"Anniversary of a serial killing" - address by pulp mill expert, Dr Warwick Raverty on Gunns proposed pulp mill

Dr Warwick Raverty spoke to a memorial service on the first anniversary of Gunns withdrawal from the Resource Planning and Development Commission, outside Gunns’ head office in Lindsay St. Lauhceston 11am on Friday 14th March. His speech is a powerful statement about the failings of democracy in Tasmania and the use of spin and propaganda by those who believe that your rights as an individual are subordinate to the interests of the state. Dr Raverty called on all Tasmanans to stand up against Gunns' pulp mill and defend the same freedoms that our forefathers fought and died for at Gallipoli.

TAP/ A Better Australia strategy workshop outcomes re pulp mill and Rudd / Lennon governments

A Better Australia and TAP conducted two workshops with approximately 120 members to plan strategies to stop the pulp mill.


Sorted outputs from TAP/ A Better Australia presentations on 21 Jan 2008


What concerns does audience have for the future?

Social issues

  • Ignorance & apathy of public
  • Disempowerment of the young
  • Lack of education & political education for our young
  • Fragmentation of community into dysfunctional nuclear families
  • Dysfunctional entrenched political thinking
  • Insanity
  • Loss of jobs to overseas call centres
  • Lack of engagement in political process
  • Lack of engagement in local government process
  • Inability to distinguish between needs and wants
  • Poor understanding of power of vote (not enough Green votes??)

Unrealisable expectation

  • Exponential growth

Failing systems

  • Lack of public transport
  • Disempowerment of teachers
  • Dysfunctional media from community perspective

Results of poor policy

  • Erosion of democracy
  • Too much ‘made in China’ not enough ‘made in Australia’
  • Health service degradation
  • Breakdown of viable careers into short term contracts
  • Biases created by tax policies
  • No rewards for good long-term thinking
  • Lack of balance

Quality of environment

  • Pollution and effects of herbicides

Information systems

  • Degradation of ABC


  • Genetic modification and risks
  • Corporate greed
  • Rising prices

Political and governance issues

  • Paul Lennon retiring on public money
  • Lack of political accountability
  • Lobbying asymmetry


  • Lack of self sufficiency/sustainability – personal, regional, national, cultural and moral



What people would like to have in a better future?


  • Application of ecological wisdoms to natural and ‘human’ ecosystems
  • Clean, green Tasmania
  • Fresh air, clean water
  • Tasmania as ‘Noah’s Ark’ for self sufficiency

Human affairs

  • Happiness should be a major goal
  • Create a charter of rights for all citizens
  • Create friends instead of terrorists
  • Participatory democracy in communities of interests
  • Hold social justice as a common good
  • Create/engage in meaningful work
  • Explore different economic models
  • Respond to global needs
  • Remove barriers to information
  • Query big/growth is good mindset
  • Develop sustainable societies
  • Caring communities, countries and world
  • Involve local communities
  • Spiritual society using moral values including ecological
  • Local, interest free currency systems
  • Conserve energy
  • Deal with sound pollution (sensory privacy)
  • More individual self sufficiency
  • Create a first class health system for everyone


  • Use distributed energy systems


  • Restrict defence forces to defence activities
  • Abolish two party system – back to democracy
  • Use citizen created referenda
  • Trade in a politician/foreign exchange scheme
  • Rotate parliament like jury duty with ordinary citizens
  • Ban corporate sponsorships of political parties
  • Priorities that include education
  • Re-evaluate arson & corporate arson
  • Consistent laws around Australia Plan for 30 – 50 years, not just parliamentary cycle
  • Assure base income for all citizens
  • Restrict alcohol to those over 21 yrs


  • Locally produced, in season, fresh foods and produce
  • Buy Australian/Tasmanian


  • Dismantle atomic energy plants




Notes from TAP meeting, 2008-02-22


What do you stand to lose if this mill goes ahead?

  • Water
  • Health
  • Livelihood and life savings / income
  • Wildlife and sea creatures
  • Northern Tasmania as we know it
  • Democratic processes
  • Recreational pursuits
  • Safe roads
  • Tourism industry
  • Food production
  • Fresh air
  • Forests

Who do you trust?

  • Who trusts the Lennon Govt?
  • Who trusts Gunns?
  • Who trusts Peter Garrett?


Who can stop the mill?

Banks / financiers

  • Why?
  • Too risky (project or economic climate)
  • Not making money from project
  • Losing other customers


  • Lose their subsidies
  • Loss of feedstock
  • Board members can vote against it
  • Loss of reliable water supply
  • Competition – world market / profitability
  • Gunns contractors – let them know the consequences for their future business

Government – State

  • Lennon leaves
  • Lennon compromised, loses support / power

Government – Federal ** preferred strategy **

  • Whistleblowers – forced Royal Commission.
  • Project is against Rudd Government’s national goals and targets – eg Greenhouse/Global Warming
  • If took a proper look at project and discovered the inadequacies
  • Government feels more expensive to keep paying Gunns subsidies than to stop it now.
  • Gunns may not meet Chief Scientist’s requirements
  • Impact on economy – present a positive alternative?
  • Mass of mobilised public opinion


Others Raised

  • Workers – people building the mill
  • Courts
  • Treasury
  • International treaties

