– For information only –
ABC News September 25th 2002
The managing director of Australian Silicon has denied yesterday’s decision to pull out of a proposal to build a charcoal plant on the New South Wales south coast was part of a political stunt.
Australian Silicon’s letter to the Australian Stock Exchange gave New South Wales Opposition leader John Brogden much of the credit for the company’s decision to drop plans to build a charcoal plant at Mogo on the south coast.
Last weekend, Mr Brogden said the Opposition would close the facility if it came to power at the next election.
In his defence, Mr Brogden claimed the company has wanted to pull out of Mogo since February and yesterday’s timing was a political move.
“The consultants to Australian Silicon are Hawker Britain. Mr Hawker is a former chief-of-staff to Bob Carr,” Mr Brogden said.
“The decision to release this 45 minutes before question time was a political stunt.”
However, Australian Silicon’s managing director, Peter Anderton, denies the allegations.
“It is only when there are statements made publicly from political people where we feel it necessary to respond,” Mr Anderton said.
The news was welcomed by groups who had been fighting the development, especially conservationists.
A Freedom of Information request by the New South Wales Greens this year that revealed that wood being used for the project would not be logging residue but wood from the area’s old growth forests.
Upper House Greens MP Ian Cohen says yesterday’s development is a great victory.
“There’s got to be other ways of producing silicon that’s in the 21st century, not the dinosaur technology of burning wood for charcoal as part of the process,” Mr Cohen said.
Mr Cohen has also rejected the Government’s claims that jobs will now be lost, saying tourism provides the area with 6,000 jobs which have now been saved.
Wilderness Society spokeswoman Felicity Wade says it is an inappropriate use of forests for any area in Australia.
“Bob Carr, Australian Silicon, well done for moving it out of Mogo, but you’re wrong if you think the campaign is over and that any other community is going to want forests decimated to make charcoal,” Ms Wade said.
Mr Anderton says the company is still considering alternative locations for the proposed plant.
“We’ve got a couple of options which are somewhat advanced and we are in discussions with various parties, with respect to those options,” he said.