Image for Atrophy

“Promote an expansion of the forest estate by integrating more trees onto agricultural land.” Martin Ferguson, December 2013, secret report commissioned by the Giddings government in September 2013 to assist in establishing a pulp mill in the Tamar Valley.

So once again Tasmanians are being drawn back into the mad morass, the cretinous and senile murk of the spruikers of pulp, after all that has been said and done and learnt over more than eight long years. 

One thing can be said with certainty and that is that the politicians have learnt nothing. 

They are incapable of learning. 

They have pulp for brains. 

All the massive amounts of information that have been put in the public domain year after year about every aspect of the forestry industry, in minute forensic detail, from forestry practices to funding to MIS scam schemes to public subsidies on scandalous scales to rorts and tax lurks and special legal exemptions to destruction of water catchments to trashing of special species in woodchip mills to sterilisation burns to export of logs for next to nothing to pulp mill assessment laws written for one company to turning the parliament into an approval authority for the benefit of one company to lies upon lies about joint venture partners to secret roundtables, statements of unprincipled principles, reviews and reports and more of the same, to special deals for a foreign company, to millions of dollars of public funds for “exits” that aren’t exits and a whole heap more stuff that remains hidden from the public gaze… 

Let’s not call this the tip of the iceberg, because an iceberg is clean as the purest water compared to what underlies the garbage we can see, hear and smell about the profoundly rotten forestry industry in Tasmania. 

Jared Diamond demonstrated in his monumental study of how and why societies collapse that at the point in time when urgent reform is necessary to avert disintegration or minimise the damage, the decisions of political elites replicate the failures of the past, but in more and more extreme, desperate and irrational ways.

They ramp up what they have already done.  They ramp up everything which produced division, waste, a downward spiral and crisis in the first place.  They hasten the worst outcome, they exacerbate it, they drive things to the cliff.

In some places they had more human sacrifices, in others they built more grandiose and useless monuments like pyramids and statues, in others they killed and killed more and more of their own people, in others they destroyed the very basis of their existence, their land, their water, their food supply. 

The variations are merely time and place. 

The pattern remains the same.  Those who speak up, those who challenge, are usually rendered invisible in one way or another.  Repression is a universal response from time immemorial – justified on the basis of the “public interest”, propaganda for the interests of the political-corporate elite. 

In Tasmania, it is not yet possible to make people disappear, to throw them from helicopters, to rendition them or to chuck them in a gulag or concentration camp or a Guantanamo Bay-type facility, unless they’re asylum seekers, but it is possible to treat them as invisible, as non-existent, or to label them as “extremist”. 

In Tasmania this has been quite successful, on all sides of the political fence, but as the mad cretins with pulp for brains ramp up the crisis, they perceive – following the usual handbook for political sociopaths – that more laws are needed to protect the clowns in pulp castles. 

Hence the banal attempt by Will Hodgman to portray himself as a defender of democracy by promising to reintroduce SLAPP suits in a new guise.  What a really tough guy.  In a shirt and tie, no less. 

If the pulp mill issue has demonstrated anything, it is that the lifeblood of Tasmanian political parties is based on using a divisive issue to divert public funds away from essential services into the pockets of corporate rent seekers, especially in the corrupt forestry industry. 

John Lawrence calls the Martin Ferguson review committee “unrepentant idiots”, and the document they produced as pathetic.  I can’t agree with him.  He’s much too polite and lenient in his summation, not just in relation to his own scathing indictment delivered in his most recent article, but in relation to the in-depth analysis he provided in his previous examination of what’s happening with the winding up of Gunns “assets” ( Tasmania is run by unrepentant idiots. TAI damns forestry industry ... ).

The Ferguson “report” is beyond pathetic.  It is beyond disgraceful.  It is utterly contemptible, without any redeeming features at all.  It is a gross falsification of the reality, a flatulent piece of moronic propaganda. 

That’s just for starters.

Everything about this report smells of rot, hopeless and appalling rot.  Why is it that such a group was established at public expense, in secret as usual, probably with recommendations already written?  One wonders if there’s an endless conga line of ex-Labor hacks already with their names affixed to the next “review”, and the next, ad infinitum.  Ferguson follows all sorts of Labor representatives of atrophy and others, like a carousel on a deserted showground with no customers, going round and round with the same old music on a cracked and single-grooved ancient and buckled gramophone record.

Since 2010 – let’s not go to the lousy half-decade before then – we’ve had the impressive record of heavyweight zombie Labor pulp pushers arriving in Tasmania in sequence, including Bill Kelty, Simon Crean and Tony Burke, not to mention Julia Gillard, all gung-ho supporters of MIS madness, clear-felling in vital water catchments, monocultural plantations and so on. 