The Carbon Neutral Myth

Carbon Trade Watch www.carbontradewatch.org is monitoring the corruption of the climate change debate by the carbon offset industry particularly by tree planting. The Carbon Neutral Myth highlights several ways in which the carbon offset approach to climate change is fundamentally flawed. See carbon_neutral_myth.pdf to read the full story. Summary From the late Middle Ages, Western Europe became slowly but surely engulfed by the tide of mercantilism that superceded the feudal economy. This system, which to us is second nature, was revolutionary at the time. It was, in its own way, the first wave of economic globalisation to wash over Europe. Mercantilism, simply put, is a system of economic relations in which goods purchased in one place are sold at a much higher price somewhere they are scarce. The Catholic Church, at the time suffering from a shortage of funds, decided to use the burgeoning market ethic to its own material advantage. Catholic doctrine maintains that to avoid time in Purgatory after you die, you need to expiate your sins via some sort of punishment or task that is an external manifestation of your repentance. The idea was that the clergy were doing more of such actions than their meager sins demanded, so they effectively had a surplus of good deeds. Under the logic of the emerging market, these could be sold as indulgences to sinners who had money, but not necessarily the time or inclination to repent for themselves. Chaucer’s The Pardoner's Tale immortalised the sale of such indulgences by pardoners, which was essentially how the church took a market-based approach to sinning as a means of income generation. The Brazilian theologian Dr. Odair Pedroso Mateus pointed out in 2001 that indulgences are “not about grace and gratefulness but about exchanging goods, about buying and selling, about capitalism”. Many centuries later, there are new indulgences on the market in the form of carbon offsets. The modern-day Pardoners are companies like Climate Care, the Carbon Neutral Company, Offset My Life and many others. These selfstyled ‘eco-capitalists’ are building up what they claim are ‘good climate deeds’ through projects which supposedly reduce or avoid greenhouse gas emissions. These wholesale emissions reductions can then be profitably sold back at retail prices to modern-day sinners who have money, but not necessarily the time or inclination to take responsibility for their emissions, and can afford to buy the surplus ‘good deeds’ from the offset companies. Most offset schemes take the following approach. A simple calculator on a website shows the quantity of emissions produced by a certain product or activity. The customer can then choose from a variety of projects that promise to ‘neutralise’ an equivalent amount of emissions by energy-saving, or through carbon absorption in trees. The consumer pays according to the claimed project costs and the amount of emissions to be ‘neutralised’. Most carbon offset companies cater to both individuals and corporations. Corporations can pay to ‘neutralise’ emissions generated by the production of consumer items or services, which can then be marketed on the basis of their climate-friendly credentials. This process has been dubbed ‘carbon branding’. The carbon offset market is booming. In the first three quarters of 2006, about EUR 89 million were sold to companies and individuals all over the world, up 300 per cent from 2005. It is predicted that the voluntary offsets market will be worth EUR 450 million in three years time. Even offset industry insiders are concerned about the lack of regulation and scrutiny of the new market.

TAP roadkill survey

As part of the Federal conditions, Gunns have had to do road surveys for 3 months for roadkill to get their permit. We saw very little sign of this happening so we have conducted our own survey with the valuable help of many volunteers over a number of months. We are asking the federal department to compare ours with Gunns to make sure the work has been done. We are awaiting further information.

The 'Send Peter Garrett A Hair Comb Campaign'

'Peter Garrett needs a hair comb like the Tamar Valley and Tasmania needs a pulp mill'. So Peter sidestepped the biggest environmental issue in Australia while answering the majority opinion with a deafening silence did he? Australians are now asked to send a plastic hair comb or even a picture of a hair comb, with or without an anti-pulp mill message to Environment Minister Garrett. Nothing abusive or insulting please. The aim of this campaign is to draw attention to Garrett's refusal to acknowledge the proposed pulp mill and the clearing of native forest in Tasmania as a critical environmental issue. Neither Garrett or the previous environment minister found it necessary to even visit the Tamar Valley before condemning us to a dodgy, stinking pulp mill. We are now responding in the way this decision effects us, personally. This whole industry must now be investigated and restructured by the Federal Government. There are the 2 addresses for people to post to: Peter Garrett Suit MG40 Parliament House Canberra ACT 2600 OR Peter Garrett PO Box 249 Maroubra NSW 2035 This campaign was endorsed by the public TAP meeting on 10/01/08.

Aerial Spraying

Perhaps slightly off topic......
While working on Camden Road, Blessington yesterday (17/11/07 7.30am - 10.30am), a helicopter came over a hill and started spraying a plantation about 4-500 meters from where we were working.

The wind was blowing in our direction (coming from the north-east), and we could smell the chemicals being used to spray the plantation.
One worker stated that he could "taste it in the back of his throat".

What I am wondering is:
Is there some regulation that requires notification, or roadside signage of aerial spraying occurring in an area that is likely to be frequented by members of the public?

Media release Re: ANZ funding of Gunns proposed pulp mill.

MEDIA RELEASE DECEMBER 16th 2007 TAP (Tasmanians Against the Pulpmill) and WFCA (Women For Change Alliance) have written to Mike Smith, CEO of ANZ. The letter has 3000 signatories and spells out reasons why the ANZ bank should not fund this pulp mill. TAP spokesperson, Bob McMahon, highlighted four reasons why the ANZ should walk away from funding the proposed pulp mill. “1. The proposed pulp mill is to be built in a region with a hostile poulation resolved not to have a pulp mill. 2. Gunns has done NO risk assessment. 3. Lending to Gunns is the sort of high risk lending that led to the sub-prime crisis in the USA. 4. The ANZ has a real opportunity for world leadership here.”

Overview of threats from proposed pulp mill.

The group ‘A Better Australia’ www.abetteraustralia.com has developed an overview of threats and opportunity costs of Gunns’ pulp mill proposal. It is also available as a high resolution down-loadable image below.

Overview of pulp mill threats

Lennon's priorities

The Lennon government gives a higher priority to industrial forestry and the proposed pulp mill than the health of Tasmanians.

