In Their Own Words...

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ACL workers need support

Peter Gutwein MP Shadow Treasurer
17.09.09 3:45 pm

There is no doubt that the ACL workers who face redundancy need support from the Government. 

In the short-term, we also need to make sure that workers who are made redundant get their full redundancy entitlements and the State Government should be working with the receivers to make sure this happens.

The Government also needs to make sure that any employees sacked by ACL are equipped with the skills to compete in the labour market.

I have had preliminary discussions with the receivers today about the treatment of workers and I will be seeking urgent meetings with both the receivers and the unions next week to discuss the future of ACL and the future of its workers.

While every effort should be made to help any worker made redundant, we also need to make sure that ACL has a future, and that ACL’s future is in Launceston.


Politics | State


Inger Visby
17.09.09 3:43 pm

Faces of the Florentine

Ordinary people standing up for an extraordinary forest

At a lunchtime forum today Derwent Valley and Central Highlands residents shared their individual stories about the unique forests of the Upper Florentine, and explained why they personally have felt the need to take a public stand against logging in the area. A test case of one of the arrestees, Lynda Blyth, who has pleaded not guilty to trespass, will take place on Monday 21 September in the Hobart Magistrate’s Court.

These brave Tasmanians are among the 22 people who were arrested in the Upper Florentine forest on Mother’s Day this year. The arrests took place during a rally at which more than 200 people voiced their dissent against the destruction of the World Heritage quality values of the Upper Florentine forests. 

One of the locals, an Ellendale resident, Lynda Blyth, said “We are just ordinary Tasmanians, but we could not just look on while these magnificent forests were destroyed - we had to take a stand. We tried to voice our concerns privately to our MPs and the Premier, but they refused to listen. In the end we had no choice but to engage in public protest.”

Another member of the group, Granton resident Bronwyn Smith added “It is my and my husband’s personal experiences and conscience that have led us here today. We base our views on knowledge gained from working in a forest-based industry for 39 years as well as making scores of visits to see firsthand the destructive forest practices taking place within mature old forests such as those of the Upper Florentine valley.”

The area subject to logging in the Upper Florentine valley is virtually surrounded by the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area and is largely untouched by industrial logging. The Upper Florentine contains large areas of old growth forest, as well as caves containing evidence of Aboriginal occupation stretching back around 30 000 years.

Faces of the Florentine will continue to encourage fellow Tasmanians to visit the Upper Florentine forest.


Politics | Local | National | State | Forestry | Gunns | Environment | Legal

Senate saves Tasmania’s lowland grasslands from Liberal attack

Senator Christine Milne
17.09.09 3:41 pm

Tasmania’s lowland native grasslands’ listing as critically endangered under Commonwealth legislation is assured after the Senate rejected a dangerous bid by Tasmanian Liberal Senators to disallow the listing.

“It is hard to believe that, after three years of scientific assessment and consultation, the Liberal Party would want to stand in the way of protecting the grasslands,” Australian Greens Deputy Leader, Senator Christine Milne, said.

“Not only are the grasslands one of the most threatened vegetation types in Australia, they are also home to, or used as feeding ground for many endangered animals such as the Wedge-tailed Eagle, Tasmanian Devil, Spotted-tail Quoll, Eastern-barred Bandicoot and Bass Strait Wombat.

“Far from the ‘jackboot’ or ‘lock up’ approach alleged by Senator Colbeck, the grasslands will continue to be grazed and support the superior wool quality yields for which they are renowned.

“I am confident that farmers will be keen to steward the grasslands and not destroy them with inappropriate practices.

“I congratulate Professor Jamie Kirkpatrick and the group of expert scientists who have worked for years for the protection of these grasslands in the face of threats from clearing and conversion of land, invasion by weeds and feral animals, salinity, urban expansion and off-road vehicle disturbance.

“Had the Tasmanian Liberals’ bid to disallow this listing been successful, it would have set a shocking precedent that politics could trump science in the listing of endangered species.

“In the years since the EPBC Act became law, never had anyone yet tried to take political action to prevent a scientifically validated listing from proceeding.”


Politics | Local | National | State | Environment

Tasmanian Labor Senators lock up farmland

Senator Richard Colbeck
17.09.09 3:40 pm

All five Tasmanian Labor Senators have today voted with the Greens to lock up Tasmanian farmland.

The Labor Party joined with the Greens in the Senate to block an attempt by the Liberal Party to stop the listing of native grasslands on Tasmanian farmland, a listing which is vehemently opposed by farmers.

“Labor, once again, has failed to stand up for farmers and rural communities,” Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and Tasmanian Liberal Senator Richard Colbeck said.

“Tasmania’s Labor Senators could have put the brakes on Environment Minister Peter Garrett’s misguided bid to list Tasmania’s native grasslands as critically endangered but instead they voted with the Greens Senators to lock up Tasmanian farmland.

“Labor is more interested in going in with a jack-boot approach to farmers, rather than working with them co-operatively to produce positive environmental and economic outcomes.

“The Labor Senators’ action confirms the Rudd Government is out of touch on rural issues and that Labor does not trust farmers to manage sensitive areas on private property.

“Lyons MP Dick Adams has also failed on this issue. In June, Mr Adams said he would fight this listing, but he achieved absolutely nothing and instead rolled over and took his orders from Minister Garrett.

“Tasmania’s rural community, particularly those affected farmers in the Northern Midlands and on the East Coast, will be incredibly disappointed in Mr Adams and his Labor colleagues.

“Mr Adams and his Labor colleagues say one thing when in Tasmania, but once in Canberra they follow the orders of Minister Garrett who has no sympathy for the rural sector.

Senator Colbeck said while the Coalition disallowance motion may have been voted down by Labor and the Greens, at least it forced Minister Garrett to do more for the affected landowners – and that is far more than Mr Adams has achieved since June.


Politics | Local | National | State | Environment

Bartlett cuts budget for independent and Catholic schools

Sue Napier MP Shadow Minister for Education
17.09.09 3:38 pm

The Premier has confirmed that he will cut the budget for Vocational Education Training in independent schools by 33%, and blames funding cuts by the Federal Labor Government.

This decision will severely compromise the capacity of independent schools to offer VET, who have described it as “a severe blow”.

