Tasmanian Times


Premier Lara: Let them eat Cake

The Premier.

Let them eat cake.

There’ll be plenty to go round should Premier Marie Antoinette manage to push the pulp mill across the line.

The mill has become the cake according to the Premier.

I’ve pencilled in the day of the Premier’s State of the State address when she hopefully will reveal her vision for a replication of the glory days of the trickle down effects of industrialisation where benefits are overstated and costs ignored, particularly social and environmental costs.

An economist friend of mine once referred to this approach as a variation on the ‘horse and sparrow’ theory of economic development. Various models have been tried since the late nineteenth century in the United States. “If you feed the horse enough oats, some might pass through to the road for the sparrows”.

I can’t think of a more succinct metaphorical summary of the path the Premier has chosen for the State.

Abandon the innovation rhetoric of Jonathan West; ignore the intelligent vision so clearly enunciated by people such as Saul Eslake on a recent thread on this very website (Many times on TT, most recently: HERE.)

Let’s return to Electric Eric’s modus operandi.

Back to core values.

By the way what happened to Marie Antoinette? I had a feeling she didn’t last too long?

Who then?

As a wag said to me the other day, by way of a rhetorical poser, who’s two hung juries and a single heartbeat away from the Big Suite in the Exec building?

That’s the concern.

Will we see a repeat of Robert Cosgrove successfully fighting charges of bribery corruption and conspiracy in 1948 to return as Premier?

Or Spot Turnbull facing similar charges ten years later and surviving to end up as a Senator.

Tasmanian politics is unique in many ways, few of which give reason for pride.

The bête noir

Sometimes it’s difficult to keep abreast of everything.

I always thought that if a listed company has something of importance to say which may affect its market price then the ASX should be first to be told.

But I keep reading about Gunns’ CEO wanting to have meetings with all manner of people to explain how the revised mill will be the bee’s knees.
If it’s of any significance tell the ASX.

Tell them about all the changes that have been made since the IIS.

Tell them why when the IIS was done with an AUD price of 74 cents it’s still a goer a $1.

Tell them about the new flash effluent treatment processes.

Tell them from where all the feedstock will come from as few trees have been planted in the last 3 years.

Tell them who will pay for the establishment costs of trees if you sell your land to institutions as recently proposed. This surely must differ from the original plan.

Or is none of the above relevant information for shareholders?

Don’t bother having private meetings with Bob McMahon, just tell the ASX.

Tony Abbott’s must have been told. I read he regards the mill as a no brainer. Although I’m not sure whether that was one of his off-the-cuff remarks or one resulting from careful consideration of all the facts.

I was taught that continuous disclosure was mandatory not optional.

Isn’t that what Twiggy Forrest got pinged for? Lack of continuous disclosure. Admittedly in his case there was a bit of misleading disclosure as well.

I was going to write about Gunns’ latest results but I notice one of the TT bloggers has beaten me to the punch.

Suffice to say I used to associate with brokers in the old days before the profession was overrun with spruikers, goldminers and carpetbaggers and one lesson I learnt was to be wary of companies whose stated income always exceeded the cash coming in the door.

Enough said.

Banks own worst enemy

Used car salespersons’ relative credibility has leapfrogged a few rungs lately due to some professions, bankers for instance, willing to trade ethical standards in return for more money.

For them it’s just another trade I guess, just another short sell.

They’ll be able to buy back at rock bottom prices. The price of ethics won’t be heading north for a while.

This last week saw the launch of a campaign by NAB to attract mortgage customers from the other 3 major banks with an offer to pay any exit fees.

This was welcomed by the media as a sign of the breakup up of a cartel accused of acting in an uncompetitive manner with their interest rate settings.

ABC News reported:

“……it appears they are at war.

NAB published a break-up letter to its three main rivals that appeared to concede they do have a history of collusion.

“This is a really difficult letter for me to write. I think we all know that this has been coming. For a long time now my friends have all been telling me that I could do a lot better for myself. But they don’t like how I act when I’m around you,” the letter from NAB said.

The NAB’s break-up note is headlined: “It’s over between us.”
The advertisement is part of NAB’s marketing strategy to differentiate itself from the other big three.

It follows NAB’s announcement over the weekend that it will pay $700 of the exit fees of home loan customers coming over to it from Westpac and the Commonwealth.”

