. Controlled wood could be mixed with FSC-certified material in a mixed-sources labelled product.
Gunns has laboured the point that the native forests it would have used would be regrowth. For example, in late 2008 the world's tallest flowering plant was found in Tasmania, Centurion. It was just under 100 metres tall. Centurion began growing in Tasmania well before Europeans arrived. This is an example of the kind of forest that Gunns would have classified as regrowth and would have been destined for the pulp mill.
Confirmation that the Gunns pulp mill would lock in the destruction of Tasmania's native forests came in 2008 with the release of the wood supply agreement between Gunns and Forestry Tasmania. The wood supply deal committed the supply of 1.5 million tonnes of woodchips each year for 20 years. Forestry Tasmania's projections showed there was only ever able to be a maximum of 500 000 tonnes of these woodchips coming from plantations, and the balance, a minimum of 1 million tonnes per year, would then have come from native forests. If Gunns was serious about its public statements that the pulp mill would not have an adverse impact on Tasmania's native forest, they would have had to immediately act to ensure the feedstock for the pulp mill came solely from plantations. That was the minimum that was required for the community and that never happened.
The scorn with which Gunns and the Labor government treated the RPDC process was truly breathtaking. Members of the expert panel on the RPDC were treated as expendable and unreliable. The principles of democracy were thrown under a bus when the RPDC process was subverted and the pulp mill assessment legislation was passed. Successive Labor governments attempted to move through this stage but that reality never came. When David Bartlett made his 'line in the sand' comment and promised that no more would be done to facilitate the pulp mill plans, unfortunately he did not have the long-term support of his party and subsequently that line was moved through effortlessly with further amendment to the act and continued desperate hope that Gunns was capable of raising the capital, whilst all indicators pointed to a failing company. Yet still the mill failed to get up. It failed to find finance and John Gay failed to remain trading within the law. Whilst legislation could be moulded to suit him, federal laws could not. Gunns went into voluntary liquidation 2012, reporting a loss of $1 billion.
That was a spectacular failure for a company whose director is now being shown special favouritism by the current government and the current Resources minister. The Tasmanian Government is still doing special deals for John Gay, even though he is a convicted criminal. On the one hand this Government claims it wants sentences strengthened for people who commit some crimes. The jails are full to bursting, with an increase in crime since this Government has come in of 9.4 per cent. Yet when a criminal emerges back into the business world, a criminal who once had elected representatives in his pocket, our precious and irreplaceable forests are once again offered for his personal gain. It is hypocrisy at its finest.
Former Gunns chairman John Gay was convicted in 2013 of insider trading and fined $50 000 for selling Gunns shares in 2009 when he had price-sensitive information. He paid a victims of crime levy of $500 000 and avoided jail time. The pain and hardship and the losses people suffered from property sales made in haste when they could no longer bear the spectre of the Tamar Valley pulp mill were never atoned for. Mr Gay paid back the money he had made whilst insider trading and was free to set himself back in business and put his hand out again. As recently as last month Mr Gay was back in the news as he now builds up his business interests, again in the forestry sector, owning three specialty veneer companies. His companies are driving the demand for the timbers Gunns merrily burned on the forest floor during the height of Tasmania's native forest destruction. Mr Gay happily pursues his goals against those of us who see a greater value in forests beyond growing his personal wealth all the time, while saying he is too ill or too old to fight on, yet somehow managing to do that very thing.
The blackwoods Mr Gay craves are likely to be given to him with glee. There are plans from this Liberal Government to give away our ancient rainforests to anyone with a chainsaw. In the recent consultation period on the specialty timber management plan 4255 submissions were received, with 99 per cent pleading not to plunder our precious rainforests. But again the Tasmanian public will be treated with scorn and the short-term profits of a few will prevail over real sustainability. When 10 000 people marched in Launceston, they were not all Greens voters. They were angry then and they still care about our forests, the very forests which grace the current crop of annual reports and grace the advertising material used by the tourism industry, which feature in films such as Sixteen Legs, currently being shown and for which Tasmania has become known as the home of one of the oldest forests on earth. This is the very forest this Government will give to a convicted criminal such as John Gay to plunder at will.
The amendment to this act, which extended the life of the permits and amended the original legislation by relaxing conditions and possible breaches, was exactly what the people of the Tamar Valley were articulating would happen. Softening regulations on environmental conditions of the mill's processes would have allowed for more pollution without consequence. The mill was never going to be closed. LUPA would have admitted odours and dioxins into Bass Strait and would have chewed up and spat out our native forests.
