Articles

The sparrows ...

Philip Lynch* Pic: Brian Rogers, Flickr
18.09.16 5:15 am

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Like the quolls living under our house, the sparrows had to go. They were starting up before dawn, while we were still asleep, and well before our rooster had even stirred in the chook house. Their chirping and frenzied activity under our eave was driving me to despair …

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Writers | Philip Lynch | Economy | Opinion | Personal | Society

How low can Huon’s council go?

Bob Hawkins* Pic: Cr Mike Wilson, Mayor Peter Coad and General Manager Simone Watson
14.09.16 4:30 pm

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Huon Valley Guessing Games The bad news from the Deep South is that the secretive Huon Valley Council has sunk to even deeper depths of contempt for the people who own it. …

Mercury: Peter Gutwein calls for Huon Mayor to resign in the interests of Huon Valley community

Rosalie Woodruff (former HVC councillor: Gutwein Ignores Board of Inquiry, Sets Up Huon Valley Mayor

Saturday Mercury: Fresh elections best way for Huon, governance expert says

Rosalie Woodruff: Huon Valley Council Mediation Fruitless, Fresh Elections Needed

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Writers | Bob Hawkins | Politics | Local | State | Economy | Environment | Editor's Choice | Opinion | History | Planning/Heritage | Media | Personal | Society

Shooting the messenger … a subjective analysis of a new millennium Tasmanian inquest

Paul Tapp* First published September 9. Main pic: Lucille Butterworth
13.09.16 5:30 am

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As with the Gilewicz Commission of Inquiry, the Butterworth Inquest to me was flawed. But who cares when it happens in this State? Who cares for my opinion? It’s been happening for aeons … everywhere and in all institutions …

… But the main media stayed away from it. To acknowledge a retired award-winning investigative journo and an online paper as the Tasmanian Times as the source of the breakthrough might be just too much for the modern Fourth Estate to acknowledge …

… He would later describe what he found to university specialists in human anatomy and they confirmed that indeed Don Hazell had held in his hands, the rib-cage of a human being. But whose? It’s why Don came to me with his story. Ageing and conscious-ridden, he wanted to get it off his chest. But, why me? Why not the media? He had read my postings onto the Tasmanian Times and saw the Buckland Tapp-Hanuszewicz-Lesage interview on YouTube …

… Nothing else needs to be said … except a burning question on my mind. What or who made Lance Lesage change his story? Why has the man the Coroner named to me as disposing of Lucille’s body not been part of the inquest process? Why has the man the Coroner will name as Lucille’s murderer, not been charged? Dare I proffer a reasonable guess? There’s not enough evidence to convict him? And at 80 years of age, he won’t be about for much longer and the truth will die with him. Well at least the finding removes the Lucille mystery from the conscience of those entrusted to preserve the integrity of pristine jurisprudence and due process. The whitewash machinery has done its job …

• Barry Reynolds in Comments: I’m fed up with the claim that Lucille Butterworth is the oldest “unsolved” disappearance. My uncle disappeared in 1965 near Lake Sorell. Not a word from the Media or anyone else about that. It went back to the Coroner’s court about 3 years ago to get it off the books and in their wisdom decreed that he’d wandered off into the bush and perished. This was a bloke who grew up in the bush and a WWII vet but because of the reputation he had, which was fairly deserved by all accounts ... not a mention anywhere. To make matters worse the police had a very strong suspicion who the culprit was but could never prove it. I feel for Miss Butterworth’s family as my father, uncles and aunts went through the same thing and the surviving family members still do. The story needs telling certainly and people brought to book. The big difference between Miss Butterworth and my uncle is that some of the main protagonists are still around ... where in the case of my uncle they are not. I hope for her family’s sake there can be some closure ... where in our case there won’t be.

• Simon Warriner in Comments: There is a lesson in all this. Especially when it is taken in concert with the case John Hayward wrote about earlier this year ... ( HERE ). Governor Underwood was right in what he told the assembled students at Yolla School, that justice and the rule of law only ever prevails while the legal system and the courts have our respect. Mr Simon Cooper might well ponder what contribution his performance as described has made to respect for the “system”.

• Pete Godfrey in Comments: Hi Paul, well it really sounds like someone is being protected very well to me. And it is not you. How disappointing to have so much evidence just ignored. As you say it seems to be the way things are done here. I went to an RPDC tribunal once to assist some folk in a planning matter. The whole thing was a farce that appeared to be set up to back the newly-made Protection of Agricultural Land Policy …

• Paul Tapp in Comments: Comments are appreciated. I expected to be treated with a bit more respect but as I told SC assisting that Lesage’s unchecked false testimony would make for an interesting chapter in my book on the Lucille mystery. But without becoming too cynical about the quality of jurisprudence in this State, I was urged by many to at least put my treatment on record. Not just as an insight into how we who dare, fare at the coal-front of probity are treated but to acknowledge the courage of practitioners as Caroline Graves who readily came to my assistance. My view now is that such a hearing should never have been before a coroner, given the enormity of logistics required to hear accounts from witnesses from such a diverse demographic. But its early days and I would like to think that Madame Jurisprudence might be doing some probing of her own to ensure that witnesses should not be so intimidated by an antediluvian yes/no system to a point where they simply won’t come forward …

• Isla MacGregor in Comments: Paul, your battle with the corrupted adversarial legal system in Tasmania sends a big message to the Tasmanian community - that the adversarial legal system has gone past its use by date and we must implement the truth seeking European inquisitorial system of justice in Australia. You are not alone Paul - there are many in Tasmania who stand shoulder to shoulder with you yet.

