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Archive for the ‘Forests’ Category

Victorian Govt destroying Old Growth

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stump of a Brown Mt. tree logged in November 2008 and carbon dated at over 500 years old

stump of a Brown Mt. tree logged in November 2008 and carbon dated at over 500 years old

Great opinion piece in today’s copy of The Age out of Melbourne. Worthwhile reading for anybody interested in biodiversity in Australia, old growth forests, or climate politics.

In a Government report based on threatened species studies at Brown Mountain conducted earlier this year, it is stated that ”neither DSE or VicForests routinely undertake pre-logging coupe surveys”.

Most of their information on threatened species comes from reports dating back to the early ’80s. This was at a time when we only just started to learn about species such as the long-footed potoroo and when management plans for endangered species simply did not exist.

Experts in their field produced these older reports, but the research areas were so large, and resources so limited, that many forests were not even surveyed. Brown Mountain is one of the areas that fell through the cracks.

Along with other forests at Ada River, Yalmy River, the upper Bonang catchment and the Bungywarr forests, the ecological values of these old-growth forests have simply never been documented.

Environment East Gippsland are taking VicForests – the corporate arm of logging regulation in Victoria – to court to try to force protection, rather than mere ‘consideration’ for endangered species and unique forests on Brown Mountain threatened by unnecessary logging.

In a Government report based on threatened species studies at Brown Mountain conducted earlier this year, it is stated that ”neither DSE or VicForests routinely undertake pre-logging coupe surveys”.

Most of their information on threatened species comes from reports dating back to the early ’80s. This was at a time when we only just started to learn about species such as the long-footed potoroo and when management plans for endangered species simply did not exist.

Experts in their field produced these older reports, but the research areas were so large, and resources so limited, that many forests were not even surveyed. Brown Mountain is one of the areas that fell through the cracks.

Along with other forests at Ada River, Yalmy River, the upper Bonang catchment and the Bungywarr forests, the ecological values of these old-growth forests have simply never been documented.

Written by typingisnotactivism

September 30, 2009 at 11:19 am

Bugger the Pulp Mill, Sponsor an Idiot!

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That’s right! In an age of easy vehicle access and painfully unreliable but ultimately half-assed public transport, who the f$%# needs to run anywhere?

Then again, who needs air to breathe, water to live, or biodiversity to flourish?

Answer? You.

Which is a good reason to spare some plastic pocket change for the good folks at Tasmanians Against The Pulp Mill V3.0. If you sponsor this running doofus in the Sydney Marathon Sydney Marathon Sydney Marathon this weekend (September 20) then all your hard-earned wisely-donated $$$$ will go straight to very effective direct actions in Tasmania, carried out by clever and determined locals against a shabby state government and an even shabbier bunch of forest-f$#%ers.

For latest updates, see the sexy new-look Tassie Times. Now, what are you waiting for? Get emailing and get donating!! And thanks, eh?

Written by typingisnotactivism

September 14, 2009 at 2:39 am

Peter Garrett speaks his mind

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May 11, 2009 at 3:12 am

Victorian Bushliars

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February 7, 2009. Black Saturday. The Victorian firestorm that left thousands homeless and hundreds dead.

Only Pentecostal Danny Nalliah, pastor of Catch The Fire Ministries, had the good sense to look past all the enraged finger-pointing and publicly blame Victoria’s frivolous abortion laws. The comparably visionary Miranda Devine, writing from her comfortable Sydney mansion, preached that filthy murdering greenies with their climate agenda owe the families of the dead a personal apology.

Max Rheese, head of the pro-GMO/logging/nuclear, anti-climate-science, Don Burke-fronted Gunns-donation-receiving corporate think-tank Australian Environment Foundation wrote for Online Opinion to blame public land managers and governments. Although he conceded that the only reason they ignored awesome forest science established in 1939 (yes, really) was because of pressure from latte-sipping inner-city greens.

Even Germaine Greer – usually worthwhile and at worst amusing – announced to a dinner attended by the Queen that a lack of burning and clearing by Australian authorities, albeit in ignorance of blackfella wisdom, is to blame. Similarly astute observations can be found all over The Australian’s letters pages.

And even Fran Bailey, MP for the bulk of Victoria’s worst affected areas, is pushing an argument adored by nearly every woodchipping lobbyist and climate skeptic every time Australia burns.

It amounts to a claim that protecting areas managed as National Parks, limiting logging of native forests, and giving ecosystems a chance to function at all naturally is to guarantee fiery tragedy and ensure that fire crews can’t gain access when it occurs.

Basically, ‘man with bulldozer, chainsaw, and woodchip license knows best’.

But writing to the Environment East Gippsland newsgroup, one Victorian forest activist noted that “apart from Bunyip, I cannot think of any major fire this season that hasn’t been in a plantation or other heavily managed forestry area.”

According to his observations and initial reports, all fires – bar one – started in plantations, logging coupes, grasslands, and farms. Namely, areas already decimated and dehydrated by the very practices prescribed by the ignorant, remote, and spin-driven parasites happy to exploit yet another fatal catastrophe.

But at least this tragedy will finally move Australia to really act on climate change…

Written by typingisnotactivism

February 17, 2009 at 1:06 am

Climate Doom is already here.

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Massive extinctions warned about by academics over the last decade seem set to start within the next. Updated science since the diplomatically framed IPCC reports of this year and last indicate that the planet has already begun processes that are almost too grand to halt, let alone reverse.

The escalating scale of human emissions could not have come at a worse time, as scientists have discovered that the Earth’s forests and oceans could be losing their ability to soak up carbon pollution. Most climate projections assume that about half of all carbon emissions are reabsorbed in these natural sinks.

Computer models predict that this effect will weaken as the world warms, and a string of recent studies suggests this is happening already.

The Southern Ocean’s ability to absorb carbon dioxide has weakened by about 15% a decade since 1981, while in the North Atlantic, scientists at the University of East Anglia also found a dramatic decline in the CO2 sink between the mid-1990s and mid-2000s.

