"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself." - Friedrich Nietzsche

Can secret political donations be justified?

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Max Atkinson* Pic: of Frank Lowy by Eva Rinaldi, Flickr
27.08.16 5:00 am

… For no-one doubts that influence is the name of the game - by gaining access to ministers and other officials, but also by an unspoken reminder that the donor’s interests are tied to the party winning government, and thus to the political aims and careers of these decision-makers. It would be interesting to hear Lowy’s response had presenter Sarah Ferguson asked if this philanthropy might dry up if the funds were re-directed by law to the Australian Electoral Commission, to be disbursed in line with its criteria …

While this is understandable with current budget problems, there is a more important issue at stake. This is the integrity of the democratic process, and the idea that electors should decide who governs, not big business or unions. At present party leaders need only persuade themselves that the benefits are, for whatever reason, also in the public interest. This is how NSW clubs prevent poker-machine reform and why the Manildra group is a beneficiary of laws which force small service stations to sell their monopoly product …

• Funding and Disclosure (Inc.) in Comments: ”.....there is a more important issue at stake. This is the integrity of the democratic process, and the idea that electors should decide who governs, not big business or unions.” Max Atkinson has hit the nail squarely on the head. This whole donation issue goes to the heart of the democratic process and until something sensible is done about it (along the lines of what Max suggests) this cancer will eat away at our system.

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Careers Australia and its long-running tangle with controversy

Bob Burton Photo: Takver, Flickr First pub: August 24
27.08.16 4:45 am

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In its decade-long life as a private training company Careers Australia has never been far from controversy. The company has been at the centre of a Queensland Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) inquiry, been forced to repay tens of millions of taxpayer dollars gained from inappropriate marketing of training courses and is currently under investigation by the Federal Government training regulator over further complaints.

• John Hawkins in Comments: … What say you Senator Abetz?

• John Francis in Comments: I taught in the TAFE system for eight years and saw its decline in that time.  Managers were appointed to areas they had no expertise in, and were simply appointed to progress the neo-liberal agenda of New Public Management.  Consequently, the job of teaching became more and more difficult as bean-counting became more and more central to the task.  Being harassed by my manager was the last straw for me, and even though I had a good teaching record, was well-liked by students and well-qualified to undertake the role I performed, I could not work one minute longer under that oppressive and decaying regime. Such a shame, because TAFE formerly had a positive reputation in vocational education.

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Careers Australia digs deep to donate to the Tasmanian Liberals

Bob Burton. First published August 23
27.08.16 4:44 am

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Careers Australia, the controversial training company which could have reaped more than $300 million from misleadingly recruiting students whose enrolments were subsequently cancelled, is a major donor to the Tasmanian Liberal Party. While the company insists it has had “no dealings” with the Tasmanian Government, neither Premier Will Hodgman or Deputy Premier and Education Minister Michael Ferguson would confirm or deny whether they have had contact with company representatives.

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8 comments

Over 600 Tasmanians caught up in Careers Australia marketing scandal

Bob Burton Photo: Dave Barger, Flickr.
27.08.16 4:43 am

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More than 600 Tasmanians applicants were potentially on track to incur big debts for Federal Government-subsidised training courses run by Careers Australia before the company’s misleading marketing practices were revealed. With the company under investigation over new complaints, many questions remain about the marketing practices and internal procedures of one of the Tasmanian Liberals’ major donors.

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Celebrate the foundation of an invaluable wild identity ...

