Media reports for May 2008

31 May No comment from Forestry Tasmania on the 20-year wood supply deal with Gunns that depends on construction starting by June 08 and the mill running by December 2010. The deal is to supply 1.5 million tonnes of wood per year to the mill. The Examiner

30 May Tasmania's forest industry is warning that the state's sawmill industry will be destroyed if Gunns' Tamar Valley pulp mill is not built. ABC

30 May Gunns' shares opened lower on Friday, after the ANZ withdrew funding for its controversial $2 billion pulp mill. As at February 08 Gunns had incurred $58.3 million in capital expenditure and expensed costs of $27 million. The Age

30 May Gunns chairman, John Gay said the development of the pulp mill was "continuing on schedule with strong international interest in the financing". Significantly, his statement to the ASX did not announce any confirmed financing for the mill. Gunns has hired the high-profile public relations agency Cato Counsel to improve its image. The Sydney Morning Herald

30 May ANZ say they "will not be participating in the provision of project finance for Gunns Ltd's proposed Bell Bay pulp mill in Tasmania." The bank declined to explain why "due to client confidentiality." Offshore financing exposes Gunns to international exchange rate fluctuations say the Greens. The Australian

30 May No ANZ funding for the pulp mill. In 2005, Mr Gay told the Australian Financial Review that, despite approaches by investment banks, the company would fund the project through the ANZ. In 2007, Mr Gay told the Weekend Australian that about 25 to 30 per cent of the money had been secured from Europe in a deal arranged by the ANZ. But five to six weeks ago, Mr Gay went on a 10-day trip to Europe seeking the $2 billion in funding. The Mercury

29 May Premier Bartlett has scrapped plans for taxpayers to build, own or fund a vital $60million water pipeline for the Gunns pulp mill. However, The Wilderness Society has a legal opinion that land for the pipelines could be easily compulsorily acquired if it is owned or built by a government agency. Next month's state budget could include $12 million over four years for a new road interchange at the mill's entrance on the East Tamar Highway. The Australian

29 May The ANZ bank has confirmed it will not fund the Gunns' pulp mill. Tasmanian Liberals Deputy Leader, Jeremy Rockliff, says it is only a minor hiccup. ABC

29 May Talks to assemble a consortium of several local and overseas banks to fund Gunns pulp mill are continuing. ANZ, Macquarie, Perpetual and Gunns refused to comment. Deutsche Bank analyst does not expect clarity on funding until the mill has been approved by the Federal Government sometime in the December quarter. Preliminary construction may start in August, but the major work is unlikely to start until funding is finalised. The Age

28 May On Monday, new Premier Bartlett appeared to rule out public funding of major pulp mill infrastructure. On Tuesday, he said he would consider all proposals including roads, wharves and pipelines associated with the pulp mill based on "public benefit and interest". On Wednesday, David Bartlett said no more public money will be spent on the planned mill including a planned 35km water pipeline to the mill, estimated to cost $65 million. However, Greens understand that $12 million funding for roadworks at the mill site would be included in the upcoming State Budget. The Mercury

28 May Gunns buy the four-star Commodore Regent Motor Inn in Launceston for $2.8 million. It could serve as accommodation for people involved in the construction of the proposed pulp mill. The Mercury

28 May Fast-growing eucalypts in Thailand can be harvested for pulp in three years when they reach a diameter of 6.5cm. (Do the pulp mill economics stack up?)

28 May Finance industry sources confirmed that Gunns planned pulp mill has lost its main financial backer, the ANZ bank. Gunns is searching for a replacement to lead the syndicate of bankers. A Gunns announcement is likely next week. The Age

27 May The Tasmanian Greens put new Premier David Bartlett on notice that his credibility on openness and accountability of government would be put to immediate test, by calling on the Premier to facilitate the release of 131 pages of information that is being held back by the Department of Economic Development Tasmania concerning the controversial proposed water and effluent pipeline for the Gunns' Pulp Mill and the government's role in funding and operating the infrastructure.

27 May During an ABC interview last night, new Premier David Bartlett ruled out future public funding for any infrastructure linked to Gunns' $2 billion pulp mill. It contrasted with his comments earlier in the day, when he had said he would look at funding of the $65 million water supply pipeline to the pulp mill. The Mercury

26 May Paul Lennon suddenly quits as premier and from State Parliament. The Examiner

25 May Paul Lennon does not believe Gunns Ltd is worried about securing finance for its pulp mill. The Examiner

24 May More silence from Gunns after reports that ANZ has knocked back funding. John Gay is trying to patch together an 11th hour funding syndicate for the pulp mill for which construction must start by the end of June. In August 2007, Mr Gay insisted the mill was "well and truly financed". The Government will not be providing a funding guarantee. The Mercury

24 May Financial analyst says there would be other sources if the ANZ does not fund Gunns' mill. Shadforths advisor, Mr Homan did not believe environmental groups had influenced the funding issue. Gunns could go to its shareholders for some funds and then the bank for the balance. The Examiner