• Lynne Newington in Comments: From a distance, something wonderful going on here. Strong men standing for men whose allegiance isn’t to a political or religious body.

• lola moth in Comments: … It is sometimes difficult to do the right thing when it comes to our justice system. Sometimes we are made out to be the bad guy when all we are trying to do is help. When the people we thought were on the same side as us turn around and bite us we hurt all the more from the sense of betrayal. Just remember Paul, that the only person who is right behind you all the way is Lucille and she appreciates everything you have ever done for her in this case.

• Paul Tapp in Comments: … Pete Donnelly had gone to my ‘funeral’ (a namesake) and drove on with a friend from SBS to my home in Orford, when he knew I was still in the land of the living. Must admit we laughed a lot. But he did tell me all my material, award-winning footage, stories and the high-profile coverage of events in my tenure as cop reporter at Aunty had been removed from ABC archives. Sadly and ironically at the same time as I was tangling with the Butterworth inquest, Pete died and I didn’t get to see him off …

• TT has finally been able to locate a picture of Coroner Simon Cooper ... It’s in this ABC story, A Timeline of Key Events, HERE

• Paul Tapp in Comments: … A debate must include the fact that my information, readily made to the coroner seems to have been purposely denied him. If so, the implications are John Haywood, that the renovators were hard at work so that all the simple-minded taxpayers who unwittingly support the largesses of our subjective justice system can simply watch the footy and the reality TV shows and the no-news news without much time to think about anything else. And that’s exactly what the renovators want.

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Writers | Paul Tapp | Politics | Local | National | State | Economy | Environment | Editor's Choice | Opinion | History | Legal | Personal | Science | Society

Handouts to transnationals while hospitals in crisis ...

Isla MacGregor* First published September 13
13.09.16 5:15 am

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Premier Hodgman’s recent offer of $25 million to Vedanta’s Copper Mines of Tasmania adds to the growing list of unethical transnational companies that Tasmanian Governments want to subsidise …

While patient waiting lists in Tasmanian hospitals are blowing out and some Tasmanians are dying because of the crisis in health services, Premier Hodgman is handing out money to Vedanta, a multi billion dollar transnational company which is at the centre of a global human rights campaign to have it delisted from the London Stock Exchange because of human rights abuses and poisoning of thousands of people, land and waterways …

• Pete Godfrey in Comments: Gifting public money to mining companies seems to be a perennial game. Especially in Tasmania where the gifts are usually used to help failing companies close down and leave. Surely it would be much cheaper if the Government just bought them out and reopened the mines as State run operations.

• Isla MacGregor in Comments: #17 The tragic consequences of self regulation and regulatory capture. I was in Rosebery in May 2009 and witnessed a serious tailings spill into the Stitt River.  I watched as an MMG Environmental Officer took samples from both sides of the Stitt - one side was heavily polluted from the tailings entering the Stitt from Rosebery Creek and the other side was much clearer.  The entire waterfall below was covered in a thick grey paste and the river just a grey soup. I do not wonder which set of data was submitted to the EPA. As has happened with other mines that have had pollution events, MMG Rosebery was not fined for this event - in one case I read in the EPA Annual Report the reason for no fine was ‘not in the public interest’. The Tasmanian community are justified in demanding a return to effective government regulation of mine activities in this state. Without proper enforcement of mine licence agreements and environmental and human health standards some in our community are right in saying NO to any new mines in Tasmania.

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Writers | Isla MacGregor | Politics | International | Local | National | State | Economy | Environment | Opinion | History | Society

Dastyari-bashing a risky gambit for Turnbull

David Tyler* (AKA Urban Wronski*) http://urbanwronski.com/ . Pic: of Sam Dastyari. First pub: Sept 12
13.09.16 5:00 am

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… Abbott should spare us his own panic attack at increasing relevance deprivation. Retire. Spare us his hypocrisy. Many of his own calls, such as his plebiscite on gay marriage were equally desperate and just as cynical a delaying tactic as his PM’s Royal Commission. Is Shorten’s mob paying Junkyard to stay on just to cruel Turnbull’s faint hopes of success? Abbott does not revisit marriage equality this week, preferring instead to re-heat an IPA leftover. The government should be “very careful” he says about making retrospective superannuation changes. Very careful. Junkyard has no hope, however, of upstaging Dastyari who is in the limelight for all the wrong reasons. Sam puts on a shocker of a show of public confession and contrition, “What I did was within the rules but it was wrong,” he says as if somehow he can still bet each way on his own culpability …

