Who is the group "TAP Into A Better Tasmania"?
The potential threats from the proposed pulp mill were evident right from its announcement in early 2005. A local community group, Tamar Residents Action Committee (TRAC), was the initial focus of activity but this was dissolved and replaced in June 2006 by a more active and larger community group, Tasmanians Against the Pulp mill Inc (TAP). The group expanded its focus in 2008 and became known as TAP Into A Better Tasmania. It is a community-based independent group standing up for the community, business, health and the environment. TAP draws support and donations from across Tasmania, Australia and internationally.
The journey that started in 2005 with an examination of Gunns’ proposed pulp mill in the Tamar Valley uncovered a multitude of threats to the viability, sustainability and resilience of Tasmanian communities. Threats include unexamined pollution of air and water, the takeover of farms by plantations, expanded native forest logging, increased competition for water supplies, damaging economic impacts on existing businesses (tourism, wineries, food, fishing), harm to community health, and inequitable policies of Liberal and Labor parties that deliberately favour sectional interests over the well-being of the community.
The socio-economic interests of the community both in the Tamar Valley and statewide that are at risk from Gunns’ proposed pulp mill are listed in more detail below. The list of threats and their geographic range has been developed from calls by the community over several years. It serves as a guide to planning and action by TAP to help make Tasmania a better place to live and work.
The risks stem from corrupt governance, and the mill inputs and outputs.
Corrupted government decision making
- Diversion of taxpayer money from schools and hospitals to subsidise the mill and forestry (>$200m/yr- statewide)
- Uncertain investment climate (perception of special deals stops appropriate development - statewide)
- Pulp Mill Assessment Act, Managed Investment Schemes, Protection of Agricultural Land, Planning Directive no 2, Projects of Regional Significance (centralises power with political elite and business ‘donors’ - statewide)
- Take-over of resources by foreign corporations (majority opposed per opinion poll - statewide)
- Failure to rigorously and independently assess the pulp mill proposal (community input excluded - statewide)
Impacts of the mill on business and investment
- Tourism (smell, log traffic, road damage - statewide)
- Wineries (tainted wine, loss of cellar door sales, loss of brand - Tamar)
- Organic producers (loss of certification, loss of brand - Tamar)
- Fisheries (tainted fish catch, potential loss of export markets – Bass Strait and north Tas)
- ‘Brand Tasmania’ damage (statewide)
- Crowding out of investment opportunities (2 possible futures: Tas with niche markets and industries based on State’s unique qualities, or Tas as a global bulk commodity supplier of pulp.
Impacts from wood supply (expanding pulp mill feedstock - plantations)
- Water shortages in catchments (domestic/town drinking water supplies threatened by thirsty plantations - statewide)
- Sprays (Triazine group; damage to human health and ecological health - statewide)
- Log truck traffic (accelerated road damage, 1 log truck every minute on highway to mill - statewide)
- Loss of food producing capacity (Approximately 20% of farms converted to growing pulp mill feedstock - statewide)
- Decline of rural communities (local services lost as farms disappear - statewide)
- Decline in flora and fauna (land and waterways – statewide)
Impacts on human health
- Stress (soon the be published report by psychologist - Tamar)
- Smell and smoke (smell - up to 55kms from mill for all kraft pulp mills. 100 000 people to be hit - Tamar)
- Chemical transport on roads (union concerns - Tamar)
- Fog collision risk on East Tamar (commuter traffic, school buses and tourists at risk - Tamar)
Loss of property values (homes and business investments)
- No compensation (PMAA Sctn 11 blocks access to courts. Unlike Visy, Gunns has not offered compensation - Tamar)
5 ways that TAP is directly helping protect the community
- conducting research and making submissions;
- informing the community of risks and how to minimise them;
- holding public meetings;
- producing its own newspaper; and
- lobbying politicians.
How your donation can help TAP protect the community
- $30 funds printing of 15 anti-pulp mill bumper stickers that will be seen by thousands.
- $50 funds 200 brochures advising how to safeguard your health from pollutants.
- $100 funds the website www.tapvision.info for 1 year.
- $200 funds one third of the meeting venue hire for informing 600 people.
- $500 funds one third of the cost of conducting a poll testing public opinion.
- $1000 funds 3000 copies of TAP’s newspaper that explains the issues and risks to the community.
What we have achieved
TAP Into A Better Tasmania:
- is the principal focus for the community in its fight to be heard in Gunns' pulp mill planning process;
- holds regular meetings every two weeks that are regularly attended by around 50 to 80 members;
- was one of only 8 groups invited to formally participate in Resource Planning and Development Commission directions hearings;
- carried out research into the impacts of Gunns proposed pulp mill;
- raised funds and brought Chilean pulp mill pollution expert Professor Jaramillo to Australia for a lecture tour;
- made submissions to the Resource Planning and Development Commission , federal Department of Environment and Water , state Dept Economic Development, ANZ Bank and other bodies;
- held Road Shows informing Tasmanian communities;
- organised petitions to Parliament;
- held briefings for local, state and federal politicians,
- held briefings for the Chamber of Commerce, Pulp Mill Task Force and other business groups;
- organised two river rallies on the Tamar with thousands of people and hundreds of boats taking part;
- organised and supported planning of several large public rallies and marches with up to 10 000 attending;
- organised several public lectures by experts that attracted six hundred members of the public;
- was instrumental in changing policies of the West Tamar Council to oppose the pulp mill;
- commissioned opinion polls;
- supported farmers in their battle with encroaching plantations that threaten the capacity of Tasmania to produce its own food supply;
- established the 'Democracy tent' and pulp mill 'Embassy' as a focal point for public access to information.
- facilitated the Voters Block with over 21000 names of voters who have pledged not to vote for any political candidate who supports the pulp mill;
- succeeded in replacing pro-mill Ivan Dean from mayoral position on the Launceston City Council with anti mill Albert Van Zetten in October 2007 elections;
- succeeded in increasing the number of anti mill councillors on three councils at the expense of pro mill candidates in October 2007 elections;
- organised the 'ANZ sign the letter campaign' to ask ANZ not to fund Gunns’ proposed pulp mill.
- organised a major fund raising concert
- supported a the re-election of anti mill Legislative Councillor Kerry Finch who was returned with a majority of more than 70%;
- initiated a class action register, the first step towards a seeking compensation for adverse impacts from the planned pulp mill if it proceeds. Damages are estimated at around $2bn;
- alerted the Tasmanian people to the draconian restrictions in the Pulp Mill Assessment Act 2007 (Section 11) blocking access to the courts for those seeking compensation for damages from Gunns' proposed pulp mill.
For more information about the proposed pulp mill and underlying issues, see key issues.
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