A separate study published this year showed the ability of forests to soak up anthropogenic carbon dioxide – that caused by human activity – was weakening, because the changing length of the seasons alters the time when trees switch from being a sink of carbon to a source.

Soils could also be giving up their carbon stores: evidence emerged in 2005 that a vast expanse of western Siberia was undergoing an unprecedented thaw.

The region, the largest frozen peat bog in the world, had begun to melt for the first time since it formed 11,000 years ago. Scientists believe the bog could begin to release billions of tonnes of methane locked up in the soils, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide. The World Meteorological Organisation recently reported the largest annual rise of methane levels in the atmosphere for a decade.

Which means you can take your 5% carbon reduction and your 2 degrees of manageable warming and stick them up your arse. We’re headed to a place that will make Children of Men look like comedy.

Written by typingisnotactivism

December 16, 2008 at 2:15 am

Tasmanian suicide bombing caught on home video.

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Pauly RIP, did it for white skinned bogans everywhere.

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June 4, 2008 at 9:31 pm

Tasmanian Bum Puppet Paul Lennon Finally Pisses Off

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ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST!!!!

(by DJ Lobsterdust)

Woo Hoo!!!!! Paul Lennon has run out of scapegoat deputies and finally resigned as Premier of Tasmania. In what may be one of the only political moves he has ever made in the genuine interest of Tasmania’s populace and future generations, Big Red finally pulled the plug on his untenable losership blaming his 17% popularity rating and the needs of the party, rather than the fact that health claims about the vitamin content of Coco Pops are widely considered more credible than he is.

It will only be to make way for a slightly less oafish brand of corporate lackey douchebaggitora sociopathica, but bugger it – that’s something to get depressed about tomorrow and every day thereafter. For now, it’s time to pop corks and light whatever your preferred flavour of fat one might be.

Lovely bit from Tasmanian Times here – guessing their offices erupted into some sort of Bacchanalian orgy with in seconds of Big Fat Red finally making the announcement that TT had so long been anticipating. As they say,

The disaster of the pulp mill became more about the erosion of democracy and public trust than it was even about the environment. If it was the most glaring example of Paul Lennon’s contempt for proper governance and indifference to democratic process, he was here only following where Bacon had trod. At his ascension Lennon made much of his determination to fulfill Bacon’s vision for Tasmania. How could he know it also portended his own tragedy?

For he lacked Bacon’s charisma. Perhaps his greatest political failure was to be too honest about all that Bacon covered over with his undoubted public charm.

Lennon is now gone.

Even in the moment of final “Good Riddance”, the Mercury – “Tasmania’s leading source of frequently pro-government pap propped up by ad dollars” – has seen fit to run a blancmange of cut-and-pasted infobytes and ministerial quotes which more or less neglects to mention the curry-fart cloud of corruption and big-money-friendly bloody-mindedness hanging over the squinty eyed Big Red One for the last decade or so.

Nevertheless, at least the Mercury has chosen to mention on this fine day that Gunns are having some trouble getting the cash for their toxic planet-raping bog roll enabling Pulp Mill. Seems that ANZ are backing away from the project under the guise of credit concerns, rather than risking future industry dollars by bluntly opposing any project that might make the Exxon Valdez seem like a hiccough.

I don’t share the optimism of pundits who think that the departure of Lennon means a sure end to the pulp mill, nor do I think that ANZ’s unwillingness to fund the bastardry – even if this is officially confirmed in the fullness of time – is a guaranteed end to the world’s biggest, stupidest pulp mill. What is needed for 200 000 hectares of forest to rest easy is for John Gay to announce the project’s demise to the ASX, and for Peter Garrett to rescind any and all outstanding approvals related to the project. Given that Garrett just last week approved the construction of mill worker’s quarters, the gigantic forest-eater may yet have legs… ugly, gnarled, wart-infested, pus-dripping legs.

Read comments by the Tassie public here and here – seems most people are calling for a massive piss-up or a public holiday to properly acknowledge Lennon’s departure.

Written by typingisnotactivism

May 26, 2008 at 1:46 pm

New climate group to drive Australian policy change

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In early March Sydney University’s Faculty of Law launched a new multidisciplinary initiative – the Climate Law & Policy Group.

In line with recent developments – the UK’s Stern Report in 2006, reevaluation of the Kyoto Protocol during 2007 and Australia’s current review process under Professor Ross Garnaut – the initiative aims to fill critical voids within current thinking and activity, both locally and internationally.

Key organisers Professor Gillian Triggs, Dean of Law at Sydney University, and Dr. Rosemary Lyster, an internationally respected teacher and practitioner of environmental law, spoke briefly of the new group’s reason for existence.

They identified the need to transverse various branches of law – administrative, environmental, international, trade, migration, taxation, corporate, criminal and public health – in making way for the emerging field of climate law and preparing legal infrastructure for an all-embracing response to the growing challenge of climate change.

With Australia’s emission trading scheme due to launch in 2010 and with Kyoto having so far failed to adequately engage developing countries, this first-of-its-kind initiative will work with individuals and governments to develop research projects and policy.

Keynote speaker John Connor, CEO of the Climate Institute, addressed the lawyers, academics, NGOs, Justices and students who came to hear his insider’s account of last year’s Bali negotiations and their implications for Australia. Though unsurprisingly absent, environmental barrister extraordinaire, Chris McGrath, did receive an honourable mention as the legal frontiersman keeping the Australian government falling over its legislative toes.

Connor signalled that there are powerful undercurrents building within global negotiations. Developed nations may yet group together to go beyond currently tentative Kyoto targets to cut their carbon emissions by between 25 and 40 per cent by 2020. He identified 2020 as the proving ground, the year by which bold initiatives must be taken and, if successful, replicated on a grand scale.

He said China and South Africa were leading the negotiations to build bridges with the developed world, while Australia is crossing a bridge of her own. The American position of controlled stalling has been rejected, traded for the quantum leap of the Garnaut Review and its broader consideration of the national interest in responding to climate change.

The way forward mapped out by these pragmatists seems to be a multi-layered paradigm shift already set in motion, from changes taking place in local planning laws and research financing to regional partnerships and global transparency and accountability.

