Tasmanian Times


Some Things I Need to Know Before the Election (in no special order)

• Tasmanian Times is writing to the leader of each of our three major political parties asking them a list of pertinent questions as we lead into the State Elections early next year. We want to know what questions you would like to ask Lara Giddings, Will Hodgman and Nick McKim before we write. Please post your most important questions in the comments section below (no more than three each please). Thank you, the Eds.

1. What progress is being made by Forestry Tasmania in pursuit of Forest Stewardship Council Certification – upon which any positive conservation outcome from the tortured Tasmanian Forests Agreement process is dependent? Details, please, and in layman’s language.

A short explanation of the speedy passage of the Forest Management Bill through both houses of parliament would also be appreciated. Why are all the pro-forestry elements of the TFA, including the permanent timber production zones, and the rights of ‘authorised’ Forestry Tasmania workers to determine when the activities of others (protestors) are interfering with their legitimate work, now enshrined in law, while the conservationists are made to wait, and jump through hoops, and wait again, and say NOTHING controversial if they are to have even a slim chance of any positive result?

2. And what’s happening with the pulp mill at Longreach?

Despite a number of major obstacles to its construction, like a proponent company in liquidation and court proceedings challenging the validity of the permits, the passion of Tasmanian politicians for the project is unwavering. Just last week, MLC Ivan Dean proposed a motion that the Legislative Council reconfirms its support for development of a pulp mill, and notes the robust assessment process undertaken in achieving the permit outcomes for a pulp mill development at the Longreach site. Like forgotten meat in the boot of your car, the stench of this overindulged project isn’t going away any time soon.

All we need now is a nice little bill designed to convince Gunns liquidators, KordaMentha, and potential pulp mill permit buyers, that no opposition to theproject will be allowed. Like the Parliament Square Act, which effectively nullified any existing opposition to the demolition of 10 Murray Street, and guaranteed that no further protest would be considered. (Has anyone noticed how slowly that project is progressing? Has anyone checked the proposed work schedule, which leaves demolition of 10 Murray Street until after construction of the new building on Salamanca Place? Has anyone considered how the monolithic ‘brick shithouse’ that is 10 Murray Street will be demolished? Seriously. I know nothing of building demolition, and I might have it all arse up, but how does the Citta Group plan to bring it down safely and promptly when the only access will be a narrow one way street and there’ll be a bunch of shiny new buildings, and restored architectural treasures, AND parliament house to avoid?)

3. What are the respective parties’ plans for public housing?

It seems that Housing Tasmania is incrementally divesting itself of responsibility for public housing in this state. As I drive past the Stainforth Court complex, I note that work seems to be proceeding apace, with brightly coloured exterior touches and banks of solar hot water systems perched on the roofs like monstrous, alien insects.

What are the current government’s plans for this highly desirable piece of real estate? Is there any chance that tenants who were relocated to allow for the refurbishment will be returned, or will it become ‘affordable housing for low income earners’ (overseas students??) like the Barrack Street and Campbell Street Common Ground developments?

4. How much of the state government’s assets are the respective parties planning to sell off at bargain basement prices. For example, it seems the current government has recently offloaded the Abbotsfield Road School site at the ‘substantially reduced’ price of $850 000.

What’s next?

5. With a slew of new mines being approved in the north-west and west of the state, what polices do both parties have that will ensure environmental safety? Will there be any change to the current government’s cavalier attitude towards the health and safety of small local populations in mining areas? Or will there be a continuation of the ‘out of sight, out of mind, they’re lower socio-economic class and we can safely dismiss them’ policy approach currently adopted by our EPA and Health Department, with unquestioning government support? How many irrelevant and insensible consultant’s reports will they pay for to excuse their neglect.

Lead in the water, anyone?

6. What monumentally fucked up ideas do the aspiring education ministers have to put their ‘stamp’ on education in Tasmania. We’ve already had Essential Learnings, and the Skills Institute/Polytechnic/Academy debacle, so they will need to be unbelievably awful, inconvenient and expensive to compete.

