typing is not activism….

environ mentalism, fresh articles, interviews & checkitouts from Sydney.

The Bell tolls for thee, Gunns pulp mill. . .

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Obviously processes are still taking place – mainly the federal Environment Minister’s extended scientific assessment – but now the breadth of opposition to the project has finally caught up to the depth. The federal ALP have been very slow to test the politcal and strategic waters.

The two-pronged approach had so far been to insist that value-added woodchips (as opposed to value-added forestry or value-added timber) would be the way forward for Tassie and that only world’s best practice would do. This neatly leaves many doors open, with Greenies thinking ‘yay’, and loggers thinking ‘fine, mate, this mill’s aaaawesome’. The second prong has been to insist that a properly informed opinion could only be formed once Peter Garrett and his staff had all materials currently before Malcolm Turnbull in front of them. This not only justifies the lack of a clearly voiced position as the only responsible position for them to take, but also prevents Turnbull and Howard wedging them during the run-up to the election. How?

If Turnbull decides to strictly play politics by approving the project after the election has been announced, it will be Kevin Rudd’s ALP that ultimately decides yea or nay on the mill. That’s the equivalent of handing a Russian roulette contestant a six-shooter with 4 bullets in it. If Garrett gives a definitive ‘no’, then elements of the CFMEU, Tasmania’s ALP government, and most industry-backed logging lobby groups will be the bitches we now know they are (considering they campaigned for the mob who brought you WorkChoices). Of course, by now it’s quite possible that this would have the opposite effect of their 2004 campaign against Latham. Kind of like Bush campaigning for Howard. Let’s face it – it’s not the kind of support you really want.

Alternatively, Garrett says ‘yes’ and it’s an entirely different shitstorm. A large number of ALP ‘1’ votes would likely shift to Green, many marginal Tassie seats would become anyone’s guess, but worst of all Tassie would be stuck with a malignant tumour the size of John Gay’s vision for decades thereafter. Just as Turnbull cunningly manouevred himself into the position of being a potentially proactive rescuer for the Tamar, Rudd/Garrett have wisely prepared themselves a ‘we cannot possibly make that determination at this time’ escape route.

Better still, they have tested the air and realized that they really should test the air. Moving beyond the minor concessions v. total moratorium argument, Garrett has stepped up on climate change in exactly the way that Turnbull hasn’t stepped up on water issues. This really does tip federal ALP into the ‘no to Gunns’ camp, and interestingly only happened about 2 days after Howard clearly indicated that he  is not only behind the project, but that the end result of assessment will be a go-ahead for Gunns. Very interesting timing.

As much as people have been ripping on Garrett, both as an individual and a shadow he has actually been engaged in what is increasingly proving to be a demanding game of Patience.

And even as potentially crucial political support does seem to be definitely on the wane for Gunns, of even more concern (to Gunns, anyway) will be the fresh news that major investors and associated sources of finance are leaning toward the ‘bad financial call’ end of the spectrum. Major shareholder Perpetual and ANZ are respectively bound by their own membership and principles of ethical finance. There are always going to be ways to juggle liability and responsibility, and ways to justify a pulp mill as more ethical than straight chipping. Regardless, these latest developments are great news for the campaign to restore a sparrow’s fart of common sense to Tassie’s environmental planning regime.

Of course, this also gives some fuckwits an excuse to throw a tantrum. Still, if it’s easier for an angel to get $10 000 than for John Gay to get a waste dump, things may be looking up.


Written by typingisnotactivism

September 8, 2007 at 4:33 pm

One Response

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  1. The real surprise in all this will be the Greens preferencing a Labor Party wedged by the forest industry including its duped union.

    The oucome for this industry is too see plantations harvested by machines, processing in mills with low employment levels. The jobs will be safer and better paid but much fewer.

    Mills, you think this is the only one in the pipeline, have a look at the plantation resources. Eventually it will all be pulped here and perhaps even made into paper, the carbon and fuel costs will drive that provided the material is not available from a cheaper source closer to the Asian markets.

    No doubt Rudds popularity and Howards lack therof will see a strong vote toward labor and for a mionor party this creates difficulties in remaining in the balot as preferences are distributed.

    However, the difference with the old parties that are subsumed by political process and caught by a game of wedging and one that stands for the environment, sustainability and democracy will be tested by this election.

    Its not whether Garretts inability to be a greenie because of the realpolitik that is in question, that is a given now, it is if the Greens can convince sufficient voters of their esssential nature in a climate of not happy John voters wanting change of their importance after Don’s party is over and the real world of environmental destruction, climate chaos, unsustainable cities and communities being overridden in someone elses interest appears from the afterglow.

    phill Parsons

    September 10, 2007 at 9:47 am

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