No other State has cut their non-government and Catholic school sectors capacity to deliver VET in Schools in the way that Tasmania has.

In the Premiers letter, he confirms that Tasmania has lost out in the new National agreement for Skills and Workforce Development, being funded on a population basis, rather than the previous funding under the Howard Government which acknowledged Tasmania had problems of scale and a small population. 

This is a worrying sign for Tasmania if funding for training and workforce development is to be cut by the Federal Labor Government in this insensitive way, and the Premier is unwilling to fight for a better share.

The Catholic School sector has been fighting against this cut for some months, but similarly has lost out on funding, with the Premier blaming the Federal Government for the cuts.

Independent and Catholic schools form a vital part of our overall education system and by reducing their budget, not only will it limit the services they can offer it may also place greater strain on the public system, which is already under siege from the Premier’s Tasmania Tomorrow shake up.

The very real concern that this under-funding raises is that the Premier is both deliberately ignoring his responsibilities to the non-government sector, and also reducing Tasmania’s effort to ensure that more students leaving Years 11 and 12 have VET qualifications.

Maybe he thinks that by starving them of funding he can stop the flood of students leaving government schools following the implementation of the Tasmania Tomorrow reforms.

The Premier must ensure that non-government schools receive the funding that they are entitled to right now so that they can continue to provide a high-quality education and a strong VET in schools program to a large number of Tasmanian students.


Politics | State | Education

Support for McGinity remains strong

Sue Napier MP Tasmanian Liberal Member for Bass
17.09.09 3:35 pm

Yesterday a meeting at Scottsdale attracted 110 supporters of Dr McGinity
Member for Bass Sue Napier and Federal Candidate for Bass Steve Titmus also attended
New paramedic-staffed ambulance service needed now, not in 18 months time
Yesterday’s meeting in Scottsdale confirmed that support for Dr McGinity is as strong as ever.

The people at the meeting were alarmed by recent comments from the Medical Council that the McGinity investigation could take up to two years.

While there was support for the Medical Council of Tasmania to continue investigating medical complaints, concerns that Dr McGinity has been denied natural justice have not gone away.

That is why the Liberals are committed to having the process for making and investigating medical complaints reviewed by a Parliamentary Committee.

The meeting raised further issues about the how a new ambulance service plan would operate.

The new system requires that the views of local GPs be sought as decisions are being made about how to best deal with patient transfers.  That should have always been the case.

The State Liberals brought this matter to the attention of Parliament which resulted in the change of policy.

It was invaluable to have a key representative from Ambulance Tas at the meeting to clarify how ambulance policy works and what it means for individuals in the community.

In light of the difficulties and concerns being expressed by local North East residents, it is important to get the paramedic service operating as soon as possible. 

Every effort should be made to seek out trained personnel, and advertise for the two paramedics that would be needed for the station, whilst at the same time, working with the local NESM to ensure that at least interim facilities for the ambulance and staff could be made operational now. 

This will ensure the service starts sooner rather than in the 18 month timeframe the Health Minister has suggested.


Politics | State | Health


Tim Morris MP Greens Housing Spokesperson
17.09.09 3:33 pm

‘Ghastly’ and ‘Terrible’ State of Housing Stock Demands Action from State and Federal Labor

The Tasmanian Greens today revealed that with $17 million of housing debt relief from the Federal Labor Government, the Tasmanian Labor Government could afford to purchase approximately 75 dwellings every year for immediate use by Tasmanians who are currently living in limbo while stuck on the housing waiting list. 

Greens Housing spokesperson Tim Morris MP said the freeing-up of $17 million per annum for housing would allow the Housing Minister Lin Thorp to immediately begin purchasing appropriate homes on the open market, a move that is desperately required following today’s admission from the Minister that the state of some public housing in Tasmania is currently ‘ghastly’ and ‘terrible’.

Mr Morris also called on the Federal Labor Government to show compassion to homeless Tasmanians and forgive the Federal-State housing debt of $240 million, which would immediately free up $17 million per annum, money that is currently handed over to the Federal government in loan interest and capital repayments.

“With $17 million extra per annum the government could immediately purchase about 20 homes in the North West, 20 homes in Launceston and the North East, and 35 homes in Hobart and southern Tasmania, every year,” said Mr Morris. 

“The best way to reduce the housing waiting lists quickly is for the Housing Minister to begin purchasing private dwellings for public use.”

“There are 300 people in the highest category housing waiting list, there are 3000 people waiting in total, and the Minister is now revealing that a number of dwellings are in a terrible state and cannot be lived in – when will the Federal Government show compassion and relieve Tasmanians of this historical housing debt burden?”

“The Tasmanian Labor Government must seek debt relief from their Federal Labor colleagues, and accelerate the addition of more dwellings to our public housing stock by using the $17 million that could be freed-up to immediately purchase private homes for use as public housing,” said Mr Morris.

References: Appropriate properties advertised today via The Advocate, The Mercury and The Examiner:

5/44 Hiller Street, Devonport, two bedroom unit, close to CBD, $155 000,

1/6A Ravenswood Road, Launceston, two bedroom unit, close to shops, schools & doctor, $175 000 - $195 000,

4 Vieste Drive, Glenorchy, three-four bedroom house, close to Glenorchy CBD, offers over $270,000,


Politics | State | Health | Society

Allegations of cancer patients being denied treatment

Rene Hidding MP Tasmanian Liberal Member for Lyons
17.09.09 3:31 pm

Cancer patients allege being turned away from using community nursing on East Coast

DHHS setting dangerous precedent if it supports such action
Cancer patients in Buckland, Orford and Triabunna have alleged they have been denied community nursing treatment and support.

The Health Minister has now received two letters from the East Coast Cancer Care Support Group on this matter, alleging cancer patients had been being turned away from accessing community nursing services.

One of those patients who has contacted the Liberals sought assistance from community nursing to help showering after breaking a bone, and to re-apply bandages, but was refused help in the home. 

The patient rightly says there should be community nursing back-up for doctors in the region, and is reconsidering retiring in the region because of this experience.

The Liberals understand that if a person requires community nursing, they can ring their local community health service and self-refer.

