In Their Own Words...Liberals | Labor | Greens | Premier Will Hodgman | Labor Leader Bryan Green | Greens Leader Cassy O'Connor
The Independent Member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie
30.08.16 4:59 pm
The Independent Member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, has been joined by Member for Melbourne Adam Bandt and Member for Indi Cathy McGowan to discuss the cross-party Private Member’s Bill that they will be giving notice of.
“Members of the House of Representatives crossbench will on Wednesday announce a cross-party Private Member’s Bill to legislate marriage equality,” Mr Wilkie said.
“The Bill will be identical to that tabled during the previous Parliament which was co-sponsored by Coalition, Labor, Greens and independent Members. In essence the Bill would legalise marriage equality while at the same time protecting the right of churches to choose who they marry.
“This new Bill already has the support of me, Cathy McGowan and Adam Bandt and we are inviting representatives of all parties to join as additional co-sponsors, as they did in the previous Parliament.
While any Coalition support for a Labor Party marriage equality Bill appears inconceivable, giving their support to a cross-party Bill organised by the crossbench seems much more likely.
“It is also hoped that the Government and the Opposition will see the sense in supporting this Bill, thereby avoiding the divisive and costly plebiscite. If the Government refuses to do that, then hopefully at least three Coalition members would be prepared to cross the floor in order to force a vote on the Bill.
“I note that the Labor Party have announced their own marriage equality Private Member’s Bill but encourage them to support our cross-party Bill because this provides the very best chance of achieving reform.”
Bryan Green MP Labor Leader
30.08.16 1:50 pm
Treasurer stonewalls at every opportunity
Commitment to provide answers to Inquiry ends in whitewash
Gutwein hand-balls critical questions to Groom
After finally fronting the Parliamentary Inquiry into Tasmania’s energy crisis, Treasurer Peter Gutwein has today gone to astounding lengths to dodge questions and keep Tasmanians in the dark.
Labor Leader Bryan Green said the Treasurer was today given every opportunity to provide the missing piece of the energy crisis puzzle by releasing crucial advice he received from Treasury over the Hodgman Liberal Government’s proposed sale of the combined cycle gas turbine at the Tamar Valley Power Station – but had once again failed.
“The Liberal Government set up this Parliamentary Inquiry so very important questions could be answered but he has made a mockery of the process by stonewalling at every turn,” Mr Green said.
“The crucial issue is what advice the Treasurer and his colleague Energy Minister Matthew Groom received around their proposed sale of the Tamar Valley CCGT which is Tasmania’s only insurance policy against an energy crisis like we have seen this year.
“Mr Gutwein refused to release the advice until he had a chance to go away, read it again and make a decision.
“What the Treasurer has done today is add yet another layer of confusion to this government’s strategy in the lead-up to the energy crisis and its handling of the crisis which ultimately resulted in Mr Gutwein and Mr Groom spending $60 million on diesel generation to produce a fraction of the energy the power station produces each day.
“He also went to considerable lengths to distance himself from his bungling colleague Mr Groom by claiming questions specifically about the proposed CCGT sale should be directed to him.
“Mr Gutwein is still refusing to provide a clear picture around their plans to sell off this asset and he is still refusing to provide truth around this critical issue.
“The government is desperate to keep this advice buried because it will clearly show they knowingly sacrificed Tasmania’s energy security in pursuit of higher dividends from Hydro Tasmania.”
Cassy O'Connor MP | Greens Leader and Mining spokesperson
30.08.16 1:48 pm
The Victorian Government has listened to strong community concern over fracking and coal seam gas exploration, and is set to introduce a permanent ban on these unsustainable mining practices.
The pending ban is based on, ‘the best available evidence and acknowledges that the risks involved outweigh any potential benefits to Victoria.’
It is time the Tasmanian Government did the same. There is little to no support for fracking in Tasmania. It is also anathema to our clean, green and natural brand that underpins the State’s agricultural and tourism sectors.
Victoria’s Premier has shown leadership. He has listened to the community and applied an evidence-based policy approach.
Premier Hodgman can show the same leadership and move to protect agricultural land and water supplies as well as our visitor economy.
Earlier this year, 400 homes were surveyed in the Southern Midlands municipality. The survey found 99.5% of residents confirmed they didn’t want to live in an industrialised gas field.
We commend the residents of Baden, Stonor, Parattah, Whiteford, Tunnack, Mt Seymour, Levendale and Woodsdale for the declaration of ‘gasfield free’ status. They joined 379 districts across Australia that have declared themselves ‘frack free’ communities.
They must be heard. There is no place for fracking in Tasmania.
Michael Ferguson, Minister for Health
30.08.16 1:47 pm
The health and safety of patients, staff and construction workers is a priority for the Tasmanian Government.
As I have repeatedly said, it is no secret that there are asbestos issues at the Royal Hobart Hospital given the age of the buildings, which is one of the reasons we are redeveloping.
The RHH Redevelopment is actively managing asbestos removal and remediation during the refurbishment works, which are now in the final stages.
Asbestos management is not a trivial matter and as such, is not the place for the sort of hearsay, assumptions and fearmongering we have seen from Kevin Harkins, who is not an expert on asbestos or asbestos removal.
Mr Harkins has made numerous false claims which should be challenged.
Undisturbed, asbestos containing materials do not pose a risk.
Asbestos containing building materials that are loose or crumbling and where fibres can easily be released into the air must be removed or remediated.
Materials containing asbestos have been removed from the RHH areas being refurbished.
In some situations, the removal of asbestos has not been practicable, often because it is part of the building’s structure.
In these cases, the materials containing asbestos have been encapsulated.
Building condition and hazardous materials audits were conducted before the refurbishment works commenced to confirm and enhance the RHH asbestos register.
Extensive inspections of all areas of the RHH are not often possible until these patient and staff areas are vacated. This has been the case with the RHH Redevelopment’s refurbishment works.
The RHH and RHH Redevelopment are also working together to ensure the hospital’s asbestos register is updated.
Air testing is routinely conducted in construction zones and adjacent areas. To date, all air tests have been clean.
WorkSafe Tasmania is always advised if there is an incident of concern, which is the proper process.
I urge Mr Harkins to stop playing politics and leave the issue of asbestos management to experts who know what they are talking about.
For more information on the management of asbestos during the RHH Redevelopment go to http://www.rhhredevelopment.tas.gov.au/project_information/fact_sheets/asbestos_management
30.08.16 1:44 pm
... as fellow workers reveal they were refused asbestos awareness training
Up to a dozen construction workers were potentially exposed to deadly asbestos fibres over the weekend in the latest safety incident to occur at the $689 million Royal Hobart Hospital redevelopment.
The Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union said the exposure occurred in a plant room and involved pipe lagging that had not been identified as containing asbestos.
CEPU acting state secretary Michael Anderson also revealed that other workers on the site had been refused asbestos awareness training, telling the union that their employer said they couldn’t attend because the company “won’t get paid for it”.
