Tasmanian Times

Bronwyn Williams

A Night at the Burbury – Shaping Tasmania’s Future

I did not attend this forum – I think there was something more interesting on the telly – but I have watched the videotape, kindly provided by Mr de Little (On TT,HERE).

Whilst I missed the ‘in person’ vibe of the meeting, watching it on video gives you a better, up close, view of the panel, and you can rewind when you want to check something.

This is what happened –

Each of the panellists spoke for four minutes on the topic at hand – the future of the Tasmanian economy. Questions were then taken from the audience.

This is what I learned –

• After spending most of her adult life in politics, Lara Giddings has truly mastered the art of flapping her gums – a lot – but saying nothing sensible or useful or relevant. Everything she said was bland, generalist and instantly forgettable. And, she seemed to find it amusing that the day’s weather had been marred by an excess of smoke from burning forest.

She utters nonsensical statements like ‘Jobs are being created in Tasmania’, with absolute conviction. I don’t know where she lives, but if you were to drop by, I’m pretty sure you’d find a crystal palace with fairies and unicorns cavorting in the yard.

• Will Hodgman made one of the most significant statements of the evening when he noted that about 50 per cent of adult Tasmanians are functionally illiterate. This is possibly why they keep voting for politicians who are only marginally more competent.

I also observed that Mr Hodgman ties a brilliant tie – his knot was perfect. So perfect, in fact, that I was wondering whether it might not be one of those pre-tied arrangements, with elastic around the neck.

• Nick McKim spun the essentially meaningless ‘economy in transition’ line, and looked to be heading down the same track as Giddings, but he did mention that Tasmania’s days of trading on its ‘clean, green’ image may be numbered if it doesn’t start living up to the hype. According to McKim, people attracted to Tasmania by the clean, green brand will soon go elsewhere if the brand turns out to be a fake.

• Professor Jonathon West trotted out some very disturbing income and productivity figures, the bottom line being that only 10 per cent of adult Tasmanians are economically productive – everyone else is either on welfare, or dependent on the government for their livelihood. Unsurprisingly, the good professor considers this to be an unsustainable state of affairs – Tasmanians need to boost their aspirations and drag themselves out of their economic funk. (Easier said than done with gormless politicians, and scary levels of illiteracy).

• Bruce Felmingham’s four minutes were four minutes nobody in the room is ever going to get back. They could have ducked out for a pee, or a coffee, or even had a microsleep. Mumbling incoherence and pointless platitudes don’t make for a riveting speech.

• Saul Eslake speaks well, makes a lot of sense, and also ties a mean tie. He noted the impact of Tasmania’s poor educational outcomes on the state’s economy, and mentioned the insanity of a public secondary school system that has students ‘leaving’ school in Year 10 – it seems obvious that retention rates would be better if schools provided a complete secondary education, from year seven to year 12, on the one campus. But, what’s obvious to most sensible people seems to be beyond the comprehension of the Tasmanian government.

Mr Eslake also made a somewhat bizarre reference to Catherine Parr, the sixth wife of Henry VIII, and the only one who survived him. I’m not sure what he was on about – it wasn’t really relevant, and probably sailed right over the heads of most of the audience. Perhaps he temporarily forgot the functional illiteracy figure Mr Hodgman had mentioned earlier.

• Dr Phill Pullinger was out of his depth and obviously nervous. Like Ms Giddings, his contribution was instantly forgettable.

When the forum was opened up for questions from the floor, most of those who put their hand up rambled on for several minutes without asking anything.

There was a question about subsidized electricity contracts for large scale businesses in Tasmania, directed at Ms Giddings. She played the worn out ‘commercial in confidence’ card in response, and, boy, is it getting dog-eared. How can a Premier (and Treasurer) not know how much a government entity is charging customers for their products and services?

And yet she answers with a completely straight face.

The subject of soaring electricity prices raised the ire of one audience member, who got in a fair bit of heckling before he was attended to by security. This was one of the best bits of the night.

Overall, the forum was a lifeless affair, and didn’t contribute anything new to the Tasmanian economic debate. We know Tasmania has a bloated, inefficient public service, we know a third of adult Tasmanians and their families live on welfare, and we know that the public education system in this state is failing its students.

We also know that the best and brightest young people leave the state to seek work. In fact, Mr Eslake encouraged them to do so – go away to work and gain experience, but come back and share what they have learned. Unfortunately, Mr Eslake doesn’t seem to realise that there are no jobs available in Tasmania for qualified, experienced people who didn’t get on the government gravy train straight out of school. Those jobs are all taken by the people who stayed.

I did learn, however, that Will Hodgman has some good ideas. I know it’s a very, very, long shot, but if he could get out from under the influence of the conservative right wing of the Liberal party, and set his own agenda, he could do something positive in Tasmania.

