Well done to the ‘Pulp the Mill’ (PTM) peaceful protest on Sunday.
Regrettably I couldn’t make it to the rally.
The Pulp the Mill group state that they are a collective of individuals firmly committed to the positive and peaceful tactic of using peaceful protest and engaging in civil disobedience as one means to stop the mill.
PTM is also asking for a Royal Commission into corruption because
“Corruption has occurred” and “we’re asking for a Royal Commission into the pulp mill.”
PTM’s aim to stop the Gunns Pulp mill and call for a Royal Commission is a great cause.
Is the message cutting through?
However I heard a PTM spokesperson being interviewed on the radio on Monday morning after the Beaconsfield protest and I had some concerns. When asked what it was specifically about the pulp mill process she thought was corrupt the speaker failed to really get the message across.
Whilst it is understandable because radio is a tough gig, this is an area that PTM must capitalise on in the future.
In terms of the assessment process, recent history is rich with examples of ‘alleged corruption’. It is ripe for the picking.
Indeed, if PTM are to maximise their effect, and I believe this group has the potential to be very effective in the campaign against Gunns Pulp Mill they must be more grounded in hard solid thinking and fact. This will no doubt help it to improve its effectiveness and media performance.
People are not going to be won over just because of the group’s commitment and good intentions. There must be a clear, coherent and incisive message to match! This could be the difference between being regarded as ignorant fanatics and an intelligent, well organised force to be reckoned with.
It’s all there on the public record.
The good news for PTM is that arguing corruption of the Gunns Pulp mill Assessment is an easy case to prosecute. Made very easy by the large and dirty paw prints left on the public record by the former Premier, Gunns Ltd and the axis camp of pulp ratbags.
Many of the actions taken by government and Gunns were simply indefensible even when presented to the most bias media. One only needs present facts as found on the public record.
I believe the Pulp the Mill group can become very effective in this fight if it becomes expert at using media opportunities to refresh the media and public minds about the basic reasons anti-mill protesters are in this fight.
Corruption of the states pulp mill assessment
More than any other issue it was the dissatisfaction Tasmanians had with the ‘shonky events’ that took place around Gunns’ withdrawal from the RPDC and (former) Premier Lennon’s fast-track rescue that unite them. More than any other factor. This is the most common complaint that Tasmanian’s have about the Gunns pulp mill. Everyone agrees that the process was crooked. That something shonky took place.
When Gunns withdrew from the RPDC, - as RPDC Pulp Mill scientist Dr Warwick Raverty argued in an article for the New Matilda “deeply suspicious of this peculiar Government-Gunns relationship, the majority of Tasmanians who had been happy became very unhappy”.
As Terry Martin MLC who crossed the floor to vote against the Government’s Pulp Mill Assessment Act (PMAA) and was subsequently expelled from the Parliamentary Labor Party argued?
“Ordinary Tasmanians who are not necessarily conservationists or for that matter, necessarily pro-development or anti-development, they are simply disgusted and appalled at what they see as this attack on democracy. This is what this bill means to these people. For many they believe there is a stench about this issue and irrespective of what the truth is and the varying accounts of events leading up to this bill, the reality is that there is an overwhelming perception, that has been created for many good ordinary Tasmanians, that something shonky has taken place”. (Terry Martin, 29 March 2007)
Therein lies the challenge to the PTM group. To speak to and re-energise that broad base of support that Terry Martin refers to - that lies dormant in the community. We know those people. We speak to them over the fence, at work, on the sports-field and in the supermarkets. They may not be prepared to get arrested or even attend our rallies but they will nod their head and say “that’s right” when reminded about those shonky events that Terry Martin speaks of.
As Richard Herr argued “they haven’t forgotten”.
Most of the blatant examples of corruption are concentrated in the period of the first six months of 2007 before and after Gunns withdrew from the RPDC process. I believe that this is where PTM need to focus.
When PTM peaceful protesters front the media after being arrested they must be able to specify and explain convincingly incidence of alleged corruption to warrant the Royal Commission they are calling for.
Tough Minds and Tender Hearts
Peaceful community protesters must be as “gentle as doves but as wise as serpents”. PCP must couple its irreproachable commitment to peaceful protest with knowledge and a sharp, penetrating intellect that can deliver an incisive message that clearly identifies specific events in the Pulp Mill assessment that demand an investigation.
This will lend further credibility to the groups cause
A French philosopher once said “No man is strong unless he bears within his character antithesis strongly marked. The strong man holds in a living blend strongly marked opposites. Not ordinarily do men achieve this balance of opposites. The idealists are not usually realistic and the realists are not usually idealistic. The militant are not generally known to be passive, or the passive to be militant. Seldom are the humble assertive or the self-assertive humble. But life at its best is a synthesis of opposites in fruitful harmony”.
A tough mind and a tender heart.
Rick Pilkington’s definitive analysis on the pulp mill is: The Great Pulp Mill Swindle: A Chronicle of Deceit