This is confirmed in a letter by Health Minister, Lara Giddings, to the East Coast Cancer Care Group in August 2009 which states “residents of your community are able to access the same community nursing services as any person in Tasmania.  People can be referred to the service by any medical practitioner, allied health professional, family member, or alternatively a client can self refer”.

However, in the communities of Orford, Buckland and Triabunna this does not appear to be happening, as patients are alleging when they make contact with the community health centre, they are first asked which GP they attend, then referred back to that GP when what they have sought is in-home community nursing help.

All Tasmanians should have the right and opportunity to use the community nursing service, regardless of their choice of GP.

If the Health Minister or her Department has directed community nursing staff to deny treatment on the basis of a patient’s choice of GP, this is of real concern to the Tasmanian Liberals and this practice must be ceased.

Community nursing should be available to all those who require occasional or ongoing support in the home to maintain their health and well-being.

One of the objectives of this valuable service is to take the strain off acute health services yet at least one East Coast patient had to have an occupational therapist travel from Hobart to show her how to safely shower with a broken bone after requests for local community nursing were denied.

I call on the Minister to immediately investigate these claims.


Politics | State | Health

Faces of the Florentine

Inger Visby
17.09.09 8:32 am

Ordinary people standing up for an extraordinary forest

TODAY, Thursday 17 September 2009

Derwent Valley and Central highlands residents speak up for the first time since being arrested in the Upper FLorentine forest

WHEN:                TODAY, Thursday 17th Sept at 12.30

WHERE:                Churchill Room, Salamanca Inn

                          10 Gladstone Street, Hobart                    

At a lunch time forum today Derwent Valley and Central Highlands residents will share their individual stories about the unique forests of the Upper Florentine, and explain why they personally have felt the need to take a public stand.

These brave Tasmanians are among the 22 people who were arrested in the forest on Mother’s Day.

Come and hear from some of those peacefully defending our forests.                                     



Statement on ACL

Peter Gutwein MP Shadow Treasurer
16.09.09 7:43 pm

My thoughts are with the 120 men and women who may lose their jobs and the families of the ACL employees who face redundancy. 

Every effort must be made to assist them to find suitable work.

I am hopeful that as a result of this action ACL will remain viable and the onus is now on the State Government to ensure that ACL continues to operate in Northern Tasmania.


Politics | State


Nick McKim MP Greens Leader
16.09.09 4:41 pm

Should Have Met ICT Companies to Leverage NBN Rollout

The Tasmanian Greens today accused Treasurer Michael Aird of missing opportunities for Tasmania during his overseas trip by failing to meet with companies who specialise in fibre-compatible hardware and the provision of online services.

Greens Leader Nick McKim MP said that the Federal government’s NBN rollout will provide massive opportunities for Tasmania to deliver health and education services into Tasmanian homes and classrooms, and that Mr Aird has missed them due to his focus on spruiking for Gunns.

“Fibre can revolutionise the way we deliver health and education to Tasmanians, and the government needs to make every post a winner rather than taking its eye off the ball as Mr Aird has done,” Mr McKim said.

“Rather than going spruiking for a 20th century pulp mill, Mr Aird should have met with cutting edge ICT companies that can play a role in transitioning Tasmania into the 21st century, and a truly clean, green, clever and creative future.”

“Many European countries are home to companies that specialise in the kind of opportunities in health and education that would be a perfect fit for a highly connected Tasmania, and would have been perfect for Mr Aird to visit.”

“The pulp mill has been acting as a giant pair of blinkers on this government for years, and this time has blinded Mr Aird to the massive opportunities in the ICT sector.”

“We have a few months advantage over the rest of the country due to the NBN rollout timetable, but we have to be proactive rather than resting on our laurels.”


Politics | Local | National | State | Forestry | Gunns | Environment


Barry Chipman
16.09.09 4:40 pm


What: Handover of apology letters by Timber Communities Australia
Where: Ground floor meeting room, McDougall Bdg, Ellerslie Rd, Battery Point
When: 11 am, today, Wednesday September 16th
Who: Martine Delaney & Peter Power (complainants), Barry Chipman (for Timber Communities Australia)

At a joint media event today, Timber Communities Australia (TCA) Tasmanian State Manager Barry Chipman will hand over letters of apology to Martine Delaney and Peter Power for ads the TCA published during the last federal election.

Ms Delaney and Mr Power made complaints to the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner over the TCA television advertisement aired during the run-up to the 2007 Federal Election.

The advertisement attacked Greens’ policies relating to same-sex marriage and the legal recognition of intersex people - using poison symbols, danger signs and audio effects to describe these policies as extremely dangerous.

In the apology letters, TCA admits that, while its intention was to deter voters from supporting the Greens, it inadvertently caused hurt and offence to same-sex attracted and intersex people.

TCA further commits itself to ensuring it is not involved in advertising campaigns of this nature in the future.

TCA has also undertaken to work with Ms Delaney on the production and distribution of brochures to inform families, health workers and the broader community about intersex conditions.

Mr Chipman said, “TCA’s aim in airing the advertisement was purely political, with no intention of harming or offending any groups in Tasmanian society. When we became aware the ad was offensive to these groups, it was immediately withdrawn from broadcast.”

“We regret the harm caused, assure you TCA will not be engaging in similar campaigns in future, and are pleased to be taking steps to address the lack of community knowledge which allowed intersex issues to be targeted in the advertisement.”

Mr Power stated the settlement of the complaints in this manner was a very positive outcome. “We took these complaints because of our concerns about marginalised groups being used as cannon fodder in political battles. It’s great that TCA has admitted it made a serious mistake, apologised and gone a big step further by helping to address the underlying issues of community awareness.”

Ms Delaney, who last month settled complaints against the Liberal Party and members of the Exclusive Brethren over similar advertisements during the 2006 Tasmanian election, described today’s outcome as a valuable notice to others engaging in next year’s State elections.

“This settlement is an important step forward for public debate in Tasmania. Not only has TCA acknowledged its mistake, offered an honest apology and undertaken to not do this again, but it’s also taking steps to ensure others can’t so easily use the same tactics in future. I couldn’t ask for more and my congratulations to TCA.”

Ms Delaney added, “At the same time, I’m left feeling a bit sad today. TCA has made big effort to redress their actions, and even the Exclusive Brethren members issued a very public apology published in all three Tasmanian newspapers. Yet, the Liberal Party has neither apologised for its part in the Brethren advertisements nor ruled out the possibility of it using similar tactics in next year’s elections.”


