A further tough year ahead, perhaps a decade for Gunns and Forestry Tasmania

Having checked the stars and examined at great length the entrails of a recently departed chicken, I predict a further tough year, perhaps a decade, ( poor reception on the crystal ball), for Gunns and Forestry Tasmania.

Protest action against the two will no doubt be the norm as destructive practices continue and Tasmania’s forests are sold at peppercorn prices with the consent of Labor Premier David Bartlett.

Now you don’t have to be a sage to predict this future. It is obvious to everyone.

2009 YEAR OF RECKONING - Bob McMahon, TAP spokesman

The TAP Army campaigned on many fronts in 2008. There were many victories but despite heroic efforts by the Tasmanian community the war continues. We have entered the fifth year of the campaign. We are undefeated but we are not yet victorious. Enjoy your Christmas and New Year break because much will be asked of you in 2009 to fashion Tasmania into the enlightened  island we know it can become. "Reculer pour mieux sauter " means "to withdraw in order to maker a bigger leap". Make the most of your leave in the company of family and friends because early in the New Year it's back to the front line for us all, with new armaments and increased resolve.

2009, like 1989 across Europe, promises to be the year of reckoning for the world as well as Tasmania. The old financial order is collapsing and the worst is yet to come.

We have in Tasmania suffered under the dark extremism of a Labor government which on the one hand closes a cancer ward and on the other throws tens of millions of our dollars at a race track; on the one hand, it props up the logging industry and Gunns Ltd to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars annually but denies a ten million dollar loan to keep ACL Bearings and 189 jobs afloat; on the one hand, it presides in dithering helplessness over the decline in public health, aged care, railways, public housing and public education, while, with passionate intensity it promotes an AFL football team. An infatuation with circuses has always been the historic indicator of a society in decline, a society that has lost its way.

The State and Federal Labor obsession with the pulp mill is driving the Tamar Region into recession. People have held off investing here because of the threat of the pulp mill. The property market in the Tamar Valley collapsed years ago.

Environment Minister Peter Garrett has an opportunity on January 5th 2009 to turn that around by refusing to grant the remaining approvals for the Gunns' mill.

BUT the indicators are not good. The approvals Garrett has granted so far have been on a "nod and a wink" basis. TAP proved that with its own Road Kill Monitoring Survey, by comparison with which the Gunns version was feeble and inadequate. Yet Garrett signed off on it and granted an extension to Jan 5th 2009 for the completion of the modules Gunns failed to complete by the original deadline.

Tasmanians will remind Garrett, Rudd and our federal representative, MHA Jodie Campbell, what the implications will be if Garrett grants the final approvals for the mill. They will come to understand that the community resolved years ago NOT to have this pulp mill. They will come to understand that the Tasmanian community is mobilised to deploy its full resources to defend  lives, businesses, jobs, families, health and property against state and corporate acts of terrorism. If Garret grants the approvals he will have declared war on the people of Tasmania. We will have no choice but to defend ourselves. Should he refuse the approvals and refuses further extensions to Gunns, icons of Peter Garrett will be worshipped across the nation.


ACTION ONE

When: Friday Jan 2nd 2009 from 11.00am - 12.00pm.
Where: MHA Jodie Campbell's Office 100 St Johns St Launceston, (opposite the Post Office)
Why: To make it clear to Rudd and the Labor Government that if Garrett grants the approvals it will be a betrayal of the Tasmanian people. To make it abundantly clear to Jodie Campbell that if Garrett grants the approvals her political career is over. We will defend ourselves.

ACTION TWO

When: Tuesday Jan 6th 2009 at 12.00pm.
Where: Jodie Campbell's office, 100 St John St Launceston.
Why: Celebration or Condemnation of Garrett's decision.

Bob McMahon.

The announcement by Minister Garrett on the remaining pulp mill modules will be made on or before 5 January

The decision by Minister of the Environment, Peter Garrett, on the remaining pulp mill modules submitted by Gunns will be announced on or before Monday 5 January.

The Federal Government was surprised by the huge public opposition to the planned pulp mill when it visited northern Tasmania in November 2008. However, that is no guide as to Garrett's likely decision on the remaining modules.

TAP's analytical team has concluded that Garrett will sign off on all pulp mill modules. From past form, the government will try to limit the political fallout. This is generally done by making unpopular announcements in the holiday season, by making an anouncement late in the day and by creating some form of distraction eg. announcing some other event.

The announcement will shock and anger many in the community who believe that the government is there to represent them.

