Rudd should stop the pulp mill!

December 7, 2007

Greens leader Senator Bob Brown has called on the new Rudd Labor government to scrap the pulp mill that has been approved to be built in northern Tasmania. Brown has pointed to the strong Greens vote that helped the ALP regain all lower house seats in Tasmania as a mandate to stop the mill.

Before the federal election in November the ALP tagged along with the Coalition government's support for pulp mill on the basis that it would be "world's best practice" and would create jobs. A report by Australia's Chief Scientist in October found that this mill would cause "minimal impact on the environment", but that has been disputed by environmental groups like The Wilderness Society, whose research has found this mill would cause the logging of 4 million tonnes of native forest per year, as well as polluting the marine environment with dangerous poisons such as dioxin. Former environmental activist and newly appointed environment minister Peter Garrett has been criticised for supporting the pulp mill. Since the election the ALP has not indicated that they are willing to change their position.

The first act of the Rudd government was to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on climate change. An Australian delegation is currently at the UN climate change conference in Bali discussing tough emission reduction targets.

A serious step towards reducing Australia's greenhouse gas emissions would be to stop this pulp mill, which will be one of the largest in the world and will contribute 10 million tonnes of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere each year from the logging of native forests and the burning of the wood-fired power station. This is the equivalent of putting another 2 million cars on the road.

The campaign to stop the pulp mill is not slowing down. On December 5, a group called "Lawyers for Forests" launched a new legal action against Garrett. This will challenge the previous environment minister Malcolm Turnbull's decision to approve the mill as well as the inadequacy of the decision and the conditions placed on the mill in relation to the marine environment. It is a different lawsuit to the earlier one The Wilderness Society and Investors for the Future Tasmania attempted — unsuccessfully — which only looked at the approval process, not the decision.

Construction of the mill is not expected to start until next year.

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