Personal | Society

Welcome aboard Wong: climate change hits Tas rock lobster industry

Senator Christine Milne
16.09.09 4:38 pm

“Three years ago I released a report on the Climate Impacts being felt in Tasmania and the change to the currents and consequences for fisheries was evident then. Kelp forests were clearly under attack from the invasive sea urchin transported to Tasmanian waters by the ever expanding Eastern Australian current,  but where were the Lennon government or the Howard and Rudd governments in the intervening years?

State and Federal government failure to take climate change seriously and to act quickly has had severe consequences.

“We have experienced three more years of warming waters on Tasmania’s East Coast decimating this $60m industry before any government acknowledged the problem; let’s hope it doesn’t take them so long to notice the other industries affected by climate change.”

“Both the rock lobster and the $150m wild abalone industry relies on kelp forests off the North East and Central Tasmanian coast, but an invasive sea urchin is thriving in the warm waters and decimating this multi million dollar habitat.”

“It’s good that this research has been done, but the attention should also be on other agricultural sectors as well as the built and the natural environments affected by climate change.”

“Other industries right across the state are experiencing similar hardships as a result of climate change. Tasmania, the Apple Isle, may need another brand if our warm winters persist as we do not have the chilling hours needed to set fruit; the magnificent leatherwood tree is climate sensitive and anything but normal temperature will affect our world renowned honey industry, not to mention the $180m of other industries reliant on pollination from the very same bees.”

“I do nonetheless welcome Senator Wong’s report as evidence the government is finally taking this issue seriously. I am pleased the report is providing adaptation strategies for those currently struggling with dwindling rock lobster stocks, and I look forward to discussing further adaptive measures encompassing all affected industries with Minister Wong.”


Politics | Local | National | State | Economy | Environment

More details required from Aird

Peter Gutwein MP Shadow Treasurer
16.09.09 12:51 pm

The Liberals have today written to the State Government to request an urgent briefing on the major project being courted for the North West Coast.

The Liberals champion jobs and economic development in Tasmania, and as the alternative government, we want to be fully informed on the details of this proposed development.

We need to hold the government accountable for delivering outcomes and will play a constructive and positive role in facilitating an appropriate investment whilst ensuring that taxpayers’ funds are spent in a transparent and accountable manner.

We need new investment in Tasmania because Tasmania’s economy has been hit hard by the global financial crisis, losing 7,900 jobs since September last year, and we are enthusiastic about the opportunity on the North West Coast alluded to by the Treasurer yesterday.

We do however hold grave concerns regarding Mr Aird’s ability to deliver. Michael Aird has a reputation of mismanaging every project he touches.  The list of failures is growing longer, from the Ambulance Tax back flip to the water and sewerage debacle to last week’s TOTE sale failure.

You have to question whether the Treasurer is the man for the job based on his performance in recent times.

Mr Aird must not give the North West project the kiss of death, as he has on so many other projects.


Politics | State


Tim Morris MP Greens Infrastructure Spokesperson
16.09.09 12:49 pm

….But Government is Not Negotiating

The Tasmanian Greens today revealed that the person who has come forward as the so called ‘unknown shareholder’ in the Melba Railway Line sale between Asciano and the Tasmanian Government is retired Civil Engineer, Terry Croft, the grandson of Sir Gerald Mussen, the founder of the APPM Pulp and Paper Mill at Burnie.

Greens Infrastructure spokesperson Tim Morris MP said that contrary to the impression created by the Minister for Infrastructure, Mr Sturges last week that the State Government was negotiating with Mr Croft over the purchase of his 1925 debenture issued by the Emu Bay Railway Company, they have not offered to meet him, nor begun negotiations, but rather plan to legislate away his entitlement.

“Mr Terry Croft does have a legitimate debenture issued by the Emu Bay Railway Company and that it has some rights attached to it and that the only legitimate way for the Government to complete an ethical purchase of the Melba Line is to purchase Mr Crofts debenture at a fair and reasonable price; not to legislate to deprive him of his rights,” Mr Morris said.

“Mr Croft inherited the debenture from his mother, whose father, Sir Gerald Mussen established the APPM paper mill at Burnie and the debentures were originally issued by the Emu Bay Railway Company in 1925 in order to raise £262,000 in order to reconstruct their railway line, at least in part because of the potential to transport wood to the proposed pulpmill being developed by Mr Mussen.”

“I find it unacceptable that the Crown Solicitor is recommending that the Government should enact legislation to resolve the title issues on the Melba line and that the same legislation should provide compensation to Mr Croft; the only ethical way is for the Government to negotiate for the purchase of Mr Croft’s debenture which would then clearly leave the government with legitimate ownership of the railway line.”

“I call upon the Minister to contact Mr Croft and enter into negotiations and seek to get a settlement before bringing any draconian legislation into the Parliament that would strip away personal rights and entitlements that Mr Croft has as a result of his ownership of the debenture,” Mr Morris said.


Politics | State


Kim Booth MP Greens Pulp Mill spokesperson
16.09.09 12:47 pm

As Treasurer Flies Out on Last Taxpayer Funded Junket

The Tasmanian Greens today said that Treasurer Michael Aird needs to remember that he was elected by the Tasmanian people to represent the community, not just the vested interests of one company and called on Mr Aird to start behaving as a statesman, rather than as a messenger boy for Gunns’ Ltd.

Greens Shadow Pulp Mill spokesperson Kim Booth MP said that as an elected representative it is a fair expectation of the community’s that Minister Aird provides all sides of the pulp mill debate should he meet with potential investors, and not just the company’s.

“Treasurer Aird is an embarrassment for the State and the spectacle of him behaving like a messenger boy for Gunns’ polluting native forest destroying pulp mill proposal will be damaging to Tasmania’s international clean, green reputation,” Mr Booth said.

“If Michael Aird was a statesman representing the Tasmanian community he would be telling the world that the State’s population overwhelmingly opposes this polluting proposal which will throw the state into chaos should an attempt to start this controversial project occur.”