That aside, the people of the Tamar Valley felt they were being ignored and with champions such as Peter Cundall to carry their voice it was heard loud and clear. Even with thousands marching against the Gunns Pulp Mill, the failing company persisted with the help of the Labor government to prop up the project. As Greens we are proud we stood and spoke truth to power during this process and the current Tasmanian parliamentary Greens thank Bob Brown, Christine Milne, Peg Putt, Jeremy Ball, Peter Whish-Wilson, Kim Booth, Tim Morris, Nick McKim, Vanessa Bleyer, Roland Browne, Lucy Landon-Lane, TAP, Pulp the Mill, the Wilderness Society, ET, the Gunns 20, Bob McMahon and all those who gave up countless hours of their time to ensure the message of democracy lost, and an island under threat from unbridled industrial logging, was brought to the people.
One might contest the Gunns 20 Case might have sounded an alarm for this Government's attempts to stop Bob Brown by changing laws. It did not work for Gunns and it has not worked for the Hodgman Liberal Government, which is currently eating crow over the failed anti-protest laws. Good will out, and it was proven through these failed attempts to defile democracy. Times were changing and Gunns and the Labor Government were not changing with them. The term 'social licence' came into common usage when the Government abandoned its elected representatives and triple bottom line accounting method became something both investors and consumers were looking for.
Try as this Government might to pretend that environmental conditions come somewhere down the hierarchy of importance after profit, and as the Greens have been saying for years and as we all know now to be so; there is no economy without environment. Our rivers are degraded, with no overarching water management principles in place to devise any brighter future. Climate change is biting. We are now seeing the first-hand effects of climate disruption with no federal minister for climate change and the conservative rump in the coalition desperately hanging on to the notion that science is a belief system, as with religion, and not a system of intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systemic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.
Tassal is acting very similarly to the way Gunns acted at the turn of the century. It does not seem to understand the climate is changing faster than it can genetically modify fish to live in warming waters. It has little board regeneration, and it takes on the environmental sector and treats them with scorn, as did Gunns. It runs a risk of losing it all, in the same way Gunns collapsed, if it fails to heed the mood of the people.
I expect the old parties to line up and vote against this bill but if they are do so they are voting against the expressed wishes of the receivers, KordaMentha. If the amended Pulp Mill Assessment Repeal Bill cannot be supported for ideological reasons then maybe you will do for financial reasons, so the Long Reach site can be sold for a better, more sustainable use.
Recently Peter McGlone wrote to the Treasurer -
I write to you as the minister responsible for the Pulp Mill Assessment Act 2007. I have been in correspondence with KordaMentha in relation to their intentions regarding the permits for the Tamar Valley Pulp Mill. Yesterday, a representative of KordaMentha told me verbally they had written to the state Government stating they wished to surrender the permit.
As the minister responsible for the Pulp Mill Assessment Act 2007, I understand you will be responsible for responding to KordaMentha's request. Can you please notify me of what KordaMentha has requested of the state Government in relation to the permits for the Tamar Valley Pulp Mill?
If KordaMentha has requested they want the permits revoked, can you tell me what process it will be and how long this will take?
These are all reasonable questions. To end this sorry saga, the permits must be revoked. Supporting our motion today could set in train the final stage of this project and begin a process by which sustainable development in the Long Reach site could commence.
I commend this bill to the House.
Mr GUTWEIN (Bass - Treasurer) - Mr Speaker, let us be clear what this is about. Ms Dawkins does not have an issue to run on and is almost invisible in the electorate of Bass. This is a stunt -
Mr SPEAKER - Order. Ms Dawkins, we heard you in relative silence. I expect the Treasurer to be afforded the same measure.
Mr GUTWEIN - the Greens have pulled on because they know Ms Dawkins is in trouble. That is the bottom line. You know that.
Ms Dawkins - There has never been a strong Greens seat in Bass; that has never changed.
Mr GUTWEIN - If there has never been a strong seat in Bass it is much weaker now, the Greens seat. This is stunt.
Ms Dawkins - If that is the last speech I ever make to parliament, I will be happy with the work I have done.
Mr GUTWEIN - With only a few days left, it will be one of your last speeches, do not worry about that.
I will put some facts on the record and I will respond to a couple of the matters raised.