Something tells me Tassie politicians are more than up to the task. While they’re at it they’ll probably be aiming for a 10 per cent increase in functional illiteracy as well. Why should the younger generation miss out on the narrow, uninformed, easily manipulated fun their parents are having, and why should the pollies miss out on a steady supply of unthinking voter support?

7. Ruth Forrest has endeavoured for some time to engage the parliament in a warts and all discussion about the dismal state of Tasmania’s finances. Are any of next year’s candidates interested in exploring this conversation, or will Ruth continue to talk eruditely to herself on the topic?

8. Are there ANY proposals to deal rationally with the ‘fox problem’ in Tasmania? A joke is a joke and this one has gone way too far – the tolerance of Tasmanians for gross idiocy is astounding, but surely enough is enough.

The state’s roadsides are home to vast numbers of free range poultry, as well as those freaky native hens, and they don’t seem to be concerned about foxes AT ALL. And, I thought Tassie shooters were too clever and gung ho to be outwitted by the wily fox.

Either the foxes are vegetarian and the shooters have been comprehensively ‘outfoxed’, or there are NO FOXES. What’s it to be, ladies and gentlemen?

9. Is everyone going to opt for the hard line ‘no deals’ option in the event of a hung parliament? At the moment, Will is saying ‘yes’, and Lara is busy fending off an entirely self-serving assault on the current Labor/Greens alliance by serial bench warmer Brenton Best.

Now that the Palmer United Party has rolled into federal parliament like a runaway freight train, it would be political madness to discount their chances in next year’s state election. What is a Tassie politician to do? Hodgman has painted himself into self-righteous corner, and Lara probably thinks the PUP is an animal rights party. I suspect they could both be rolled by more enterprising party members if they won’t do a deal, or can’t work out who to do one with.

10. Are there any plans to address the blatant inefficiency inherent in having 29 local councils for a population of just over 500 000 people? A society does not grow and prosper according to its number of petty bureaucrats, and Tasmania is literally over run by such creatures. A bit of well-thought out rationalisation of the bureaucracy could work wonders, but let’s not hold our breath. We could turn blue and pass out, and then there would be forms to fill out, and calls to make and fees to pay before we could start inhaling oxygen again.

Is anyone prepared to take this matter on, and attempt to deal with it legislatively, including running the gauntlet of super-parochial mayors, and former mayors and local councillors and former local councillors in the upper house?

11. Have ALL candidates been to the top of Mt Wellington? We know sitting MLC Tania Rattray hasn’t made the trip, apparently because there are no shops up there, but it should be a compulsory exercise for all wannabe Tassie politicians. Sometimes it’s a cold and windy as fuck up there – like splintered ice is penetrating every part of your being. Sometimes the shroud of fog is so dense you can see nothing of the town below. And sometimes the trip is magnificent – crisp air and views forever. Politicians should know this before they even begin to consider tourist development on the mountain. Somehow, Tania, a warm cosy shopping facility would probably be anathema to the real, unpredictable appeal of Mt Wellington.

12. It seems that MLC Paul Harriss – he of the Mormon faith and self-proclaimed Aboriginal heritage – will be running for the Liberals in the lower house seat of Franklin. Perhaps he’s planning to inject a bit of upper house-style long-winded pointlessness into the House of Assembly – they do it so well, and he is a consummate master of the craft.

Are there any quality independents standing in Franklin? Is there any hope for the southern electorate?

May the saints preserve us!

Does anyone have further questions?

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


  1. William Boeder

    December 3, 2013 at 9:13 pm

    Hello Robin, My comment went on to claim your over-all Bush and Forest Fire knowledge, your experience thereof and your concerning interest in all of Tasmania’s past and present forests fires.
    A comment made by you at #72 advised that all enquiries be it media or whoever, were now restricted to the TFS CEO and his No.2.