Shortfalls in the Tasmanian health system:

  • Launceston General hospital $20 million/year;
  • Royal Hobart hospital - $800 million;
  • Other hospitals – unknown;
  • Ambulance services – 30 million/year;
  • Mental health services - unknown;
  • Disability services, needs of 200 not met - cost unknown;
  • Housing - 2681 people on State housing waiting lists at May 3 2007 - unknown.

Subsidies to industrial forestry and pulp mill, and some opportunity costs:

  • Losses to farming and processing income from the take over of farmland by plantations- some percentage of $2.5 billion/yr;
  • Losses to tourism - some percentage of $1 billion/yr;
  • Losses to fine foods, wineries - unknown;
  • Risks to fishing industry - unknown;
  • Costs of water - about 400 Gl/yr used by plantations - @ $100 Ml = $40 million/yr;
  • Damage to roads/bridges - $20 million/yr;
  • Costs of health damage and road deaths - unknown;
  • Costs of subsidies - over $80 million/yr;
  • Special infrastructures (e.g. road & rail) - $120 million +;
  • Lost value of trees as carbon sink @ $15 per tonne - $60 million/yr;
  • Costs to public of losses on timber and delivery costs - kept secret from public.

Some inconvenient truths about Gunns proposed pulp mill

Facts the Tasmanian Government and Gunns Ltd don’t want people to know about the proposed Tamar valley pulp mill, Tasmania, Australia. Timber company Gunns Ltd wants to build a ‘world scale’ pulp mill in the clean green Tamar valley. The proposal is planned to go ahead despite majority opposition from Tasmanians and Australians and massive risks to food production and fisheries, from air and water pollution, water shortages and release of carbon stores into the atmosphere. Go to Some inconvenient truths for Gunns Get the downloadable the A4 size graphic “Some inconvenient truths v007.pdf”.

Fund our hospitals instead of subsidising logging. TAP media release

Pulp mill apologists have represented the mill as an economic boon to the state but they have concealed the huge public subsidies currently being paid, and still to be paid, to help the project be ‘profitable’.

Our governments are paying hundreds of millions of dollars a year to prop up our unsustainable pulpwood industry, money that is sorely needed by our essential services, particularly health and education. If the subsidies being paid to support the pulp mill and the logging industry were used instead to properly fund our hospitals and schools, then we would have worthwhile health and education services populated by properly paid staff and equipped with modern technologies.

Not only does the pulp mill threaten the health of many people in the Tamar valley, but the subsidies that it requires will continue to impoverish our hospitals and schools for decades.

The community wants to know…

  • If the mill is such an economic boon, why does it need any taxpayer subsidies at all? …and
  • If the forest industry cannot make money in the free market, why should we subsidise them at the expense of our essential services?

We say… “Enough is enough. Governments must make sure that our essential services are properly funded before even considering any form of corporate welfare.” The community is calling for an immediate cessation of all logging subsidies in Tasmania so that our essential services of hospitals and education can be properly restored to full health themselves.



Why the community does not want the pulp mill

Public money diverted from hospitals

At a time when people in pain are lying on trolleys in hospital corridors, while others wait years for operations and public dentistry patients are forced to pull out their own teeth with pliers, the Lennon and Howard governments are transferring hundreds of millions of dollars a year to the Tasmanian timber industry.

That is money that could fix our hospitals and help to equip our kids for their future with a superior education. This is a state government that proposes to sell public hardwood to Gunns for $16 tonne, thereby setting a floor price that will virtually guarantee plantation investors big losses. They will be lucky to get $2,400 per hectare, slim pickings from an initial ‘investment’ of nearly $7,000 with $3,200 from the taxpayer!!

That’s right, the taxpayers subsidise the transfer of farm ownership from Tasmanian families to giant corporates like Gunns…and it costs us about $3,200 per hectare. Gunns has about 200,000 ha and so has received around $640 million dollars from the taxpayer. Small wonder they want to keep the gravy train rolling.

That’s the SAME $640 million that our hospitals, doctors, nurses, fire fighters, teachers and dentists could have to operate a properly funded public system.

To rub it in, the public must pay our politicians’ private health coverage so that they don’t have to use the same system that they are creating for the rest of us.

Public money used to buy out farmers and subsidise plantations

Meanwhile our farmers are doing it tough in the drought and what do they find? Tax subsidised plantations up river from them that are stealing far more water from the catchment than would be required by agriculture They know that plantations deliver far fewer jobs and leave rural communities suffering a severe cash flow drought as farmers are forced to sell and unproductive trees take over. We are rapidly losing our food producing land and people. All this at a time when there is world shortage of food and prices are at all time highs.

Instead of helping our farmers, our government is using our money to convert our dwindling supply of food producing land into tree plantations to hand more public money to their political donors! So our rural communities lose cash flow and foodstuffs from local farms and suffer reductions in tourism revenue as tourists go to destinations that aren’t clearfelled and burned; the roads aren’t busy with unstable log trucks and water supplies aren’t contaminated with a carcinogenic cocktail of plantation chemicals.

When you connect all of this to the lack of money and care for our essential services, you can understand that the communities’ clear concern is that their governments are representing party donors at the expense of taxpayers.

The US war of Independence was fought on the basis of “No taxation without representation”.

Politicians deny the people

People rightly feel very strongly about playing a meaningful role in deciding the quality of their own future. Offering more tens of millions of taxpayers dollars for pulp mill support infrastructures does nothing to regain public trust.

Our politicians have betrayed us by taking our money to represent us and then refusing to countenance our needs. It is for these reasons that so many are adamantly opposed to the pulp mill proposal.

