Sunday, November 18, 2012

Tasmanian Community Newspaper strays into dangerous territory with "genetically pure" shocker

North West Tasmania's Circular Head Chronicle has a circulation that includes Smithton and surrounding townships and takes in a total audience of around 12,000 people.
This bizzare & controversial editorial (excerpt below) was published in this weeks Circular Head Chronicle on the papers Facebook page on the eve of pro industry rally in Burnie. The article immediately caught the attention of facebook users and attracted a crowd much to the dismay of the papers editor.
The editorial has drawn widespread condemnation for its sinister reference to "the genetically pure" forest worker, aggressive vilification of environmentalists and unsubstantiated accusations of tree spiking and vandalism of equipment. Unsubstantiated allegations that the Premier of Tasmania, Lara Giddings was forced to retract and apologise for earlier this year.

"For too long Tasmania has been hampered by the ‘city greens’ who use Tasmania as a social conscience while they enjoy a not-so-green city lifestyle fed with myth and fantasy about the evils of the timber industry and the ‘red neck’ Tasmanian whose sole purpose is to cut down everything in sight. Hello! We want our people to enjoy the fruit of the land for generations to come and for that to happen a sustainable timber ‘crop’ needs to be managed carefully. This was once undertaken by the now threatened species - the forestry worker, the most genetically pure being proud individuals with a love and understanding of the forest well ahead of the legions of pseudo green ‘students of the world’.

Make up your own mind. Read the rest of the editorial and online debate here and here

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Lance Armstrong Applies for Martyr Status

"Cue the photos of Lance Armstrong hung from a cross and dressed in bib shorts, pulled down awkwardly low revealing a tattoo that says “Only the UCI can judge me.” Late on Thursday evening less than two hours before the official deadline (ok three including the time zone difference), Lance Armstrong decided to accept the sanctions from the USADA instead of proceeding with the arbitration hearing. This means he will be issued a lifetime ban and stripped of almost all of his titles, most notably his seven Tour de France victories. If you read the publicity statement on his website, it sounds more like a noble hero conceding defeat in the face of the marauding enemy witch hunters who have so wrongfully persecuted him. Excuse me while I roll my eyes".
Read More Here

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Examiner's campaign for Majority Liberal Government continues.More bias & censorship

Here is the factually & historically correct comment the Examiner refused to publish today on This article.

The censored comment......"The former Liberal premier, who had a reputation as a strong political strategist during his 1982-1989 term, said that Tasmania desperately needed a government with a mandate".....
Yes Alison well thats one way to put it. Justice Carter of the Rouse Bribery Scandal Royal Commission also had some interesting things to say about Mr Gray.

Reference Here and Here


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Senator-elect Peter Whish Wilson: Confounding the Green stereotype

