Tas­ma­ni­ans go to the polls

Australian Forests and Timber - - NEWS -

TAS­MA­NIAN PREMIER Lara Gid­dings fired two Greens from her Cab­i­net, called an elec­tion for 15 March and flagged with clar­ity that the pulp mill would be num­ber one on the agenda. In fact, when this edi­tion was go­ing to press Gid­dings was re­call­ing Par­lia­ment in a bid to strengthen leg­is­la­tion to en­sure the con­tro­ver­sial Bell Bay pulp mill had ev­ery as­sis­tance to be­come a re­al­ity. The end of the ‘mar­riage of con­ve­nience’ with the Greens did not come as a sur­prise. “With a date for the elec­tion now set and long­stand­ing dif­fer­ences over the pulp mill, it’s a log­i­cal time to for­mally end the agree­ment be­tween La­bor and the Greens,” the Premier had said. Gid­dings said the pulp mill would be a $ 2.5 bil­lion project that would deal only in plan­ta­tion trees. Strong sup­port for the mill also came from the CFMEU. Its Na­tional Sec­re­tary Michael O’Con­nor said that while there were in­ter­ested par­ties look­ing to pur­chase and de­velop the pulp mill, bi-par­ti­san po­lit­i­cal sup­port to pass leg­is­la­tion re­mov­ing any doubts over the va­lid­ity of per­mits for the project would greatly in­crease the chance of a new owner de­vel­op­ing the pulp mill. The CFMEU has been run­ning a cam­paign around Aus­tralia dur­ing the last year, un­der the ban­ner of “Don’t Shred Pulp and Paper Jobs”, which aims to pro­mote the lo­cal pulp and paper in­dus­try and see greater ac­tion from politi­cians to back the sec­tor. “Work­ers in the in­dus­try, through their union, have been send­ing a mes­sage loud and clear to politi­cians of all per­sua­sions that they need to take a stand to sup­port the fu­ture of Aus­tralia’s pulp and paper in­dus­tries, rather than al­low­ing re­gional com­mu­ni­ties to con­tinue to bleed jobs,” O’Con­nor had said. Sup­port, too, came has come from the Aus­tralian For­est Prod­ucts As­so­ci­a­tion (AFPA) which ap­plauded both the Tas­ma­nian State La­bor Govern­ment and Lib­eral Op­po­si­tion for main­tain­ing their sup­port in prin­ci­pal for a pulp mak­ing plant. The AFPA high­lighted the fact that there were al­most 230 000 ha of eu­ca­lypt plan­ta­tion in Tas­ma­nia. Many of these trees were planted specif­i­cally to sup­port the pulp-mak­ing mill and are now ready for har­vest. Much of the wood fi­bre in ques­tion is a crop owned by hun­dreds of Aus­tralians – many of them fam­ily scale farm­ers. They should be given the chance to har­vest and sell that as­set. It also stressed that the pro­posed pulp mill would be world-scale, us­ing the lat­est tech­nol­ogy, mak­ing it highly com­pet­i­tive in global mar­kets and was at pains to point out that nei­ther the com­mu­nity nor AFPA would ac­cept a pulp mak­ing plant that did not meet the high­est en­vi­ron­men­tal stan­dards. It is in­cum­bent on the next Tas­ma­nian Govern­ment to en­sure the is­land State is gov­erned fairly and eq­ui­tably. Tas­ma­nia de­serves a lot bet­ter deal than it has re­ceived in re­cent times.

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