And, the giant elephant in the room – Gunns Tamar Valley Pulp Mill – was studiously avoided by everyone present. Ms Giddings economic ‘cake’ – the centrepiece of her plans for the state’s economic resurrection – was barely mentioned, and was certainly not discussed.

As for the organisers – you managed to source a good-sized venue, why couldn’t you find a table to fit all the panellists comfortably? Or, was it your intention to make them uncomfortable? Whatever was going on, I hope they all showered, deodorised and used breath freshener before they arrived.

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


  1. George Harris aka woodworker

    May 10, 2011 at 2:34 am

    Re #52, how amusing.
    No apology will be forthcoming.
    Get over it.

  2. Michael Swanton

    May 9, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    #59 re #44. Still making” very important points”? Testosterone is still alive and well, even on this thread. The Ross meeting may well have usurped this forums significance. Boys will be boys!
    Michael Swanton.

  3. Phil Lohrey

    May 9, 2011 at 2:52 am

    All of these diversions must be disappointing for you, Bronwyn Williams, after taking the trouble to report on the forum. It would be interesting to know what you mean by good ideas from Will Hodgman. I find it a little bit sinister that discussion of the pulp mill was avoided, because Giddings and Hodgman are bound to bring it up when they can get the press that they’re looking for – without probing questions, of course. McKim, Pullinger and Tierney would be relieved to keep the cat (that they have allowed to be stroked) in the bag.

  4. Barnaby Drake

    May 9, 2011 at 2:02 am

    #56. My provider is Orange – who deputise for the official telecommunications network. I am located in Cordes sur Ciel in the Tarn area

    The details come from my own computer in the diagnostics panel showing the connection speed. It is sometimes greater.

  5. Russell

    May 9, 2011 at 12:50 am

    Re #56
    No, but successive governments have been too cheap to connect us to it, even though the cables run through the exchange.

    I wish though, as ADSL is cheaper than satellite.

  6. Gerald

    May 8, 2011 at 11:27 pm

    Where you live Mr Langfield? Too cheap to get ADSL?

    How did you test that Mr Drake? Who is your provider and where are you located? Yes you can get up to 100 mpbs in some parts of France but most < 10 mbps.

  7. Russell

    May 8, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    Thankyou Barnaby, that’s nearly five times faster than I was informed by one of my French guests then?

  8. Barnaby Drake

    May 8, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    I live in rural France.

    This message is being sent to you at 48mps through a ‘Livebox’ over a normal wired connection.

  9. Russell

    May 8, 2011 at 11:03 am

    Re #39
    Not misquoted at all, Gerald, if you read the post correctly.

    And as you once again state, Nepal’s “Free wireless in Nepal is very lo – ie less than 1 Mbps.”

    Mine is 128Kbps, 8 times slower and NOT free.

    Also, my French figures come directly from the French paying for and using the service, where are yours from? Only the provincials in France are as ‘low’ as 10Mbps.

  10. Barnaby Drake

    May 8, 2011 at 6:37 am

    #51. George Harris, I believe you owe me an apology. You are stoopr\iong very low at the moment to attack what I believe to be a serious medical problem. I have had a lot of experience with the substance, having lived in a very high natural Fluoride area, namely Derbyshire Peak District. My sister-in-law was one of the original guinea pigs for the study, her father being a dentist. My own father died of Alzheimer’s disease.

    Not only have did I look up wikipedia, but a did a search as well. I found over 40 entries. Take a look at this quote, for instance!

    “The history of fluoride


    The concept of fluoridation (adding fluoride to foods and water) has been with us for decades. Some clever scientists noticed that organic fluorine is required with calcium for healthy teeth and bones.

    Extrapolating this, the scientists decided that more fluorine may mean more healthy teeth, (although they couldn’t prove this) and suggested that water supplies be “enhanced” with ionic fluoride, which is not the same compound and has different health effects!

    Coincidentally, the scientists worked for large paper and aluminium manufacturers, whose industrial processes produce large amounts of….you guessed it, fluoride!

    fluoride is toxic waste. The ONLY reason it is added to water is to save the manufacturers from having to get rid of it.

    fluoride and dental health

    Organic fluorine, along with calcium and a little bit of help from molybdenum, forms calcium fluorapatite, which is recognised as the mineral element of teeth and bones.

    Ionic fluoride does not contribute to this process and instead causes the over stimulation of the parathyroid glands, resulting in abnormal bone growth, calcification of tendons and ligaments and interrupts the process which generates energy in cells.

    Symptoms of fluoride poisoning (flurosis)

    Mottled teeth
    Bone spurs (abnormal bony projections)
    Calcification of tendons and ligaments
    Chronic fatigue (may be implicated in chronic fatigue syndrome)
    Flurosis may be fatal

    But hasn’t fluoride been shown to reduce tooth decay?


