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Thursday, January 05, 2006

Liberals taunt O'Byrne over mill

The Mercury: Liberals taunt O'Byrne over mill [06jan06]

A WAR of words has erupted between the State Opposition and Bass Labor candidate Michelle O'Byrne over support for the proposed $1.4 billion pulp mill.

Liberal economic development spokesman Will Hodgman yesterday said Ms O'Byrne had not expressed unequivocal support for the northern Tasmanian project.

"The pulp mill is the only major industrial development on the horizon and it is crucial that it proceeds to secure the future of our economy," he said.

But Ms O'Byrne, who lost the seat of Bass in the 2004 federal poll, said she would support the project if it was approved by the Resource Planning and Development Commission.

"I will support any project which meets the strictest environmental standards, and which will result in the employment of up to 1500 Tasmanians and which will add $600 million a year to state turnover," she said.

Ms O'Byrne said an independent assessment process was essential in an election year.

Mr Hodgman claimed the Labor party was divided about the pulp mill.

"It has a number of influential figures, including Ms O'Byrne, who are at best lukewarm and at worst hostile to the proposal," he said.

He said the Liberals were unified in strong support for the proposed mill.

The pulp mill is looming as a hot issue in the state election, with a recent poll published by The Mercury tipping the Tasmanian Greens to pick up two extra seats.

Ms O'Byrne was broadly a supporter of Labor's forest policy conceived by former leader Mark Latham, while Lyons MHR Dick Adams, who kept his seat, declared his vehement opposition to it.

The pulp mill has attracted community opposition, including a rally in Launceston before Christmas.

Anti-pulp mill campaigner Les Rochester was elected to the West Tamar Council last year.


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