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

Lennon should pay, Kons waits

Tasmanian Times

“Sorry Tasmanians, but this is not corruption — it is misappropriation of Government funds. In my personal view, Mr Green — my former “boss”, is entitled to an ex gratia payment for damages to his reputation and for stress and suffering caused by his forced resignation. My only issue with this payment is that it should NOT have come from the budget of Dept Premier and Cabinet, but should have been paid personally by Paul Lennon.” [Posted by: Warwick Raverty of Melbourne 12:29 pm 1 February 2007]

Mr Green yesterday (Wednesday 31 January) refused to comment [on the $140,000 “ex gratia” payout]. He said there was no legal impediment to him discussing the issue but added he did not believe confidentiality clauses in separation agreements are legally enforceable. [The Australian, 1 February 2007]

According the Linda Hornsey, Secretary of the Department of Premier & Cabinet, Premier Lennon offered Mr Green an ex-gratia payment to compensate him for salary and other entitlements forgone between his resignation (January 2007) and October 2007, his intended retirement date.

The only time any public servant in conflict with his employer has the power to negotiate an equitable separation agreement is BEFORE he or she formally resigns. We, as taxpayers, are entitled to question any formal ‘offer’ if either the public servant or the employer attempted to negotiate the conditions of a deed of release or separation AFTER a letter of resignation is received. Except for Public Service obligations relating to an employment agreement such as serverance & statutory entitlements, the employer is under NO OBLIGATION to pay any extra ‘ex gratia’ payment.

The time to negotiate the basis of a separation ‘offer’ is BEFORE resignation, not AFTER!

If an extra payment is made we are entitled to know whether is it a gratuitous gift to buy silence or a genuine acknowledgement of thanks.

Former panel member, Dr Warwick Raverty, wrote to The Mercury stating:

“Sorry Tasmanians, but this is not corruption — it is misappropriation of Government funds. In my personal view, Mr Green — my former “boss”, is entitled to an ex gratia payment for damages to his reputation and for stress and suffering caused by his forced resignation. My only issue with this payment is that it should NOT have come from the budget of Dept Premier and Cabinet, but should have been paid personally by Paul Lennon.” [Posted by: Warwick Raverty of Melbourne 12:29 pm 1 February 2007]

We may never know whether Mr Julian Green received his payment for “damages to his reputation and for stress and suffering caused by his FORCED resignation” or for “salary and other entitlements forgone between his resignation and his intended retirement date”.

Probably both versions are correct but more disturbingly there may be other reasons as well.

But why didn’t he just resign from the chair of the Pulp Mill Panel and remain as RPDC chief?

His decision to resign from both positions suggests his reasons for leaving were very deep and probably related to a significant breakdown in relations with the Lennon Government. They probably went to the very serious allegation of governmental interference in the integrity and independence of the RPDC as a statutory body. Will we ever know?

Normally when the Crown Solicitor drafts a Deed of Release to accompany a resignation there are clauses covering what ‘the Crown’ and ‘the Releasor’ agrees to. Normally in the deed the ‘Releasor’ agrees to resign with a negotiated separation package. This usually includes the normal Statutory Entitlements owing to the employee (Long-Service and Sick Leave entitlements; Superannuation payments; other Contractual entitlements). It may or may not include other clauses related to confidentiality. Such confidentiality clauses can restrict the ability for ‘the Releasor’ to disclose any matter relating to the resignation. If ‘the Releasor’ breaches such a clause he or she is liable to pay damages to the Crown.

Consequently there are significant reasons why a public servant who secures a lucrative payout plus an ‘ex gratia” payment from the Crown has good reason not to comment any further about their resignation and the circumstances leading up to it.

Mercury reporter, Phillipa Duncan used the term “hush money” to describe an ‘ex gratia payment’. Then again, it could also be genuinely offered by the Crown ‘out of gratitude’ for services rendered.

But why did Deputy Premier Steve Kons and senior figures in the Justice Department oppose the ‘ex gratia’ payment to Mr Green?

Julian Green wrote to Warwick Raverty on 24 December stating: “I wish to stress that the position you [Raverty] have found yourself in — in resigning — is not of your doing — the fault lies squarely with the activities of the Tasmanian Pulp Mill Task Force.”

On 9 January Mr Raverty accused the Lennon Government of being “unethical, duplicitous and Machiavellian in its dealings with the [Tasmanian] electorate.”

On 16 January he said: “Events of the past two weeks have shown that the RPDC review process as it was prior to my resignation was one that was only going to be allowed by Paul Lennon to reach one conclusion.”