The Climate Law & Policy Group’s first conference will be held on August 8.

 

Written by typingisnotactivism

March 11, 2008 at 5:40 pm

Tasmania – forest lies, lies, and more lies.

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Tasmania – where blokes are blokes, and trees are nervous.

A state where everything is above board, but Royal Commissions – the highest level of independent inquiry into allegedly corrupt use of authority – are practically banned. Oh Tassie – thank goodness for you, the one place on Earth where destroying forest ecosystems defies physics, biology and chemistry to fight global warming. How? Buggered if I know, but some big blokes with beetroot-blood pressure and friends running chainsaws seem to have worked it out.

Barely a week ago, Paul Lennon – the spectacularly inept Premier of Tasmania and occasional dinner-buddy of Gunns’ CEO John Gay – made a baffling announcement. In response to Professor Ross Garnaut’s analysis of the climate change issues and options facing Australia, Lennon declared that once and for all it was time to get the facts straight about Tasmania’s forests.

This was baffling for two reasons.

Firstly, Lennon and his colleagues in government, industry, and small-minded lobby groups have spent decades arguing that old growth grows on trees and should therefore be woodchipped as quickly as possible lest it get out of control. This argument shifted in the ’90s toward the need for human-led forest management for the good of forests, because without humans, forests are incapable of cutting themselves down. The latest model is two-pronged – logging prevents bushfires (just like abortions prevent cancer) and clearing forests makes room to plant more trees and therefore fight climate change (yes, they are that stupid). In essence, these people have deemed themselves the source of all forest facts. By calling for someone intelligent and with no connection to forestry cash to disseminate facts, Lennon risked undoing decades of half-assed but ubiquitous propaganda.

Secondly, for any non-Greens member of Tasmanian parliament, let alone the bug-eyed, frothing, rabidly pro-Gunns Premier to call for a setting aside of nonsensical argument and the genuinely independent presentation of clear, firm, scientifically credible facts about the environmental impacts of logging is simply unheard of.

But today everything is back to normal. Thanks to our good progressive friends at GetUp, we can see Lennon’s message for what it was. Thanks largely to his timing, it was just another hot, steaming, cow chip of media distraction from a sociopathic Tasmanian bureaucrat. GetUp has just circulated the following release:

You may have missed it, but the Tasmanian Government last week unbelievably signed an agreement handing over Tasmania’s forests to the Gunns pulp mill for the next 20 years – in the very same week Professor Garnaut warned them of the dire climate change consequences facing us.

If we don’t act now, bulldozers will start clearing land for the mill that will contribute 2% of Australia’s greenhouse emissions – at a time when we’re being told we need to drastically cut our emissions. But unfortunately Australia’s forests were largely left out of Garnaut’s recent interim report.

We have only one opportunity to put them in the picture. A proper assessment in his impending Climate Change Report of our native forests’ climate change value may just sink the mill project. Click here now to sign the petition asking Professor Garnaut to examine the full climate impact of this mill madness and the logging of Tasmania’s native forests:

http://www.getup.org.au/campaign/DontPulpOurClimate

There’s a real risk the Garnaut report won’t include a comprehensive assessment of native forests – despite new research finding the stopping of deforestation a “large, immediate and perishable opportunity”* to massively reduce emissions. Costing out the real value of native forests will not only prove Tasmania’s trees would be better left in the ground but make this teetering project financially unviable when Gunns realises they will have to pay for the carbon embedded in our forests.

Native forests are invaluable sources of carbon storage – and it costs nothing to leave them in the ground. But 80% of the 4.5 million tonnes of wood needed to supply the pulp mill each year will initially come from Tassie’s native forests – permanently destroying forests that can hold 10-20 times the amount of CO2 than plantations.

A proper assessment of their climate change value will undoubtedly make the arguments in favour of the mill, whose climate change impact has never even been assessed, untenable. Take action to protect nature’s lungs before the bulldozers move in:

http://www.getup.org.au/campaign/DontPulpOurClimate

Long story short, Lennon can dance naked down the main street of Hobart wearing wattle in his hair and singing about how he loves the freaky forest critters and their precious wooded homes because he has already pushed through the legislation guaranteeing that they will all be turned into dioxinated mulch.

What visionary leaders he, his state Labor Party, and their big-L small-minded ‘opposition’ are.

Many people may have missed it, but Kyoto in its current incarnation is the best hope for global climate action. Even supposedly progressive governments in supposedly first world countries still treat Kyoto as though it’s too hard, but it is riddled with perverse incentives.

For example, emissions from international shipping and air traffic are not included on anybody’s scorecard at the moment – even though these vapours are as damaging as those of any American cattle ranch or any Chinese coal plant. More directly, Kyoto rewards the cutting down of trees that were planted before the 1990s by recognizing the carbon uptake potential of new trees planted in their place – which means that governments have incentive to replace 600-year old eucalypts with water-intensive saplings.

Brilliant.

Add in the fact that Tasmania’s forest ecosystems are administered by people you wouldn’t trust to look after a goldfish, and all the big environmental research, studies, reports, and recommendations look less and less like progress, and more and more like good ways to feel proactive about doing less than nothing.

Written by typingisnotactivism

March 3, 2008 at 3:31 pm

Whaling: Peter Garrett’s most convenient problem looks like this…

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minke whale and her calf, less than a year old

The Australian government has just released these pictures of Japanese whaling in the waters of the Australian Whales Sanctuary off Antarctica. The federal opposition are opportunising the moment by proclaiming their intention to create a global whale utopia, through their Environmental Orifice, Greg Hunt. Of course, while in government the Liberals’ greatest contribution to whaling was to legally block all efforts to stop it, but that was weeks ago. Tossers.

Speaking of tossers, the land-loving chief of Japan’s Whale Kill Inc. has hit back by denying that the two whales in the picture aren’t related and that this is just Australian propaganda. Off course this is the same guy who claimed that Sea Shepherds‘ accusations that their crew members were tied to a pole aboard the Yushin Maru 2 were lies and Sea Shepherd propaganda… even as photos proving the accusations were fired around the world.