I like many others thought, spare me this disingenuous nonsense.

But it was worse than that.

At the same time as the phoney war was breaking out the Australian Government released an Exposure Draft Regulation setting out proposed prohibited fees on termination of certain credit contracts.

As Delusional Economist pointed out at http://macrobusiness.com.au/2011/02/funny-old-nab/ “NAB was promising to pay the exit fees of other banks which they knew they would be forced to scrap anyway”.

And they wonder why public opprobrium has become an epidemic.

Stop the presses

TT bloggers never miss an opportunity to vent spleens on the poor old Examiner, struggling to find a place for journalism amongst the ads, sport reports and death notices. It can get worse and probably will if its sister publication The Advocate is any guide.

Last Friday when other newspapers were leading with stories about Scott Morrison, the shadow Immigration spokesman, or with Julia Gillard’s response to Paul Howes and the union movement, or when around the world the contagion in Tunisia and Egypt was spreading to Bahrain, the Advocate chose to headline with BOWLS BIFFO, a story about an Ulverstone Bowls Clubber who was suspended for 2 weeks for headbutting an opponent.

Fair dinkum. May the god(s) be my witness.

The front page story featured a large photo of the bowler trying to shield his face from the prying Advocate photographer, and a smaller one of his alleged victim.

No-one owned up to writing the story which is hardly surprising as it’s unlikely to be nominated for a Walkley and the editor has so far refrained from posting an editorial comment on this important issue.

At a time when the region and the State require leadership vision and a mature debate, the Advocate‘s intellectually lazy sloppy journalism plumbed new depths.

The Examiner is a beacon by comparison.

First published: 2011-02-22 04:10 AM

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


  1. Charles and Claire Gilmour

    February 22, 2011 at 8:36 pm

    ‘Giddings joins mill doubters’ – November 24, 2008 – Mercury

    ‘Gunns’ proposed pulp mill is probably sunk, says Deputy Premier Lara Giddings.’ “I think there’s less and less chance of it being [built] in the current economic climate,” Ms Giddings said yesterday. “… and basically this pulp mill is really in the hands of the company and its financiers,” she said.

    However 27 months later, because the state is so much more economically worse off now, all they have to do is sack a lot of public service people which means, apparently, they can afford to put all their eggs into a basket case – a failing company who have reduced themselves to little more than a pipe dream. Besides it would be uncharacteristic of Labors 13 year tenure to not want to continue to back a donkey.

    With so many line breaking Labor backflips on the pulp mill, it’s only natural they’d also want to pay to bring in the clowns. What’s the final act? Watching Lady Gaga do the hokey pokey in lennons hot tub whilst swallowing her cake whole and balancing a handful of gunns directors sucking on a milking machine in one hand and shooting herself in the foot with a machine gunn in the other?

    With the help of Gunns, labor have reduced Tasmania to a joke, and deserve nothing less than to be treated as such … with the same contempt they continue to show the state.

    Lala going gaga over the gunns and co boys toy pulp mill ….



  2. Bronwyn Williams

    February 22, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    #22 Hi bazzabee. You make some good points – I like the idea of publicly funded elections, and it’s true that deeply held beliefs should not necessarily be immune from challenge.

    But, you can’t logically compare the beliefs of intolerant religious fanatics and political dictators to those of individuals who hold strong views about the preservation of the environment.

    Besides, even after a short time on this forum, I have some confidence that the moderator would not allow it to ‘disappear under an avalanche of inward looking, self serving self-righteousness’ (nice turn of phrase, by the way).

    And, if you are a regular contributor, why don’t you use your own name. I figure you’re probably known to other regulars, but not to us newcomers. I started off using a pseudonym, but was fairly easily persuaded (by Mr Michael Swanton) to use my own name. He quite correctly pointed out that the presence of anonymous posters discourages complete transparency.

    Plus, if you’re going to express an opinion, the least you can do is own it.

  3. bazzabee

    February 22, 2011 at 11:44 am

    #21 In an effort to answer your questions, I have worked on every state and federal election campaign since the early 1980’s. I have taken an active part in the political processes of the sate and the country since I was in my early teens I am now retired. Over the years I have worked closely with a good many candidates who I can say almost without exception entered the race for all the right reasons some were successful most were not.