    Numerous studies, mostly sponsored by the (enormously successful) pro-fluoride lobby have been undertaken in an effort to support the “fluoride hypothesis”. Some of these studies have involved the fluoridation of water supplies in whole cities to study the “benefits” over non-fluoridated cities.

    The results?

    Non-fluoridated cities had significantly fewer dental caries!

    Needless to say, the fluoridation lobby then dismissed these results as “irrelevant” in the face of the “obvious” benefits of fluoridation.

    We have yet to hear of ANY health benefit from fluoridation. The only benefit that is obvious is that instead of having to pay to get rid of their toxic waste, paper and aluminium manufacturers can sell it for use in water supplies and toothpastes.

    This is criminal!

    Normal amounts of fluoride in the diet

    None at all!

    Sources of dietary fluoride

    Ionic fluoride is not present in foods naturally


    fluoride is not a normal constituent of the diet. It should not therefore be added artificially to the diet. If you want to boost your bone and joint health, take come calcium and maybe boost your seafood intake. Do NOT, under any circumstances, drink fluoridated water or use “fluoride” toothpaste.”

    Further, if you look in wikipedia you will find that fluoride is NOT added to the water supplies in the majority of European countries due to health issues. Many other countries only started adding it since 1990, and some of those have ceased since. Perhaps you would like to check?

    In future, George, before engaging your mouth, you should try putting your brain into gear and stop taking cheap shots at the messenger. This is a serious subject! I take extreme umbrage at your opening comment.

    Barnaby Drake

  11. George Harris aka woodworker

    May 8, 2011 at 1:47 am

    Re #41, Barnaby, your comment is a rather nasty by-product of a warped view of the world combined with a very selective evidence gathering practice that belies the intelligence you have sought to convince us that you have.
    A simple resort to Wikipedia would have revealed the history of fluoridation of water supplies for its observed and verified affect on dental health, and the fact that is pre-dates the development of heavy industrial aluminium smelters. The fact that different regions engage different regimes of fluoridation may have more to do with the considerable natural variation in fluoride concentrations as you examine the globe.
    A conspiracy theory on some dastardly industrial imperative to dispose of a waste product will not wash in this case. You will have to try a lot harder next time.

  12. George Harris aka woodworker

    May 8, 2011 at 1:35 am

    Re #1, quote: “1.What we need are businessmen to run the state as a business.”

    Dave Groves, I am rather stunned that you actually wrote that!

    Even I would not wish for such a thing!

  13. Gerald

    May 7, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    Russel – did you misquote me on purpose? Free wireless in Nepal is very lo – ie less than 1 Mbps. France at 100 mbps? Merde! Most French would be on 6-10 mbps on ADSL.

  14. Russell

    May 6, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    Re #46
    In a way, yes Gerald, I have people from all over the world staying with me all the time. Do you?

    If you search back through TT regarding NBN you’ll find the facts of broadband speeds, price and extras currently available all over France. 100Mbps is the figure there.

    As for Australia, and especially Tasmania, you are lucky of you can get ADSL2 or mobile coverage if you’re not in a capital city.

    People who stay with me quite rightly compare my satellite service to dial up, about 128Kbps and twice the price in France (30 Euros with all their extras thrown in – phone calls, television, etc.)

    Thanks for confirming my neighbour’s info about the FREE Nepalese internet for me. At 1-2Mbps they’re still 8-16 times faster than what I have, but I’m paying $40 for the privelege of 1Gb peak/6Gb off-peak per month then dropping down to 64Kbps after that.

  15. Michael Swanton

    May 6, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    #45. I take that you don’t associate yourself with vilification or stereotyping of where a person is born and raised. Michael Swanton.

  16. Gerald

    May 6, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    Russel – do you actually travel very much? You seem to have a very loose idea of broadband speeds around the world. The majority of the OECD is around 10 Mbps on average – some particular countries on 20-30 Mbps. Nepal is around 1-2. Australia’s average is 7-8 Mbps on ADSL2.

    As for Nepal – almost no locals have access to the internet (< 5%). There are free wireless hostpots, but download speeds very low. Karl, the difference between silicon valley - like environments and Tasmania is that the talent is in the silicons valleys not Tasmania. You need to get the talent here somehow. Hard to imagine this happening when the UTAS School of Computing and Info Systems is so deficient, one of the worse in the country.

  17. Russell

    May 6, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    Re #42
    Can I take that as yes you were born and bred in Tasmania, no you haven’t lived anywhere else, and no you haven’t been to Nepal?

    If so, what basis do you have to question what I said in #34?

  18. Phil Lohrey

    May 6, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    A very important point has been made that people living in a fairly stable and relatively cut-off community can be enriched with ideas coming from people elsewhere. Let’s hope this can be a new dawn for Tasmania.

