Friday, May 18, 2007

don't sue me... I'll sue you!

One day a raw recruit newly added to the army of environmental activists, the next, taking the government to court!?!

Well I suppose I'm taking the government to court... since I'm now a member of the Wilderness Society, and they're taking the government to court.

It's all a bit bigger than I had anticipated, but this is how the story goes... Read it and weep. I do every time I think about it!

Tasmania's biggest timber company proposes the construction of a squeaky clean, green pulp mill on the banks of the beautiful, peaceful Tamar, jewel of the north of Tasmania. They promise they will use only the latest technology that will only minimally damage the environment.

An independent review panel is established and the community is invited to make submissions on any aspect of the project.

As the review process continues it gradually becomes apparent that things are not proceeding according to plan. The state government begins exerting pressure on the review panel, requesting that they speed up the process, maybe even ignore important details of the application. Consequently the chair of the panel resigns.

Tasmania's biggest company is troubled by this - they have invested wads of money in the project and, quite frankly, they cannot afford the delay posed by the resignation of the review panel chair. They've also changed their mind about the squeaky clean, green idea, instead revealing plans for a different mill that will create significantly more pollution. They consequently pull out of the review process - it's not really meeting their needs anyway.

If it was anyone other than the biggest company in Tasmania, the project would be well and truly dead in the water. But no, this company has some big friends in high places.* So the politicians run around like crazy searching for an alternative way to approve the pulp mill.

Of course they don't have to look very far - they are the decision makers of the country after all! They immediately pass new laws that allow for an alternative approval process, and because they're clever enough to realise that the mill would not have passed the initial stringent environmental standards, they water down the environmental requirements at the same time. They also demand that any member of the public wishing to comment on the proposol must send their submissions to the company making the proposol. And since every politician in the state and country places the almighty dollar before serenity, beauty and peace of mind, they decide they will be the ones to make the final decision on whether the pulp mill shall proceed or not. Before the alternative review process has even begun, everyone in the state knows the mill will be approved. Indeed it already has been.

Now not everyone in the state or nation is happy with these developments. They smack of deceit and a complete lack of integrity. The stench of power misused hangs heavy over the proceedings. These people are not willing to give up on their dream of a beautiful wilderness state. They will not accept this mill without a fight. Or at least without an honest appraisal that is not patently biased and flawed.

So fight they do. They go right for the top. To the Federal Minister for the Environment. They declare that he has acted against the Constitution of Australia by allowing the initial review process to be discarded in favour of another shady approach. They go so far as to suggest he has broken the law. The environmental activists book a date in court at the end of the month.

Tongues start wagging all around the country... of course those who support the pulp mill start baying for the blood of the environmentalists for here is yet another delay that threatens the viability of their mill. Those who oppose the mill are euphoric - someone is doing SOMETHING to fight this monstrosity! There is hope. Could it be that as the Franklin Dam was defeated in the eighties, the Pulp Mill might be defeated in the twenties?!

Here's hoping!

To be continued...

(Meanwhile I'll keep scratching my head about the possibility I might be taking a politician to court. Kind of... Maybe?)

*not God I'm thinking!

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At 4:08 am, May 19, 2007, Blogger Cherie said...

And another adventure unfolds.

I'll stay tuned........

At 7:21 pm, May 19, 2007, Blogger Robyn said...

Ugh, thats awful.
Hey, totally o/t but can you remind me next time we talk that I have an Ugly Betty question for you? :)

At 10:34 pm, May 19, 2007, Anonymous deevar said...

They are trying to takeover a plantation etc in the south east of SA now. Only took notice after you mentioned the name of the 'big guns' involved so I don't know the details.


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