Geoff Cousins, the ad man and former Howard government adviser promised that he would make life hell for Malcolm Turnbull in Wentworth, after Turnbull as Environment Minister gave the green light to a proposed pulp mill in the Tamar Valley in Northern Tasmania.
Only seven days before the election Cousins was berating a crowd in Hobart with this message: “Think about voting against something. Vote against this mill. Vote for the Greens if you must, or an independent. I don’t care who you vote for. But vote against this mill.” And Cousins lined up a bunch of celebrities to back his cause.
Cousins was determined to see Turnbull lose his seat – he told anyone who would listen that was his aim.
And in Tasmania, the anti-pulp mill campaigners promised that there was so much outrage in the electorate, anti-pulp mill candidates would do exceedingly well in the electorates of Bass and Lyons.
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The result – the pulp mill hardly featured at all on the radar yesterday. The independent candidate Danielle Ecyuer, whom The Australian featured prominently on its front page a couple of months ago, only mustered 600 votes. Mr Turnbull got a swing to him of 9.9 percent.
In Tasmania, the ALP took the seat of Bass, where the pulp mill is to be located. The Greens vote was up almost seven percent, but so what? It was considerably less than its vote in Linday Tanner’s seat of Melbourne – 600 kilometres and a stretch of water away from the proposed pulp mill. In Lyons, former Liberal candidate Ben Quin, who resigned from the party over the pulp mill issue, took less than 6 percent of the vote.
And in the Tasmanian senate race, Bob Brown it seems won’t be able to drag his number 2 candidate Andrew Willkie over the line.
Sure the pulp mill is an important issue, but the fact is it’s: Turnbull 1, Cousins 0. And as usual Brown and the Greens promised much outrage, when the reality was a loud whimper at best.
The Tamar Valley pulp mill has proved to be no Franklin Dam when it comes to the ballot box. And with Brown not getting near controlling the balance of power in the senate until July next year, this mill might yet become a reality.