Don’t Taint the Tamar, Turnbull.

August 27, 2007 at 3:40 am (Uncategorized)

Federal Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull is giving the public a few more days to comment on the proposed Gunns pulp mill on the Tamar River in Tasmania. And he’s said he’s “not unsympathetic” to the concerns of the public about the proposal. Not unsympathetic. I love a good double-negative, I’ve always had a soft spot for them, but I feel like Turnbull’s is more a display of fancy footwork than playing my song.

If you’ve never been to Tasmania, you should go, because it’s fantastic. It’s an incredible state, packed with the very best Australia has to often in terms of beaches, mountain ranges, ignoble tales of colonial and penal histories, isolation, flora, fauna, food and wine. And the Tamar River is crucial to those last four. The region has developed an impressive – and environmentally sympathetic (Tasmania’s excessive logging of old growth forests sadly notwithstanding) – tourism industry around food and wine, but the native flora and fauna have largely been allowed to survive and, indeed, thrive. The result is a fabulous natural environment that simultaneously affords its residents and guests all the wonderful advantages of a world-beating food and wine destination. I am a very, very big fan.

So the idea of a whopping great $2 billion eyesore of a pulp mill slap bang on the Tamar makes me see something quite other than “green.” There is simply no way the proposed mill would have anything other than a profound and negative impact on the area’s ecological balance, quite apart from the fact that it would also pulp to death the area’s existing tourism industry, big business precisely because no one’s gone ahead and destroyed the place before.

There is something really wrong, and really short-sighted, with the way Australia behaves towards its greatest advantages. It’s like we take everything that is really, really special about this country and then just delight in annihilating it, throwing money at anyone and anything that can wreak the most damage in the shortest time possible. Bring it down, throw it up, turn it on, dig it out, use it up. But whatever you do, don’t leave it there for future generations of Australians. Whatever you do, don’t protect it. Good God, no, are you mad? Raze it to the ground. Set it alight. Demolish it.

Money, money, money. That should be our anthem, just that one word repeated over and over and over again, because it seems it’s the only one we’ve got left in the national vocabulary. Money, money, money. It trips right off the tongue. It says everything there is to say. Australia: money, money, money. See how right it is for us? See how well, how truly it captures the cultural, social, economic, educational, architectural, medical, and environmental flavour of today’s Australia? It’s just perfect. Money, money, money. All together, now.

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