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Last Monday I purchased a hard copy of the Mercury – something I haven’t done in months – and spent an enjoyable few minutes reading it from cover to cover. Amongst several pages of otherwise exemplary journalistic endeavour, I found two apparently innocuous, but very disturbing, errors of fact.

Firstly, Mr Greg Barns, in ‘Talking Point – Chipping Away at Profit’ on pages 22-23, asserts that ‘FT has a dominant role in the Tasmanian forestry industry. It has changed over the years and has grappled with extraordinary political pressure placed on it by its relentless taxpayer-funded enemy in the form of the Wilderness Society’ (italics added). Is Greg saying the Wilderness Society is in receipt of government funding? That appears to be the case.

I am not a Wilderness Society supporter, but a correction is necessary. The Wilderness Society is entirely funded by public donations – it receives no government funding. In light of the recent autocratic activities of its Tasmanian management, in the fanciful pursuit of a forests agreement, it is, in fact, something of a cruel joke that thousands of people donate to the Wilderness Society to do their bit for the environment, but are systematically denied any say in its activities.

Greg’s statement is nothing more than a further iteration of the green bogeyman myth plaguing this state – to publish this untruth merely exacerbates the fear of regular citizens.

And, Greg’s thesis – that FT is a profit-earning powerhouse just waiting for liberation from its government owners, is frankly bizarre. Neither FT, nor its predecessor, the Forestry Commission, are, or were, capable of earning their keep. If Greg believes that partial privatisation will reverse this decades-long trend, he may have stayed too long frolicking with the pixies at the bottom of Lara’s garden.

Secondly, on page 10, under the byline, Matt Smith, the item ‘Tassie police back brothel legalisation’, states that ‘Opinions within the public submissions are heavily divided, with many calling for Tasmania to adopt legislation from Sweden that makes it illegal to purchase or sell sexual services’.

The sale of sexual services is NOT illegal in Sweden. The Swedish (or Nordic) model of sex industry legislation specifically decriminalises those who sell sexual services. Instead, the laws target demand for sexual services, by making it a criminal offence to purchase those services.

The Swedish law also provides support for prostitutes wishing to leave the sex industry.

This information is readily available online, but if Mr Smith is struggling to keep his research up to date, might I suggest Wikipedia at

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prostitution_in_Sweden

where he will read that ‘The laws on prostitution in Sweden make it illegal to buy sexual services, but not to sell them’. For further detail, he could enter ‘Swedish prostitution laws’ into his Google browser.

Given the volatile nature of debate on this issue, and the imminent consideration of legislation to amend Tasmanian’s prostitution laws, inaccuracies such as this are unforgiveable.

Some people still read the Mercury and believe what is printed. At least do them the courtesy of researching the facts.