Senator Sam Dastyari or Dasher, as he is to his NSW Right pals, (Nifty was already taken) is the new anti-Christ according to Murdoch papers which have him in bed with communists. “Dastyari’s donor has party cell” thunders The Australian. Leigh Sales savages him. It’s not so much that he took Chinese money, a practice unknown to Liberal MPs, but that he spruiked Chinese policy. He must be hung, drawn and quartered. And burnt in effigy …

Yuhu group companies made $500,000 in political donations including $100,000 to Andrew Robb’s Bayside Forum a fund-raising entity the day the trade deal was signed. But this is quite a different matter says the Liberal-News Corp-ABC affiliated slayers of Sam and no defence at all of his conduct. Nor does it matter that the PM himself was a keen comprador for a Chinese firm with equally inescapable links to the Chinese government …

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Regulars | Urban Wronksi | Politics | National | Economy | Opinion | History | Legal | Society

Restoring the numbers to Parliament ...

Cassy O’Connor MP | Greens Leader . Pic: of Cassy O'Connor from the Greens' website
13.09.16 4:29 am

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State Conference Opening Address … On behalf of the Greens, I’d like to personally commend the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry for coming out yesterday in support of a restoration of the numbers in Parliament. …

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Politics | State | Economy | Environment | Opinion | History | Planning/Heritage | Personal | Society

Farewell Soulmate

Geraldine de Burgh-Day
13.09.16 4:00 am

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Dear All, Today I lost my soulmate of 33 years.  At 10.40 pm tonight ( July 29 ) my dearest Paul passed away.

• Geraldine in Comments: Thankyou Pete. The coffin was cardboard, and was supplied by the only “eco funeral” people our daughter Catherine could find in Tassie , Serenity funerals.  It was Paul’s wish to return to the forest that provided the poles for our home, and give the forest something back.  No chemicals, everything biodegradable.  Friends here insisted on digging and preparing his grave.  It was a beautiful way to say goodbye to him. Love to you all, Geraldine

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Tribute

The Goose and the Gander ... Dastyari and Harriss

John Hawkins*, Chudleigh. Pic*
11.09.16 5:45 am

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… Why has the owner of the Mercury not pursued Harriss with the same relentless vigour as shown by the Australian in its pursuit of Dastyari? I raised the matter of Harriss and Ta Ann in my history of forestry in Tasmania as tabled by Andrew Wilkie in the House of Representatives and again here on TT: HERE: Forestry Tasmania, Andrew Wilkie MP and the tabled document ... Not a squeak out of the ever-compliant Mercury. …

• Bob Hawkins in Comments: Thanks John. I was still almost young when I realised that there are none so blind as those that are paid not to see. Early in my years in Asia and the Pacific, I discovered how a handful of dollars here and a handful of dollars there can bring on instant blindness (and, of course, onset of I-don’t-recall syndrome). Australians in Asia were in my days (maybe still are) notorious for their capacity to pay a bribe or take one. I had to smile recently when an elderly Third World “statesman” from a forest- and mineral-ravaged nation protested that he was clean as a whistle, and always had been. Malaysians (and not just them alone) have been actively corrupting Asia-Pacific politicians since way back to the 1960s. It’s everywhere, John, it’s everywhere.

• Trish Kyne in Comments: The musings surrounding the lack of investment, along with the ongoing difficulty in attracting viable businesses to Tasmania as a whole, and the Huon Valley in particular, can be laid squarely at the door of the closed shop attitude of the puppet masters. Underlining this in small communities are the faceless financial contributors that engineer the exclusive money making deals, which ultimately line their own pockets; while the community they espouse to support trail further and further behind. Newspapers appear happy to publish the most amazing claims by ‘large employers’ in the state, without doing due diligence in following up those stories by looking under rocks for the truth. Likewise, the papers rarely publish letters from the public that point out the flaws in said stories. Tasmania needs independent watchdogs across the board that actually have the power to do their designated job. Maybe an anti-corruption Crime Commission with the power to investigate, prosecute and oust the bad guys. Quiet retirements don’t deliver change.

… John Hayward in Comments: While no one could accuse Rupert of being politically non-partisan, he has generally recognised that the Tas LibLabs are true neoliberals in their devotion to kleptocracy. If Harriss seemed to have a stash of get-out-of jail-free cards,  what about the Labor lads immersed in pulp mills, land swaps, fox hunts, and sweetheart sales of public assets? Not much thunder heard from Mercury. Sam should have set up shop here, a renowned blind spot for ethical radar.

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Writers | John Hawkins | Politics | International | Local | National | State | Forestry | Gunns | Economy | Environment | Editor's Choice | Opinion | History | Legal | Personal | Society

UTAS: Conceit and deceit

Dr Michael Powell* Pic*
10.09.16 5:30 am

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… This kind of pious prattle is common UTAS rhetoric, cloaking failure in the Emperors’ raiment. The shift to on-line and other delivery is aimed simply at staff reduction and cost containment and is nothing more noble than that. To suggest that drop-outs are a by-product of a ‘social mission’ aimed at those of lower socio-economic backgrounds is a cruel deceit. Further scrutiny reveals that the shift to online and other delivery is more pronounced in the North and North-West where staff reductions have led to plummeting enrolments as well as higher attrition rates …

• lola moth in Comments: Having recently retired, I was looking forward to doing some adult education courses which I never found time for whilst working. I soon discovered that not only were there very few courses on offer but that nearly all of them were online. If I want to learn about a subject to pass a written test then online learning is ok but if I want a clear understanding of the subject I need the inter-action of not only a teacher but of other students as well. For me, the classroom environment is just as important as the text book. If I had to start my education again now by sitting in front of a screen in my PJ’s and drinking tea all day, I would most likely be classed as special needs and unteachable.