Vica Bayley, Tasmanian Campaign Manager The Wilderness Society (Tasmania) Inc. Pic*
27.08.16 4:35 am

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This weekend, Tasmanians will celebrate 100 years since our early leaders had the foresight to declare our first conservation reserves, later to be converted into national parks …

Vica Bayley in Media: Celebrating 100 years of National Park success reinforces calls for new parks in iconic forest areas

Cassy O’Connor: Centenary of National Parks Highlights Failures of Minister

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Feasibility of a second Tasmanian interconnector – Preliminary Report June 2016-08-23

The Hon. Warwick Smith AM LLB via Lyndall Pic*
27.08.16 4:31 am

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The preliminary report to the Australian and Tasmanian governments is now publicly available for viewing …

• Pete Godfrey in Comments: Does anyone else find it strange. The politicians decide that it is a good idea, and whammo out comes a flaky report saying just that too. I wonder where the donations came from to push for this thought bubble. It was Basslink that caused our recent lack of supply, now we are supposed to think another cable will fix the problem. Hopefully this cable will go via one of the islands such as King or Flinders, drop some power off there on the way and also facilitate easier fault finding next time a ship drops anchor or dredges up the cable.

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1080 and the contamination of water

John Veysey*,
 Coromandel, New Zealand
27.08.16 4:03 am

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Water contamination is of concern the world over currently; Tasmania has had its concerns as well with long lists of boil water alerts recently. But what is the outcome of an industry deliberately dropping poison baits in and around water catchment areas? This was raised in Tasmania when the Pet dam catchment area, Burnie’s main water supply was baited with 1080 for foxes in March 2013 …

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2 comments

‘I am just so happy to be alive’, he said ...

John Martinkus* Pic*
26.08.16 5:20 am

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Many people in Afghanistan risked their lives and their families to help foreign journalists. But foreign correspondent John Martinkus says after the West has no need for such people anymore, we often leave them to be killed.

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Recovery Plan fails the Freshwater Lobster

Peter McGlone*, Director Tasmanian Conservation Trust. Pic* First pub: August 25
26.08.16 5:15 am

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… The Draft Recovery Plan is generally inadequate and significantly inferior to the previous plan. A key reason for this, we believe, is that the current draft was prepared by the Australian Government, with very limited consultation with the responsible state agencies and no community consultation. Traditionally recovery plans have been drafted by the relevant state agency and the recovery team for the species and the Australian government has merely provided input. We have no idea why this change has occurred but it clearly has led to a decline in standard. …

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Sex industry lobby group disrupts Survivor book launch

Simone Watson, National Director Nordic Model Australia Coalition
26.08.16 5:00 am

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On Sunday 21 August, sex trade advocates tried to derail the launch, in Townsville, Queensland, of Prostitution Narritives, a recently published compilation of sex trade survivor testimonies.

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Susan Neill-Fraser faces her 8th year in Risdon prison

Jennie Herrera* Pic: of the yacht at the centre, Four Winds
26.08.16 4:45 am

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On Saturday August 20 Hobart grandmother Susan Neill-Fraser faces her 8th year in Risdon prison.  Still the haunting question remains to me – What if she is innocent?

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Launched! Physick ... and a true Elder

James Boyce*
23.08.16 5:15 am

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Launch of Pete Hay’s, “Physick”. Hobart Bookshop Thursday 18 August 2016 Book launches traditionally do two things. They celebrate the author who has been locked away in a place of solitary madness and needs to be welcomed back into the world with a big hug in order to receive reassurance that, if not sane, they are at least loved.

So deeply earthed is this man that when spotted walking his cute little terriers in St David’s Park you can choose to see either the venerable academic, the good bloke you had a beer with and who gave you some ideas for your latest project, or a Van Diemonian emancipist bushman out with his kangaroo dogs to get dinner and ensure that the celebrated elite finally get to know what it is liked to be pissed on if only by a dog. All these images contain a truth but none come close to describing the fellow.  Suffice to say that Pete Hay, though he won’t like the description, may be the closest thing we have to a true Elder, a bloke who knows stuff, not just in his head but in his heart …

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The threat posed to women’s rights ...

