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Tasmania’s Pulp Mill ‘assessment’ – still more inbred than a royal family.

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We control political forces, we control moral forces, we control economic forces. Therefore we are a full-blown Corporative state. We stand for a new principle in the world, we stand for sheer, categorical, definitive antithesis to the world of democracy…from The Doctrine of Fascism, Giovanni Gentile & Benito Mussolini, 1932

One anagram of ‘Tasmania’ is ‘I am Satan’. Although I personally would put money on George Bush (either one) being Beelzebub’s errand-boy, southern revelations in the past month are of a State-level democracy that is surely gone to Hell – with Gunns a-blazing. The battle over a ‘proposed’ $2 billion pulp mill that will eat over 3 million tonnes of native forest annually while daily pumping 64 million litres of dioxin-laced effluent into Bass Strait is certainly taking on epic dimensions, at any rate.

With blood pressure-red face and follicles, his support for logging what remains of Eden, and reputed love of certain Bacchanalian delights, Premier Paul Lennon has been cast as Lucifer. It may mean mixed metaphors, but that would see Gunns’ CEO John Gay framed as Darth Sidius – not so much for his lightning skills as for his barely disputed role as the power behind the throne.

Like all good sagas, other pivotal villains are emerging gradually – but distinctly. The latest is Linda Hornsey – Secretary to the Department of Premier and Cabinet. She is emerging as Hell’s Handmaiden/Boba Fett – part devoted servant/part mercenary-cyborg-space-pilot.

Gunns’ proposal was under assessment by a panel of experts set up under the Resource Planning and Development Commission (RPDC). After half the panelists resigned citing political interference in late 2006, new independent experts were appointed – including panel head and retired judge, the Honorable Christopher Wright.

According to a statutory declaration by Wright, Hornsey convinced him not to resign on March 2 over pressure and interference from Lennon. It has recently emerged that she dissuaded him from sending a letter from the RPDC panel to Gunns on March 9 informing them that their 10 000-page impact statement and supporting evidence were still thoroughly deficient – or, in the words of Tasmanian journo Sue Neales: “inconsistent, unreadable, unacceptable, and based on too many assumptions”.

It was stated even more recently by Lennon himself that Hornsey informed Gunns of the RPDC determination on March 8. Six days later, Gunns’ CEO John Gay happened to announce Gunns’ withdrawal from the assessment process. The following day, Lennon happened to announce Cabinet support for fast track legislation to replace the rigorous RPDC panel and its associated burden of public participation. That legislation made its first run through the Tasmanian Lower(ed) House barely a week later. Although Lennon was aware at the time of the RPDC determination, he made no mention of it, insisting instead that the decision was about money, jobs, money, Tasmania’s future, and money.

The legislatively appointed ‘independent’ consultant, Sweco Pic, has been given half a million dollars and less than three months to complete an assessment/approval process that still had a panel of independent experts armpit-deep in questions and deliberations after 2 years of heavy lifting. It just so happens that Hornsey has again risen to the surface – on the ‘independent’ three-person panel to which Sweco must report. Indeed, the panel apparently claims that Sweco already tabled its alleged draft report in late May – after barely six weeks on the job.

The final outcome of assessment has not yet been determined, but is due to be made by August 31. It has recently been revealed, by the tenacious Matthew Denholm of The Australian, that Gunns just happen to already have pulp mill construction contracts in place that will cost the company $1.076M for every day of delay after the first week of September. This suggests optimism, stupidity, certainty of the assessment outcome, or some combination of the three.

Without meaning to bumpkinise Lennon, Gay or Hornsey, they now have to deal with Federal Courts and Federal law which differ drastically from the Tasmanian Parliament and the Office of the Tasmanian Attorney-General. Even in preliminary documentation for two Federal cases against Gunns and Federal Minister for Embitterment and Slaughtered Resources, Malcolm Turnbull, there is strong support for the allegation that the Federal Government was talking with Gunns about an alternative process even before they had withdrawn from the RPDC. The key admission actually seems to have come from a statement on Turnbull’s own website. In what is surely a positive sign for the plaintiffs,the statement has since been edited to remove Turnbull’s statement of intention to complete the federal assessment by the end of August.

bad jokes for a bad joke:

Evidence of collusion may yet create a collision for the Coalition, Lennon may yet sing ‘O no’, Gay might think better of it all and go back to making closets, and, with any luck, ordinary citizens of Tasmanistan may wake one day soon to find their State no longer in the Axis of Evil. Still, when someone with a brain like Malcolm Turnbull can say that Australia is a world leader on climate change on national TV and keep a straight face doing it, the recommendation would be that nobody hold their breath just yet. Perhaps when the pulp mill’s mustard gas vapours begin to fill the Tamar Valley would be a better time to start.

see latest piece by Henry Melville in Tasmanian Times for a definitive timeline of improper communication strongly suggesting collusion, interference, and abandonment of anything resembling due process.

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Written by typingisnotactivism

June 25, 2007 at 3:50 pm

One Response

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  1. The sooner Tasmania has an Independent Commission against Corruption (ICAC) the better. ICAC is the much feared word around the old corrupt processes of New South Wales State and Local Governments from the early 90’s. There was a mass exodus of department heads and decision makers with early retirements and resignations when they learned of ICAC’s impending interest in their past and present dealings. ICAC still kicks goals even today, exposing town planners and property developers in bed together.

    If Paul Lennon has nothing to hide in the process of approving this mill, then bring on ICAC as I believe Paul Lennon must have a different definition of the word corruption than every one else in Australia. If Lennon has plenty to hide then bring it on anyway and round the corrupt bastards up, even if that means a re-election of the whole Upper and Lower Houses of Parliament and re-employment of many department head positions.

    I speak through experience having worked during the ICAC process in NSW of the early 90’s and now live in Tasmania. The networks of corrupt practices in Tasmania are so ingrained that it will be a revolution and bring a breath of fresh air (hopefully literally in regard to this mill) to Tasmania.

    ICAC for Tas.
    Wayno

    Wayne Francis

    August 13, 2007 at 10:01 am


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