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

Pulp Mill Decision: can Peter Garrett get any Tamar?

with 3 comments


Malcolm Turnbull denies the fact that as Federal Environment Minister, he has both sufficient mandate and resources to step in where state forestry mismanagement threatens national commitments and international obligations on biodiversity and species protection. As a result he has come out with what is likely the most heavily publicised recommendation ever on how best to run a big tube full of crap into an ocean.

This somehow makes the mill assessment complete and above board? I think that Geoffrey Cousins has spoken best to this new flag of the mill-mill-milly-mill crew:

EMMA ALBERICI: Well, he says the conditions are based on the management of effluent, and also on the protection of wildlife.

GEOFFREY COUSINS: Well, they’re based on the two issues that he decided to look at, namely, the marine environment and migratory species, not all wildlife at all. And when the Chief Scientist says that this mill will meet world’s best practice, he means in respect of that particular issue, because he didn’t look at all of the other issues, I’m not being critical of him, he wasn’t permitted to do so. That wasn’t his brief.

Now, Malcolm Turnbull’s job is to protect the environment. He was critical of the Tasmanian Government himself, for closing down that broader public hearing process, and yet he chose not to reinstate it.

I have held out from completely giving up on Peter Garrett but I can’t stand his tinny words any longer. You can’t be the shadow minister for environment and climate change in the party which is supposedly going to drag Australia back out of this 1950s attitude to the environment, and speak platitudes about how you’ve done your best to keep this process credible but now it’s time to really sit on your hands. It’s an utter load of crap.

Obviously his hands are tied by narrowminded politicking going on outside his office door, but even as environmental shadow he has failed to do his job. The general public aren’t aware that the Howard government has quite possibly legislated away the significance of both the Wielangta and Nathan Dam cases. In unison, these two decisions clarify major untested aspects of the EPBC Act, and give the federal minister the responsibility to assess indirect impacts of an action or development (like what might a pulp mill do to forest that isn’t so much growing next to it, but getting logged because of it) and the power to step in where a state isn’t managing forestry in a manner representative of international law – as has already been the case in Tasmania.

Sure that sounds a bit complicated, but at the heart of that information is a simple fact: the Howard government and its environment ministers have been systematically eliminating environmental provisions found to create protection and responsibility by courts. Worse than just ignoring other laws and agreements, this goes to the fundamental collapse of democracy which occurs when the separation of powers is corrupted. Have we heard about this?

The Labor Party is instead hooked into a two-pronged approach which is basically:

appearing united we win, appearing divided – especially on issues relating to Tasmanian logging and one very narrow section of the CFMEU’s national platform – we lose.


as long as we’re only clearly different to the Liberal Party on a couple of select issues of broad public concern, we’ll win

Um, here’s an idea

a 10% lead plus common sense plus taking a popular stand plus showing some cojones makes for a bigger, better, surer win than pussing out in the last 2 months of the campaign to save Australia from itself.

So although Garrett a few weeks ago may have made a briefly outstanding promise to have the mill assessed for greenhouse emissions, he was quickly compelled (by ‘senior management’ no doubt) to clarify that perception.

So he’s screwed. He is unsupported within the Federal Party, and he is more or less trotted out like an over-qualified but otherwise discount Bono whenever meetings with the public or cool issues needing a supposedly progressive Labor approach are being discussed. . . in front of cameras.

It’s confusing – because the fact that he wants to have the mill’s fatal carbon load assessed is a good thing, and we really should support him for it, because his biggest battle isn’t against Turnbull or Howard, it’s against the Labor Party. But here’s the stupid thing – even with Labor and Garrett supporters, both are losing support by the hour over the lack of concern for the environment, due process, their own credibility, their lack of opposition to the Howardocrats, their lack of representation for the greater good on this resoundingly obvious issue, and their utter inability to stand for a principle – even one that will prove particularly popular come election day.


GetUp have thrown up a cool page here so you can read the L-party ghouls’ statements on just how big their balls are and make your own comments, which will hopefully get sent to the lame-o-crats’ in-trays.

3 Responses

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  1. I would assume that Peter Garrett within his own mind is justifying the means to the end – gaining office first, being able to express himself later. I think though that the price he is paying, is way to high.


    October 5, 2007 at 8:22 pm

  2. i agree with you on both counts Sid. I think though that the bastard of it is that he hasn’t been allowed a single hard yard as far as I can see. And this is in aspirational mode. When these guys have real money coming in because of what decisions they allow through, it’s going to again be all about short term gain, and bugger genuine sustainability. The way that so many decisionmaking processes are set up now, the environment minister is one of 3 or one of 4 ministers signing off on a decision. However strongly the minister positions themself, they are still one vote against any 2 or 3 ministries of forestry, trade, agriculture, mining, etc.
    I hope Howard gets canned and the government is changed, but I also hope there’s a Green balance of power in the Senate because once Australia sees Labor and Liberal vote together on every third bill for the next three years, there may be a wider awareness of what has gone so wrong with this democracy, imho.


    October 5, 2007 at 8:55 pm

  3. The Garrett – The Garrett takes what is on offer, spurning his personal histories in the process. Seeking movement from the ‘garrote’ to the poly-waffle Houses of Parlourgames, the Garrett becomes a signatory to the devils pact, losing touch with the inner phonograph that had harnessed his first cavorting gymnastic allegations. Ferried up by a cherrypicker to his new life of knees he diligently settles into his more comfortable abode. Below him the rungs are all made of knives facing upwards, and no walking boots are allowed here. His fantasy of Nolan’s King in his iron suit, now reaches Australian idle status. Not to be undone by his opposition, he now boldly claims that the ancient assets earmarked for incineration will be put to better use as faxpaper. the paper will serve many functions, most notably the retrieving of the boardroom’s requests for an initially transparent set of restrictions, that will be gradually added to with a milky white liquid, until its becomes thicker and thicker, congealing and sealing off all access to the very people that he had intended to serve. His credentials, now ossifying and with no friends in reach available for comment, the blood with which he had scrawled his name, now hardens, cracks, and is brushed off the shiny coated extra-white pages, which he still insists is the cleanest piece of paper anywhere in the world. (often referred to dismissively as the Carrot).

    t.i.n.a.: tic tic tic tic tic tic BOOM.


    October 7, 2007 at 11:28 pm

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