Tessa Anne* Pic* First published August 20
23.08.16 5:00 am

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The Women’s Liberation Front Southern Tasmania (WoLF Tas) has written to Tasmanian and Victorian MP’s warning them about the threat posed to women’s rights if proposed legislative changes tabled yesterday in the Victorian Parliament by Premier Daniel Andrews and also similarly proposed in an Options Paper by the Office of Equal Opportunity Tasmania (EOT), go ahead …

Atlanta Progressive News: Georgia ACLU Director departs over transgender litigation …

Kut.org, News from Austin, Texas: Federal Court Halts Guidelines on Transgender Bathroom Use in Schools

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61 comments

NATION: a government drowning by numbers

David Tyler* (AKA Urban Wronski*) http://urbanwronski.com/ . Pic* Twitter*
22.08.16 3:30 am

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… Off the hook, huckster Hunt recites Coalition Border Force spin. 1200 people, “1200 beautiful souls,” he extemporises, “drowned.” How little each soul means to his government is seen in the way it destroys the lives of survivors in concentration camps. No-one challenges his hypocrisy. Hunt could add in a spirit of scientific objectivity that between 400 and 700 are estimated to have drowned under Coalition governments. He’s a model of misleading and false information …

Guardian: Rising inequality in Australia could cost 3% of GDP, study finds

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Why Huon Valley Council should still be sacked

Bob Hawkins* Pic* First published August 15
22.08.16 3:15 am

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Huon Valley Guessing Games It’s struggling, yet, kinda-sorta, “dysfunctional” Huon Valley Council is still on the rails as it strives to save itself from destruction at the hands of Peter Gutwein, minister in charge of parish-pump politics. That’s the same man, who, on June 15, gave short-shrift to the expert advice of the board of inquiry he appointed last September to find out what was going on in a council displaying alarming signs of being hopelessly out of control.

• Bob Hawkins in Comments: CORRECTION: Now you see it. Now you don’t. In my article above, I made this statement: “And then there was a charge about something in the July 22 Mercury. That turned out to be a letter Geoffrey Swan had written, the Mercury choosing to place a photograph of Coad alongside it.” That was an observation on an alleged “non-compliance” by Mayor Coad relating to a directive from Minister Gutwein (Direction 3) that the mayor should make no statements without councillors’ or the GM’s endorsement relating to council’s “positions or decisions” … My question to GM Watson is: How do the comments attributed to Mayor Coad in that July 22 11.34pm article, in any interpretation of them, add up to non-compliance with Minister Gutwein’s direction re mayoral statements and council’s “positions or decisions”? …

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15 comments

Animal protection does not win votes ...

John Hawkins*, Chudleigh. Pic*: Kelly Garbato FLICKR
22.08.16 3:15 am

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Submission to: the International Policy Team of the CITES Management Authority of Australia in the Department of the Environment … Animal protection does not win votes in a society that for reasons of political expediency hates the Greens. The opposite of this, namely the extraction of natural resources to create ‘Jobs and Growth’, is seemingly a political winner. …

• phill Parsons in Comments: Joining the Swift Parrot in migration is the Orange Bellied Parrot but their winter feeding grounds in Australia are threatened by development. The problem with jobsngrowth is it has failed as population has grown. Supposed to solve the problem of jobs/growth has made it worse as the pool of unemployed shows …

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Head in the sand ...

Bruce Ransley* First published August 18
21.08.16 5:30 am

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Bruce Ransley on why we’ll never see preventative action on sea-level rise …

In biology there’s a concept known as ‘futile cycling’. To cut a long story short, imagine a reaction where two metabolic pathways run simultaneously in opposite directions and have no overall effect other than to dissipate energy in the form of heat. It’s actually a useful phenomenon, and has the result of generating energy, perhaps to power an insect’s wings or to keep a bear warm during hibernation. Bureaucracy is a bit like that: lots of activity but not much to show for it apart from hot air. Does it serve a purpose? You betcha. Jobs and growth, mostly. At a time when the rest of the world is building seawalls and preparing for more-frequent extreme coastal storm surge events, why the heck are we digging a big hole on a narrow sandspit – the only way in and out of the South Arm peninsula – without the blessing of a sea level rise expert? Sadly the answer is clear to me now. It’s somebody else’s problem …