The Labor Party, and specifically the Attorney-General, have really moved in a (perhaps too) measured but dynamic manner on this issue. They removed legal blockages, allowing Humane Society International to test the matter of Japanese whaling in the Australian Antarctic Whale Sanctuary in Federal Court. Without this commitment from the government, HSI could not have succeeded, as they now have.

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith has forged ahead in discussions with Japan and under a siege of sorts from media as a result of the new paradigm, under which Australia is actively, rather than just conveniently, challenging and threatening Japan’s farcical, but vicious, ‘scientific whaling‘ program.

Of course, without the involvement of Sea Shepherd, and even Greenpeace, the government’s ‘effort’ in Antarctica would merely have meant three more weeks of photos like the one above, rather than whales actually having their endangered lives protected. Because the government’s greatest input at the moment seems to be all about getting out of everyone elses’ way. Read the rest of this entry »

Forest campaign against Garrett may have teeth…

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Just pilfered this sassy new bulletin from the ever-lovely Tasmanian Times. It comes fresh from the keyboard of Karl Stevens:

Peter Garrett needs a comb as much as Tasmania needs a pulp mill’.

This is a new campaign targeting Environment Minister Peter Garrett …

PEOPLE are asked to send a plastic hair comb or a picture of a hair comb, with or without an anti-pulpmill message to Environment Minister Garrett.

Nothing abusive or insulting please.

The aim of this campaign is to draw attention to Garrett’s refusal to acknowledge the proposed pulp mill and the clearing of native forest in Tasmania as a critical environmental issue.

There are the 2 addresses for people to post to:
Peter Garrett
Suit MG40
Parliament House Canberra ACT 2600

Peter Garrett
PO Box 249
Maroubra NSW 2035

If you happen to be combing the internet from overseas, just stick ‘Australia’ in before the postcode.

Written by typingisnotactivism

January 14, 2008 at 12:59 am

MELTDOWN: Yankee Subprime, Tassie Pulp = Merry Xmas!

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This piece has just arrived from a Tasmanian hee-roe by the name of Bob McMahon. He’s one of the many heavy lifters active in the fight against Gunns proposed pulp mill in Tasmania’s Tamar Valley, and although he can flippantly fire of the term ‘civil war’ when his blood’s up, i think it’s only because he means it. Check out more of his work at A Better Australia.

“As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country.”  Thus spoke King Solomon (Proverbs 25.25). His wisdom resounds down the ages and brings good cheer to the Tamar Valley in this Christmas week of 2007.

Where is this ‘far country’ and what is the ‘good news’?

The far country is America. The beginning of the good news, the incipiently good news you might say, occurred a few months ago. That was the start of a ‘credit squeeze’ in America due to the subprime mortgage crisis. Loan defaults in the housing market, in particular the 3.5 million ‘homeowners’ who were sold loans they had no chance of repaying over the long term, or even the short term, sparked the squeeze.

No problem for us in Australia, the local economists assured us, because we did not go in for subprime type lending, that is, reckless lending to mortgagees (or companies?) with insufficient assets or cash flow to make loan repayments. We have been altogether more circumspect in Australia. We were immune from that sort of thing we were told. No mention of companies like Centro with assets and exposure in the USA.

Several days ago the pundits had changed their tune following the Centro avalanche, because the problem wasn’t confined to the domestic housing market, nor was it peculiar to the USA. Britain got clobbered. Now it’s Australia’s turn.

Companies, like Centro, which are highly leveraged – short term borrowing, bridging finance at high rates that have to be re-negotiated, borrowings at a high proportion of assets and earning potential etc. – are in for a rough ride. There are a lot of shareholders and investors in superannuation funds exposed to speculative property trusts which surfed in on the big wave of credit expansion, who are feeling rather sick right now. So much for our immunity.

Now the really good news flashed up red on the screen when the squeeze turned into a meltdown which the US Federal Reserve was unable to control with interest rate cuts and wads of money shovelled into the banks to soften the impact, on them, of their own junk loans. Once the credit squeeze ceased to be a mere liquidity problem and started to look like a money market collapse, prescient Tasmanians dared to quietly rejoice and put off their Christmas shopping for a day or two to watch the screens instead: Bloomberg, Squawk Box, Sky, ASX etc.

Some of you might be puzzled as to how this meltdown could possibly be good news for Tasmania?  It is good news because risk capital suddenly got much more expensive, or even impossible to get, not just in Australia but worldwide. Risk capital got a whole lot riskier if you were in the market, like the ANZ, to supply a couple of billion to finance a dodgy business in Tasmania spruiked by a hurdy-gurdy of Scandinavians who had taken advantage, if the truth be known but the Scandinavians would be the last to say so in public, of a board of dimwits.

Yes, that’s right. At a time when pulp mills all over the developed world are closing down because they can’t possibly compete with the developing world (the ‘global south’) or are being bailed out of insolvency with mountains of taxpayers’ money, the Finns were able to flog off a stupendously smelly, long dead fish disguised as a rainbow trout flashing silver in a mountain stream, to Dad and Dave and the bastard from the bush. Taken advantage of, you might say. Pretend international players taken for a ride by real international players.

Serve them right you might say. Let them borrow their two billion, let them borrow twice as much as the company is valued on the stock market, let them be leveraged so highly the earth is dislodged from its orbit around the sun, let them build the pulp mill, because, by 2010 the world will be a meaner place with rat devouring rat and nobody will want the world’s most expensive and environmentally ghastly pulp and the company will be doomed.

I know many readers might think that is justice on about the right scale given the level of contempt shown by the pulp mill proponents (and complicit governments) for the concerns of the people. I would disagree but not out of any love for the company. Let it be napalmed from a great height one part of me says.

But another part of me says let it survive and be marinated in the odium of the people until such time as it changes its ways and the current board of directors is gone to where boards of directors on the dark side go, but let us not have the pulp mill, not any cost, not even at the cost of Gunns sliding off the continental shelf into the abyss.

