Will Hodgman: chose the races, rather than the White Knight

As we sit snugly and smugly here in the cocoon from the world arguing about the Tasmanian experience out there exposé’s of almost an unheard of scale are going on.

Whilst one cannot accuse the British PM of anything, there is no trail of evidence, it is true that he rode a former British Police horse stabled at the property of his friend since school who happens to be the husband of Rebecca Brookes at the centre of phone hacking and payments to corrupt police officers scandal, which has closed one profitable News Ltd newspaper and claimed one Murdoch’s scalp [James] besides impacting on the careers of many involved doing the media business with some belief that it was somehow justifiable.

Even more hurtful to News is the loss of the supposedly lucrative entry into the satellite TV market through BSkyB, a result of association with corrupt practice.

Before this came out into the public domain did anyone have any idea of the enormity of this matter, the invasions of privacy, the corruption of officials and the other illegal acts that made up this intriguing web of association and associates?

Can we list other matters like this where the substance is unknown, the acts questionable or illegal? Enron, the collapse of Lehman Bros, the corruption scandals that affected the outcome of the Chinese change of leadership. Please list your favourites in comments.

Moving closer to our own jurisdiction, in case someone foolishly believes it doesn’t happen here, we have the climate change related event of the January 2011 floods in Brisbane.

Queensland Premier Bligh calls an Inquiry after many opine that the floods should not have happened. After all there was Wivenhoe Dam in place to take the water, SEQ Water had an operating manual that told them how to manage storm flows to limit flooding, there had been a recent storm disaster in SE Qld and the Bureau of Meteorology was predicting intense storms in the Wivenhoe Dam catchment.

And so the Inquiry sat taking evidence and retired to write up its findings. Meanwhile a conjunction of a journalist worthy of an award, Hedley Thomas [working for News Ltd], a retired sugar industry executive, Graigie, who was flood affected and a water engineer, O’Brien, came together to expose a cover up so enormous that it had fooled the Inquiry Tribunal.

The water engineers had presented an independent report that stated they followed the manual.

However, a little digging by Craige had uncovered an inconsistency in the evidence.

Thomas had discovered that one of the Commissioners, the one on the panel as an Independent expert worked, for a company that worked for SEQ Water. The conflict of interest buzzer sounded loudly.

As an expert he should have noted that if the manual had been followed then flood should have been either avoided or limited. That is the role of an expert. He did not do so. He was paid $2,000.00 a day.

It took a disinterested party, the engineer O’Brien, to take apart the events and make them understandable for those not in the know.

It was reporting of these inconsistencies that saw the Qld Premier recall the Inquiry to re-examine the evidence in light of the new data and ask the report be presented a week before her government goes to the polls on the 24th of March. Real leadership?

As we know 3 of the 4 water engineers at SEQ Water are being investigated by the Queensland version of the Tasmanian Integrity Commission, the Crime and Misconduct Commission, having been found to have misled the Inquiry, not followed the manual and thus may be responsible for some of the flood damage.

Their misconduct was to be less that fullsome about what they did.

One particular TT blogger has made all sorts of claims about others and defended the Tasmanian status quo on the basis of a lack of evidence.

Can he now explain how the supposedly sustainably managed forest is now overallocated, according to the report released by the State Liberals Deputy Leader Jeremy Rockcliff. Here:

The Leader, Hodgman, had been in charge of the charge, until it was revealed that he had failed to meet with the White Knight, instead opting for a day at the races, taken by some as an indication of his real interest in the pulpmill and the forest industry.

But that is just a small matter in light of the big lie Tasmanians have been fed about a sustainable forest industry.

Tasmania now has obligations to the Commonwealth having taken financial assistance to restructure the forest industry under the terms of the IGA. Perhaps Tasmanian taxpayers, and the companies and businesses who have received Commonwealth money, will be let off if the declared Ta Ann gift recipient, MLC Harriss, has his current way and leads the blocking of the essential legislation in the upper house.

But how do we know without a full examination of the evidence by an independent public Commission of Inquiry that we are not seeing a cover up even bigger than the big lie, FT runs a sustainable forest industry.

Without that clearing of the air Giddings and Hodgman cover themselves with the odium that has oozed out from a single leak.

Hawkins questions about probity go beyond Harris. What other gifts have been made? We know a culture of payments was widespread in the British example. We know one Qld Minister [Nuttall] took corrupt payments.

About matters here we have no evidence because it has not been sought. Instead we have small pieces that may be nothing, or may, like they did in Britain and Queensland, and as they have at other times, led somewhere.

Tasmania cannot expect to attract businesses who depend on the rule of law, who want to be dealt with fairly and expect a professional public service, one above reproach, unless that can now be shown to be the new status quo.

Like Murdoch has reformed the British arm of News Ltd and sacrificed one of his sons, like Bligh put her government’s credibility on the line, Tasmania cannot hide behind claims there is no evidence without having a thorough process to show that there isn’t, followed by a restructure to ensure that we don’t again end up with any arm of government in such a mess of overcommittment.

If only to protect themselves, the Parliament needs to authorize an Inquiry or have the stains of guilt spattered over themselves for allowing the forest estate to be over allocated without asking what happened and how can we do better.