On 11 September, the former minister for state growth, Mr Groom, received correspondence from the receivers of Gunns Ltd, KordaMentha, advising of their intention to surrender the permit. In their correspondence, KordaMentha also noted the pulp mill project will not proceed. Following advice from the Solicitor-General and as the minister responsible for the Pulp Mill Assessment Act, I have now written back to KordaMentha confirming their advice that they have surrendered the pulp mill permit, effective as at 11 September 2017.
Furthermore, I have been advised with the surrender having been made, there is no need or occasion for me to take any further action. I am advised the surrender operates as sufficient abandonment of the pulp mill permit as no deemed permit licence or approval -
Ms O'Connor - Who provided this advice to you?
Mr GUTWEIN - The Solicitor-General - associated with the pulp mill permit has any independently existence on its own. The bill is entirely redundant. No further action is required as the permit no longer exists as a result of the surrender. I have written back to KordaMentha confirming their advice that they have surrendered the pulp mill permit, effective as at 11 September, and I am awaiting on their response.
As far as we are concerned, the pulp mill project is over. The bill is entirely redundant and the pulp mill will not be proceeding. The permit is finished. The permit has been surrendered.
I have written to KordaMentha and I am awaiting their response in respect of my correspondence. In their correspondence to the previous minister, they noted the pulp mill project will not proceed and they would be surrendering the permit. I have written back, confirming my understanding that the pulp mill permit, effective as at 11 September 2017, has been surrendered.
That is where matters are. As far as the Government is concerned and the advice we have received on the surrender of that permit, the pulp mill permit no longer exists because it cannot independently exist. Therefore, we will not be supporting your stunt bill.
I want to say a couple of words about some of the comments that have been made here.
One point that does need to be made is that it was a very personal attack that you made on John.
Green members interjecting.
Mr SPEAKER - Order.
Mr GUTWEIN - That is your right in this place to do so if you wish. Mr Gay has had his day in court and a judgment has been made.
Ms Dawkins - But he had to go back and plead to be able to get another company, because he was so sick and old. Then he got two more.
Mr GUTWEIN - That is on the public record. One thing that should not be forgotten in this place -
Ms O'Connor - You sledge Graeme Wood and defend John Gay.
Mr SPEAKER - Order.
Mr GUTWEIN - One thing that should not be forgotten in this place is that business provided financial support for many families in this state over a long period of time.
Mr GUTWEIN - They provided an economic existence.
Mr SPEAKER - Order. I will not stand for the constant interjections. The Greens were listened to in relative silence. The Treasurer is making his contribution now. The Greens should stop interjecting. If they do not stop interjecting I will evict the three of them.
Mr GUTWEIN - As I said, that business employed a lot of Tasmanians. It supported a lot of families over a long period of time. That is a statement of fact in this place. It supported a lot of regional communities. Mr Gay has had his day in court; a judgment has been made. At the end of the day he must live with the consequences of that. What should not be forgotten here, about the stunt with this bill by the Greens, is that the Leader of the Greens in this place was a minister of the government that provided $23 million worth of support to Gunns.
Ms O'Connor - Yes, to get them out of the forests. Cheap at half the price.
Mr GUTWEIN - Bailed out Gunns and sat around the table and provided that money to them. The hypocrisy of the Greens is laid bare once again.
I was one of the members of this place, when the Greens decided that they would not go. They wanted to have the opportunity politically to continue to argue against this project and the forest industry more broadly. They never took the opportunity to look at the pulp mills at the time that we did, back in 2007 or 2008. On that trip we saw communities embracing this type of technology. What we saw was accepted best technology being utilised.
In communities in South America and Europe pulp mills were seen not as an evil thing, as the Greens would have this place believe, but as an economic engine room. I remember I had a conversation with the manager of one of the mills in South America. He said to me, 'What are you doing here? Why are you looking at this technology?' I said that I live in a community in a valley. A mill is being proposed to be built. I want to satisfy myself on a range of matters that have been put on the public record by those who would oppose the project in regard to air quality, water quality and in regard to the feedstock it produced. This mill manager said to me, 'Let me explain something to you. I am a chemical engineer. I also hold an MBA. My skills are transferable across industries. I speak five languages and therefore my skills are transferable across continents. My wife and children live within 30 kilometres of this mill. They visit me here regularly. Do you think that with the skills and experience I have and the opportunities available to me in other industries that I would remain in this industry, and have my family live so close to this mill if there was any chance that I felt that this mill could harm them?'