The risk is well and truly back in risk capital where it rightfully belongs. Many will be scorched as the subprime, slick credit and delusional accounting schemes work through the world economy, transforming world money markets into gut-shot dogs in the process. There will be an untold number of victims, deserved and undeserved and there will be a few winners as well.

The people of Tasmania are beginning to look like winners. Merry Christmas.

 

Bob McMahon

http://www.abetteraustralia.com

 It may also be of interest to Bob and other readers that one of the latest developments in the subprime shockwave is a legal matter which could potentially tear banks wide open. In a way, loans are like property. Smaller banks sell loan agreements and contracts on to bigger banks or investment groups. The debt of the homeowner continues, but is now to the new ‘owner’. But for a recently emerged technicality. A loan that is already in default cannot legally be transferred. Legal eagles are scrambling to navigate around this issue, but it may well be – in the extreme realms of possibility – that loans in default which have been on-sold may have in effect been annulled. Watch this space.

Written by typingisnotactivism

December 20, 2007 at 11:46 pm

Another unappealing Australian forestry decision

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A crucial, complex, and under-reported court battle for Australian forests and endangered species came to a head in late November, as three judges of the Federal Court overturned a decision which had previously seen Greens Senator Bob Brown triumph over the state government of Tasmania, Forestry Tasmania, and the federal government.

Brown has been in court for the last two years, fighting to establish an important understanding of Australian environmental law by arguing about the way it should apply to endangered species in Tasmania’s Wielangta Forest.

The major piece of environmental legislation in this country – the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBCA) – has, in practice, been excluded from all forests governed by Regional Forest Agreements (RFA) between the state and federal governments. In essence, this means that any forest being logged with state approval is exempt from the protections of this particular law.

Brown’s argument – previously upheld in December of 2006 – was that the EPBCA was only excluded because the RFA was meant to confer federal responsibilities for species protection to the state authorities, by virtue of the RFA. Where these responsibilities were not honoured in practice, Brown argued, the RFA was invalidated and endangered species provisions of the EPBCA must therefore be applied.

While the appeal judges seemed to agree that logging in Wielangta has a significant and unacceptable impact on endangered species, they overturned the key finding of last year’s decision, supporting instead the conclusion that areas of logging are exempt from protection other than that deemed necessary by departments of forestry under agreement with state and federal governments.

“It’s a case of the law intends to protect endangered wildlife but if Canberra and Hobart ignore logging which endangers their existence, they can,” Senator Brown said.

“I will ask both Prime Minister Rudd and Peter Garrett to put the Howard years of indifference behind and insist these habitats be protected as the law intends,” said Brown. “I have also asked my barristers to weigh up the obvious grounds for an appeal to the High Court – this nation’s natural heritage depends on us taking action.”

Bob Gordon, Managing Director of Forestry Tasmania took a different view of the decision’s significance.

“Propaganda put out by extreme elements in the anti-forestry movement claimed we were somehow acting outside the law,” said Gordon. “This has been an expensive, emotionally draining and time consuming exercise – but it has been worth it. There is now no doubt that our forest operations are legal.”

Of course, there is still doubt. Unlike Forestry Tasmania and the two governments they are joined by, Brown has not had the benefit of departmental budgets or tax moneys to fight his battle – a battle which is not yet over.

 


Written by typingisnotactivism

December 9, 2007 at 8:31 pm

Voyeurs, Gunns and Money.

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As I said here a few days ago, there will be some bits of interest going up here shortly for filing under forests, environmental law, and Tasmania. Although I’m essentially an opinionated prick who reads a bit, I try not to let a good rant get in the way of most facts – and the fact is that the overturning of the Wielangta decision, which had previously seen Bob Brown’s interpretation of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act upheld by the Federal Court, means the battle for forests and ancient land-based ecosystems in Australia is on a much more demanding uphill slog than it was a week ago. More on that later.

Speaking of things Green – it may be that media aren’t interested until there’s a bunch of hard facts on the ground (yeah, right), but the Senate counting is not yet complete and will likely not be finished for another week. Counting in at least two states is still so close that it may be decided by the final handful of votes yet to be tallied. This is significant, because it means the difference between the crossbench power bloc in the Senate being composed of 7 Greens, or 6 Greens and a centre left independent, or 5 Greens and a centre left independent and a whatever from Family First, aka Neoconservative Demonspawn. So fingers still crossed. The less right wing influence on legislation for at least the next few years, the better.

And now to the point of this post. Gunns are now negotiating in Tasmania to secure an area for accomodation for up to 800 construction workers and a worker’s town to be built near the proposed location of the pulp mill. But they haven’t yet bought the actual site for the pulp mill itself. Here’s hoping that it all comes undone. Either way, a friend just sent me the link for this new website: The Gunns Investor Information Service.

It has a bunch of interesting and relevant information such as:

3) Gunns business is highly exposed to subsidy reductions:-

  • For each hectare of plantation established by Gunns, they receive over $3,000 of taxpayer money via MIS. To increase their plantation estate, Gunns needs more land. The mill seems to need a minimum of 400,000 ha of plantation, an increase of 200,000 ha from current levels. That growth would represent further federal subsidies of $640 million. If that scheme is stopped (and there are many farming and community groups fighting it), then plantation estate increases would be curtailed. That would cap inputs and lower income significantly.
  • Road and bridge repairs are conducted at ratepayer expense. The weight of modern log trucks creates disproportionate damage and total cost relief for this item has been estimated at about $20 million per year across Tasmania. Councils are already crying poor, how long before this subsidy comes under serious question?
  • Plantation trees consume a lot of water (reported as averaging 2 Ml/ha/yr more than agriculture) for which plantation operators do not pay. Tasmania is in drought status right now, rainfall has been diminishing for 10 years and reservoirs are at record lows. Pressure from farmers and communities down catchment could easily change government policy on water charges for trees. The 400 Gl currently calculated for Gunns plantation, at $100 Ml, represents $40 million dollars of foregone State revenue per year.
  • Additional subsidies in the forms of cash payments and cost relief have also been made available to Gunns (e.g. forest agreements etc) to the value of over $300 million in the last 3 years.

