Thursday, September 21, 2006

A Pulp Performance Review: Barry Chipman

On Tuesday September 19 Barry Chipman of Timber Communities Australia chanced his luck in a public debate at the University of Tasmania in Launceston. Barry was supporting the Pulp Mill Task Force’s Bob Gordon in presenting the case that the proposed Gunns Pulp Mills would benefit Tasmania.

To say that Barry and Bob were utterly outdone says nothing about the extent to which they were. However Barry took the prize for the evening!

Barry, short of something important to say, used valuable time trying to win the audience over with a joke. Almost needless to say, he fluffed it and big time.

Barry, God bless him, proffered to proposition that without paper we’d all be dragged back to the stone age or something of the like. He suggested that without it all our wisdom would need to transcribed onto “slate” heaven forbid.

Barry even got a touch lavatorial and seemed to be suggesting that we might all be reduced to using slate instead of recycled paper for bottom wiping. Perhaps he had been experimenting prior to the evening which might explain his rather unusual gait that evening.

Well Barry drew an enormous laugh from his audience but sadly Barry didn’t get the message that they were laughing AT him rather than with him. It is such a joy to be on a debating team with the likes of Barry opposing your position and all so vehemently.

Barry and Bob made an excellent team with Bob trotting out the by now over worked and thoroughly discredited same old, same old, with Second Banana Barry undermining any ground he might have gained.

The crowning glory of Barry’s performance was when he kicked a home goal. That happened when he was called upon to vote and he in fact voted against the case his team put – a truly perceptive decision.

Both of these characters are paid to present their positions and rumour has it, somewhat handsomely.

Apparently the Bob and Barry team were invited to participate in the debate in good faith and because it was assumed they would have something cogent to say and thus pull a crowd. Well they did pull an audience of well over 200. However, under a John Howard Australia Workplace Agreement both should be expecting a tap on the shoulder sooner rather than later. It aught not to be possible to ignore such non-performances in the line of duty but anyone opposing the pulp mill proposal should be quite happy if they were let off yet again.

All in all it was a good night out for the anti pulp mill community and one presumes a rather ominous one for those who have invested their energies supporting the pulp mill proposition.

Col Patterson

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Pulp Mill Commentaries

On Monday the ABC undertook to discover the Pulp Mill Task Force’s Executive Director’s (Bob Gordon’s) qualifications and presumably in regard to their relevance to the pulp mill issue.

It was somewhat illuminating to discover, via the ABC’s investigations, that Mr Gordon holds a Bachelor of Science Degree. By implication, it seemed that this information was being presented as something that should impress ABC listeners in respect to his qualifications to speak in regard to the pulp mill proposal. With respect, all by itself, and as an undergraduate degree, this qualification wouldn’t necessarily qualify him for all that much.

Clearly, Mr Gordon has, and would need, other qualifications (university or other) in order for him to have won the high profile Pulp Mill Task Force’s Executive Director’s position. This is a government funded (public?) position and one that attracts a significant salary. Given this, it would be relevant for the Pulp Mill Task Force to provide a more fulsome account of its staff’s, and spokespeople’s, relevant qualifications and experience. It isn’t to be found on the Pulp Mill Task Forces Website.

People need this information in order that when Mr Gordon and others make a comment on an issue, they can contextualise it and hence put what they have to say into perspective.

As things stand, seemingly, Mr Gordon speaks with less authority than one might expect and this is somewhat surprising. Mr Gordon spoke quite unconvincingly in regurgitating the proposed pulp mill proponent’s arguments at the University debate in Launceston September 19. Indeed, he was comprehensively out classed in the exchange. This is a concern as, by implication, the Tasmanian Government was also discredited given its funding of his position. Simply put Mr Gordon didn’t perform as one might expect that he should.

Given all that is at stake, the wider pulp mill ‘debate’ that is now raging needs to be given some real perspective. Consequently, the qualifications and credentials of commentators, their relationship(s?) to the proponents, government and others, their community standing, their stakeholder status, etc. needs to be articulated so that those trying to assess the situation can put their comments in context. This very often happens but it seems some are reluctant to put their qualifications and/or credentials up for scrutiny and one has to wonder why that might be.

What is at issue here is the partiality and credibility of the commentators (Mr Gordon and others) who speak out in support or otherwise of this Tamar pulp mill proposal. It is past the time when this issues needed to be addressed.

Dorothy Joiner
Senior Partner: Joiner Barton Vale & Associates

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

How many & who rallied to the call??

We’ve all witnessed various commentators arguing over just how many people were at the Pulp Mill Rally last Saturday.