23 May Gunns' shares have fallen 6% following reports the ANZ Bank will not fund the controversial $2 billion pulp mill. Director of the Finance Sector Union policy, Rod Masson said ANZ's reported move away from the mill showed the bank was prepared to put the interests of the environment and local communities ahead of bigger profits. The Australian

23 May The Greens say that plans for the $2 billion pulp mill are dead, following unconfirmed reports the ANZ bank will not fund Gunns' project. Senator Milne said "if Gunns go to Macquarie Bank then they will face a similar consumer backlash similar to ANZ's, via the Macquarie Radio network." GetUp! warned other potential financiers to learn from ANZ's decision and decline Gunns finance for the project. The Australian

23 May The Federal Environment Department has granted permission to begin construction of worker accommodation. Three other approvals for vegetation clearing and bulk earthworks on the pulp mill site have already been issued. Funding not yet approved. The Examiner

23 May Is Gunns is doing a deal with NZ's Carter Holt for the pulp mill and has Paul Lennon has gone to NZ to assure them that it has the support of the Tasmanian Government and, more particularly, did any Forestry Tasmania managers go too?

22 May The Business Spectator is reporting on its website that the ANZ Bank has refused to finance Gunns' proposed $2 billion pulp mill but the ANZ is officially saying that no decision has yet been made. The Mercury

21 May Gunns' proposed pulp mill would put upward pressure on inflation, a Senate committee of inquiry was told by an economics lecturer. The Examiner

19 May Don't panic says Director of Public Health to residents of towns supplied with water containing herbicides. The Greens said they would again try to outlaw chemical trespass, after earlier bids were knocked back by Liberal and Labor parties. The Mercury

18 May The director of public health Roscoe Taylor says drought could be worsening the effect of herbicides found in drinking water. The chemicals have been found repeatedly in the state but Dr Taylor's jurisdiction is limited to public drinking-water supplies. He has warned Gunns not to use simazine and atrazine in the Macquarie River catchment. The Mercury

17 May Macquarie Bank is refusing to confirm or deny rumours it has decided to help finance the Gunns pulp mill. Several sources suggested ANZ Bank had decided not to act as lead financier for the project. The Australian

17 May Chemicals were detected in the Macquarie River (Simazine) in early 2008 and Coal River (metalaxyl and pirimicarb) in April testing. The Director of Public Health has told a chemical user in the catchment to stop using simazine until advised otherwise. The Mercury


17 May  The Failure of Gunns to comply with requirements imposed by the Chief Scientist under the EPBC Act is exposed by TAP.

“Gunns Ltd have failed to provide accurate and substantive roadkill data for threatened species,  in relation to the three major access routes to their proposed Pulp Mill as required under Condition 26 of the EPBC 2007/3385”, stated Tony Saddington, TAP Roadkill Monitoring Co-Ordinator.

“With the evidence before him there is no way the Minister for the Environment, Peter Garrett, can sign off on the inadequate work done by Gunns Ltd. Gunns have been exposed for giving only lip service to the Commonwealth requirements,” Mr Saddington continued.

Under Condition 26, the Chief Scientist required Gunns Ltd to give immediate attention to the following objectives:
“To manage the risks to listed threatened species associated with roadkill, Gunns Limited must, in accordance with the EIMP:
a) Immediately following the date of this approval, establish baseline monitoring of roadkill along the East Tamar highway and other major access routes for construction.
b) Monitor the roadkill and implement response strategies, as necessary, in accordance with the EIMP if the number of road killed mammals exceeds the trigger levels in the EIMP.

The requirement for Gunns Ltd to establish baseline monitoring “immediately following the date of approval” has not been met.  Approval was given on the 4th October 2007, but the first results recorded by Gunns were on the 4th November 2007.

The requirement for Gunns Ltd to establish baseline data for the “East Tamar highway and other major access routes for construction” has not been met.  A report submitted by geNAMES acknowledges on behalf of Gunns that they were only engaged to undertake a baseline monitoring programme on the East Tamar Highway between Dilston and Bell Bay.  There has been no roadkill survey undertaken on behalf of Gunns on the Batman Bridge approach, the West Tamar, Frankford or Bridport Highways.

The requirement for Gunns Ltd to collect data on a daily basis has not been met. Weekends and public holidays appear to have been unmonitored and observations spasmodic.  Evidence exists that carcasses were removed on occasions prior to inspection by Gunns’ survey crew.

The requirement for Gunns Ltd to “manage the risks to listed threatened species associated with roadkill” has not been met.  Gunns have failed to either recognise or discover existing threatened species and as such have not established a true baseline.

The significant shortcomings of Gunns Ltd to supply accurate and substantive roadkill data, demand that the threatened species surveys must be redone to an acceptable standard. Data were not collected for 80% of the three month daily monitoring program as required by the Chief Scientist (Rec.  In addition, for the first 6 of 24 sampling runs, data was collected over only 8010m or 24% of the total 32,912m of the East Tamar Highway.

