Media reports for August 08

31 August Premier David Bartlett has backed down from his demand that there be "good commercial reasons" for Forestry Tasmania to continue its pulp-mill wood supply agreement beyond November 30. Barry Chipman of Timber Communities Australia said "It is a bit of a worrying trend in some things that are being said that are not in line with government policy". Forestry Tasmania managing director Bob Gordon has ruled out terminating the agreement. The Mercury

31 August No comment from Gunns on its $430 million capital raising bid to reduce debt until the deal is finalised. The Board is heartened by a recent $25/tonne increase in the price of woodchips. The Examiner

30 August Leading business figure and outspoken mill critic Geoffrey Cousins, declared that Gunns executive chairman and chief executive John Gay should resign. "Demonstrably he has destroyed shareholder value and the board has failed to keep the market properly informed." The Mercury

30 August Gunns is relying on its institutional shareholders, to take up most of the new shares in a $430m capital raising bid. If successful, Gunns' debt ratio will reduce to 37 per cent from the 51 per cent reported at June 30. The company's debt is $1.05 billion with net equity $993 million. The Examiner

29 August Gunns plans to raise $430 million through a rights issue to repay debts and fund future growth. Sydney Morning Herald

29 August  Gunns are unable to give an assurance that the controversial project could obtain sufficient finance or a joint venture partner or will proceed. It also told the ASX it could not meet a deadline for the start of construction of November 30, after which it would lose a sovereign risk agreement and state Government support. The Australian

29 August Premier David Bartlett has reaffirmed  that Government support for the Gunns' pulp mill will be severed unless it is under construction by November 30. The Mercury

29 August Gunns has conceded for the first time its $2 billion Bell Bay pulp mill may not proceed because of problems getting finance. In a statement coinciding with its annual profit announcement, Gunns also said it would not have finance for the mill finalised until the first quarter of 2009. The Mercury

29 August Gunns profit takes a hit, down 16 percent. (Summary of financials given).  The Examiner

29 August In an announcement to the ASX, Gunns has been unable to give an assurance that its proposed $2 billion Bell Bay pulp mill will proceed and concedes that finance for the project is far from finalised. Company profits dropped 15.6 per cent to $64.5 million. The Examiner

28 August Why Gunns mill project fails; an insightful opinion piece by Alex Wadsley. "Many companies have the capacity to navigate approval processes for multi-billion dollar projects, unfortunately Gunns doesn’t appear to be one of them..." Tasmanian Times

28 August More than 250 people were ejected from the parliamentary gallery after they turned their backs on the major parties in a dramatic protest against the pulp mill. The drama came after the State Government and Liberal Opposition voted down a Bill that would have withdrawn approval for the $2 billion Gunns pulp mill. The Mercury

28 August Security guards and police had to clear Parliament's public gallery as 200 angry protesters heckled MPs when debate drew to a close on a push to repeal Parliament's approval of Gunns' pulp mill. Greens MHA Kim Booth said the bill's controversial section 11, which prevents any form of legal challenge to the mill's approval, was "the most undemocratic law ever passed in the country". Gunns said yesterday's vote represented another vote of confidence in the pulp mill. The Examiner

27 August Gunns' shares are expected to be suspended today as the market awaits an announcement on a $400 million capital raising. Gunns has a $225 million bridging loan due to be paid in September. Before the most recent share plunge from $2.31 to $1.67, Gunns has a net debt-to-equity ratio of 97 per cent ($1.064 billion debt to $1.096 billion equity). The Mercury

26 August Denison Labor MP Lisa Singh is believed to be considering breaking ranks with her party again on the issue of the pulp mill when a Bill to repeal the Pulp Mill Assessment Act is introduced into Parliament by the Greens on Wednesday. The Mercury

26 August Gunns is expected to release details of plans to raise between $300 and $400 million to help the funding case for it's $2 billion Bell Bay pulp mill.  An update of progress of the pulp mill project and its 2007-08 results will be announced by Gunns on Thursday. The Examiner

25 August A bill to repeal the Pulp Mill Assessment Act is due for debate on Wednesday and would render null and void any approvals under the legislation brought in under former premier Paul Lennon. "The previous premier recalled Parliament to ram through this appalling piece of legislation last year on the grounds that any further delay would prevent the project from commencing, yet a year later, with Gunns expected to not meet federal assessment deadlines, this sham of an excuse has been exposed," Greens MP Kim Booth said. The Mercury

25 August Labor Deputy Premier Lara Giddings maintained the project was out of the State Government's hands. The Examiner