One government source likened the payment to Julian Green to the $650,000 ex gratia payment Mr Lennon paid to former governor Richard Butler. He described Premier Lennon tossing money around like “a drunken sailor”.

This suggests there are serious problems of governance in Tasmania. Everyone knows the Emperor of Tasmanistan has no clothes on.

Pity HE hasn’t realised it yet!

And

Is this Steven Kons’ power play …

This is a government sundering. A Government led by “a drunken sailor” whose crew is becoming increasingly nervous as the ship powers full steam ahead for the rocks.

And no-one, it seems, is more nervous than the First Mate.

Nervous?

Or — if as some say he is just another ambitious polly grasping for power — he is rubbing his hands with glee as the Great Leader heads wildly off on his course to destruction.

Kons has perfectly placed himself as the ethical upholder of good governance in being so publicly revealed as opposing the ex gratia payment to Julian Green.

It must make David Bartlett — another highly ambitious polly who eyes the Top Job — squirm.

Then there’s Paula and Lara, who both see themselves as Strong Leadership Material.

What a mess. It is not out of the realm of possibility that here we see Labor inexorably heading to parliamentary Rump status; a position held by the Libs for so long.

How The Mighty are falling.

The tragedy for Tasmania is that the Alternative is little Alternative … as the issue which has triggered this unravelling — the pulp mill (and the power of Gunns to dictate Tasmania’s future) — is just as slavishly supported by the Libs.

Tasmania’s 10 worst decisions

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11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Mark Hanna

    February 9, 2007 at 7:05 pm

    Hey Justa, I think Henry’s saying something like I am (http://oldtt.pixelkey.biz/index.php/weblog/comments/lance-this-boil/), only he’s said it in a far more poetic way. Just because our government tends to behave how YOU expect them to, doesn’t mean it’s either desirable or a design feature.

  2. Anne Johnston

    February 3, 2007 at 6:30 pm

    Don, I know….I know. The Libs want the mill almost as much as Lennon does – I just would have thought there would be a bit more of an indignant outcry over the obvious meddling by the government (through the instrument of the Pulp Mill Task Force) in what was a much-touted independent RPDC process.
    I am under no illusion over this, believe me, but if there is any justice at all in this state, this white elephant project will never get up.
    I’ll share a bottle of champers with you when we win this one! (Or maybe you’d rather a Jonnie?)

  3. DON DAVEY

    February 3, 2007 at 8:15 am

    Annie Babe !
    The Libs are not about to lift a finger! after all, they want the mill “just as much”, if not more than the “Labour rabble” and of course the good thing for them is, if and when it eventually gets up ! it will appear that “Labour” will have been the only ones to have dirtied their hands ! (in the eyes of Fred Average anyway)! the Libs will then go on and win the next election and make all the right noises inasmuch as ,”well! it wasn,t us ! but now that there has been this huge expenditure it would be folly and devastating for the states coffers not to proceed ! after what Labour has done ! tsk,tsk. and the mill for the Huon valley will just have to do ahead to cater for all the land clearing and plantations carried out over these many years ( oh dear ! what a shame! but our hands are tied ! )”
    d.d.
    Have no doubt ! this has been a long, long, term plan and millions upon millions of taxpayer dollars have been invested over many years to gain these ends, and line the pockets of the share holders who have stayed with it.
    d.d.

  4. Justa Bloke

    February 2, 2007 at 3:47 pm

    Our system of government is based on greed and its wheels are oiled by pride and fear, Mark. It can only operate when these elements are present.

    Where on earth are you going to find ” respectable, competent, trustworthy, experienced, wise, REAL leaders”? And why would they be interested?

  5. Anne Johnston

    February 2, 2007 at 12:47 pm

    I really hope that Dr Raverty carries through on his threat (as reported in today’s Examiner) to pursue Lennon through legal channels over alleged lies our lovely premier has told re the whole RPDC resignations issue. (No, let’s call it what it is – a stinking scandal) Raverty says he …. “would welcome appearing before a criminal justice commission or a royal commission into the controversy…”.
    Bring it on, I say, and the sooner the better.
    The thread upon which the sword above Lennon’s head hangs is almost at breaking point – he should not be able to bully his way out of this one. His brutish, bullying behaviour has been the preferred (and pretty successful) way of dealing with difficult issues, but I believe that thinking Tasmanians have had enough.
    Where are the howls from the Liberal Opposition on this? All I can hear are a few meek squeaks. And what about Labor government members showing a bit of personal integrity and calling the premier to account. Their standing in the eyes of the electorate could only be enhanced if they showed a bit of initiative and stood up to a premier who is rapidly becoming a laughing-stock and a liability.

