Barnett asks Wood to reconsider legal threat

Graeme Wood
Graeme Wood

LYONS Liberal MHA Guy Barnett has asked environmentalist millionaire Graeme Wood to ‘‘reconsider’’ his threat of legal action against him in relation to the Triabunna woodchip mill inquiry.

Mr Barnett yesterday said comments by Mr Wood that he was ‘‘silly’’ and ‘‘petty’’ were regrettable.

Mr Wood bought the mill with businesswoman Jan Cameron.

Mr Barnett set up the inquiry to investigate the mill’s sale, closure and alleged destruction.

He said evidence given in this week’s two-day hearing exposed that a deal had been done between the former government and environmentalists to get support for a pulp mill.

‘‘The evidence suggests quite clearly that Gunns, the former Labor-Green government and environmentalists have been in bed together for the purpose of closing down the Triabunna woodchip mill on the basis of gaining Green support for the pulp mill at Bell Bay,’’ Mr Barnett said.

Mr Barnett would not confirm if five cabinets ministers from the former government had been summoned to appear.

The inquiry has received wide criticism from the state opposition, Greens and Mr Wood for being a waste of Parliament’s time and looking to the past.

Denison Greens MHA Cassy O’Connor, who sits on the committee, has labelled it a ‘‘sham’’.

Mr Wood has accused Mr Barnett of using parliamentary privilege to make ‘‘groundless criticisms’’ and has sought legal advice for action on defamation.

He said evidence given to the inquiry by the Environmental Protection Authority that his company, Triabunna Investments, acted lawfully during the mill’s decommissioning stage proved it was merely a ‘‘witch hunt’’.

‘‘I’d certainly like Mr Wood to reconsider his position and to come forward to the committee with positive views and presentations on how we can rebuild Triabunna and the local region,’’ Mr Barnett said.

Both Mr Wood and Ms Cameron have been called before the inquiry, which meets again in Triabunna next month.

Mr Wood said he would be happy to talk about the economic benefit created from his purchase and plans for the mill site.

On Wednesday, former Forestry Tasmania managing director Bob Gordon said at least two consortiums were interested in leasing the mill site from the new owners, who had promised to keep the mill operational for five years.

But environmental activist Alec Marr, who was hired as the mill’s operator, claimed in his submission to the inquiry that no serious expressions of interest were received.