24 August State Liberal Deputy Leader Jeremy Rockliff criticised doubters of Gunns planned pulp mill. The Examiner

24 August With cries of no mill, a huge crowd of Northern Tasmanians marched through the streets of Launceston yesterday to protest against Gunns Ltd's pulp mill. Speaker Peter Cundall said "what we're fighting against is nothing more than sheer destructive greed that is going to destroy this State if we allow it, and it's not going to happen." The Examiner

23 August One man and his $2bn millstone. The costs have become almost unbearable for Gunns, its shareholders and the man who's chasing his pulp mill dream, writes Ingrid Mansell... and the clock is ticking. Tasmanian Times

23 August Ten thousand protesters marched through Launceston to show their continued opposition to the development of Gunns' pulp mill. When the crowd arrived at the Government's offices, organisers nailed a list of 12 "grievances and solutions" to a door. TAP spokesman Bob McMahon said the State Government had "sold Tasmania down the gurgler" by approving the pulp mill through a fast-tracked parliamentary process. Speaker Terry Martin MLC said everyone knows if the mill had been assessed properly by the RPDC, Gunns would never have got approval. The Mercury

23 August Gunns may need to significantly modify its Tasmanian pulp mill - to address key environmental issues - if it is to win final federal approval and a joint-venture partner. The Australian

23 August Gunns is struggling to meet the Federal Government approval deadline for its $2 billion pulp mill and may have to ask for more time. John Gay said the company had underestimated the time it would take for approval. The Mercury

23 August Tasmanian Treasurer Michael Aird has cast doubts on the Gunns pulp mill and Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett cast doubt on the assessment being completed by the October 4 deadline. The Examiner

22 August Negative sentiment surrounds Gunns Ltd. Issues such as withdrawal of ANZ, high debt levels, sale of plantation assets, blow out of pulp mill costs, lack of government approvals, inability to secure funding, the legal action against conservationists, the withdrawal from the Resource Planning and Development Commission, the attitude of Mr Gay to corporate governance and the poor run the company gets in the media have left Gunns vulnerable. The Mercury

22 August Gunns is set to outline a plan to raise up to $400 million to reduce debt and get its pulp mill plans back on track. The hemorrhaging share price dropped from $2.31 to $1.67 in a week and led to a trading halt . Market capitalisation of Gunns has dropped from $930 million to $675 million. The Mercury

22 August A CSIRO report into the impact of the 64,000 tonnes daily of effluent from the proposed Tamar Valley mill has been stamped secret by Australia's Department of Environment. The Department consulted Gunns before deciding not to release the report to Greens senator Christine Milne under Freedom of Information laws. Senator Milne said "Gunns' financial difficulties are no reason for the Government to try to protect it by refusing to release critical information which is in the public interest". Since September 2006, five independent experts have found the Bass Strait hydrodynamic modelling, performed by GHD for Gunns to be inadequate and unrealistic according to Ms O'Connor MHA. The Mercury

21 August 200 people attended the forum on Climate Change and Gunns' Pulp Mill to hear a range of views that were poles apart. University lecturer Fred Gale closed the forum with a discussion on new forest politics and concluded that "the pulp mill is an example of bad environmental governance and should not proceed". The Examiner

21 August Gunns has been ordered by the Supreme Court of Victoria to pay $52,622 legal costs to Greens Bob Brown and Peg Putt. Senator Brown said "there was no substance to the charges at the outset and John Gay, Gunns' executive chairman, owes an explanation to shareholders about this expensive failure and legal misadventure". The Mercury

21 August Anti-pulp mill campaigners say Premier David Bartlett confided in them that he believed the controversial project would never be built. Mr Bartlett's media adviser was shocked when told that Mr Bartlett had spoken to the protesters when no minders were present and said of the protesters' claim: "It is simply not true." Liberal Jeremy Rockliff said that talking down the project at such a critical time was very naive and reckless. The Mercury

20 August The Need for a New Forest Politics. Address by Dr Fred Gale, Senior Lecturer, School of Government, University of Tasmania, on Climate Change, Carbon Sequestration and Tasmania: The Need for a New Forest Politics. "The challenge is clear, the situation is urgent, and opportunities for the future are great. History has repeatedly demonstrated that the health and welfare of human society are fundamentally dependent on the health and welfare of a nation’s forests. Society at large, the US Congress, state legislators, and policy analysts at international, federal and state levels must not only appreciate this fact but also recognize that the sustainable management of forests can, to a substantial degree, mitigate the dire effects of atmospheric pollution and global climate change. The time to act is now." Tasmanian Times

20 August Shares in Gunns yesteray plunged 9 per cent to $1.75 on a turnover of 9.2 million as speculation continued over the future of its boss John Gay. A stockbroker said the larger volume than usual suggests it is substantial shareholders selling down their holdings. Most analysts have said Gunns needed to raise equity if it was to finance the proposed $2 billion pulp mill at Bell Bay. The Mercury