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Politics | International | Local | National | State | Economy | Education | Opinion | History | Society

The Sixth Global Extinction – We are Now Entering it ...

Ted Mead* All images: Ted Mead. First published September 8
09.09.16 6:00 am

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Extinction is Forever ... History shows us that over millions of years the world has been through several eras of mass extinction where countless plants and animals have vanished forever …

We have now entered the 21st century in an alarming and disturbing manner as much of life on Earth is under siege from the careless and ignorant impacts of modern society. In our blatant disregard for all living creatures, humans over the past few centuries have essentially flailed a wrecking ball across virtually all parts of the planet’s biosphere by fouling the land, water and atmosphere through our insatiable desire to cultivate the soil, and consume or exploit where possible its finite resources …

• Greg James in Comments: Jack, the first practical attempt at containment must be the reduction of the human population and thus reduce the effects of our ‘footprint’. Without that start and then a simplification of the remaining humans needs there is only catastrophe waiting. Moral questions and production need to change, are we entitled to pets that survive on a high protein diet, which in turn is emptying the oceans? Do we just carry on and hope that if we do not change our behaviour and needs, then it’s ok to indulge in the death of many species. The dissonance we have from the effects and demands of seven billion people on the water supply and the waste they produce is inevitably catastrophic. A utopian world with little effect on human nature is about 200 million people according to the UN. That requires the death of 97% of the population and their pets.

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Writers | Ted Mead | Politics | International | Local | National | New Zealand | State | Forestry | Gunns | Economy | Environment | Editor's Choice | Opinion | History | Planning/Heritage | Personal | Science | Society

Long, dark and handsome

Bob Mesibov* First published September 5
07.09.16 5:30 pm

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If you looked at the image above and said “Eeeeuggh!”, maybe you need to have a quiet chat with yourself about the Tasmanian fauna.

• Ted Mead in Comments: Thanks Bob – An informative article about these cute critters that most people take for granted. Insofar as invertebrates go there is an entire kingdom waiting to be discovered on the forest floor. All the more reason why the clearfell and burn regime is an appalling way to manage our forests. Unearthing the soil and burning every bit of humus that exists has a devastating effect on the complex biota of what’s happening beneath our feet.

• Bob Mesibov in Comments: … How does this sound?: “What I don’t understand is that there are scientists/entomologists who adore, and are fascinated by the invertebrate world, yet they still justify the farmer’s position of superfluously destroying millions of these creatures paddock after paddock, creek after creek”  … My wife and I arrived in Tasmania in the early 1970s, and we can remember seeing bush alongside many roads where there are now vast paddocks. In forestry areas I can still, today, collect the bugs in regrowth that I collected in oldgrowth 40 years ago. I can’t do that in the paddocks. The bugs that were there 40 years ago are gone.

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Economy | Environment | Opinion | Personal | Society

Nellie the Elephant ...

John Hawkins*, Chudleigh
07.09.16 5:15 pm

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I write this as a comment and a reply to an article by John Connelly in the last Weekend Australian regarding Nellie the Elephant ... as created by British inventor Frank Stuart.

• Larry Gavette, Michigan, in Comments: Just a minor correction or two to the previous comment.  The Wendell/Jumbo elephant recently sold was not the elephant he references although they are brother/sister/siblings with Frank Stuart as originator.  I used to own Jumbo, and have seen the Nellie mentioned, both in England in 1980 as well as here in Michigan where it resides since arriving in Pennsylvania in the mid ‘90’s I believe.  The two machines, Nellie being an earlier model based on the changes between their mechanics, were together last year at the auction at which Wendell was sold this year, the owners of Nellie having taken their pet for a ride so that two machines could be in the same place for the first time ever.  (I have been fortunate to have been on three of the four existing models, and videod the electric version as well).  The Hawkins elephant resides in Michigan yet as far as I know, but I am unsure as to who the new owner of Wendell/Jumbo is…yet.  The last working model gas powered elephant is in Adelaide, used yearly in the Christmas Pageant (can be seen on youtube )  Julianne, the owner, is the daughter of the man who saved Nellie after John Martin department stores stopped using her in parades.  I thank you for the continued interest in the elephants, a subject I have been researching since 1979, and thank you for crediting cyberneticzoo.com on your site. Reuben Hogget, the site developer passed away in April, but like the elephants the information he collected, collated, and shared, remains for others to enjoy and be amazed at. 

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Writers | John Hawkins | Politics | International | Local | National | State | Personal | Society

Not only Winners are Grinners ...