“Treasurer Aird should also explain that the project depends on 20 years of native forest for feedstock and that the critical issues of public health and safety, pollution of the Tamar Valley air shed, log truck dangers, water availability, damage to native forests, effects on other industries and alarmingly the effect of dioxin contamination on the States coastal waters and beaches were not assessed.”

“Treasurer Aird should also be explaining that this project was found to be critically deficient by the RPDC and was fast tracked by a an Act of Parliament that contained the iniquitous Section 11 which totally removes peoples’ common law rights to damages as a result of the approval.”

“If Michael Aird tries to pretend that these important issues do not exist when speaking to potential pulp mill funders then he will be guilty of misleading them, and of abandoning the Tasmanian electors.”

“The world has moved on from ecologically damaging proposals such as Gunns’ native forest pulp mill and Treasurer Aird’s messenger-boy behaviour risks turning away investment in clean industry as well as damaging our tourism brand.”

“Premier Bartlett needs to explain who is the puppet and who is the puppeteer and pull Mr Aird back from this last desperate junket on the public purse,” Mr Booth said.


Politics | Local | National | State | Forestry | Gunns | Environment

Slow to act on alcohol action plan

Will Hodgman
16.09.09 12:45 pm

Action Plan announced in 2008 still not released
Meanwhile risky alcohol use continues to affect all levels of our society from family violence to road casualties and deaths, hospitalizations, homelessness and child protection
With Police catching 13 drink-drivers a day in Tasmania, we need to act swiftly to reduce the toll that alcohol is taking through every level of our community.
The development of an Alcohol Action Plan for Tasmania appears to have stalled, like most other reforms under the tired, stale 11-year-old State Labor Government.

The Action Plan was first announced by Health Minister, Lara Giddings, in April 2008. 

In May 2009, Tasmanians were invited to have a say on a draft Tasmanian Alcohol Action Plan.

The consultation period closed at the end of June, but no Action Plan has been seen by the community.

The Minister came to the Health portfolio in 2006 telling Tasmanians that her Government and the community must “work together to address the devastating social impacts of alcohol abuse”.

Three years later, there is no alcohol action plan and DHHS own statistics show that in 2007-08–

·      1194 family violence offenders and 552 victims reported being affected by alcohol;

·      4865 drivers exceeded prescribed alcohol limits;

·      Alcohol is a factor in 25% of fatal crashes;

·      Of the 1185 public place assaults, a significant proportion of offenders were affected by alcohol;

·      1171 people were detained in custody for drunkenness and 266 detained due to the level of intoxication;

·      The proportion of Tasmanian adults drinking at high risk levels has doubled over the last 10 years in Tasmania;

·      Rates of death caused by alcohol in young people (aged 15-24) was the third highest of all States/Territories at 1.2 per 10,000 population;

·      Alcohol was implicated in 41 serious casualties (31.1%) of drivers aged 17-29 – the majority (51%) involved young people under 21 years.

·      Tasmania has the highest proportion of young people who drink alcohol at risky or high levels (19.8%) against national average of 15.3%.

These statistics are harrowing enough to warrant urgent action, not Labor’s usual snail-pace reform, and service providers and the community are right to ask where the Plan is?

The consultation draft provides a clear way forward and contains some worthwhile initiatives.

However, with many of the draft’s recommendations calling for further review and investigation, the path to decisive action could still be some time.

I would call today on the reluctant Minister for Health to release the finished Plan and work harder in her portfolio to see deliver real outcomes for Tasmanians, families and communities being impacted every day by alcohol misuse.


Politics | State


Paul Oosting
16.09.09 12:43 pm

Businessman Geoff Cousins speaks out to confirm he is committed to stopping mill

The Wilderness Society has written to Treasurer Michael Aird requesting full disclosure on all aspects of his pulp mill mercy-dash to Europe. Mr Aird should disclose to any potential investor the fact that there is a high level of community opposition to the project.

“Mr Aird has made a virtue of the fact that he is disclosing this meeting to the public, but he also has an obligation to voters to be open about other aspects of this meeting. He must make it clear to the potential investor that there is massive community opposition to the pulp mill here in Tasmania,’ said Paul Oosting, pulp mill campaigner.

“This pulp mill is opposed by a majority of Tasmanians, and at least twenty major banks and pulp companies have said they won’t be involved in the project. This potential investor needs to know the division it would be buying into.”

In November 2007 Tasmanians clearly expressed their opposition to this mill. A statewide EMRS poll of 1000 Tasmanians revealed 73% of people agreed that the Bartlett government should end its involvement with the pulp mill. Support for the mill was reduced to an embarrassing 20%. Businessman Geoff Cousins remains committed to ensure standing with the majority of Tasmanians to ensure Gunns pulp mill isn’t built.

“All opponents of this mill remain completely committed to preventing its progress, including the majority of Tasmanians,” said Mr Cousins.

“This issue saw the demise of the last Premier and it will end the career of the incumbent one as well, if he continues to offer support when he promised to do the opposite,” continued Mr Cousins.

The Wilderness Society is also requesting Mr Aird publicly release a copy of any presentation or documents he is to deliver to the unnamed company.

“The Premier has promised that ‘Team Bartlett’ will govern for all Tasmanians. That includes the majority of Tasmanians opposed to this mill,” said Mr Oosting. “The Treasurer has a duty to those people to be open about his dealings on their behalf.” 


Politics | Local | National | State | Forestry | Gunns | Environment

Tassie dairy debacle should trigger review of ACCC performance and powers

Senator Christine Milne
16.09.09 12:42 pm

National Foods in Tasmania paying diary farmers less than the cost of production is only the latest example of abuse of market power that should trigger a review of the ACCC’s performance and powers, the Australian Greens said today.

Australian Greens Deputy Leader, Senator Christine Milne, is hosting Kem Perkins, the chair of the Tasmania dairy suppliers’ collective bargaining group, and Richard Bovill from the Fair Dinkum Food campaign, in Canberra to make the call. Two parallel Senate Inquiries are about to start into the Tasmanian dairy issue and National Foods is already lobbying hard.

“Not only Tasmanian dairy farmers, but a great many Australian producers and consumers, are being let down by the ACCC’s failure to properly prevent abuse of market power,” Senator Milne said.

“The ACCC is the body that approves mergers, but is also charged with reviewing the impact of those mergers. There is a strong argument that that is a conflict of interest and the two powers should be separated.