  19. Michael Swanton

    May 6, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    #40. Re read the threads. This is not about so called affrontery, this is about the vilification of persons born in a particular place. The only affront is your misunderstanding and the perpetuation of this repugnant act. Michael Swanton.

  20. Michael Swanton

    May 6, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    #39.Do you know what vilification is? Do you know it is against the law? Do you know that the statements I have referred you to are a pattern of vilification. You refer to ‘others’ and I would suggest that they need to come up to speed as well.
    Do you agree or associate with the statements I have referred you to? Michael Swanton.

  21. Barnaby Drake

    May 6, 2011 at 1:27 am

    #29, As a parting thought, ever wondered why the countries that the Tasmanian pulp mill builders worship, have removed fluoride from their water supplies?

    Fluoride is a rather nasty by-product of the aluminium industry and if they could not dump it in the drinking water, it would give them a rather difficult toxic waste disposal problem. The evidence that it prevents tooth decay is somewhat shaky but there is a possibler side effect that absolutely no-one has looked at.

    Fluoride disolves aluminium in small quantities and many cooking pots are made from this material. Research into Alzheimer disease shows a build up of aluminuium in the motor neurons of the brain, blocking the normal functions and causing forgetfulness and eventually dementia.

    I have yet to find any reference to a connection of the two factors, but it clearly seems there is a possible link. ??

    Anybody out there?

  22. Phil Lohrey

    May 5, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    Authority is wrongly presumed to be derived from place of birth. The comment at #38 suggests affrontery. An implacable stance can be a barrier to understanding that can reshape our future.

  23. Russell

    May 5, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    Re #38
    You haven’t ever answered a single question yourself, Michael Swanton, without it being another question.

    When you start doing so, I and others might consider your posts relevant and worthy of reply.

    As for the opinions regarding Nepal, I would rather believe a neighbour and his daughter (who worked and lived there as a volunteer nurse) than you.

    Were you born and bred in Tasmania, Michael Swanton? Have you ever lived anywhere else?

    Your question at #20 has also already been answered, not only by me.

  24. Michael Swanton

    May 5, 2011 at 10:32 am

    #19. ‘you don’t need to be born in Tasmania to know what is going on or what has been going on, quite the opposite in fact’. You haven’t explained that statement as yet? Please answer your original statement at #19 and my question at #20 because it has far wider implications for you as your place of residence than Nepal. Michael Swanton

  25. geoff

    May 5, 2011 at 12:48 am

    couple of things that weren’t mentioned

    Bruce Felmingham said he didn’t think the Pulp mill would get up.

    And our glorious Premier said that the moratorium had 100% compliance: no substatiion was given

    so it goes

  26. Russell

    May 4, 2011 at 11:12 pm

    Re #35
    Have you been there Michael Swanton, ?

  27. Michael Swanton

    May 4, 2011 at 10:48 pm

    #34. Nothing in Nepal is for free.The Nepalese would have lost something, even if it was their integrity. Pleased to see you are still on the case Russell Langfield. #28. In Aaron’s comment he states, ‘The problem is the Tassie talent pool is shallow and no more so than when it comes to our politicians’. Do you align yourself with this statement? You have not answered my question of #20 at #25. You have not answered my question at #27. Michael Swanton.

  28. Russell

    May 4, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    Re #28
    I’m sorry Aaron, but most of Europe and even Nepal is already way ahead of what our government NBN is proposing, and a hell of a lot cheaper. In fact, I believe the villagers in Nepal have access to it for free from their Government because it generates so much income/revenue fromn tourism there. I was told by a friend who travelled there two years ago that onn the side of a mountain in the middle of nowhere a villager will pull out his/her mobile and hey presto, instant connection, for free.

    France also already has what NBN proposes, plus more, and at least half the price.

  29. John Wade

    May 4, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    Ron @ 30, you are asking for the evolution of a species of human being, equivalent to seeing scallops walking on land – “if he not only finds his own voice but stiffens his backbone enough to effectively express it”.

  30. Simon Warriner

    May 4, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    Ron Mower @30 puts forward the most compelling demonstration of the damage political parties do to our public discourse. Had he been independant we would still be hearing him put forward those progressive ideas.

  31. Nom de Plume

    May 4, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    #28, another of Bartlett’s babies- NBN4business appears to have died a slow death. Their website hasn’t been updated for a very long time and they don’t reply to email. I seem to recall a story about their forums being poorly attended and bogged down in arguments over irrelevant details. Seemed like a good idea at the time- industry bodies organising meetings to educate their members about how to utilise the NBN. Perhaps someone in the know could update us to its status?