    Several candidates I have known tried to win a seat on more than one occasion most incurred severe financial costs and almost without exception once someone put up their hand the snipping, insults and vilification began.

    You ask why don’t/didn’t I stand for election? The answer is simple I could never afford the risk to my small bank account. At the last state election candidates spent anywhere between a few thousand dollars and several hundred thousand dollars. The ever increasing dollar costs to candidates has made me a firm believer in publicly funded elections.

    I also oppose massive outside contributions in the form of here today gone tomorrow front groups who throw hundreds of thousands dollars into elections or in the case if the mining companies at last years federal election more than 25 million dollars with propaganda in an effort to scare voters to vote one way on an another.

    As for holding the politicians to account we have such a system we call them elections and we hold them at regular intervals. The system may not be perfect but it is the best one I know.

    You say you are new to this forum, a forum that is without doubt the best in Tasmania in my opinion, yet it is a forum that would if we are not careful quickly become a propagandist sheet for certain well known causes and their loudest drum beaters.

    So I am happy to put my head above the parapet from time to time and fire of the odd and I hope at times uncomfortable and yes apparently cynical question or ironic comment. Because if I and others didn’t so this I believe that TT would soon disappear under an avalanche of inward looking, self serving self-righteousness. I also expect and encourage people to fire back at what I say.

    One thing I don’t do is attack individuals or insult them, so no I don’t think that the TT contributors are “are a bunch of pseudo-intellectual wankers,”. I believe that almost if not all TT corespondents are sincere in their beliefs and their arguments.

    I also believe that just because someone is sincere doesn’t mean they can’t be wrong or mistaken. Nor do I believe that even the most sincerely held beliefs and positions should go unchallenged simply because they are deeply held. Should we for example unquestioningly accept the sincerely held belief of intolerant religious fanatics or political dictators?

    So you ask “what does that make {me}? Well I’ll leave that up to you to decide? But please when you do decide feel free to attack the ideas and the statements not my personality or my motives.

  4. Bronwyn Williams

    February 22, 2011 at 1:54 am

    #20 I’m relatively new to this forum, and I get the feeling that most of the regular contributors seem to know each other – there are certainly enough personal insults – but I’d like to know exactly what you’re on about, bazzabee.

    Democracy is excellent, in theory, but the system has been hijacked by the inevitable human tendency to abuse power. Not unlike the abuses of power in communist and fascists regimes, except THEY make no pretence at representing the people.

    There are individuals out there who ARE true supporters of democracy – intellectuals, uneducated folk, rich, poor, and everything in between. They are people who for some reason, be it innate personality, or upbringing, have a commitment to social justice, and are resistant to the lure of power.

    Unfortunately, they are seriously underepresented in society.

    How many politicians can you think of who started out with high ideals, and DIDN’T end up being sucked into the maelstrom of spin and deceit, and sacrificing their values on the altar of personal ambition?

    You may think that the contributors to this forum are a bunch of pseudo-intellectual wankers, but what does that make you? Cynical, snide criticism is neither clever, nor productive. If you think that the system is severely flawed, how about suggesting a way to engage the voting public, enabling them to truly hold their elected representatives to account.

    Or,how about standing for election yourself.

  5. bazzabee

    February 21, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    #17 From memory I think that in a democracy we have elections and the people vote them out. I agree the system is severely flawed, clearly corrupt, bad incompetent, politicians are venal, lazy and should be voted out by the readers and contributors of TT. After all the TT readers are as they so frequently tell us the only true supporters of democracy and democratic tradition in Tasmania if not the whole of Australia and clearly know what is best for the rest of us.

    I guess that one of the problems with universal suffrage is that the stupid people get a vote as well as the intellectuals shame is that the stupid ones just seem to keep getting it wrong time and time again, I don’t know about everyone else but it makes my blood boil.

  6. Graeme T

    February 21, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    Shaun #16 I did ‘something’ yesterday but it made no difference to the economy.

  7. Ookpik

    February 21, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    Shaun @ 16 – All indications and leaked knowledge from sources not willing to be named, but very reliable, are that it will never happen. Gunns just can’t come clean, because it’s goodnight nurse for the company if they do…….they are just hanging on until the bank closes them down or some foreign entity buys them up….whichever comes first. Personally, I hope it’s the former. There won’t be too many tears shed around here if it is.

