typing is not activism….

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

No escape for Turnbull yet – pulp mill opposition loud and heading global.

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I have somehow confused Alan Ramsey at the Sydney Morning Herald with somebody else. His article on the pulp mill decision took me so by surprise in its detail and point of view that I ran around googling to see if he was the narrow-minded bigot I had thought he was. I ended up finding an interesting reference in this piece which identifies Ramsey as the Australian writer earliest off the mark in suggesting that America’s Middle East policies and unconditional support for Israel may have been the main factors behind the 9-11 attacks on America. So I’m taking him off the Gerard Henderson-Miranda Devine-Tony Abbott list and once again considering him to be a commentator of merit.

Asides aside, Ramsey’s article today – describing how Malcolm Turnbull has condemned Tasmania for at least the next fifty years – is an utterly cracking read with particularly excellent reportage of recent interviews with well-resourced activist Geoffrey Cousins.

“Because if that mill does pollute the environment, it’ll be decades if not hundreds of years before anyone can correct it. And for Malcolm to say, ‘Well, if it pollutes, we’ll close the mill down’, which is what he said, I mean, that is ludicrous. You tell me anywhere in the world where a multi-billion dollar project has been closed down by a government. It doesn’t happen. What you’ve got to do is make sure all the environmental standards have been met before it’s approved, not some time after.”

Lateline’s Tony Jones: “Let me put to you what Richard Flanagan had to say about the influence of Gunns on ordinary Tasmanians. ‘The woodchipper’s greed not only destroys their natural heritage, but distorts their Parliament, deforms their policy and poisons their society.’ Do you buy that far into his argument?”

Cousins: “Well, look, Richard has a much greater knowledge of these things than I do. I finished reading that article and found it so compelling that I contacted the magazine and said, ‘How do I get in touch with this bloke?’ I didn’t know him, I knew his novels. And I spoke to him and said, ‘I’ve got to do something.’ I mean, I’m not somebody who runs around protesting in the streets normally, but it was such a compelling piece of writing that I said, ‘I don’t know how I can help, but whatever I can do, I want to try.’ “

A speech by Cousins’ inspiration – Richard Flanagan – to the Foreign Correspondents’ Association at the American Press Club is also reported today.

Because of the forest battle, a subtle fear has entered Tasmanian public life; it stifles dissent and is conducive to the abuse of power. To question or to comment is to invite the possibility of ostracism and unemployment.”

Most wealth made out of woodchips flows out of the state; less than 15% of Gunns’ profits stay in Tasmania, which remains the poorest Australian state. Contrary to the government’s claim that 10,000 jobs depend on old-growth logging, John Gay, Gunns’ managing director, recently admitted that only 480 jobs were at stake.”

And while Sue Neales, chief reporter at Tassie’s main remotely credible mainstream paper The Mercury, starts out sounding almost supportive of the decision, when she lets fly, she really lets fly, picking up on an element of the scientific recommendations that has not yet been highlighted elsewhere:

The potential for dangerous air emissions, leaking bad smells, native forest over-exploitation, excessive greenhouse-gas emission linked to the mill’s wood-fired power plant, and pollution of clear waters on Tasmania’s northern coastline have not been touched by the tough new world order of Mr Turnbull’s and Dr Peacock.

Indeed, Dr Peacock’s report even suggested in places that he had not recommended measures that he thought might have been to the overall good of the Tasmanian environment, because they did not suit his narrow federal jurisdiction.

A perfect example is the length of the pulp mill’s effluent pipeline, which will extend 2.7km into the ocean off the Five Mile Bluff beach north of Georgetown. Dr Peacock’s report says of this issue: “The Environment Department sought advice and (our consultant) advised that moving the outfall further offshore would increase the diffusion and dispersal of pollutants and reduce the chances of them being driven ashore.

“However the (federal) department is of the view that moving the outfall further offshore would proportionately increase the likelihood of (negative) effects in the Commonwealth marine areas.”

In other words, don’t worry about the chances pollution on Tasmania’s beaches and inshore waters, as long as it doesn’t affect the parts of Bass Strait that the Federal Government is responsible for, which start 5.6km offshore.

I hope that these occasional daily roundups are of some use to Australian readers wanting to catch up on both the breaking news and the deeper background to the Tasmanian pulp mill farce. But I also hope that some international readers are dropping by to check this out and spread the word as they see fit. In a very short time, it is an absolute certainty that a variety of international campaigns shall need to start, in order to apply scrutiny and a sincere commitment to genuine sustainability to those parts of this process not held immune from public interest by incompetent and/or corruptly biased governance.


The most obvious aspects for action shall be financing and retail products distributed by supporters and operators of the mill, that is my guess. Anything is possible really. To tap into daily developments, make sure to visit Tasmanian Times where you’ll find all the latest related news as it breaks, not to mention the odd exclusive and plenty of searing debate and discussion.


Written by typingisnotactivism

October 6, 2007 at 12:15 pm

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