Since the 21st October 2007  Tasmanians Against the Pulpmill (TAP) have been conducting a daily roadkill monitoring programme along 22ks of the East Tamar Highway to ensure accuracy and compliance by Gunns with acceptable standards of quality assurance and quality control. TAPs’ survey has been conducted seven days a week, typically commencing between 7 to 8am. It still continues. TAP data comprises species identification, location from both local landmarks and GPS along with dated digital photos of specimens. 

Significantly TAP has identified and independently confirmed fifteen carcasses belonging to threatened species out of a total of 656 specimens. Gunns on the other hand, have only recorded five out of 272 specimens.


17 May Gunns has been banned from using triazine herbicides - atrazine and simazine in a town drinking-water catchment by the state Director of Public Health. This followed repeated detection of simazine in drinking water supplies for the town of Ross at levels more than double the national guideline. The Director suggested their use state-wide be reconsidered. Gunns had complied with his directive and said it is reviewing the application of chemicals on plantations. The Australian

17 May Smoke from a forest burn-off near Lake Leake is affecting properties as far south as Buckland on the Tasman Highway. Police have advised motorists in the area to drive with caution. The Mercury

16 May Liberals warn that delays in delivering rail funding could affect plans to transport logs to the proposed Gunns pulp mill. Rail is preferred to road transport by Gunns and the government but that depends on lines being upgraded or built from scratch. The Mercury

 15 May A University of California study has found atrazine causes damaging genetic changes in human cells. Atrazine is used to control weeds in forest plantations and farm crops. Australian Drinking Water Guidelines nominate 40ppb atrazine as a safe limit but the US has a drinking water maximum of 3ppb and Europe has refused to approve it for use. Australia's health value of 40ppb was "worrying" said Professor Ingraham. The Australian

15 May ANZ Bank says it is examining whether the Gunns pulp mill proposed for northern Tasmania will destroy high conservation value forests before deciding whether to finance the project. Bank spokesman said a decision on whether to provide finance for the project was "getting closer". The Australian

14 May ANZ's new forest policy released on May 4 should preclude it from funding the proposed Gunns Ltd pulp mill, the Wilderness Society says. The policy seeks to avoid supporting the logging of areas of high conservation value. The Mercury

13 May Launceston City council aldermen have rejected a plan for a forestry plantation on the boundary of Lilydale because the plantation would affect its amenity. However, separate to council processes Forest Enterprises Australia has the right to apply to the Forest Practices Authority for a Forest Practices Plan for the entire area. The Mercury

13 May The southern Tasmanian midlands town of Levendale is fighting for its future. Like so many rural towns, its future is threatened by the ongoing drought, encroaching timber plantations and the long-term exodus of people from the bush. Broadcast: 09/05/2008 ABC

 11 May The organisers of a community rally at Lilydale, near Launceston, say about 300 people have gathered to voice their concern about plans for a forestry plantation near the town. ABC

10 May The Lilydale Protection Group expects up to 400 people will rally against a forestry plantation proposed for the area. Forest Enterprise Australia plans to plant eucalyptus trees on a 72ha property on Lilydale Rd. The Examiner

7 May The bushfire smoke that blanketed the sky late last month graphically marked the link between forest regeneration burns and carbon emissions. Viewing forests through a climate-change and carbon lens changes all the old orthodoxies about forest conservation and management. Garnaut may be the trigger for this renaissance in forest management. The Australian

7 May Greens point out State Government's double standards for agreeing to compensate Gunns with $15 million but not the "clean green" industries in the Tamar valley that might be damaged by the pulp mill. The Mercury

6 May The State Government has guaranteed compensation of up to $15 million to Gunns if the wood supply to its pulp mill is cut off. Forestry Tasmania has a 20-year deal to supply 1.5 million tonnes of pulpwood from native forests and plantations each year. Greens say it would impose a "huge financial penalty on future taxpayers" if forestry practices were changed as a result of carbon trading. The Mercury

5 May The pulp mill has been credited with swaying the weekend's Legislative Council election results in the North and South of Tasmania. The Mercury

4 May Independent member of the Legislative Council Kerry Finch, said the result of Saturday's election in the division of Rosevears was a referendum on the pulp mill. He received more than 70 per cent of the vote. ABC

2 May The Tasmanian Government is refusing to release any details of secret and well-advanced proposals for taxpayers to own and subsidise pipelines to service the controversial Gunns pulp mill citing an "explicit arrangement" with Gunns Ltd. The Australian

2 May The State Government has been accused of secretly deciding to pay for the $65 million water pipeline to supply the planned Gunns pulp mill. The Government refused to hand any of the 25 relevant documents to the Greens. The Mercury

1 May A legal challenge against federal approval of the Gunns pulp mill will go ahead in July or August. The Federal Court ruled that Lawyers for Forests launching the action did not have to provide a $100,000 bond as requested by Gunns. Lawyers for Forests claims Mr Turnbull breached the EPBC Act by failing to have sufficient information on which to make a decision, and by approving construction while making the mill's operation conditional on the successful completion of a range of studies. The Australian