Thousands rally against the pulp mill

Issue 

On November 17, thousands of people, including five busloads of people who came down from Launceston, rallied in Hobart's Franklin Square against Gunns Ltd's proposed $1.8 billion pulp mill in the Tamar Valley.

The rally heard from several speakers, two of the most prominent being author Richard Flanagan and Telstra board member Geoffrey Cousins.

Bob McMahon, chairperson of Tasmanians Against the Pulp Mill, a group based in Tasmania's north, pointed out the need for an end to the subsidies that governments give to corporations such as Gunns, saying that these subsidies take away money that could be used to improve essential services such as health.

"Corporate welfare is destroying social support services", he said.

The Wilderness Society's (TWS) campaigns coordinator Geoff Law said that 500,000 tonnes of native forest timber would be burned in the mill each year. He condemned the tactics used by the state Labor government to get the mill approved.

Cousins argued for voters to support independents and the Greens in the November 24 federal election to send a message to the major parties about the pulp mill.

Flanagan highlighted the close ties between the Labor government and Gunns. He argued that a royal commission was needed to investigate how deeply connected Gunns and the government are.

A Roy Morgan poll in early November found that 52% of Australian voters supported a public inquiry into the assessment process for the pulp mill project. Of those questioned, 46% said they did not approve of the project, while only 24% supported it.

He said that the fight against the pulp mill would require the biggest campaign of require mass civil disobedience since the anti-Franklin River dam campaign of the early 1980s.

Following the speakers, protesters braved rain and cold winds to march around the CBD, chanting loudly, with many bystanders cheering from the sidelines.

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