“It is absolutely shocking that a year on from the first known asbestos incident at the Royal Hobart Hospital redevelopment we have had yet another group of workers exposed to this deadly substance,” Mr Anderson said.
“This latest incident involved pipe lagging which contains asbestos in its most dangerous, friable state, making it that much more serious.
“Worryingly, despite all of the incidents that have occurred, this pipe lagging did not have signage alerting workers to the fact that it contained asbestos.
“We have now had eight known occasions when workers have been exposed to asbestos since principal contractor John Holland first claimed their processes were so stringent such incidents could not reoccur.”
Mr Anderson said he was also alarmed by reports from a number of workers that their employer had refused to allow them to attend asbestos awareness training.
“This is a clear example of profit being put ahead of safety,” he said.
“These workers allege that they were barred from attending this training as their employer ‘won’t get paid for it’, leaving them without the skills needed to identify and avoid potential asbestos risks on the site.
“While the builder is responsible for upholding safety standards, Health Minister Michael Ferguson recently tried to shift responsibility for asbestos incidents onto workers. His comments have been blown out of the water by reports training has been refused and workers are being sent into dangerous areas containing unlabeled asbestos.”
The union believes the only way to put an end to these repeated incidents is to identify and safely remove all asbestos from construction areas before work commences.
“It is absolutely clear the current system isn’t working,” Mr Anderson said. “Completely removing this deadly product is the only way we can protect workers and patients from future exposure.
“Unfortunately, it seems the Tasmanian Government is of the view that by the time people are diagnosed with asbestos diseases in the future, they will be long gone from office, so it won’t be their problem.
“This game of Russian roulette being played with the lives of Tasmanian construction workers must end.”
Download a copy of a CEPU submission outlining additional details of the previous asbestos incidents on the Royal Hobart Hospital project:
Greens Immigration spokesperson Nick McKim
30.08.16 1:40 pm
The Greens have introduced a motion in the Senate calling on the Government to hold a Royal Commission into Australia’s immigration detention facilities.
Greens Immigration spokesperson Nick McKim said the evidence of systemic abuse and a culture of secrecy deserved to be examined at the highest level.
“The release of the Nauru Files showed just how widespread the abuse is in Australian-run detention centres, and to date all we have seen from Peter Dutton is dismissiveness and victim blaming,” Senator McKim said.
“We need to shine the disinfectant of sunlight onto our immigration detention regime.”
“It took Prime Minister Turnbull just 12 hours after the airing of shocking footage from Don Dale to call a Royal Commission.
“There is far more evidence that people in immigration detention facilities are being systematically abused, yet to date we have had nothing but indifference from the PM.”
“We will move to have the motion debated as soon as possible.”
Full text of the motion:
That the Senate -
(a) Acknowledges the damage done to men, women and children by offshore detention on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea and Nauru as revealed to the Parliament through Senate inquiries, independent government reports and a recent leak of more than 2000 incident reports from Nauru; and
(b) Calls on the government to establish a Royal Commission into Australia’s immigration detention facilities, including those on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea and Nauru.
Greens spokesperson for Healthy Oceans, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson
30.08.16 1:17 pm
Greens spokesperson for Healthy Oceans, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, welcomes the decision by Sea Shepherd to again take up the fight against illegal Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean. Sea Shepherd are launching their latest anti-whaling campaign, Operation Nemesis, in Perth today.
Senator Whish-Wilson said, “I wish the Sea Shepherd crews all the best in their battles against the whalers this summer. Whaling in the Southern Ocean is abhorrent, unnecessary and has been found illegal under Australian and international law.
“The Australian Government needs to send a message to Japan that they too will be standing up to this ongoing illegal activity in their waters. Last Summer, Japan killed 333 minke whales largely in the Australian Whale Sanctuary off the coast of the Australian Antarctic Territory and the Liberal Government did nothing.
“The Liberal Government is clearly letting Japan breach international law right under our noses. Never in recent memory has an Australian Government taken such a weak position on a foreign government impeding on our interests in clear breach of the law.
“Sea Shepherd does an amazing job in stopping the whale slaughter but they wouldn’t need to be risking their own lives to protect the whales if the Australian Government had firmly stood against Japan.
“I am calling on the Australian Government to issue a warning to Japan that if it continues the illegal whaling Australia will send a surveillance vessel to the Southern Ocean and restart legal proceedings in an appropriate international forum,” he concluded.
Bruce Moore, Honest History
30.08.16 11:37 am
The new edition of the Australian National Dictionary has been published. The first edition, published in 1988, was a one-volume work of 814 pages. The second edition is a two-volume work of 1864 pages. The first edition included 10 000 Australian words and meanings illustrated by 60 000 quotations; the second edition includes 16 000 Australian words and meanings illustrated by 123 000 quotations.
No one will be surprised that such obvious and recent Australian colloquialisms as bogan, budgie smugglers and trackie daks have been added. Many of the added terms, however, while they certainly existed in the pre-1988 period, were not included in the 1988 edition because of insufficient evidence, or because of uncertainty about whether or not they were Australian. The Internet and electronic databases have changed all that.
Some of these ‘older’ additions include: I don’t know if I’m Arthur or Martha; your blood’s worth bottling; to carry on like a pork chop; a cup of tea, a Bex, and a good lie down; full up to dolly’s wax; happy as a bastard on father’s day; it would kill a brown dog; stacks on the mill; he wouldn’t know if a tram was up him unless the conductor rang the bell; he wouldn’t work in an iron lung.
New food terms include ...
Shaun Thurstans President Frack Free Tas
30.08.16 11:35 am
“The game’s up”, says Frack Free Tas President, Shaun Thurstans, who continues:
“The evidence is overwhelming, the accident-prone unconventional industry cannot be trusted with the safety of our groundwater. When a government properly weighs the potential risks and benefits and looks at actual experience around the nation and the planet, the decision to ban this technology is obvious, as we have seen today in Victoria”
“Victoria has realised their groundwater, their agriculture and their precious rivers are not worth risking with ticking timebombs in the form of chemical-leaking wells”.
“The unconventional oil and gas industry has never kept to standards that communities expect. There are numerous flaws that have not been solved anywhere (e.g. treating the toxic waste water; making wells safe into perpetuity), and the inherent risks cannot be solved by extra regulations.”
“The Tasmanian government immediately needs to follow this lead, read the evidence and community anxiety and legislate a permanent ban on all forms of unconventional mining including hydraulic fracturing. Despite the Hodgman’s moratorium, exploration for shale gas continues now in the Midlands and raises the potential that a 2 cent company could jeopardise brand Tasmania”.
“It is ludicrous that the Tasmanian Government has acknowledged there are risks, and the overwhelming community distrust of this industry, but government policy actually insists that an exploration license holder must keep looking for a resource that, if found and fracked for, would risk our groundwater, our agricultural and tourism industries and the health of Tasmanians.”