  8. William Boeder

    February 21, 2011 at 12:50 am

    How does a Commonwealth State rid itself of severely disliked, grossly ineffective, anti-the-people State government ministers?

  9. jabsert

    February 20, 2011 at 11:47 pm

    Hodgman is doing himself no favours by raising this issue. He’s just as guilty and complicit in the whole filthy pulp mill business as Labor.

  10. Mark

    February 20, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    #10, I don’t think it’s Paulie pulling the strings. One also has to consider the State Labor Party Exec and hacks like Michael Field, Scott McLean, the Trades & Labor Council and national affiliates like Michael O’Connor. Bryan Green would be in it up to his eyeballs and it was only that Bryan would’ve been political poison as Premier. It was clear to me as soon as I heard David Bartlett had been deposed.

  11. John Alford

    February 20, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    #1 What an irony it would be if anti-pulp mill protests were to yield thousands of protestors to the gates of a dysfunctional prison, with the icing on the cake being that the turnkey was a Green Minister who is publicly opposed to the Tamar Mill!

  12. Bronwyn Williams

    February 20, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    #4 This could be a lot of fun, and I’d like to contribute. I’ve always thought Miss Lara has a sort of anachronistic ‘mumsy’ look about her, and my favourite TV mum of all time is the Beaver’s mum, June Cleaver. I particularly enjoyed her conversations with, and about, her eldest son’s sleazy best mate, Eddie Haskell.

    So, a few minutes on Google later, and I have these excellent quotes, rewritten to feature Miss Lara, and her debonair deputy. Miss Lara is June Cleaver, and you can guess who plays Eddie.

    Scene One

    Bryan: Gee, Lara, your office (kitchen) always looks so clean.

    Lara: Why, thank you, Bryan.

    Bryan: My mother says it looks as though you never do any work in here.

    Scene Two

    Young Labor Politician: How come Bryan’s such a creepy guy?

    Lara: He works at it.

  13. Peter

    February 20, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    Transcribed from ABC Radio 1pm bulletin
    Meanwhile …
    The Liberals have labelled the increase in plumbers’ registration fees “…a cash grab by the state government”.

    Tasmania’s Master Plumbing Association says the annual registration fees for plumbers will nearly double, from $50 to $90, while businesses will also be hit with a new annual fee of nearly $500.

    The Liberal’s treasury spokesman Peter Gutwein says some self-employed plumbers will be forced to pay nearly $700 more than previous years.

    Mr Gutwein said there is absolutely no way the Premier can justify a 1250 per cent increase this year in regard to registering plumbers.

    “This is sheer madness. The cost is going to be passed on to consumers, who are already struggling with other cost of living increases. It is just over the top and outrageous.”

  14. Small Red

    February 20, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    9: TT toonists Mark, and Karl think so Marie, sorry Lara …


  15. Peter

    February 20, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    Tas Premier rejects ‘bizarre’ claims over pulp mill
    21 Feb 2011

    Tasmania’s Liberal leader believes Premier Lara Gidding’s pro-pulp mill stance is a sign former premier Paul Lennon is behind the scenes calling the shots.

    Paul Lennon quit state Parliament in 2008 after four years as Premier and was a dedicated supporter of the controversial Gunns pulp mill in the state’s north.

    Liberal leader Will Hodgman said the similarity of the rhetoric was uncanny.

    “I’m having flashbacks to Lennon Labor – it’s the exact same language that it’s pulp mill or bust,” he said.

    “And, look, in our view that’s a short-sighted view – the pulp mill is a very important project but if our entire economic future rests on it things are in a pretty grim situation.

    “What we’re now starting to hear is the same sort of language and we’re seeing a Labor Government that appears to be driven by other interstate – we’ve got paul Lennon apparently in the background now pushing Lara Giddings in a direction that failed Tasmania when he was Premier,

    “We don’t want to see that sort of thing repeated.”

    Ms Giddings said Mr Hodgman’s logic surrounding the pulp mill debate was nothing short of bizarre, pointing out he also supports the pulp mill.

    She asked whether Mr Lennon was also pulling the Opposition Leader’s strings since he too supports the pulp mill.

    The Tasmanian Greens reject the Liberals’ claims that former premier Paul Lennon is behind the scenes telling Premier Lara Giddings what to do.