First published in The Australian
"IT was a confession I hadn't expected from the nation's newest Green and imminent Senate replacement for the party's departing deity, Bob Brown.
"I voted for John Howard, absolutely," Greens senator-elect Peter Whish-Wilson says.
I knew the 44-year-old vigneron had some conservative skeletons in his political closet, notably a career as a high-flying investment banker. But I hadn't realised that the man chosen by the Greens to fill Brown's Tasmanian Senate seat was once a virtual pin-up boy for the Christian Right.
 His upbringing and much of his adult life reads like a job application for a safe Liberal Party seat.
 The son of a former air force wing commander and Rio Tinto executive, descendant of Tasmanian timber men, Whish-Wilson was a prefect at a posh school, Guildford Grammar, near Perth.
There, on the banks of the Swan River, he took school colours in just about everything from debating, swimming, footy and rowing to athletics, while his father exploited Western Australia's iron ore resource.
As a teenager, he won the WA State Rostrum Award and a scholarship to the Australian Defence Force Academy, where he became a cadet captain and officer training graduate.
A self-described "strong Christian" until his early 20s, he studied a double major in economics and then a masters. While studying, he worked for BHP and the Institute of Public Affairs.
A career in investment banking almost inevitably followed, taking him to senior roles with Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank in New York, Melbourne, Hong Kong and finally Sydney.
 Throughout almost all this time he was anything but green. "I was a Liberal voter, in line with a lot of people in Australia and in line with my family," he explains with characteristic frankness. "I did have conservative values."
 His politics were not to change until 2003, when Howard led Australia into the Iraq war. "That was the last time I ever voted for the Liberal Party," he says.
 The September 11 terrorist attacks on his old New York stomping ground and the Iraq war led to a reappraisal of life, as well as politics.
 He had been taking a correspondence course in grape growing, with an eye to viticulture on his parents' farm in the Tamar Valley, north of Launceston.
 Part-time fancy became preoccupation. "It gave me a whole new perspective on things that were tangible because economics and finance (are) not always tangible, it's always chaos theory," he says.
 He quit as a senior vice-president with Deutsche Bank later in 2003 to take the next year out of high finance to "do my first vintage" and "get some head space" in Tasmania.
 His idyll on the banks of the Tamar River was shattered, though, by timber company Gunns' plans to build a world-scale pulp mill on his doorstep. Cue another life-changing experience, as he became a key figure in a national campaign to stop the mill.
 During the fever pitch of the debate in 2006 and 2007, he was visited by Brown, who brought with him sympathetic Sydney businessman Geoffrey Cousins. Brown impressed him, but he was not yet willing to embrace the Greens.
 "I didn't want to be associated with the Greens, for the sole reason that I felt that the organic status I had as a campaigner would be too easily swept from under my feet," he explains. "As soon as people branded you as being a greenie, what you said was worthless; you were just a trouble-making greenie."
 After state parliament accepted the pulp mill permits, on August 29, 2007, following a bitterly controversial fast-track approval process, Whish-Wilson opened his arms to the Greens.
 "I felt like, after that, whatever you did as an organic campaigner really didn't matter," he says.
 He surprised friends by "running my colours up the mast" and standing for the Greens against pro-mill upper house MP Ivan Dean in the local seat of Windermere in 2009. "The Greens had the resources in place and I looked at them and thought: 'Well, I've got very similar principles to them, they've supported me and the rest of the anti-pulp mill campaign, they've never deviated from their stance,' " he says.
 He scored 16 per cent of the vote in a wide field in a less than Green seat, and went on to run for the party in the 2010 state election, then on the Senate ticket with Christine Milne at the federal poll later that year.
 The transition from Christian conservative to Green convert was complete, although the process may still not have progressed far enough for some Greens.
 Whish-Wilson has never manned a barricade, much less been arrested. Until 2003, he hadn't attended a protest and even then it was against war, not on behalf of the environment.
 Widely seen as a "light green", the father of two talks of helping the party "evolve" and broaden its voter base. "That might raise some eyebrows, but I'm just being honest," he says.
 Encouraged by the party's stated willingness to tolerate "conscientious objections", he will continue to "speak from the heart".
 "If the Greens want to grow their vote, you need to oppose things you feel strongly about - as I have with the pulp mill - but ... propose alternative pathways," he argues. "If you just oppose things, you run the risk of being seen as purely oppositional and obstructive to a number of voters' wealth and wellbeing.
 "I think it's important for the Greens to be constructive. They'll get better environmental and social outcomes if they are."
 Milne, keen to increase the party's support in the bush and among "progressive" business, and to keep the hard Left of her party in check, appears to have given Whish-Wilson her blessing to continue eyebrow-raising.
 He hopes his experience of developing successful small businesses - the winery and, with wife Natalie, a growing Launceston physiotherapy practice - will "bring perspectives" to the Greens' partyroom table. "Perspectives of what it's like when you get an industrial relations change that impacts your business," he says, by way of example.
 He confesses he had to raise some "issues" about his view of Greens' policies with the party selection panel that chose him to replace Brown.
 "I don't think they're going to be huge issues for me," he insists.
 He believes in sensitive tourism within national parks, a tricky issue for the Greens, but stresses his support is for low-impact huts rather than hotels.
 Brown, who had a vote on the panel that chose Whish-Wilson, backs his replacement. However, Brown refuses to say whether he voted for him, citing the secrecy of the ballot.
 Whish-Wilson is unfazed: "I've got his support. I don't know if he voted for me. I never will."
 The first test of this passionate surfer and Surf Rider Foundation board member will be at next year's federal election, when his seat will be contested. He faces a battle to hold on to Brown's substantial personal vote.
 "It's like riding a giant wave: I've made a take-off, which is the scariest part. (But) the most dangerous part is whether I have enough speed to come up the line or whether I'm going to be devoured.
 "It could be the ride of my life or I could get held down. Who knows?"
 Either way, it will be a fascinating ride for the unlikely Green and his "evolving" party.

Read full article here in The Australian

Monday, May 7, 2012

This is what happens to people who tell the truth about the Tasmanian Government

"FORMER Lennon government whistleblower Nigel Burch cannot get a job in Tasmania.The once-highly skilled public servant has only worked three months since he was sacked four years ago from his role of government adviser to then-deputy premier Steve Kons.
This work was in the Northern Territory for an Aboriginal health service.
Mr Burch said he never set out to be a whistleblower but he would forever be known as the source of a shredded document that led to the downfall of a deputy premier.
``It all snowballed and became a nightmare,'' Mr Burch said.
``The government attacked me remorselessly, and one-eyed Labor people who did not understand what it was all about simply believed what the government said and vilified and abused me.
``I was cursed in the street and my property was vandalised.
``There was no way to tell people that I had nothing to gain and everything to lose by trying to do the right thing by them.''

Read More Here

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Response to a comment

Response to a comment Here

I read & re-read your article a number of times this morning Chris.

Chris if you were trying to make amends for ‘blaspheming’ (a patronising descriptor & indicator of where Chris’s argument is headed) you get off on the wrong foot with the title of the article.

I dare say “Lest we forget about what?” would neither sit comfortably with you or with many readers. Not just because it’s ignorant & offensive but because I actually don’t think its representative of what you are trying to say here.

What exactly is Chris Harries trying to say here? At times it’s hard to know exactly. I’m not even sure Chris knows.

That our reverence for the ANZAC’s and by extension ANZAC day is something akin to the dreamtime & religious stories? Religious/spiritual stories which try to explain the meaning of life. Stories not based on fact or empirical evidence.

That ANZAC day is a ‘white persons’ thing (The ‘ANZAC Spirit’ has become the white person’s veritable Dreamtime story” says Chris. Patronising twaddle if ever read it!), excludes aboriginals - essentially another slap in the moosh for Aboriginal Australians?

Chris you say - “It is for sociologists to explain why the quirk of a military failure nearly a century ago has become our national Dreamtime Story, the core of our national psyche. That’s a mystery to me but I must respect the fact, all the same”.

Chris I dare say that to many Australians it’s not a ‘mystery’ and the nations annual observance of ANZAC day is something that is reasonably well articulated by most Australians. Dare I say Chris (a former Greens party advisor) that your struggle to identify with & understand ANZAC day is emblematic of your Party’s inability to identify & resonate with mainstream Australia.