“Now they have the evidence in front of them: This Victorian inquiry looked at many forms of unconventional mining and found them all too risky to be allowed to occur in Victoria. If the Hodgman government continues to encourage it, then it shows a deliberate ignorance in favour of a toxic and climate-altering industry.”
The experience from Coal Seam Gas in Queensland has now shown that even the massive tax revenue boost, promised by boom-time prophets, has not materialised.
“It’s like the ultimate Ponzi scheme, leaving a toxic nightmare after it all collapses.” said Shaun Thurstans.
The Victorian inquiry (Report in Dec 2015, p64) heard the acting Chief health Officer, Professor Michael Ackland note that chemicals likely to be used (but allowed to be kept secret), have documented effects on:
• ‘the immune system,
• the nervous system,
• liver and kidney toxicity,
• reproductive issues,
• respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses and
• psychological effects’.
“Tasmania has a health crisis as it is. The Hodgman government has not got a leg to stand on in supporting such a flawed industry, that has a plethora of occupational and public health risks.” said Shaun Thurstans.
The Inquiry into onshore unconventional gas in Victoria (report Dec 2015) found:
The level of aftercare of the 23 unconventional wells drilled in that state was found to be poor (p49), (a similar observation to the NSW Chief Scientist, p49), which is extremely concerning when:
“exploitation of a shale gas field can require thousands of wells drilled over a continuing timescale…” (Cook et al, 2013 cited p48)
‘…an abandoned well still has the potential to contaminate groundwater and leak gas into the air..” (p49).
’very little data exists about the long-term (100-1000 years) durability of abandoned petroleum wells’. (NSW Chief Scientist report cited p49).
Very few of the chemicals used in unconventional onshore gas extraction have known safe limits, but the industry wants to be able to inject them into the ground without even notifying the public, or even regulators, what they are using.
‘…from a risk management perspective, it is difficult for regulators to assess the risks posed by chemical additives if it is not known what those chemicals are’ (p56)
“This isn’t controversial. The only ones pretending that fracking can be done safely or worth the risks are companies and governments who are either hoodwinked or deliberately ignorant.” said Shaun Thurstans.
“Do we need the equivalent of 75 communities to declare themselves gasfield free before the Tasmanian Parliament recognises fracking is incompatible with our economy or our health.?” concluded Shaun Thurstans.
30.08.16 10:17 am
We’re celebrating the sausage for Fathers Day at Bream Creek Farmers Market next Sunday 4th September.
Whether you’re a new age SNAG or an old-school salami there’s something for you this Sunday:
• The Art of the Sausage: Learn how to make your own gourmet sausages with a free workshop with Bruny Island legend and Gourmet Farmer team member Ross O’Meara (also known as ‘Rossage’)
• Proper campfire style sausage sizzle over the grill, with local meats, eggs and bacon, onion rings - cooked by local Dads. Better than Bunnings.
• Sausage eating competition for Dads and kids. Chipolatas vs Wieners.
• Sausage Hop – kids dress up as a sausage and race for prizes – ‘silliest sausage’, ‘most innovative flavour’, etc. Next in line to become an Olympic sport.
• Dads’ Bar - A cosy pop-up pub in rustic surrounds with open fire, gin and tonic, local wines, beer. There will be cabanossi snacks and fatherly wisdom dispensed by celebrity barman, Sorell Mayor Kerry Vincent.
• Hot Rods – custom and classic cars on show from Forcett Hot Rods
President Meahd Bradshaw says: “We’re building on the success of last year’s special Fathers Day market to this year with a cheeky salute to the sausage.”
She adds: “Sausage making is a traditional way to preserve food and make use of the whole animal so it’s very much in line with our market ethos. We’re delighted to have Ross O’Meara as a guest sharing his wisdom in a workshop – the art of the sausage”.
And of course, our regular stallholders will be offering locally grown and produced veggies, meats, seafood, bread, wines, plants, poultry, sweets, and farm products. Plus coffee and hot food too!
What better way to treat Dad, than a day out in the country with fun activities, great food, and a pub in beautiful Bream Creek.
The Bream Creek Fathers Day Market is on Sunday 4 September at the Bream Creek Show Grounds from 9am to 1pm.
30.08.16 7:09 am
Part II. The Australian Government’s Role
[This article first appeared in The Norfolk Islander and on Norfolk Online News, 20 August 2016]
In Part I ( HERE ) we considered political, economic and governmental aspects of this matter from an “on the ground on Norfolk Island” perspective. This week we consider the other side of the equation: the role of the Australian Government.
Norfolk Island’s infrastructure
Prior to 1979 the Australian Government, through the Administrator, was responsible for all matters relating to Norfolk Island including the island’s infrastructure. Some of these responsibilities were transferred to the Norfolk Island Government in the Norfolk Island Act 1979 which made provision for a limited form of self-government for the island, and was based on the idea of partnership between the two governments.
However that idea seems to have had a very short honeymoon. Promised reviews of the workings of the Act did not occur. The Island’s Administration was not permitted to use debt or bond financing for development without the Commonwealth’s permission, and this was never forthcoming. The Commonwealth did itself however provide two loans: for the Cascade Cliff Safety Project (1990s, ~$3.1m) and for the Airport Reseal (2006, ~$11.5m).
In the 1990s it became apparent to the Norfolk Island Government (NIG) that diversification away from tourism would be an important strategy, and a number of government-backed and private enterprise initiatives for revenue-raising projects were proposed. These invariably were denied by either the Norfolk Island Administrator or the Commonwealth.
These initiatives included: the minting of Norfolk Island coinage, exchangeable at full value for Australian currency (1993-94); establishment of an offshore financial/banking centre on the island (1997, 2010); proposal to develop a small-scale offshore commercial fishery in the Norfolk Island exclusive economic zone (2010-14); establishment and location on Norfolk Island of an appropriately structured Australian International Shipping Register (2013-14). On two occasions the Norfolk Island Government issued licences under Norfolk Island law for the cultivation and harvest of medicinal cannabis but on both occasions the licences were cancelled by the Administrator on instruction from Commonwealth Minister (2014, 2015). However the Commonwealth did provide tied funding for some capital projects over these years including the Water Assurance Scheme (1980s), and the Waste Management Centre (2002-03).
Given this background it is not surprising that the island’s infrastructure is now run down. The Australian Government must bear substantial responsibility for that fact. (And indeed, if it had provided some appropriate technical assistance over these years the ‘airline problem’ might well have been avoided.)
“If all you have is a hammer…”
It was the American psychologist Abraham Maslow who half a century ago surmised that “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”. This unimaginative approach has characterised large swathes of the Australian Government’s policies and actions, and those of the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development (DIRD), towards Norfolk Island in recent years.
