As a writer, I get to hear quite a lot from various members of the community who have concerns about their future and about the quality of governance in Tasmania and Australia.

Most recently many concerns have focussed around State Labor putting up Scott McLean of the CFMEU as a candidate for public office i.e. to represent Tasmanians. At the behest of those folks, I have prepared their concerns in the form of an open letter to give Mr. McLean, Labor and/or the CFMEU the opportunity to respond and allay their fears, to set us all straight. Here goes …
Dear Scott,

We write this open letter to ask you to clarify two issues regarding your candidacy for political office.

You doubtless realise that at the time that your candidacy was announced, many in the Tasmanian community were dismayed because you had described desperate property and business owners, deeply concerned about the biased and inaccessible pulp mill ‘approval’ process, as ‘terrorists’ – with all that is implied.

In fact, you said “I thought terrorism had been outlawed in this country and these people (mill protestors) are no more than environmental and economical (sic) terrorists in my view.” (ABC news 6 Mar 2008)

As a consequence, many thought that you appeared like just another throwback from the highly subsidised forestry industry who intended to widen the divisions created by that industry’s actions and statements. To many, your candidacy was about as welcome and progressive as a slavery candidate standing in the Southern US and indicated an uncaring Labor government lost in its own hubris.

We write now to ask you whether you have had a change of heart, whether your position was misinterpreted in the first place, or whether you honestly believe that there should be one law for one group in our society, and a different law for everyone else.

Watching the news about Labor’s Conference at Darling Harbour in Sydney recently, we saw hundreds of disaffected workers and representatives outside the venue, protesting the government’s discrimination against building workers in the new Industrial Relations regime. We saw it on TV, hundreds of CFMEU and other representatives shouting in unison ‘One law for all!’

It seems that the union reps and workers, many (all?) of whom were represented by the CFMEU, had an in principle objection to being singled out in law and having a different law applied to them than those applied to the rest of Australian industry. ( Also a breach of Article 7 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights )

We’d like you to know that the public supports the CFMEU position 100%. The public believes in one law for everyone as detailed in the UN Declaration.

What we’d like to hear from you is that YOU believe in one law for all, particularly as it relates to Section 11 of the Pulp Mill Assessment Act, and as it applies to other Acts and Regulations that apply to everyone else while harmful forestry actions are exempted in Tasmania. These exemptions include Acts like the Clean Air Act that allows forestry to threaten the health of members of the taxpaying public with massive clouds of smoke and micro particulates, and we’re sure you’re familiar with them.

So can you clear up our confusion please, Scott? One law for all, or discriminatory laws allowed?

The second issue concerns democracy and representation. As you know, in the pulp mill process the public was deliberately left out of the process when the government exempted Gunns from the promised RPDC independent review. Instead the Labor government created a special ‘approval process’ that used taxpayers’ money to pay a Scandinavian pulp mill supply company to give our Parliament the go ahead for the project. (Editor’s note: It sounds insane but that IS exactly what happened).

The public was left out of the State Labor government’s decision on the mill and the Parliament was railroaded into an ‘approval process’ that was only informed by benefits studies. The costs and risks to the rest of us – a majority of Tasmanians, were all left out to rush through an approval. (The reasons reported as given by Gunns for that rush, later turned out to be entirely spurious).

On the other hand, outside the Labor conference, CFMEU delegates claimed that Labor was taking decisions behind closed doors, without involving those affected (e.g. the Unions) and that there was no democracy in evidence.

This view was reinforced in the media which reported…’KEVIN Rudd’s bid to break Labor’s factions and usher in a new style of top-down rule within the party has been on display during this week’s national conference.’ The Australian.

Of course, ‘top-down rule’ – is entirely inconsistent with democracy – it is autocracy.

Gross unfairness and undemocratic decision making result in bizarre anti-social outcomes like one law for one group of unions and another law for a different group; and for leaving investors in the Tamar valley exposed to mammoth losses if the biased approval process produces a mill that stinks out the valley (allowed under the Kraft Mill Guidelines D.5.1.5 which have no enforced clean up provisions).

So where are you on this matter Scott?

Do you favour inclusion or exclusion of those affected in government decisions?

Do you believe there should be one law for all or not?

We only have these concerns because of the glaring inconsistencies outlined above.

We would all like to hear that you support fairness and the same laws for all, as well as inclusion of affected parties in important government decisions.

That would be a position that was consistent with the views and needs of the public, and with the UN Universal Charter of Human Rights and therefore entirely appropriate for a representative of the public.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Concerned Tasmanians

Watch this space…

Mike Bolan www.abetteraustralia.com

Mike is a complex systems consultant, change facilitator, writer and executive/management coach.