Friday, April 23, 2010

A local perspective on Gunns market update & breaking news...Wilderness society response to Gunns market update

With a massive pile of woodchips sitting on the wharf at Burnie word is the Japanese are not buying any more wood chips because the Tasmanian logging industry does not have FSC.
Interestingly, a part of Gunns company shake-up is that the big logger is selling the remaining 28,000 Hectares of its Native Forest.which according to The Mock will "serve the dual purpose of debt reduction while beginning the transition to a wholly plantation-based company" and in turn improving its chances of achieving FSC certification.
If this is the case the there must be implications for Gunns confidential 20-year wood supply agreement with Forestry Tasmania. This agreement will feed 1.5 million tonnes of public native forest per annum at undisclosed ‘commercial in confidence’ rates to the longreach mill. The 20-year wood supply agreement of course ties the fortunes of the taxpayers of Tasmania to the world pulp market.

If Gunns are seeking FSC, selling the remainder of their native forest estate  and committing to a 100% plantation based pulp mill then what role remains for the native forst wood supply agreement?

As for the Pulp Mill, Gunns have admitted in their announcement to the market that the company restructure was a critical step to gaining finance for its planned pulp mill. The many local ex Gunns employees who as a result have been retrenched or made redundant will be acutely aware that they have been sacrificed as a part of this process. Indeed with the ever diminishing local jobs estimates at the proposed mill and massive local job shedding which of course was never factored into the equation when the mill was first proposed, makes Paul Lennon's 2007 promise of 2000 new full-time Tasmanian pulp mill now appear as empty as Gunns longreach pulp mill site.

It is important to point out that the promise of massive net wealth flow on and employment creation were the justifications given by the Lennon government and the Liberal opposition to Tasmanian's for allowing Gunns to wriggle out of the independent RPDC process and be given a tick-in-the-box fast-track approval.

If the pulp mill is ever built, I believe the reality will be a majority foreign owned mill providing seasonal work for a small amount of locals, a mill that will be subject to occassional and possibly even frequent shutdowns (with accompanying job losses, or employees forced onto annual leave) due to the fluctuations of a volatile pulp market.
Diminishing local house & land values in the Tamar Valley, lost jobs in the local Tamar Valley tourism, wine and food industry will also detract from any mill jobs and local wealth creation.

It also remains that the project also has no social licence and probably never will. It is therefore inevitable that the mill will be harrassed for the term of its life by an international network of protesters and may  face shutdowns due to complaints about its breaching of environemental guidelines as well as frequent challenges in the courts.

Indeed, Argentina and Uruguay's relations remain frayed because of the unpopular Botnia Pulp Mill......"tens of thousands of dollars were sunk in legal fees but the mill stays, as do Argentine protesters on a bridge linking the two countries, blocking access for travelers, many of them families with relatives on both sides of the border"

There is ample evidence to show that Botnia mill has polluted the local uruguay river.

Fortunately for the folk who live on the Tamar River Gunns also announced in today's market update that they have appointed the same bloke who helped construct and operate the botnia mill between 2004-2008 as Gunns proposed new "Southern Star corporation" pulp mill director.

The question has to be asked again. Where is the real net value for Tasmania in what remains of the Gunnns Tamar Valley pulp mill proposal?

breaking news.......what the Wilderness Society says....
"The Wilderness Society’s Executive Director Alec Marr said Gunns Limited’s old, destructive business practices were likely to continue when chairman John Gay stands down to run a new company that includes the Bell Bay pulp mill.

“Mr Gay and Robin Gray represent the worst of Gunns destructive business practices. Allowing Mr Gay to run another company with the pulp mill as its main focus is simply the same old business methods under a different name,” Mr Marr said.
“Allowing Mr Gay to continue to run a forestry business in Tasmania runs against the best interests of Tasmanians.
“What Tasmanians want is an end to the destruction of the state’s natural heritage and for Gunns to shift on to a sustainable business footing, which requires an end to the old business practices under Mr Gay.


  1. well, Rick I think I may be able to answer your question:

    "Where is the real net value for Tasmania in what remains of the Gunnns Tamar Valley pulp mill proposal?"

    ...absolutely no where.

    hardly any jobs, no social licence, long term large scale protests lasting the life of the mill (should the thing ever be built), local wine, food and tourism industries down the gurgler, house prices plumeting even more than they already have, more deaths on the roads, increased morbidity and mortality due to air polution...the list goes on.

    When will they just suck it in, admit the Tamar is simply not the place for this mill and put this baby to bed once and for all??

    Let the poor people of the Tamar get back to enjoying life again

  2. At least we can drink Coomend and Tamar Ridge wines again without a foul taste of bitterness on our palate, and .. can shop at Mitre Ten supporting a good local business interested in the communities needs instead of their own.!!

  3. Maybe Mal. Thats if somebody buys those businesses.