So go check it out, and feel free to let any of your elected representatives know if, for example, you have never actually voted for Gunns and are therefore curious why they seem to be running a state of Australia.

Oh, the picture up the top? It’s part of a new outdoor installation in Bethlehem by Banksy, near the wall dividing Israel from Palestine. Bird of Peace in a bulletproof vest on a gunshot-riddled wall facing an Israeli guard tower? Magic. It’s nothing to do with any of this and that’s perhaps why it’s there. Go to Santa’s Ghetto and check out the art show and fundraiser which this cutting work is part of.

 

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December 8, 2007 at 1:38 am

Australia ratifies Kyoto – now the real fun begins!

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Not much time to write this up at the moment, but WOW!!! Shortly after being sworn in, along with his new government, as the 26th Prime Minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd took the bold step of ratifying the Kyoto Protocol. Making this his first official act as Prime Minister, having already indicated last week that Aboriginal Australians – particularly the Stolen Generations – can expect an apology in this federal term, Rudd is really shaking expectations in the most pleasing manner imaginable.

Michelle Grattan – one analyst and writer worth far more than her bodyweight in water (unlike many other mainstream journos named elsewhere in these screens) – writes in today’s Age that

Its Kyoto pledge was one of the policies that helped Labor to victory. Rudd’s instant move is saying Labor will keep faith with its voters. It also emphasises the new PM wants to hit the ground at full tilt on this issue but on others as well.

While I would expect that many of the new government’s supporters didn’t swallow the “me-too” and “Howard lite” bollocks spouted by media for months before the election, I doubt that such decisive and progressive commitments were expected before the year was out.

Symmetrically, these are two big commitments – one domestic with international implications and the other international with big domestic implications – which neatly and responsibly tends to two festering wounds that have only been repeatedly salted and gouged over the last 12 years. Read the rest of this entry »

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December 4, 2007 at 1:09 am

PM Rudd’s first domestic courtesy of the Greens

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By any objective measure, the vote in most of Australia was heavily influenced by Green preferences and should be seen as a call to the Rudd Government to consider a more environmentally friendly way to deal with this issue of the pulp mill.

– Dr Warwick Raverty, 26th November, 2007

It is certain that under Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (*aahhh*) Australia will be an international citizen like never before. A veritable treasure trove of global possibilities now lie across the sea. Ironically, so shall his first major domestic challenge.

Barely had the Rudd victory been declared on Saturday than Greens Senator Bob Brown, surrounded by cheering supporters and green ‘no pulp mill’ triangles, declared the result a vote against the proposed Gunns pulp mill.

“From Bass to Bennelong to Bowman, this pulp mill has had an influence,” Senator Brown said. “And the pulp mill was the single most defining environmental issue which has made this huge swing against the government to the Greens.”

The eviction of the Coalition government was partially rejection of a government that approved the pulp mill. The difficulty is that a vote – primary or preferential – for Federal Labor was still a vote for a party that supported the pulp mill. Read the rest of this entry »

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November 26, 2007 at 9:53 pm

Gunns pulp mill finds vocal support in Tasmania

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thanks Kim & Mr. Missile for helping me, um, take a broader view of the situation. LOL.

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November 26, 2007 at 6:37 pm

Aussie election day – media roundup… (update 2)

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Update: Great freshly posted articles in the U.K. press here and here about John Howard’s climate change and pulp mill legacy and its significance in today’s election. (thanks Mr. M!!)

 

This won’t be totally comprehensive, but going into the day (just turned noon on the east coast) these are some of the stand-out pieces of coverage and opinion so far:

If you’d rather do the sane thing and skip earnestly fact-checked media, check out the videos and transcripts at the Clarke & Dawe page, especially their excoriation of Howard over the politics of fear. This farewell to Howard is brutal and amazing – one of the funniest things they’ve ever done with their 3-minutes.

And happy to see that another of my sometime-favourites, Mike Carlton, has thrown his hat in the ring with the perfectly titled White tracksuit bottoms flutter over the bunker.

The first group left before dawn, silent figures picking their way through the smoking rubble, casting long shadows in the light of the heaped documents burning in the courtyard.

They would take the northern escape route. Most had only the few possessions they had frantically scraped together as the enormity of the disaster emerged. A bundle of lovingly polished pejoratives, perhaps: chardonnay-sipping, elitist, latte left, Howard haters.

Others clutched an old Quadrant magazine, an invitation to drinks at Kirribilli, a treasured newspaper editorial written long ago in praise of Donald Rumsfeld. These keepsakes from happier days would bring comfort in the grim years ahead.

Away from the seriously hilarious to the hilariously serious. Was I wrong about Alan Ramsey? I think so; here’s a vigorously waved middle finger to the departing Magoo of a Prime Minister.

Yet Howard’s true political “genius”, if you like, is forever talking to what he sees as his base constituency as if they are no more than sheep. In this he might well be right.

It’s a great bit of venom which also points out that 300 recycling bins have just arrived at Parliament House, as if out of nowhere… Somebody might be preparing for a shred-a-thon.

This piece, Desperate Tactics, by Shaun Carney clearly points out the obvious reason why the racism/dirty tactics scandal which burned up about 48 hours of Howard’s oxygen this week probably seemed like a good idea at the time:

In 2001, John Howard, aided by Philip Ruddock, showed that it was good business. Howard’s vital sentence, uttered for the first time during that campaign during the Liberals’ formal launch at the Sydney Recital Hall, was: “We decide who comes into this country and the circumstances in which they come.” I was there and there were two moments during that event when the roof of that beautiful space just about lifted off due to the rapturous applause from Liberal supporters: when Howard made that statement and when Ruddock, the hero of the push against boat people, was introduced to the crowd.

Tracee Hutchison sprays on a bit of drama but with a lyrical flair and 11 years of pent-up anger prays that the past week will indeed be Johnny’s epitaph:

Somehow the word comeuppance came to mind as the 11th-hour race implosion in the federal seat of Lindsay derailed Howard’s re-election momentum. And it screamed poetic justice.

