Tasmanian government has been 'played for fools' in sale of Triabunna woodchip mill, claims Liberal opposition party, after entrepreneurs who bought facility from Gunns in 2011 say site will be developed as marina and tourism precinct

Wendy Lisney

Wendy Lisney

Oct 1, 2013 – Industry Intelligence

LOS ANGELES , October 1, 2013 () – Two entrepreneurs who bought a woodchip mill in from collapsed timber giant Gunns Ltd. have played the Tasmanian government for fools, the Liberal opposition party has claimed.

Graeme Wood and Jan Cameron, who are known to be sympathetic to conservation issues, bought the mill for AU$10 million in 2011, The Australian reported. The industry hoped the pair would reopen the business, which was renamed as Triabunna Investments Pty. Ltd., as a woodchip export facility.

This week, Wood said it was time to "move on," and that the site would be transformed into a marina and tourism precinct to generate wealth.

The agreement included a clause that urged the state and federal governments to help reopen the mill, but Wood said an expression of interest process for a new mill operator had not resulted in a viable option, The Australian reported.

Opposition Treasury spokesman Peter Gutwein said reopening Triabunna had been key to the state's forest peace deal between the industry and conservationists. He claimed the pair had never intended to reopen the mill, and suggested the Labor government had been "played for fools" by the site's owners and environmental groups.

Industry Intelligence reported in April 2012 that representatives of Triabunna Investments had denied claims that the mill was being dismantled, and assured the state's Parliament that it had spent almost a quarter of a million dollars on maintaining and repairing the facility.

The sale of the mill to Wood and Cameron was part of Gunns' fundraising effort for a planned pulp mill in the Tamar Valley.

The primary sources of this article are The Australian, Surry Hills, Australia, on Oct. 1, 2013, and Industry Intelligence archives.

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