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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 Rise and Fall of Gunns Ltd 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.
Quentin Beresford is a professor of politics at Edith Cowan University in Perth and the author or coauthor of 11 books, including The Godfather: The Life of Brian Burke and the award-winning Rob Riley: An Aboriginal Leader's Quest for Justice.
"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