    The Greens’ Cassy O’Connor says Ms Giddings has her own strongly held views.

    “Lara understands that we have an historic opportunity here in Tasmania to end the divisions over forestry that have blighted our communities for decades,” he said.

    “I think Lara will chart her own course through this forest process.”


  16. Edvard Troll

    February 20, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    #5 Touché

  17. mike seabrook

    February 20, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    re #1

    green’s rednecks vs mckim’s greens

    will deputy premier bryan green’s (irregulars flush with $millions of loot recently extracted from canberra)) supporters assist in rounding up chief gaoler/turnkey mckim’s green supporters so that bartlett, the attorney general can charge them with crimes (like for pete cundall) or gaol them, before the riot as a precautionary measure or will this be after the riot.

    something wrong here, in the arab world now the downtrodden masses are acting against their corrupt & incompetent rulers/elites.

    In tas 2,300 servants of the ruling elite are about to be forced/pursuaded/encouraged to walk the plank – could be some useful disclosures of interesting events (& possibly crimes) come to light.

  18. Karl Stevens

    February 20, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    I’ve just had a secret meeting with a Wilderness Society whistle-blower. Gunns have changed the feedstock of the pulp mill from tress to wood. This should allay everybody’s concerns. Whew! For I while I though they would still use trees. They are also changing the bleaching process from bleach to chlorine. This will be much safer for young Labor voters who like seafood. Their children will develop 10% less biological mutations.

  19. Steve

    February 20, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    3; Are you being a troll by presenting further information on an historical quotation? Surely you’re just filling in some background and providing interesting information?
    My feeling is that whether the quotation is genuine or not, it is broadly accepted as indicative of someone in power with absolutely no understanding of the situation of those beneath them. As such it’s use in an article, such as above, is far more acceptable than it perhaps would be in an article on French history.

  20. Louis Auguste

    February 20, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    The Thoughts of Premier Lara (Vol2):

    “As Tasmania burns,the Mill is the fiddle I shall play.”

    Why doesn’t Tasmanian Times invite its readers to share some more of Premier’s Lara’s other spectacular historical analogies.

    C’mon send those pearls of wisdom in …

  21. Edvard Troll

    February 20, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    OH dear how predictable “Let them eat cake” is the traditional translation of the French phrase “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche”, supposedly spoken by “a great princess” upon learning that the peasants had no bread.

    This highly inflammatory declaration is wrongly but commonly attributed to Queen Marie Antoinette whereas in fact there is no record of these words ever having been uttered by her. However they do appear in Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Confessions, first published when Marie Antoinette was a child and therefore some years before becoming the Queen of France or the French Revolution.

    “Enfin je me rappelai le pis-aller d’une grande princesse à qui l’on disait que les paysans n’avaient pas de pain, et qui répondit : Qu’ils mangent de la brioche”.

    Translation: “Finally I recalled the last retort of a great princess who was told that the peasants had no bread, and who responded: “Let them eat brioche.”

    Rousseau does not name his “great princess” and there has been speculation that he invented the anecdote. Although Rousseau may have been familiar with a similar insensitive statement on the condition of the starving poor that has been attributed to a 3rd century Chinese Emperor.

    Its fun being a troll.

  22. phill Parsons

    February 20, 2011 at 9:11 am

    Abbott’s no brainer is self explanatory about Abbott’s attitude to complex issues. As The Age piece says, this new old politics is empty.

    When supplying a national market exchange rates do not have a direst impact. International markets are strange beasts with scarcity alone not necessarily determining prices but it is an interesting question for investors.

    The Advocate provides local news like The Manly Daily. It reaches out to the interests of its readership. For coverage of mattters political of international in a multimedia world buying a regional newspaper should not be the first choice.

    Te Ex has made itself an unreliable reporter of a key matter of local interest, the events and debate around the pulpmill.

  23. Tamar Devil

    February 20, 2011 at 8:54 am

    Conversation recently overheard on Lara’s Broadmarsh Hotline, “Yes Paulie. Got that. Pour truckloads of taxpayer money into Gunns Pulp mill and then get my Minister for Prisons to lock up all his supporters when they riot. Oh! Paulie you are a card.”
    “What do I do next? What’s that? Paulie, of course the hot tub will still be there if you decide to come back!”

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