Tasmanian Times

Bronwyn Williams

Reflections of an unemployed ‘new’ Tasmanian

Since settling in the glorious island state of Tassie, some three years ago, I have languished, restlessly, among the ranks of the unemployed. It was the search for diversion, in fact, that led me to Tasmanian Times.

I’ve studied – at UTas and with Adult Ed, I’ve knitted countless woollen garments, and assorted headwear, I’ve travelled the length and breadth of my new home many times over, I’ve eaten at hundreds of pubs, cafes and restaurants, and I’ve read the Mercury from cover to cover more times than I care to think about. When I found myself looking forward to the fishing news, I knew I had to cancel my subscription – things were getting weird. But they were to get weirder still.

Looking around for something to replace my daily tabloid fix, I took up crochet, and a quest for the perfect chocolate cupcake recipe. Magically, last Sunday, I mastered a neat crocheted beanie, and baked a batch of fabulous chocolate cupcakes . On the same day! Such was my delight, that I spent Monday in an orgy of debauched celebrations – good coffee and a shitload of the aforementioned cupcakes. Life was good.

By Tuesday, the loose ends were beginning to show again, and the afternoon found me casting about for something to fill a vacant hour or two. I’ve always planned to watch the webcast of parliament – someday. And, yesterday, that day came.

I tuned in around 2.45 pm, just in time to see Peter Gutwein berating Nick McKim over his appearance at Saturday’s Pulp Mill rally in Launceston – it was ‘a disgrace, an absolute disgrace’, he thundered. Gutwein’s rage had turned him a faint shade of purple, there was steam coming from his ears, and faint traces of spittle around his mouth. I wondered if anyone in the chamber knew how to treat an apoplectic fit, because it looked like someone might have to step up. Maybe those nice attendants who hover around with jugs of water, and dutifully top the pollies up when they get dry? I held my breath, Gutwein didn’t explode, and everyone moved on to the no-confidence motion in the government.

There were only 23 people voting on the motion, but it took an inordinate amount of stuffing around to determine that the vote was 10 for the motion, and 13 against – if they’d all put their hands up, a preschooler could have counted them in two minutes, but I guess they have to earn their money somehow.

Forestry, and the pulp mill inevitably got a guernsey in question time, and at some point – I can’t pinpoint when – I stepped into a parallel universe, where reason and commonsense had been replaced by mind-numbing idiocy. As noted by others on this forum today, Miss Lara announced, without a trace of guile, that the Statement of Principles process was ‘designed to assist Gunns to get their pulp mill up’. ‘The government is very supportive of the pulp mill, and getting the pulp mill built’, she added.

Addressing the rantings of Gutwein, and Hodgman, about the Greens’ participation in the anti -Pulp Mill rally, and the dire threat of ‘sovereign risk’ to the Tasmanian economy if the mill does not go ahead, our Premier blandly pronounced that it was okay for Labor’s coalition partners in government to disagree with them on such a vital issue. And, besides, the Greens disagreement was of little real significance, since Labor would hope to get unquestioning Liberal support for their pulp mill policy.

When asked about the failure of Forestry Tasmania to implement the agreed moratorium on logging in HCV forest, the Premier guaranteed there had been 100 per cent fulfilment of their obligations under the moratorium agreement by FT. They are still logging only the agreed 2 per cent of HCV forest, to ‘ensure the industry continues’. She knows no detail of the logging being carried by FT, but, whatever they are doing, they are entirely within their rights. Groups like Still Wild, Still Threatened who dispute the actions of FT are ‘absolutely wrong’.

I know they euphemistically refer to the antics of the Tasmanian parliament as ‘co-operative government’, but what the fuck is going on. For a start, I don’t think any of them truly understand the meaning of ‘sovereign risk’, and yet they talk about the Gunns pulp mill as the only way to avoid this terrible threat. I’ve got news for you, people, Tasmania will not turn into Zimbabwe if we don’t get a pulp mill.

And, how can the Greens march against Gunns Tamar Valley Pulp Mill, and three days later sit quietly in parliament while their coalition partners grovel at the feet of the Gunns deity? Do they have no principles, no shame? I’ve heard about having a bet both ways, but what about credibility? Does that mean nothing?

And, does the Premier really take Forestry Tasmania’s assurances at face value? Does she check? Or, is FT like a perverted old uncle – you know he’s family, and you wouldn’t say a bad word about him in public, but you really don’t want to know what he gets up to?

And, finally, to those ENGOs who have been loyal to the forestry roundtable peace talks, can you now continue to ignore the fact that you have been conned? The Premier has publicly acknowledged that the talks were intended to deliver a pulp mill for Gunns, and she clearly has no control over Forestry Tasmania. Your dream of protecting Tasmania’s forests, and getting credit for doing so, is a chimera – a naive, ill-founded fantasy. And, don’t just wimp out with a pathetic excuse like the Wilderness Society. Man up, take it on the chin, admit you made a mistake, and get on with doing what your paying supporters expect. They don’t donate to the cause to allow you to pursue your own personal ambitions, they don’t appreciate secrecy, and I’m sure they don’t like it when you get outclassed in the political tricks department by a bunch of consummate professionals.