We ask:

  • If the mill is such an economic boon, why does it need any taxpayer subsidies at all? and
  • If the forest industry cannot make money in the free market, why should we subsidise them at the expense of our essential services?

The people of Northern Tasmania are seeing their property values, futures, health, hopes and dreams shattered and they will not take it lying down. The government is going to have to fight the community every step of the way to complete and operate this overblown pulp mill. It’s a ruinous investment for Gunns, a huge loss maker to the public purse, a threat to public health, a threat to our food production industries and rural communities, and a destructive idea in a world facing climate change and a crisis of oil availability.

We say “Enough is enough. Make sure our essential services are properly funded before considering any form of corporate welfare.”

Some indicative costs of subsidies to logging industry

  • Creation/upkeep of roads & bridges, about $20 million/year
  • Work done by FT for Gunns benefit, about $50 million/yr
  • Cash payments over last 10 years, average of $50 million/year
  • MIS worth about $3,200 /ha, average $60 million/yr
  • Non payment for water used by tree plantations, @ $100/Ml = $40 million/yr
  • New infrastructures for mill, over $100 million
  • Deliver timber to pulp mill (fuel risk), $10 – 50 million per year

TOTAL SUBSIDIES per YEAR = $270 million plus infrastructure

Voters Block - Summary of results re local government elections Oct 07

TAP succeeded in increasing the number of anti mill councilors on three councils at the expense of pro mill candidates in October 2007 elections.

Launceston City Council

Of the 7 Aldermen elected to the LCC, Norton, Shipp, Ball and Nott were endorsed by the Voter's Block for being anti-mill. Jeremy Ball tripled his primary vote from last time. The others elected were Waddle, Peck and Dean. Waddle and Peck had reduced no 1 votes and only got in with preferences.

TAP Voter's Block endorsed Mayoral candidate (van Zetten) got up, as did the TAP endorsed Deputy Mayoral candidate (Armitage). There were two anti-mill mayoral candidates and their combined vote completely trounced pro-mill Ivan Dean 61% to 39%. The balance in the LCC has definitely shifted with a majority against the mill.

West Tamar Council

In the West Tamar municipality, TAP member and Greens candidate Karl Stevens got the second highest primary vote (almost unheard of for a first-time candidate), Viv Tyson, another TAP member got elected and TAP endorsed Peter Kearney was elected Deputy Mayor. Pro-mill sitting councillor Julia Gulson was dumped. There was no election for position of mayor, as Barry Easther was elected unopposed.

George Town Council

In George Town the anti-mill mayoral candidates got 55% of the vote on the first ballot and Doug Burt only just scraped in on preferences. A TAP endorsed candidate Graeme Neilson dumped out a former mayor - pro-mill Laurence Archer. Dr. Andreas Ernst, another TAP endorsed candidate, came within a whisker of being elected.

The TAP Voter's Block influence will carry over into the Federal Election results.

Financial risks of Gunns’ pulp mill

The Tasmanian Government has not investigated the financial risks of the mill to the State and documented the subsidies. The economic viability of the pulp mill has not been tested in public.

The financial risks arising from the proposed pulp mill could have a significant impact on all players involved, foreign bankers, land owners, the public, local businesses, the government and Gunns itself. In addition, the forestry industries' economic model is undergoing a slow motion collapse.


Financial analysis of Gunns' half year report (18 February 2011) by John Lawrence

He’s done it again.

This time in broad daylight.

Under the gaze of thousands of Gunns’ watchers, CEO Greg L'Estrange has once again manufactured a few book entries to help Gunns achieve a modicum of profit and loss respectability.

That boy certainly has chutzpah.

He didn’t quite make a profit, but an EBIT of $5 million loss for the first half of the 2010/11 year took a bit of work.

With asset impairment charges, loss on asset divestment and other restructuring charges totalling $50 million Gunns were a few goals down at three quarter time with the wind against them in the last stanza.

Then Greg delivered.

Three of Greg’s book entries totalling $45 million warrant a mention.

First, Gunns’ trees, the ones still standing, were considered to be worth another $11 million. That was booked as profit.

The second book entry was all class. Gunns underpaid for FEA’s sawmill and that underpayment of $19 million was included as income. Shades of the previous year when an underpayment for ITC Timber’s assets of $4 million and a further $3 million for Great Southern’s plantation management assets were both booked as income.

Memories of Eddy Groves from ABC Learning come flooding back. Eddy has recently been charged by ASIC. Read more at Financial analysis of Gunns' half year report 18 February 2011 by John Lawrence


Gunns: The Next Chapter by John Lawrence. (25 October 2010)

First published on Tasmanian Times

The Truth and Reconciliation Roadshow continued last week with a presentation by Gunns’ CEO to a conference run by investment bank UBS, coincidentally a Gunns’ shareholder.

The changes from the presentation which accompanied the release of Gunns’ preliminary 2010 financials in mid August were subtle and revealing of the future chosen path.

John Gay’s business model was then described as being “a conglomerate of long life low yielding assets…..(consisting of) many businesses….. excessive levels of encumbered assets .....excessive debt levels to earnings,..... (where) potential investors do not understand the business.”

The latest presentation includes further criticisms of the old model. Mr L’Estrange confirmed that Gunns was “cash negative” and was bedevilled by “aging inefficient assets”.

Cash negativity is a fairly serious condition. If it persists disaster usually awaits. Aging inefficient assets make the problem worse. Forget about a social license. Gunns needs cash and a more ‘efficient’ portfolio of assets.

In August the new look Gunns was to comprise a division devoted to ‘hardwood and softwood’ sawmilling.

This has now been revised to ‘softwood processing’ only. No mention of hardwood sawmilling. Literally, this means an exit from all hardwood sawmilling not just native forest sawmilling.

