Questions & AnswersCommittee Work









Hansard of the Legislative Council

Tuesday 25th November 2003


[5.43 p.m.]
Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Mr President, I want to make a few comments about the renewed debate that has started in Tasmania about a possible pulp mill project.

I believe that such a debate is totally premature and those jumping the gun are risking a re run of the bitter arguments over the Wesley Vale pulp mill project. Let us be clear: the State Government has announced a review of environmental guidelines for bleached kraft pulp mills. The Deputy Premier in announcing the review on 13 November explained that there had been significant advances in pulp mill technology in the eight years since the last guidelines in 1995.

One of these significant advances was the development of total chlorine free or elemental chlorine free pulp processing systems in Scandinavia. That review is expected to be completed by May next year. There will then be a period of public comment on the new guidelines. Comment on the new guidelines, Mr President, not on a proposed pulp mill; that would be at least a further 12 months down the track.

I suggest that the time for any new debate about pulp mills in Tasmania is after the review is completed so let us keep an open mind until then; let us have a debate based on facts not prejudice. While any debate about the latest facts is premature, so is any debate about the location of a pulp mill. Let us have a proposal first. It has long been suggested that Bell Bay, just east of the boundary of my electorate of Rosevears, is an ideal site.

Mr Aird - Talk about premature!

Mr FINCH - No, no - our GBE committee A visited Bell Bay last week on other business, but I noted that Bell Bay is an existing industrial area and it is ideally situated near the north-eastern Tasmania's big pulpwood reserves and it is an ideal site for more value-adding forestry products or projects.

There is a strong argument by the forestry industry, Mr President, that any proposal for value-adding to our existing woodchip output should be accompanied by other value-adding projects. Let us look at all such ideas. A pulp mill, of course, is only the first stage in value-adding woodchip. Perhaps any pulp mill proposal should also be evaluated with a possible paper mill. Mr President, I feel confident that the proposed review of the environmental guidelines will be exactly that, that all the environmental consequences of any processing method will be examined in great detail. Any environmental consequences of any industrial project on the Tamar are of great interest to my constituents who run vineyards with a clean, green image; conduct tourism ventures; and run fish farms in the Tamar, but I am confident that the people of Rosevears will await the facts before discussing the implications of any development in the Tamar Valley.

Ms Thorp - Just what I like, an optimist.

Mr FINCH - Mr President, I would expect the environmental review to be followed by a full analysis of the social and economic impacts. The people of the Tamar Valley will want the full picture. They will want to weigh the economic benefits from any industrial development -

Ms Thorp - They'll have to be able to see through the fog.

Mr FINCH - with the possible effects on other industries such as wine, tourism, aquaculture - and the fog.

This, Mr President, is a debate we must have but, I strongly suggest, not yet.