The Greens will always be ideologically opposed to cutting down trees. It is as simple as that. That is your position. This is a stunt. I do not want to spend any more time on this than I need to. Once again we have the Greens using this place as their political play thing. They are introducing this bill because they understand that the member for Bass does not have an issue to run upon. They thought, 'How can we use an hour of the parliament's time? We can give Ms Dawkins, the member for Bass, an opportunity to try to establish a platform for herself'. It has failed miserably.
Mr SPEAKER - The conversation should cease. The Treasurer has the call.
Mr GUTWEIN - The advice that we have received is that with the surrender having been made, there is no need or occasion for me to take any further action. The surrender operates as sufficient abandonment of the pulp mill permit, as no deemed permit, licence or approval associated with the pulp mill permit has any independent existence by itself.
This matter should be seen for what it is. It is a stunt that is being driven by the Greens. They have demonstrated that they have a voracious appetite for attacking this project and the forest industry. In regard to what happened in the last term -
Ms O'Connor interjecting.
Mr GUTWEIN - The member for Denison once again enters the debate.
It is incumbent upon me to say that the disgraceful way that both Labor and the Greens operated in the last parliament when the Greens, exercising the balance of power, shut down the better part of the forest industry. Rather than paying out those contractors that were immediately impacted by the closure of Gunns they linked any payment to locking up further public forest. That was it. You exercised an opportunity that was built off the back of the misery of those who were living in regional communities, who had lost their livelihoods as a result of the closure of Gunns. You used that to leverage a further lockup of our native forests. That is what they did. They ended up bringing an industry to its knees. That was how they operate when in government. If ever they get the chance again, they have already laid down the area upon which they will attack the next industry. The salmon industry is where they are going next.
In finishing my contribution, people should see this for what it is. It is a stunt. Ms Dawkins is struggling in Bass -
Ms O'Connor - Says the Treasurer, who sits there in question time happy to cop Dorothy Dixer after Dorothy Dixer from his back bench.
Mr SPEAKER - Order.
Mr GUTWEIN - The Leader of the Greens can attempt to defend the member for Bass, but to be frank, she is indefensible.
Ms O'Connor - I am proud of the member for Bass because she does more for her constituents than you ever have.
Mr GUTWEIN - You were looking for an issue and therefore you bring this matter to the parliament. The Government will not be supporting this bill before the House. It is a stunt, nothing more than that.
Mr LLEWELLYN (Lyons) - Mr Speaker, even before I start the Greens are hurling abuse at me. It is very rude they should do that. Your suggestion and warning is very apt at the moment. I will not go further than that otherwise I will be reflecting on you.
It is a terrible shame we have not been able to engineer an appropriate use of our forest residues and the large number of woodchips that have come legitimately from operations of forests in this state into more value-adding products in Tasmania. It is almost an indictment that we have not been able to do that with various governments over the years. Undoubtedly in this day and age we can build a value-adding plant that would accommodate that outcome. Irrespective of what happened over the last years - and I sat in parliament and was part of that process - the intentions of everyone involved were honourable and pursuing something that was in Tasmania's economic interests. It could be achieved and it has been achieved in other places, but for some reason we have not been able to bring this about because of the actions particularly of the green movement in this state.
Dr Woodruff - The people of Tasmania.
Mr LLEWELLYN - You are saying the people of Tasmania but the people of Tasmania are represented in about 12 per cent of people who vote for the Greens.
Dr Woodruff - It's more than 12 per cent, Mr Llewellyn.
Mr LLEWELLYN - I am talking about the overall vote for Tasmania. That is not, and never was, representative of the whole of Tasmania.
There have been some quite loose allegations made in the Chamber about people personally involved in this process. There was a great list of names that were outlined - Geoff Law, for instance - but also some very derogatory comments made by a lot of other people. Some of them have had problems and have faced the courts over particular issues, but particularly with Mr Gay, can I say my honest assessment is that he was always motivated in the interests of Tasmania. Sure, he had his own interests as well -
Ms O'Connor - Yes, that's why he was convicted for insider trading.
Mr SPEAKER - Order, Ms O'Connor. That is your last warning. Any further outburst and you will not be in the Chamber.
Mr LLEWELLYN - Given the comments being made, it was our position not to support this legislation. It is redundant legislation now and will not be supported by the Labor Party.
