Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Environment

A talk with Steve Kons

Paul and I attended the dinner held in Launceston on 10th March 2005, to promote Organic Agriculture.

The press were there, so was the Organic representative from DPIWE, also the Minister for Agriculture and water Hon. Steve Kons.

After the dinner, I walked up to the minister who was deep in conversation with another gentleman. I waited for this conversation to finish, before addressing the minister.
The conversation went on for a long time with no acknowledgement of my presence. After more than 5 minutes, and in an effort to have my presence acknowledged, and of also having the opportunity of speaking with the Minister, I moved forward to where I could overhear the general conversation.

… I interrupted the conversation … the conversation wrapped up at that point and he walked away.

I then asked the Minister to tell me just how much they were committed to the promotion of Organic Agriculture (we had just had the guest speaker Don Fraser from RIRDC in Victoria, tell us of the huge opportunity, and huge growth potential for Organic exports).

I cited the example of the beekeepers where I understand that the Government’s policy was ‘not enough revenue in the industry to warrant putting it ahead of bigger earners, such as forestry’, and wondered if the Organic industry would fall to the same policy fate, because it was an industry starting from a small base.

I went on to say that many farmers, ourselves included, were suffering from water deprivation in summer due to the destruction of our upper catchments. And we were worried about chemicals in water.

’Junk scientists are totally wrong’

The Minister became quite angry at this and said that the problem was the dry summer and that; “junk scientists like that Leaman fellow are totally wrong in what they were saying”.

He then said that he had tested all rivers and all were totally clean, and that that Dr Bleaney was scare-mongering and telling lies about water safety, and that he was; “fed up with these doctors trying to scare people. Like that fellow Nickols, or something similar, in Burnie – he’s from Hobart I think – telling everyone that the woodchip pile in Burnie will give everyone cancer.”

I said; “I don’t think that is what he said. I think he said that he was worried about possible legionella in the compost part.”

Minister Kons then said; “well cancer or legionella – I’ts the same thing – he’s just trying to make everyone scared.”

I said that I thought this was quite different.

Just then, another attendee (Mrs Bellamy) came up and said hullo and asked the Minister to visit her farm at Parramatta Creek. I got the impression that the Minister would visit her farm.

She then left. So I said to the Minister; “If you will visit the Bellamy’s farm, please also visit our farm and you will see what our problems are.” I asked if he would make a time there and then, but he said I was to speak with his staff.

Then others came up and the conversation moved on.

Bordering on slanderous

I was astonished at the insensitivity, and display of anger. I was astonished at the comments made about professional people, which were incorrect, and I thought, at least bordering on slanderous.

I did not expect this from a person holding a ministerial portfolio, and representing the Government at a public function. I did expect him to listen to me and at least ‘seem’ to take ‘on board’ my concerns.

I was very surprised to be unwittingly witness to a conversation that seemed in many ways in direct conflict with the objects and interests of the group whose function he was attending, and whose aims and interests he was supposedly there to support and promote.

If such a conversation was to take place, I would have thought it prudent to have had it in private.

Geraldine de Burgh-Day is a farmer at Sheffield

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Sandra John

    May 9, 2005 at 8:57 am

    “The conversation went on for a long time with no acknowledgement of my presence…. more than 5 minutes,”.

    Viz: “I (Kons) am a Minister of State and a very important person and you don’t count”.

    Last refuge of the truly ill-mannered low self esteem lobby – or those with very poor peripheral vision?

    “I then asked the Minister to tell me just how much they were committed to the promotion of Organic Agriculture… I cited the example of the beekeepers … the Government’s policy was ‘not enough revenue in the industry to warrant putting it ahead of bigger earners, such as forestry’,

    Viz: “The only thing that matters is, making a quid – and bee-kepers are probably vegetarians or bio-terrorists anyway – or anyway bees are”.

    Thank’s Geraldine for this further insight into the character and politics of the esteemed Minister Kons.

  2. guy parsons

    March 21, 2005 at 6:09 pm

    An illuminating and plausible gentle piece of reporting, Geraldine. It has a shuddering kick in it.

    The yarn, to jaundiced observers such as I, is a scary illustration of the corruption of power. All who witness the broad reaction of the public to politicians will be aware of the “respect” and subservience on which most pollies endlessly preen.

    No wonder they can never accept defeat, why they never want to step aside, why they play Brutus with their colleagues at every opportunity … no matter what shabby disguise they may be wearing at the time, they DO expect a little flattery about their emperor’s new clothes.

    It seems, Geraldine, you were not up to speed on the personal protocol and you could not have been too surprised at being thrown in to the tumbrils of speaking to the Hon Member’s staff.

    A “confrontation” (or polite inquiry) from an intelligent voter with a genuine interest is a very difficult situation for these blokes to handle. And if they cannot handle a simple situation like this, they may not be worthy of a vote.

    I loved the vignette, would have loved more to have been a witness in the background.

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