Normally a CEO when spruiking his Company will attempt to explain and justify the latest P&L Statement. UBS has been critical in the past of the book entries of Dickensian proportions that have been used to prepare Gunns’ financial accounts. Hence Greg didn’t dwell on Gunns’ appalling 2010 results. He was on a hiding to nothing. He simply said “if your investment focus is purely about this year’s trading, GNS is not your stock”.

Never a truer word has been uttered.

Go to Gunns: The Next Chapter for the full analysis.


Analysis of Gunns Ltd's financial health  by John Lawrence (6 October 2010)

(First published in Tasmanian Times)

The forest industry’s slow motion train wreck continues its inexorable journey.

There are many, on both sides of the forest debate who appear to accept the urban myth that had it not been for the actions of high profile activists, Gunns’ former CEO would still be ensconced in Lindsay St Launceston.

A quick glance at the ASX announcement on 16th August 2010 outlining Gunns’ achievements in the financial year 2010 reveal that Gunns’ old business plan was a failure. The company’s old model was described as being “a conglomerate of long life low yielding assets…..(consisting of) many businesses….. excessive levels of encumbered assets .....excessive debt levels to earnings,..... (where) potential investors do not understand the business.”

It took the new Board less than 3 months to clearfell the legacy of (John Gay).

The CEO’s demise and the uncertain state of his former bailiwick are due to its flawed business model, not the actions of one or two of its opponents.


But then in a breathtaking display of bravado Gunns included as revenue, an amount of $67.7 million for the current value of future commissions to be received at harvest time from trees owned by Great Southern investors.

So for a payment of $6.1 million to Great Southern’s Liquidator, Gunns improved their reported revenue by $70.9 million, a truly awe inspiring effort. When it comes to award winning book entries, this was a peerless performance.

A UBS analyst, (UBS is one of Gunns’ major shareholders) was reported in the AFR on 16th August of this year as saying “(w)hile Gunns has given earnings guidance for 2010, the high contribution of EBIT from MISs, almost entirely non-cash, means it is of questionable quality”.

Gunns’ latest full financials released on 30th September attempt to gloss over the grim reality. Read Gunns. Is the worst over?


Summary of risks to Swedish company Sodra's bottom line from investing in Gunns’ planned pulp mill (June 2009)

A. The incomplete assessment of the pulp mill and forestry means that many subsidies are undisclosed. This is because there has been no:

  • socio-economic and environmental analysis of the pulp mill proposal;
  • analysis of the cost side of a cost-benefit study;
  • risk assessment to Australian Treasury standards of the pulp mill project;
  • assessment by Sweco Pic of noise emissions, impacts on surface or estuarine waters, effects on flora and fauna, transport implications and social and economic effects, nor construction impacts, nor impacts from off-site infrastructure development such as raw water supply pipeline, effluent pipeline or quarry.

B. The profitability of Gunns Ltd is artificially propped up with a wide range of taxpayer subsidies. These include ongoing subsidies of $360m/year and one time diversion of taxpayer dollars of $399m (so far). If the pulp mill proceeds, estimated losses to other businesses (tourism, fishing, fine foods, wineries, agriculture) and the community will be more than $3.1bn.

C. The global financial downturn will force governments to look for ways to cut back on expenditure including subsides.

D. Should Södra invest in Gunns’ planned pulp mill, their future profits are at risk from the removal of subsidies. The most responsible decision for Södra is to wait until the scale and type of subsidies is clear and the risks clarified.

E. Södra’s has specified three key conditions regarding investing in a pulp mill - Forest Stewardship Council certification, environmentally friendly bleaching technology (totally chlorine free preferred), and 100 per cent plantation forest to be used. However, Gunns’ planned pulp mill does not have FSC certification, will use chlorine dioxide and partly consume wood from native forests. Gunns has chosen to site the mill away from its major plantations in the North-West and near North-East native forests. It has also secured a 20-year agreement with Forestry Tasmania to be supplied with wood from native forests.
See undisclosed risks to Sodra


Landowners to carry risks of Gunns' pipeline (September 2008)

A plain English guide to Gunns' contract offer was prepared by a Melbourne lawyer for landowners who have been approached by Gunns' negotiators to purchase rights to install a pipeline across their land. The purpose of the 1m diameter pipeline is for transferring water from Lake Trevallyn to the planned pulp mill across private land.

The question of who bears the risk from a pipeline rupture is clouded by Section 11 of the Pulp Mill Assessment Act which prima facie blocks any capacity for landowners to seek compensation from Gunns.

The bottom line is that it seems the landowner is being offered a short term, once off financial benefit, for long term financial detriment and long term inconvenience and risk. See pipeline risks - legal advice.


  Risk assessment of Gunns’ pulpmill, pipelines and transport of chemicals (June 2008)

Gunns have not provided a risk assessment in their Integrated Impact Assessment of hazardous chemical transport, of the pulp mill generally or of pipelines carrying water and waste. UK regulations now requires a risk assessment for the transport of all hazardous chemicals. The cost of doing a risk assessment is not onerous but the cost of not doing so could be very significant. A range of risks must be considered in building and operating pipelines such as those listed in risk assessment.


5. Gunns' pulp mill sums - who pays? who loses? (April 2008)

This paper is an attempt to identify and quantify the subsidies paid to Gunns and the logging industry in Tasmania. It was compiled by Andrew Bent drawing upon broad community input via the online newspaper www.tasmaniantimes.com and was edited by TAP.

In summary, taxpayer funding diverted to support pulp mill and logging amounts to a one time capital cost of $399m (so far) and ongoing costs of $360m/yr. If the mill operates for 30 years, the total is $11.2bn. It is pretty clear that the level of subsidies is very high, particularly for an activity that generates so few jobs per $million invested, and that produces such small returns from valuable resources.