    That being so, my desire was to state the facts relative to this fire’s origin and the matter of this fire permit being issued and in effect when the fire danger for that portion of Tasmania was at it’s most threatening level, (a day of total fire ban.)
    Should this issued Fire Permit then have had to be called in, or even then advising the holder that this permit is cancelled for the duration of the whatever fire danger period?
    The actuality of this matter is as you have detailed in your #76.
    For those who might not have accepted my comment referencing the ‘issued Fire Permits’ at that time of the year, then my advice was to suggest there may have been archival material available to confirm my claim.
    The practice of issuing Fire Permits to farmers at that particular time of the year, (in my opinion, was and still is, a very questionable action during any bush-fire prone period of the year when said permit is dated and available for use during the most dangerous time of the year. So much so that ‘this singular Fire Permit issuance’ has been assessed as ‘the contributing factor’ to the Forcett originating high magnitude life-threatening bushfire.
    I hope this reply answers your concerns Robin.

  2. PB

    December 3, 2013 at 11:42 am

    The 2013 Tasmanian Bushfires Inquiry states on page 38:

    “The Forcett fire probably started at about 2.00pm on 3 January from a campfire inside an old burnt out tree stump at a property in White Hills Road, Forcett. The occupants of this property had started a fire in this stump on 28 December 2012, and believed they had extinguished it by smothering it with dirt and pouring water over the top of the dirt. This most likely led to slow combustion taking place in trees roots, and through this process fire reached the surface where free burning took place and winds then carried an ember into nearby grass. Other possible causes of the fire were eliminated, including lightning strikes, which may only have contributed to the rate of spread of the fire. The cause of the fire was classified by investigators as accidental.”
    (Tasmania Fire Service Fire Investigation Report, TFS Incident Number 201651.)


    However, instead of releasing the Investigation Report free of charge in the public interest, the Tasmanian Fire Service is charging an astonishing fee of $2,194.00 for the full electronic version.


  3. Robin Charles Halton

    December 3, 2013 at 1:16 am

    #73 Simon Warriner Given your comment … “keep watching the TFS leadership very, very carefully. They are about to have some explaining to do, to responsible adults.

    Step back with TT subject matter: “The Morning After” ABC online Jan5, 2013
    See Comment 3 by Tigerquoll
    “Culpable Negligence of Tasmanian burning off.

    I wonder if the recent Fire Inquiry ordered by the State Government looked closer at the events leading up to the Forcett Fire.

    # William Boeder what exactly are you suggesting re TFS archival material. Applying FOI to pin down the contents of Applicants Fire plan, copies of Fire Permits and naming Landowner(s),Permit Officers and that of the “District Officer plus ongoing Incident reports by “Incident Control”. Thanks.

    #3 AK The Habitat Advocate site may interest you too. I agree with you, people power and of cause local knowledge saved the day and days to follow.
    Lucky that dozens of people did not perish during this terrible fire incident caused by negligence attached to the State Fire Service.

  4. A.K.

    December 2, 2013 at 9:17 pm

    #72, Robin, fire storms don’t act on assumptions or patterns, they act on available fuel, terrain and conditions. The fire jumped Murdunna into the plantations on the west side of Forestier and was so ferocious it moved at incredible speed, then jumped across to Masons point, almost 1 klm. On the east side of the highway, it raced through the plantations until it hit native forest above the neck and swung to the west into the plantations. Native forests going down the the neck saved it, blackwood and deciduous trees surrounded peoples properties on the north side, which saved them as the fire stayed in the plantations until cresting above Masons point..

    I doubt you’d understand what 4000+ urban and international tourists trapped without their phones, access to take aways and unable to drive away act, total denial. Many tried to drive out at the most intense times of the fire, they tried back roads and caused lots of hassles for everyone. Trying to move that number of confused defiant fools to beaches, as well as fight spot fires round the town would have been extremely difficult. Once it was realised how the fire had transited the Forestier, we knew if it past Tarranna and into the plantations on Mount Koonya, it would have acted exactly the same as on the Forestier, followed the plantations at break neck speed tacking across the wind and creating it’s own storm vortex ahead of it.

    The plan to move everyone to Port Arthur came for head office, as wet forests still existed around it and they thought that was the best plan, which required them to do nothing. Just like everything the government and head office did, a farce and days too late. It was only the initiative of locals who knew the best chance of stopping the fire was at Tarranna and Masons point, as it had no ground fuel, so that’s where they concentrated their efforts and stopped it. The other problem Nubeena faced, was a fire front in plantations and forest moving across from the east and into White beach and Nubeena, against the wind. It was only the efforts of two small helicopters who shuttled between Tarrana and White beach for two days and into the nights, which stopped that one.