Hans Willink*. Pic: of Hans Willink
07.09.16 5:00 pm

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Candidates that lose elections frequently disappear from public view but not so Dr James Jansson, leader of the Science Party …

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Writers | Hans Willink | Politics | International | Local | National | State | Blogging | Economy | Opinion | Personal | Society

Tell Murdoch’s Wormtongues to Tell the Truth about Turnbull

Norm Vanderfeen* Pic: of Sam Dastyari, from the Parliamentary website ...
07.09.16 3:07 pm

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There have only been four political leaders in Australia’s history who have stood up to money and power. The first politician to get out of line with the City and Wall St was Ben Chifley (Labor) in 1948 when he wanted to nationalise the Banks. The Banks became hysterical, financed Menzies and kept him in power for two decades.

• Davies in Comments: A whole new level of crazy here.  But you are welcome to your opinion.  I am interested to see if this opinion of yours is based upon the bedrock of principles or you just hate anyone not extremely left wing. So the theme in the article is the anti-establishment candidate gets shafted when they take on the establishment, with the banks playing an integral role …

Guardian: Sam Dastyari resigns from Labor frontbench over donations row

Fairfax: It’s not Chinese whispers: the mouthpiece through which Sam Dastyari reached millions

• Peter Bright in Comments: Succinctly said Norm, and thankyou for those deep insights. So it’s just as I have come to believe ... Australia is not being governed by Australians for Australians and for the integrity of the nation as a whole. That’s betrayal, and yes Norm, I believe Liberal’s treason has become so entrenched that it’s now seen as normal.

• phill Parsons in Comments: The evidence is clear, those born to rule are reluctant to let anyone else play in the money pit. That said Dastyari took the money and his position on the 9 dash line [the rocks in the South China Sea] became unclear. He was unable to clarify it or tell us what position[s] he has taken. Clearly the problem is money. In this case the way political parties receive donations. Turnbull and Morrison can now try a continuation of distraction but the issue of who donates, how much and to whom cannot be avoided. Will the Lieberals legislate to ban foreign donations or will they make up ideas that no other party or independent can support to ensure their perceived birthright?

• John Biggs in Comments: I totally agree with your lambasting of Turnbull and Libs in their relation to big money. That’s nothing to do with Dastyari’s silly meanness. I don’t like the way he was harrassed and bullied but receiving the money was dumb. My mind changed when Leigh Sales tried to get a straight answer from him—and then his appalling press conference. Labor can do better than that.

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Writers | Norm Vanderfeen | Politics | International | National | State | Economy | Environment | Opinion | Personal | Society

Coral or Coal? – Can’t Have Cake and Eat it Too ...

Ted Mead* First published September 5
07.09.16 5:28 am

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Australia’s addiction to the coal industry is killing our magnificent reefs. In an alarming statement to the world, the summer of 2016 witnessed the worst incidents of coral bleaching ever recorded. Of course many climate-change sceptics will claim that this was merely an anomaly and that the world’s ocean temperatures simply fluctuate, however the last few decades have produced an increasing occurrence of coral bleaching, which science proves it to be connected to rising sea temperatures, and the inability for our reefs to adapt to such rapid changes.

Coalwire 148, HERE: A weekly news bulletin which summarises the most significant developments affecting the global coal industry and highlights the efforts of groups around the world working on coal-related issues.

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Writers | Ted Mead | Politics | International | National | Economy | Environment | Editor's Choice | Opinion | History | Society

NATION: Turnbull loses control

David Tyler (aka Urban Wronski). Pic: of Malcolm Turnbull on Q&A First published September 5
06.09.16 6:15 am

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The jig is up by 5:00 PM Thursday. Canberra’s Liberal Party drovers, dog handlers and the capital’s baggage handlers are stunned to discover that the government’s much vaunted “strong working majority” is no majority at all when self-styled Liberal leadership contender Peter Dutton and several other MPs enact their commitment to smaller government by leaving the House of Representatives early, causing riotous disarray and ignominious defeat – followed by a frenzied volley of finger-pointing. Welcome to Calamity Turnbull’s 45th parliament of chaos and catastrophe Bored to tears, baffled by the lack of any team plan, Immigration Minister “Spud” Dutton, Justice Minister Michael “Fibs” Keenan and Social Services Minister Christian “War on the Poor” Porter and a few other battle-weary MPs, steal away from the chamber early, allowing Labor to defeat an adjournment motion and to present its full case for a Royal Commission into the banks, a hot button electoral issue which has already passed the Senate earlier that day. All is not quite as it seems. The Mouth that Roars, Christopher Pyne, has given Monkey Pod Supremo “Spud” Dutton permission to bail out early. God knows why. Presumably the human life preserver has more drownings to prevent. Or a new Manus to manufacture. Perhaps Spud’s planning a bit of urgent follow-up on the 2000 recently leaked Nauru incident reports …

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Regulars | Urban Wronksi | Politics | National | Economy | Editor's Choice | Opinion | History | Society

