No further pulp mill support

No further pulp mill support

PREMIER Lara Giddings says the state government will not offer support for Gunns' Tamar Valley pulp mill above what it has, instead calling on the private sector to become more involved.

A state political analyst, however, believes Labor's support for the pulp mill is being held back by its coalition in government with the Greens, leading to a continued call from the state opposition for Greens leader Nick McKim to be sacked from cabinet.

Gunns' $2.3 billion project was plunged further in doubt on Friday after the Singapore-based Richard Chandler Corporation pulled out of a proposed $150 million investment in the company.

``It is time that other businesses, now that Richard Chandler Corporation has walked away, look at the value of Gunns, look at the value of investment here in Tasmania, and not walk away because of the fear of the environmental movement,'' Ms Giddings said yesterday.

``All we can do is offer our support as we did with the Richard Chandler Corporation, but there is nothing more for government to do from the state government's perspective. We've done everything we can in terms of supporting this project.''

Political analyst Tony McCall said the Premier's perspective was compromised by Labor's coalition with the Greens.

``To support the pulp mill by way of equity would likely see the Greens withdraw their support from government and precipitate an election,'' he said.

``Right now an election would likely return a majority Liberal government.

``A majority government would have a mandate to reassess the significance of the pulp mill as an economic platform for transforming Tasmania's economy.''

Opposition economic development spokesman Peter Gutwein again called for the government to sack Nick McKim as a minister to prevent further derailment of the pulp mill project.

``If we were in government, you would obviously keep an open mind to any requests for support from (Gunns) because it is absolutely vital that we get this project over the line,'' he said.

``(The Premier) is appalled that the environmental leaders in Tasmania have been able to derail this project. What the Premier has to understand is that the leader of the largest environmental movement in the state, the Greens, sits within her own cabinet.''

Dr McCall, a former opponent of the pulp mill, said the Tasmanian community needed to look beyond the destructive politics attached to the failed mill assessment process.

He said that while resource for it in Tasmania would not disappear, opportunity could.

Dr McCall added that Tasmania's political climate was ``too toxic'' for clear long-term public interest decision-making.

``In a global climate of uncertainty, investors don't need political uncertainty attached to their risk assessments,'' he said.

``It is simply too easy to be cautious and redirect investments to safer options.''

The latest blow to the pulp mill project has added to uncertainty over future employment prospects at Bell Bay, following a three-month operational suspension at BHP Billiton's Temco magnesium smelter and concerns over the future of Rio Tinto Alcan's smelter.