The Rise and Fall of Gunns Ltd

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NewSouth, Feb 1, 2015 - Nature - 448 pages
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 At its peak, Gunns Ltd had a market value of $1 billion, was listed on the ASX 200, was the largest employer in the state of Tasmania and its largest private landowner. Most of its profits came from woodchipping, mainly from clear-felled old-growth forests. A pulp mill was central to its expansion plans. Its collapse in 2012 was a major national news story, as was the arrest of its CEO for insider trading.

Quentin Beresford illuminates for the first time the dark corners of the Gunns empire. He shows it was built on close relationships with state and federal governments, political donations and use of the law to intimidate and silence its critics. Gunns may have been single-minded in its pursuit of a pulp mill in Tasmania’s Tamar Valley, but it was embedded in an anti-democratic and corrupt system of power supported by both main parties, business and unions. Simmering opposition to Gunns and all it stood for ramped up into an environmental campaign not seen since the Franklin Dam protests.

Fearless and forensic in its analysis, the book shows that Tasmania’s decades-long quest to industrialise nature fails every time. But the collapse of Gunns is the most telling of them all.

‘This is a tale that needed telling. It is an important case history in environmental campaigning and a must-read for anyone interested in  fairness and transparency in government.’ – Geoffrey Cousins AM, businessman and president of the Australian Conservation Foundation


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Such an excellent book as a resource as a public relations/communications "what not to do"; an equally excellent book for the environmentalists among us; and compulsory reading for Tasmanians who lived through the rise and fall of Gunns.
It is true that history is written by the victors. I would suggest that this book is very one-sided - but it's unashamedly so, and its use of language actually doesn't do anything to change the facts.
Unfortunately I was only able to give it a very quick read, but I look forward not only to sitting down and reading it properly, but to recommending it to friends who are involved in NGOs or community action groups.


The drive for industrial development
Done deal?
The war on the pulp mill

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