The story of Gallipoli whilst being, among other things, an example of the senselessness & sheer violence of war speaks to Australians about our commitment to each other, to our commitment to our right as a nation to guide our future free or fear & oppression. It’s about the powerful legacy of the actions of Australians during that war campaign. About what our forebears were prepared to do, the sacrifices they were prepared to make to defend Australians & Australia. Whilst patriotism (Nationalism Chris? – where is the evidence that “nationalism is Australia’s core belief system”? You’ve got to explain that one Chris) inevitably, to some degree informs our reverence for the ANZAC’s so does respect. Sheer respect.
Chris you also say - “What has irked me through the years is that our ANZAC culture is generally intolerant of, or forgetful of, the Aboriginal war experience”.
Where is the evidence for this? To say - ‘Australian culture is generally intolerant of, or forgetful of, the Aboriginal war experience’ would have been much more accurate.
As far as I can see ANZAC day, led by the RSL is very inclusive of aboriginal diggers.

Chris I would like our nation (perhaps expanding ‘National Sorry Day’) to sanction & dedicate a day recognising & reflecting on aboriginal victims of genocide.

Is it smart or helpful to push such an idea on ANZAC day? Nope.

Is it realistic or sensible even to hope that ANZAC day could be shared (as you now appear to have recognised Chris) with a day recognising aboriginal victims of genocide? Maybe if you are a year 10 student with little or no life experience.

If Chris Harries ANZAC day confusion & defensiveness is reflective of the discussion on ANZAC day being had in the Tasmanian Greens Party then it’s very disappointing. It highlights the ongoing problem of immaturity in Greens party thinking and is indicative of why so many Australians simply can’t relate to the Greens.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Ban Pollies from the Friday Forum

Dear ABC Hobart

Question re the Friday Pollies forum.

Over the period of a week, ABC listeners will have already heard the same lines, same spin and the same sermons from the 3 parties via the nightly news (across 3 channels), the radio news (on the hour), and on the internet.

Pick up the newspaper and you can read the same stuff.

Then theres talkback radio where political parties are given more time than anyone else to make their points. The pollies also spend the whole week screaming and yelling in parliament. Thats now broadcast live and then recycled across all media. We also get their propaganda in our letter boxes. You cant get away from political opinion.

Why then do ABC radio continue with this stale pollies forum after we've already heard the same political parties spinning the same lines all week? Isnt it time in this age of multi media for radio to cut back the amount of time it gives political parties?

Isnt it time to ditch the Friday pollies forum and invite some ordinary, interesting fresh voices from the Tasmanian community?

Does the ABC earnestly believe its listeners want to hear political parties all the time?

I guarantee the ABC if it surveyed its listeners they would much rather hear everyday tasmanians than politicians.

I say to the ABC - ban politicians from the Friday Forum barring exceptional circumstances.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Huon MLC Paul Harriss has some explaining to do

Follow links Here

What Paul Harriss said in parliament................................................"I would like to mention another matter to do with Ta Ann. When I was in Malaysia last year, I met with the World Wildlife Fund and they have Ta Ann at the absolute pinnacle of forest operations in Malaysia. That does not come lightly. They have them at the pinnacle - number one - but, of course, the Greens here seek to discredit the WWF in Malaysia because it suits their purpose to do so".

For more - type WWF or World Wildlife Fund into parliamentary hansard Here

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Oh what a tangled web we weave. Jonothan West dumps on ENGO's over pulp mill.

Here are Jonothan Wests comments (today on ABC radio) on the future of protests and particular pulp mill protests arising from the forests deal.

Key comments on the pulp mill come with 7.00 min remaining on the audio and continue for around 4 minutes. Have a close listen.

West’s comments are not surprising but incredibly damning where the ENGO signatories are concerned.

West is very clear and his comments most certainly require a response and clarification by the ENGO’s. They also deserve a strong response from anti-pulp mill groups.

When asked by the ABC about the pulp mill protests (and Ta ann protests) West said he had talked to ALL the protest groups & relevant individuals (we can assume that this includes anti-pulp mill groups).
Professor West said the protest groups had made it clear to him that once a resolution on native forests is reached - one that is satisfactory to the major ENGOs - the protests will stop. West comments are being made in here response to questions about pulp mill & taann protests.
This blogger could list a host of groups including anti-mill groups from whom West would most certainly NOT HAVE recieved such assurances. Certainly not on pulp mill protests.

I know for a fact West did not talk to Code Green and i know he would not have recieved such assurances from Pulp The Mill, Friends of the Tamar Valley, Tasmanian Conservation Trust, The No Pulp Mill Alliance or TAP.

I would invite any other groups that feel misrepresented by Wests comments to say so here.

West then claims that BASED ON HIS DISCUSSIONS with the major ENGOs he believed opposition to the mill was primarily based on feedstock and that once the IGA was finalised and a resolution reached on native forest use the ENGOs would stop campaigning against the pulp mill.

West believed the ENGOs wouldn’t support the mill, rather just stop the campaigning.

West said based on talks with major Enviro groups he believed it was reasonable to expect the ENGOs would stop campaigning against the mill after a resolution has been reached on native forests.
Its important to note that West claims his comments on the future of pulp mill protests are based on his discussions with the major ENGOs

This flies in the face of what ENGOs are telling anti-mill groups privately.

If West is wrong and has misunderstood & misreprepresented his discusssions with ENGO signatories to the forests deal then the two ENGOs must clarify this and correct the record publicly. The time for private assurances are over Vica Bailey& Phil Pullinger. Its meaningless unless its out there in the public domain.

Indeed TWS/ET lack of public opposition to such explosive public statements (and others by the Premier & DP) from such a key player in the forests deal is effectively to assist Gunns in getting its pulp mill a social licence. To say this is probably understating things.

Remember Greg L’Estrange’s definition of a social licence? “Less Opposition”. L’Estrange was very clear about this.

