23 March 2011 Joint Media Release TAP Into A Better Tasmania (TAP) and Tasmanian Public and Environmental Health Network (TPEHN)

Community Groups TAP and TPEHN join in condemning the ‘forest principle agreement’ because it is very specifically tied to the delivery of the Gunns' Tamar Valley pulp mill.

As reported in The Australian yesterday, Bill Kelty said ‘green’ groups must strike a deal on the Gunns' Tamar Valley pulp mill or miss out on permanent protection of 565,000 hectares of native forest.

“There you have it. This is what the ‘roundtable’ negotiations have been about all along,” commented Dr Alison Bleaney of TPEHN.

“From the point of view of Gunns and the Labor Party, the forest ‘roundtable’ was about delivering the Long Reach pulp mill. From the ENGO’s side it was about delivering protection to native forest. They were the two glittering prizes up for grabs and to pretend otherwise is misleading,” said TAP spokesperson Bob McMahon.

“In order for both sides to get what they wanted it was important to exclude the community first and foremost. Why? Because it was expected that the community would be opposed to any trade-off of the sort so bluntly expressed by Kelty”, continued McMahon.

“After all, the community was going to have to pay the price for the sort of deal the forest industry negotiators had in mind. The community had to be sidelined and kept in the dark. Thus the secrecy. We were the sacrifice."

“That the blatantly undemocratic, rigged and secret ‘roundtable’ negotiations and the ‘forest principles’ that resulted (including in principle support for plantations and ‘a pulp mill’) received the enthusiastic support of the ALP is no surprise."

“That the Greens have also been enthusiastic supporters of the undemocratic negotiations as constituted, and the ‘forest principles’ that resulted from the illegitimate process, is deeply distressing for the community and incredibly damaging to the Greens themselves,” said McMahon.

“Kelty has made it abundantly clear that the success of the Gunns/ALP pulp mill is dependent on the signing of the ‘forest principles agreement’,” said Dr. Bleaney.

“Therefore, both TAP and TPEHN, demand that The Wilderness Society, Environment Tasmania and Australian Conservation Foundation either refuse to sign the agreement as it exists or insist that the Gunns Tamar Valley pulp mill be specifically excluded from the agreement as a principle."

“We expect many other community groups will join us in making this demand”.

“It is not too late for the Greens to redeem themselves either”, confirmed Bob McMahon. “They will have to stop the doublethink and unequivocally withdraw their support for the ‘forest principles’ as they stand and the illegitimate roundtable process which produced them. It is not good enough for the Greens to say they do not support the Tamar Valley pulp mill while supporting a process designed from the very beginning to deliver that very same pulp mill.

“Dr Bleaney and I want to put this bizarre chapter of Tasmanian history into context. This is a monumental issue of social justice. Should the environment groups sign up to the ‘forest principles’ deal as it currently exists it will be viewed as a great betrayal of current and future generations of Tasmanians, whose social, economic and environmental horizons will be severely diminished and restricted by the demands Gunns mill will place on our basic resources of land and water and of the huge public subsidies the mill will need in order to compete against cheaper producers in developing countries.