Overall, the forestry industry appears to remove resources worth about 10 units and return about 1 unit in exchange, such a poor return that they need major subsidies to keep going. This is played out each time they chip a celery top/myrtle/blackwood tree worth $1,000 and produce about $100 worth of woodchips from it.

Read more at Gunns' pulp mill sums - who pays? who loses?


Competitiveness of Gunns Ltd's mill continues to fall while government subsidies rise (April 2008)

Naomi Edwards FIA FIAA FNZSA, prepared this personal research paper. She concludes that:
•The cost of building the Bell Bay pulp mill is too high
•Bell Bay fibre costs will be US$227/t compared to US$103/t in Brazil
•Input cost forecasts from Gunns are not credible
•Government continues to subsidise mill but for how long?
•Comparisons with the Aracruz pulp mill are flawed

Read more at Competitiveness falls while subsidies rise


Summary of financial risks (2007)

Report prepared by TAP.

Gunns Ltd and the Tasmanian Government both trumpet the economic benefits of an anticipated $6.7 billion boost to the state economy with 1617 new jobs from construction and 292 jobs long term. However, by counting only benefits and ignoring costs, the economic studies of the proposed pulp mill by Gunns and the Tasmanian Government fail basic due diligence tests. The economic report prepared for Gunns by Allens Consulting Group failed to meet Australian Treasury guidelines for economic appraisal. In addition, the Tasmanian Treasury Department has not investigated the risks of the mill to the State and the economic viability of the pulp mill has not been tested in public.

This analysis draws together the more significant financial risks arising from Gunns' proposed pulp mill.

Read more at Summary of financial risks

The proposed pulp mill project site in the Tamar valley


Although the area is zoned industrial, the pulp mill project area is mainly woodland and forest (Sep 07) and the mill site (yellow dot) is 4.5kms south of Bell Bay industrial area and port. There is an existing wood chip mill in the bottom corner. The total area is approximately 600ha and will include areas for landfill (for 49 000 tonnes of waste/year), quarry, water supply holding dam, wharf and road and rail infrastructure. Source Gunns IIS

Declining supply of water versus rising demand in Tasmania's countryside

As rainfall continues to decline, river and lake levels are falling. However, large scale conversion of the Tasmanian countryside to plantations is massively increasing the demand for water. Thirsty plantations take water before it enters our streams. Tasmania is at the cross over point between supply and demand. Projections are based on data collated from the Tasmanian DPIW, Gunns' IIS and hydrological modelling (TasLUCaS).


Pulp mill fast track fiasco

A sad tale of misinformation and failure to take responsibility by Mrs Sue Napier MHA, Liberal member for Bass.

1. The story in brief

This story traces what happened to a very small piece of information about pulp mills that got mangled in the fast track process and Sue Napier’s apparent attempts to use it to advantage.

1. Sue Napier’s misinformed and partial views were published in the Mercury newspaper 25 August, and Examiner newspaper 29 August 2007. She no doubt briefed her Liberal colleagues with the same misinformation.

2. She and the Liberal Party voted in favour of the pulp mill 30 August 2007.

3. Her errors in fact and understanding were pointed out by Chilean Professor Jaramillo in an email to Mrs Napier dated 30 August. Note: Sue Napier had been personally briefed on the Valdivia situation by Professor Jaramillo on his visit to Tasmania at the end of 2006.

4. Her follow up letter (31/8/07) contains no apology for:

  • failing to understand the Valdivia situation from a personal briefing given by Prof Jaramillo; or for
  • spreading misinformation herself; or for
  • her accusation that the story of black necked swans was a scare tactic.

5. Conclusion. Misinformation such as this may well have been identified if public hearings had not been voted down by Liberal and Labor. Our politicians and the Parliamentary fast track process have failed Tasmania.



2. The first letter as it was printed in the Examiner 29 August

‘Getting it right

While I share the difficulty of most concerned people in Tasmania who are trying to discern what is fact and what is fiction as we consider whether a pulp mill is in Tasmania’s best interest, I am amazed at some of the misinformation that is out there.

For example, many still think that effluent from the Valdivia mill in Chile killed black swans.

In May 2005, the Chile Supreme Court, in a five votes to zero decision, found that the Cruces river, the native wetland and sanctuary wasn’t contaminated or threatened by the Valdivia plant, and that the pulp mill did not cause the death of the swans.

The Supreme Court identified that there had been a University of Austral report in 1998, which showed that iron was present in high concentrations in the area. This caused the lilies, which were the food of the black swans to die thus causing any swans that did not leave the area to die from starvation.

Census data over 20 or so years showed that the number of black swans in the area often fluctuated between 800 and 15 000.

While the mill was initially vocally accused of killing the swans, this has now been rejected on science, and the mill is still trying to help protect the sanctuary together with the community.

Sadly emotions and scare tactics often override the science and make it harder for us to make a measured decision.’

Yours faithfully,

Sue Napier MHA Member for Bass.



3. The second letter to the Examiner newspaper published 31 August 2007.

‘Black Swan Deaths

No one should interpret my comments on the black swan issue and the Valdivia Mill (Examiner Letters Aug 29) as support for such a mill and the poor, if not dishonest, management systems at the time in that mill.

It has come to my attention that additional research has been done that identifies that it is possible that the mill has contributed to the demise of the swans and the environment.

Quite rightly, the mill has been closed down a number of times as it failed to meet the required environmental standards.

The case particularly emphasises the need for baseline studies to be done on the environment before a pulp mill begins in the Tamar valley, to avoid such an argument.

