Chapter 7: Pulp, Politics, Process and Pollution: Gunns Ltd and the Tamar Valley Pulp Mill
Kathy Gibson and Gary O’Donovan THE CASE The best soap operas have multiple and intertwining plots, interesting and diverse characters and storylines, unexpected twists and turns, and, occasionally, outcomes which are not easily predicted. The case of Gunns Limited, a large Australian public company, and the machinations and processes involving the company, the Tasmanian state government, the Australian federal government, and various activist groups in the proposed development of a large pulp mill on the picturesque Tamar River in northeastern Tasmania, has all the ingredients of a great soap opera. This case is laced with the many competing interests of diverse stakeholders, intent on maximizing or minimizing to their own advantage the triple bottom line (TBL) – economic, social, and environmental – returns. Companies, such as the powerful Gunns Ltd, are constantly trying to balance shareholder satisfaction with the social and environmental needs of other key stakeholders. This is even more pertinent in this case where, it is argued, Gunns and its present and proposed pulp mill operations are crucial to the economic health of the region as well as the State of Tasmania. This case also extends the TBL to the ‘quintuple’ bottom line (QBL), by including issues of good governance and party political objectives at both state and federal levels. The governance extension (the fourth bottom line) relates to the responsibility of the parties involved in the process and ultimate decision to build (or not) the pulp mill to adopt transparent and accountable governance practices. The fifth bottom line concerns...
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