Election analyst Antony Green gets his outlook in here, while Chris Uhlmann disembowels the last 6 weeks of election campaigning here.

So their slogan was “Go for Growth”, and all of a sudden people could think, “Well, that could mean that interest rates might rise, so that’s a bit of a problem.” So then we saw another banner appear which was red and said, “Don’t risk our economy with Labor.”

And in the last week really, the Prime Minister has borrowed a line from Morris Iemma, which is if we’re heading in the right direction, there’s no need to change. So, there’s been a dog’s breakfast of themes throughout this.

Peter Hartcher has written a comprehensive comparison piece, Taste The Difference, which needs a cup of coffee and some breathing space – but is well worth it. Hartcher’s been almost as outstanding reading as Michelle Grattan, and while it’s a shame that she hasn’t written anything in the last 24 hours it’s a sure bet she’ll write something dazzling within the next 24.

They do converge on a great deal – in the words of the online satirist Hugh Atkin, Rudd proceeds according to the “clever principle of similar difference”.

We could also take a visit to the News Limited stable, but nah. Half of the editors there have decided in the last week that their best marketing outcome lies in supporting the ALP for 4 days, rather than continuing their line of “Howard’s amazing, why is he so misunderstood?”

Instead, there’s the lucky-dip mix at Election Tracker, which I believe is a loose collective of journalism students taking a crack at broadly composed online coverage. My guess is that it will be bereft of jaded cynicism and bitter bias, but that is just a guess.

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November 24, 2007 at 3:30 pm

Turnbull goes down screaming

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nagyon-depis-life-sucks.jpgMore like a 5-year old than a banshee – Malcolm ‘animal lover’ Turnbull has picked election day to prove that Geffrey Cousins isn’t the only millionaire who can place a full-page ad. The Liberal Party, according to this article, have placed a full-page ad telling the voters of Wentworth (Bondi, Kings Cross, Darlinghurst, Double Bay, etc.) that if they don’t make sure that Turnbull wins, his legal advice is that he can force a by-election.

Sounds like he gets his campaign advice from the same place as News Limited’s Caroline Overington.

Wait a minute… Of course he does. The husband of her good buddy and Oz-colleague, Janet Albrechtsen – John Howard’s culture-Scud on the ABC board – is his media advisor.

Wow. What a small world.

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November 24, 2007 at 4:12 am

Plain and simple, this weekend in Australia means…

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Like a forest lost for the trees, the constant stream of media, advertising, news, conversations, and emails is almost enough to blur the significance of this election as it looms large just hours from here.

Apart from everything that can be said and has been said, there is one fact of which amazingly little has been made. Three years ago, global warming was barely a blip on the political radar. This election, many voters are ranking it as one of their top four priorities.

Despite the tireless work of The Greens over many years, it is fair to say that more than any other issue in recent memory this is a dazzling example of bottom-up grassroots campaigning gaining an issue broader mainstream awareness. Tim Flannery, Clive Hamilton, Wendy Frew and Al Gore fit somewhere in there too.

And could the timing be any more dramatic? Barely a week after the election, the incredibly massive Bali climate change conference will be working out the future of the global response to the increasingly obvious.

Excuse me for sounding like a credit card ad, but we’re talking 11 days, 198 countries, 3,000 journalists, and 10,000 delegates. Being a part of that? Priceless!!

More immediate than the economy, IR reform, hospital innovations, skills training, education and the mining boom, this is as clear as the consequences of this weekend for all us Aussies can get.

On December 2nd, Australia will once again be the laughing stock of a major global meeting, probably disparaging India and China, and again being locked out of high level talks that will determine the future use and constraints of natural resources, species, industry, border security, and precious natural environments. Oh yes, and trillions of dollars in future earnings and damage abatement.

OR, our representatives will be attending to deposit a letter committing to fully ratify Kyoto and signed by the Prime Minister. For the first time in years, Australia will be embraced by the global community as it faces this massive challenge and America shall finally be without an ally in ‘but they were doing it too’.

For all Australians, what happens in 2 days time is a very big deal. Thanks in part to media bloviation, it is also becoming somewhat abstract.

It is increasingly a din that drowns the senses and numbs the mind. Exciting. Anxious. Huge. Frustrating. Hopeful. Cracker night with pencils.

But for something tangible, consider this: the U.N. reports on climate change have been conservative for the last decade to diminish accusations of exaggeration. But the latest, most thoroughly researched and comprehensively certain observation is this – the Inconvenient Truth ‘ten years to act’ scenario is gone.

We are in the end zone. The global community must initiate decisive action within the next 3 years for any chance that future generations might live as part of a world as rich in natural treasures as ours has been.

On that first weekend in December, a week after this election, the die shall be cast. We, as a nation, shall be either pariah, or prodigal.

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Updated: 12 000 Tasmanians rally against pulp-mill.

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Despite a constant spray of rain, over ten thousand Tasmanians turned out for today’s midday rally in Franklin Square, Hobart. Author Richard Flanagan – whose piece in The Monthly moved Geoffrey Cousins to campaign against the pulp mill in Malcolm Turnbull’s seat of Wentworth and Peter Garrett’s seat of Botany – made a stirring speech which has been reproduced in full at Tasmanian Times. Here’s a taste, but you should really read the whole thing:

And if, in the end we have all other avenues denied us, if we are left with no other alternative, if it takes standing on the road to the pulp mill site and placing our bodies between their machines and our home, we will stand there, in peace and with pride, united against hate and greed, joined in our love for our island. And if we are arrested and thrown in jail, then we will go to jail in our tens, we will go to jail in our hundreds, we will go to jail in our thousands, and Paul Lennon will have to build seven new prisons to house all the people who will come and who will keep on coming before they even attempt to pour the foundations of one new pulp mill.

If it must be, I will stand on that road to the pulp mill. Raise your hand if you will stand there with me, raise your hands so Kevin Rudd can see he was wrong, raise your hand so Peter Garrett can see that people care, raise your hand so John Howard can see this matters, raise your hand so that ANZ, Perpetual, AMP and the Commonwealth Bank can see that will have to deal with the fallout of the biggest civil disobedience campaign in Australian history since the Franklin River blockade if they do not take action now.

the photos are by Matt Newton and lifted from this page at Tassie Times.

the photos are by Matt Newton and lifted from this page at Tassie Times.