TAP is preparing a massive response for Tuesday 6 January. Get ready to take part, pass the word around at the office parties and Christmas barbeques. More details to come.

 

"Last Words: The Tamar Valley and 2009" by Peter Henning


WHAT IS IT about the Tamar Valley which has made its people, its communities, its diverse and productive businesses and its natural and man-made attractions so completely lacking in worth and value, so completely insignificant, like a newly-identified terra nullius, a kind of territorial tabula rasa, to the majority of Tasmania’s elected political “representatives”?

Court appearance for smoke flare in politician's office

Grindelwald

8th December, 2008

Dear TAP Members,

My absolute heartfelt thanks go out to all members for their unwavering support leading up to my court appearance after letting off steam (a non-hazardous smoke flare) in Michelle O’Byrne’s building back on June 5, World Environment Day.

To those who attended the proceedings today, thank you very much from the bottom of my heart and for your generous contributions to defray costs.

Unrecognised fog hazard of the planned Tamar Valley pulp mill

Dr Warwick Raverty is a pulp and paper specialist served on the Resource Planning Development Commission before Gunns' withdrew its proposal for a pulp mill.

He sent this advice (29 November 2008) about a serious but hitherto unrecognised risk from Gunns' planned pulp mill.

Premier Bartlett - give us a 'no pulp mill' for Christmas

Premier Bartlett,

 

From tomorrow, December 1st, there are twenty four sleeps before Christmas.

When you extended Gunns Sovereign Risk agreement, till today, the 30th of November, you promised a number of things:

It's not quite dead, it's only moribund.


It's the bottom line $$$$$$tupid!

Sovereign Risk and Wood Supply Agreement with Gunns - the secret history

November 30, 2008 is a key date for the status of both the $15m Sovereign Risk Agreement and the 20 year Wood Supply Agreement between the State Government, Forestry Tasmania and Gunns.

The Government has said it has drawn a "line in the sand" of no further assistance to Gunns past November 30.

However, as author Peter Henning pointed out "It is clear, of course, that the Bartlett government and the Hodgman opposition will ignore the interests of the people and communities of the Tamar Valley in whatever further legislative or regulatory action the Parliament takes on behalf of Gunns. That is a foregone conclusion, as has been consistently demonstrated in all their actions in relation to the pulp mill." See http://tasmaniantimes.com/index.php?/weblog/article/the-millstone/ for the full article.

The secret shadowy history of the Agreements below shows the rotten heart of “parliamentary democracy” in Tasmania.

Read more at Government Agreements Watch

Questions for John Gay at Gunns' Annual General Meeting 30 Oct 08

Report on Gunns AGM 30 October 2008 by a TAP insider shareholder

Security for the annual general meeting was high. All meeting goers were vetted at the boom gate. Police were present with the paddy wagon and about 50 members of TAP greeted shareholders with a song as they passed through the gates.

The AGM was held in a room that had the heating turned up very high. No recording devices were allowed into the meeting so notes were scribbled down as the meeting progressed.  CEO John Gay took the floor and responded to most questions but did not answer many directly. In the call for apologies, Robin Gray volunteered 'Crikey' (to his own amusement).

Question re uncertainty over the project

'Main reason for the hold up is the opposition of people (whilst purposively looking at those in the room). It's not Gunns holding up the mill, it is anti-progress, anti-development people who are holding it up.  (And later in the meeting) 'There are not many protesters against Gunns'.

Questions re negotiations with partners
'Gunns has had positive discussions with joint venture partners.'   'Equity partners are pulp mill operators.'  'Joint venture partner will not take a majority interest, only 20 to 25%.'

Question re decline in shares coinciding with the pulp mill project

'Yes, the anti-pulp mill people have had an effect'.

Question - when will you abandon the mill?

Answer -'never' (to applause). 'We will keep the project on the books as long as it takes'. 'Gunns has confirmed with suppliers that the mill is a goer'. 'It is ready for construction as soon as finance is arranged'.

Question re fast tracking the mill

John Gay denied discussions with Premier Paul Lennon before pulling out from the Resource Planning and Development Commission.

Question re government permit approval process 

'Getting the modules signed off is no trouble'. 'The government has shown extreme generosity to Gunns. As shareholderes, you should be happy.'

Question re payments to Andritz (Finnish pulp machinery builder)  

'Some money has been paid for long lead items.' 'The contract can just sit there. No equipment has been built.' 'The mill size is locked in.'