    It was the people who organised rescue boats and food to Nubeena, the supposed authorities did nothing for 3 days and no matter what they told you, there was no power for 12 days outside a few places in town.

    It was people power that saved the day, another example of why we need referendum style governance, the people prove time and time again they are far superior in organising, making decisions and implementing successful plans. The ideologues/academics just stuff everything up, pander to the corporate world and very small minorities.

  5. William Boeder

    December 2, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    As a few people may be aware, I will now attempt to make all attendees to Tasmanian Times aware, that prior to and just after the fire discussed in the above ‘there was in fact an officially issued fire permit’ listed on the TFS website for that location.
    Perhaps some sort of archival facility will go on to prove this as I had sought this information myself back then to try and ascertain if these active issued permits throughout Tasmania were issued in contradiction to the fire bans that were set in place, at the very same time as the above major fire event.
    Now Robin in regard to your intensive interest in forest fires both in Tasmania’s past and present, (and the possible causes of their ignition) then by way of your own ‘occupational knowledge’s’ of the how and why of many of Forestry Tasmania’s planned burns and that of the ignition of the land-clearing burns formerly carried out during your time with Forestry Tasmania, you would of course also have viewed this TFS web-page at that particular time and thus be able to confirm my claims.
    As Simon Warriner has stated, there will be some very interesting times ahead, ‘provided that there are no clap-trap Commercial in Confidence declarations and such put in place to protect those certain quite guilty parties.

  6. Simon Warriner

    December 1, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    I would recommend everybody keep watching the TFS leadership very, very carefully. They are about to have some explaining to do, to responsible adults.

  7. Robin Charles Halton

    December 1, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    #69 AK, I just happened to read your reply to Russell #67 re origins of the Forcett fire.
    That does not surprise me at all on top of that it believed to be a permit fire, a certain District Officer was also aware of the Permit to Burn.

    The names of District Officers representing each Region has been struck from the TFS site.
    It seems that only CEO Mike Brown and Deputy Gavin Freeman are the only ones now exposed to the media reporting re Fire Service matters

    A week or so after the fires my wife and I decided to go and have a look at the devastation by driving past Torenius’s sawmill it was amazed to still see it intact despite all of the racked timber and bundles of mill edging around the mill yard which is situated on the side of a hill not far from where the fire started. How on earth the sawmill survived the conflagration I will never know.
    By the way AK, do you know who owns that little sawmill nearby on Inala Rd!

    We stopped at the Dunalley Hotel briefly and decided not to go down the Peninsula, I was not prepared for this after being terribly saddened driving around Dunalley township.
    We drove back to the Tasman Highway via Carlton River Rd and again this was the worst I has seen since 1967.
    I did observe the burnt eucalypt plantations in the area, pretty ratty attempts to grow trees unsuited for the area, isnt that on some of that Downies property who had originally grew Pines in strips among pasture as an Agro-forestry measure back in the 1970’s.

    It seems to me plantation Eucs are not suitable and are of no benefit what so ever as a substitute forest crop in that area.

    AK re your #68 I would go back question your claims that 5000 people would have perished at Nubeena if the fires got into the Euc Planations from Koonya and in the foothills above Nubeena.
    Wouldnt that have been a flank fire if that occured, wasnt it a Nor Wester that drove the Forcett fire to its final destination at Taranna.

    I suppose it was luck that Sympathy Point did not get alight which could have driven the fire south towards Mt Koonya into what I knew as heavily timbered wet eucalypt country.

    To me it would have been obvious if Nubeena had been directly threatened then the obvious thing to do for survival would be to gather on the two beaches at Nubeena, same thing at Port Arthur and Safety Cove, head for the water!

    Any attempt to remove the crowds from Nubeena to Port Arthur would have been futile and potentially tragic, it made no sense when having the safety of the water close by.

    History tells us that the 1898 wildfire vitually burnt out virtually the entire Tasman’s Peninsula to the extremities of Cape Pillar and Cape Raoul.

  8. David Obendorf

    December 1, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    The horrendous Forcett/Dunalley megafire escape in January 2012 and its catastrophic consequences is a classic case of [i]’everybody knows'[/i] the background except the authorities, so it seems.

    Tasmania is the island-State where you can have a [b]Cock Up[/b] and a [b]Cover Up[/b] together!

    When you see all political Parties engaging in a Cock Up/Cover Up game-plan then A.K.’s optimism for a Tasmanian vision disappears for another 50 years.

    Consider a [b]Protest vote[/b] by voting for candidates other than the incumbent MPs that condone this duplicity. If there aren’t 5 candidates (the minimum you need to vote for to have a valid vote) worthy of your vote or just vote informal… personally I can’t continue to reward mediocrity in Tasmanian politics.

  9. Russell

    December 1, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    Re #68 and #69
    Thank you AK for your hands-on, experienced, well exlained and believable explanation of what really happens on the ground, especially with respect to fire and plantations.

  10. A.K.

    December 1, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    #66, David , unless someone comes up with a decent combined policy direction in each electorate, nothing will change and I certainly won’t vote for any of the current fools, or any they put up.

    What bugs me, is with some very simple policies, we could have this state totally self sufficient in every way, with a standard of living the envy of the planet, within 3-5 years easily. Giving us a wonderful environment, virtually no unemployment and very happy population. The direction we are going is the opposite and fatalistic.

    #67 Russell, the rumours here and up the road, are a prominent person had burnt a stump and pushed stuff over it to put it out, then didn’t go near it for a week. Even when it started to burn he did nothing, when it flared and got into the paddock and nearby scrub, Hobart decided it wasn’t big threat, so only assigned one small tanker. When the wind came up they had no hope and within 15 minutes it had gone from less than 50m, to a 4klm front into the nearby plantations.

    That’s why they had a closed inquiry headed by elitist academics, so no one outside the halls of power would know the real cause. Remember, this is only local rumours and the real truth may never be known.

  11. A.K.

    December 1, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    #64 Robin, there are plantations from Eaglehawk neck to Fortescue bay, large amounts of uncleared logging waste pushed out of sight into gullies left by FT operations. On the east side of the Arthur highway plantations run all the way to the top of Mount Koonya within 2klms of Nubeena. West and sth east of Nubeena are more plantations, spreading back to Port Arthur.

    The powers that be, herded thousands on to Nubeena oval and school, above the school, unlogged pine plantation overflowing with ground fuel. When pointed out, they panicked, deciding to move everyone to port Arthur. When told plantations were all the way to port Arthur, cutting of escape, they were stumped. Luckily, the fire was stopped at Tarranna and the danger passed. The pine plantation above the school no longer exists

    From Murdunna to Eaglehawk neck, it’s blatantly evident where the fire was the fiercest and where it was slowed. Area’s with native forest had mostly crown fire damage, bushes and especially blackwood and wild cherry suffered the least damage and slowed the fire front. In plantation area’s, all that remains is burnt remnants of trees. Pine plantations, nothing but burnt ground. We have a platation above us on Mount Koonya, nothing lives in it and its forest floor is covered with fuel from trimming and thinning, they never clean up, a common practice in FT and private plantation owners, just add more and more to the fuel base yearly. Gunns has gone and FT has abandoned the peninsula.

    Worked in forestry in NSW, it was after the Bondi state forest fires that a number of us in the local SES/fire brigade changed our views on plantations, we had seen what they do to the ecology, wildlife and then fire, compared to native forest area’s.

    Strategically reduce ground fuel around forest area’s and where fire is likely to race ahead. Add strategic stands of fire slowing flora, blackwoods, then you can control fires, or prevent them, plus create a wealth of valuable timber creating a huge export market and small business jobs. The only plantations should be native specialty timbers and harvest-able flora. Placed around native forest rims, they would act as first lines of defence. Along with ground fuel reduction, most devastating fire storms would be quickly slowed and controlled.

    Clearing everything around the properties, is not the right approach, you open up a big area for the firestorm to touch down right on top of your house, increasing speed across the cleared ground and blowing away the buildings. You must keep trees and deciduous or fire resistant shrubs and trees all around your buildings, clear all ground fuel, the trees slow the ember showers and fire down, whilst stopping the fire from dumping right on top of your house, as happened in Dunnelly. The trees actually allow the crown fire to pass over you, resulting in slow moving ash and embers following the front, to contend with.

    It’s not just head office fault. Lib, lab, or the greens, it’s the entire system which revolves around elitism and believing people with academic qualifications some how know more than those with practical and personal experience, when the truth is the complete opposite. Academics have no idea of how to do anything associated with real life, as they have no experience, or knowledge of it living in deluded fairy land bubbles as they do.

    During my life, fought and lived through many bush fires,, to me it is imperative that I know what we may be up against in a future fire where ever I am, so keep up to date with forestry practices and the real situation. The idiots in Hobart have no idea how frustrated local fire crews are that they can’t take control of their area and prepare it properly for the future. No, they have to listen to those who rarely or have never come down here, yet have all the say and claim they known what to do. If we had our way down here, we would remove every plantation, establish fire lines and reduction stands strategically round the peninsula now, not in 5 years time when the idiots in Hobart have waste millions giving it to useless academics to fluff their feathers and produce dangerous nothing policy.

    Our property is set up to reduce the impact of fires and strategically burnt every year. Under normal circumstances, it takes about 3 years for ground fuel to build up after a fire, if you continue to remove it and burn different forested area’s each year, you have a very good chance of coming out of fire storm with much of your property and buildings intact. As well as slow the fire front.

  12. Russell

    December 1, 2013 at 10:27 am

    Re #64
    “The extent of the Forcett fire has shocked many including myself as I find it hard to believe that a property at Forcett apparently allowed a stump burning underground to escape that should have been responsibly extinguished days if not weeks before.

    The Fire Service remains silent about the circumstances relating to the origins of this fire.”

    So why did you ask me to get information from the Fire Service about plantation fires when, given your experience with them, they might not give me a straight answer?

  13. David Obendorf

    December 1, 2013 at 12:27 am

    A.K. I will not be voting for the incumbents at the next State Election… if there’re not 5 [b]new[/b] authentic capable candidates I will not be voting for any candidate. The system forces you to effectively vote for at least some of the incumbents in the mob in each electorate.

    [b]Denison[/b] has the current MPs: Matthew Groom; Elise Archer, Scott Bacon, retiring Graeme Sturges and Cassy O’Connor.

    Consider a [b]Protest vote[/b] and disengage from an inauthentic polity that’s based on theatrical performances, false wars, and childish displays of emnity for the masses. Yeap, grown individuals representing us!!! Parliament of Tasmania is a farce and they are ALL play that vitriolic game and seem to love the parody…. little sincerity left in this highly paid mob of incumbents. Shame on you all!

  14. TGC

    December 1, 2013 at 12:10 am

    Actually- I think #61 is a doomsday sayer.

  15. Robin Charles Halton

    November 30, 2013 at 11:40 pm

    #61 AK I appreciate the fact that everything will burn on a day of severe/ catastrophic fire forecasts as you have clearly indicated.

    As you appear to have good up to date knowledge of the widespread effects of the spread of the Forcett fire then what is the likelyhood of a future fire spreading south and west of Taranna beyond Koonya and SE towards Coronation Rd fuelled by those pesky eucalypt plantations that you dont approve of!

    I would be more than happy to gauge your concerns against those of FT Fire Managements opinion.
    The local volunteer Fire Service brigade should have a good idea of the capacity of the plantation areas to carry fire when compared to scrub and the local wet forests nearby drying out during each summer.

    It was good to know that a previous fire at Masons Point stopped the spread of the Forcett fire towards Nubeena. Bloody lucky there!
    That goes to show that ground reduction of fuels works to slow the spread of wildfire.

    Its about 5 years since I drove to Nubeena and from memory those plantations you speak of appeared to be on excellent sites of former farmland up behind Nubeena on the way to Koonya.
    Are they being thinned, firebreaks maintained and generally give the appearance of responsible management!

