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

Bob Cheek

Cheeky: Launched!

I’M HERE to welcome you to this — the launch of Cheeky, Confessions of a Ferret Salesman, by former Mercury journalist and former politician, Bob Cheek.

As I was preparing these few words, I was astonished to have this Press Release from Leader of the Opposition Rene Hidding drop into my inbox:

Was it a late attempt to nobble Cheeky’s book, I wondered …

It is customary at public events such as this to acknowledge dignataries and welcome special guests.

This is not exactly a normal book launch.

Thus, an especially warm welcome to … Maxine the Ferret.

Maxine adorns the cover of this extraordinary book.

Now, I don’t use the word extraordinary to, in typical tabloid style, overstate the case.

This is an extraordinary book, an astonishing book …

It is brutal in its honesty, as harsh on the author as on others, withering in its whistleblower analysis of Tasmanian political and business life.

It is the view of somebody who was on the inside.

If you are on the inside in Tasmania you normally keep your mouth shut and play by the rules of the club … for Tasmania’s past and present is scarred by secret deals and secret political business never revealed and by those who speak out being intimidated into silence, even exile.

Bob Cheek confronts this reality and mentality head-on. He is courageous in doing so for Tasmania is best served by the truth, even when it offends and threatens the powerful.

One of Tasmania’s great journalists John West wrote in 1852: “The fear of satire checks the haughtiness of power”.

There’s plenty of satire in this book. And there’s lots of haughtiness laid bare.

West — the editor of the Launceston Examiner in a period when that paper was a major force for change in mid-nineteenth century Tasmania who went on to become the first great editor of the Sydney Morning Herald — believed that a society unable to speak and hear the truth was doomed to tyranny.

Bob Cheek would say that in this book he has spoken the truth — as he sees it — about Tasmanian political and business life.

And a lot of it is not pretty. But — as those who read the extracts of 13 Ways to Rip-Off the Taxpayer (Cheeky: blows the whistle on perks) and Sugar Ray’s King Hit (Cheeky: Sugar Ray’s king hit)— it’s pretty funny. Darkly funny.

As I prepared these few words I got a phone call from a grey nomad somewhere deep in the Northern Territory.

Hullo Linz. It’s Ian McCausland.

He’d heard about the book … and made me promise — or he would come back and live here and edit the Mercury again — that I would pass these words on to Cheeky:

When he worked with me at The Mercury Bob Cheek and I neither liked nor disliked each other. His multitude of entrepreneurial interests — all with their headquarters at 93 Macquarie St — suggested that when Bob left The Mercury, the company’s phone bill tumbled.

But like him or hate him, Bob has an insight, incisiveness, and perception of Tasmanian politics and those at its suppurating yellow belly that few could match.

And, most of all, he is a master of the wordsmith’s craft. It should be a bloody good read.

Couldn’t have said it better … I will now hand over to Bob Cheek, who wants to answer as many questions as you can ask him.

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

A speech for the launch of Cheeky: Confessions of a Ferret Salesman, Salamanca Inn, Tuesday, November 15.

The Extracts:

What Rene thinks:

Media Release
Leader of the State Opposition
Tuesday November 15, 2005

Bob Cheek’s book serves to highlight how far the State Liberals have come

Opposition Leader Rene Hidding said the release of Bob Cheek’s memoirs today only served to highlight how far on the State Liberals have moved since his disastrous time as leader that saw the Liberal Party receive the worst election result for a major political party in nearly a century.

Mr Hidding said he had not even had time to read the book yet, but he was aware of some of the claims that had received publicity in recent days and this afternoon.

“What I can say is that in the material released since late last week, the situations have either completely changed or have been substantially misrepresented. People should bear in mind this is Bob Cheek’s view of the world, nothing more and nothing less, and Bob Cheek’s view of the world is a rewrite of the past that does not always correlate with the truth.

“The inescapable truth about Bob Cheek is that the Tasmanian people passed the ultimate judgement on him and he was the first leader of a major political party to lose his seat in the past 100 years.”

Mr Hidding said above all else, today’s launch had served to remind him of the huge dissatisfaction within Liberal ranks when Bob was leader, and of the enormous challenges every State Liberal candidate faced trying to get elected in 2002 with such an unpopular and erratic leader.

“In a sense I thank Bob Cheek for issuing such a stark reminder to the Tasmanian community of how far the State Liberals have come without him as leader.

“Since Bob lost his seat and the leadership, the State Liberals have moved on. We committed to a fresh new approach to Tasmanian politics, underpinned by unity, and sheer hard work, engaging with the Tasmanian people like never before.

“We have held the Lennon Labor Government accountable for its failings in so many areas, its warped priorities, its callous neglect of the disadvantaged and vulnerable in the community, while the Premier lives it up and does secret deals with his mates at the big end of town.

“And we have rolled out an unprecedented amount of policy, providing the Tasmanian people with a clear understanding of how the State Liberals would do things differently to the arrogant and incompetent Lennon Labor Government, with our Foundation Plan for Securing Tasmania’s Future.

“The State Liberal team, Cheek-less, is concentrating firmly on the future – a future where we can Secure Tasmania’s Future, and make Tasmania a beacon of prosperity, and compassion, where all Tasmanians have a secure future.

“So in a sense Bob Cheek has, with his memoirs, defined how differently and how well the State Liberal Team is operating without him.”

Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent="no" parentcategory="writers" show = "category" hyperlink="yes"]


  1. Greg Price

    November 19, 2005 at 10:24 am

    I am now about two thirds of the way through Cheek’s book and one thing in particular has stood out.

    At one stage Cheek talks of Hidding, Rundle and Napier ignoring him, undermining his leadership, arriving at meetings late etc. He makes the point “What could I do, sue them? They were given the job by the electorate”.

    This brought home to me the fact that elected partisan politicians really do have the opportunity to champion the causes of their constituents and attempt to influence policy development within their party. You can cross the floor, you can stand up for what you believe in, because at the end of the day it is the voters who put you there. The party can throw you out but it’s pretty unlikely that they will, especially in Tasmania where the life of a government can often depend on one or two seats.

    I have been looking at ways to get more involved in the political process in this state and I must say Bob has inspired me with a feeling that perhaps one person can make a difference, despite his rapid rise and fall. It is hard and it takes guts but it can be done.

  2. Rick Pilkington

    November 17, 2005 at 2:19 pm

    So Greg Barns has got his Lawyers looking at Bob’s book. Big tough guy Greg.

    Sheesh. Get a grip yourself Barns! Reign in that ego of yours. Wasn’t it you, a month or so back who came out in support of Mark Latham’s book. Didn’t you applaud him as a brave whistleblower.

    Why no applause or affirmation for Cheeky’s effort?

    Most reasonable people admired the positions you took on Tampa and refugees. Indeed, when it comes to Greg Barns and the Libs, (Cheek included) I have always thought you had the moral high ground. You were hard done by.

    But Greg, if Cheek was bereft of policy ideas, you were equally bereft of commonsense thinking you could operate as politician committed to social justice under Howard?

    Don’t be so sensitive Greg. Call of the henchman and drop the threats of legal action.

    They make you look like an upstart and will surely end in tears.

  3. Justa Bloke

    November 17, 2005 at 11:40 am

    I’m just a bloke who doesn’t know anything about any corruption. I am sure that all our political leaders have always been as incorruptible as Tommy D’Alton, Spot and Cossie. Not to mention Swindling Sid.

    I would swear on a stack of missals that they are honest men through and through.

    It would take very hard evidence indeed to make me change my mind. Watch this space.

  4. Nudger

    November 17, 2005 at 5:38 am

    So Greg the ladies’ Man Barns is going to sue.

    You beeauty. Linz, book your place in the press gallery now and keep us informed of the evidence.

    And Justa Bloke, just what are you talking about?:)

  5. Justa Bloke

    November 17, 2005 at 4:27 am

    So Cheek had no policy ideas?

    You could never say that about Hitler.

    John Gay has plenty of policy ideas, too, and does he care whether it’s Paul or Rene who puts them into practice?

    Save us from politicians with ideas. Greg, take your ideas and write a book with them. All this state needs is loyal followers of the dollar (preferably in the form of Gunns dividends).

    I haven’t yet had a chance to read every word of the book, but so far I have found nothing about anyone getting a villa in the Greek islands as part of some sort of ship purchasing deal.

    Now there would be an interesting defamation case.

  6. Rob

    November 17, 2005 at 2:25 am


    The book is full off opportunities to sue for defamation. Just let the book open randomly on any page.

    But we all know that nobody is going to be suing for anything.

    The best they can do is threaten and whinge on the sidelines 🙂

  7. Mark

    November 16, 2005 at 5:41 pm

    Damn! Wrong book!

    Here I was thinking the Wizard of Oz and it was Alice all the time. I had already done Alice as a looking glass to the State Labor Cabinet.

  8. the swampfox

    November 16, 2005 at 1:59 pm

    Greg Who?

  9. Greg Barns

    November 16, 2005 at 11:26 am

    The speech to launch Bob Cheek’s book by Lindsay Tuffin was the stuff of Alice in Wonderland.

    This was a politican bereft of policy ideas – I can’t remember any, can you? – and who showed gross disloyalty to colleagues such as Sue Napier and Tony Rundle.

    His role in silencing me, after giving me the go-ahead to talk about refugees (‘I know how strongly you feel about it’, he told me) at a meeting I had with him at Parliament House one day, was another manifestation of this man’s jelly-back opportunism.

    I have my lawyers going through the book very carefully and they have already identified at least three defamations.

    Get a grip Lindsay.

  10. Shane and Stuey

    November 16, 2005 at 8:19 am

    Linz old chap,

    Just came across your wonderful web-site while having a pizza and glass of red in the Salamanca internet cafe … all getting ready to belt the living suitcase out of the West Indies tomorrow.

    Wondering if you could put us in touch with this Rene Hidding character. Even with Terry Jenner here, we’re always on the look out for some extra guidance and we’ve got to say, Rene’s ability at spin makes us just a bit envious. Thankfully he’s not batting, or bowling, for the other side.

    All the best,

    Shane Warne and Stuart MacGill

  11. Nudger

    November 16, 2005 at 8:14 am

    Bet Reeeeeene didn’t have his hand on the Bible when he dictated that media release.

    Might have had it somewhere else though.

  12. Robert

    November 16, 2005 at 8:05 am

    He will NEVER take legal action. It was just all bluster and BS.

    So much or Hidding reckoning that Cheek will spend his retirement years in and out of the Supreme Court.

    On another matter, do these politicians have NO shame? After the transcripts released from the book I would be hiding under my rock.

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