Tasmanian Times


The Abetz outburst

What Peg reckons:

Media Release
Peg Putt MHA
Tasmanian Greens Opposition Leader
Wednesday, 25 January 2006

New Minister is Uninformed and Inflammatory

The Tasmanian Greens today responded to vitriolic anti-Green comments by incoming Federal Minister for Forestry, Fisheries and Conservation Senator Eric Abetz saying that he is ill-informed on the Greens’ plans for job creation in the forest industry.

Greens Opposition Leader and spokesperson on Forests Peg Putt MHA called for Senator Abetz to recognise that the Greens represent the views of a substantial proportion of the population who will be insulted by his incorrect and inflammatory remarks, and said that he should be prepared for dialogue and co-operation in his Ministerial role.

“Contrary to Senator Abetz’s spiteful claims, the Greens have thoroughly researched plans for job creation in the forest industry, which we can make truly ecologically sustainable, and there is a lot to talk about for anyone genuinely interested in shifting to a high value-adding, job creating industry and away from mass, low value woodchipping in the clearfelling culture,” Ms Putt said.

“We can create around 900 jobs through a combination of new timber processing ventures based in the existing plantations and tourism jobs gained through forest protection.”

“Many Tasmanians support the Greens which is how we come to be in Parliament, and Eric Abetz needs to recognise that we represent their views and that his vitriolic put down of them is insulting and a poor start for a new Minister who should be prepared for dialogue.”

“It is disappointing that the Senator has not bothered to inform himself of the actual policies of the Greens on forestry but has instead run on blind prejudice, sounding like an obsessed ideologue,” Ms Putt said.

What Duncan reckons:

Media Release

What on earth was the PM thinking?

The news that Hon Sen Eric Abetz is to become the minister for Fisheries Forestry and Conservation will be greeted with shaking heads in Tasmania and on the mainland

The only thing that keeps the appointment in perspective is that previous holders of that office have included Wilson Tuckey and the forgettable sacked minister who was Senator Abetz’s immediate predecessor.

It seems this is a position the Prime Minister reserves for the odd balls and those going nowhere.

But the appointment is worrying about what it says about the low priority of these important areas of public policy in the eyes of the Howard government.

I wish I could congratulate Senator Abetz but the best I can do is to wish him well and to express the hope that, unlike those who preceded him in this job, he will surprise us all by turning his undoubted talents to the challenges Australia faces in resource management and conservation.

By contrast I wholeheartedly welcome Senator Richard Colbeck’s appointment as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance and Administration.

What Vica reckons:

MEDIA RELEASE 25 January 2006


Senator Abetz is Minister for Conservation as well as Forestry and needs to represent wider interests than just those of the logging industry

The initial comments from new Federal Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation, Senator Eric Abetz, are a worrying sign, according to The Wilderness Society.

“In launching an anti-environmental crusade on behalf of the logging industry, Senator Abetz misses critical points of community concern. That is, world-class forests across Tasmania are still being consumed at an unsustainable rate,” said The Wilderness Society’s Vica Bayley.

“Forests of World-Heritage value in the Weld, Huon, Styx, Upper Florentine, Tarkine and Great Western Tiers are being destroyed. Key water catchments all over Tasmania are being badly degraded by land clearing. Logging threatens endangered species such as the wedge-tailed eagle.”

“We believe he should take a wider view of his role. He is Minister for Conservation as well as Forestry and he should be seeking to represent the aspirations of most Australians when it comes to forest management, not just the interests of the Tasmanian logging industry.”

He said he hoped Senator Abetz’s attitude would not be a blockage in dialogue between government and conservationists, and cause a step back to the dark ages of community polarization and wedge politics.

“Senator Abetz’s attack on Greens leader Bob Brown is a provocative first move as Minister. This will alienate many Australians, including a very significant proportion of Tasmanians. If this attack is continued, it will widen the divide between conservation and logging advocates,” continued Mr Bayley.

“As Minister for Conservation, Senator Abetz has an obligation to establish a constructive dialogue with the conservation movement. By coming out fighting in such a negative fashion, Senator Abetz does his portfolio a disservice and neglects the needs of a significant proportion of the public.”

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


  1. Jarrod Sharp

    January 27, 2006 at 5:35 am

    I don’t think it’s correct to assume that more people support Eric’s views on the greens than oppose it.

    Eric racked up 11,433 votes at the last election for first preferences, so you could argue that these people do, however the rest come from ticket votes which I would argue a fair proportion of people who effectively voted for him probably don’t even know who he is or what it stands for.

    I would assume that a number of people might disagree with shutting the door on all green policies in thier entirety, even if they weren’t greenies.

  2. Josh

    January 26, 2006 at 12:01 pm

    At the end of the day Eric Abetz is an elected senator of the Australian Parliament and his view on the greens would be supported by more than oppose it.

