Media stories October 09

30 October Government advertisements spruiking the Gunns pulp mill have been criticised in an Auditor-General's report. The pro-pulp mill advertisements and information bus, commissioned by former Premier Paul Lennon at the height of the assessment process in 2006-07, were criticised in the report for having a political impact. "The only objective that we could see to the bulk of advertising and bus content was to win hearts and minds in favour of a prominent government policy," the report said. "We could not identify any intended action or improved understanding for the public." Mr Blake said he was particularly concerned that the campaign could have undermined the Resource Planning and Development Commission's assessment of the $2 billion pulp mill project. The audit was commissioned after revelations earlier this year that the State Government spent $195,000 on secret Tasmanian Community Surveys. The Mercury

25 October About 100 anti-pulp mill protesters have gathered at the entrance to Port Dalrymple Primary School in northern Tasmania, where State Government Ministers are holding a community Cabinet meeting. The placard-waving activists also banged drums and blew whistles as the Premier and other MPs arrived at the George Town school, which is down river from the site of Gunns' proposed pulp mill. Premier David Bartlett and deputy Premier Lara Giddings got out of their cars to speak to the protestors but struggled to be heard over the crowd. The ABC

24 October Tasmanian forestry contractors are feeling the pinch. An industry downturn has again forced Gunns to temporarily shutdown its east coast woodchip mill. Its contractors are laying off workers and selling their equipment to stay afloat. The hardship is being keenly felt in small towns such as Swansea and Triabunna. With the woodchip mill shut down again this week, many contractors are operating at 45 per cent of their quota and there are rumours the mill will close for six weeks over Christmas. Contractors are selling equipment, laying off workers or closing shop. "We've had reports of a businesses going under as late as last week," said Ferdie Kroon from the Forest Contractors Association. "Not only now does that business have to deal with the problems associated with receivership, administration, bankruptcy, and the likes, which will be terrible for that family," he said. "We've actually seen roughly about 500,000 litres a month decrease in diesel sales," said Troy Bennett from Bennetts Petroleum. "That's across the board but mainly that would be from contractors," he said. The ABC

23 October The Tasmanian Planning Commission, which replaced the Resource Planning and Development Commission, released a draft decision to reject the canal estate development, prompting calls from the Wilderness Society that the pulp mill would have suffered a similar fate had it been before the commission. "The special treatment afforded to Gunns by politicians allowed its pulp mill to proceed despite the independent assessment finding it was `critically non-compliant'," Wilderness Society spokesman Paul Oosting said. Gunns has rejected claims that its pulp mill would have been rejected had it been subject to a process similar to that of Walker Corporation's Ralphs Bay development. The Examiner

22 October Mr Bartlett took Treasurer Michael Aird, Deputy Premier Lara Giddings and the heads of his two most influential departments - Premier and Cabinet and Economic Development - with him on the two-day mission (to Canberra). But both he and his advisers were tight-lipped about the real reason for the Canberra trip, which more closely resembled a deputation for federal help on major projects than a premier's speaking engagement. But political sources say that main topics of discussion were how the Federal Government could help the state lock in international interest in setting up a silica processing plant on the North- West Coast and financial partners in the proposed Bell Bay pulp mill. The Federal Government could also accelerate foreign investment approval for companies wanting to set up new industry in Tasmania, such as the silica plant proposed for Port Latta or invest in the pulp mill. The Examiner

22 October Argentina accused neighbouring Uruguay in the UN’s highest court of reneging on a bilateral treaty when it authorised a paper mill that Buenos Aires says is now polluting a shared river. The mill built by Finnish firm Botnia on the Uruguayan bank of the River Uruguay, was causing “irreversible” environmental damage, Argentina argued on the first day of three weeks of hearings before the International Court of Justice in The Hague. “This mill discharges day after day a huge quantity of pollutants into the water and into the air,” Susana Cerutti, legal adviser to the Argentinian foreign ministry, argued before the panel of 15 judges. “It is a bad mill in a bad place.” Cerutti said the mill was erected in a densely populated area whose inhabitants used the river for fishing, leisure and tourism. They now had serious concerns for their health and had to deal with the “unbearable” smell of hydrogen sulphide being emitted from the mill. “It smells like rotten eggs,” Cerutti said. “The pollution is starting to cause irreversible damage to the riverine eco-system.” Botnia’s paper mill started operating in November 2007 and has an annual capacity of one million tonnes of paper pulp. Posted on 14 September 2009 Momento24

19 October An official from the Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry admitted in Estimates hearings that the Department made an "error" in taking material directly from the Gunns' website for a Ministerial Statement. Minister Burke's Ministerial Statement on the proposed Gunns Pulp Mill, on 24 June 2009, included several sections which appeared to be taken without reference directly from the Gunns website. "What confidence can the community have that the Government is at arm's length from the loggers when they are plagiarising from their website for major parliamentary speeches?" Australian Greens Deputy Leader, Senator Christine Milne asked. "I absolutely accept that an apology was made, but nevertheless this plagiarism raises important questions about the too close links between our governments and industries like logging and coal." The Greens