  32. Ron Mower

    May 4, 2011 at 7:22 am

    Yes, thank you Bronwyn. I think Will Hodgman has the potential to actually do good if he not only finds his own voice but stiffens his backbone enough to effectively express it. It is interesting that he once expressed opposition to the logging of old growth forests. This suggests he has the potential for some enlightened thinking. A couple of years ago, at a small gathering of people at a seminar at UTAS he talked about what the state most needed to effect broad-scale political reform. He discussed a charter of human rights for the state as the basis for such reform, the need for which he spoke about with both conviction and feeling. I was impressed, only to be greatly disappointed to hear him give exactly the opposite argument during the last election campaign. Why such a dramatic change, and under whose influence?

  33. Karl Stevens

    May 4, 2011 at 1:22 am

    Aaron 28. Your suggestion of Tassie developing a software industry has merit. As somebody that has done a bit of coding and putting together of sites etc, can I raise a few points? A major force in software globally is ‘open source’. This web server probably runs on the Apache server (free). Of course the big bucks are in ‘proprietary’ software with mobile phone apps growing by the day.
    Much of the open source stuff is developed online globally by contribution. Where you live is irrelevant. In my view internet speed above ADSL is also irrelevant. The software industry is the complete realm of the mind. It does not rely on quantity but quality.
    What would attract corporate software developers to Tasmania? We desperately need a sane government and a population with some basic human values. We need real values, not just ‘off the shelf’ values dished-out by some ideology. As a parting thought, ever wondered why the countries that the Tasmanian pulp mill builders worship, have removed fluoride from their water supplies? The great overlords Sweden and Finland terminated the compulsory medication of the population decades ago. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_fluoridation_controversy

  34. Aaron

    May 3, 2011 at 11:45 pm

    I managed to sit through all the videos. Nothing revolutionary in them but it was good to hear some cold hard facts from the Professor and Saul. The politicians were vacuous but on the plus side at least they were there and I for one suspect they care. The problem is the Tassie talent pool is shallow and no more so then when it comes to our politicians.

    I’ve got a good idea. Tassie is about to become one of the most connected places in the World (probably in the top 3 after Japan and South Korea but definitely in the top 10). Why don’t we go all out to do everything we can to build a software sector. All you need for that is smart people, good ideas, hard work and the right culture. Personally I think we have got the first 3 but the government could really help on the last one. There was a thing called the Digital Futures that seemed to be Bartlett’s baby but seems to have disappeared into oblivion. Take the money away off forestry (they only lose it anyway) and do something like http://www.startupchile.org/. Plus that will stop me having to do a Saul and leave again after spending my 10 years away getting experience.

  35. Michael Swanton

    May 3, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    #25.Would you be in agreement with the sentiments of the enlightened comments at #22? Michael Swanton.

  36. George Harris aka woodworker

    May 3, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    “Dr Phill Pullinger was out of his depth and obviously nervous.” I agree. His was the worst performance on the night, in both the initial presentation and the question time. I went over and spoke to him at the conclusion, which probably didn’t improve his self-confidence either, as I told him I had looked at the transcript of his appearance before the Legislative Council inquiry into the transition from native forests, and that his was a very poor effort.
    Anyone interested can find it on the Legislative Council website, or I can include a link in a subsequent post.

  37. Russell

    May 3, 2011 at 10:28 am

    Re #20
    Already been answered, read the post agaion or read #23 for an otherwise same answer which you may comprehend.

  38. Phil Lohrey

    May 3, 2011 at 3:50 am

    Michael Swanton, I think Russell Langfield was trying to support Saul Eslake’s point about gaining wider perspective. If you grow up here you can learn from living elsewhere. Newcomers can bring fresh perspectives. Staying on here can stultify. Power structures and ways of doing things can reflect isolation. I’ve come and gone. I reckon we have to show some real hospitality. Welcoming people of our own ilk to village life isn’t enough. My island has been enhanced by newcomers. Isn’t a wide gene pool healthy?

  39. Saul Eslake

    May 3, 2011 at 2:32 am

    Re #21, I haven’t ever advocated closing Hobart College, or any of the other upper-secondary colleges. I have at different times said that State high schools ought to offer classes all the way to Year 12; and that whatever kind of celebration kids want to have at the end of Year 10 (I certainly don’t want to stop them having a good time), it shouldn’t be called a “Leaver’s Dinner”, or anything else that conveys the impression that Year 10 is an exit point from education.

    I was prepared to give David Bartlett’s proposals in-principle support, although I was never across the detail enough to make a judgement as to how practicable they would turn out to be, or how effective they would be in dealing with the problem of Tasmania’s appallingly low participation rates in upper secondary and post-secondary education.

    But really, I have an open mind as to the best means of achieving that goal.