• William Boeder in Comments: Bravo Bruce Ransley …

• Denis Cartledge in Comments: Great article.  This would appear to be along the lines of what Fisheries people are experiencing worldwide. I suspect the wrong people are being targetted.  If you want action (slightly) quicker than State and Local Government, try alerting the real estate trade.  They are the ones who do have something to lose - their commissions, when land in Opossum Bay slumps due to its untimely inaccessibility.;-)

• Duncan Mills in Comments: Great and valuable case study of systemic failure. Be interesting to take it further to risk and economic analysis. South Arm residents and their insurers might be interested. The council once notified of the risk, becomes legally obliged to act to mitigate the risk, otherwise they (and the state) may become legally liable for compensation to all who suffer loss. A letter to the Insurance Council of Australia with cost/risk estimates might get useful traction. This is the paradigm governments/ treasurers comprehend ... their only way to understand complexity.

• Di Elliffe in Comments: Brilliant case study of systemic failure in natural resource management in Tasmania - well probably this could apply in many places. Everyone ticking the boxes and no-one asking the hard questions or making the tough decisions.

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15 comments

The Worthiness of Trees – Reflections from an Activist

Ted Mead* First published August 6
21.08.16 5:05 am

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Even in this modern era there are still cultures that continue to dwell in the world of trees. Forest people can teach us more about harmony with the earth than the most learned of scholars. In our predominantly urban society we have adopted a different connection to the primeval land, as we presently seem to rely on some form of familiarity to grasp and absorb the essence of forest values into our lives.

• Pete Godfrey in Comments: Thanks Ted, lovely photos and words. Sometimes we as a race seem to forget that we are spiritual beings experiencing physical realities. We have lost ourselves in thinking and doing, instead of just being. The beautiful forests such as the Tarkine give us a place to be Human Beings, rather than Human Doings.

• Peter Adams in Comments: Beautiful writing Ted. Straight from the heart. Thank you for all your actions over the years to help the public comprehend the importance of our forests. HERE’S a Ted Talk that confirms, through science, what you intuitively know.

• Duncan Mills in Comments: Beautiful and so so true Ted. I now reside at your erstwhile abode, as you may or not recall. I can stand under it’s soaring Blue Gums, above the Huon Estuary, looking to the East into a wall of trunks: Feeling physically, a rain of peace and serenity, drenching me from head to toe.  I have experienced what passes for modern luxuries and pleasures, but assimilating such tall vibrant forests, trancends them all. I grieve for all who cannot feel these things, they will leave this place having failed to know life. I also grieve for all that suffers because of decisions made by others who will never know these things and who of choice choose not to know.

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7 comments

Tolputt Triumphant

Leo Schofield* Pic: of Nicholas Tolputt
19.08.16 5:30 am

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It was a sunny Sunday in summer 2013. I was spending the weekend with friends in Launceston and popped into the Queen Victoria Museum to view the collection. On the way out I stopped to buy a couple of postcards and as I was paying I noticed a modest flyer on the desk announcing a concert by a local countertenor. There was a photograph too of a young man who resembled Daniel Radclife in the Harry Potter movies, earnest, nerdy and with those thin-rimmed round spectacles that suggest scholarly intensity.  His name was Nicholas Tolputt, a Launceston lad …

• Estelle Ross in Comments: I have seen several of Nick’s concerts, he has a fantastic voice and is also a very charming young man. What a great opportunity he now has to study overseas with Andreas Scholl ...

• Susie Clarke in Comments: Thank you Leo for writing such a great article about young Nicholas Tolputt. Yes, it was in July three years ago when we ( Don Wing, retired MLA, Kerry Finch, member for Roseveares, Di Bucknell, Kerry’s assistant ( now retired) and me, Susie Clarke) put on a concert for young Nic at Holy Trinity Concert! I knew Nic for several years and he was then a baritone and enjoyed playing major roles with Encore at Launceston’s Princess Theatre. It was his brilliant singing teacher Benjamin Martin who suggested he should try changing from being a baritone to counter tenor, and he was 100% right! I was so pleased to greet you at the door of Holy Trinity church that July evening 2013. Things certainly have changed for our young Nicholas since then! Thank you Leo for your continued support and encouragement for Nic …

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UNLESS ... the giant freshwater lobster will disappear from the planet forever ...