The permit conditions and the regulations going through State Parliament will require just that, and will be the toughest for any modern elemental chlorine free mill in the world.’

Yours faithfully

Sue Napier MHA Member for Bass.



4. Getting it wrong

In neither letter does Napier explain that in June 2005 the pulp mill company CELCO voluntarily closed its pulp mill in the wake of the scandal following the revelation that the university scientific report on which the court acquittal was based had been altered or that CELCO had fabricated the report pretending it was from the university.

Visit The Santiago Times www.tcgnews.com/santiagotimes and for the time it takes to do a keyword search for ‘Celco’ you can jump forward a few years into Tasmania’s pulp mill future as planned by Gunns and our State Government.


Go to The Real World Radio FM www.realworldradio.fm and do a keyword search for ‘Celco’.


5. The ‘additional research’ that prompted the second letter

Here is the additional research that had mysteriously ‘come to her attention’ between her first and second letters.


Dr. Eduardo Jaramillo,

Ph.D Professor of Marine Biology and Ecology

Instituto de Zoología

Facultad de Ciencias

Universidad Austral de Chile Valdivia, Chile

August 30, 2007

Mrs. Sue Napier Liberal Member for Bass Tasmania

Ref.: letter published in the newspaper The Mercury, August 25, 2007

Dear Mrs. Napier,

I send this note to comment on your letter published by the newspaper The Mercury on the last Saturday edition (August 25, 2007). I need to comment and/or clarify the misinformation you give in such a letter. In doing this, I hope you can learn a bit more on the environmental degradation of the wetland of Río Cruces in Valdivia and thus, have better foundations to judge what would be or will be the environmental outcomes of the projected pulp mill for the Launceston’s area. I shall tell you, that I was angry and surprised by the light terms of that letter, especially when I did recall that after the meeting we had in your office, I thought that you had understood the environmental implications that a pulp mill plant has on the aquatic environment.

First at all, I like to tell you, that there are no black swans in our geographic area as you mention in line 11 of your letter; we do have indeed another species of swan, the Black necked swan (Cygnus melancorryphus), a water bird which is a bit larger than the Black swan and whose main breeding site in South America before the year 2004, it used to be the wetland of Río Cruces.

I will not go into law aspects, specifically into your comments on the decision of the Supreme Court of Chile during the late fall of 2005. I will not do that, since law or judicial matters are not my field; remember that I am an aquatic ecologist, and as professionalism and common sense dictate, I shall comment just on my expertise: environmental aspects. Nevertheless, I like to suggest that you search with Google by the following words “Corte Suprema, Río Cruces, JA Varas”; you will find several articles where the comments on that decision are analyzed by the Dean of our Law Faculty, Juan Andrés Varas. My guess is that those analyses (published in “El Mercurio”, the most important newspaper of Chile), will be indeed quite interesting to you (at the end of this note, I enclose that letter sent to “El Mercurio” for your information; hope you will find somebody to translate to English). I like to finish this paragraph by saying that my reasons of no comment on law issues will surely help you to understand why I didn’t comment on that during my lectures in Launceston and Hobart.

Now in relation to the iron’s mention in the third paragraph of your letter. To clearly understand the message of that, it is necessary to discuss several points:

i) YES, you are right; several years ago one of my colleagues prepared the RAMSAR file for the wetland. As such, he put together all the existing data on water quality, for example concentrations of iron. That data showed that this element was important or abundant in the water.

ii) From that time (1998) to late 2003, the plant Egeria densa (the main food of herbivorous water birds in the wetland) flourished in the wetland with a broad spatial distribution and coverage.

iii) In our final report (April 18th, 2005) we never said that Iron coming form the effluent of the pulp mill produced an impact on the wetland; after analyzing a massive amount of data from the monitoring plans of CELCO, we arrived to the conclusion that an excess of Aluminium Sulphate used in the chemical treatment of the sewages coming from the pulp processes induced precipitation of heavy metals (Iron among them) over the leaves of the plant producing its demise (Aluminium Sulphate is used to coagulate an precipitate particles in the pulp mill).

iv) Since the foods of Black necked swans disappeared, swans went into starvation, emaciation and migration off the wetland.

v) Those swans which were not able to migrate died of hemocromatosis or high load of Iron in the liver with damage to hepatic cells.

vi) In conclusion, chemicals coming from the effluent of the pulp mill altered the water chemistry of the wetland resulting in the disappearance of Egeria densa, emigration and death of Black necked swans. This is the main conclusion of the University´s study.

I like to comment now on the census data you mention in the third paragraph of your letter. You write “In fact the census data over 20 years showed that the number of black swans in the area often fluctuated between 800 and 15,000”. Please, take a look to the next graph; it was constructed from the monthly census data gathered by the rangers of CONAF (“CORPORACION NACIONAL FORESTAL”), the governmental Chilean branch in charge of the wetland of Río Cruces (you can cross check data from the web page www.conaf.cl.

You are right, low and high numbers of swans during the period 1987-2006 are in the range numbers you mention. HOWEVER, you can see from the figure below that those numbers are far away from the general statistically calculated trend for the whole set of data and represented by the red heavy line. Moreover, during the years previous to 2004, the monthly population of swans in the wetland was rather stable and around 5000 birds; that number dropped abruptly during the year 2004, 7-8 months after the pulp mill started to produce.