18 October The high moral ground is indeed a shaky place to stand. Yet a few community-based anti- pulp mill protesters don't seem to get that, despite at least three years fighting their cause. That's because they have little understanding of how to run a professional campaign. Certainly, their knowledge of the media is thin at best. The handful of the people I'm talking about are supporters of TAP Into A Better Tasmania. Most are like you and me - parents, small business people and pensioners. They fear their way of life is under threat. But the way some go about it leaves them looking like a bitter and twisted rabble who risk damaging the reputation and work of other TAP members and professional and respected environmental campaigners. They were all once focused, well researched, with strong leadership. Now a few lack discipline and are alienating those who could help get a clear message out.... (Admin note; a long and confused spray from the Examiner editor Fiona Reynolds that illuminates the paradigm that the Examiner works within. Apparently TAP does not obey the rules of the paradigm). The Examiner

16 October Tasmanian forestry and farming groups expressed concern about a monopoly situation if Gunns' bid to acquire ITC Timber Pty Ltd is approved by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. Forest Enterprises Association chief executive Andrew White said that the move would give Gunns complete market control. The Examiner

15 October Tasmanian forest contractors are at crisis point with up to a quarter expected to leave the industry within the next two months. Mr Kroon (Tasmanian Forest Contractors Association chief executive officer) said that contractors had been paid increasingly low prices for more than a year. The major companies that they supplied had suffered substantial cuts in prices paid for woodchips and the price drop had flowed on to contractors, Mr Kroon said. Gunns is just about the only company taking woodchips for the once lucrative Japanese and Chinese markets. Mr Rockliff (Deputy Opposition Leader) urged Primary Industries Minister David Llewellyn to decide on amending Tasmanian legislation covering contract prices to bring it in line with more equitable Victorian legislation. Mr Rockliff wants Tasmania's Forest Contracts Code amended so that "all the power is not with the company", he said. The Examiner

14 October The woodchip stockpile in Burnie could pose a "significant health risk", according to an expert opinion being assessed by health authorities. Tasmanian Director of Public Health Roscoe Taylor said the advice that the stockpile would at times contain Legionella bacteria is being examined. "Dispersal of dust ... containing these organisms could pose a significant health risk .... ". Last week, Dr Nicklason apologised to timber company Gunns for his 2004 statement that the woodchip pile "almost certainly" had Legionella present that could blow across Burnie. However, he said his concerns about the potential for public health risks from the pile -- initially sparked by several Legionella cases in Burnie -- remained. Over the years, there have been complaints about dust and debris blowing from the stockpile to the Burnie CBD, adjacent to the port. Dr Steele says Legionella "could survive well in dust travelling long distances, even in adverse climatic conditions". He cites instances of up to 20km. The Australian

9 October The State Government plans to change laws governing the use of the 7000km of public roads running through state forests. A brief amendment tabled in Parliament on Tuesday will allow Forestry Tasmania new powers to instantly restrict public access to any forest roads it chooses. The Tasmanian Greens and environmental organisations fear the amendment will give Forestry Tasmania expanded powers to block public access to forests without warning or without the need for public detailing of restricted "exclusion zones". The Mercury

9 October Gunns has failed in its bid for damages against Hobart doctor Frank Nicklason over claims he made about legionella and fungal organisms in woodchip piles near Burnie, but it did get an apology. Dr Nicklason said the letter he sent to Gunns apologised for making the statement in relation to health risks associated with the woodchip piles only because he accepted he should have approached the company with his concerns directly before going public. "The public health concerns which motivated my action then, remain a concern for me," Dr Nicklason said. Mr Gay said the apology should reassure Tasmanians following years of misinformation about health risks from woodchips. Dr Nicklason is a staff general and geriatric specialist physician at the Royal Hobart Hospital. The Examiner

8 October Uncertainty surrounds the status of the pipeline planned to supply the Gunns pulp mill with water. It follows an ambiguous answer given by Water Minister David Llewellyn (that) the pipeline had "already" been legally approved by Parliament. He made no mention of unhappy landowners in the Tamar Valley north of Launceston who are impeding its construction across their paddocks. Greens pulp mill spokesman Kim Booth asked Mr Llewellyn yesterday if the sweeping Planning Directive Number 2 advertised in Tasmanian newspapers last week to facilitate "underground infrastructure" referred to the 36-kilometre mill water pipe. The pipeline remains a sticking point for Gunns since no water means no pulp mill. Wilderness Society pulp mill spokesman Vica Bayley said Mr Llewellyn's response was disingenuous and bizarre. The Mercury

5 October Twenty one members of a new anti-pulp mill group were arrested at Beaconsfield charged with trespass after refusing two requests by police and Beaconsfield Primary School principal Peter Fraser to leave a Bartlett Government community forum. The arrests coincided with a noisy protest by about 300 members of TAP. Protesters banged drums, pots and pans and blew whistles for the duration of the forum. Pulp The Mill spokeswoman Lucy Landon-Lane said the group wanted a royal commission into the "corruption surrounding the pulp mill process". Mr Bartlett said the Government wanted to see the pulp mill go ahead because it meant jobs for Tasmanians. The Mercury

5 October Chaotic scenes broke out at Beaconsfield yesterday as anti-pulp mill sentiment spilled over into a confrontation with police. About 450 protesters from Tap Into A Better Tasmania - known as TAP - and about 30 protesters from a new group called Pulp The Mill arrived at the Beaconsfield Primary School, where the State Government was due to hold a community forum. The two protests were organised independently. Protesters from the TAP group lined both sides of the road outside the school, waving signs, sounding horns and banging pots and pans as they waited for Government ministers to arrive. While TAP had given Tasmania Police an undertaking that it would not allow its protesters to enter the school grounds, the Pulp The Mill group had not. The Examiner