It shows several characteristics. One is encapsulated in the oft-repeated phrase “Norfolk Island is just the same as an Australian country town”. This is a lazy belief, and analysis shows that it is very important ways it is false (1). However it enables politicians, bureaucrats, and indeed others, to impose well-worn formulaic prescriptions and standards on Norfolk Island without further thought. This approach underlies the determination of the level of medical services to be provided on Norfolk in future, and is threatened in the wholesale application of Australian and New South Wales regulatory standards. More egregious in terms of island culture is the opening of the island to unlimited Australian immigration.
A second characteristic is a more directly ideological one, namely that whatever the economic problem, a free market approach will provide the best solution to it. However the assumptions under which this ‘theorem’ of economics has meaning are not met on small islands. Furthermore it discounts the notion of community which is of great important in small societies, and ignores the importance of a government buffer against the wide swings of uncertainty experienced by small islands (2). A prime example of the Commonwealth’s failure to comprehend such subtleties is provided by DIRD’s decision on the privatisation of pharmaceutical provision – and possibly GP services - on Norfolk Island (3).
A consequence of these characteristics is that criteria of judgment are limited to what is provided within their own sphere of action. There is a tendency to believe that one has all the answers; to not feel obliged to pursue evidence because the answer is already known; and to look merely for faults in the other’s position (the “It’s a failure” syndrome). Public and community opinion can be ritualised and sidelined (4). And judgments made can be reaffirmed by talking only to those on the ground who agree with you.
What all this leads to is distrust. This is exacerbated by such things as the remarkable evidence that DIRD required a private contractor to rewrite a report on aged care on Christmas and Cocos Islands sixteen times before it was accepted (5). Even more remarkable is the experience of the modeling of the Norfolk Island economy commissioned by DIRD initially in 2006. The report from this study was suppressed by DIRD who opposed FoI requests for its release for eight years on the grounds that it would be “contrary to the public interest” (6). When in 2014 a new report from the same consultants using the same CGE economic model was commissioned and released, lo and behold the results were more advantageous to the view that the Commonwealth’s intervention on Norfolk Island would provide positive benefits to the island. A review of the two reports by an independent expert in the UK determined that not only was the type of model used inappropriate for application to such a small economy as Norfolk’s, but that there was inadequate information available publicly to decide on the relative merits of the two sets of results, and that in any case the models took no account of economic inequality (7).
When one is prepared to move away from the mindset of “This is a failure and we the Australian Government must fix it”, from “What do we understand?” to “What’s in their best interests?”, from a perspective of ownership to one of development, then new possibilities arise. Here are five for starters (not including those already referred to, some of which might be worth revisiting):
- Explore what it is that makes the arrangements between New Zealand and its Pacific dependencies so agreeable to both parties, and apply some of that reasoning to Norfolk Island;
- Examine the case of the Falkland Islands, an economically successful British Overseas Territory with internal self-governance, and find what lessons may be applicable to Norfolk Island;
- Make an annual payment to Norfolk Island as rental for the benefits received by the Commonwealth from the island’s location, strategic value and Exclusive Economic Zone;
- Permit the Norfolk Island authorities to reintroduce customs duties on some selected imported products;
- Envision Norfolk Island not as ‘part of New South Wales’, but as a world-relevant semi-autonomous model system of twenty-first century sustainable living.
In 2014 the Commonwealth Minister referred an inquiry into future economic development on Norfolk Island to the Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories. However the major recommendations from its final report did not deal with economic development, but with governance, and in particular the abolition of the democratic structures in place on the island since 1979. In this the Committee went far beyond its terms of reference and beyond the terms on which these issues had been discussed with the public: the implicit assumption apparently being that democracy and economics are co-extensive, or alternatively that democracy is a sub-category of economics. Such assumptions are based on ignorance. One person one vote is a different construction from one dollar one vote.
Norfolk Island has in recent years become the plaything of Australian political and bureaucratic ideologues. The conduct of the Commonwealth has been to a large degree characterised by a failure of intellect and imagination which has rendered many of their judgements questionable where not actually faulty.
In 2015 the Australian Government was faced with a choice: give Norfolk Island and its Legislative Assembly a hand in putting the island back on its financial feet, or destroy it and reconstruct it in Australia’s own image. Sadly they appear to have chosen the latter, going against a worldwide trend in relation to the governance of sub-national island jurisdictions. Geoffrey Robertson QC pointed to it as a “heavy-handed act of regression” (8). In a subsequent article we will look at how the Australian Government went about this process and what the consequences have been and will likely be for the Norfolk Island community.
(1) “Why Norfolk Island is not an Australian country town”, The Norfolk Islander and Norfolk Online News, 25/06/16; (2) “Norfolk Island Regional Council and the proposed ‘Core Principles’”, idem, 31/10/2015; (3) “Norfolk Island health services and the pitfalls of privatisation”, idem, 16/07/2016; “Some simple economics that the Australian Government seems to have forgotten – or doesn’t want to know”, idem, 09/07/2016; (4) “The Norfolk Island Advisory Council process is a disgrace to Australia”, idem, 16/01/2016; (5) Towell, N., “APS department orders report to be rewritten 16 times”, The Canberra Times, 15/04/2015. After two years of suppression the original draft report is now available following an FoI process; (6) Belot, H., “Uncensored audit report of Norfolk Island’s economy must be released, tribunal”, The Canberra Times, 11/06/2015; (7) “Norfolk Island reform scenarios – comparing the two CIE reports”, The Norfolk Islander and Norfolk Online News, 28/11/2015; (8) Robertson, G., “The recolonisation of Norfolk Island is a heavy-handed act of regression”, The Guardian, 23/04/2016.
References 1-4 and 7 available at: http://www.norfolkonlinenews.com/chris-nobbs.html
*Dr Chris Nobbs is an economist and social commentator currently resident on Norfolk Island, where he was born.
Jeremy Rockliff, Minister for Primary Industries and Water
29.08.16 7:40 pm
The Hodgman Liberal Government is a strong supporter of Tasmania’s world-class salmon industry, which is highly regarded for its quality and sustainability.
We want to support this world class industry to continue to grow and create more jobs, particularly in our regional communities.
A key part of this growth is ensuring that the industry continues to be appropriately regulated and its operations retain the confidence of the broader Tasmanian community.
Earlier this month we announced an independent assessment by the Marine Farming Planning Review Panel of the adequacy of the environmental management of salmon farming at Okehampton Bay.
The Panel has now advertised publicly that the panel is seeking written submissions from interested members of the public, addressing the terms of reference of the assessment, to assist it in performing this task. Submissions close at midnight on September 26.
We recognise that it is 20 years since the Plan for the area was first approved, and there have been significant changes to science and technology over that time, and as such this assessment is important for community confidence.
The Panel consists of eight members and includes experts representing various interests including the Environment Protection Authority, recreational boaters, marine farming, marine resource management and local Government issues.
