Wayne Crawford

Barely a good word has been said in the South about the deal with Peter Hudson’s old Hawks footy club but that’s of little interest to the Government. What is of more concern is how popular it will prove in Launceston, where it counts politically because of Labor’s hope of winning an extra seat in Bass.

Governments of all persuasions, federal and state, have a long history of bribing Bass because it’s such a marginal seat. Gough Whitlam set the ball rolling to get the new Launceston General Hospital; Malcolm Fraser got them the Australian Maritime College; the Launceston-centric Gray government opened the Silverdome; successive state governments gave Launceston initially an Institute of Technology and eventually its own university campus (straining uni services and taking some important teaching departments from Hobart to the North); at the last federal election the Howard Government promised Launceston a new federal technical college as part of the successful campaign to win back Bass — and it’s London to a brick that at the next election federal money will be promised for the proposed enormous aquatic centre there.

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Sue Neales

But Ms Ritchie has a different — and interesting — view about what might emerge as the real change brought about by last week’s Upper House upheaval. She hopes it might be that Parliament — and particularly some of the unreconstructed, mainly male, politicians who dominate its ranks — comes to realise the views of the “little people” really matter and should never be summarily dismissed.

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But Ms Ritchie has a different — and interesting — view about what might emerge as the real change brought about by last week’s Upper House upheaval.

She hopes it might be that Parliament — and particularly some of the unreconstructed, mainly male, politicians who dominate its ranks — comes to realise the views of the “little people” really matter and should never be summarily dismissed.

It is instructive to read her thoughtful argument here, as it is the type of call or perspective which rarely makes its way on to the news pages or TV screens.

“I frequently do not understand when we have debates of this nature, why there are attempts by people to relegate the validity of passionate public input and opinion below that of specialist and expert knowledge and opinion,” Ms Ritchie told the Upper House.

“The view that somehow because there is an emotional attachment that there is less sense or objectivity is nonsense.

“More and more people want to have an active participatory role in decisions about developments that are going to affect their lives and the lives of their children.

“I believe it is our job to support that interest; we can ill afford to dismiss local passion as being out of focus, not logical or somehow less acceptable than that of someone who is removed (from the debate) and therefore (assumed) to be more able to accurately and fairly judge the facts.

“I honestly believe that you are never more clear about what is right and what is wrong and the reason behind your decision-making processes than when you are dedicated and passionate about what you believe in.

“And I will stand by the right of all Tasmanians to make vigorous and ardent representations to their elected members in regard to any matter that comes before the Tasmanian Parliament.”