“Since the ACCC gave National Foods effective control of the bulk of Tasmania’s domestic fresh milk market, the company has forced down the price they pay for milk from 49.7c a litre to 20.8c, well below the 39c average cost of production.

“When consumers are paying $2 or more a litre, and dairy farmers on the mainland are getting 48c, this is a completely unacceptable abuse of market power that is driving Tasmanian dairy farmers into the ground.

“National Foods has a contract to supply all fresh milk to both Coles and Woolworths and controls 70% of the market.

“I’m very pleased to be hosting Kem Perkins, who represents 30% of the Tasmanian dairy farmers, and Richard Bovill of the Fair Dinkum Food campaign here in Canberra to make their case.

“National Foods has explicitly said that they have no obligation to maintain farmers as viable and they don’t care if farmers make a loss. Well here’s a question for them – if the farmers go bust, where will they get their milk from?

“We certainly hope that the Senate Inquiries that are due to begin soon will be able to pressure National Foods into paying a fair price for milk and keep Tasmania’s world famous dairy farmers viable.”


Politics | National | State

Liberals meet with dairy representatives in Canberra

Senator Richard Colbeck
16.09.09 12:40 pm

The plight of Tasmania’s dairy farmers is being heard in Canberra this week with both farmer and milk processing sector representatives meeting with Tasmanian Liberal Senators.

Tasmanian Liberal Senator and Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Richard Colbeck said it was an important opportunity to further understand this critical issue.

“Senator Abetz and I are meeting with farmers’ advocate Richard Bovill and dairy farmer Kem Perkins here in Canberra as the State’s dairy farmers continue their campaign against unfair and unsustainable milk prices,” Senator Colbeck said.

“Tasmanian dairy farmers are reeling from the disastrously low milk prices. Swamping rains in recent weeks have added to the stress in different dairy regions.

“We have secured a special hearing of the Food Production Inquiry in Devonport on October 6 where dairy groups will be able to have their views heard. In the meantime, Mr Bovill and Mr Perkins will be campaigning in Canberra this week.

“Senator Abetz and I will also meet with National Foods and we will be asking about the claims of an oversupply of milk in Tasmania, and also about why Tasmanian farmers are being offered 20.8 cents while the New South Wales farmers are getting 48 cents.

“The Tasmanian dairy industry is reeling and the State and Federal Governments must do what they can to bring about a speedy resolution to the crisis at hand.

“These farmers need support right now and I have called on the Federal and State Governments to divert any spare resources previously allocated to drought assistance to help the Tasmanian dairy farmers, their families and their workers who are in financial dire straits right now.

“Tasmania’s dairy industry will also be able to contribute to another inquiry which was set up last week by the Senate’s Economics Reference Committee to specifically examine the issues facing the Australian dairy industry.

“This inquiry will look at the ongoing price and market issues in the dairy sector and look to make recommendations to help farmers avoid exposure to unfair markets and unfair contracts,” Senator Colbeck said.


Politics | National | State

Labor AWOL on dairy crisis

Rene Hidding MP Shadow Minister for Primary Industries
16.09.09 12:27 pm

·    Treasurer shows he is completely out of touch with rural and regional Tasmania

·    Dairy farmers need help NOW

·    Labor out of touch and missing in action

The drought taskforce needs to be urgently reconfigured and deployed to the North West, to provide assistance now to dairy farmers who are in extreme distress.

There is no time for delay. This week, members of the State Opposition have met with struggling dairy farmers and the plight they and their families are in is grave.

I was gobsmacked to see the Treasurer, Michael Aird, last night arrogantly distance himself from this crisis on the basis that he says there has been no formal request for assistance.

What planet does Michael Aird live on? 

This is an emergency for our dairy farmers.

If Mr Aird and his government had bothered to visit North West dairy farmers and speak to them personally, they would know that assistance is vital and urgent. 

Mr Aird’s comments sadly reflect a Hobart-centric government that is out of touch with the needs of rural and regional Tasmania.

Farmers need access to counselling support, and financial support – such as fodder subsidies or loans to help keep stock in condition. We have also been calling for veterinary assistance to be considered to assist with animal health.

Farmers are also concerned that they may face malicious complaints about animal welfare at a time when no matter what they do, some stock will inevitably be lost. It is imperative that common sense prevails and that the government lends a hand to help farmers keep their stock in condition, despite the appalling circumstances.

There must be a fighting fund to help dairy farmers campaign against the grossly unfair milk prices they are receiving, and the State Government needs to support it.

The State Opposition will also lobby Kirin, which owns National Foods, about the impact that the reduced milk price is having on Tasmanian farmers, and to ascertain why it is that farmers interstate are getting so much more for their milk.

All of this reinforces the need for a concerted and coordinated effort from government to get on the ground immediately to assist dairy farmers at a time of great need.

Dairy represents 24% of the value of farm production in Tasmania and underpins significant downstream processing. It is of major importance to our State’s economy and the difficult circumstances facing farmers at this time will have serious flow on effects for the wider economy.

The State Government is completely missing in action. It’s not good enough. This is another symptom of an 11 year old government that is tired, stale and out of touch.


Politics | State

Nationals, Liberals and Independents cost rural Australia $20 million and reform

Senator Christine Milne
16.09.09 12:25 pm

Rural Australia has been ill-served by the decision of the National Party, the Liberal Party and the Independents to block reforms that Australia’s export agricultural industries are crying out to achieve.

Earlier today, Australian Greens Deputy Leader, Senator Christine Milne, had secured $20 million so that Australia’s primary producers had both a rebate and a reform agenda for the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service on the table.

“What is most reprehensible is that the National and Liberal Parties put no firm and constructive proposal to the Minister but were prepared to reject $20 million and opt for business-as-usual,” Senator Milne said.

“The constructive and collaborative work of the Greens demonstrates how critical it is that parliaments behave with the public interest in mind, rather than the old point-scoring demonstrated today by the Opposition.

“Rural Australia needs leadership if our export industries are to remain competitive and our biosecurity enhanced.

“Instead, the National and Liberal Parties are offering nostalgia and not much else.

“Disallowing these regulations is a blunt measure that will now damage the interests of a great many farmers who are desperate for reform at AQIS.