  40. jabsert

    May 3, 2011 at 1:38 am

    Most Tasmanians are dumb peasants fed pure propaganda by the hereditry ruling families and old money corporates. They have been taught that change is bad, Greens are evil, and big companies will save them. To give the illusion of choice the ruling class divides itself into Libs and Labs. The peasants are now totally ignorant, dependent and fearful – just the way the rulers want them.

  41. Andrew Wadsley

    May 3, 2011 at 1:07 am

    The phrase “it seems obvious that retention rates would be better if schools provided a complete secondary education, from year seven to year 12, on the one campus” seems to miss the point. If educational standards at year 10 were appropriate, then there would be no need for pupils to spend yet another 2 years in school.

    A few years ago, Hobart College, the largest secondary college in the State, managed to have no students in the top 100 students at year 12 – I have no idea what the qualification is called today because it seems to change seasonally. In my day, when I attended Hobart Matriculation College (which is now Hobart College, though in a different campus), such a result would have been greeted with the public outcry it deserves: how can a state education department, and teachers at the college, accept such a poor outcome? Yet, nowadays, it’s the norm. What excuse can there be? It’s certainly not money as that, in real terms, has more than doubled.

    When I attended New Town High and Hobart Matriculation College, I firmly believed that Tasmania’s state education system was the best in Australia. Now, something is very wrong, but Saul Eslake’s overly simple claim that turning back the clock 50 years and closing the Colleges is not the answer.

  42. Michael Swanton

    May 3, 2011 at 1:04 am

    #19. Russell Langfield tell us why we should think you are any better than the locals. Go on. It is obviously really easy, ‘you don’t need to be born in Tasmania to know what is going on or what has been going on,quite the opposite in fact’.
    Michael Swanton.

  43. Russell

    May 3, 2011 at 12:26 am

    Re #14
    Thanks Bronwyn, but from your answer I understand that Hodgman didn’t really have or put up any good ideas at all?

    From what I have read and heard I think all the panelists, as usual, stated the obvious but didn’t go into any detail or give any answers or direction. Saul touched on it.

    You don’t need to be born in Tasmania to understand what’s going on or what has been going on, quite the opposite in fact. Those who have lived here all there lives know no other or better and a great many haven’t even ventured out of their little hamlets. They are the problem, as everyone on the panel alluded to (re: education), and the reason nothing is going to change in the immediate future with the current political ‘depth’ to chose from.

    Hodgman could have been Premier after the last election but he didn’t have the brains to understand how, and just sat back thinking it was just going to be “given” to him. Not really Premiership material I think. No better or worse than Bartlett or Giddings though, so what is there to look forward to politically, economically or innovatively?

    While the current ‘families’ of politicians remain in Tasmania, no matter what colour banner they fall under, everything will continue to revolve around forestry until it is dead and takes the state with it.

  44. salamander

    May 2, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    Bronwyn, of course Hodgman is prepared to admit to Tasmania’s problems – he can say they are all thanks to Labor!
    But unfortunately the Liberals have been complicit in far too many decisions over the last 10 years or so for any to be considered innocents. Every Liberal and Labor politician that was in parliament at the time, apart from Terry Martin who was subsequently kicked out of the Labor Party by Paul Lennon, voted in support of the pulp mill – which by your definition, makes all those politicians functionally illiterate. A verdict which I would agree with!

  45. John Biggs

    May 2, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    A wittily jaundiced view of the proceedings, Bronwyn. I agree entirely with what you said about Giddings: she sounds sweetly reasonable but, like an easter egg, under the pretty wrapping there’s nothing much inside. Felmingham (he who thinks we need a Bjelke Petersen to get Tasmania moving) bangs the development drum: the wrapping in this case matches the content. Hodgman, with better wrapping, bangs that same drum: his best idea was to free up planning to attract more and more development. We precisely do NOT need development at any cost, just development to suit a Tasmanian economy in transition. I was intrigued to learn that originally WH was anti-clearfelling HCV forest: that’s what political ambition does to you. You bow to the party line or, like Bob Cheek, who had similar seditious ideas, you’re dead. But as well as ambition you need substance, and I don’t see much of that in Will.

    McKim’s views on transport were sound, likewise “economy in transition” — it had better be, otherwise we are stuck. Spelling out what that might mean in detail cannot be done in four minutes: be fair. Likewise Pullinger was there representing the environment and that is what he did: and we can forgive him for being nervous, as he was on show with professional mouth-smiths. The two other ecomists, Eslake and West I think did their stuff well.

    So all in all, I think it wasn’t as bad as Bronwyn makes it: much of her criticism arises from the format, which was hardly Q&A. My criticism would be not so much of the panel but of the rather ordinary questions that were asked afterwards the speakers had had their say. This I think was largely due to the organisation, making the panellists the focus rather than the questions. Tony Jones jumps straight to the questions and that’s why the show succeeds. This should have been like that — if that is what you are advertising the show as. Q&A it was not.