Australia has lost its way

Richard Flanagan* Pic* First published September 2
06.09.16 6:00 am

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‘Does Writing Matter?’ The inaugural Boisbouvier Lecture, Melbourne Writers Festival 2016 Every day we hear grim and grimmer news that suggests we are passing through the winter of the world. Everywhere man is tormented, the globe reels from multitudes of suffering and horror, and, worst, we no longer know with confidence what our answer might be. And yet we understand that the time approaches when an answer must be made or a terrible reckoning will be ours. Perhaps this is what BuzzFeed meant when it featured an article with the title ‘Ten Shitty Alternatives to Drinking Yourself to Death’ …

These figures are worth pondering. What Australia is willing to spend in one year to create a state-sponsored hell on earth for the innocent is what Australia would spend in 500 years supporting its writers. It may be worth considering as a cure for the chronic poverty of Australian writers, that in order to be 500 times more valuable to the nation than they presently are, that writers practise – instead of word processing – offshore processing, by aiding, abetting, participating in and covering up acts of rape, murder, sexual abuse, beatings, child prostitution and suicide. Writers then would have a wholly admirable case to put to government for state sponsorship and political protection. Who knows? Our prime minister might even turn up at a writers’ festival in a hi-vis jacket, a foie gras smear in jaffa icing. Would he be so moved by what he hears and sees as to put $5 in our begging bowl?  …

All around us we see words debased, misused and become the vehicles for grand lies. Words are mostly used to keep us asleep, not to wake us. Sometimes, though, writing can panic us in the same way we are sometimes panicked at the moment of waking: here is the day and here is the world and we can sleep no longer, we must rise and live within it. This writing has woken me from a slumber too long. It has panicked me. The stories are very short, what might be called in another context “flash fiction”. Except they are true stories …

• Tim Thorne in Comments: Thank you, Richard ...

• John Martinkus in Comments: “And I will say this: Australia has lost its way. All I can think is, this is not my Australia.” That is the quote from this piece. Too many journalists commentators and politicians won’t say this and have not said this since 2001 when this whole mess began with Tampa. Well done for saying it Richard …

• Claire Gilmour in Comments: OMG! How beautifully profound Richard.  I can already ‘see’ quotes of yours in the history books of the future …  A profoundly inspirational writer never dies … And their worth?  Priceless! It transcends multiples of generations …

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Writers | Richard Flanagan | Politics | International | National | State | Arts | Books | Economy | Editor's Choice | Opinion | History | Legal | Personal | Society

Petition: Stop Hillwood Clearfell

Kaylee Stafford, Launceston
06.09.16 5:15 am

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Twenty three hectares of forested land, between the East Tamar Highway and Hillwood Road, currently zoned as ‘Priority Habitat’ is subject to a clearfell proposal by the owner.

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Politics | Local | State | Economy | Environment | Opinion | History | Legal | Society

Second Earth?

Kim Peart* of Ross. Pic* First published August 31
06.09.16 5:10 am

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Though Venus is nearly the size of Earth, it’s completely different to our paradise planet. Venus has a thick atmosphere and is so hot at the surface, rocks glow in a heat that can melt lead. Unlike our beautiful Earth, Venus is hell on a rock. Over the millennia the second rock from the Sun grew in the imagination as a planet of love, but the truth revealed a lover too hot to touch. Could Venus be tamed, so mere mortals could caress new life there?

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Writers | Kim Peart | Politics | International | Economy | Opinion | Personal | Society

Kiwi Government ‘in Denial’ Over Rivers Crisis

Tony Orman* Pic*
05.09.16 5:00 am

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A warning for Tassie ... The New Zealand government is in denial over the deteriorating state of New Zealand’s water resource and rivers, says a national trout fishing organisation.

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Politics | New Zealand | Economy | Environment | Health | Opinion | Personal | Society

Jacqui ... and Cory ...

Rob Messenger for Jacqui Lambie, Independent Senator for Tasmania
02.09.16 8:00 am

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AAP through Mercury: Senator Cory Bernadi behaving ‘like an angry prostitute’, says Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie …  “Before I receive unfair criticism from the sex workers, I apologise to them profusely for comparing them to Senator Bernardi — I know that is a really terrible low-down thing to do,” she told parliament today. “Prostitutes are far more honest, sincere, humane, compassionate and better bang for buck than Senator Bernardi will ever be able to deliver.”…

• Luigi Brown in Comments: What we are seeing in Canberra at the moment is the result of Malcolm Turnbull’s desire to step away from the 24 hour media cycle.  He is notably absent from the trivial day-to-day nonsense that obsesses our mainstream TV and print media.  And good luck to him on that. But while it’s all quiet on the Malcolm front, the media must still be fed.  So Cory Bernardi has stepped into the vacuum and is now the de facto Liberal Party spokesman on just about everything.  And storm-in-a-teacup events - like Sam Dastyari getting his bills paid by the Chinese - drag on and on when they should just roll over and die in a day or two …

• Jack J in Comments: Mr Bernardi is a rower. So a good portion of his life has been spent with his back to the direction in which he travels, forbidden to turn around and look where he is going. Despite this he has tenaciously pulled at his oar with blind faith in his cox to set the course and yell instructions. He is a devoutly religious man and the church expects similar blind faith. One can truly say that Mr Bernardi is a man of remarkable consistency.

