WOOD SUPPLY AGREEMENT. By Ben Quin


Independent Candidate for Lyons, Ben Quin, has again called for the wood supply agreement between Forestry Tasmania and Gunns Ltd, for the Tamar pulp mill, to be made public before Gunns, or any financier, commits to financing the construction of the mill. “I am making this call particularly in relation to Tasmania’s public working forests,” Mr. Quin said. “I am deeply concerned, as are many others in the community, at the extent to which the capital cost of the mill may be subsidized and its risk underwritten, by Tasmania’s public working forests.” “Given the impact this project will have on the long term future of Tasmania’s forestry industry, it is critical that there is a transparent analysis of these facts.” Mr. Quin says he was prevented from publicly discussing the wood supply agreement as the endorsed Liberal Candidate. “I cannot understand the apparent collusion of both State and Federal Liberal and Labor Parties, to deny the Tasmanian public information that it should rightly have available to it before this project is developed. Claiming commercial-in-confidence is not appropriate in this case.” “How can any candidate standing in this Federal election give their unqualified endorsement of this project without knowledge of the wood supply agreement?” “The economics of pulp mills are based on the supply of large volumes of cheap wood. The apparent eagerness of financiers suggests the wood supply agreement is a rolled-gold, no risk option for the financiers. Is all of the risk of this project left with the Tasmanian public and forest contractors? I believe that the public has a right to know.” Mr. Quin said the circumstances of the original signing of the wood supply arrangements also remain unclear and this is also fueling public disquiet. “Who has been responsible for protecting the Tasmanian public’s interests and what factors were taken into account?” “The Liberal Party’s immediate and vitriolic attempts to discredit me following my disendorsement, coupled with the inflammatory language by Mr. Gray, further fuel my concerns that there is something to hide in the wood supply agreement”. “The forestry industry has been the source of too much division in Tasmania for too long. If this mill project is not “pure” the political environment in Tasmania will be explosive for the next decade. After 19 years, we need to break clear of the shadow of the Carter Royal Commission into attempted bribery. To do this, we must insist on full transparency in the wood supply agreement”.