19 August Three Tamar Valley business operators are taking a huge personal and financial risk in lodging applications with the Supreme Court of Tasmania to force the Tasmanian Government to reveal its reasons for granting the pulp mill permit. The Government refused to give reasons because section 11 of the Pulp Mill Assessment Act attempts to preclude any legal challenge. Also today, the Supreme Court in Melbourne is assessing the legal costs Gunns must pay to three defendants after it dropped charges in the "Gunns 20" case. The Mercury

19 August Gunns shares hit a low of $1.90 after the company predicted an earnings decline for the 2007-08 financial year. Gunns is trying to sell $170 million in plantation forest assets to reduce debt. It will release its full year result and a pulp mill update on Thursday, August 28. The Examiner

16 August Gunns may sell $170 million of plantations to help pay debt. Gunns already owes more than $1 billion and will have to raise more money to fund its controversial $2 billion Bell Bay pulp mill. Without lowering debt, further borrowings make the company more vulnerable to an economic downturn. The Age

16 August Gunns' pulp mill proposal faces a fresh wave of litigation if a new court action succeeds in overturning laws protecting the state mill approval permit from legal challenge. Environment Tasmania has lodged an action in the Supreme Court challenging validity of Section 11. Section 11 was controversial because it robbed Tamar landowners and businesses, including many successful wineries and organic farmers, of the right to challenge the permit conditions. A challenge to conditional federal environmental approval for the mill is already under way in the Federal Court. The Australian

15 August Wal King, the head of Leighton Holdings, said there were "significant impediments" to Gunns' pulp mill. "You are looking at carbon trading and greenhouse, and you've got to look at rising construction costs down the track," he said. Gunns, insists that any problems with funding the mill or seeking government approval are trivial. Last month, Gunns told the stock exchange it was confident that construction would start before the end of November. Sydney Morning Herald

15 August Leighton Holdings, the company contracted to build Gunns pulp mill, said they did not think the pulp mill was ever going to happen. Gunns hit back saying they were "unfortunately misinformed". CEO of Leighton,Wal King, said "I believe there are many more hurdles and there is a lot of water to go under the bridge until that gets built". Gunns shares dropped 2.94 per cent to $2.31 yesterday. The Mercury

14 August Review by Paul O Halloran of scientific studies on the carbon contribution by Tas forestry. "What this all means is that up to 3000 tonnes of carbon dioxide can be released into the atmosphere from every hectare of native forest logged. This is equivalent to the emissions from around 1000 cars. It is little wonder then that the ANU report states that the native forest industry emits more greenhouse gases than the national transport system!" Tasmanian Times

14 August Gunns has until October 4 for the Federal Government to sign off on all modules of the Environmental Impact Management Plan. The Environment Department wants a detailed timeline from Gunns on when the remaining 10 modules will be submitted. Gunns has already ruled out seeking an extension. Greens MHA Kim Booth said that it is a repeat of last year, when Gunns failed to provide information for the RPDC assessment and withdrew the pulp mill. The Examiner

12 August ANU's recent report on carbon storage in Australian forests begs for a considered response but the logging industry dismisses it as "flawed". Forestry Tasmania doesn't seem to want to quote its own data from a 2001 Weld Valley study which estimated the smoke from a post-logging fire in wet eucalyptus forest contained 196 tonnes of carbon per hectare. That would make Tasmania's annual logging burns a very large emitter of carbon dioxide. The Mercury

6 August Three men who staged an anti-pulp mill protest on the Batman Bridge in northern Tasmania have avoided being fined or jailed. ABC

5 August New research by the Australian National University has found Tasmania's native forests contain up to six times as much natural carbon than previously thought. Tall undisturbed mountain ash forests stored more than 1200 tonnes of carbon per hectare. Commercial harvesting of Australia's native forests leads to carbon loss and a reduction in the ability of the forests to offset harmful carbon gas emissions. "These forests are very important stocks of carbon, and it is becoming more important than ever that we think about ways of protecting them" Prof Mackey said. The Mercury

5 August The National Association of Forestry Industries says that under current taxation arrangements for forestry plantations, including managed investment schemes, new plantations could sequester one-fifth of the emissions required to meet a 20 per cent reduction target by 2020, providing 4500 new jobs. The Australian

2 August More delays. Ten modules of the environmental impact management plan that Gunns needs the Federal Government to approve have been sent back to the company for revision. So far, the Commonwealth has approved only four of the 16 modules. Gunns said it can still meet the October 4 deadline for Commonwealth approval.  Available only to subscribers of the  The Examiner