    Although I disagree with Rodney Croome’s views on many issues, his earlier post regarding Eric Abetz shows why he wins awards and is respected and recognised as a leader in the community.

    People like Rodney and Eric get mocked all the time which is expected. But ultimately these people will be remembered, not the mockers.

    As a young person I know which way I want to go.

  3. Pilko

    January 26, 2006 at 2:54 am

    Eric Abetz latest outburst confirms some of my longheld suspicions about the bloke.

    One is, that whilst professing to be a squeaky clean christian the pharisaical Abetz is a full of venom and righteous hatred. Even Greg Barns desrcibed Abetz as ‘oppressive’!

    I find Abetz’s maiden public statements in his new job to be quite extraordinary. Though perhaps not so extraordinary for Eric.

    Eric Abetz professes to be a christian, and as an elected representative and key minister of the Howard govt. he has been very open about how his biblical beliefs inform his policy positions. One can only assume then from Abetz’s ungracious and totally unforgiving position towards another democratically elected party that he must truly believe the Greens to be an evil, ungodly party, beyond help and only worthy of condemnation.

    His statements are symptomatic of a minister who is drunk with his current level of power and they reflect a certain contempt for democratic processes.

    Abetz loves to talk about the ‘extreme greens’ yet his latest statements like previous ones put abetz much closer to the extreme edge of ideologically driven politics.

    Indeed, i used to give Abetz a bit more credence until I saw him last year on an insight program (which covered the stem cell issue – including embryonic stem cells ) where he was positively embarrassing.

    It was clear Abetz was way out of his depth and as such Abetz was comprehensively outperformed by Democrats senator Natasha Stott Despoja.

    When Abetz came face to face with a christian couple, Peter and Liz Schumacher – who had chosen to donate leftover embryos from their IVF process ( left over embryos are normal part of the IVF process and if not used are normally thrown out) to embryonic stem cell research the this was Abetz reponse

    “If it is the right of parents to determine the right to extinguish the life of the embryo because they created it, what about a 21-year-old? They created that life as well, so I think we’d all be agreed the 21-year-old’s life shouldn’t be extinguished, yet we’re saying the embryo’s can. So where would be the logical point where mum and dad can make that decision on behalf of a child or embryo that cannot speak for itself?

    PETER SCHUMACHER (christian father)
    It’s hard to really understand or even believe what the Senator’s saying there. It’s so absurd to draw a comparison between an excess embryo from IVF and a 21-year-old person, it’s called murder. Where do you draw the line? When your family is complete. You use the assisted conception techniques. We’ve got three beautiful girls outside. I can hear one of them crying, I’m an emotional guy, I want to go and pick her up right now. But our family’s complete. We’ve got three beautiful girls, we’ve got four leftover embryos, there is no choice. The choice is research or the rubbish bin so they must go to research.

    Yeah nice one Eric.

  4. Rodney Croome

    January 25, 2006 at 11:47 pm

    I have to agree with Lee Lacker about the “Erica” thing. Lots of APH MPs and staffers use it assuming it annoys him. But the basic premise is that it’s undignified for a man to be called by a women’s name. That sucks.

  5. Dave Groves

    January 25, 2006 at 11:35 pm

    It is with interest I read Eric Abetz’ comments (The Examiner 25th Jan). His refusal to negotiate with conservationists clearly shows his intentions for Tasmania and the future of our “clean green” image and potential failure of Tasmania as the “clever state” if he pursues his chosen path.

    The blinkered view espoused by a vested commenter that “timber dependent communities” will be pleased to work with Eric Abetz further diminishes his standing and negotiating potential.

    The dependence on timber for a community to survive is a sign of ill health and as a “clever state” in a constantly changing environment we should be looking at diversification, including training and education to enhance these “monoculture” employment communities.

    With such negativity so close at hand, progress will be stunted until such time as the powers that be want to work to achieve common goals and the vested interests work for the whole community and not just the few.

    “We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect. ”
    – Aldo Leopold

  6. Dr Kevin Bonham

    January 25, 2006 at 8:15 pm

    How about these?


    “Health Minister Tony Abbott and the Special Minister of State, Erica Betts, are among those who have been publicly airing their concern about late-term abortions.”


    “Senator Erica Betts from Tasmania who has been a spokesperson for the lions forum often, he said well I’m glad you asked me that question because the lions forum is in fact straight out secular.”

    I was using the spelling “Erica Betts” in 1994-5 when there were jokes linking the good Senator to Hobart astrologer and general religious wanderer Jason Betts. Both at the time had expressed anti-gay positions so it was amusing to link them in this fashion. Immature? Perhaps, but there’s nothing as infantile as telling someone else what to do with their body, so quid pro quo.