Dr Rosalie Woodruff*, Senator Janet Rice* Pic* First published August 11
19.08.16 5:15 am

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RE: Public comment on the draft national recovery plan for Giant Freshwater Lobster (Astacopsis gouldi) The Federal Government has recently closed a public consultation about the draft Recovery Plan for the Giant Freshwater Lobster (Astacopsis gouldi). This is the last roll of the dice for this lobster.  It is found only within the small coastal strip on the North East and North West of Tasmania.

• Pete Godfrey in Comments: It seems that we have had a Draft recovery plan for the lobsters forever. Surely someone within government will have the spine to actually do something soon. 50 metre buffers on class 4 streams are a good step, then they will have to look at other major sources of silt. Eg Roading. There needs also to be a ban on logging on sensitive Karst areas. I have photos of the Lobster Rivulet and the Honeycomb caves running with mud rather than water after two logging actions on Karst areas above them. Like the Bees the Astacopsis are a sign that things are not well. We need our rivers and streams to be pristine. We need to replant riparian vegetation on lowlands also to prevent the rivers silting up and to keep large stock out of the water.

• Andrew Ricketts in Comments: The ridiculous and unsustainable Forestry stream classification system and prescriptions have been imported into the Draft State Planning Provisions. They have no basis in science. The adequate and responsible management of threatened species continues to evade Tasmania. Warriner’s (#7) comments over who should pay are worthy of detailed discussion. In truth we all have a responsibility, including the public purse. For too long Tasmania has hidden behind this inexcusable excuse, while allowing irreplaceable natural assets to continue to go down the gurgler … It is far worse than post 17 suggests …

• John Hawkins, Comment 50 …

• Claire Gilmour in Comments: … Who knows where they go in droughts, fires, floods? I do! Who has followed them in such scenarios? I have! Have you ever seen dozens of astacopsis gouldi walking down a creek going back to their homes after a drought or fire? I have. Have you ever seen them hide in high floods and come up in low floods? I have …

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72 comments

Postcard from Hua Hin ... Letters to my grandchildren (19)

Anton Clever*
19.08.16 5:15 am

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Hua Hin, Thailand.  A beautiful beachside town, formerly predominantly a fishing village but now one that relies heavily on tourism.  A destination for many looking to escape the onset of the northern hemisphere autumn and winter.  Having visited the King’s town for many weeks over the last decade it has become noticeable that more Australians also visit each year.  Roughly three hours drive south of the nation’s capital it is also a popular destination for Bangkok residents escaping the city crush on weekends, especially long weekends …

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Editor's Choice

Editor's Choice

Can secret political donations be justified?

Media

Media

Centenary of National Parks Highlights Failures of Minister

Celebrating 100 years of National Park success ...

The dysfunction of offshore detention on Nauru

Spring fuel reduction program begins

Court confirms Tarkine National Coalition entitled to reasons for grant of mining leases

Save the Tarkine Decision Welcome

ASC Fish Farm Stamp of Approval Flawed

Call for more consultation on ‘radical’ & ‘damaging’ Tas Gov hate-speech amendments

Call for Labor/Crossbench to follow Greens’ lead in voting against Plebiscite

Parents praise Greens’ vow to block Plebiscite

Arts

Arts

Burnie, Launceston, Hobart: Entertaining Elton 

Books

Books

Wildcare Tasmania Nature Writing Prize: Winner Announced ... 

Plate/Grape

Plate/Grape

Tasting Tasmania ... 

Travel

Travel

PNG: Visa on arrival for Australians! 

What's On

What's On

Burnie, Launceston, Hobart: Entertaining Elton 

Satire

Cartoons

Anh’s Brush with Fame 

Comments

Comments

Does anyone else find it strange. The politicians decide that it is a good idea, and whammo out comes a flaky report saying…

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TROVE at National Library

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