The Greens have caught Agriculture Minister Tony Burke out with some apparent cutting and pasting from propaganda produced by pulp mill proponent Gunns.

In between laying into Malcolm Turnbull with questions about his probity and relationships with felines last week, Burke made a Ministerial Statement to Parliament on forestry, in which he announced the Government would be providing $9m to Gunns and other timber companies, as well as setting up a consultative forum so the likes of Gunns CEO John Gay could speak directly with Burke and his Department on a regular basis.

The $9m continues this Government’s curiously ambivalent attitude toward protectionism, which ranges from Simon Crean’s laudable aggression against the NSW Government over its indefensible local procurement bias, to these sorts of handouts to exporting industries, to the multi-billion dollar propping up of our unviable car industry and its unions.

Burke was quite blunt about his support for Gunns. “As the Minister for Forestry, let me state quite clearly that I want to see the Gunns Bell Bay Pulp Mill built,” he said in the Statement, “ provided the requirements of federal environmental law are met.”

However the Greens spotted that Burke was also engaging in the sincerest form of flattery of the company.

“At up to $2 billion in capital expenditure, the mill would be the largest ever private sector investment in Tasmania, and the largest ever by Australia’s forest industry,” Burke said in the Statement.

“At around $1.5 billion in capital expenditure, the proposed mill will be the largest ever investment by the private sector in Tasmania, and the largest ever by the forestry sector in Australia,” Gunns said last year.

“The mill will add an estimated $6.7 billion to Tasmania’s economy,” said Burke.

“The project will add around $6.7 billion, or 2.5 per cent to the Tasmanian economy,” said Gunns last year, with no evidence.

Burke: “Construction of the mill and flow-on investment would create some 8,000 direct and indirect jobs spread across the trades and other areas. Another 1,500 jobs would be created during operation.”

Gunns: “Construction of the Pulp Mill and flow-on investment will create some 8000 direct and indirect jobs spread across the trades and other areas. A further 1500 to 1600 additional direct and indirect jobs will be created during the Pulp Mill’s operation.”

Perhaps it was an error in the sub-editing process.