• Richard Kopf in Comments: So Sam overspent his allowances. Getting gratuities from the Chinese is a bad thing it seems. Yet on every trade mission, or junket our pollies go on, in China or elsewhere, we see them in great banquet halls gorging themselves or touring around in limousines. Do the hosts pass the hat around after these occasions?

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Politics | National | Economy | Opinion | Legal | Society

HVC’s $54,000 BoI defence is still under wraps

Bob Hawkins* Pic: Simone Watson, Peter Gutwein, Peter Coad. First pub: August 30
02.09.16 4:40 am

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Huon Valley Guessing Games If the “dysfunctional” council down here in the Huon wishes to win back electorate respect it may once have enjoyed, it should, at Wednesday’s (August 31) ordinary meeting, unanimously vote to debate in “open council” an issue its general manager has decided should be heard in “closed council” …

Isn’t Telopea Pty Ltd the company of Dennis Bewsher, the man whose application, a couple of years back, to impose a huge barge operation at Surges Point ended in failure; and cost HVC huge, unnecessary, amounts of money as its management spent weeks, maybe months, trying to justify (unsuccessfully) why that application should succeed? I wonder if Mr Bewsher is still considering using huge barges (which council then did not have the authority to adjudicate on, and now knows for sure that it hasn’t) and a double-handling system for export cargoes — from land-to-barge and then from barge-to-seagoing vessel …

• Ed: Mr Bewsher, as is Ms Watson, are always welcome to put their side of the story ...

• Bob Hawkins in Comments: HVC hugely dysfunctional again last night (Wednesday). Re the petition item placed in “closed” council by management: it stayed there, the eight-councillor meeting splitting 4-4 on a “procedural motion” (no debate) by Mackintosh to bring it into open council. (There was very strange behaviour by one councillor on this vote — too difficult to explain in a few words. Maybe in a later article.) Having been kept in closed council, one can only assume that, if the council’s responses to the BoI are not released, the petition was thrown out. That $54,000 is looking, to this ratepayer, more like questionable use of the public purse …

Geoffrey Swan in Comments: As a interested Ratepayer attending Council yet again this week, I am left in do doubt we have before us what the BOI has aptly described as a Dysfunctional Council. Simple Definition of dysfunction: “the condition of having poor and unhealthy behaviours and attitudes within a group of people”. I attempted to contact Director Local Government Mr Phillip Hoysted yesterday only to be advised he has taken early retirement and former Deputy Greg Brown is now acting in that role. Here’s hoping the Acting DLG will see the farcical situation for what it truly is and convince Minister Gutwein to move sooner rather than later. After all..  this is our Ratepayers’ money being wasted on all matter of things at this time. Why should our Community have to put up with this charade any longer ...

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Writers | Bob Hawkins | Politics | Local | State | Economy | Environment | Editor's Choice | Opinion | History | Planning/Heritage | Legal | Society

First Day ... of Spring!

Pics: Isla MacGregor, Giles Hugo
01.09.16 4:45 am

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Tassie Times celebrates the First Day of The Month ...

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Writers | Isla MacGregor | Environment | Society

Burning down the Aboriginal bark hut at the Tarremah Steiner school ...

Anthony King, Facebook
01.09.16 4:37 am

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PLEASE SHARE. To the person or persons responsible for burning down the Aboriginal bark hut at the Tarremah Steiner school in Huntingfield last night (30 August).

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Politics | Local | State | Education | Opinion | Legal | Society

Erich ... and 18C ...

John Hawkins, Chudleigh. Pic: of Senator Eric Abetz from his website
01.09.16 4:30 am

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Senator Erich Abetz - in the interests of destabilising the Liberal Turnbull government - is out to remove the words ‘offend’ and ‘insult’ from Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act of 1975.

Fairfax: Eric Abetz suggests tough 18c questions from broadcaster Fran Kelly could ‘insult and offend’

• Phil Lohrey in Comments: Ironic that white Anglo-Saxon males have the most trouble with being restrained from offending and insulting people different from them. Can’t remember Abetz, Bernardi or Brandis being concerned about free speech in relation to ‘border security’ on Nauru or Manus Island - or in relation to any other matter than hate speech for that matter.

• Cameron Hindrum in Comments: Not strictly related to this thread but I heard a very interesting rumour tonight and thought I’d share; apparently Erica would prefer that the Premier of Tasmania should be someone other than Will Hodgman, and that the someone other he would prefer it to be is Michael Ferguson. With Elise Archer as deputy. You heard it here first, folks. Unless you didn’t.

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Writers | John Hawkins | Politics | International | National | State | Economy | Opinion | History | Legal | Personal | Society

Before I saw the light ...

Charles Wooley* Pic: Charles Wooley of a Scottish valley ... First published: August 29
31.08.16 4:45 am

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Before I saw the light, it always amazed me how the folk at Forestry Tasmania and their many compliant friends in Parliament, their social media supporters and those who write splenetic letters to the editor denouncing so called ‘tree hugging greenies’ could be so certain they alone were right. Was their conviction just an act of faith given the scant science and the dubious economics of forest residues?

