Six and a half years. Six and a half years and we are still here. Six and a half years and we are as strong as ever. We have kept our heads while all around are losing theirs. No compromise. No trade-offs. No dealing with the devil.
May I say you look in pretty good shape. Much better shape than Gunns.
All that taxpayers’ money that has kept Gunns in clover in years past is drying up. Their share price is down the toilet. Cash flow assets sold off. Sawmills closed. Workers discarded. Managed Investment Schemes collapsed. In debt to ANZ to the tune of $650 million.
Gunns have no money, no pulp mill and no idea.
As Kim Booth has often said, theirs is a failed business model.
The sooner they leave Tasmania the better. Their dream, with the connivance of an incompetent and ignorant parliament, was to make of Tasmania some sort of Borneo of the southern seas.
They have failed because the people of Tasmania were onto them. The people of Tasmania have a much better vision for the future of this state. That vision does not include converting our First World economy into a Third World one.
In desperation Gunns ran a poll recently. Instead of wasting money on a poll Gunns should be paying their bills. For a starter they owe us, the people of Tasmania, 35 million dollars for logs. Pay up.
Let me reveal the results of another poll that Gunns has been running for a very long time now. Gunns don’t want to be reminded of the results of this poll. Neither does parliament nor the Launceston Chamber of Commerce nor a bunch of other sleepwalkers in Tasmania.
For years Gunns has been polling ever major bank, investment house and pulp mill company in the world. The results are in. The level of support for Gunns and their pulp mill nightmare around the world is precisely zero.
Not one single cent of investment money has been forthcoming for this project in six and a half years. That should tell you something about how economically viable the whole world regards this mill. Will someone wake up the Labor and Liberal parties and the various Chambers of Commerce and let them know?
“Black is the colour and none is the number.” The flags and the choice of black as the colour of the rally are to signify those dark days in March 2007 when the great betrayal of our democracy took place.
That was when the Pulp Mill Assessment Act, the ‘fast track’ assessment, was rubber stamped through both houses of parliament by Labor and Liberal. The only dissent was from the four Greens in the lower house and a handful of honourable independents in the upper.
Let’s be absolutely clear as to what happened back in March 2007. The legislation obscenely favours Gunns. There’s a reason for that. They wrote it. They have never denied it. The bill was escorted through the corridors, toilets, bar, and chambers of Parliament by a squad of lobbyists, lawyers and heavies from Gunns, the CFMEU and the logging industry.
It was tantamount to a coup d’etat.
I, and hundreds of others, saw them gathered on the steps of Parliament on that beautiful late summer day in March 2007. It was their building. They owned the parliament and scripted and directed what took place inside.
That Labor and Liberal politicians and their fellow travellers in the upper house were the willing patsies of this gross abuse of parliamentary democracy should never be excused or diminished in any way.
It was one of the most shameful episodes, perhaps THE most shameful episode, in our political history. It demonstrated a breathtaking contempt for the institution of parliamentary democracy by the very parliamentarians whose sacred duty it was to uphold.
The great irony is that it was all for nothing. There is no pulp mill. Not a single cent of investment money has been attracted to the project in six and half years. It remains, as it always was, a grand delusion. Yet unprincipled government has wasted vast sums of public money on it, money that should have been allocated to health, education, policing, aged care etc.
The pulp mill is over. The nightmare of an uncompetitive, world scale resource gobbling industry for an island that is not world scale, has held Tasmania back for six and a half years.
Let us get on with what we do best in Tasmania, establishing innovative, creative small to medium business directed at the quality end of the market.
The pulp mill has already destroyed two premiers. As sure as night follows day it will destroy a third unless she cuts herself free from the mill insanity and embraces and articulates a positive vision for Tasmania.
How will there be peace?
This war that we have been engaged in for nearly 7 years now will only cease on the part of the people, the excluded community gathered here today, whenever it shall have ceased on the part of those who began it.
When Gunns accepts that they have failed and when the Tasmanian parliament accepts that it has lost and was wrong to ride roughshod over the rights and the best interests of Tasmanians, only then will this war be over.
Meanwhile – no compromise, no trade offs, no secret deals behind closed doors.
As the big man Michael Collins said: “Our only weapon is our refusal.”
• Earlier on Tasmanian Times:
Greens to push debate on pulp mill repeal act, rally told. Fury at ABC