  46. More Questions

    May 2, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    Good question #11
    Where are these “good ideas” ?
    As far as I see it just more of the same old same old thinking.
    A rolling, evergreen RFA as part of their TasLibs 13 point plan “strengthening the Forest Industry”?
    Will Will ever get it?

  47. Lumpy

    May 2, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    #12 Yes and this goes to the lie that Georgetowns unemployed will just stroll into a career at the Pulp Mill. No, many of the 250 or so long term jobs will be highly qualified and from interstate and overseas.

    The hopes and aspirations of GT’s unemployed have merely been exploited to win public support in a key area of the Tamar. The very same scenario has been played out over and over again the world over when big industry come to small towns.

    The tale of Federal Hotels Saffire project at Coles Bay is yet another example of the big business con.

    The promise will not last, but the problems will.

  48. Bronwyn Williams

    May 2, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    #4,#6,#11 Mr Langfield, Salamander and Counsellor – some further comments:

    Will Hodgman is probably hamstrung by Liberal party policies to the point where he is no more effective than any of the other guys and gals warming seats in the Tasmanian parliament, but he at least acknowledges the social and economic decline currently facing Tasmania. He does not attempt to gloss it over, or hide it behind spurious comparison with a past time that was even worse. He talks the traditional Liberal line of supporting private enterprise, but acknowledges that no one economic ‘silver bullet’ will turn the Tasmanian economy around.

    As noted, this forum was astounding in its failure to address the Gunns Tamar Valley Pulp Mill issue, and the role the project is supposed to play in securing the state’s economic future. One can only guess why. Perhaps the panelists had a genuine fear of being lynched, and the audience had an equally genuine fear of being monstered by the security guards if things got out of hand.

    After only three years living in Tasmania, I’m still something of an impartial observer, and this is what I see –

    •The Tamar Valley Pulp Mill is a stupid proposition – it is economically unviable and socially and environmentally damaging. Even a functional illiterate could appreciate this, if it was explained plainly. But we don’t get plain, unadorned explanations – we get a load of insensible crap underpinned by years of cronyism, prevarication, outright lies and cavalier abuse of the democratic process. As an outsider, the most disturbing aspect of this situation is the fact that most Tasmanians seem to accept horrendously sub-standard government as their lot in life.

    •Will Hodgman has grown up in this political environment, and I don’t know whether he has the balls to rise above it. I don’t know him personally, and I am politically entirely neutral, but he impresses me as a fundamentally decent person. In this forum the issues he raised were not original, but he has a sound understanding of what’s wrong, and seems genuinely dedicated to improving the lot of Tasmanians. His good intentions may well be entirely subsumed by the Liberal party’s subservience to everything Gunns, but his expression of the issues was quite distinct from the cynical posturing of Giddings and McKim, the detached paternalism of the academics, and the lacklustre performance of the only environmentalist on the panel.

    But, like I said, I’m not a native Tasmanian, and I don’t know any of these people personally. If my impressions are incorrect, please feel free to set me straight.

  49. Karl Stevens

    May 2, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    phill Parsons 8. Mark Duffet 12. George Town is the most disadvantaged town in Northern Tasmania, so 60 years of industry has failed to grow wealth in the town. How many ‘fly in fly out’ workers are at Bell Bay and how many of the management executives live in other countries? I’m willing to bet that the majority of profit from Bell Bay flows out of Tasmania. The workers salaries may equal the shareholder’s dividends on a bad year but what about the executive salaries?

  50. Counsellor

    May 2, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    I attended the night and I obviously missed Mr Hodgman’s “good ideas”. Please enlighten me Bronwyn.

  51. Philip Lowe

    May 2, 2011 at 11:48 am

    Peter No7.I thought that this was an excellent piece.Nice one Bronwyn Williams.

  52. Saul Eslake

    May 2, 2011 at 10:36 am

    My reference to Catherine Parr (Henry VIII’s sixth wife) was prompted by the fact that I was the last of the six panellists to make a concluding statement, and therefore my challenge was that, like Catherine Parr, it was going to be difficult to do what I needed to do (in this case, give a four-minute summary of what I thought on the topic at hand) without repeating at least some of what others had said before me.

    There was, as I recall, a brief twitter (in the 20th century sense of that term) across the room which suggested to me that at least some people got the allusion, even if others didn’t.

    Whether I passed the ‘Catherine Parr’ test is of course for others to judge.

    Bronwyn, few people are more aware than I am of the dearth of jobs in Tasmania for “qualified, experienced people”. Been there, done that, twice early in my professional career.

    My point to the young person who raised that question was that Tasmania’s experience of talented young people leaving in search of fame, fortune or other life experiences in larger population centres is something we share with almost every island community in the world with the possible exceptions of Britain, Honshu, Java and (perhaps) Madagascar. And even Britain experienced what might subsequently have been called a ‘brain drain’ between, say, 1624 and at least the 1970s.