• Ted Mead in Comments: Yes Charles - a good tongue in cheek approach - The problem with your article is that many in Tas would take your epiphany as a devout Forester now, and are probably looking to enlist you as a FT clear-cut ambassador to all things draconian. Fortunately for me I introduced you to these forest giants in the Styx when we did that 60 mins take so I at least know where you’re coming from, whilst many others are probably scratching their heads with disbelief.

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Writers | Charles Wooley | Politics | Local | State | Forestry | Gunns | Economy | Environment | Editor's Choice | Opinion | History | Personal | Satire | Society

NATION: Scott Morrison’s War on the Poor ...

David Tyler* (AKA Urban Wronski*) http://urbanwronski.com/ . Pic* First pub: August 29
31.08.16 4:30 am

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… Blowing a billion a year on offshore detention is OK? Morrison’s $55 million Cambodian Solution resettled four refugees, but has now dwindled to one. Not a word about any of this. It’s not our banks or mining corporations. Nor is it the mega-rich whom we subsidise with tax cuts or those billionaire bludgers who pay no tax at all. And it’s certainly not the $14 billion per year of unfunded company tax cuts his government is determined to put through. It’s the bludgers on welfare who are the problem. Welfare recipients, nearly half of whom are aged pensioners, are second class citizens and if not he’ll do his best to make it so. A “great divide”, he adds helpfully, comes between us. Overlooking the GST paid by all of us and ignoring government data reflecting a long-term trend away from welfare support, Morrison breaks the nation into two: the taxed and the taxed-not. If you’re not paying income tax you’re a worthless, shameful failure …

• Bob Hawkins in Comments: As a former Australian Government official child abuser and human-rights violator, Scott Morrison, like his immigration minister successor Peter Dutton, is an experienced exploiter of other people’s misery. I pity the poor, the meek, the vulnerable, the disinherited, the sick . . . should they ever, mistakenly, knock on the Treasurer’s door and ask for help of any kind. Morrison, Dutton, Turnbull, and immigration ministers and PMs before them back to the middle-1990s — all perpetrators of policies that bring great shame on a nation that actually was beginning to look quite morally respectable. Well, it did appear that way until apartheid crashed in South Africa. Then we were exposed for what we are: a nation that, by the evidence of polls, doesn’t, in the majority, give a damn for anyone who is out of sight and out of mind.

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Regulars | Urban Wronksi | Politics | National | Economy | Environment | Editor's Choice | Opinion | History | Personal | Society

Birth of baby Gibbon represents landmark conservation victory

Natalie Kyriacou: Public Relations Manager, For the Animals, Rebecca Tilbrook: Founder, For the Animals
31.08.16 4:00 am

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Politics | International | Economy | Environment | Society

Tasmanian Whistleblower tells all in explosive new book ...

Isla MacGregor* First published August 28
29.08.16 5:00 am

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... One Flew Over the Kookaburra’s Nest For the first time in Tasmania we will read the full account of Kevin Moylan’s story, one of the state’s high profile whistleblowers from the 1990’s.

• Isla MacGregor in Comments: Kevin’s stories of the multiple rapes of women held in mental health institutions perpetrated by patients and staff, and which were not properly investigated,  makes me realise that the current Royal Commission into Institutional Responses into Child Sex Abuse should have been broadened to include adults. Kevin’s claims of Police inaction over sexual abuse allegations in mental health institutions might have some significance in other matters the Royal Commission is currently investigating.

• David Obendorf in Comments: A real labor of love and generosity to put on the record the things ordinary people don’t want to realise are perpetrated in the name of the community!  Congratulations Kevin for your determination to chronical this sordid recent Tasmanian history; a history as sordid and treacherous as the atrocious conditions of inmates at Willow Court over a century ago and beyond. The three-part mini-series that just featured on ABC TV Exile is a dramatisation of the awful reality of medical practitioners within institutions exerting power over the poor and the mentally unwell. It is based on true stories. Well done mate ... put your feet up, you have gone where brave people fear to tread.

• John Biggs in Comments: This was one of the most important book launches I have attended. Actually the government (or someone close to the government) did take action over Kevin’s complaints as he mentioned at the launch: he was harassed up to the point where one guy told him to get out of Tassie or he’d stay here six feet under. Immediately on leaving that encounter in a pub, a car tried to run him over. He left. This version of Tas Inc reminds me of David Whish-Wilson’s fictional but based in fact book “Line of Sight” about endemic corruption in 70s WA. The failure of the Integrity Commission today, the 90s Liberal Govt’s failure to act, all point to something enduringly rotten in the State of Tasmania.

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Writers | Isla MacGregor | Politics | National | State | Economy | Opinion | Personal | Society

The Circus goes to Canberra

Josephine Zananiri* Pic: Fanny Natasya, Flickr
29.08.16 4:30 am

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Ring Master Malcolm, the King Penguin and his circus return to Canberra Sept 2016, stated the large placard spread across a modest table.  Malcolm despite his age, still a presentable penguin, fluffed his feathers with pleasure as he viewed his image.  “KP”,  he reminded himself of his affectionate name or should that be mighty King Penguin? …

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Regulars | Josephine Zananiri | Politics | National | Economy | Satire | Society