Minister Burke is denying the Tasmanian public natural justice by refusing to release critical data about the pollution of Bass Strait before making his decision on the adequacy of Gunns hydrodynamic modelling and management plan, the Australian Greens said today.
"It is not good enough to say that it is up to Gunns to release the information. The community deserves the right to evaluate the accuracy of Gunns claims before the Minister makes his decision," said Australian Greens Deputy Leader, Senator Christine Milne.
"Tasmanians remember that former Minister Garrett rejected the original Gunns hydrodynamic modelling and assessment of the proposed pulp mill's impacts on the Commonwealth marine environment because the information was not sufficient for him to be able to understand the full impacts on Commonwealth waters.
"Minister Garrett said at the time he could not have absolute confidence in the proposed management response strategies to protect the marine environment.
"How can the public have faith in Minister Burke's decision when he has not released the information now submitted by Gunns, which last time was found to be so wanting?
"It is hard to escape the conclusion that neither the Minister nor Gunns want scrutiny of the data before the decision is taken.
"Why didn't the Minister talk to the 7000 workers employed in the Bass Strait fishing industry worth $300 million a year to the Tasmanian economy?
"Minister Burke should give the community the chance to comment before he makes a final decision.
"Thankfully, unlike the closely guarded assessment in the Minister's office, Environment Tasmania has already released an independent impact statement that found up to 51 gigalitres of industrial effluent will be released from the Mill every year.
"To give this some perspective, Sydney Harbour has a volume of just ten times that amount. This equates to a massive amount of industrial effluent from one factory that poses too great a risk for the Tamar environment and economy."
The Environment Tasmania report is attached.