The Terms of Reference that the Panel will provide advice to the Minister on are:
• The environmental science supporting the proposed environmental monitoring and management of salmon farming at Okehampton Bay within the Great Oyster Bay and Mercury Passage Marine Farming Development Plan October 1998 (as reviewed in 2007) area; and
• The adequacy of the environmental baseline data and surveys to allow the Director, Environment Protection Authority to establish a contemporary environmental management regime for the proposed marine farming activity; and
• The adequacy of the Great Oyster Bay and Mercury Passage Marine Farming Development Plan 1998 to allow for the implementation of a contemporary environmental management regime for proposed salmon marine farming at Okehampton Bay.
The panel is expected to report back in early 2017.
The Tasmanian Government is committed to continuing to work with the industry to support sustainable, responsible and accountable growth of Tasmanian’s world-class salmon industry.
A copy of the Great Oyster Bay and Mercury Passage Marine Farming Development Plan October 1998 is available on the DPIPWE website:
Sarah Courtney, Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier
29.08.16 7:37 pm
I urge all Tasmanians to dig deep and support the great work done by Legacy during this year’s Legacy Week.
Legacy Week runs from August 28 to September 3 and was first held in 1942 as the annual national appeal for Legacy.
Legacy provides services to Australian families suffering after the incapacitation or death of a spouse or parent, during or after their defence force service.
The services offered by Legacy include counselling, special housing, medical, advocacy and social support to families and also helps with education fees and resources.
Legacy is particularly close to the hearts of many Tasmanians because it grew out of the Remembrance Club which was formed in Hobart in 1923 by one of the nation’s foremost World War 1 heroes, Tasmanian Major-General Sir John Gellibrand.
I urge Tasmanians to donate to Legacy this week so that they can continue their vital work in the community.
Rob Messenger for Independent Senator for Tasmania Jacqui Lambie
29.08.16 6:40 pm
Click below to view 30sec message
JLN Independent Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie has challenged Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce to stop being an apologist for big business during the Dairy Crisis and support the call for 50c p/l Milk Levy - as she out lines the issues, that the new sitting of parliament should address.
“G’day Tasmanians – as you can see I’m back at work. First of all – I want to make sure that all the promises by the Liberal party, before the election - are delivered.
The first one being the $150M that needs to go to the University of Tasmania (UTAS). The second thing is – one third of our Tasmanian Aged Pensioners are living on or below the poverty line. And they’re (Liberal Government) still coming for more aged care cuts.
And thirdly Barnaby Joyce – stop being an apologist for big business, Barnaby! We want some action - and want a 50c p/l levy for our Dairy farmers today.” said Senator Lambie.
Cassandra Wells Executive Officer Tasmanian Association of State School Organisations Inc. (TASSO)
29.08.16 4:11 pm
SAFETY CONCERNS - VEHICLE ACCESS TO BOAT HARBOUR PRIMARY SCHOOL
Moved that this conference demand the Department of State Growth create a slip lane to
ensure the safety of BHPS families accessing the school and that of other road users.
3 abstentions CARRIED
PROPOSED CHANGES TO MINIMUM SCHOOL STARTING AGE
EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION
1. All children attending state schools in Tasmania should have the opportunity to attend Prep
or Kindergarten before entering Grade 1.
2. TASSO supports the following school entry ages:
(a) entry age for Kindergarten be 4 years
(b) entry age for Prep be 5 years
(c) entry age for 1st Grade Primary be 6 years
Furthermore these ages be attained by the 1st January.
Moved that this Conference writes to the Minister for Education and Training reiterating Section
J, paragraph 2 of TASSO current policy and raising the Conference’s concerns with the changes to
the minimum school starting age contained in the Draft Education Bill 2016, including that the
• have a significant negative impact on our schools, the staff, our children and our
• put significant additional strain on both school infrastructure and staff; and
• in many cases radically reduce valuable parent-child time during a key developmental
1 against, 2 abstentions CARRIED
Moved TASSO affirm its absolute support for the continuing operation of Colleges in Tasmania,
including offering at least the current levels of curriculum, services and activities.
1 against, 5 abstentions CARRIED
IMPACT ON COLLEGES OF THE EXTENSION OF YEARS 11 AND 12
Moved TASSO calls on the Tasmanian Legislative Council to establish a select committee to
the current impact on existing Colleges of government policies with regard to the
extended provision of Year 11 and 12.
the impact of future policy and plans is likely to have on existing Colleges with regard to
the proposed further extension of Year 11 and 12 provision into more schools especially
urban high schools.
1 against, 3 abstentions CARRIED
Moved that this conference demand that the Department of Education Secretary ensures that
District Schools are included when forming policies, programs and funding models for Primary
schools and High schools.
2 abstentions CARRIED
TASSO POLICY MOTIONS PASSED – 2016 ANNUAL CONFERENCE & AGM
TASSO TRANSPORT POLICY
Moved that Section L 1.1 (a) of the Transport Policy be amended as follows:
1. School Buses
1.1 TASSO believe
(a) the Government should provide free transport to all students attending the
nearest or designated Government school of appropriate level and that the safety
of students in transit is of the utmost importance. Where Year 11 and 12 is being
provided at the local school, free bus transport must be provided to that local
school and the designated Year 11 and 12 government College.
1 against, 3 abstentions CARRIED
TASSO POLICY: SECTION: I, THE COMMUNITY AND ITS SCHOOLS, 1.3.
1.3 Parents have the right to:
(a) a government school system which is open, free, secular and appropriate to the
(b) send their child/children to the state school of their choice;
Moved that this Conference reiterate Section I, 1.3 of current TASSO Policy.
5 against, 4 abstentions CARRIED
SCHOOL ASSOCIATIONS – INCORPORATION
Moved that this Conference supports the TASSO Management Committee’s position that School
Associations must be able to remain incorporated or to incorporate if they so choose.
1 against, 1 abstention CARRIED
Chair of Australian Marriage Equality Alex Greenwich
29.08.16 3:35 pm
Australian Marriage Equality (AME) has today spoken to MPs across all political parties and urged them to work together to achieve marriage equality for every Australian without further delay.
“Today we have spoken to MPs from the Government, Labor, The Greens and the Nick Xenophon team about the importance of working together to deliver marriage equality for all LGBT people in Australia,” Chair of Australian Marriage Equality Alex Greenwich said.
“This week, we will continue to meet with MPs across all political parties to build a cross-party consensus that achieves equality for LGBT Australians in this parliament.
“LGBT Australians have waited far too long to be able to marry the person they love in this country. Politicians need to remember the real people who are impacted by a lack of action on marriage equality.
“Poll after poll shows there is majority support across the nation for marriage equality and this is represented in the parliament with more supporters than ever before. Marriage Equality takes from no one and makes our society a better, fairer and more inclusive place.
“This is a straightforward change that allows all Australians to be treated equally and ensures our laws reflect our proud values of fairness and equality for all.