Some Tassie sheep farmers recon they can count sheep in a paddock, and accurately, but I am yet to see anyone pull that stunt off. Maybe I’ve just not been around when it has happened but I do not think so.

However no matter how many it was who were at the rally there were enough voters there to determine just who might be elected to a position on Launceston City Council.

There was even enough to determine who would represent Bass in State Parliament. Indeed there were even enough to say who will represent Bass and Braddon at the next Federal election.

Also, there were more than enough to determine one or two Senate seats I suspect.

However many it was who were at the rally it was enough to make a difference, to do so in lots of ways and to do so in ways we are yet to discover I suspect.

Trevor Allen
A Bass voter and a rally attendee

NOTE: Various commentators claimed numbers between 3,000 & 15,000. Whatever the numbers were there was a lot of people in town and without doubt this rally was one of Launceston's biggest if not the biggest ever ... Frank Lee

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Allegoric Advertorial

Tasmania is on the cusp of gambling led economic boom. No, it’s neither the racetracks, nor the Tassie Hawks’ footy team nor the casinos that are to be the key players here! It’s actually the renewable resource industries. All these other gaming options have been enlisted to keep the punters’ eye off the main game while everything is lined up for the really big take. Indeed, why play around with small change when you can go right to the edge and gamble the lot and take everything.

Governance and the corporate world have formed the TPGC (Tasmanian Perpetual Gaming Cooperative) to market their various schemes going forward. TPGC will be a monopoly and the ‘Investment House’ licensed to wager Tasmanians’ resources on 200 to 1 plus projects.

An early TPGC product being promoted is Tasmanian Roulette. This game offers enormous, and gilt edge, opportunities for corporations investing in totalling Tasmanian renewable resources – primarily its farmland and forests but not exclusively. The rules are still in development and uncritical investors are still being sought.

Tasmanian Roulette will be the mechanism whereby TPGC will lever both the dollars and the resources required to amass the mandatory stake in the first big gamble – the toxic option, down stream, constrained value adding, pulp production, grand flutter mark one.

It is estimated that 20 years (2026) will see all valuable resources removed from the island thus making space for, and simultaneously opening up the opportunity for, the second big gamble – the dumb, up stream, total value depleting, toxic dump, grand flutter mark two.

The elegant part of this entire scenario is the fact that TPGC investors and their collaborators will have acquired white shoes and moved to a cooperative playground somewhere else. The sting in the tail is that these places are soon to come under the threat of like schemes perpetrated by even cleverer, even more malevolent and absolutely descendant free investors. History tells absolutely nothing to those who pay little or no attention to it!

Friday, August 25, 2006

The Examiner seems to be wanting to lift it’s game??

BREAKING NEWS SEPT 2 _ Tom is "on leave" and is "due back"(?) September 22!!

TPMT has noted that The Examiner seems to making an effort to lift their game on the pulp mill discourse/debate. Tom Ellison seems to be getting a bit of a run at telling the story. It is early days, and still too few stories to tell us that much, but one would have to wonder if the ABC’s Media Watch’s attention has started to kick in.

A look back over the links to stories below makes interesting reading. What does the future hold?

  • Town set for social upheaval – Thurs 24 August 2006

  • Mill will emit toxins: report – Gunns' use of scientific data questioned By TOM ELLISON , Wed 23 August 2006

  • Rolling thunder – Wed 9 August 2006

  • Mill waste to go into Bass Strait – Report tells of plans to dispose of pulp effluent – Thur 3 August 2006

  • GUNNS' PULP MILL EFFLUENT: Daily discharge kg Effluent volume 69,800,000 Total dissolved solids 153,000 Suspended solids 2100 Colour 25,500 Organochlorines 411 Chlorate 125

  • Media Watch: The Examiner runs ads as news
  • Aunty’s 7.30 Report picks up on the pulp mill debate.

    The ABC picked up on the debate August 22 and the link to the TV Program Transcript has quite a few quotable quotes.
  • Click here to go to the transcript
  • Saturday, August 19, 2006


    (NOTE 24/08/06: This item has been revised as some of the numbers are in dispute and new information is coming to hand day by day. TPMT still thinks that this item holds up even with the new numbers being suggested)

    TPMT has just received this notice from CUT (Clean Up Tasmania)and we are publishing in full, unedited, in the hope that someone will confirm the calculations, or better still, be able to refute them.

    A world scale pulp mill in Tasmania could destroy our farms and our forests

    The Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) has published information about pulp mills that should concern the community, Gunns shareholders and investors need to carefully consider new information coming in from professional organisations.

    JAKARTA (11 May 2006)--False assumptions … have led international investors to channel tens of billions of dollars worldwide into financially risky and environmentally destructive ventures, according to an expert analysis of 67 pulp mill projects released today by the Indonesia-based CIFOR.

