Christian Kerr obviously takes the pro-business view in relation to the proposed pulp mill (“Bondi, Bronte, Bellevue Hill – and Bass and Braddon”
yesterday Item 14), but like the Tasmanian Government has only looked at the suggested benefits rather than the costs of the proposed mill.

This is understandable, as that is all the Government sought in its supposedly independent report by ITS Global, appointed to provide a review of the social and economic benefits of the proposed mill, not the economic and social costs.

The economic report commissioned by the Tasmanian Roundtable for Sustainable Industries (TRSI) has been provided to the Legislative Council in Tasmania, the key findings of which are as follows (courtesy of the Wilderness Society – please Christian, read it anyway).

Key findings

  1. The proponents have made a simple but significant error by double counting the pulp mill’s tax benefit to the Tasmanian economy.
  2. A benefits analysis conducted by the proponents shows an $834 million tax contribution over the life of the project but fails to show the $847.3 million in subsidies provided to the project.
  3. The proponents have only provided a benefits analysis to the Tasmanian economy. They have not factored in risks and costs, including:

    a) Risk of respiratory disease caused by the emissions from the proposed mill, quantified in the report at $350 million.

    b) The cost to the Tasmania economy from converting additional agricultural land to plantations to supply the proposed mill, quantified in the report at $403 million.

    c) Risks to Tasmania’s fishing industry due to dioxin contamination from pulp mill effluent, quantified as a medium-risk scenario that could cost the industry $693.5 million and 700 job losses over the life of the project.

    d) Following a survey conducted by the Tasmanian Tourism Industry Council, economists were able to quantify the risk to Tasmania’s tourist industry. With 84% of growth in Tourism attributable to repeat visits, a medium risk scenario will cost the Tasmanian economy $1.1 billion and 1044 jobs over the life of the project.

    e) If you add up risks to health and other industries plus the costs and subsidies the total is $3.3 billion.

  4. Only subsidies provided by the Australian taxpayer make the mill profitable.
  5. Job gains during mill construction may well be offset by the “crowding out” of other development opportunities and job losses elsewhere.
  6. On a range of realistic scenarios, the Pulp Mill project may cause an economic loss to the State of Tasmania.
  7. The proposed pulp mill does not represent sustainable development for Tasmania.

Another aspect of the report states as follows:

The medium risk scenario is of 8 deaths per year. Add 1 log truck death per annum and over 24 years of the lifespan of the project and deaths increase from 192 to 216. It is all very well creating 280 direct jobs, but not at the expense of 216 lives.

The full report can be found on the Launceston Environment Centre’s website.

Added to this is the statement of your regular contributor, Barry Chipman, on the  Four Corners episode where he indicated that in relation to the timber industry in Tasmania “… our future is not, no, our future isn’t threatened, what is threatened though is the ability to continue to grow and prosper.”

Christian, if you are considering the needs of the electorate of Bass consider that over 12,000 people voluntarily attended the anti-pulp mill rally. Of the four thousand pro-pulp mill rally attendees, many were paid to do so and bussed from elsewhere in the State. Some were even forced to attend.

This is a national issue and if people take up this issue in any electorate in Australia, good. Tasmania has the real potential to be a major tourist destination and reserve for great wilderness areas.

Overseas travel magazines have voted Strahan one of the best tourist destinations in the world. However, driving there through the decimated forest areas, which abut the major road routes, will not encourage repeat tourism.

Perhaps you could visit Tasmania and see for yourself what is happening. Perhaps it is too far for Christian to cycle, but like the “part-time Aussies who regularly burn jet fuel as they cross the Pacific” for work, we could excuse him for flying down “for work”.