Water Week

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Gunns now has legal standing to go on destroying for the next 50yrs what remains of Tas old-growth forests, SMH writer says

Posted by waterweek on 10 October 2007

Gunns was the company that dominated Tasmania’s forestry industry, and Tasmania was the only Australian state that still clear-felled its native forests, turned its eucalypts into chips and incinerated the rest, wrote Alan Ramsey in The Sydney Morning Herald (6/10/2007, p.33).

Turnbull signs approval: Two days ago Malcolm Turnbull, as John Howard’s political surrogate, signed a piece of paper. It was headed: “Commonwealth of Australia. Decision to Approve the Taking of an Action.” It read: “Pursuant to section 133 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, I, Malcolm Bligh Turnbull, Minister for the Environment and Water Re­sources, approve the taking of the fol­lowing action: to construct and operate a bleached Kraft pulp mill at Bell Bay, Tasmania, and associated infrastructure (EPBC 2007/3385) … by Gunns Limited, subject to the conditions set out in Annexure 1. This approval has effect for: Sections 18 and 18A (listed threatened species and communities); Sections 20 and 20A (listed migratory species); Sections 23 and 24A (Com­monwealth marine areas) of the En­vironment Protection and Biodiversity Act 1999. This approval has effect until 31 De­cember, 2057. Dated this 4th day of October, 2007.”

‘On the nose’ govt: Note the binding date of the length of the approval, Ramsay urged – fifty years. “Gunns Ltd now has watertight legal standing from the Australian people, courtesy of a government and a Prime Minister so thoroughly on the nose with voters they’re headed for imminent electoral defeat, to go on destroying, for the next half century, what remains of Tasmania’s magnificent old-growth for­ests for woodchipping fodder for a $2 billion pulp paper mill in the Tamar Valley, south of Launceston.

Corrupt history of Gunns: “You think the language too emotive? Here is what the author Richard Flanagan had to say about Gunns and its pulp mill proposal five months ago in the magazine The Monthly: ‘In 1989, the then chairman of Gunns, Eddie Rouse, became concerned that the election [that year] of a Labor/Green govern­ment, with a one-seat majority, might affect his logging profits. Rouse at­tempted to bribe a Labor MP, Jim Cox, to cross the floor, thereby bringing down the government and clearing the way for the pro-logging former premier, Robin Gray, and the Liberal Party to resume power. Cox went to the police. The plot was exposed. A royal commission and Rouse’s fall from grace ensued. But Gunns continued. Today it is a corpor­ation worth more than a billion dollars, the largest company in Tasmania, with an effective monopoly on the island’s hardwood logging and a darling of the Australian stockmarket.'”

The Sydney Morning Herald, 6/10/2007, p. 33

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