The former executive chairman of failed timber group Gunns, John Gay, has said Tasmania needs the pulp mill and supports any investor in the project at Bell Bay, including a Chinese investor.
"Anyone that can come in and wants to build the pulp mill is a good thing," he said yesterday. Mr Gay fought for years to get the controversial $2.3 billion project built. He was ousted by shareholders in 2010 after a collapse in earnings and the share price.
"Clearly I have been out of there for several years, so have not had much to do with anything," Mr Gay told The Australian Financial Review.
"Tasmania needs a pulp mill and needs an industry to employ its people and keep the economy going ... If it had not been for the anti-forestry people, the pulp mill would be up and running. All the good plantations are in Tasmania. The pulp mill is still certainly a viable option."
Mr Gay started in forestry when he was 14, working in a sawmill. He joined Gunns in 1973 and transformed it from a sleepy, privately owned company into a public group. He is due in court on Monday on two charges of insider trading brought by the corporate regulator. He has pleaded not guilty.