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November 20, 2007 at 3:19 am

Commonwealth Bank takes 5% stake in Gunns

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ABC reports that the Commonwealth Bank through its investment arm Colonial First State has just become a major shareholder in Gunns. With twenty million shares – or 5% of the company – their investment must be in excess of $50 million.

This means that Commonwealth Bank and Colonial First State will now be on the “fair target” list of investment houses – alongside ANZ and Perpetual Investment – for those wishing to oppose the pulp mill. It is likely that pressure through logic and economic rationale shall be the m.o. rather than straight boycotts.

An interesting example of protesters getting it wrong on economics and big evil companies getting it right is the Barrick open cut cyanide leech gold mining operation at Lake Cowal in the south-west of New South Wales. Although protesters are right about the New South Wales government selling out public interest, water supplies, farmers, and the environment for a handful of dollars they were wrong about the value of the project to the Canadian miner.

At the peak of the protest, gold was valued at around $US380 an ounce. It is of course heading toward $900 an ounce, which adds about 150% to the potential value of the project.

Of course, this doesn’t change anything. Barrick are still super-evil money-grabbing motherf@#%er$. The point is that protesters attacking Gunns on an economic tangent better use the kind of foresight that they are demanding from Gunns and the federal and state governments or they will actually weaken their own case – not just the economic argument, but the mill opposition in its entirety.

Chris Lang has detailed the global outlook for the expansion of pulp production over the next 5 – 10 years. Obviously, the fact that a lot of this is taking place in developing countries will put downward pressure on the price companies in developed countries – with environmental laws, however inadequate – can put on their ‘product’.

It has also been speculated that a glut of supply shall also push prices down, and that the volatility in the global pulp market makes it more a venue for buyers than sellers.

And of course there’s the impending cost of carbon which should bugger everyone who cuts down trees for a living.

So with all of these “downward pressures” anticipated by anti-mill activists, why are big investment houses and banks now flocking to Gunns like flies to a turd? Anybody?

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November 14, 2007 at 2:57 pm

Truly inconvenient – climate reality v. Aussie b.s.

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About a week after the election (go John, go… please) there’s a get-together in Bali. Maybe you’ve heard about it – 198 countries sending over 10,000 delegates to an 11-day meeting accompanied by close to 3,000 media.

An international meeting of that size is a very, very big deal. It makes APEC in Sydney look like a Liberal Party fundraiser. Funny that.

It’s also funny what else Aussie politicians and media fail to mention. Although the U.N. Secretary-General, Ban-Ki Moon, recently declared climate change an emergency. On that particular day, Aussie headlines were instead grabbed by Nicole Kidman doing…something.

Meanwhile, the latest forward-looking climate research from America brings good news for Malcolm Turnbull and Peter Garrett. Tasmania’s forests look set to be among the first in the world to be devastated by significant changes in global temperature.

Intensive logging of Tassie so eagerly supported by the ALP and the COALition may prevent this from happening.

Of course, if they weren’t so mindlessly supporting the Gunns pulp mill and its 10,000,000+ tonnes of annual carbon emissions, there’s a chance those forests would survive the Australian government and climate change.

Then again, with the current Australian and U.S. plan to increase emissions by 45% by 2050, what’s another half a billion tonnes of pollution?

So how does it all end: nuclear suicide, ecological disaster, Jesus II, or a Peter Costello presidency…

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November 13, 2007 at 11:36 pm

How they do business at The Australian?

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Check out this story – a senior journalist at The Austra-lyin’ wrote emails to independent Wentworth candidate Dani Ecuyer urging her to preference Malcolm Turnbull – her rival, and one of the key people for Australia’s sabotage of climate change action and for the approval of Gunns’ pulp mill project in Tassie. Turnbull is essentially the antithesis of everything Ecuyer is running in support of, and yet,

She has released an email exchange with The Australian newspaper journalist Caroline Overington, in which the reporter writes “Please preference Malcolm. It would be such a good front page story.”

Even on Star Trek where oversexed humans zapped around space at light speed with photon torpedoes and influenza, the crew knew they weren’t meant to influence the paths of other cultures. Here’s a senior writer for a paper which funds massive advertising b.s. about how awesome it is, asking a pro-environment candidate in what has become a very marginal seat to help return the Liberal anti-environment candidate.

Media Watch, the unique Australian show which guarantees the host a very limited number of journalistic career options for at least five years, has provided a deadly bit of coverage here chronicling the entire sage of communications to and about Ecuyer by the dark forces of  News Limited.

Hilariously, both Caroline Overington – the ‘journalist’ in question – and Chris Mitchell – editor-in-chief at The Australian – are claiming that the whole thing was just part of a friendly joke between girls. Seems like the same kind of contempt which they express for the nation’s collective intelligence each and every day.

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November 13, 2007 at 9:03 am

$2+ Billion class action against Gunns under consideration

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Word is just starting to come from Tasmania of a citizen’s movement over the pulp mill which Gunns are planning to begin building in January 2008. More news is expected to come out later today, but at this stage there is a core of 200 residents supporting the action with more likely to join should initial considerations move toward a definite legal action.

At this stage, residents are compiling a list of potential litigants – people whose health, livelihood, business, lifestyles, property values, and futures are likely to be negatively impacted by the mill.

Organizers are making comparisons to the James Hardy asbestos damages case, but with the qualification that

“Unlike James Hardie, Gunns and their shareholders and potential financiers of the pulp mill know full well the health hazards, issues of public safety and the potential for loss of property values. They are also fully aware of the risks that the mill poses to businesses such as tourism, vineyards, horticulture, farming and the service industries to these businesses. They are fully aware of the health dangers of the dioxins they are planning to dump into Bass Strait and the threat to our fisheries”.

For breaking news, check out TAP. This post will be updated later today following a public meeting in Launceston.

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November 13, 2007 at 1:50 am