Jumping the Gunn. Peter Garrett might not be the raving loony environmentalist that many greens hoped for, but that does not mean it is safe for business to take him for granted as Gunns Limited chairman John Gay did yesterday. In a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange Mr Gay told investors that the Gunns Board was pleased to announce that, after a comprehensive review of the approval received from the Minister and consideration of further advice sought by Gunns on the approval decision, the company is now in a very strong position to continue to move forward with the [Tamar Valley Pulp Mill] project.”

Who the further advice came from was not stated, but it was clearly not from the Environment Minister himself. Peter Garrett this morning was quick to point out that the critical conditions “L”, “M” and “N” in the approval process had not yet been approved by him:

Until such time that we are confident the dispersal of effluent and any of the other issues that arise as a consequence of the dispersal of effluent into the marine waters are properly identified and whether any additional conditions are required to ensure that there aren’t impacts on matters of national environment significance, then no approval for this mill can be given.

Any financier who interprets those words as meaning that approval is some kind of foregone conclusion will be taking a huge risk.

A victory for the members. For the life of me, I cannot see what the problem is with the elevation of former trade union boss John Robertson to the NSW Labor Cabinet. After all, he led the fight to uphold the Labor Party principle that the rank and file membership have the right to set policy directions. That this upset some members of the parliamentary party who, once preselected, wanted ordinary members to have no role at all, just illustrates the extent to which power corrupts. At least now Labor Party branch members have one person in office who respects party policy. And as for Steve Whan, the other MP elevated to the ministry yesterday, he has surely served a decent apprenticeship as the Member for Monaro and displayed more talent than your average NSW Minister.

A proper election. Australian politicians have shown little enthusiasm over the years for the idea that the people themselves should participate in decision making. Referendums are a rarity and normally confined to attempts to change the constitution. That is what will make 16 May, 2009 a day of political significance, for the voters of Western Australia have at last been given a say. And what is the question of state significance they will vote on? Whether the state should continue with daylight saving. Premier Colin Barnett expects to vote ‘no’ on the subject as he is a “morning person” and the odds favour him being on the winning side. Similar referendums were held in 1975, 1984 and 1992 and at all of them, daylight saving was firmly rejected.

A Tasmanian record. My daily study of what stories people actually read on the Internet tells me that the weather is a perennial favourite. So, in an effort to court readership, I bring you this snippet. At 3.39 yesterday afternoon, the temperature at Flinders Island airport reached 41.5 degrees, an all-time record high-temperature for Tasmania. The previous record was 40.8 degrees set in Hobart on 4 January 1976. The previous record for Flinders Island was 38.8 degrees, set in January 2003.

Peter Fray

Get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for $12.

Without subscribers, Crikey can’t do what it does. Fortunately, our support base is growing.

Every day, Crikey aims to bring new and challenging insights into politics, business, national affairs, media and society. We lift up the rocks that other news media largely ignore. Without your support, more of those rocks – and the secrets beneath them — will remain lodged in the dirt.

Join today and get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for just $12.

 

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW