Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche


New anti-corruption commission No. 1 on the election agenda

Peter Cundall, Parliament House protest 2009: Look back to anger, here

There is little chance that the Federal Government will conduct a Royal Commission into corruption allegations about the relationship between Forestry Tasmania, the Tasmanian Government and Gunns Pty Ltd. Even if they could be persuaded by some of the arguments put forward by long time analysts of this saga that a Royal Commission was necessary they would:

• only do this if they knew the outcome of such a Royal Commission

• both write and restrict the Terms of Reference for the Royal Commission

For anyone to suggest this is a reasonable course to pursue is seriously naive.

Tasmania does not have a Royal Commission Act we have a Commission of Inquiry Act. In calling for a Royal Commission many who write in depth on this issue here on TT, might think they are using these terms because this terminology is generally understood by the community. It is an exercise in futility. As mentioned above ‘Royal’ Commissions( of Inquiry) have their Terms of Reference written and restricted by state governments also.

Since the establishment of the Tasmanian Integrity Commission the Tasmanian Commission of Inquiry Act (formerly the Royal Commission Act) has become a useless and redundant piece of legislation. This is not to say that the Tasmanian Integrity Commission is either able or willing to investigate systemic corruption in Tasmania.

Many commentators on Tasmanian TTimes have expressed their view that the Tasmanian Integrity Commission (TIC) is a toothless lamb. But the problem remains, has anyone put the case to the TIC in concise Terms of Reference to establish if they are willing to investigate these very serious allegations about conduct of Forestry Tasmania executives and employees, politicians and their relationship with Gunns Pty Ltd?

Recent detailed expose on the Tasmanian forestry corruption allegations on tt –

David Obendorf here:

Peter Henning here:

John Hawkins here:

It is shocking to read all the blow by blow details, ad nauseum, year after year about the corruption involved the business of forestry in Tasmania. If the authors of many of these articles/and many who have written supportive comments really want to see something done, it might be more productive to cut to the chase and get those Terms of Reference together for everyone to quite simply understand what some of the facts are and the questions that need to be thoroughly investigated by the Tasmanian Integrity Commission..

If the TIC don’t want to investigate the corruption allegations on forestry matters in Tasmania, then the next step is for the Greens to be flushed out on their position about the urgent need for a new Anti Corruption Commission in Tasmania, now, and not two weeks before the election. Many in the community are backing a team of independents to put a new Anti Corruption Commission No 1 on their campaign agenda.

The establishment of a proper Anti Corruption Commission and stronger Whistleblower Protection laws in Tasmania remain the two most important issues to be publicly debated in the lead up to the next state election. Until this issue is tackled in a practical way there will be no justice in Tasmania and the issue of systemic corruption will remain, as it has done for decades, in the too hard basket. An issue, that only those individuals in Tasmania whose jobs can’t be threatened and who have the courage to speak truth to power and most importantly cross sectoral boundaries to work together for reform.

The community neither have the stamina nor the interest to read yet another lengthy expose of the intricate details over allegations of corruption in the forestry debate. Better to cut to the chase, use the kiss principle and put those Terms of Reference out there, simply, so that people can identify the road ahead towards real transparency and accountability in Tasmania.

For more information on the inquiries backing up for a Tasmanian Anti Corruption Commission to investigate see tt under Categories here:


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  1. Lyndall

    May 9, 2019 at 10:26 am

    The Morrison-Porter national anti-corruption ‘Commonwealth Integrity Commission’ (CIC) is a sham at worst, and a deception at least.

    Yesterday I watched Greenpeace’s video on their latest investigation, and I was sickened and shocked to learn about the federal political infiltration and influence regarding Big Coal. https://www.facebook.com/greenpeaceaustraliapacific/videos/376426336310070/

    This made me think again about the state of integrity in government and whether we have the capacity to apply the integrity and anti-corruption test to this ‘Government-Big Coal network’ as described in Greenpeace’s investigation – or indeed to many other unresolved cases such as Tasmania’s close and infamous Government-Forestry Tasmania-Gunn’s relationship. Could the Coalition’s proposed model for anti-corruption hold these politicians, public servants and business people to account?

    The answer is ‘No’.

    Geoffrey Watson, SC, a former counsel assisting NSW ICAC, has harshly criticised the Coalition’s model for a number of very good reasons. For example, the proposed Morrison-Porter CIC:

    • Is not retrospective. Therefore cases like the government-Big Coal network could not be investigated. The Coalition government is protecting itself.

    • Does not allow for investigation into those outside of government. Therefore the key businesses and organisations doing business with and involved in government influence could not be investigated.

    • Would be split into two commissions to cover different sections of the public sector. Only the ‘Law Enforcement Integrity Commission’ would conduct public hearings; the ‘Public Sector IC’ would not. Therefore any investigations to hold government or its politicians to account would be conducted behind closed doors and in absence of public scrutiny.

    • Will only allow agencies to refer matters for investigation; and there is no provision for whistleblowers employed by those agencies. Therefore the likelihood of an agency referring itself to CIC for investigation is….. zilch?

    • Has a threshold for ‘criminal conduct’ that is set too high; and the definition is “far too narrow”. It is out of kilter with International definitions. Thus, the Coalition’s CIC would severely limit the number of cases it would deem eligible for investigation.

    • Will not make public the findings of the Public Sector CIC.

    See these references for further details:

    Both the Labor Party and The Greens are promising far more toothy and broader National integrity and anti-corruption commissions.

    I hope for all our sakes – and for maintenance of good government & democracy – that the Coalition’s pathetic smoke-and-mirrors version never gets a chance.

    I for one am going to vote for integrity. (Well, for as much as I can get on face value anyway).

    • Simon Warriner

      May 9, 2019 at 7:16 pm

      Thanks for that concise little summary, Lyndall. I will calibrate my decision-making accordingly.

      It would be good to see a critique by the good SC of the alternatives as well, if possible.

  2. geoff

    October 20, 2013 at 11:18 pm

    how can coruption in this dept be investigated as complaints of contractor fraud are dealt with; forestry investigating forestry

  3. Russell

    March 19, 2013 at 11:23 pm

    Re #10
    That’s a very good idea. Just in time for this year’s elections, Federal and State.

  4. john hayward

    March 19, 2013 at 3:57 pm

    Any independent running in Tas is sure to attract the justified sobriquet of “anti-everything”, since a reformer would be opposed to nearly everything the bent Govt is doing.

    But I can’t agree with David O that the TIC is a “toothless lamb”, as the work they do as a Judas goat for complainants is seriously harmful.

    John Hayward

  5. William Griffin

    March 18, 2013 at 6:31 pm

    9/ David you have said it all correctly the government can fix the problems or eventually that ability to fix the corruption and nepotism will be taken out of there hands.You can only push things under the carpet for so long then it becomes visible for all to see.You can not keep people quiet for ever .

  6. William Boeder

    March 18, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    Somehow or other the anti-corruption body set up in Indonesia is jailing a number of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s government ministers.

    Believe me if I said this President was able to shut down this anti-corruption body in that Country he would have already done so?
    I still have faith in one of my former suggested strategies of wheeling out Madame Guillotine as they did in France, it worked then so why not now?
    It is vital that some of the current and former politicos in this State should be serviced by this very capable Madame.

  7. Grant Allen

    March 18, 2013 at 11:33 am

    #10, unlikely that a group of independents will make it into parliament. See how Wilkie struggled in the March 2010 state election and just missed out. The media will not provide them much coverage. The independents will get one air-time and then it will be an old story.

  8. Karl Stevens

    March 18, 2013 at 10:46 am

    Something an alleged crime cartel fears is the introduction of a rival cartel. Think about it? Outlaw bikie gangs, Mexican drug gangs. We have nothing to worry about. TasInc will destroy itself. The Sarawak company has already totally split the Tas logging industry. Not being a part of the problem is very important now as they begin to prey on each other.

  9. Kev Rothery

    March 18, 2013 at 10:22 am

    I really like the idea of a group of independents campaigning on an anti-corruption platform in Tasmania. This immediately provides a high profile to enable those independents to attract a large number of voters.

    I also agree with a community group getting together to identify the terms of reference for a Commission of Inquiry. Where do I sign up? :O)

  10. David Obendorf

    March 18, 2013 at 9:15 am

    For the Government and its bureaucracy, a tooth-less lamb ‘Integrity Commission’- as Isla calls it – has one really, very important function: it allows naive citizens to tell the powerful the pack-drill on where the bodies are buried and that there is a paper trail of evience on how corruption operates in Tasmania.

    Submissions like Karl Stevens’ to TIC aren’t binned [i]per se[/i], they are extremely valuable data on which to inform the layers of government and bureaucracy on where to remove the corpses before they get to smelly, how to cover those terrible tracks and who knows what.

    Citizens somehow feel ICACs and CJCs and CMCs and TICs are the unifying answer to stemming corruption in public service, they are not.

    Things need to get an awful lot worse in Tasmania before our Tasmanian brand of cronyism and political patronage is seriously checked.

    The [b]Tasmanian Greens[/b] can be part of solution or themselves drown in that political mire.

  11. mitch brovis

    March 18, 2013 at 1:25 am

    Isn’t that Gunns Ltd and not Gunns Pty Ltd as you have been writing, Isla?

  12. Poppy Lopatniuk

    March 17, 2013 at 11:31 pm

    When good men of all persuasions do nothing and accept the connivances, corruptions and cover-ups of those in high places then we see this ingrained wrongdoing acceptable to others down the chain.

  13. Simon Warriner

    March 17, 2013 at 8:30 pm

    re 5, there is an answer, along the lines of a quote by a great American about the tree of liberty needing to be watered now and then by the blood of tyrants.

    At that point I will stop as I realise there is no continuing without incurring the wrath of several fo the thought nazis who lurk here abouts. Any mention of real retribution would be an act of terrorism under the fucked up laws our elected representatives have enacted to protect themselves from the people they are meant to represent. In that one sentence lies our real problem.

  14. Basil Fitch

    March 17, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    No wonder the recent in-depth revelations of David, Peter and John on TT is sadly to become more ‘achive’ material on why our state is bankrupt. I fear not even ‘The establishment of a proper Anti Corruption Commission and stronger Whistleblower laws in Tasmania’ as stated by Isla, would be of any use. As we all know Tas Inc. is all invasive, nothing would ever be given a fair hearing.
    And as for a Royal Commission into the corruption,
    both the Feds & State govts have handed millions of taxpayer $’s to Gunns and their ilk over so many years, they would all fear exposure. What,then is the answer? Basil Fitch

  15. Isla MacGregor

    March 17, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    # Absolutely Barbara – it is going to have to be a two pronged campaign for those independents.

    At the community level it will need a transition from the never ending process of exposing the gory details to organising together for change.

  16. Barbara Mitchell

    March 17, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    Excellent suggestions, but ANY attempt to legislate for an Anti-Corruption Commission will require the support of the Legislative Council. You know, those 15 ‘representatives’ of the people who swan about their garish red chamber, and repose on its velvet chairs, occupying themselves with a slow-moving orgy of parochial navel-gazing, and then resolutely ensuring the perpetuation of the status quo in good old Tassie.

    Witness, for example, their protracted agonising over the Tasmanian Forests Agreement Bill. And, I can’t wait to see what they do with the proposed abortion reform legislation. Given their overall paternalistic bent, I don’t much like its chances.

    The ‘government’ – meaning the elected lower house majority (or co-operative majority that we have now) – could pass legislation enabling an effective anti-corruption commission, but our reactionary, backward focussed upper house would most surely see it cast aside. Any efforts to address the rampant corruption of political process in this state must NOT ignore the desperately needed reform of the Legislative Council.

    At the moment, Paul Harriss practically runs this state.

  17. Karl Stevens

    March 17, 2013 at 11:51 am

    I made two complaints to the TIC concerning the assessment of Gunns pulp mill and the setting-up of the Tasmanian Forests Agreement. Both complaints were rejected by the same person. A person who was allegedly sacked by the Queensland Crime and Misconduct Commission. My second complaint could have saved Tasmania tens of millions of dollars. Instead we have blown millions paying the debts of an insolvent company, using that company to allegedly funnel funds to Forestry Tasmania, as well as years arguing over trees. There is a point where people choose their own destiny. Maybe we should start issuing Tasmanian passports and transporting convicts back to Britain?

  18. A.K.

    March 17, 2013 at 11:34 am

    The TIC is just another arm of government, not independent in any way or interested in revealing truth. The TIC is there to give an impression, not in the best interests of Tasmania or it’s people. The make up of the board instantly shows there will be no benefit our decent outcome from the TIC, it’s board consists of bureaucrats and representatives of the legal profession, all fervent ideologist who have no interest in changing the status quo of ideological elitism and control. Corruption, nepotism, greed, breeds within those types of scenarios. We see through out every ideological society over the last couple of thousand years and it won’t change, until we change the system.

    A royal commission will have the same outcome in many ways as the TIC, set up by the political party system to ensure they get the outcome they want. Naturally there would be one or two revelations which would effect small players, but the real corruption and criminality is firmly entrenched within the legal, bureaucratic and political party system. If it wasn’t, there would be no need for any form of investigation, our government would be run be decent reliable and truthful people. Not deceptive denialist, extremely destructive, elitist ideologies.

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