Tas parliament approves Gunns' pulp mill


On August 30, the Tasmanian parliament approved an operating permit for Gunns Ltd's proposed $2 billion Tamar Valley pulp mill. The independents-dominated upper house voted by 10 votes to four to allow the mill to go ahead.

In the lower house, the Labor government and Liberal opposition voted to approve the operating permit, with only the four Greens MPs voting against and Labor MP Lisa Singh abstaining.

On the same day, federal environment minister Malcolm Turnbull announced he would not give final approval to the project for another six weeks, saying that he needed more time to assess the environmental impacts.

He said he had received some 25,000 public submissions about the mill and that the federal government's chief scientist would not submit a report on the project until the third week of September.

Federal Labor leader Kevin Rudd said while the federal ALP conditionally supported the pulp mill project, any final decision would depend on the information available at the time.

ABC News reported on September 1 that there are rumours "that Prime Minister John Howard is pressuring environment minister Malcolm Turnbull to approve the pulp mill quickly", adding that Labor environment spokesperson Peter Garrett "says he supports a 'world-class' pulp mill to address a shortage of Australian-made wood pulp products ...

"The Wilderness Society's Geoff Law says Mr Garrett has evaded the issue. 'Peter Garrett should be standing up for the forests', he said."