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Fourteen months but who’s counting? I am!

Nostradamus
Without any equivocation at all, I can say that I’m not a Green but in my view, anyone that does not have a streak of green within them lacks soul as well as an understanding of nature. Many years ago, I heard a brilliant lecture on what should’ve been a natural alliance between conservationists and farmers, both who sought to conserve and maintain the land. The lecturer stressed something that is far from unique as an idea, namely that we are here for a short time and stewards of the land and the country, not its owners, with some God-given right to dispose of it as we see fit. My own personal philosophy is that at my funeral, someone will stand up and say that he did his best and enriched our daily lives in a small way. Not for me the people like a couple of retired state premiers and the knucklehead fringe that comprises front groups for Gunns and the quislings at forestry Tasmania. Their attitude reeks too much of the philosophy of a former Victorian Premier who had a rather simple outlook: if you see a tree, cut it down and to your horror, there is a vacant space. The solution is to build something profitable in its place. The same man had the view, at least at one stage, that people could be categorized roughly as revenue earning units or non-earning revenue units. The crude nature of this dichotomy became too much for the people of that state and eventually, Jeff was Jeffed. To give him some credit, he has partially rehabilitated himself by working for Beyond Blue but he should’ve known that beyond blue lies green.

THE SILLY SEASON in Tasmania, as well as the big island to the North, is a time when traditionally, we are expected to be cordial to our acquaintances around Christmas time and the New Year. It is a time when those who treat us with contempt want to be best mates for an hour or so. Collectively, we tend to imbibe, sometimes to excess, of whatever takes our fancy. Unfortunately the powers that be are a cynical lot: a “Merry Christmas” from them is as good as a knife between the fourth and fifth rib. And so it is with business and government. In years gone by, shady developers launched plans in the expectation that there would not be any objections by a very merry public. Those of us who keep an eye on things are well aware of this particular trick so the element of surprise is lost – up to a point. Eternal vigilance is required and the number of volunteers is decreasing as we over-obsess on personal problems.

Any intimation of charity and goodwill is easily swept away and business, admittedly under pressure because of the economic situation, could not wait until 12th night to tear down Christmas decorations and start advertising Easter eggs and hot cross buns. Not that the religious are free from hypocrisy. On the one hand, they profess to commemorate the birth of their Lord and Saviour while on the other hand, the Bishop of Tasmania disposes of Holy Trinity Church; all done and dusted before Australia Day. Not that I have any particular objection to Fr.Timothy and his Greek Orthodox congregation – on the contrary, it is a relief to know that God will still be worshipped at Holy Trinity and it will possibly be restored, rather than being converted into a restaurant, studio for artistes or allowed to crumble. Bishop Harrower is no Anglican and I will say little more, with one eye on the law, except that we need an Anglican Bishop who can draw the Church together and recognise all forms of worship. I wonder about those who claim the Holy Spirit led them to decide on the engineer-cum-missionary, Harrower: it must have been a long day and the spirit over-proof! He may well say that God speaks to him personally but I prefer an old-fashioned rule of thumb from the New Testament: “by their deeds shall ye know them.” And where is Percy from the pews when we need him?

This time of year is also notable for shonky government practice. Little Ms. Giddy was in charge of the island state until a week ago and did a pretty fair job. In fact I don’t want to damn her with faint praise but I was genuinely impressed at times. However, when the master returned, it was in the face of a situation of considerable unrest about the implementation of somewhat dubious police practices in the forests; the systematic demonizing of protesters by the usual suspects and crushing their flimsy camps to the prolonged applause of those who make their living by cutting down trees for pulp. In a recent trip abroad, and observations from Canada, it can be seen that the power of nature far outstrips that of man but when forests are cut down, landslides and degradation follow. The land never recovers in a natural fashion and the knock-on effects are just as visible as the scars on the landscape. I must admit to having studied law but gave it up as a bad job despite honours at University: the more I studied, the more cynical I became and nothing will convince me that a certain species of lawyer will do anything for money, and principles be damned! I have one or two in mind but will leave it to readers to draw their own conclusions.

Getting back to that law, I can’t help but wonder what the ramifications would have been had the public service unions decided on picket lines outside offices during the dispute with the government over pay increases late last year. Would the government have had the cojones to have used the same laws (or a variation) against pickets that were used in the forest? It would be a brave man to predict that these laws, which appear to discriminate against protesters in forests, will not come back and bite the government in a very sensitive area – its majority. Not that the Liberal Party will do much except rub their hands in glee at the thought. I feel genuine sympathy for Will Hodgman and his father, hemmed in by boneheads and the feral right, suitably embodied in Tasmania’s most popular politician, or at least that is what he told the Senate – Unser Erich- could we live without him?