Do we have more or less opposition to the pulp mill these days, what role (or the lack of) are TWS/ET playing in this and how does it relate to the forests deal?

Basic questions, old questions but questions i intend to keep asking and putting on the public record.

As for Tamar Valley based pulp mill opponents.

Pulp Mill opponents are making a mistake if they believe keeping their heads down will stop them being demonised, steretyped and blamed for the demise of the IGA.

Its too late for that now. The landscape has shifted.

Silence and flying under the radar is not the solution. It might be the easy option but its not the best option.

Silence will suit the ENGO’s, Gunns and the mates of the mill. It will also reinforce the belief that there is less opposition to the pulp mill and henceforth a social licence.

The debate has shifted and what is required of pulp mill opponents is to develop and articulate effective arguments that speak to the current situation and to go out into the battlefield and argue them.


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Huon MLC Paul Harriss - Rogue Politician?

"‘Questionable’ is the word, you are right. That is what they do. So then they (conservationists) say that, by connection, Ta Ann’s operations in Tasmania are also questionable. They then say the chief minister in Sarawak is corrupt. Well, there are elections over there, I do not see any uprising to get the bloke out of the place. I have never met him but these are the allegations". (Huon MLC Paul Harriss, Legislative Council Hansard, 14-3-2012)

MLC Paul Harriss' offhand dismissal of allegations of corruption against the Sarawak Chief Minister (CM) is the most significant aspect of the Huon MLC's recent coward's castle rant

Mr Harriss' comments should be of concern to every Tasmanian - including those in his electorate  - who care about democracy, justice and human rights. Paul Harriss’ put him at odds with many of Australia's closest allies and the wider global community on the issue of corruption and the Sarawak Chief Minister.

In 2010 Malaysia (of which Sarawak is the largest state) scored its lowest ever score in Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index. Malaysia plunged to a 'serious corruption' rating with an index score of 4.4/10, with 0 being highly corrupt and 10 being very clean.

Leaked U.S cables (wikileaks) show that the U.S govt regard the Sarawak Chief Minister as 'highly corrupt' and the Sarawak state govt as "highly corrupt in the hands of the Chief Minister".  Wikileaks also showed the U.S govt recognises that Chief Minister Taib and his relatives are widely thought to extract a percentage from most major commercial contracts - including those for logging - awarded in Sarawak.

On human rights Wikileaks showed that......The US embassy also informed itself on the plight of Sarawak’s indigenous people. It was told by commissioners of Malaysia’s government-funded national human rights commission, SUHAKAM, that the government largely ignores SUHAKAM’s recommendations ‘to safeguard the rights of the state’s most vulnerable citizens’.

Then there is Mr Harriss's quip that Sarawak citizens use elections or an 'uprising' to deal with the allegedly corrupt Chief Minister and his powerful regime.

Mr Harriss’ blissfully - and dare I say wilfully na├»ve riposte rolls of the tongue from the relative safety of Tasmania. Yet when we look at the political climate in Malaysia and the actual culture and practices of election campaigns in Sarawak it exposes the perversity & stupidity of the Huon MLC's comments.

The recent 2011 Sarawak election (as with previous Sarawak elections) was widely regarded as a giant exercise in pork barrelling. The Malaysian Government (the same political party as Chief Minister Taib's Sarawak state govt) poured millions into Sarawak as a form of ‘gratitude’ to Chief Minister Taib’s Sarawak state government for delivering the seats to secure the ruling party a majority at the Federal level.

Chief Minister Taib's government spent nearly $2Bn Ringgit Malaysia (RM) in Sarawak leading up to the last election and also blatantly exceeded election campaign spending regulations. Leading up the 2011 election it was revealed some Sarawak village heads received RM6,000 while the villagers were given RM2,000. The ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) routinely sent its cronies to villages and door by door handed out cash for votes.
The amounts handed out were aften the equivalent of a months wages. 
In Sarawak rural communities are cleverly controlled by community leaders. The appointed community leaders do the bidding of the Chief Minister's ruling BN party as they recieve their allowance of RM800 from BN. Any community leaders found supporting the political opposition are inevitably sacked and material government assistance in the form of fertiliser, seedling and herbicide is withdrawn.

World renowned pro-democracy activist/politician Anwar Ibrahim who has been jailed & tortured for leading an 'uprising' against the powerful Malaysian ruling elite claimed the 2011 Sarawak election saw electoral fraud with pro-democracy activists stopped from entering Sarawak to observe the elections. But what would this globally recognised and decorated defender of justice and human rights in Malaysia know……right Mr Harriss?

Perhaps Mr Harriss could call in on Anwar Ibrahim during his next Malaysian fact finding mission and get some facts from an insider on how business is done in Sarawak? Mr Harriss might then travel to Sarawak to exhort disgruntled locals to exercise the vote and lecture them on how to initiate an uprising.

Or perhaps Mr Harriss who has used the Tasmanian Parliament to record his indifference to one of the worlds most corrupt regimes, could  simply tell us at the next sitting of cowards castle why Anwar Ibrahim, the U.S govt and wider global community are wrong about the Chief Minister of Sarawak?

Anyone reading Mr Harriss's easy dismissal of allegations of corruption against the Sarawak Chief Minister would be justified in wondering if there is any allegation, anything which reflects poorly on the Tasmanian logging industry that Mr Harriss is not prepared to overlook?

The word rogue has been bandied about a lot lately in relation to the Tasanian logging industry.

There is no doubt that the logging industry globally, including Malaysia's is widely regarded as one of the most corrupt industries on our planet. Such a claim can be supported by decades of evidence.