Mr Dave Groves often refers to the ‘show’ that is Tasmanian politics, and he’s right. It’s a tragedy, and a comedy – you cry, and you laugh. But, mostly, you just wish that some sense could prevail, and you could move back to the real world.

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  1. David Leigh

    May 19, 2011 at 8:36 pm

    Great article Bronwyn and I have to agree with Estelle Ross, why do we have so much governance for such a small state? Gunns Timber Ltd. Has been responsible for the shedding of so many jobs over the past decade or so it makes one wonder why Lara is so keen to support the Gunns’ pulp mill. Will it suddenly create massive wealth for all Tasmanians, like a magic flute, piping all our dreams into reality? I think not. It will only serve to create wealth for the board of Gunns and a few facilitators and most of that is destined for other shores. Peter Gutwein is asking Nick McKim to betray his politics and become a LibLab as he is. I wonder, would he have accused him of betrayal had he not gone to the rally? The interesting questions now are whether the Greens will withdraw support for Labor now that the Premier has admitted that the Statement of Principles was only negotiated to support the Gunns pulp mill? And, if that is the case, how can she say that when her deputy has stated that this agreement was nothing to do with government and that he will not support it?

  2. Michael Swanton

    May 19, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    #20.You don’t have a problem with me agreeing with you on the system being corrupt. However if you want a change to a ‘smarter’ democratically elected representative, the voter needs to reflect the candidate. The system being changed will not help you, just look for example at the House of Assembly changes. Protein and nutrient for thought?
    Michael SWanton.

  3. Michael Swanton

    May 19, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    #9.Buck and Joan you must be from a generation of Hawkwind? There is a new Tamar wine to be released; Gutwein.Very cleansing! Michael Swanton.

  4. max

    May 19, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    17 # Michael. The present system is corrupt, we have a LibLab coalition that has only one idea for Tasmania, Gunns pulpmill. Good, bad or indifferent the pulp mill is being forced on the people by the LibLabs who were sponsored by Gunns and are trying to pay their dues to their sponsor. When a company through it’s contributions to political parties is supported by these parties we have a situation that must be stopped. Abolishing all contributions to politicians would be a good start.

  5. phill Parsons

    May 19, 2011 at 9:17 am

    Libs and labs do turn up at such rallies. At the same rally Booth made the 25th of May the date for the Pulpmill Approval Act Repeal Bill. Tune in at 4PM for more steam and spittle.

  6. Keith Antonysen

    May 19, 2011 at 12:00 am

    When has it been that Gutwein has not screamed any message he thinks we should hear?
    Its obviously ok to stealthfully and undemocratically push through a mill according to Gutwein; and then, critise anybody who understands how Parliamentary processes have been subverted.

  7. Michael Swanton

    May 18, 2011 at 10:55 pm

    #11.Not a very good suggestion. You would have an even more corrupt system of government.
    Michael Swanton.

  8. Garry Stannus

    May 18, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    Good writing Bronwyn. I must say, that I was instantly aggravated to think that Peter Gutwein was angry with Nick McKim for attending our rally in Launceston.

    I feel very strongly about that.

    I wouldn’t get angry with any of the Libs and labs for turning up at a pro-logging turnout. It’s understandable. Was Peter G. really angry? Or was it an example of political ‘mock anger’ – the type we hear in Parliament all the time?

    The charade. I’m not knocking parliamentarians. In fact I don’t like it when people make the easy jokes, about parliamentarians. They are people, just like you and me. Actually, I’m not a cynic. I believe in things. I keep moving on from what has let me down, and going somewhere else. Maybe I shouldn’t. Maybe I shouldbe a cynic. But I’m not. I don’t like it when Dave writes ‘and the show rolls on’. As if with a brush of dirty paint he can daub a whole lot of people while his hands remain clean. I’m not knocking Dave. Whenever I’ve spoken to him, I’ve heard commitment, belief, fair-dinkumness, and goodwill. I’m saying that I don’t like his ‘show rolls on’ thingo.

  9. Steve Johnson

    May 18, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    How stupid is Gutwein, if he was worth his position in politics he too should have been at the rally to not only educate himself, but to represent people in his electrate.Living not only the Tamar Valley but in Launceston and surronding areas will be effected as a result ot the Dirty stinking pulp mill Why does he think Gunns created section 11.??? Etc
    Is it Gutwein by name and GUTwein by nature?

