More certainty for pulp mill buyers

POTENTIAL buyers of the pulp mill permits now have more certainty after changes to quash any legal threats to the project cleared the Legislative Council yesterday.

But it won't be known if it's enough to secure a buyer until the sale process concludes at the end of March.

Independent MLC Ruth Forrest was one of 10 MLCs to support the doubts removal legislation but questioned the advice from the government and Gunns receiver KordaMentha that the amendments were critical.

``This will not in any way guarantee a pulp mill will be built, as much as we might want it to,'' Ms Forrest said.

Four MLCs voted against the legislation, including Rosevears MLC Kerry Finch, who is facing election in May and whose electorate would become home to the pulp mill.

Six international investors are in talks with KordaMentha, but not all are interested in the pulp mill.

Ms Forrest's bid to push the deadline for a proponent to start work on the project out to 2019 failed to get support.

The new act already extends the life of the pulp mill permit from four to 10 years from when the original pulp mill assessment act passed in 2007. 

Deputy Premier Bryan Green said there was a long way to go but described the changes as a milestone.

``Labor's leadership has removed any legal stumbling blocks for new proponents - giving the pulp mill the best chance of going ahead,'' he said.

Greens leader Nick McKim was in the chamber for the final vote.

Afterwards he described it as a ``sad day for the Tamar Valley, for our democracy, and for Tasmania's future''.

He accused the Legislative Council of looking to the past and bowing to corporate interests.

Huon MLC Paul Harriss lost his bid to move a motion that would have killed off the forestry peace deal.

A majority of MLCs voted against starting the debate yesterday, signalling the end of the special summer sitting of Parliament. 

Mr Harriss's next opportunity to move the motion will occur in the House of Assembly if he is successful in his bid to be elected as a Liberal for Franklin in March.


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