    The report… warns that a lack of due diligence in the expanding global pulp sector may lead to a new wave of ill-advised projects, setting up investors, forest-dependent communities, and the environment for a precipitous fall.

    The CIFOR report finds that the scale of pulp mills has grown dramatically over the past decade and that individual mills now have a voracious appetite for wood: a single large mill with an annual capacity of 1.0 million tonnes requires the equivalent of 15 percent of the Brazilian Amazon's annual timber harvest. When this wood is not available from plantation forests, the demand for pulp can drive illegal logging and clearing of natural forest ecosystems. Plantation development itself often displaces forest communities and fuels social conflicts.

    Given the lack of evidence to support the IIS from Gunns, coupled with the biased and compromised process for evaluating the risks to Tasmanians, the local community and investors have every reason to be concerned about the Gunns pulp mill proposal.

    One immediate and serious concern is the impact on Tasmania's forests and farms (largely ignored by the RPDC and the State government). If the CIFOR report is correct, (and it is surely more reliable than anything from Gunns) then Gunns mill will require around 12 million tonnes of wood each year as feedstock (Brazil timber harvest = 75 million tonnes; 15% is 11,250,000 tonnes).

    Gunns mill is mooted to be 1.1 million tonnes production capacity per year and so will require around 12 million tonnes of timber each year based on the CIFOR figures.

    It has been reported that 87,320 hectares of hardwood plantations in Tasmania between 1997 and 2004 were bought with MIS funds. (Plague of plantations, Bevilaqua, News Ltd) which has been estimated as around 17% of Tasmania's farmland.

    Using these figures and a figure of 200 cu m of timber per ha as a guide we calculate

    12,000,000/200 = 60,000 ha/yr of plantations to feed the pulp mill

    If a plantation regrowth rate (turnover) is 15 years then the mill will need 60,000 ha * 15 of plantation feedstock or 900,000 ha.

    If 87,000 ha is around 17% of total farms, then 1% would be about 87,000/17 = 5,100 ha

    Total farmland area needed to convert to plantations would then be 900,000/5,100 = 175% ……(NOTE: The ACTUAL numbers here are in dispute BUT whatever the outcome, it will be a lot even if it is 50% as some are suggesting and given the impact of that upon Tasmania's economy)

    If the assumptions are possible and a reasonable average of the situation, then the Gunns mill could entirely destroy Tasmania's farm sector with plantations and need to remove thousands of hectares of valuable forests.

    NB this informal advisory notice has not been based on any definitive studies due to a lack of useful information provided by the State government. The figures from CIFOR and the calculations herein should be used as guides to the risks faced by Tasmania and its population if they wish to build a world scale pulp mill in a tiny (non-world scale) island. Readers with more accurate and definitive estimates are invited to email their figures to us at

    Richard Barton
    CUT (Clean Up Tasmania)
    Postal Address
    PO Box 5255 Launceston TAS 7250
  • Email Clean Up Tasmania
  • Tuesday, August 15, 2006

    PULP PLANTATIONS: Tax Breaks Under Examination

    Readers of the Examiner probably won't know this, but there is a new and very viable threat to the proposed pulp mill that Gunns Ltd is, hopefully, starting to get a little bit nervous about. A report in yesterday's Sunday Tasmanian informs us that federal government moves to reduce tax breaks for plantation investors, who sink money into plantations in managed investment schemes on which Gunns Ltd relies rather heavily.

    Put simply, and I won't pretend to be any sort of expert on taxation matters, people are enticed to invest in plantations because of the tax breaks attached to doing so. As a result investment in plantations have increased dramatically over the last few years, and of course Gunns has stated loudly and often that it needs a secure supply of plantation stock to feed the ravenous mill. To keep its filthy hands off native or, Heaven forbid, old growth forest.

    If the tax breaks are reduced, investment in plantations also reduces as the incentive to do so is taken away. Federally, the Nationals would seem to support a tax break reduction as plantations have had, to put it in the nicest possible terms, a rather adverse effect on farms and other small communities. That effect has been well documented in Tasmania of late.

    Of course, there was nothing about this in The Examiner today, and don't hold your breath waiting for the front page splash. No doubt our fine local journal will continue its robust and very informative weekly series on why we'll all go the dogs if this mill doesn't get up. The instalments on effluent outfall and transport have been fascinating.

    No recognition at all that there is a viable alternative point of view, but then that's hardly news is it? And the Examiner rarely bothers itself with anything so inconvenient as the news.

    I hope Media Watch is paying attention.

    Salvation Jane