Union support for pulp mill push

UNIONS are backing Premier Lara Giddings in her renewed pulp mill push, but she could not guarantee that proposed new laws would see the controversial project actually built.

  She said  in Launceston yesterday  that  there was ``gathering momentum'' for a Tamar Valley pulp mill and now was a good time to invest.

The Gunns Ltd receivers are calling for expressions to buy the pulp mill permits and forestry assets, and Parliament is being recalled on January 28 to pass laws to reduce legal doubt around the project.

``We all understand the importance of jobs in this area of Tasmania,'' she said.

``And also, of course, a $2.5 billion investment will be quite a substantial injection into the Tasmanian economy as a whole. 

``We also want people to understand that this pulp mill will be very much a safe pulp mill. 

``Don't listen to the scare campaigns of many out there in the community in the environment movement who will tell you that this will poison the water and poison the air.''

Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union national organiser Ken Fraser, who lives in Tasmania, backed Ms Giddings.

He said union members lived near  the Bell Bay site and were not concerned, and the state desperately needed investment and jobs.

But Opposition resources spokesman Peter Gutwein said Ms Giddings had politicised the issue by waiting until January to act, when the receivers had asked for help when Parliament was sitting in November.

He said he also could not guarantee the project would go ahead, but it would have a better chance with renewed investor confidence under a Liberal government.

Ms Giddings  ridiculed a Liberal push to reduce red tape and other policies, saying that they produced ``shallow one-line hollow promises of nothingness''.

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