    I also offered the observation that Tasmanians who have lived part of their life somewhere else have (in some ways) a better appreciation of what is unique about our State – both what is worth preserving, and what needs to change. Hence my hope that those who do need to leave the State in order to further their careers, or to experience more of what life has to offer, come back at some stage and share what they’ve learned.

    I have to say I’m glad that the evening wasn’t dominated by the pulp mill or forestry more generally. That’s not to deny the importance of the issue – I would never try to do that – but rather to recognize that it’s not the only issue which needs to be addressed if Tasmania is to make both economic and social progress.

  53. phill Parsons

    May 2, 2011 at 7:04 am

    I enjoyed the read and on the basis that it the hot air and old refrains make no offer I will avoid watching. I find Stevens comment about George Town an interesting one though. How many travel to work rather then reside in the town next to the industrial complex?.

  54. Peter

    May 2, 2011 at 4:11 am

    Thanks for your pithy and forthright summary, Bronwyn. Incidentally, the figure for ‘illiteracy’ has climbed 10 points in two days: I was told only last week it was 40%. “Functional illiteracy,” they said, “was being unable to read or understand The Mercury.”

  55. salamander

    May 2, 2011 at 1:33 am

    Yes, what were Hodgman’s good ideas? I didn’t hear any on the night, and there are none here. He was just as bland, boring and useless as Lara Giddings.

  56. Karl Stevens

    May 2, 2011 at 1:16 am

    I enjoyed your report Bronwyn. I have only watched Simon’s first video so far and I concur with your observations of Will Hodgman. I’m fascinated by Will’s face. He looks like a Wallabies front-rower, or he has just done a couple of rounds with Anthony Mundine. His literacy statistic scared me also, but I’ve been quoting an ABS stat that says 75% of Tasmanians are unable to cope with living in the modern world. No wonder Will is in with a chance!
    The knockout stat for Laras pulp mill is that after 60 years of ‘heavy industry’ George Town Tasmania is the poorest area of Northern Tasmania. Only ‘industrial’ Brighton rates lower. So there you have Lara’s delusions displayed for all to see. A party hooking people up to the NBN who can’t even cope with daytime television and whose benefits are not enough to pay for the fiber optics. And of course Lara’s industrial ‘cargo cult’ mentality that rips off her own voters to enrich shareholders in countries Tasmanians don’t even know exist.

  57. Russell

    May 1, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    “I did learn, however, that Will Hodgman has some good ideas.”

    And what were they? Are you going to share them with us?

  58. Mark

    May 1, 2011 at 9:20 pm

    I remember about a decade ago when Will first made it to the top of his particular pile and he made a very promising statement. He observed Tasmanians had to stop logging old growth forests. It was in the morning on ABC radio. Over the next few days he was quietly advised of his real opinion and has never repeated it since.

  59. john hawkins

    May 1, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    The Elephant is in the room and Gunns Pulp Mill is under severe threat by this long lived much loved creature.

    1)The cost of a Pulp Mill on a rate of exchange of Aus 2.5 dollars to the pound to cover a cost of 2.5 billion dollars 4 years ago if financed out of London would have been 1 billion pounds, now it would cost a UK investor over 1.5 billion pounds or 500 million more.
    The same applies to the US dollar for the cost has jumped 50% if financed from off shore which it will have to be as no Aussie bank will take the risk.

    2).Gunns does not have FSC hence the product of the pulp mill is currently unsaleable so who will lend them the money.

    3).A class action by irate shareholders now has finance, presumably those who have provided the funding consider the chance of winning to be good.This will cost Gunns probably 100 million dollars.

    4).The potential buyer of Gunns Green Triangle plantation estate would rather deal with the Liquidators and they Know that Gunns desperately need the cash flow.

    5).They have no Social Licence having gained approval by virtue of the pollies rather than the professionals.

    6). As a company the share price is back under 50 cents and they cannot pay their bills ask Forestry Tasmania.

    This is I suggest some elephant and I pity the Directors of Gunns as the Elephant has his very large foot directed at a point where the sun is not known to shine. It is the Directors assets that are on the line,I assk when will they quit the room?

  60. Dave Groves

    May 1, 2011 at 7:16 pm

    What we need are businessmen to run the state as a business.

    They need to work closely and negotiate with people of empathy to create the very best environment for us all.

    They need to actively engage with businesses to create opportunities that will transform our state from the mess it is into one that is vibrant, dynamic, flexible, innovative and able to be a real contributor to the world on all levels.

    Until we ditch the archaic, bloated rambling juggernaut that is our political system (yes bin job the lot) and run this state with accountability, we will continue to lurch aimlessly from one debacle to the next.

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