To my mind the Huon MLC's off hand dismissal of allegations of corruption against the Sarawak Chief Minister is rogue behaviour and places Paul Harriss out on the fringes in terms of global opinion of Sarawak's Taib regime. But ask any Tasmanian and they will tell you in an instant, rogue politicians and rogue behaviour are nothing new in Tasmanian Politics.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Who is driving the Liberal's Pulp Mill policy?

Last year in response to a question (May 2011) during a live chat on the Liberal's Turn Tasmania Around Facebook site, opposition leader Will Hodgman replied to me saying the Libs would rule out any further financial support for the Gunns Pulp mill should they win government. Will Hodgman has also made this promise on ABC radio.
Here is the transcript of my exchange with Will Hodgman:

Rick Pilkington- ".........Will, if by some miracle the pulp mill is built will you today rule out providing government subisidies and bailouts in the event that the project falls on hard times? The so called benefits to the community are at best arguable now, with further taxpayer subsidies it would prove to the massive white elephant that many of us predict".

Will Hodgman MP: -"Rick - yes. It has to stand on its own feet."


However Liberal shadow treasurer Peter Gutwein is now refusing to rule out giving more public money to Gunns for its pulp mill.

......"Opposition economic development spokesman Peter Gutwein again called for the government to sack Nick McKim as a minister to prevent further derailment of the pulp mill project.``If we were in government, you would obviously keep an open mind to any requests for support from (Gunns) because it is absolutely vital that we get this project over the line,'' he said.........(The Examiner, 11/3/12)

This begs the question - Why has Mr Gutwein publicly contradicted Will Hodgman's position on public money for Gunns? Why have the Liberals apparently had a change of heart on public money for Gunns when not so long ago Will Hodgman slammed the Labor/Green govt over its $48M payout to Gunns?

......"This is $34.5 million that should be being spent on schools, hospitals and police, not as a bargaining tool in a dodgy political deal," Mr Hodgman said.
"This disastrous deal has been nothing but an expensive embarrassment from the start...
 Given that Gunns voluntarily gave up its native forest contracts, they shouldn't receive a cent of compensation."....(Will Hodgman in The Mercury, 15/9/11)

Contrast Mr Gutwein's near obession with the pulp mill and his apparent enthusiasm to give more taxpayers money to Gunns against Mr Hodgman's hardline against public handouts for Gunns and recent refusal to meet with a potential Pulp Mill investor. Perhaps the difference between the two senior Liberals' attitude on the Pulp Mill is more stark than is given credit.

Of course last week's revelations of Will Hodgman's Chandler snub triggered widespread criticism of the Liberal leader and speculation about his grip on the opposition leadership. Could the apparent contradiction between Gutwein & Hodgman's position on public money for Gunns be indicative of an emerging challenge to Will Hodgman's leadership and a shift toward a harder party line on the Pulp Mill/Forest related policy? It was only a few weeks ago that the Tasmanian Liberals also flagged the introduction of draconian laws to stop protests against logging industry interests should the Libs win government. Another sign of a shift to a more reactionary & hard line Liberal party on forestry.

So who is driving this shift and who in fact is now driving the Tasmanian Liberals' Pulp Mill policy?

Is Will Hodgman set to break his word on public money for Gunns to appease powerful pro mill hardliners within Liberal ranks and will we see the Liberal party with Mr Hodgman at the helm or perhaps leader in waiting - Peter Gutwein taking the party to the 2014 election with a policy of more public money for Gunns pulp mill?

Time will tell.

Unless drawn by questions from local media its highly unlikely the Liberal's will advertise plans to give Gunns public money for the mill. The Liberal party would be well aware that several public polls conducted on the question of more public money for Gunns pulp mill have shown such a proposition is even more on the nose with Tasmanians than the project itself.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A response to Bruce Montgomery in Crikey

'Politicians fiddle while the economy burns' suggests Bruce - Here and Here.

You write like this a unique phenomena in politics Bruce.

Unfortunately Bruce's Crikey article - (Bruce Montgomery is a former logging industry spin doctor -Communications Manager of the Tasmanian Forests and Forest Industry Council ) only focusses on one sector of the Tassie economy - Forestry - giving his interstate readers the impression that the logging industry plays a more imporatnt role in the future of the Tasmanian economy than it actually does.

Not so according to Tasmanian businessman Andrew Scobie, a recent head of Tasmania's peak business lobby - The Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce & Industry (TCCI).

This is what Andrew Scobie told ABC radio last week about the logging industry, an industry described in Bruce Mongomery's Crikey piece as Tasmania's 'major growth industry'
..................."Foresty Tasmania has been showing an inappropriate rate of return to its shareholders (the tasmanian people) for such a long time now and has really only been a smoke and mirrors mechanism for the redistribution of public wealth ie: taxation being taken from Australians, not Tasmanians, but Australians and distributed to an industry which frankly doesnt have a future".................."The frank reality is that Forestry Tasmania has simply been a mechanism for the distribution of public wealth to an underwriting of an unsustainable industry. Now that may or may not be a factual representation of the entirety of the history of Forestry in Tasmania but its certainly has been a characterisation of its recent performance..................."There is almost absolute consenus that the Australian dollar is going to stay at or about where it is for the forseeable future ie: for next 20-30 years. The consequence of that is that there is no future for the export of forestry products, we dont have a competitive position. If we dont have a competitive position that Forestry in Tasmania is going to have to be structurally adjusted (Andrew Scobie 2/03/12).

The subtext of much of Bruce's Crikey rant, is essentially taken from the same song-sheet recently used by the Liberals, the President of the upper house and most other mates of the Tasmanian logging industry.................."The Tasmanian economy (logging...cough,cough) is rooted because of two greens cabinet ministers and a few unruly kids in koala suits".

