In the lobbying business, titles are a wonderful thing and the Wilderness Society well knows it.

In the battle over building that pulp mill in northern Tasmania, Gunns Limited had called on Allen Consulting to provide it with a third party endorsement expounding on the wonderful economic benefits would come to the state. There would be $3.3 billion added to the Tasmanian economy in the years to 2030 with creation of 1617 jobs.

How to trump that? Well, to begin with, instead of a group of former political staffers and senior public servants (Allen Consulting was founded by a former private secretary to failed Liberal Opposition Leader Billy Snedden), the Wilderness Society turned to a National Institute. The National Institute of Economic and Industry Research, no less.

That grand sounding body this week issued a report concluding that economic benefits of the pulp mill had been overstated and that the project most likely would have an overall negative economic impact.

To a casual reader that might seem a damning indictment of what the evil Gunns are planning. But anyone who looked at the NIEIR website would find it is nothing more than just another of those lobbyists for hire disguised behind a title.

Both Allen Consulting and the Institute would no doubt loudly proclaim the independence of their assessments. Which means that Gunns and the Wilderness Society have paid their money and we can take our choice.

Peter Fray

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