Without any equivocation at all, I can say that I’m not a Green but in my view, anyone that does not have a streak of green within them lacks soul as well as an understanding of nature. Many years ago, I heard a brilliant lecture on what should’ve been a natural alliance between conservationists and farmers, both who sought to conserve and maintain the land. The lecturer stressed something that is far from unique as an idea, namely that we are here for a short time and stewards of the land and the country, not its owners, with some God-given right to dispose of it as we see fit. My own personal philosophy is that at my funeral, someone will stand up and say that he did his best and enriched our daily lives in a small way. Not for me the people like a couple of retired state premiers and the knucklehead fringe that comprises front groups for Gunns’ and the quislings at Forestry Tasmania. Their attitude reeks too much of the philosophy of a former Victorian Premier who had a rather simple outlook: if you see a tree, cut it down and to your horror, there is a vacant space. The solution is to build something profitable in its place. The same man had the view, at least at one stage, that people could be categorized roughly as revenue earning units or non-earning revenue units. The crude nature of this dichotomy became too much for the people of that state and eventually, Jeff was Jeffed. To give him some credit, he has partially rehabilitated himself by working for Beyond Blue but he should’ve known that beyond blue lies green.

It is absolutely typical that the standoff took place over Christmas/New Year and before Australia Day. Would forest contractors really have been working at the time? It is always been my understanding that in the land of the long weekend, the Christmas/New Year period is a movable feast and lasts to mid-February. So the confrontation had to be engineered to suit certain interests. I have some sympathy for the police because they had to carry out a task unpopular with the majority of the community. Time has long since passed when a policeman’s lot was a happy one. I’ve known police offices in many states who have found themselves on the roads booking motorists over the holiday period. They are not happy and there are few things worse than a copper pulling duty persecuting motorists at a time when he/she would sooner have been at home with the kids. While it is true that the booze buses are essential and a crackdown on hooning long overdue, working over Christmas makes most policemen very unhappy and occasionally snappy. By all accounts, the police in the forests were good-natured and confrontations no more than could be reasonably expected. How different it would’ve been at a picket line around the Executive Building in Murray Street. On the other hand, Tasmanian public servants are more docile than forest protesters. With apologies to Simon Cocker, whom I am sure is well-meaning; mustering white-collar workers is harder than the blue-collar industrial brethren. I imagine that it is the fantasy of certain state politicians that the government finds itself confronting not only nurses but other workers before the next election.

So Paula Wriedt has gone following a sympathetic interview and some very ugly snarling about 850 K. in the electronic blogs. The man most likely to take her place for a short while is Daniel Hulme an ALP wannabe and no doubt he has a field marshal’s baton in his knapsack. Much as I admire the Hare/Clark system, it seems patently ridiculous that someone who polled 642 votes or thereabouts should step into the vacancy. The logic has been explained many times but I believe the process needs an overhaul. The Labor vote in Franklin was 47.17% and a quota of 2.83 members, which meant essentially three after preferences, with Paul Lennon (virtually two quotas) Lara Giddings (1) together pulling the third member, Paula Wriedt over the line. Up to a point, one can justify Ross Butler replacing the Lemon but he only polled 1066 votes which is about 3% of the Labor vote. Arguably, when it comes to recounts, it might’ve been better to have picked the next highest polling candidate who failed to gain office. In this case, it would’ve been Vanessa Goodwin who polled 2799 votes and even allowing for the discrepancy between the overall percentages gained by the two major parties, Ms. Goodwin can consider herself extremely unlucky. Daniel Hulme is indeed a very fortunate young man but he will be hard pushed next year. The jungle drums have it that pre-selections are well under way, behind closed doors and with as much secrecy as the party can manage. I look forward to hearing some leaks because the sieve-like nature of the ALP is only surpassed by the Liberals.

Well He, the chosen one, promised us that he would be clever, kind and connected as Premier. However, watching his performance on the TV news as he virtually salivated over the prospect of the Ralphs’ Bay development proceeding lost me entirely. The cold eyes and the tight mouth reminded me of a barracuda, one of the most dangerous species in the ocean. That can be contrasted with his happy smiling approach to school children, which warms the heart and is probably genuine. I can’t break into song but the Gilbert and Sullivan opera, Pirates of Penzance contains a song which runs:
“A paradox?

A paradox,
A most ingenious paradox!
We’ve quips and quibbles heard in flocks,
But none to beat this paradox!

A paradox, a paradox,
A most ingenious paradox.
Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha,
This paradox.