Because Greens cabinet minister Nick Mckim & Cassy O'Connor express an alternate view on forestry Bruce says - " they march to the beat of their own drum". Oh the horror of it all Bruce!

The truth is Cassy O'Connor, the Minister for Human Services, Community Development, Aboriginal Affairs & Climate Change rarely speaks out on Forestry related issues and has been a staunch public defender of her labor cabinet colleagues. Indeed since the advent of the Labor/Greens minority govt Nick Mckims Greens have been in lockstep with Labor on most legislation and demonstrably less combative with Labor in and outside the parlaiment often to the disgust of greens supporters.

Bruce, it's also widely accepted that Cassy O'Connor and Nick Mckim hold cabinet positions is because the Labor alternatives don't bear thinking about.

You know that Bruce, we all know that.

Both O'Connor and Mckim are widely regarded as experienced, conscientous parliamentarians and highly competent in their demanding ministerial portfolios. The interests of Tasmania are best served by constructing the most competent government possible not one that is ideologically pure. There is also the minor matter that the Labor/Green minority government was returned by the people of Tasmania who were fully aware of the lack of talent & experience in government ranks.

The political campaign to have the two Greens sacked from cabinet pays no regard to the potentially serious social consequences for the community of removing two well performing ministers and handing their portfolios, which include Education, Corrections, Human Services & Aboriginal affairs to inexperienced and potentially incapable backbenchers.
This campaign and the wider campaign for a fresh election is a really just a backlash or reaction to the effectiveness of environmental campaigns in exposing Tasmanian logging industry spin O/S. It is being driven by a coalition of logging industry, business and Liberal party mates. One only has to check into certain social media sites to see this.

Marching to the beat of their own drum Bruce?

Sounds like a good starting point for an article on Tasmania's state owned Forestry Company, Forestry Tasmania.


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Australia's problem? We never talked about Kevin Rudd - Richard Flanagan in The Guardian

'I was elected by the Australian people as the prime minister," Kevin Rudd said in his tearful speech after being deposed as prime minister by his own party in June 2010, to be replaced by Julia Gillard. Except he wasn't. Rather, the Australian people in 2007 elected a parliament in which the Australian Labor party (ALP), of which Rudd was leader, had a majority of seats. And thus, as ever in the Westminster system, it was the majority of parliamentarians who decided Rudd would be prime minister. And then that he wouldn't.
But Rudd's confusion was also that of the Australian people, and they viewed his sacking almost as a regicide, a view powerfully helped along by the new Labor regime's refusal to say exactly why they had replaced him, allowing Rudd's subtle rebuilding of himself as a martyr to faceless men and factions.
Rudd, a Mandarin-speaking former diplomat, was a new type of politician who had built his power base and appeal through the manufacture of a 21st-century celebrity. He rose to national prominence not so much with policy, but appearances on a commercial breakfast TV programme. He used social media and light entertainment radio and TV to advance himself. His support base wasn't built in the party, but on his polling figures.
Read Full article here

Monday, February 27, 2012

Steve Kons you idiot

From The Advocate

BURNIE Mayor Steve Kons has denied gloating about "boning" the council's ex-general manager despite an email where he says "Ha Ha!!" and it was "a true victory for the people of Burnie".
The email exchange, between Ald Kons and shareholder activist Stephen Mayne was released publicly on-line this week on the Mayne Report under a heading "Burnie Mayor gloats about boning his CEO (general manager)".
It followed a public stoush between Ald Kons and Mr Mayne on radio late last year, when Mr Mayne defended then-council general manager Paul Arnold and criticised Ald Kons over public comments about Mr Arnold.
Ald Kons emailed Mr Mayne a few months later saying: "Thought I would just inform you the General Manger of Burnie City Council is gone as is the former Mayor. Ha Ha!!!!
"A true victory for the people of Burnie," Ald Kons noted.
"Next time butt out of our local politics and continue to pat yourself on the back for the star you really think you are."
Mr Kons, the fallen ex-deputy premier, confirmed the email yesterday to The Advocate, but denied he had been gloating about Mr Arnold and ex-mayor Alvwyn Boyd's local government demise.
He said there was no ill-feeling between himself and Mr Mayne, adding Mr Mayne had simply been trying to get his "street credentials up" before a presentation to Tasmanian council managers last year.
"I know what he's like and he knows what I'm like," Ald Kons said.
"I get on all right with him."
Mr Mayne told The Advocate yesterday he had been shocked by Ald Kons' 11.35pm email.
Read it in The Advocate

Habib's Victory Against The Shock-Jocks

Former Dateline Journalist Bronwyn Adcock writes in The New Matilda......"In his ruling the judge found that the comments made about Habib by John Laws and Steve Price from 2UE, and Ray Hadley from 2GB, were "extreme, strongly expressed, exaggerated, unjust, irrational … and also violent". The tone and content of John Laws in particular was "clearly spiteful and laden with ill-will towards Mr Habib, as well as being intentionally aimed at ridiculing the plaintiff". Most problematically though for Radio 2UE and 2GB, in the context of a defamation trial where truth can be relied on as a defence, was that the comments in question were simply not based on fact"
Read More Here