“Regardless of the pathway forward, AME will continue to work with its coalition of supporters to deliver this straightforward reform,” Mr Greenwich concluded.
Spokesperson for LGBTI lobby group, just.equal, Ivan Hinton-Teoh
29.08.16 1:09 pm
CALL ON LABOR TO FOLLOW SUIT
HOPE THAT MARRIAGE EQUALITY WILL PASS PARLIAMENT
Advocates have applauded the Nick Xenophon Team (NXT) for vowing to vote against a marriage equality plebiscite.
Spokesperson for LGBTI lobby group, just.equal, Ivan Hinton-Teoh, said,
“I applaud the NXT for reflecting the overwhelming view of the Australian LGBTI community and vowing to vote against plebiscite enabling legislation.”
“A plebiscite will be costly, it will provide a platform for hate campaigns and it has the potential to delay marriage equality.”
“Labor has very effectively made the case against a plebiscite and now it needs to join the Greens and the NXT by vowing to vote a plebiscite down.”
Mr Hinton-Teoh said he has confirmed with the NXT that they not only oppose a plebiscite in principle but will vote against enabling legislation.
He responded to claims that blocking a plebiscite will block marriage equality for this term of parliament.
“I expect that when a plebiscite is knocked on the head the Government will look again at a free vote, and even if a free vote isn’t allowed only a handful of Liberals need to cross the floor for marriage equality to pass.”
“In the absence of a plebiscite I believe there is a parliamentary path forward for marriage equality.”
Earlier this month just.equal and Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) released a scientific study of LGBTI community attitudes to a plebiscite which found that 85% of LGBTI people oppose the idea and want a free vote in parliament instead. 60% said they oppose a plebiscite even if it means marriage equality will be delayed. The study was the largest of its kind ever conducted with 5,500 respondents across all demographics.
A copy of the study can be found here: http://www.equal.org.au/surveyreleased
National spokesperson for Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, Sharyn Faulkner
29.08.16 11:38 am
Parents of gays and lesbians have praised Nick Xenophon and other members of the Xenophon Team for declaring opposition to a marriage equality plebiscite.
National spokesperson for Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, Sharyn Faulkner, said,
“We are grateful that more and more politicians are seeing a plebiscite for what it really is - a platform for hate and a delaying tactic.”
“It’s now up to Labor to join Nick Xenophon and the Greens by declaring they will veto a plebiscite.”
Mrs Faulkner said the voice of the LGBTI community needs to be heard in the debate about whether to hold a plebiscite.
“Our gay sons and lesbian daughters have made it very clear they don’t want millions of other people passing judgement on their relationships, and we stand by them.”
A survey of 5,500 LGBTI Australia recently found 85% opposition to a plebiscite. It was the largest survey of its kind ever conducted.
PFLAG has auspiced a letter-writing campaign to stop of a plebiscite. Emails can be sent to MPs and Senators through http://www.makeitlaw.com.au
Vica Bayley Tasmanian Campaign Manager The Wilderness Society (Tasmania) Inc.
29.08.16 8:08 am
• 43% of Tasmania’s ‘reserves’ can be logged or mined
• Groom has already ‘accepted’ a UNESCO recommendation to declare a national park in the Great Western Tiers
• Proposed management plan changes weaken protections for existing national parks
On the 100th birthday of Tasmania’s national parks, conservationists maintain the case for new national parks and reserves and call out Government’s justification for their rejection as lacking credibility. Tasmanian Environment Minister Matthew Groom claims that about half of Tasmania is protected, therefore there are enough parks declared already and that the Hodgman government will focus on protecting and celebrating existing national parks.
The case for new national parks is strong given their widely accepted economic, employment, community and environmental benefits and the location of proposed new national parks in struggling regional areas of the state.
“The argument that half of Tasmania is ‘protected’ is a shallow one, given 43% of these ‘reserves’ can be logged or mined,” said Vica Bayley, spokesperson for the Wilderness Society. “This was highlighted by the approval of the failed Shree mine in the Arthur Pieman Conservation Area in the takayna/Tarkine.”
“In 2014 the Hodgman Government changed the law to allow rainforest logging in Regional Reserves and Conservation Areas, an area of over 1 million ha around the state. A place simply isn’t properly protected if it can be logged or mined.
“Many of the proposed new national parks are already part of the ‘50%’ of Tasmania that Mr Groom calls a reserve, but these areas need their reserve status upgraded to rule out logging and mining and finally deliver genuine, credible conservation and the economic, job and branding benefits that come with being a national park.
Last year’s UNESCO mission to Tasmania’s World Heritage Area recommended the Great Western Tiers be made a national park (recommendation 11). Government accepted this and at its July 2016 meeting, the World Heritage Committee requested it be implemented.
“Minister Groom appears determined to block the possibility and potential of new national parks, yet he has emphatically ‘accepted’ a UNESCO recommendation to create a national park for the World Heritage Listed Great Western Tiers. Something doesn’t stack up!
“A Government claim that it is focussed on properly managing Tasmania’s national parks ignores the fact that Parks funding has been repeatedly cut and park management plans are being changed to weaken longstanding protections to allow private commercial developments that will negatively impact on values like wilderness.
“Parallel to weakened management plans, the controversial new Statewide Planning Scheme treats commercial developments inside national parks as ‘permitted’ if they have passed an internal Parks and Wildlife Service assessment. This is a backward step that would weaken the level of scrutiny, diminish public engagement and remove third party right of appeal.
Rodney Croome (just.equal)
28.08.16 2:58 pm
TURNBULL’S “PLAN B” SHOULD BE FREE VOTE IN PARLIAMENT
“If the Prime Minister is really concerned about achieving marriage equality as quickly as possible he will have a back-up plan should a plebiscite be vetoed, and that ‘Plan B’ should be to allow a free vote in parliament.”
- Rodney Croome
Advocates have dismissed a renewed call by the Prime Minister for a marriage equality plebiscite and urged the Senate to veto it.
Malcolm Turnbull has said a plebiscite is the quickest path to marriage equality but Labor is hardening its position against the plebiscite because of the harm and cost.
Long-time marriage equality advocate, Rodney Croome, said,
“I reject the Government’s rhetoric about a plebiscite being the quickest or the only way forward for marriage equality, and call on Labor and the Senate cross bench to unconditionally block plebiscite enabling legislation.”
“If the Prime Minister is really concerned about achieving marriage equality as quickly as possible he will have a back-up plan should a plebiscite be vetoed, and that ‘Plan B’ should be to allow a free vote in parliament.”
“If a plebiscite is vetoed by the Senate the political landscape changes and I expect the issue to return to the Liberal Party room and for Liberals who support marriage equality to push for a free vote or cross the floor.”
“The risk there isn’t a free vote is a risk the LGBTI community is willing to take to avoid the hurt, harm and indignity of a plebiscite.”