  6. Mark Hanna

    February 1, 2007 at 11:29 pm

    The complete failure of governance in Tasmania is apparent, the article seems to have hit the nail on the head. We are a laughing stock, the government are a bunch of ninnies. Unfortunately, we don’t have the capacity to provide government for ourselves under this model, as there appears to be no viable alternative. I respect the Greens attempt at integrity, but I don’t think they’re a viable government yet. The opposition are worse than the government. We need a multi-party approach, a coalition, maybe with ministers able to be appointed from outside the elected members, but answerable to parliament.

    In addition, we need some respectable, competent, trustworthy, experienced, wise, REAL leaders to step forward and put themsleves up for election, putting aside the fact that people with those characteristics can earn more elsewhere. That’s the way real leaders used to behave.

    Our system of government is being undone by greed and pride. Can someone bring an end to it?

  7. Blind Freddy

    February 1, 2007 at 11:07 pm

    Not only does the Emporer have no clothes and everyone can see this – but the entire State is laughing (or crying) at the daily spectacle of his tiny weeney.

    Can things really get any more embarrassing in Tasmanistan ??? I think that “cringe” has now become a new terminal disease in the [rotten] apple isle. I dont know in the morning if I should bother to turn my radio on for fear of hearing about the latest debacle fron Lennongrad!

    I laughed hugely when I saw todays Mercury article on political donations – a large number of Labor members and candidates “donating” between $20K and $30K. Does anyone really believe this comes from their personal bank accounts? I was I think Blind Freddy can see what is going on here!

    I think we should russle up about $10K from TT readers and prime Lazlo to approach one of the minders pretending to be a newly arrived pommy businessman wanting to establish a [ludicrous] business in Lennongrad – maybe wanting to buy the heritage corner on Davey Street and build the “Princess Mary World” theme park – then sit back and watch how far it goes. We can trace the cash/cheque donation and then report back to TT readers were the money went. A most amusing exercise!

  8. Richard Barton

    February 1, 2007 at 4:50 pm

    It’s worth mentioning that when a political party gets a donation from a publicly funded company, then that is equivalent to money laundering. That is, tax monies are being used to fund the major party (ies) by laundering them through a company account.

    It would hardly be surprising to find that this is the major source of funding for the major parties, state labor & liberal with timber companies, fed libs with coal, car companies etc, nationals with AWB etc.

    Also it’s worth looking at the public service superannuation list where we find those same companies.

    How likely is an agency to attack or disrupt such arrangements when their future income is invested in them?

  9. David Obendorf

    February 1, 2007 at 4:32 pm

    Is there not a recollection that Attorney-General, Steve Kons had a differing position on the agreement that Bryan Green, as Minister of the Crown had in relation to the deal he signed with Tasmanian Compliance Corporation directors?

    Didn’t the public revelations (by Kons and his office) that the opinions of senior bureaucrats against the signing of that agreement lead to the TCC scandal and the impeachment of our erstwhile Deputy Premier?

    Are there any familiar patterns of behaviour establishing in Lennongrad?

  10. Tomas

    February 1, 2007 at 4:23 pm

    I’ve said it before, the clock is ticking on Lennon. I suspect he will step down (or be removed) in the next 18 months having completed the work of Bacon. I think Kons has not proven to be very convincing as a potential leader. Look to Bartlett or even Giddings supported by the next generation of MHAs.

  11. John Biggs

    February 1, 2007 at 4:18 pm

    But are the mighty falling? In the Mercury over the last few days, an incredible story of mismanagement, bullying, and backtracking has gone on. Bob Gordon telling Julian Green to ‘Get lost. (The Premier) he’s my mate — he won’t do anything.’ The Premier denying any role in the negotiations over Green’s payout, even when his department head Ms Hornsey said he had; Lennon again saying the RPDC would not be over-ruled — then that it might be… It just gets worse and worse each day. And Lennon doesn’t seem to care, as if he knows Tasmanians themselves don’t care about lies and incompetent management by a small coterie of bullies. Surely, anywhere else in Australia, people just wouldn’t stand for this. But what about fellow ALP politicians? They must be cringing with embarrassment that their leader is making not only Tasmania such a laughing stock, but they themselves. They are part of it. Surely, out of self-respect, they should vote Lennon out and put an end to this monumental embarrassment.

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