    The extent of the Forcett fire has shocked many including myself as I find it hard to believe that a property at Forcett apparently allowed a stump burning underground to escape that should have been responsibly extinguished days if not weeks before.

    The Fire Service remains silent about the circumstances relating to the origins of this fire.

    So AK what do you see as the answer to reduce the effects of wildfire around the Peninsula area. Despite much of the peninsula containing or what was a prominent high quality wet forest eucalypt forest area, with strips of inflammable scrub along the Arthur Hwy from the Neck down as far as Joyners Link above the fall down past Blink bonnie on the way to the Port.

    Should the scrub be regularly burnt or leave it to its own devices and wait for an arsonist or a downed/touching power line strike.

    Im sure the community would be very touchy with the Fire Service up in town (Hobart) as it is the useless heavily uniformed Dads Army dodos that have caused all of this pain on the Peninsula and maybe the local Greens did their bit too!

    Its good that you have an informed opinion on these matters as many of the TT respondents are simply off the planet altogether.

  16. Shaun

    November 30, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    #58 Whilst I don’t agree that there’s any significant money to be made exporting the baseload electricity currently used to smelt aluminium, you are spot on with the overall approach we should take.

    There’s a significant risk of the points you mention and many others. The price war between the airlines is worth a special mention since Virgin is losing money and Qantas isn’t overly profitable either. At some point, air fares will have to rise significantly if they are to remain in business. With tourism being a significant industry in Tasmania and a major employer, the implications are obvious.

    Another risk that comes immediately to mind is drought. We’ve had a few years now of relatively good rainfall and the prospect of drought seems to have faded from the agenda somewhat. But it’s only a matter of time until it happens again. Apart from the obvious implications for fires etc, droughts are bad news for agriculture and of course the Hydro too, both of which are of economic significance to Tasmania.

    I’m not wishing for a drought or a rise in the cost of air travel. But droughts do happen and businesses don’t keep losing money forever. At some point we’re going to have a problem with both of those.

  17. Robin Charles Halton

    November 30, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    #54 Andrew Ricketts, you just dont get it, do you have any fireground experience at all.
    Your expectations highly are bound up with suspicion, of cause persons lighting fires on their own properties will be expected to maintain them as such.
    The formation of the SFRU would be a major leap foward for reducing the costs of major fire fighting efforts being offset by professional fire manangement advice, training and support for landowners requesting assistance.

    Workable plans need to be a part of individual property fire management, identifying assets, structures,crops, stock and pastures requiring direct protection plus value of broad scale burning if required.

    Google Earth would be extensively used to identify vegetation types, Natural values should be identifiable via data bases. It is very important that for example, eagle nesting sites protection would need to fall in line similar to those offered by the Forest Practices Code where restriction would apply during nesting season.

    The State Labor government with its Green partners, so far have failed public confidence to recognise the importance of support measures to reduce the effects of wildfires including the ongoing economic costs to the State and business.

  18. A.K.

    November 30, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    #55 Robin, you claim to know a lot about forestry, yet you deny a simple viewable fact. Whilst a member of a Sth NSW tablelands fire brigade in the 1980’s, we watched as canopy fire balls raced through the plantation in Bondi state forest and surrounding plantations, only slowed by native unlogged corridor stands between the plantations, which we could operate in. Trying to work in the plantations was suicide, even the forestry workers wouldn’t go in because of the ferocity those lifeless places create with their dead poisoned environments.

    Take a drive down to the Tasman, note the different outcome of the fire storm and travel times between unlogged stands and plantation. When the fire jumped the highway between Copping and Forcett, it went from native forest to plantations where it established its ferocity. When it crossed to the Forestier peninsula it slowed, then hit the plantations increasing it’s speed dramatically, only to be stopped on the Tasman because Masons point through to Eagle hawk neck had burned a year or so before, effectively removing ground fuel. If it had got past Taranna, into the plantations, the more than 5000 trapped at Nubeena would have perished. Plantations run across the range from Taranna to Nubeena and the fire would have covered that distance in about 5-10 minutes under the conditions and many wouldn’t have escaped to Port Arthur, which was the plan. The big problem was, there was no fuel for tourists vehicles and no means of moving such a huge number of people. Wonder what you reaction would be if that had occurred, blame it on unlogged forest, which didn’t exist in the most of the fire zone.