“This was confirmed by a recent scientific survey of the LGBTI community that was the largest of its kind ever conducted in Australia with over 5,500 respondents.”
On Friday the Greens announced they will vote against plebiscite enabling legislation. The Nick Xenophon Team and Derryn Hinch say they also oppose a plebiscite, meaning if Labor opposes it too it cannot pass.
Chair of Australian Marriage Equality Alex Greenwich
28.08.16 2:40 pm
AME CALLS ON POLITICAL PARTIES TO WORK TOGETHER TO DELIVER MARRIAGE EQUALITY NOW
Australian Marriage Equality (AME) will this week meet with representatives from all major parties, and urge them to work together to deliver a pathway to marriage equality without delay.
“AME will use the first week in parliament to remind MPs that the time for marriage equality is long overdue and should not be delayed any longer,” Chair of Australian Marriage Equality Alex Greenwich said.
“No one party by themselves can deliver marriage equality either through a free vote or a plebiscite. AME is calling on political parties to work across the aisle to deliver this essential reform.
“We call on all MPs not to play politics with the equality of gay and lesbian Australians. They have waited long enough to be equal and shouldn’t have to wait any longer.
“Poll after poll have consistently shown Australians want marriage equality now. They want to see their gay and lesbian family members and friends extended the same opportunities in life without delay.
“This is a straightforward change that allows all Australians to be treated equally under the law and that includes being able to marry the person they love.
“Extending marriage to all Australians ensures our laws reflect our proud values of fairness and equality for all,” Mr Greenwich concluded.
Phillip Adams, The Australian
27.08.16 4:46 pm
A poem to the silly, wretched, foolish country I love
I love this sunburnt country
where a dissolution double
gets a new prime minister
into double trouble.
I love this silly country
where the Census fails to count;
where a Senate full of Paulines
make double troubles mount.
Where a PM’s foolish tactic
hands us over to a Hanson,
whose political galahs
hold Parliament to ransom.
Oh, what a wretched country
that leads us down a road
to Abu Ghraib in Darwin,
to kids Guantanamo’d.
Oh, what a kindly country:
when fleeing fear and fire,
your welcome’s warm embrace?
“Stop the boats!” and razor wire.
Can you love a bloody country
where the churches (this is strange)
protect the perps and not the victims?
It’s time for primate change.
I love the lovely country
of Streeton, Roberts, Rees.
The landscapes that they painted?
Let’s bulldoze all the trees.
(And is it really moral
to dump crap
on all the coral?)
I love this bloody country,
where our “man of steel” man
sent us on a killing spree
in Iraq, Afghanistan.
The coalition of the killing:
Bush and Blair and Howard.
Who cares about WMDs?
The last one in’s a coward.
(I admire a plucky nation
that at the top of its breath
sings a foreign anthem
as it charges their valleys of death.)
I love a foolish nation
where Abbott’s Forrest Gump
is turfed by a Prone Minister
as inept as Donald Trump.
He sought to rule Australia
from its Canberrean palace
only to drink bitter Bollie
from a poisoned chalice.
Fumble, stumble, tumble.
Poor Malcolm, he careens
twixt same-sex marriage
and worthless submarines.
So many problems all at once;
Rudd, GST or ISIS,
or Panama or S&P,
another blundered crisis.
“What’s the latest problem?
What could be the answer?
I try to be like Fred Astaire
but I’m a lousy dancer.”
(It isn’t over till the lady sings,
and Tony’s waiting
in the wings.)
We grieve for Mr Harbourside,
so urbane and so breezy.
It wasn’t meant to be like this.
Life was meant to be easy.
Cassy O'Connor MP | Greens Leader and Parks spokesperson
27.08.16 12:22 pm
On this weekend’s centenary of national parks, Parks Minister, Matthew Groom, should admit Tasmania’s protected areas are under unprecedented threat as a result of Liberal policies.
Mr Groom sure has a hide, trumpeting the State’s national parks at the same time as his government is opening them up to far greater commercial exploitation.
Shortly after taking office, the Hodgman Liberals joined the Abbott Government’s ill-fated bid to wind back significant extensions to the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area which were secured under the Labor Green Government.
Then, Minister Groom’s first crack at enabling increased exploitation of Tasmania’s world class reserves was to sign off on a draft World Heritage Area Management Plan which would have allowed mining, logging and intensive development in the TWWHA.
The Minister then opened up a secretive Expressions of Interest process that is facilitating unprecedented commercial exploitation of the TWWHA and other protected areas.
On his watch, funding to the Parks and Wildlife Service has been slashed and its remote firefighting capacity remains critically under-resourced.
When the TWWHA was aflame in January and February this year, the Minister sat on his hands and refused to ask his colleagues in Canberra for help.
Sadly for Tasmania’s magnificent national parks on this centenary of Parks, the Minister responsible for them is actively working to undermine their integrity.
As Parks Minister, Matthew Groom is a failure.
Vica Bayley Tasmanian Campaign Manager The Wilderness Society (Tasmania) Inc.
27.08.16 11:50 am
... reinforces calls for new parks in iconic forest areas
A weekend of celebrations in Tasmania, timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of our first national parks and highlighting the environmental, community and economic benefits of national parks, reinforces longstanding calls for new national parks to be declared over spectacular forest areas that were protected through the Tasmanian Forest Agreement, but reversed by the current Government.
Almost 400,000 ha of forests were protected through the Forest Agreement, but now sit as ‘unallocated crown land’. These forests are distributed across regional Tasmania and have existing points of public access through roads, bridges and walking tracks.
“This weekend we celebrate the vision of Tasmania’s early leaders and the century of economic, employment, community and environmental benefits our national parks have delivered Tasmania,” said Vica Bayley, spokesperson for the Wilderness Society.
“Given both Government and conservationists agree on these benefits, it’s perplexing to have a Government hostile to creating new conservation icons.
“National parks protect outstanding natural and cultural values and give Tasmania a priceless identity that sets us apart from many other parts of the world.
Longstanding national park proposals in Tasmania include:
• Tarkine National Park – to protect great rainforests, wilderness, wild coastline, threatened species, Aboriginal heritage and delivering an accessible national park icon and credible conservation story for far NW Tasmania.
• Great Western Tiers National Park – now World Heritage listed but classed as ‘unallocated crown land’, in July this year the World Heritage Committee called for this area to be given ‘status as national park’ (recommendation 11 - UNESCO mission report). Government accepted this recommendation but is yet to outline when it will gazette a new national park.
• North East Highlands National Park – linking the spectacular peak of Mt Arthur and the Blue Tier this park responds to scientific calls for linked landscapes of conservation reserves to assist nature respond to the pressures of climate change.
New opportunities, such as a ‘Lobster Forests National Park’ are emerging from the recommendations of Government auspiced threatened species protection plans. The 2016 draft recovery plan for the giant freshwater lobster identifies the need for the formal reservation of critical forested catchments key for the survival of the lobster. Many of these are also ‘unallocated crown land’, promised back to a logging industry that should never be allowed to log them.