Ms O'CONNOR (Denison - Leader of the Greens) - Mr Speaker, it has been really sweet sitting in the Chamber and listening to the former minister for threatening species, the former minister for forests and the Treasurer talk about their deep love and respect for a former Gunns boss who is a convicted white collar criminal, convicted for insider trading, and has been part of trashing the forests in this state for decades. Having been convicted for insider trading he has now come back for another gouge of our conservation areas and regional reserves, because this convicted white collar criminal, convicted of insider trading, now wants to be able to go back in and log rainforest trees in conservation areas and regional reserves.
It is remarkable that we can have both sides of this House, but particularly the Liberals - and particularly Mr Barnett, but Mr Gutwein is not beyond it, nor the Premier himself - repeatedly slur the good name of Graeme Wood, who has invested in the state, has an Order of Australia medal and is a philanthropic donor to the University of Queensland, University of Melbourne and University of Tasmania. They have no problem at all sledging Graeme Wood OA, but John Gay, convicted white collar criminal, convicted of insider trading, is apparently worthy of glowing respect. It has been sweet listening to the deep love that has come from Mr Gutwein and Mr Llewellyn for John Gay. According to Mr Llewellyn he always acted in the interests of the people of Tasmania. Yes, apparently so, until he got caught with his fingers in the till.
It has been an unedifying but I must say unsurprising debate here today. Ms Dawkins' contribution laid out magnificently the history of the fight to save Tasmania, to save the Tamar Valley and Bass Strait from Gunns Tamar Valley pulp mill. Unarguable points were made by Ms Dawkins and the best Mr Gutwein could do when he got to his feet was lob in personally in a vicious and nasty personal slur, because he knows she is right on this. That was a laying out of facts Ms Dawkins put forward. It was just facts, sourced from the factual record. The best Mr Gutwein could do was get up and attack Ms Dawkins personally. It is very sad.
The history of the pulp mill in Tasmania goes back to a secret meeting, which ended up not being so secret, between Paul Lennon and John Gay in 2003, I believe. There was obviously a discussion about a pulp mill in the Tamar Valley. Mr Gay knew that the taxpayers of Australia would help him get that pulp mill up. He knew that in the Labor Party, led by Jim Bacon and the deputy premier Paul Lennon, that he had a very willing political subpartner, really, because we know full well who ran this state for all those years. It was Gunns Limited that was running Tasmania for all those years. Gunns Limited was subverting democracy, fully facilitated and enabled by the Labor Party and the likes of Mr Lennon.
The feedstock for that pulp mill was going to be our beautiful native forests. It was going to pump dioxins into Bass Strait. We know that from the material begrudgingly provided by Gunns and analysed. We know from the work of Dr Stuart Godfrey that the waters of Bass Strait are shallow and are slow to flush. It is a slow circulating water body. We know from the testimony of people like scallop farmer John Hammond that the impact of the pulp mill on the Bass Strait fishery would have been absolutely devastating. We know from Stuart Godfrey's work that there would have been dioxins going into Bass Strait. They are globally identified contaminant, extremely harmful to ecology and to human life. It was a toxic proposal put forward in a period in Tasmania where you had years of Labor in government; $1 billion in public subsidies; one corporation calling the shots; the premier of the day hop into his limousine to race up to see John Gay; the proper planning processes through the then resource planning and development commission, the RPDC, subverted by the government of the day even though the RPDC found Gunns' Tamar Valley pulp mill proposal was critically non-compliant, harmful to the environment and harmful to the air quality of the Tamar Valley. We had testimony from the Australian Medical Association of Tasmania, making it clear the ridiculous proposal to pump emissions out of the stack from the proposed mill into the Tamar Valley airshed would have been extremely harmful to human health. That was all ignored.
Once the RPDC found this mill proposal was critically non-compliant, what did Labor in government do? They subverted the process. The mill proposal was pulled out of the RPDC because an integrated impact assessment that tests the science and is rigorous found this mill unviable; economically, socially and, definitely, environmentally. The mill proposal is pulled out of the RPDC and special legislation is written up for Gunns Ltd, the Pulp Mill Assessment Act 2007.
The minister, the Treasurer, the sledger extraordinaire, stood tonight and said, 'There is no reason for the House to support the Greens' repeal bill.'I would like to see the advice he has been provided with because there is now and there will remain, apparently, because it does not sound as if either of the tired old parties in this place will support our repeal bill, there is now a dead law on our statute books. It still sits there. Why would you not support repealing the Pulp Mill Assessment Act 2007?