After some consideration, I’m inclined to the view that the man has an image problem but I don’t expect anybody has the courage to tell him, let alone recommend remedial action. There are some in the ALP that want to see him fail and for those of us outside the tent, I certainly don’t want to add to his problems. But it was a less than edifying sight of Bryan Green poncing around on the television, looking for all the world like he expects to be a minister after the next election. (When will the man learn that the result of his two court cases don’t make him innocent but only reflect on the impossibility of trial by jury). For what it’s worth, my tip is for a hung Parliament but a lot will depend on the ongoing saga of the pulp mill. But you have to say that Braddon will be a very interesting electorate because another disgraced former Deputy Premier, Steve Kons, shot off his mouth a couple of days ago and stated that the new hospital on the waterfront was ill considered. This puts him at odds with what we are told is the official government line but if we look at the economic situation, I will maintain consistently that there is no point in investing in a new hospital unless it can be fully staffed by doctors and nurses and the dreaded administrators. As for another nice little item floating in the ether, namely that Tasmania should only have one major hospital (in the South, where else?) this must be the biggest non-starter at all times. Only fools with a vested interest in parochialism would push this line. The government cannot win in this situation.

It’s pretty clear that fighting this objectionable development will be a major undertaking. Nick McKim and the Greens will be fighting a war on three fronts. While the redoubtable Buck Emberg continues the campaign against logging old-growth forest, Ralphs’ Bay badly needs someone with a high profile and the same degree of dedication and fortitude. I have a deep personal revulsion against cutting down any old-growth forest but with the rider that selective felling for craftsmen should be guaranteed. Woodworker, you blockhead, I hope you understand the big words (other than “and” & “the”) because Tasmanian craftsmanship is something that should be celebrated, praised and exported. Craftsmen should be in the front line of conservation and their taking of timber should be both selective and sustainable. On the other hand, if plantations cannot sustain a pulp mill, then that should be the end of it, no weasel-words, ifs or buts; whys or wherefores and any pulp mill should be demonstrably non-polluting. I have a short list of people who I would like to run through a pulp mill quite literally and I would be prepared to inspect the by-product with a great deal of interest. The finished product could be used for mulch and be so well refined that not a respectable blowfly would be drawn to it. I rather fancy some with some red hair in it because I’m led to believe it is very good for roses.

I don’t know who is advising the Premier and frankly, I don’t care. Before Christmas, I was told that the Field brothers were his advisers and mentors. The electorate will make up its own mind and the tick of the clock is growing increasingly loud. Furthermore, I understand that Mr. Bartlett fancies himself as a reincarnation of Jim Bacon but probably with smoother edges. I mean no disrespect to the deceased, who died of a condition that should never be inflicted on anyone (even a former Liberal Premier who should have been jailed) but in a sense, the late Jim was the last of the knock-them-down, drag-them-out style of Labor leader. The Lemon was but a pale imitation and despite his 2.8 quotas, a snap poll would have dumped him on his butt, and that would’ve been the least of his problems. I do not regard myself as a particularly vindictive person and the Westminster system discourages inquiries into the actions of previous governments. However, it would give me a great deal of pleasure to see a number of shady deals exposed to the light of day at both the federal and state level. For example, I’d really like to know what went on during the AWB scandal. Some of the tales I’ve heard, if true, would make any believer in democracy cringe in horror. As for Tasmania, I would like a strong light shone into dark corners and when the rats run away, I’d like to see where they lead. I would like to import the best, honest financial investigator to take a good look at the treatment Gunns’ has received from governments of both stripe. I would also enjoy seeing how power is really wielded in this state by the men in the shadows and as a personal peccadillo; I would love to see deals between developers and local councils under the microscope. However, that’s getting into the realms of wet dreams.

A very good friend of mine is preparing to die. He says he had enough and while I think he is mistaken, I respect his right to hold those beliefs. In common we share an abhorrence of the way democracy has been sullied. We diverge on certain issues and while I refuse to join a political party, he will see out his days as a rank-and-file member of a dismal lot. I don’t know Dr. Richard Herr, who has enjoyed considerable popularity on ABC radio and rightly so because he makes sense. I’d like to ask him to respond in terms that everyone with an IQ slightly bigger than their collar size can understand: what constitutes government of the people, by the people and for the people. As a corollary, perhaps he could be induced to tell us why the system is stuffed. I found an unknown blog with which to conclude: “Put not your trust in politicians, for in them there is no salvation. Vote, yes; vote wisely, yes; understand the issues and decide carefully, yes, yes, yes. And then leave the results to God.” The writer was obviously referring to the American system but it’s not a bad idea, even for atheists. He concluded by saying: “Anyone who puts their trust in politicians—any politicians—is a fool in the full biblical sense, and I use the term completely advisedly.” Amen brother!