“With the National Party, the Liberal Party and Senators Xenophon and Fielding going ahead with the disallowance, the reform package which I negotiated up from $40 million to $60 million is lost and many farmers will be seriously disadvantaged.

“All of the export sectors – fish, dairy, meat, live exports, horticulture and grain – want the reform of AQIS processes to proceed because they are vital to the long-term competitiveness of Australian agriculture.

“They also wanted ongoing financial support while the reforms were implemented.

“If Australian exporters want progressive leadership, people who will stand up for them whilst addressing the major challenges they face into the future, it is the Greens who have the courage and the drive to offer that leadership.”


Politics | National

Life Education

Stuart Bryce
15.09.09 5:46 pm

Life Education, the program dedicated to the safety of our children is gaining a foothold back in Tasmania.  We have an inaugural committee, which is an extension of Life Education Victoria, at least for the moment.

Life Education provides strong support for existing programs in our schools, addressing health education, harm minimisation in regard to alcohol and other drugs, bullying etc.  The program, the resullt of the efforts of the Rev Ted Nofts of Wayside Chapel fame, is now in every other Australian state and territory, NZ and 15 other overseas countries.

The inaugural committee consists of Neroli Ellis, Sue Newman, Jennine Perkins, Peter O’Sullivan, Bob Thorpe, Albert van Zetten and is chaired by Stuart Bryce.

In association with Life Education Victoria and the national body, we will be running two information days on 19 and 20 October, commencing at 10:00 am.  The program will include introductory comments by the CEO of Life Education Victoria, Ms Ann Hudson, followed by demonstrations in the Mobile Learning Centre.  These events will be held at Providence Vineyards, 236 Lalla Road, Lalla and the day includes morning tea on arrival and also light lunch.  Whilst the program is designed primarily to inform educators, our state politicians have also been invited.  There will be opportunities for interviews, photos and video.  Your presence will be very much appreciated.

Through “Infostream” all educators in Tasmanian schools, state, systemic and non-systemic will be advised on Thursday 17 September.

For this valuable education program to become effective in Tasmania. it will require government support, at least in endorsement.

For more Information on Life Education and this exciting initiative, visit



Line in the sand disappears

Peter Gutwein MP Shadow Treasurer
15.09.09 5:16 pm

Today’s announcement that the taxpayer will foot a $50,000 bill for the Treasurer to, amongst other things, spruik the pulp mill to potential financiers just proves the Premier can’t be trusted on anything he says.

The Tasmanian Liberals have always supported the pulp mill project, providing it meets environmental guidelines. We want this project to secure finance and we also want to see the jobs alluded to for the North West Coast materialise.

Unlike the Premier, we have never used the pulp mill as a political pawn. Today, that shallow “line in the sand” stunt of the Premier’s has blown up in his face and his credibility is gravely diminished.

On June 30 last year, Mr Bartlett said:

The government has drawn a line in the sand regarding any future government involvement in this project…the success or otherwise of the pulp mill is entirely in the proponent’s hands. The Tasmanian Government has done what is reasonable and responsible.

Today’s announcement proves that the Premier either doesn’t have control of his own party or he wasn’t being honest with Tasmanians when he announced his so-called line in the sand.

This is not the first time the Premier has promised one thing and done another, and Tasmanians don’t like his untrustworthiness and insincerity one little bit.


Politics | Local | National | State | Forestry | Gunns | Economy | Environment


Nick McKim MP Greens Leader
15.09.09 5:10 pm

As Treasurer Acts as de Facto Agent for Gunns Ltd

The Tasmanian Greens today described Treasurer Michael Aird’s overseas trip to assist Gunns Ltd to obtain funding for its Tamar Valley pulp mill project as an outrageous misuse of Tasmanian taxpayers’ money.

Greens Leader and Treasury spokesperson Nick McKim MP said that Michael Aird’s spruiking of the proposed pulp mill just goes to show how meaningless the Premier David Bartlett’s ‘line in the sand’ has turned out to be.

“This is a return to the bad old days of Paul Lennon, when Gunns would say ‘jump’ and the government would ask ‘how high?’ Tasmanians thought those times were over, but it clearly they are not,” Mr McKim said.

“So much for David Bartlett’s line in the sand. We already knew that his promise to end government support for the mill meant nothing to him, and now we know it means nothing to Mr Aird either.”

“Michael Aird is using Tasmanian taxpayers’ money gallivanting around the world acting as a de facto agent for Gunns when he should be concentrating on getting Tasmania through some of the biggest financial challenges we have seen for some time.” 

“Tasmanians will be outraged to learn that their hard earned tax dollars are being spent spruiking a project that most of them do not want.”


Politics | Local | National | State | Forestry | Gunns | Economy | Environment

Overseas Jobs Mission

Michael Aird, MLC Treasurer
15.09.09 4:50 pm

The Treasurer and Minister for Economic Development, Michael Aird, has announced he will leave tomorrow on a seven-day European jobs mission aimed at securing two major investment projects for Tasmania.

Mr Aird said the State Government was determined to expand the Tasmanian economy and the visit had the potential to help bring hundreds of new jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars of new investment.

“We have to seek new investment because we are competing with other locations around the world,” Mr Aird said.

“We are managing the Tasmanian economy and supporting jobs in the face of the biggest global economic challenge in more than 60 years.

“This is reflected in Tasmania having the lowest unemployment rate of all states – and if we want to keep it, we must put forward our case for new investment and jobs.”

Mr Aird will visit the European headquarters of a major multi-national corporation considering a significant new job-creating project on the North-West Coast.

He has been asked to deliver a presentation to the company’s board outlining why Tasmania is an ideal place for it to make a major investment worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Senior Australian Government officials will also join this meeting in a joint effort to demonstrate the Australian case for this project. The secretary of the Department of Economic Development will also attend.

Mr Aird said the Government is unable to disclose further details of the proponent or project at this stage due to commercial-in-confidence reasons but will do so at the first opportunity.

While in Europe, Mr Aird also will meet potential financiers of the Gunns pulp mill proposal.

Mr Aird’s involvement in the meeting was requested by Gunns.

“I will be outlining the State Government’s strong commitment to the pulp mill project and I will be making it clear we want the jobs and investment it would bring,” he said.

“I will not be offering financial support for the project.”

