Economist and winemaker Peter Whish-Wilson has been selected by the Greens to replace former leader Bob Brown in the Senate.
Mr Whish-Wilson, 44, is the co-owner of a vineyard in the Tamar Valley and a finance lecturer at the University of Tasmania.
He has been a vocal opponent of the proposed Gunns pulp mill in the state’s north.
Mr Whish-Wilson says he is humbled by the appointment.
“I’m also very conscious of the responsibility that will go with this position, both to Greens voters and all Tasmanians, in fact all Australians,” he said.
“I would just like to say that I think it is a very significant move for the Greens to put a senator in the north of Tasmania, to put an office there.
“It’s also a very strong message that the Greens will continue to oppose the pulp mill in the Tamar Valley.”
Greens leader Christine Milne says Mr Whish-Wilson will bolster the party’s economic credentials.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for us to build our Green team nationally, to represent our state so well, and to actually take the Greens so strongly into that economic space where we have excellent policies and where we’re working to present an internally consistent, cohesive and visionary economic narrative for the nation,” she said.
Senator Brown says he is delighted with his replacement.
• WHISH-WILSON A PROVEN PERFORMER WITH A STRONG ECONOMIC VISION
Nick McKim MP
The Tasmanian Greens today congratulated Peter Whish-Wilson, the newly nominated Greens Senator for Tasmania, saying he would be an outstanding addition to the Green team.
Greens Leader Nick McKim MP said Peter was a proven Greens performer with economic credibility and a formidable track record of defending the interests of Tasmanian small businesses, communities and the environment.
“Peter is a Tasmanian small business owner and economist, and he will bring an incredible skill set and knowledge to the Greens senate team,” Mr McKim said.
“Peter has been a huge supporter of people and businesses in the Tamar Valley, where he’s fought a passionate campaign on behalf of the community against the construction of a polluting pulp mill.”
“An award winning wine maker, Peter knows what it means to work hard and succeed in a small business and he’s living proof that the ‘clean, green and clever’ brand means dollars.”
“Peter is a man of vision and energy with his eye set firmly on Tasmania’s economic future, and we can’t wait to sit down with him to discuss his ideas for promoting progressive business.”
“We are thrilled to have Peter on board, and all Tasmanians can have faith that he will be out there fighting every step of the way for the community, jobs and the environment.”
THE vision that building a polluting pulp mill in the Tamar Valley will secure this state a bright future is looking increasingly unlikely. Some of world’s most sophisticated financial and ‘‘economically literate’’ investors are showing little interest in financing this project, indeed some have given it the big thumbs down.
Imagine the economic possibilities for Tasmania if we had focused our collective time and energies elsewhere in the past 10 years? It’s time to put this unpopular project behind us, and move on.
I say this not because I am a ‘‘NIMBY’’ or a ‘‘greenie’‘, but because I want a better future for my kids, and I passionately believe there are more exciting opportunities currently facing Tasmania.
The two ‘‘game changers’’ are the potential of new technologies, such as high speed broadband, to build a digital media industry in Tasmania, and the market benefits, energy security and technical innovation being driven by incentives to move towards a low-carbon pollution future.
In fact, both can be perfect complements to each other.
If there are bigger ‘‘strategic’’ opportunities for reshaping the Tasmanian economy of the future, I would genuinely like to hear them.
The new information age won’t discriminate based on where your business is located in the world.
The technology industries of the future will spring up anywhere, as long as they have the talent pool, incentives and bandwidth to get established.
Back in the 2010 federal election Christine Milne and I launched a policy concept to capitalise on Tasmania’s national ‘‘first mover advantage’’ in the rollout of high-speed broadband.
We wanted to explore the building of a digital media centre in Northern Tasmania that could create content for selling new commercial education and information services to the world, that would also train our youth and help re-skill our workforce.
Importantly, we also championed a local vision for a Tasmanian youth TV station as part of this new hub of innovation.
The message to us was our youth both need and want a high tech culture.
Digital media is a broad area that includes the creative convergence of digital arts, science, technology and business.
It focuses primarily on human expression, communication, social interaction and education. In a nutshell, this is just about everything you can download off the internet - games, information, entertainment, Youtube and so on.
Here are just a few ideas that are exciting for Tasmania.
One is to develop unique applications for tourism experiences in Tasmania, or what is often called experiential tourism.
Imagine having an audio visual virtual tour guide in your mobile phone as you travel the state.
The content, produced by our local youth and talent, could be simply downloaded and bought from the internet.
This would be a world first; a great way to differentiate our tourism product; another good reason to visit Tasmania. Sorry, but did I mention it will probably need broadband to work effectively?
Another idea is that of developing content for ‘‘open universities’‘. It might sound far fetched, but recently in America the Massachusetts Institute of Technology launched a platform for developing a ``virtual university’’ or open university of the future, with a community of millions of learners from all over the world expected to pay good money for online education services.
Why couldn’t Tasmania be a world leader in designing and selling online education content and services to the world?
The University of Tasmania is already the second biggest employer in Tasmania with a growing talent pool and reputation.
It has already started to deliver online courses to distance students, and its recent significant investment in digital technology makes it well positioned to capitalise on opportunities such as this.
There are a myriad of other possibilities. It just takes a bit of imagination to see and realise such an alternative vision, so what have we got to lose?
- Peter Whish-Wilson is a winemaker and University of Tasmania economist. He has been a candidate for the Greens in Tasmanian state elections and the Senate. Yesterday the Greens named him to replace Bob Brown as a Tasmanian senator.
• Friends of the Tamar Valley: Pulp mill opponents wish him well
Tamar Valley community group Friends of the Tamar Valley today congratulated fellow pulp mill opponent, and FTV member*, Peter Whish-Wilson on being selected as the new Tasmanian Senator for the Greens.
“Peter is an excellent choice. He is able to speak knowledgeably for the environment because of his long commitment to the Surfriders Association, and its investigations into the irreversible damage dioxin-laden effluent will cause to the marine ecosystem. His real-world commercial experience, ranging from international banking to winery ownership and operation, means any statement concerning the deeply flawed economics of the pulp mill project has to be taken seriously,” said FTV spokesperson Anne Layton-Bennett.
“With his breadth of economic knowledge he will be a strong advocate in Canberra for pulp mill opponents – wherever they live,” Ms Layton-Bennett said.
*Now that he will be part of the Australian Greens Senate team Mr Whish-Wilson has resigned from Friends of the Tamar Valley, which is an apolitical community group.