The Destruction of the Triabunna Mill
July 17, 2014 6:55 AM Subscribe
In the July issue of The Monthly, John van Tiggelen tells the tale of “The Destruction of the Triabunna Mill and the Fall Of Tasmania's Woodchip Industry,” detailing how “How the end of Gunns cleared a new path for Tasmania.”
While various industry and government figures tried to stitch together the necessary funding to buy the woodchip mill, L’Estrange, exercising his fiduciary duty to get the highest possible return for shareholders, was negotiating with none other than Alec Marr. No longer with the Wilderness Society, Marr was doing the bidding of two wealthy environmentally minded types: the co-founder of the adventure-wear retailer Kathmandu, Jan Cameron, and the founder of the discount travel agency Wotif.com, Graeme Wood. Cash wasn’t a problem. Marr sealed the deal for $10 million and was promptly instated as mill manager.
On Tuesday, 24 September, I flew to Hobart and drove an hour north-east to Triabunna. The woodchip mill straddles the eastern lip of Spring Bay, about 4 kilometres south of the town. An excellent road, built to bear hundreds of logging trucks a day, led to a large electronic gate. It was late evening, and the headland was in darkness. The Thursday before, Marr had alerted the state’s electricity provider, Aurora, to a supposed fault in the main substation, which supplied the plant (but not the office block) with power. To be safe, the company duly switched off the substation’s power supply. The next day, Marr sacked his site manager and sent his caretaker, who lived on site with his family, on leave. Then he chained the gates, stocked up on food and hardware, and holed himself up in the mill’s reception and office block to await the arrival of his wrecking crew.
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