Questions re plantations

'Gunns has more plantations in the North East than anywhere else in Tasmania.' 'Gunns is improving productivity whilst working in harmony with the environment.' Carlton Frame (sustainability manager) – 'one third of Tasmania's emissions are being absorbed by plantations. They are being managed in perpetuity, never going to cut them down. Gunns has a neutral or less than neutral carbon footprint. A pulp mill will make that even better.'

 

 Prepared shareholder questions

1) Gunns Manager of Sustainable Resources, Calton Frame said at a recent public meeting (Tail Race Centre) on the pulp mill that the company had completed a risk assessment study of the pulp mill.  There is no broad ranging risk assessment study published in Gunns' IIS.
  a). Has Gunns since carried out a broad ranging risk assessment of the proposal?
  b). If so, has it been done to Treasury standards?
  c).  Has it been made available to shareholders to assist with investment decisions?

Answer - no answer. Carlton Frame asked that it be taken on notice. No reply has been received.
 
2) In the current economic climate the pulp mill is completely unviable.  When will the Board members recognise the reality of this fact,  accept their responsibility both for the loss of company profits, and the drop in the share price, and step down from their position? 

Answer -  sidestepped
 
3) Currently, within a 5 km zone of the proposed pulp mill site, house and property sales have already collapsed, directly as a result of the pulp mill proposal, and local residents are already undertaking to protect themselves with a Class Action. This poses a serious risk both to Gunns' future, and its ability to attract financiers. What strategies do the Board have in place to counter this risk?

No record of an answer to this question in the notes.
 
4) Gunns recently failed to obtain council approval for its pulp mill pipeline   easements  in the West Tamar. As you are aware, if there is no water supply, then there is no mill. The company has staked its future on the pulp mill project; some commentators have described it as a "bet the company" scenario.
  a) How many properties are left to sign?
  b) Can the Board advise as to pipeline progress, and on how many kilometres of pipeline easement have been signed over from Trevallyn Dam to the mill site?

Answer - John Gay expressed surprise as to how well the negotiations were going. 'As a shareholder you should understand that this confidential'. 'There are always one or two who might cause problems'.
 
5) Gunns Ltd claims to be a proud Tasmanian company, but the withdrawal from the RPDC pulp mill approval process has resulted in both Tasmania and Gunns being criticised, and ridiculed, throughout Australia - and indeed the world.  Recent revelations in state parliamentary hearings suggest the company was clearly in no position to begin construction within the timeframes John Gay had indicated to the media at the time.
Given also that the head of the RPDC had already identified areas of 'critical non-compliance' within the IIS, was the decision to withdraw from the RPDC process due to an awareness that approval would not be received, rather than misleading and inaccurate timescale reasons?

Answer - none

Is Gunns Ltd Reliable?

Is Gunns Ltd Reliable? has been updated (as of 8 October 2010) with a new category 'Economic Management' and 230 statements from ex CEO John Gay, present CEO G. L'Estrange, Gunns Ltd, and State and Federal governments relating to the planned pulp mill in the Tamar Valley. 

Pulp and paper expert Dr Warwick Raverty, reached the “sad conclusion that Gunns is not a fit and proper company to build a pulp mill anywhere” in Tasmania (14 March 2007). That conclusion is supported by the record of statements in Is Gunns Ltd Reliable?

Its purpose is to help potential investors assess Gunns' competence to build and operate one of the largest pulp mills in the southern hemisphere. It illustrates the political, economic and project risks for investors in Gunns' proposal.

The statements have been collated by TAP Research from media reports, documentaries and publications from 2004 to the present and are hyperlink referenced for easy checking. It will be updated periodically as new evidence emerges.

Gunns Pulp Mill Start Date Announcements. How many different start dates can you find?

A company report listed on a Federal Government Web site this week revealed that construction was scheduled to start in February 2006 with a mill commissioned by mid- 2008. 17 December 2004 www.nafi.com.au

Gay expects approval in August and a likely start in September. It will take around two years to build. 19 May 2007 The Australian

The Incident at the Parliament, convened in Launceston's Albert Hall.

This is why we say the government is undemocratic.  Inside it was mayhem.  I doubt the speaker even knew what he was going to do next, and whether it would work.  When they got the last of the public through the doors, they began closing them...

A Heartfelt Thanks from Steve Biddulph

I was so proud of us today  (Saturday 23 August 2008).

The rally was a wonderful demonstration of many things... 


First, the staying power and strength of the movement against the pulp mill.