Since in your letter to The Mercury, you relate the food of the swans with those birds (third paragraph), I like to comment the following aspect. At the beginning of the environmental crisis of the wetland, some people argued as follows “Since the main food of Black necked swans is the waterweed Egeria densa, an overpopulation of these herbivorous birds did decimate this aquatic plant”. In other words, the same swans were the cause of the demise of Egeria densa. But lets me ask the following question in two ways: i) why during the year 2004, the swan’s abundances were lower than in other years, when no demise of Egeria was ever observed? and ii) if an overpopulation of swans produced the demise of Egeria densa, why this aquatic plant did not disappeared during the years 1994-1996 when the swan population was close or above 10000 birds (see figure above)?, almost twice the population censed during the period previous to 2004. The above reasoning and data analyses did allow us to reject the hypothesis that swan’s foraging was the cause of the demise of Egeria densa from the wetland.

I must say now that for me and the other colleagues of the University team that prepared the scientific report for CONAMA (“COMISION NACIONAL DEL MEDIO AMBIENTE”), search for truth through the use of the scientific method has been the riding purpose of our academic careers. We publish regularly in indexed journals (just do some search in the ISI Web of Science), we attend national and international conferences and we are devoted to our undergraduate and graduate students. We do research on this topic, not only to know what is going on out there, but also to know the ecological responses of the ecosystem in order to get predictions of how the system is responding to the stressor (changes in water quality). If we learn on that, we will be able to help managers and others to get the basis for future restoration of the ecosystem services up to day affected. In other words, our aims are not only to document in a scientific way the environmental degradation of the wetland but also, try to find solutions talking with everybody, of course also with people from the pulp mill here.

We do have a pulp mill whose production activities have affected and affect the water quality of the wetland of Río Cruces. The aquatic plant (Egeria densa) that disappeared right after the pulp mill started to operate has not recovered within the wetland, neither the population abundances of Black necked swans and herbivorous coots which were also affected. I get more and more data that show the above facts are a true pattern which cannot be denied. Even that, I do still believe that problems can be reasonably fixed and water quality restored to that which occurred before the mill started to operate or that which is characteristic of waters upstream of the mill.

The situation in Tasmania is different; you people there have the opportunity to learn before the eventual construction of a pulp mill there on the environmental changes that happened here; don’t waste that opportunity for the future of that beautiful land. Request and ask for proper baseline studies (which I did not see while I was there), ask for proper evaluations to people with expertise and above all, learn from mistakes.

Hoping to have clarified the misinformation given in your letter, I do offer again (in a modest way) the knowledge I have on the issue discussed above, to help you in getting the basis to do proper judgements on the environmental situation which would result of the projected pulp mill for the Launceston area. In doing that, I am just behaving as any committed member of the scientific community must behave; i.e. to put all his/her expertise on behalf of people everywhere. As you shall know, methods of science are universal and thus, people from everywhere can use it for their own growing and ways to solve problems.

I do apologize if this note has not been written in proper English; remember that English is just my second language.

Yours sincerely

Dr. Eduardo Jaramillo, Ph.D.,

Professor of Marine Biology and Ecology

Phone no: 56 - 6 – 221649

Instituto de Zoología

Facultad de Ciencias

Universidad Austral de Chile

Valdivia, Chile



Santiago de Chile, domingo 5 de junio de 2005

Los cisnes y la Corte Suprema

Señor Director:

Con innegable olfato periodístico, la prensa ha cubierto en portada el fallo de la Corte Suprema relacionado con la contaminación del río Cruces y, especialmente, la circunstancia de haberse fundado dicho fallo en un informe técnico atribuido al Centro EULA (Universidad de Concepción), pero que en verdad emanaba de la propia empresa recurrida (Celco).

El revuelo resulta justificable, puesto que no se trata de un mero error de redacción. Al estar fundada la sentencia en dicho informe, se afecta el contenido sustantivo de la resolución, y queda sin valor buena parte de la argumentación de la Corte, que discurre, precisamente, dando peso autoritativo al informe. Además, abre numerosas interrogantes respecto de la forma como se decidió el caso. ¿Se produjo esa falsedad por una acción deliberada de la empresa? ¿Se produjo por una inadvertencia del abogado, que sobreentendió una autoría que la Corte creyó de buena fe? ¿Ocurrió por falta de suficiente estudio por parte de la Primera Sala? ¿O pasó, como se ha indicado, por simple falta de acuciosidad del ministro redactor, no reparada por los demás firmantes? Cualquier alternativa es grave, y requiere una explicación pública satisfactoria.

Sin embargo, la autoría del informe es irrelevante respecto del fondo del asunto. La Corte Suprema fundamenta su resolución rechazando la relación de causa efecto entre la actividad de Celco y el daño al Santuario y, para ello, se basa en el informe realizado por la propia empresa, que afirma que ésta, en vez de arrojar hierro, lo resta de las aguas que usa. Este sería un contraargumento impecable si el estudio de la Universidad Austral imputara la desaparición de los cisnes a los vertidos de hierro de Celco. Pero se trata de un contraargumento para un argumento imaginario. Lo que concluye científicamente el informe de la Universidad Austral solicitado por la Conama es que otros componentes químicos de los desechos emitidos por Celco producen la aglutinación y con ello la precipitación y acumulamiento del hierro naturalmente presente en las aguas del río Cruces, siendo esta precipitación la que causa la muerte de la planta que alimenta a los cisnes. Por tanto, el hecho de que Celco retire hierro de las aguas, aun en caso de ser efectivo, en nada afecta la validez de las conclusiones del estudio de la Universidad Austral.

Esto es grave, porque la posibilidad que tiene la Corte Suprema de apreciar la prueba rendida, conforme a las reglas de la sana crítica, la obliga a respetar las normas de la lógica, del sentido común y del razonamiento científico, y la compele, por consiguiente, a estudiar y entender los informes técnicos sobre los cuales basa su decisión, antes de emitirla.


Decano Facultad de Derecho

Universidad Austral de Chile