    I’m not sure whether that is where “Erica Betts/Betz” started or whether it started independently with people just noticing that it is hard to say “Eric Abetz” without it sounding like “Ericabetz” and hence “Erica Betz”, etc.

  7. Barry Brannan

    January 25, 2006 at 7:24 pm

    I would love for the media to interrogate the Greens in-depth on their policies. At the moment there is only superficial reporting and discussion, which makes it hard to understand what the Greens are really on about.

    If the media did this, you may find that what you describe as “incoherent, often inconsistent policies” will start to make sense to you.

    As people understand the rationale behind Greens policies I believe it would provide a boost to the Green vote.

    Lets have in-depth interrogation of all parties and everyone will be better able to decide who to vote for.

  8. Richard

    January 25, 2006 at 5:50 pm

    Eric Abetz’s comment that the Greens have had a good run in the media is dead right.

    As someone who has worked on the inside of the media and politics for nearly two decades, I have been amazed at the lenience of the media, particularly at the AB friggin’ C and some elements of The Mercury to the Greens’ incoherent, often inconsistent policies. This may have been a function of the fact that the major parties have concentrated their efforts on fighting each other, leaving pious Peg and Senator Brown free to strut their sanctimony.

    Mr Tuffin’s letters to the editor pages on the Sunday Tasmanian were, until recently, a weekly reminder of the anti-forestry fixation that pervades some news rooms. It is irresponsible of reporters not to interrogate the economic and social outfalls of Green policies. No surprise that many of the same contributors to those pages are now found on this site.

    Senator Abetz may annoy many people, but I admire his ability to get to the heart of an issue. His criticism of the Greens agrarian solicialist ‘economic’ policies showed the electoral sensitivity of the State Greens to this issue and led Peg Putt to release a defensive statement (above).

    Have the Greens done some polling showing that voters are turned off by their knee-jerk anti-development attitude and hatred of anything to do with natural resource use?

    Would a major party ever be let off as the Greens were over the policy nonsense that saw them agitate for more plantations and then, once the industry moved to plantations, to cheaply move the goal posts and reject plantations too because “they were replacing high value forests”?

    Bob Brown is clever too. Far from ‘progressive’ as many of his Baby Boomer supporters would like his public image to be, he has shifted to now admit the Greens are the real conservatives, seeking to stop the environmental change that he blames on market capitalism (interview on ABC radio 936 today).

    I’m detecting the first cells divide on a new and growing political landscape where the Greens have hit an electoral brick wall. They may have to convince the 80 odd per cent of electors who did not vote for them that their policies and a working economy are not mutually exclusive.

  9. Super_Annoyed

    January 25, 2006 at 3:33 pm

    I find Senator Abetz very annoying – it is a shame that he sees his role in politics as the attack dog of the conservatives.

    This seems to be an emerging pattern of the Libs at the Federal level – witness Dr Nelson getting ahead after doing some head-kicking in Education.

    Certainly not all politicians do this – some even attempt to be statesman-like and representative but this is a diminishing trend as we see polarization of view as a tool of party hacks and wannabes to capture their constituency both inside and outside the party. God, it’s annoying!

  10. Dave

    January 25, 2006 at 12:59 pm

    So Lee Lacker reckons I’m childish in using the Christian name Erica.

    I’m in good company then, as evidenced by:


    At worst I could be accused of plagiarism I suppose.

  11. nudger

    January 25, 2006 at 10:50 am

    I wouldn’t blame Dave, Lee, I’d blame Mr and Mrs Abetz. What were they thinking?

  12. Lee Lacker

    January 25, 2006 at 8:59 am

    Well said Dave apart from the “Erica” bit.

    What is the purpose or intent in calling Eric Erica??

    Do you believe that changing his sex to female demeans him further in your eye?

    If so, that’s extraordinarily childish and quite peculiar.

    It also has the effect of making such postings look like the work of someone that has the mind of a child.

    I’m sorry to say that, but that’s just the way it looks.

  13. Janine

    January 25, 2006 at 8:41 am

    Perhaps Eric Abetz, your first port of call should be the misleading evidence given by FT in the “Sistergate scandal”.

    To be seen to ignore this potentially explosive case would not fare well for the new minister. We wait with bated breath for this man’s views..

  14. Dave

    January 25, 2006 at 6:03 am

    The trouble is Erica the Greens are part of the political climate here in Tasmania, and as such it’s your job to accept this and get on with it!

    We expect you to be mature enough to realise that people with alternate views live in all walks of life, and it’s your job as a politician to listen, have dialogue, and constructively come up with policys based on the views of all Tasmanians.

    Making inflammatory comments like this just gives your opponents a free leg-up, and quite frankly gives the rest of us the shits.

    Can’t wait to vote !

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