Over the years, the cosiness of the relationship between Tasmanian politics and the forestry industry has led to more than a few claims of impropriety. Claims, and of course a Royal Commission.

In 1989, after the Wesley Vale Pulp Mill debacle divided Tasmania, Liberal Premier Robin Gray called an election which he went on to lose. Edmund Rouse, a Tasmanian media player and Chairman of Gunns Kilndried Timber Industries Limited (now Gunns Pty Ltd), attempted to keep a Labor-Greens coalition — seen as a threat to his forest interests — from assuming power by attempting to bribe a Labor parliamentarian to cross the floor. After a Royal Commission into the affair, Rouse was jailed.

At the time, current state premier Paul Lennon was working as the Tasmanian Trades and Labor Council secretary and was interviewed over the content of his meetings with Premier Gray. In the final report, the Commissioner questioned Lennon’s credibility as a witness.

The premier’s work behind-the-scenes was in the headlines again recently when the head of the assessment panel for Gunns’ proposed $1.4 billion Tamar Valley pulp mill claimed that Lennon had applied inappropriate pressure on him to fast-track the panel’s review of the project. The Tasmanian police decided not to investigate the allegations.

A week later, a group of 14 academics from the University of Tasmania released a statement expressing concern at “an apparent decline in ethical standards within the Tasmanian Government”. Former panel chairman Julian Green and colleague Dr Warwick Raverty resigned their posts in January, also citing political interference.

That Lennon is a major supporter of Gunns’ new pulp mill is entirely predictable. As premier he is expected to create jobs, court investment, and encourage development. Yet, like many of his colleagues, Lennon also has a long association with Tasmanian forestry. Former premier Robin Gray, for example, is now a director at Gunns.

Greens senator Christine Milne has watched Tasmanian politics over many years and says you could ”throw a blanket over 20 people who control both politics and forestry, and have done so for decades”.

So to help untangle the web of affiliation and interest that connects the business of politics in Tasmania to the business of forestry, here’s a brief list of who’s who, where they’ve been and where they are now.

Paul Lennon

1989: Former TTLC (Tasmanian Trades and Labor Council) Secretary. Appointed by David Llewellyn as Deputy Chair of Forest and Forest Industry Council. Replaced Ken Wriedt as Labor MHA Franklin.

1990: Member Forest Protection Society

2001-2002: Deputy Premier and Minister for Economic Development, Energy and Resources including forests.

2005: As Minister for Economic Development and Resources established the Pulp Mill Task Force

2007: State Premier, Minister for Economic Development and Resources

Robin Gray

1989: Liberal Premier lost election to Labor, Leader of the opposition

2007: Director, Gunns Pty Ltd

Mark Addis

1989-1991: Executive Director of FIAT (Forest Industries Association of Tasmania)

2001-2002: Secretary of Department of Infrastructure, Energy and Resources (DIER) including Forests. Appointed by Bacon Government. Responsible for administration of Forest Practices Board

2003-present: Secretary of DIER including forests

Karen Vadasz

1989-1991: Forest Industries Association of Tasmania, office manager and PR person while Mark Addis was CEO.

2003: Senior private secretary to Deputy Premier Paul Lennon, Forest Industry Council employee

2006: Project director, Pulp Mill Task Force

2007: Executive Director Pulp Mill Task Force

Bryan Green

1989-1991: North Broken Hill Ltd (now Gunns) employee and union rep at Burnie Pulp Mill.

1998: Elected to state parliament as Labor member for Braddon. Re-elected in 2002.

2002-2004: Minister for Primary Industries, Water and Environment

2004-2006: Minister for Infrastructure, Energy and Resources.

2006: Deputy Premier, with portfolios of Economic development, Resources, and Sport and Recreation.

2006: Allegedly negotiated secret pulp mill Wood Supply Agreement with Gunns for 30 years access to native forests.

2006: Stood down on charges of conspiracy

2007: Member of the House of Assembly. No ministerial responsibility pending court proceedings.

Bob Gordon

1991: Commissioner Tasmanian Forestry Commission

2001: Stood as Labor candidate for Lyons in Federal election

2003: General manager (marketing) at Forestry Tasmania

2005: Executive Director Pulp Mill Task Force, which was established under the Department of Economic Development and Resources with a $2 million budget. Paul Lennon was the Minister.

2007: Managing Director of Forestry Tasmania

Ken Jeffries

2001-2002: Former ABC radio journalist appointed by Premier Bacon as Director of Communications in his office

2003: Director of Communications for the Office of the Premier

2004-2006: Pulp Mill Task Force PR and Media spokesperson

2007: Forestry Tasmania PR and Media spokesman

Rod Scott

1989-1991: Journalist at The Examiner, Launceston, while newspaper owned by Examiner Northern Television (ENT Ltd).

1992-2004: Editor The Examiner, Launceston

2004: Appointed Premier Paul Lennon’s new Chief of Staff

2007: Premier Lennon’s Chief of Staff

Tony Harrison

1989-1991: Formerly employed by Tasmanian Premier Robin Gray. Later established PR company Corporate Communications (Tas) Pty Ltd.

2001-2002: Managing Director Corporate Communications (Tas) Pty Ltd

2003: Managing Director, Corporate Communications (Tas) Pty Ltd. Clients include Gunns Pty Ltd. Corporate Communications (Tas) Pty Ltd is on the register of Tasmanian Government communication consultants and service providers.

2007: Managing Director, Corporate Communications (Tas) Pty Ltd. Spokesperson for Gunns Pty Ltd in recent pulp mill assessment process. Listed as communication consultants and service provider and recorded as having done work in 2006 for Department of Economic Development and Resources which has oversight of the Pulp Mill Task Force.

Have we missed anyone? Send [email protected] details of anyone else who should be included. 

Get Crikey for $1 a week.

Lockdowns are over and BBQs are back! At last, we get to talk to people in real life. But conversation topics outside COVID are so thin on the ground.

Join Crikey and we’ll give you something to talk about. Get your first 12 weeks for $12 to get stories, analysis and BBQ stoppers you won’t see anywhere else.

Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
12 weeks for just $12.