Mr Aird said he was disclosing the nature of his meetings now and to the fullest extent possible in the interests of transparency and accountability.

“I am being transparent in my dealings and informing Tasmanians of the steps the Government is taking to secure our economic livelihood,” he said.


Politics | Local | National | State | Forestry | Gunns | Economy | Environment

Nationals, Liberals and Independents cost rural Australia $20 million and reform

Senator Christine Milne
15.09.09 4:47 pm

Rural Australia has been ill-served by the decision of the National Party, the Liberal Party and the Independents to block reforms that Australia’s export agricultural industries are crying out to achieve.

Earlier today, Australian Greens Deputy Leader, Senator Christine Milne, had secured $20 million so that Australia’s primary producers had both a rebate and a reform agenda for the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service on the table.

“What is most reprehensible is that the National and Liberal Parties put no firm and constructive proposal to the Minister but were prepared to reject $20 million and opt for business-as-usual,” Senator Milne said.

“The constructive and collaborative work of the Greens demonstrates how critical it is that parliaments behave with the public interest in mind, rather than the old point-scoring demonstrated today by the Opposition.

“Rural Australia needs leadership if our export industries are to remain competitive and our biosecurity enhanced.

“Instead, the National and Liberal Parties are offering nostalgia and not much else.

“Disallowing these regulations is a blunt measure that will now damage the interests of a great many farmers who are desperate for reform at AQIS.

“With the National Party, the Liberal Party and Senators Xenophon and Fielding going ahead with the disallowance, the reform package which I negotiated up from $40 million to $60 million is lost and many farmers will be seriously disadvantaged.

“All of the export sectors – fish, dairy, meat, live exports, horticulture and grain – want the reform of AQIS processes to proceed because they are vital to the long-term competitiveness of Australian agriculture.

“They also wanted ongoing financial support while the reforms were implemented.

“If Australian exporters want progressive leadership, people who will stand up for them whilst addressing the major challenges they face into the future, it is the Greens who have the courage and the drive to offer that leadership.”


Politics | Local | National | State | Economy

Milne secures $20m for export farmers:

Senator Christine Milne
15.09.09 4:45 pm

Senate now needs to pass it

Export farmers will continue to receive a rebate on the costs of compliance with quarantine regulations for another 12 months while the reform of the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service is being pursued.

Australian Greens Deputy Leader, Senator Christine Milne, secured the ongoing rebate in last minute negotiations with Agriculture Minister, Tony Burke, overnight. Senator Milne will now withdraw her motion to disallow the regulations that end the rebate program and is calling on the Coalition and Independents to support this win-win outcome.

“I’m delighted to have been able to work with the Minister to deliver this positive outcome for Australian export farmers who would have been hit hard if this rebate had been removed before AQIS got its act together,” Senator Milne said.

“$20 million of new money will now be found to continue the rebate while AQIS implements reforms that will save everyone money into the future and make our export farmers more competitive.

“Disallowing these regulations would have been a blunt measure that would have damaged the interests of a great many farmers who are desperate for reform at AQIS.

“It was important to keep it available as a last resort, but now that these negotiations have been successful, it’s vital that we move on with the AQIS reform.

“If the National Party, the Liberal Party and Senators Xenophon and Fielding now go ahead with the disallowance, the reform package which I have now negotiated up from $40 million to $60 million will be lost and many farmers will be seriously disadvantaged.

“All of the export sectors – fish, dairy, meat, live exports, horticulture and grain – want the reform of AQIS processes to proceed because they are vital to the long-term competitiveness of Australian agriculture.

“They also wanted ongoing financial support while the reforms were implemented.

“The Government and the Greens have negotiated for this to happen.

“Playing politics now will hurt rural and regional Australia.”


Politics | Local | National | State | Economy

Garrett’s green loan shambles: Not one single loan has been approved

Senator Christine Milne
15.09.09 4:42 pm

The Rudd Government’s much-touted Green Loans Program is a shambles which must be urgently fixed, the Australian Greens said today.

In Senate Question Time today, Minister Wong had no explanation for the fact that not one single green loan has been approved even though some 25,000 home energy assessments have been completed in the three months since the scheme finally began.

“This important program has to be urgently fixed so that Australian householders can access green loans and small businesses can get off the ground,” Senator Milne said.

“The Green Loans Program was a 2007 election promise that, after many delays, was supposed to begin in January this year.

“In the three months since it finally began in July, some 25,000 home assessments have been completed and still no green loans have been approved.

“The Government promised a 10 day turn around for assessment reports needed to secure these loans, not 10 weeks or 10 months.

“I understand that a serious software failure has stopped the reports needed to facilitate the loans from being issued. If that problem has not already been fixed, it must be as soon as possible.

“The Government is treating the 800 accredited assessors with contempt, leaving many of them waiting for payment well beyond the 30 day period stipulated in their contracts and making them hang on the phone for long periods because the promised online booking form has not materialised.

“What about these working families, Mr Rudd?

“I am deeply concerned that many of the 25,000 households whose green loans have not materialised may have lost deposits because they have waited so long. The Government must commit to reimbursing anyone who has lost a deposit because of the Government’s stuff-up.”

Minister Garrett must urgently fix the Green Loans Program by:

•    Generating the 25,000 Home Assessment Reports needed to trigger the loans;

•    Fixing the software to ensure the program can be delivered with a 10 day turn around from home assessment to generated report;

•    Delivering the online booking function as promised;

•    Paying the assessors within 30 days as promised;

•    Reimbursing any householders who have lost deposits because the report they needed to trigger the loan has not materialised.|


Politics | National | Economy | Environment

Government bungling delays Kingston bypass…again

Will Hodgman MP Leader of the State Opposition
15.09.09 4:41 pm

Work on the Kingston bypass should have started years ago.

It took the leadership of the Tasmanian Liberals prior to the 2006 State election – and later, funding from the Federal Government – to drag the State Government into getting behind this much needed infrastructure investment that has been talked about for 30 years.

And even with community support, council support, political support, and financial support, State Labor still hasn’t made a start to actual construction of the project, years down the track.

Labor has a blind-spot when it comes to investing in infrastructure for our future and struggles to actually deliver results.

Now is the time to get on with making this much needed project a reality.


Politics | State | Environment