We’ve also had Jonathan West and his report somewhere in the mix, the secretive roundtable and its various chameleon-like hybridisations, culminating quite absurdly in the TFA – not to be confused with anything real – an agreement between unelected and unrepresentative interest groups designed initially to assist Gunns, but which failed. 

Ta Ann was there to fill Gunns shoes in some ways, and it is quite interesting that all political parties in Tasmania – Labor, Liberal, Green and now PUP – haven’t been able to get the Taib family to come on board to build the pulp mill when Gunns bit the dust.  Maybe they hadn’t gone far enough down the conga-line of Labor stooges.  Is Martin Ferguson and his hackneyed rubbish report to be the circuit-breaker?

If anyone deserves the description of Influential Labor and union heavyweight deadweight it is Martin Ferguson, a keen supporter of concrete boots lined in lead for workers and massive profits for the biggest bosses in Australia’s top-ten rich list and offshore institutional shareholders. 

So it’s no surprise that he was hired by the hapless Giddings government in September this year, in secrecy, to dig up the rotten carcass of Gunns’ pulp mill.  He waived the daily $1500 fee for services.  How generous for a man on a massive superannuation.  Anyway, $1500 a day on our understanding of value is probably equivalent to about $1 in the terms that he works on. More interesting is that his travel and accommodation costs were paid for by us, as he has been used to for probably as long as he can remember. 

Ferguson was drafted by the Giddings government in light of the failure of the TFA deal between the ENGOs-Greens, forestry unions, forestry bosses, Forestry Tasmania and the ALP and assorted other interested parties, to get someone on planet earth to build the mill. 

What really resonates is that Ferguson has always been entirely clueless about how the forestry industry should be managed in Australia.  Not only clueless, but a man who esteemed ignorance as a virtue, and a man who talked the talk of workers’ rights while walking the walk of the interests of the biggest end of town in Australia.

Poor choice by Giddings and the dismal Bryan Green to sell the next instalment of pulp pyramids.  Ferguson is even more of an acolyte of the big end of town than Simon Crean and Bill Kelty and the other Labor dickheads – forget their names – who Giddings dragooned to salvage things for Gunns, to salvage things for Ta Ann, to salvage things for any mad bastard who would build the bloody mill. 

Ferguson is just about the perfect symbolic representation of all that has gone wrong and rotten in the ALP, and why it’s lost its heart and soul.  On Ferguson’s watch as a key minister in the Rudd and Gillard governments, with responsibilities in relation to the greatest mining boom in Australia’s history, Ferguson demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that he was a man for the Man – or in the case of Gina Rinehart, the Woman – not willing to disturb the increasing gap between rich and poor in Australian society, and not willing to fight for a better distribution of the wealth from the boom to where it was most needed in the Australian community.

The worst aspect of Ferguson’s time as a Labor minister, given his background experience in the union movement and his tenure as boss of the ACTU before he entered parliament, has been his willingness to justify the enormous profits made by the mining magnates while having little to say about the increasing casualization of labour on the one hand and the risky over-capitalisation of “contractors” on the other hand, both condemned to long working hours to make ends meet.

It is clear why the Giddings government had recruited Ferguson. 

Now that he seeks again to blowhard about Gunns’ pulp mill project, let us be reminded that Ferguson failed utterly and completely to ensure that the greatest windfall in Australian resource development did not flow into key sectors of essential public services, such as health and education, as they should have. 

If the mining boom which we have just experienced could not be utilised to diminish the levels of inequality of opportunity for the education of our nation’s children – of which Gonski should be just the beginning – or the continuing provision of healthcare for all Australians, which was the aim of Bill Hayden’s reforms 40 years ago, then there is no hope for redressing those inequalities in the foreseeable future.
Ferguson was not the only member of the Rudd-Gillard cabinets who ensured that the wealth which flowed from the mining boom was inequitably distributed, and nor has he been the only minister in those cabinets who has taken a keen interest through the years in trying to ensure windfall profits for the big boys in the forestry industry at the expense of the rest of us.  Back in 2006, as Frank Strie has so recently reminded us, Ferguson was dancing cheek by cheek with Eric Abetz in slamming FSC accreditation within the forestry industry as a plot to destroy the industry throughout the nation. 

Ferguson and Abetz are still dancing cheek by cheek all these years later.  It’s not about jobs.  It never has been.  It’s about their delusions, their pretensions, their hubris, their quest for personal power and influence, their quintessential desire to be important, and once the die was cast – no matter how damaging their dumb mindsets were to all realities, and no matter how much relevant information required for sensible decision-making was provided – they wilfully ignored it all.

As Mike Adams has reminded us, Ferguson’s response to a group of Tasmanians who visited him in Canberra was “what do you c…. want”.  Not a question.  A dismissal from a cabinet minister with no capacity to see beyond the corporate interest that he always represented, while selling the false message that he was working in the interests of the workers.

