Tasmania’s timber dependent communities say the Greens and their “anti anything that creates jobs and wealth” (AATTCJW) activists are guilty of gross dishonesty in their attacks on the Bell Bay Pulp Mill and the State Government’s planned assessment process.

On behalf of timber families, Timber Communities Australia argues that the truth has been the first victim in the AATTCJW activist campaign to destroy the pulp mill project and any other major development in Tasmania.

The recent statements from Greens Senator Christine Milne, Tasmanian Greens Leader Peg Putt and Wilderness Society spokesman Geoff Law show that in their quest to destroy Tasmanian development and jobs, these people will resort to any claim, any untruth to attack the pulp mill project, the forest industry and the workers, families and communities that depend on the industry for their livelihood. Their anti-forestry stance is longstanding, but their disregard for the facts surrounding the pulp mill is breathtaking. Over the past week, writing on the Crikey website, Greens and AATTCJW activist have claimed that the pulp mill will use from 3.2 million to 4.5 million tonnes of wood, with 80% of it coming from native forests. Geoff Law even claimed that the wood would come from Tasmania’s tallest forests and others have said it would come from old growth forests.

TCA knows that these claims are absolutely wrong, sensationalist and nothing more than a scare tactic to destroy the pulp mill and steal the associated benefits from the people of Tasmania.

The facts are that the pulp mill will require about three million tonnes of chips which will be sourced from plantations and regrowth forests. Absolutely no old growth timber will used to feed the mill. This regrowth is sustainably managed working forests (regrowth from past harvesting) approved for wood production by the Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement and the Tasmanian Community Forest Agreement These same processes following rigorous assessment have identified and secured 45% of Tasmania’s existing forest cover as conservation valued reserves. But you never hear of these world class conservation achievements being promoted by the Greens. One must ask, why not?

One can understand why the Wilderness Society wouldn’t want to promote this achievement. The TWS created $11 million of revenue last financial year from it marketing slogan of save Tassie’s forests. So why would the TWS want to tell any one the job is already done.

Could it be that the Greens prefer to see Tasmania continue to import paper pulp, rather than see a value adding industry developed in Tasmania under the most stringent environmental controls and sustainable harvesting of plantations and regrowth forests? Or do they want to stay bogged down with their tired old opposition to forestry and value-adding of a renewable sustainable resource and ridged ‘not in my backyard’ policies.”

Let’s hope one day the Greens will awake to the fact that timber harvested for the pulp mill would be sustainable, with the project’s developer alone planting more than 20 million new trees each year for long term supply. That the mill will be the cleanest and most modern pulp mill in the world meeting the most stringent environmental, air and effluent emission controls and providing Tasmania with a once in a lifetime economic boost

It is healthy to have rigorous debate about the merits of the pulp mill. But let’s not destroy that important debate with false claims like a previous anti pulp mill activist’s claim that the pulp mill will melt all the snow caps in New Zealand. Heaven forbid – how could we then ever find a dry cricket pitch in the land of the long white cloud to win the Border/Hadley Cup back?

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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