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. don davey

    February 5, 2009 at 1:06 am

    For those who continually bag the media ,accusing them of bias , have you not yet worked out that the reason it appears that way is because there is a concerted effort by the proponents to “out letter us” and you have all fallen for it ! where what you should be doing is flooding the papers with as many letters as possible !

    I personally send at least 7—8 weekly ! sometimes more ! so if you are as committed as you say ,drag yourself away from “Home and Away” and put pen to bloody paper, and it’s not important that you make print! what is important is that we send more letters than the bloody enemy ! this is the one fight that we need to win.
    sigh !
    d.d.

  2. Maddie

    February 4, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    I went on the TAP organised bus to the Florentine and must say I was disappointed that there weren’t thousands there – such a worthy cause to support. Maybe we’re all getting tired and disillusioned because, even with the big rallies, nothing was really achieved. Maybe they weren’t big enough. 50,000 people couldn’t be ignored surely and I don’t see why that can’t be achieved because it’s about much more now than a pulp mill or the forests. Somehow though I don’t see it happening. I know many people who are prepared to join demonstrations but also know just as many who couldn’t care less.

  3. don davey

    February 2, 2009 at 4:11 am

    Peter’
    I have been advocating this for so long to the various organisations like T.A.P etc that I have become a thorn in their sides, we know that there were 10,000 bods at the Launceston Rally and apparently more in Hobart, but subsequent gatherings have been such as to bring disdain on the movement and why ? I personally think for lack of advertising of the events such as the recent one at the “Florentine” which gained little reporting and or comment’s like ” the movement is waning ! there were only a couple of hundred there”

    And before I am once more attacked for not being there, I was unable due to illness ! which we 70 year olds are prone to give in to now and again.

    Lets face it ! these organisations collect donations however, refusing to part with some in advertising these protests in the local rags therefore allowing people to prepare for the events is nonsensical !

    I was amazed at the attitudes of so many at a couple of T.A.P meetings i attended which were mostly taken up abusing the media for what they considered biased reporting ! even though most admitted to not buying the papers, so my question was how did they know ? as I and several others have a fairly good average of letters printed.

    Many have only written once ! expecting to be printed immediately and when not ! accuse them of bias ! as I have stated before the secret is to keep on writing because it is the best way to inform most of the people all the time !

    You are entirely correct we need to attend avenues such as “Florentine” in the thousands, they can’t arrest us all ! and that is the action needed if we are to be taken
    seriously !
    d.d.

  4. Trevor

    February 1, 2009 at 7:01 pm

    Hi Peter, all,

    May I suggest that readers watch the movie “V for Vendetta”, purchase the Guy Fawkes mask used by the main character (http://www.forbiddenplanet.co.uk/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=38257) and hold a silent, peaceful vigil outside parliament house. I know that if I was a politician, the sight of 10,000+ masked protesters standing outside my office (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Chanology)would certainly give me the willies!! Who’s in?

    T for Trevor

  5. Peter Adams

    February 1, 2009 at 10:36 am

    Monday morning and as I read Nostradamus’ long, thoughtful and insightful article into the inner machinations of Tasmania, a welcoming soft rain has just started to wet the parched earth. I am struck by how his words reflect what is happening outside and my sometimes cynical soul receives a few drops of reprieve from its pessimistic outlook. With such sages as Nostradamus around, I welcome in the day a little more hopeful.

    The sentence that most grabbed me was “eternal vigilance is required and the number of volunteers is decreasing as we over-obsess on personal problems”. This says a lot about the current situation in our forests and along the banks of the Tamar, and, probably why the government blindly ignores any demonstration in front of “their” parliament house. The activist numbers just aren’t there. (Yet.) Instead of five hundred, or even 10,000 marching through the streets, we need 50,000 people shutting down the traffic and filling the jails. Massive demonstrations are what are needed. The legal system is failing us. The politicians are failing us. Democracy appears to be failing us. More of us must physically put ourselves on the line.

    Are we there yet? Are we so tired of this corrupt government that we can now put aside our personal problems and focus on the health and well-being of the whole of the Tasmanian community? Are we now reaching the point where we can step outside our comfort zones and cross over into the huge discomfort of battle? Are we ready to “sit in the front of the bus” like the civil rights activists did in Alabama to reclaim our rightful place in the scheme of things, knowing full well of the possibility of attack dogs, slander and financial lost?

    Maybe, just maybe.

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