*Pic: A colourful history ... Police are called as Mr Nikolic heckles protesters in Launceston’s Mall: TT here
The recent actions of Andrew Nikolic should trouble all of us in North East Tasmania. In contacting the employer of well-respected academic and educator, Dr Michael Powell, in regards to a letter sent to the Examiner Mr Nikolic has sought to meddle in the personal affairs of his constituents.
This is an extraordinary invasion of privacy of an ordinary private citizen. Like many others I find no way to see this as other than as a power-move, effected to coerce a passionate Tasmanian into slipping into the shadows and away from the debate about the future of our state.
It will be a hard task for Mr Nikolic to prove otherwise but the door has been left wide open. His efforts so far have indicated he is still much more concerned wiith discrediting the person than addressing the issue1.
Nikolic has a history of discrediting dissenting voices in our community. When constituents mobilised a protest on a cold Winter morning in 2014 against unpopular budget measures Nikolic refused to attend.
Instead, in a media release on the 20th of May, he called it a ‘Labor Green Stunt’ and in doing so denied the hundreds in attendance their political agency. He then belittled the Salvation Army, the Tasmanian University Union and Safe Asylum as well local paediatrician Dr David Strong by impyling their involvement was as mere pawns in a political game rather than as concerned professionals acting in the best interests of their community.
Not yet content, he then criticised the MC of the event, the late Jeremy Ball (an exceptionally brilliant community leader in my view) for dragging the LCC into a “party-political event” and then accusing him of being impartial for having a history of association with the Greens.
What utter, disrespectful nonsese from someone charged with representing our entire community. Are we to believe, for example, that (The Examiner Deputy Editor) Barry Prismall’s columns be disregarded due to his former role as an advisor to the Liberal Party? Should your own past allegiances and activities have any impact on the level of representation and respect you receive from our Federal MP?
Essentially the question here is one of representation: Who is it that Nikolic represents? Andrew has undoubtedly brought some benefits to Tasmania in recent months. That is part of his job.
He is also to act as our voice in parliament on national issues, as a conduit for us ordinary folk to contribute to the future of Australia. What did we think of Medicare co-payments? Do we support the current treatment of asylum seekers? What of climate change and RET? Of changes to pensions? Of the PPL, university deregulation, data retention and the TPP?
Have you even been asked? Andrew’s loyalty to the Liberals sees him vote according to party policy, but does that align with the views of his own community?
His recent promotion to Chief Whip makes perfect sense in this context: for his loyalty to the Liberals he is now in charge of ensures that Liberal MPs vote according to party policy, even if that should go against the clear wishes of the electorate.
The inability of the government to gain public support for their previous budget shows us that the party and the electorate are no longer on the same page.
So what hope does our representative democracy in Tasmania have when dissenting voices are unfairly discredited, belittled and coerced through intimidation into retreat?
Is increased political engagement the key? Hardly. I’ve personally been banned from all social-media communication with Andrew and been explicitly told that he will not respond to any correspondence of mine in regards to immigration or the environment again.
My great crime was sending him a grand total of eight respectful but dissenting emails since he took over as representative of the place that I have lived and grown in for 20 years.
If that is all it takes for a passionate Tasmanian to be denied representation then I ask again; what hope do we have? The only hope is change. It’s up to Andrew if he makes the change himself or we make it for him come next election.
1Of course by releasing his correspondence with the VC he may effect this to a degree. Given Mr Nikolic had no qualms in passing my private correspondence with him to the Examiner who in turn had no issues with publishing it, I’m expecting to see the content of this exchange soon.
Danny Carney has in the past worked at the University of Tasmania, 3P Consulting, Hollybank Treetops Adventures, Paspaley Pearls, Snowgum, Lee’s Orchards, The Launceston Golf Club, Toro’s Restaurant (only briefly, I got fired), The Country Club Casino (I got fired there too.. whoops), Macdonald’s and once delivered newspapers for two weeks in the winter of 2005. He also once did work experience at Tourism Tasmania but feigned illness so he could go surfing. He probably doesn’t represent the views of any of these organisations so Andrew Nikolic has no reason to contact them.
YESTERDAY on Tasmanian Times ...
AND TODAY ... an Examiner story vanishes ...
BUT WAIT ... There’s more ...
• Conservative blogger Catallaxy Files: A tale of three academics. Catallaxy says ... … Mr Nikolic is the federal government whip – you’d think he’d be too busy shoring up Tony Abbott’s leadership to be involving himself in these sorts of petty disputes. … I suspect that Dr Powell signed off his letter as being at the University of Tasmania. So what? By definition every academic has professional expertise in the provision of higher education. Some more so than others, yet a letter condemning (Liberal) government university policy from an academic is unremarkable. Getting involved in a brawl like this reflects poor judgement on the government’s part. …