Why does it take the Greens' private members' time and a question put by Ms Dawkins for the minister, responsible for the dead Pulp Mill Assessment Act 2007, to confess he has received a letter from KordaMentha, the Gunns' receivers? They are not interested in the permit, they want the permit gone, revoked. This happened on 11 September, I believe, which is now seven weeks ago. Seven weeks ago the receiver wrote to the minister, saying, they want the permits revoked; they are not interested in selling the site as a site for a pulp mill. Finally, as the sun is setting on the Liberals in government, it is squeezed out of the minister there have been discussions with KordaMentha, correspondence exchanged with the receiver over that site.
You people talk about transparency. We can see straight through you.
I note the former minister for threatening species tried to characterise everyone who was opposed to the Gunns pulp mill, the devastation of native forests and pollution of Bass Strait and the Tamar Valley airshed, as the 'green movement'. I agree with Ms Dawkins. I went to the march in Launceston, we had a march in Hobart and there were about 10 000 people. They represented an extraordinary cross-section of the Tasmanian people. There were people from the full spectrum of politics, people of all ages. They were people who were sick to their guts with what was being proposed for the Tamar Valley, for our beautiful forests and for Bass Strait. There were even people who were less concerned about the pulp mill proposal and the impact on the environment, were sickened, nauseated by the perversion of good process that was the Pulp Mill Assessment Act 2007, the dodgy dealings behind closed doors between Paul Lennon and John Gay, the hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars in public subsidies that propped up that company for all those years at such a devastating cost to our forests, community cohesion and the climate.
It is completely untrue to characterise opponents of that pulp mill as 'greenies'. I know it is convenient to do that because you can box people, characterise them and perhaps it fits your world view. It is highly cynical when we know, for people who were concerned about the environment, there was opposition to pulp mill but it was also the perversion of good process that brought many more people along; concerned, angry and fed up.
This repeal bill should be supported. It is straightforward legislation. It would clear the air and remove from the statute books in Tasmania this most undemocratic, corrosive, corrupt legislation. However, because the Liberals do not want to name their complicity in this terrible chapter in Tasmania and because Labor was responsible for that legislation, with Liberal support, that corrupt act will remain in our statutes.
I acknowledge the incredible love of Tasmania, love of our forests, commitment to transparency and good governance of all those people who fought so hard to save the Tamar Valley and our forests in Tasmania and Bass Strait from Gunns pulp mill. It was one of the most powerful environmental campaigns this place and this state has ever seen. It was an honour to have been part of it, to stand there with Tasmanians from all walks of life to defend this island from corporate predators and their political slaves. That is what the Pulp Mill Assessment Act represented - corporate predators in the form of Gunns and their political playthings in the form of the Labor Party and the Liberal Party.
As Ms Dawkins pointed out, it is not over. The spectre of John Gay is looming over our beautiful forests again. We have the Liberals in government this time, enabling him to log rainforest trees - celery top, myrtle, sassafras, Blackwood - in areas set aside for protection. I hear the Treasurer sigh heavily. This is the same member for Bass who, back in 2002, put himself on the front page of The Examiner saying, 'We must stop old-growth logging'. At the time, Mr Hidding was on holiday in Europe and he had to hop on a plane home real quick to pull Mr Gutwein into line and say to him, 'Hey boy, we don't stand up for the forests here. We stand up for Gunns'. That was the message he was given, because that is the last time we heard anything from the heart from Mr Gutwein on forests and forest protection.
I remind members, such as Mr Barnett, Mr Gutwein and the former minister for threatening species, why people come to Tasmania. People come to Tasmania not to see clear-felled coupes.
Ms Archer - They come for many reasons.
Ms O'CONNOR - They come here for many reasons but they have done a survey of visitors that shows the number one reason people travel to Tasmania is because of our wilderness. They do not necessarily need to go in to see it but they come here because Tasmania is wild at its heart. That is why people come here from all over the world. That is why a Chinese student talking to the former education minister said, 'Here I can see the stars at night and I can see rainbows. I've never seen a rainbow before.' People come here because it is beautiful and it is beautiful because we have managed to protect a significant part of what is magnificent and wild about this place. In the last term of government - and I know you do not like it - we were able to get the loggers out of 570 000 hectares of high conservation value carbon-rich forests and an extra 170 000 hectares added to the World Heritage Area. That is why people come to Tasmania - because it is beautiful, wild and because the environmental movement in Tasmania has stood up for this place for decades and thank goodness they have, because that is the foundation now of our economic wealth and our agricultural export sector - the brand.
The House divided -
Ms Dawkins (Teller)
Mr Street (Teller)
Second reading negatived.