Image related to Pulp mill certainty a vital step for new jobs for Tasmanians
“This project is worth in excess of $3.7 billion to the Northern Tasmanian region alone," Michael O'Connor.
Created Mon 20/01/2014, Last Updated Mon 20/01/2014

Pulp mill certainty a vital step for new jobs for Tasmanians

The union representing pulp, paper and forestry workers has welcomed Tasmanian Premier Lara Giddings’ decision to recall parliament later this month, prior to the March 15 election, to pass legislation providing greater certainty for potential buyers of the Bell Bay Pulp Mill project.

The Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union said local workers and the northern Tasmanian community had been struggling to deal with the loss of jobs and investment following the closures of the Burnie and Wesley Vale pulp mills in 2010.

CFMEU National Secretary Michael O’Connor said that while there are interested parties looking to purchase and develop the pulp mill, bi-partisan political support to pass legislation removing any doubts over the validity of permits for the project would greatly increase the chance of a new owner developing the pulp mill.

“The Tasmanian economy has been hit hard in recent years, particularly by job losses caused by the closures of the Burnie and Wesley Vale mills and restructuring of the timber industry, which is why seeing genuine political support for this project is so warmly welcomed by workers in the forestry and forest products industries,” he said.

“Previous examinations of the Bell Bay Pulp Mill have shown it will deliver 3,100 full-time jobs across the state, with 2,600 of them in Northern Tasmania.

“This project is worth in excess of $3.7 billion to the Northern Tasmanian region alone, and is estimated to create more than 10 local jobs for every direct employee, with local manufacturing and service industries among the big winners.

“The decision by Premier Giddings to recall Parliament to ensure this matter is dealt with prior to the election — providing greater certainty for the community and local industry — highlights her genuine commitment to local employment and economic development.”

The CFMEU has been running a campaign around Australia during the last year, under the banner of “Don’t Shred Pulp and Paper Jobs”, which aims to promote the local pulp and paper industry and see greater action from politicians to back the sector.

“Workers in the industry, through their union, have been sending a message loud and clear to politicians of all persuasions that they need to take a stand to support the future of Australia’s pulp and paper industries, rather than allowing regional communities to continue to bleed jobs,” Mr O’Connor said.

“Based on the announcement by Premier Giddings, it would seem she has heeded our call, and we hope that other parties in the Tasmanian parliament will likewise put the interests of local workers first by backing this legislation.”

Mr O’Connor said providing greater certainty for future owners of the proposed mill was also about ensuring Tasmania captured greater value from its timber assets.

“Processing Tasmanian woodchips through a pulp mill at Bell Bay will allow 80 per cent of the value of the plantation resource to be captured in Tasmania, which is double the figure that is currently retained,” he said.

“The mill would also boost the Gross State Product of Tasmania by four per cent for the life of the project, delivering additional income to government coffers to support services for the community.

“Making this pulp mill project a reality has the potential to provide a genuine employment boon for northern Tasmania, at a time when the nation’s job market has been struggling.”