Tasmania’s politicians would determine the fate of a $2 billion pulp mill, prompting claims the state was descending into “cronyism and corruption". Premier Paul Lennon announced cabinet backing for a fast-track assessment of Gunns Ltd’s project, outside the planning system, reported The Australian (16/03/2007, p.2).
State fast tracks assessment after the Gunns shock: The fast track was agreed at emergency meetings of cabinet and the Labor caucus after Gunns on Wednesday withdrew the project from the independent planning process.
No public debate: The new process – which sources said would involve assessment by expert consultants – would be put to a recalled state parliament this week. Sources said the assessment could be as short as two months, and no longer than five, with no input from the public.
Parliament to have final say: Parliament would also have the final say on whether the biggest development proposal in the state’s history could be built on the Tamar River, near Bell Bay, in northern Tasmania.
The blame game: Gunns claimed that delays before the Resource Planning and Development Commission, and its inability to come to a verdict before November, had forced its hand. However, the man appointed only last month to head the RPDC assessment, former judge Christopher Wright, has blamed Gunns for "all or most" of the delays.
The Australian, 16/3/2007, p. 2