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Greens under the Bed

Lara Giddings' blunt dismissal of personal threats made against the Huon Valley Environment Centre's Jenny Weber and the Premier's seemingly baseless assertion that "loggers had felt threatened by environmentalists spiking trees"* made me cast my mind back to the days of the Franklin Dam campaign when Bob Brown was bashed senseless by a car load of young men in Queenstown on Tasmania's West Coast.
I was only 16 at the time but I can clearly remember feeling sickened by the incident. Much in the same way we were sickened by the attack from a logging contractor on forest protesters in Tasmania's southern forest in 2008 .
Back in 1983 the response (or lack of response) of Tasmanians, particularly Tasmanian men to the assault on Bob Brown revealed a bigotted and violent heart in Tasmania which most of us would have liked to believe only existed in the deep south of the U.S or South Africa.
I remember at the time that it seemed like the young men who attacked Brown had the approval of the majority of Tasmania's male population. Indeed, upon arriving home in Queenstown after being released by police the young perpetrators were hailed as heroes.  However to me at the time the most sickening and disturbing aspect of the whole incident was the ambivalence of the Tasmanian media and the blatant lack of an appropriate response by the Tasmanian Premier Robin Gray who virtually condoned the act by his silence. Even the police could only manage a qualified rebuke.
To me this was one of the ugliest moments in recent Tasmanian history.
Not that much has changed in Tasmania.  Even today when assaults and violence against forest protesters have occurred, they are at best met with reluctant & qualified condemnation from politicians and industry spokespeople.
This inadequate response by our civic leaders is unfortunately not helped by a weak and under-resourced Tasmanian media who through their own fear of Tasmania's powerful axis of political & business mates attempt to protect themselves from retribution by contriving 'balanced' news reports rather than drilling down and teasing out what really happened.  Even when there is hard irrefutable evidence that a wrong has been perpetrated by one person/group against another. This is the tyranny of balance which pervades much of our news reporting. Balance for balance sake.
The media in Tasmania have long facilitated the maintenance of social and political tensions around the forestry issue by choosing to frame the issue in inflammatory terms and misrepresenting what are complex situations with simplistic language and slogans. This may maximise the entertainment value for media consumers but at times it does a great disservice to the issue and the community struggling with it.
Greens Under The Bed

It's also interesting that whenever there has been a minority Green government in Tasmania we have seen political supporters of the logging industry go to extreme measures to silence the Greens Party/critics of logging. The hysterical campaign currently being waged by the mates of the logging industry against the 'insidious Green threat' to the Tasmanian economy has a long and dubious tradition in this state.
It wasnt all that long ago that Liberal/Green minority Premier Tony Rundle along with the Labor opposition engineered 'special legislation' (a model put forward by one of the mates - the TCCI) to reduce the number of seats in parliament so as to get rid of the Greens. Former state Labor Minister David Llewelyn recently admitted that Rundle's special legislation was indeed created to remove the greens from the parliament.
Not long after Rundle's legislation passed, an election was held and a majority Labor government was returned with the Greens losing three seats and the one remaining Green Peg Putt left with virtually no chance of exercising any influence in the lower house.
Then of course in 1989 Edmund Rouse as chairman of Gunns offered $110,000 to Labor MP Jim Cox to cross the floor. The bribe was an attempt to prevent the Labor party forming an alliance with the Tasmanian Greens and to secure the return of the Liberal government. Edmund Rouse would later state that his motivation for the bribery attempt was out of 'concern for the Tasmanian economy' and his fears about the impacts of a Greens minority government. This is precisely the same justification being put forward today by the Tasmania's  pro logging axis - 'concern' for the Tasmanian economy because of the infiltration of Green ideology in government.
Consider last week's extraordinary public attack on the two Greens cabinet Ministers by President of Tasmania's Upper House Sue Smith.
This would have been unthinkable from Smith's predecessor, the highly respected and statesman-like Don Wing.
Interestingly it was only Don Wing's Launceston based counterpart, Rosevears MLC Kerry Finch who refused to be a part of last weeks Upper House tantrum.
Finch, the member for Rosevears told the ABC "he needed more information about markets in Japan and China". "I only had before me what Ta Ann were saying," . "We are a house of review, we must remember that,"."I don't have legislation to review." said Finch.
One wonders whether Finch sought counsel from Don Wing before making his decision to stand aside from the Paul Harriss led protest.
Here is what current Upper House president Sue Smith told ABC radio last week when asked why the MLC's staged their anti green protest....... "we have a minister of the government (Nick Mckim) whose ideology is totally at the opposite end of the spectrum to the ideology of the unionised working man in any industry in Tasmania . So i find it hard to understand how Nick Mckim himself can actually balance those two processes and i think whether the premier likes to accept it or not, she is going to have to address it she's going to have to look at her back bench and she's going to have to make some hard decisions as to whether or not she removes two (greens)ministers whose ideologies are at conflict with the ideologies of other ministers who sit around the cabinet table and actually puts two of her back benches in their place".
Political analyst Richard Herr told the ABC it was "imprudent for the Legislative Council to pre-judge legislation". Herr questioned the appropriateness of MLCs demanding the Premier discipline the Greens leader and Cabinet Minister.
"The Chamber was sailing very close to the wind in trying to direct the Government in how to discipline its own members, or indeed the Lower House in terms of disciplining one of its own members," said Herr. "I doubt that they would have been very happy if the House of Assembly had instructed them....It's a fundamental principle of Parliamentary relationships that both house are responsible for their privileges".
Indeed the upper house traditionally gets very irritable when the lower house sticks its nose into their business