“The case for new national parks has long been made by scientists based on sound environmental and reserve design principles. Now it’s clear and agreed that national parks are delivering jobs, economic growth and community benefits, expanding the national park network is a logical win-win all round.
“As we celebrate 100 years of national park success, we call on today’s leaders to expand the benefits and take steps to unlock the potential of new national parks in Tasmania.
Tasmanian Association for the Gifted Inc.
27.08.16 11:32 am
Martin McKenzie-Murray, The Saturday Paper
27.08.16 7:05 am
A file photo of asylum seekers held on Nauru, at right, talking through a fence with international journalists.
Last week, the immigration minister, Peter Dutton, responded to the leak of more than 2000 Nauru incident reports to The Guardian.
The 8000 pages detailed allegations of rape, sexual harassment and intimidation, as well as cases of self-harm and suicide. Despite the scale, the leak was far from exhaustive. But Dutton tried to quell what he characterised as “hype”. “Some people have even gone to the extent of self-harming and people have self-immolated in an effort to get to Australia,” he said. “Certainly some have made false allegations.” …
Rene Hidding, Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Management
26.08.16 7:32 pm
The Hodgman Liberal Government is committed to protecting lives and property in Tasmania from the risk of bushfires.
I am pleased that our Fuel Reduction Unit has now commenced their spring fuel reduction program to ensure Tasmanian communities will be safer from the threat of bushfires.
This program, which is the first of its kind in Australia, is a tenure blind, risk-based approach to managing vegetation fuel loads and reduce state-wide risk from bushfires.
The Government invested $28.5 million over four years to significantly increase fuel reduction burning when we came to Government after Labor, captive to the Greens, ignored proper investment during their time in Government.
The importance of proper fuel reduction was underlined after the 2015-16 fire season that saw over 300 reported bushfire incidents that required a response, and while fuel reduction cannot completely eliminate the risk of bushfires, it does reduce the potential for serious damage and increases safety for firefighters and the community.
The TFS will provide a regularly updated schedule of fuel reduction burns through local media and online via the http://www.fire.tas.gov.au website, which features a map of planned and current burns.
Save The Tarkine, Environmental Defenders Office
26.08.16 4:04 pm
Pic: Facebook HERE
Minister administering the Mineral Resources Development Act 1995 v Tarkine National Coalition Inc
The Full Court of the Supreme Court has unanimously dismissed the Tasmanian Government’s appeal
against an earlier ruling that the Tarkine National Coalition (TNC) was entitled to reasons for the
Minister’s decision to grant mining leases for the Venture Minerals’ Mt Lindsay and Livingstone
In the lead judgment, his Honour Justice Estcourt found (at  – ):
“There is no merit in the Minister’s appeal…The present appeal is, in my view a shining example of
an appeal failing to identify an error on the part of the primary judge.”
The State Government had argued that parliament intended to confine rights to reasons for
decisions under the Mineral Resources Development Act 1995 to those directly affected by the
decisions – landowners and mining companies.
However, the Full Court upheld her Honour Justice Wood’s decision that the TNC was a “person
aggrieved” by the Minister’s decisions, and therefore entitled to understand the reasons the mining
leases were granted. Justice Estcourt noted (at ):
“…her Honour found that there was ample evidence that the [TNC} had an interest greater than
an ordinary member of the public, that its interest in the Tarkine was long-standing, and that its
reason for existing was to protect the natural values of the Tarkine.”
Claire Bookless, EDO Tasmania’s litigation lawyer, said:
“This decision is significant because it reaffirms that environmental groups, such as the TNC, also
have a legitimate interest in mining decisions. These groups have a right to know why government
decisions are made, and to challenge those decisions where the government has not complied
with the law.”
The Full Court ordered the Minister pay the TNC’s costs of the proceedings.
The TNC’s victory comes 18 months after it formally requested the statement of reasons. Ms Bookless
said that this demonstrates the need for greater transparency:
“While the TNC in this case was able to establish it had ‘standing’, doing so took nearly 18 months
and exposed both TNC and the Government to considerable costs.
We urge the Government to heed the Full Court’s decision and adopt a broader approach to
the release of information. Doing so would improve the accountability of government decisionmaking,
and avoid similar expense and delays in future.
For full background information about this case, please click here: http://www.edotas.org.au/resources/unsolicited/
Cassy O'Connor MP | Greens Leader
26.08.16 4:03 pm
The Tasmanian Greens commend the Full Court of the Supreme Court on its unanimous decision to dismiss the Liberal Government’s appeal, and order to the Minister to provide a statement of reasons for the decision to grant mining leases for the Mt Lindsay and Livingstone projects.
We offer our warmest congratulations to Save the Tarkine and the Environmental Defenders Office, who have both fought for the information against the odds.
Tasmania is fortunate to have such a fair judicial system that allows environmental and community groups to raise concerns through the court system.
The Tarkine is a globally unique wilderness, recognised for its beauty, biodiversity, ecological, social and economic value.
The Greens look forward to seeing what the Statement of Reasons reveal as to why those values were apparently ignored to allow mining in this globally important wilderness.
We also congratulate the Supreme Court for awarding costs to Save the Tarkine. Justice has prevailed and the State Government will finally have to give the EDO some funding - albeit reluctantly - to continue its vital work representing community groups and protecting Tasmania’s wild places.
Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Environment spokesperson
26.08.16 4:01 pm
The Aquaculture Stewardship Council team’s recommendation that Petuna Seafoods gets a “good stewardship” credit for their Macquarie Harbour fish farms is deeply flawed.
The ASC stamp of approval is despite many non-compliances, no independent testing, and inconsistencies with publically available data elsewhere. They didn’t talk to environmental stakeholders, and only relied on data supplied by the company itself.
Tasmanian salmon farmers have been handed an ASC loophole that means they don’t have to provide information about the water’s dissolved oxygen levels. This is incredibly alarming for our marine environment.
A 2016 Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies report on the endangered Maugean Skate found that, “the environmental health of Macquarie Harbour, in particular implications of low dissolved oxygen concentrations, represents a major threat to the species”.
Even the State Government’s own report from last year found a “harbour-wide decline” in dissolved oxygen levels.
Reduced oxygen levels as a result of fish farms are an acknowledged problem. Ignoring that science makes a mockery of the ASC stamp of approval.
The ASC certification process being used to give Tasmanian fish farms an environmental licence is flawed. It also raises serious questions for the Government about the assessment process for Okehampton Bay.
If Minister for Fisheries, Jeremy Rockliff, truly believes Tasmanian fish farms are the best regulated in the world, he needs to take note of the problems with the ASC assessment process.
When it comes to Okehampton Bay and the East Coast, the ASC approach won’t wash with the local community or environment groups.