Image for The Goose and the Gander ... Dastyari and Harriss

*Pic: Sarawak Report, HERE: Tasmanian Independent MP Paul Harriss hob-nobs while ‘on holiday’ in Sarawak with corrupt dictator Taib Mahmud’s two top cronies Awang Tenggah and Len Talif Saleh.

Sam Dastyari ... from Federal Parliament’s website

Watching the political destruction of Senator Dastyari by the Murdoch Press over a suggested bribe has been an enlightening experience.

The Murdoch-owned Mercury has in the past had every opportunity to draw attention to the relationship between Ta Ann (a Sarawak company), its owners, Forestry Tasmania - and one Paul Harriss, the protector and promoter of that company in the Upper House of the Tasmanian Parliament.

Harris piloted legislation through Parliament allowing Ta Ann to take up a special position in Tasmania and benefit from the in-part reduction of the Peeler Billet contracts for an enormous cash payment; contracts that now cost Forestry Tasmania over one million dollars a week in losses.

This matter only became seriously interesting when, like Dastyari, Harriss in his statement to the Tasmanian Parliament admitted accepting cash from Ta Ann whose owners have a track record of corruption in Sarawak.

After his election to the Lower House and his ascension to ministerial office why did Paul Harris retire and vanish from the Tasmanian political scene?

Does Harriss have something to hide which is now known, in some way, to someone, somewhere?

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!

I suggest that the Liberals compounded the possible felony when, on his election to the Legislative Assembly, they made Harriss Minister of Forests.

Senator George Brandis, the Attorney-General, said of Dastyari: “He will never be able to give a speech without people asking ‘Who wrote the script and how much did they pay you for that?’”

Why would The Mercury ignore a good Tasmanian story when it is gifted to them on a plate?

What say you Mr Mercury Editor regarding integrity, honesty and truth in reporting?

I suggest that we are extremely badly served by the Tasmanian press, be it the Mercury or the The Examiner, whose previous editor Gilmour left it to work for the Liberals.

*John Hawkins is a Sandhurst-trained former British army officer, now an Australian resident of almost 50 years. For the past 14 years he has been enhancing the Bentley landscape in the Chudleigh Valley, Tasmania. He is well known for his two-volume standard reference on Australian Silver, and for his knowledge of the Life and Times of Erich Abetz.

• 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.