  10. Bronwyn Williams

    May 18, 2011 at 8:22 pm

    Thanks to a link posted by Karl Stevens on an earlier forum, I am able to correct a minor error in this article. I checked the archived House of Assembly webcast from Tuesday 17 May (I can’t believe they keep this tripe for posterity – isn’t Hansard a sufficiently embarrassing reminder?) and Miss Lara’s exact words were – ‘the whole Statement of Principles process…is about trying to assist Gunns…to get their pulp mill up.’ Watch it at http://www.parliament.tas.gov.au/ha/qt/qt170511.htm.

    Thanks again, Karl.

  11. glennis

    May 18, 2011 at 8:06 pm

    A friend of mine tackled Mr G about his support for the supporating boil on the Tamar Valley and he was very dismissive. Imagine my friend’s surprise when said Mr G later rang him and after some argy bargy told my friend that if he didn’t like it he could find himself another MP! Sadly there wasn’t much choice!

  12. salamander

    May 18, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    I am disgusted (but not surprised) by Gidding’s statement, she and others of her persuasion repeat the mantra about pulp mill = jobs because they don’t have sufficient intelligence to cope with the evidence under their noses. For many people this is like those editorial spelling lapses that if you see often enough, are in danger of being added to the computer dictionary for spell check.

  13. Estelle Ross

    May 18, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    For goodness’ sake isn’t it time we got rid of the state government altogether? How much worse off could we possibly be and imagine the $millions we could save? It is just ridiculous that a mere half million people have to pay for 3 layers of government. How about transforming our 29 local councils into 3 regional areas and then select a few totally independent, intelligent representatives to meet a few times a year to not only remove the masses of currently onerous and in some cases draconian laws but instigate new ones as required; thus smoothing the way for entrepreneurs to create some fantastic opportunities for niche small to medium size businesses here with the resultant boost to both jobs growth and the economy?

  14. Ben Quin

    May 18, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    It seems Mr. Gutwein is not the only one in danger of apoplexy Bronwyn!

    I propose the introduction of swearing jar therapy for all TT posters. It will at least provide a steady underlying revenue for this publication and may also assist in moderating outbursts of violence within beanie-knitting and cup-cake baking circles.

    Ben Quin

  15. Buck and Joan Emberg

    May 18, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    Gutwein’s name is pronounced: ‘gut-wind’.

  16. Gareth Stebbins

    May 18, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    The Foresty Statement of Priciples is one con-job shamelessly sold to us by the Bartlett government. Another is the Integrity Commission. A few of us who attended last week’s Lton info seminar by the Integrity Commission have decided to form a group called: “Friends” of the Integrity Commission. If you would also like to be involved, please email regarding your preferred contact email address to fotic2010@gmail.com

  17. Michael Swanton

    May 18, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    The irony of this is Gutwein really is the cream of the State parliamentary Liberal “crop”. I know it must be gutwrenching. Michael Swanton.

  18. Buck and Joan Emberg

    May 18, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    We cry for REAL leadership from the ALP and Liberal parties! We do not expect it!

  19. Ros Barnett

    May 18, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    I enjoyed reading this. I could identify. Lately, trying to stay engaged with Tasmanian politics, I feel like I’m watching some soap that has been running too long. I wish I could break the habit, but I have to know who the next broken heart will be. I know it is crap but it is fascinating in a low brow way, and the only show we have.

  20. Valleywatcher

    May 18, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    Thanks for the early morning chortle, Bronwyn.
    Your words painted a perfect picture of an apoplectic Gutwein beside himself with rage at those naughty Greens for daring to front up last Saturday. (Ooh….beside himself? Two of him? Perish the thought!)
    Would I be terrible to wish that you remain unemployed for a while longer so that we can continue to enjoy your written observations on the antics of our infantile elected reps in the Big House?

    Maybe you could open a beanie and cupcake shop 😉

  21. john hayward

    May 18, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    I take some comfort from Bronwyn’s view of the Tas Parliament as being in a parallel universe.

    You don’t really want to live in one where a premier can unblushingly and unhesitatingly admit to having lied to the public as to her motives and intentions for a sham consultation for the past year, and where the opposition leader feigns apoplexy over someone’s very mild support for democratic processes.

    But Bronwyn and I are fooling ourselves. We really are run by absolute shit.

    John Hayward

  22. John Wade

    May 18, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    Everything has already been said by a lot of people.

    Time is waiting on the right people to force the change.

    The problem is, no one is willing to cooperate. Giddings is concreted to the spot. McKim is a stargazer who cannot enunciate intent. Will takes orders from a lunatic right -cracy.

    And so, Tasmania does not grow, create, stand out, lead, or be recognised as a smart, healthy place to be.

    New Zealand is stealing your markets ffs!

  23. Arvo Bennett

    May 18, 2011 at 11:26 am

    Gutwein really sounds like a bit of a cuckoo, from what you’ve described. Has the man lost track of reality perhaps? I didn’t think he was necessarily all that rightwing. But his blind backing of the pulp mill suggests he must be.

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