That’s why he was chosen by the insipid Tasmanian government to do a reprehensible whitewash review of anything that could be trashily presented as another bullshit rationale for the pulp mill.  And that’s why Ferguson and Bryan Green presented the garbage report standing side by side. 

What beats me is why these crazy losers don’t cut their losses and join together with the useless team of Abetz-Hodgman, so we can have Soviet-style one-party democracy, instead of perpetuating the myth of “choice”. 

After all, at the next state election we’ve got Brezhnev’s choice of Amos, Harriss, Peter Hodgman, Llewellyn, and a few others dusting off the dandruff – but no doubt keeping the cobwebs – of fond connections with forestry foibles, fancies and fanaticism from their woodchip fantasies of Gunns unlimited.  Ozymandias in splendid revival is what they’re on about, for less than 1% of the Tasmanian workforce and less than 1% of Tasmanian productivity.

Take your guess at how much these useless cretins are willing to divert from the real economy, from essential services, especially public education and health, to keep the log trucks rolling to nowhere, to keep the woodchips flowing to nowhere, to keep the insane notion of pulp alive. 


Not for Tasmanian kids.  Why in anybody’s name, including a former Labor cabinet minister as short-sighted as Martin Ferguson, would young Tasmanians seek jobs in a moribund, subsidy-dependent, mind-numbing, poorly paid, low-skilled and insecure industry as the Tasmanian forestry industry? 

But that’s what people with the mindset of Ferguson, Giddings, Hodgman, and PUP dills are offering to Tasmania’s youth.  It’s a recipe for continuing the exodus from Tasmania, and for encouraging the parents of those who leave to follow.  To put it bluntly, those who try to apply psychological pressure on young Tasmanians to stay, when their opportunities are better met by crossing Bass Strait, are to be condemned. 

The reality is that people like Martin Ferguson are promoting the economic decline of Tasmania.  These people are much more than “unrepentant idiots”.  They are destructive zealots.

• David Obendorf, in Comments: Who are you going to vote for in March? Sophie’s choice?;  a Green-politician?; a PUP? ; perhaps a protest vote; or just an Informal vote by inscribing the name of John Hawkins’ adorable canine candidate, Scruffy on your ballot paper?

Earlier on Tasmanian Times: Tasmania is run by unrepentant idiots. TAI damns forestry industry ...

Nitens plantations worth more than just pulp

ABC: Premier indicates no Greens in cabinet if Labor holds government in power-sharing deal

Frank Strie, in Comments HERE: What is missing Tasmania is a holistic approach to forest and catchment management. In net terms E. nitens plantations managed as simplistic clearfell rotation tree crops are not an answer to the rest of the wrong things going on elsewhere in Tasmania. Without a whole value ‘From the Sea-floor to Mountain-top’ approach as I have recommended it since visiting Tassie first time almost 29 years ago, all the technical recommendations are only half baked. The out of the forest - into the plantations blanked transition approach is and was a huge mistake.

Nick McKim: Abbott World Heritage threat will plunge state into conflict

• Peter Henning, in Comments: On another level, let me throw back the question to you from a different angle, from a different perspective.  A couple of days ago there was an editorial in the Mercury which opined that Lara Giddings’ renewed enthusiasm for the pulp mill was “just politics”. It has been indicated to me by a mate of mine that what the Mercury is saying by that phrase is that they don’t believe what Gillard is saying.  They are actually saying she is not telling the truth, that she is lying. The Mercury is, in reality, acknowledging that “just politics” is a euphemism for “lies and deception”, which is intrinsic to the political system.  In other words, whenever we understand that politicians are enunciating “just politics” they are saying something which is not only a lie but which is meaningless and without substance.  You might ask why the Mercury would make “just politics” front page news.

• Hans Willink, in Comments: After reading this thread and some posters lamenting the lack of new candidates, I feel a bit like Harry Potter’s Voldemort “he who can not be named”. Unlike Voldemort I do exist, albeit without his killer instincts and I am an Independent candidate for Denison. I have previously won a place on the Liberal Party’s most unwanted list, during May’s Legco election. At that election my position on the environment included the statement “I support a vertically integrated, plantation based forest industry that is viable without the need for taxpayer support”. How might this position translate into the current toxic political environment? Firstly, I support the TFA as it currently stands. For all its warts and imperfections, it is Tasmania’s only chance for peace in the forests and provide all stakeholders with a solution they can live with, if not like. I agree with John Lennon when he sang, give peace a chance. When it comes to forests, it should be given every chance! Like many former soldiers, I value peace highly. It’s why I have admired Andrew Wilkie ever since he spoke out prior to the Iraq War.  It’s why I admire the Quaker religion. Its why I oppose Liberal attempts to roll back the recent addition of 170,000 hectares to World Heritage areas and it’s why I oppose their attempt to reignite the forest wars by scrapping the TFA.