Dressed mainly in black, with black flags and banners to show the death of democracy in Tasmania, 6000 people took to Launceston’s streets on May 14 to oppose Gunns’ proposed $2.3 billion pulp mill, to be built on the banks of the Tamar River.
The rally was told that democracy died when the state parliament passed the Pulp Mill Assessment Act in March 2007, which, in the words of Tasmanian Greens MP Kim Booth, had “imposed a ... monster on your valley”.
Booth committed the Greens to repealing the legislation. A repeal bill is due to go to parliament in late May. He also told the crowd that if any money was put to the pulp mill in the state budget, he would move a no-confidence motion against the government.
Rally organiser and TAP into a better Tasmania spokesperson Bob McMahon told the crowd: “Gunns have no money, no pulp mill and no idea … The sooner they leave Tasmania, the better.
“When Gunns accepts that they have failed and when the Tasmanian parliament accepts that it has lost and was wrong to ride roughshod over the rights and the best interests of Tasmanians, only then will this war be over. Our only weapon is our refusal.”
Local personality and former ABC TV gardening presenter Peter Cundell also addressed the rally, warning the politicians that supported the mill that they would be targeted for betraying the people once the campaign to defeat the mill was victorious.
“I’d like to see an investigation, a royal commission about how this rotten business started … so that we can name the culprits,” he said.
“Gunns has been a typical, ruthless corporation … but the real culprits, the ones who betrayed us, are those parliamentarians who knew the score, received the benefits of the donations to their political parties and who voted [for the bill]. They’re still there and we’ve got to get rid of them.
“That mill will never go ahead, because the people do not want it.
“We’ll never give in, we’ll never stop fighting, and we’ll keep on until we nail the culprits that did this thing.”
The rally was also addressed by Dr Lisa Searle, from the newly formed activists group Code Green. She spoke of the effects of climate change on the planet and its population. Searle called for resources to be put into alternative, renewable energy sources, instead of a pulp mill.