WHERE is former Economic Development Minister Lara Giddings when we need her?

Yesterday’s admission by Queensland company Swanbank Paper that they were looking further afield than the Sunshine State to build a paper mill would have been met with a predictably positive response from the Glamour Girl.

Instead, her replacement, the far less appealing Paul Lennon issued a terse media statement admitting that the Government was in talks with Swanbank Paper about the possibility of building a $1.2 billion paper mill in Tasmania.

No rhetoric about the benefits to Tasmania’s economy.  No fanciful claims about thousands of new jobs.  Not even the suggestion that a new paper mill could transform the State’s finances for decades to come.  An admission by omission perhaps that Swanbank’s proposal is at best, not to be taken too seriously.

For some months now, the Government has been trumpeting the statement that at least $2 billion worth of infrastructure projects are either planned or being built.  Trouble is, one by one, the projects are being crossed off the list.  An alarming number are tourism developments owing more to artistic flights of fancy than economic reality, and few are ever likely to see the light of day.  Unless, or course, they become just another subsidised block of flats, known in the industry as `luxury apartments.’

But back to Swanbank.  The original proponents of Swanbank’s Ispwich paper mill have long since flown the coop, now concentrating on promoting pulp mills in Victoria and South Australia.  The current lot are still pursuing approval for a paper mill, despite growing worries that a fair proportion of Brisbane’s drinking water would be needed to feed the paper mill.

And word has it that neither the Ipswich Council nor the Queensland Government are too enamoured with Swanbank.  Hence the approach to the Tasmanian Government.  Here in Tasmania, it seems, we aren’t too worried about environmental impacts, water consumption and little things like whether a $1.2 billion paper mill is even a viable proposition.

A paper mill would be a godsend for Lennon’s Government.  The mill would need an awful lot of gas (fixing a little problem with a supply contract with Alinta), electricity (perhaps securing a use for the obsolete Bell Bay power station) and even provide a customer for Mr John Gay’s $1.6 billion (and counting) pulp mill.

But it seems even Paul Lennon is cautious about Swanbank’s proposal.  Not surprising really, given that Labor Governments in recent weeks haven’t had great press.  That’s why we need Lara back.  Bring her back, Paul.  Let Lara tell us why we need a paper mill, in addition to a pulp mill.  Please?

Jarvis Cocker

And word has it that neither the Ipswich Council nor the Queensland Government are too enamoured with Swanbank.  Hence the approach to the Tasmanian Government.  Here in Tasmania, it seems, we aren’t too worried about environmental impacts, water consumption and little things like whether a $1.2 billion paper mill is even a viable proposition. A paper mill would be a godsend for Lennon’s Government.  The mill would need an awful lot of gas (fixing a little problem with a supply contract with Alinta), electricity (perhaps securing a use for the obsolete Bell Bay power station) and even provide a customer for Mr John Gay’s $1.6 billion (and counting) pulp mill.