Hansard of the
Thursday 12 July 2007
SPECIAL INTEREST MATTERS
PULP MILL - EFFECT ON TOURISM INDUSTRY
Mr FINCH (Statement) - Mr President, there is a political
saying which I am sure most of you are aware of, that perceptions
count more than reality and that is what the northern tourism
industry, in fact the whole Tasmanian tourism industry, will
be dealing with if a pulp mill is built in the Tamar Valley;
perceptions. Whatever the reality, potential visitors will
be seeing Tasmania not as the Apple Isle, not as the Tasmanian
wilderness experience but as Tasmania the pulp mill isle divided.
These perceptions, right or wrong, will also have to be dealt
with by our food and beverage industries. They will be a factor
in the marketing of all Tasmanian products.
Everyone in the Tasmanian tourism industry knows that it is
image that counts. And Tasmania's image is going to change
forever if a pulp mill of the type proposed is built in the
Tamar Valley. That image starts right here with the perceptions
of us Tasmanians. It is already known in the rest of Australia
and in the wider world that Tasmanians are divided over this
project. It is widely known that many of them feel duded by
the curtailing of the approval process. So the perceptions
of outsiders grow out of the widely reported perceptions of
Local perceptions are deeply divided. Is division a visitor
These perceptions out there in our community, the wider country
and in the world did not need to be so. Before the curtailment
of the RPDC process most people in the Tamar Valley supported
the assessment and were ready to abide by the umpire's decision.
I have been arguing for the thoroughness of the RPDC process
wherever I travel in my electorate and most people I spoke
to agreed it was a proper process and that the final decision
would be reached fairly. So we now have changed perceptions
of Tasmania which the tourism industry will have to counter.
We have a potential new perception of our clean and green
image which our primary industries, our food and beverage
marketers will have to cope with. It will only take a few
visitors traveling in the Tamar Valley, on the wine route,
to smell something odd like rotten egg gas at the cellar door
and that will put a new perception of Tasmanian wine abroad.
It will only take one study showing that the pulp mill effluent
from off George Town has washed up the Tamar on the tide to
a fish farm to change the perception of trout and salmon raised
in the estuary. I believe there would have been an entirely
different perception had the umpiring process been allowed
to continue or a pulp mill not been proposed in one of the
State's biggest tourism and population centres, with air inversion
and environmental factors. The perceptions –
Mr Harriss - You're ignoring commercial reality.
Mr FINCH - I am talking about perceptions. The perceptions
of Tasmanians would have been entirely different if a site
like Hampshire had been chosen. This is because the local
perception of the project would have been entirely different
and therefore the perception of Tasmania, further a field,
would also have been more favourable.
Mr Aird - But it wasn't commercially viable. They'd lose $20
million a year there. Do you understand that?
Mr FINCH - It would have been an image that the tourism industry,
which is worth millions and millions of dollars, could have
built on. However, it looks increasingly likely that we are
going to have to deal with the reality of an unpopular pulp
mill in the Tamar Valley. The tourism industry, the wine industry,
the rest of the food and beverage industry and any industry
that depends on the perception of Tasmania will have to evolve
a marketing strategy to counter a new perception of Tasmania.
It seems to me, Mr President, a great pity that the ITS Global
social benefits report did not deal in more depth with perceptions.
The reality is that Tasmania will probably have to deal with
the perceptions over many years to come.