NOTICE OF MOTION – CR KEARNEY: ELECTOR POLL, OCTOBER 2011
That council authorises the holding of an elector poll to be held concurrently
with the next Council Elections (expected in October 2011).
The elector poll will ask the following question;
“Do you agree with the proposed pulp mill being located in
the Tamar Valley?”
In the recent past Tasmania has been told of the results of what was called “the forestry round table”. The outcome has been described as an historic agreement between the forestry industry stakeholders on the one hand and the environmental stakeholders on the other. The outcome has been described as a “peace deal” and a “game changer”. The information contained in the print media and discussed at some length on radio was the position of “a pulp mill” in the future of the forestry industry. The agreement supports the building of “a pulp mill” as part of the agreement. At present there is only one proposal for a pulp mill and that is Gunns
proposed pulp mill located in the Tamar Valley.
In 2005 an elector poll was held and asked exactly the same question. Why then would it make sense to have an elector poll in 2011? The forestry round table outcomes are a “game changer”. A great deal has
happened since 2005 and the last few months have put into agreement form some of the shifts in approach that have been made by Gunns, the environmental movement, the government and the forestry industry. One of these shifts is the apparent acceptance of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) accreditation.
The residents of the West Tamar municipality have not been part of the forestry round table. They are stakeholders, but have not been given any say in the outcome. Clearly the forestry industry, Gunns and environmental groups have been given a say. Contrast the position of West Tamar residents with that of the Environmental Non Government Organisations (ENGOs). For example, the ENGO’s will apparently be able to decide what constitutes high conservation value forest areas. The FSC accreditation includes a significant community input, community say in the formulation of areas to be logged, processes to be used and other issues.
The old RPDC assessment criteria back in 2005, for the proposed pulp mill, included what could broadly be described as a “getting community support for the project” criteria. Our West Tamar residents are at risk in the “forestry round table” process of being totally left out of decisions. Will the ENGO’s decide that the gains achieved in ending old growth forest logging justify the ENGO’s agreeing to support, or at least not oppose, a Tamar Valley pulp mill? Will Gunns actually do what every other major project proponent has done and put up a proposal that will attract community support? Or will they do a deal with the ENGO’s that allows a Tamar Valley pulp mill to proceed?
The purpose of running an elector poll is to put all the parties on notice that at the next West Tamar Council election the residents of the West Tamar will be able to express their view. The proposed elector poll will constrain any tendency for the stakeholders to make cosy deals among themselves. It will put the location of the Tamar Valley pulp mill proposal on the political agenda for the next eleven months.
It will provide the definitive result on the pulp mill location that the council can point to as the community position. For a pulp mill to proceed there will need to be community support. The elector poll gives the proponent the chance to work with the community over the next eleven months and then be given the opportunity to demonstrate that they have a proposal that has community support. Finally the elector poll is about giving our West Tamar residents a voice. A chance to have their say on the issue that has been very dominant for the last 6 years.
Peter Kearney, COUNCILLOR
3) Officer’s Comments
Council authorised the conducting of an elector poll on the issue of locating the proposed pulp mill in the Tamar Valley in July 2005 (refer Minute No 76/05 Notice of Motion: Cr Kearney – Elector Poll Proposed Pulp Mill).
The result of the poll was the subject of an agenda items to council in November 2005 (refer Minute No 136/05 General Manager’s Report: Results of Elector Poll Regarding the Proposed Pulp Mill Being Located in the Tamar Valley).
The results of the poll (“Do you agree with the proposed pulp mill being
located in the Tamar Valley?”) were:
YES vote 3782 votes 44.05%
NO vote 4804 votes 55.95%
The cost of the elector poll in 2005 was $6,000 therefore the expected cost
in 2011 would be approximately $6,000 - $7,000.