It's also widely accepted that Cassy O'Connor and Nick Mckim hold cabinet positions is because the Labor alternatives don't bear thinking about. Both O'Connor and Mckim are widely regarded as experienced, conscientous parliamentarians and highly competent in their demanding ministerial portfolios. Surely the interests of Tasmania are best served by constructing the most competent government possible rather one that is ideologically pure? There is also the minor matter that the Labor/Green minority government was returned by the people of Tasmania who were fully aware of the lack of talent & experience in government ranks. The Upper House president's selfish ideological crusade pays no regard to the potentially serious social consequences for the community of removing two well performing ministers and handing their portfolios, which include Education, Corrections, Human Services & Aboriginal affairs to inexperienced and potentially incapable backbenchers. What the upper house has in fact done is make it increasingly obvious where the independence of the uppper house ends and it loyalties begin.
Whilst we still have a Greens minority government in Tasmania, whilst Nick Mckim and Cassy O'Connor remain in Cabinet, while the pulp mill is still a real prospect and the forests continue to be so hotly contested we should continue to look to the history of minority governments in Tasmania as a guide to see how far the mates of the logging industry might be prepared to go to rid Tasmania of the Green threat. Indeed the forests issue appears likely get a lot uglier before we see anything like peace in Tasmania. With the real prospect of a Liberal majority government being returned in 2014 and an Upper House that has declared war on the Greens & anti-logging protest there seems a real possibility of draconian laws soon being passed to stifle the 'Green voice'. And if that happens then we truly will be back to the bad ol' days of Greens under the beds.
*The Premier's claims about environmentalists spiking logs were contradicted on Sunday night's ABC TV news by the Forestry Union who were reported as saying they hadn't seen tree spikes in Tasmania since the 1970s. The onus must now be on Tasmania's most senior politician - The Premier of Tasmania - to prove the alleged spikes she claimed to have seen at the Taann workplace actually do exist and were planted by environmentalists. Question is - Will the Tasmanian media pursue the Tasmanian Premier on this matter?...................updated 20/2/2012..........The Tasmanian Premier Lara Giddings has released a qualified apology for her 'tree spiking' accusations.
Earlier on this blog......Vandalism accusations against pulp mill opponents proven false. Will the Examiner editor now apologise?
More about Lara's spikeful accusations and the sordid history of attempts to frame conservationists in Tasmania - Here

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Hypocrisy of Will Hodgman's Liberal's

Once again this week we saw the spectre of Tasmania's most hated project dominating the public discourse and once again we saw (Matthew Groom - Listen here ) Will Hodgman's Liberal opposition attempting to use the issue to drive a wedge between Labor and the Greens.

Hissy fits by Matt Groom and Peter Gutwein with calls for Lara Giddings to sack Greens leader Nick Mckim from cabinet were classic political grandstanding and left Will Hodgman's party looking too much like hypocrites. The Liberals calls came after Nick Mckim urged (Here) new Gunns main man Richard Chandler to steer clear of the Tamar Valley Pulp Mill project.

Will & Lara's lynch mob

Only a few months ago two of Australia's most successful entrepeneurs, Jan Cameron and Graeme Wood bought up the dilapidated, unprofitable and unsaleable Triabunna Woodchip Mill ($10M investment) on Tasmania's East Coast from Gunns LTD with plans for a slow phase out of woodchip operations and a long term plan to develop the site into a tourist hub.
To say the $10M investment in the struggling East Coast Town was not welcomed by either of the big political parties in Tasmania is an understatement.
Shadow Treasurer Peter Gutwein led the Liberal's trashing of the investment, screaming blue murder and making the utterly ridiculous demand that the Tasmanian Government compulsorily acquire the Triabunna site from its rightful and legal owners.

It was the Tasmanian Liberal Party who led the charge, whipping up a hate campaign against Cameron and Woods $10M investment in Tasmania. They were of course cheered on by a hypertensive looking Robert Wallace and the TCCI.

As Premier Lara Giddings who could barely conceal her contempt for the two successful entrepeneurs led an ugly public campaign against Cameron and Wood, Will Hodgman raised no objection about a $10M dollar investment being talked down, rather unleashing the Liberal's attack dogs & cheering the Premier on.
The knives were out for Jan Cameron & Graeme Wood. It was an unedifying spectacle particularly from the Premier of Tasmania.
Its this aspect that particularly exposes the Liberal's claims that Mckim's sacking is warranted because of his senior role as a goverment minister.
Will Hodgman's Liberals cheered on as Tasmania's most senior minister - The Premier, publically trashed a $10M private investment in a struggling Tasmanian town. Yet Mr Mckim apparently should be sacked for continuing the Greens long standing public campaign against the proposed Tamar Valley Pulp Mill.

No one should be under the illusion that Will Hodgman's Liberals wouldnt have monstered Cameron &Wood if the Libs had the reigns of Government. Nor doubt that a Hodgman Government led by greenie hatin' Bass MHA Peter Gutwein, would have pushed ahead with its call to compulsorily acquire the Triabunna Mill from its rightful owners and in doing so confused & scared potential investors as governance in Tasmania were taken to new lows

Imagine the wonderful publicity as Tasmania (and the public purse) was dragged through an ugly high profile legal battle with two of Australia's most successful and forward thinking business people.

The Liberal and Labor parties clearly prefer to back a failing company like Gunns who would almost certainly be dead now without its major asset - a large plantation estate which was acquired with large thanks to MIS tax payer assisted help.

The Liberal Parties concern's appear less about investment in Tasmania per se rather their own love affair with polluting, volatile & unprofitable industries like woodchipping and pulp.

The Shadow Treasureres cycnical call for the Giddings government to compulsorily acquire the Triabunna Mill shows the Liberal's woodchip & pulp mill bondage even overrides the Libs so called belief in the free market economy.

Couple this with the Liberal's nod & a wink to the most corrupt legislation ever to pass through the Tasmanian Parliament (The Pulp Mill assessment act 2007) and the Libs willingness to turn a blind eye to the abuses of process that kept the project alive  and one has to be fairly pessimistic about a prospective Hodgman Government's commitment to Tasmania's statutory planning processes and ethical governance.