Death to the Gunns Pulp Mill!

THE Gunns pulp mill may add 280 jobs to the Tasmanian economy but at a cost of an extra 216 lives lost in extra deaths from respiratory disease and log truck accidents.
In addition, the negative impact of the pulp mill will cost 1044 jobs in the tourism industry and at least 175 jobs in the local fishing businesses.

These are two of the most stark conclusions of a new economic impact study of the $1.7 billion pulp mill proposed for the Tamar Valley, presented last night to the Legislative Council.

In other major findings, the economic report commissioned by the Tasmanian Roundtable for Sustainable Industries (TRSI) claims that: * Gunns has drastically overstated the economic benefits of the pulp mill. * The mill’s profitability is suspect. * More jobs would be lost in industries adversely affected by the pulp mill than will be created. * Government subsidies handed to Gunns and the pulp mill exceed the benefits reaped from increased company tax payments to governments.

The economic study of the costs and benefits of the planned pulp mill north of Launceston was commissioned by the TRSI after businesses in northern Tasmanian were shocked that the State Government had asked for a benefits-only analysis as part of its fast-track mill assessment process.

The government study, by ITS Global consultants, claimed the pulp mill would create 280 long-term jobs, add 2.5 per cent to economic growth in Tasmania and lift house prices in nearby George Town in the short term.

But the Tasmanian Roundtable economic project — which is backed by major Launceston property developer John Dingamanse, the Launceston Environment Centre and many other agricultural, tourism, winery and fishing businesses — told independent Legislative Councillors last night these claimed benefits were flawed.

“They are only half of the story,” the report concludes.

The TRSI study, conducted by a team of independent economists including University of Tasmania’s Dr Graeme Wells, found instead that: * The Gunns pulp mill will grow the Tasmanian economy by just 0.5 per cent, five times less than previously claimed. * Gunns has double-counted claimed taxation benefits

to the State Government of $834 million over the 24-year life of the pulp mill. * Government subsidies to Gunns over the same period total $848 million, exceeding the extra tax paid. * The below-market price paid by Gunns to Forestry Tasmania for native timber equates to a subsidy of $435m over the pulp mill’s life span. *
The Federal Government is handing Gunns a subsidy of $242 million through the tax benefits of plantation Managed Investment Schemes over the mill’s 24-year life. * Direct subsidies paid to the pulp mill for associated infrastructure, feasibility studies, new roads and rail total $30 million from the State Government and $65 million from the Federal Government.

In addition, the detailed 55-page economic study — based on economic analysis and figures from stockbroking analysts such as Allens Consulting, Macquarie Bank, the ANZ and Commsec — concluded the risks posed to other industries by the pulp mill are massive.

Using a moderate risk assessment scenario, the report found the Tasmanian tourism industry will suffer nearly a $1.1 billion loss — in both direct impact and lost opportunities — costing a total of 1044 tourism jobs.

The fishing industry will be hit by a loss of $175 million of its business sales and 175 jobs if Tasmania’s clean-green sales niche is lost, and four times that amount if actual dioxin contamination of fish and shellfish in Bass Strait caused by pulp mill effluent occurs.

Farming industries believe the 26 gigalitres of water a year being used by the mill could generate a much greater amount of agricultural production, while land lost to pulp mill plantations is costing farmers $403 million in lowered potential farm output.






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