    It seems virtually no one is interested in the future, everyone is in some form of denial of the reality we face and desperate to cling to approaches of the past. This thread was supposed to devise 3 questions to be put to the political parties, yet it again provides an excellent example of how fractured Tas society is.

    Ideology is brilliant at keeping control, whether it is economic, religious or social, it keeps everyone as opposites and nothing good ever gets done. All we end up with is growing chaos as everyone fights to ensure their fairy land ideological belief wins and takes control, irrelevant to the opposing facts.

    If people could look at our world and political situation from an observer standpoint, they would see every stance people are taking and advocating is doomed to failure. The verifiable facts of reality are fully observable, as are the outcomes we will derive from our current approach.

    The state election next year will be a complete farce, people are to scared and deep in denial to do anything but vote for the incumbents. There are no alternatives being put forward, there are no viable sensible and workable solutions being embraced, or even introduced.

    All we have in front of us is a continuation of the current disastrous approach. The future we will face is, rising prices, more privatisation, less services, collapsing education, health services, increasing pollution, ecological collapse and insane fatalistic polices, designed to put power money and control into the hands of the corporate world.

    This will be the last election Tas has, everything will collapse rapidly in the next couple of years as nature begins to wreak her revenge and ideological humanity closes its eyes to reality.

    Of course people will claim I’m a doomsday sayer, first they have to provide verifiable evidence humanity is not heading in a fatalistic the direction at breakneck speed and desperate to get to the end as fast as they can. All they have to do is provide one positive direction society is being taken, by our present political system and form of governance.

  19. William Boeder

    November 30, 2013 at 3:08 am

    Thank you Andrew Ricketts for your comment #54.
    Equally so the most recent comment of Basil Fitch.
    Robin Halton, your comment at #50 has you blaming the Greens Party with your implication that they are solely responsible for the carefree establishment of mono-species plantations across this State.
    Surely Robin you are attempting to hornswoggle the facts again and dump the State’s woes onto the Greens Party, this slick line of action is not unlike all those sleaze strategies implemented in times past by Paul (Thuggo) Lennon and the feckless boardroom Guru’s of Forestry Tasmania.
    Why do you find it necessary to lay the blame upon the Greens for the State’s multiple failures and empty revenue tank?
    Think back to that period of time before the last election, when you were an avid supporter of everything Old Growth Forest detrimental and defending the indefensible actions of Forestry Tasmania?
    You may have forgotten your prior allegiances but not so the readers of your comments these past 8-10 years.

    Does the word ‘Chameleon’ (depicting its singular trait of instantly changing its colours to create by deception a newly adapted appearance with intent to disguise its form and presence) exist in your lexicon of words?

    Next you will be claiming that the Greens Party have sent this State broke for tolerating the dishonesty and false claims of the then Labor Party under the controls of Paul (Thuggo) Lennon, or ‘Big Red’ (choose whichever sobriquet you believe fits the ferocious attitudes of that failed scoundrel.)
    By the way, do you keep a record of your past pro wood-chipping comments so to compare them with your current logging stance, then to that of your propensity to push for more and more Fuel Reduction Burns, (that have often in times past quickly and effectively converted themselves into blazing bush-fire conflagrations) oh, and then to that of your now present political alignments?

  20. Russell

    November 29, 2013 at 9:35 pm

    Wherever fires have been in plantations, Robin. How about those earlier this year that devastated the south?

    How about about you answer some questions (#28, #38 and #48) without avoidance and deiver some facts …?

  21. mike seabrook

    November 29, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    tasmanians should consider the economic setting in 3- 6 months

    consider impact & probability of closure of motor vehicle manufacturing in vic/sa

    consider impact & probability of closure of tamar valley aluminium smelter ( could be good for tassie – hydro can sell hydro power at much higher prices).

    consider impact & probability of 3 year deferral of wilkies hobart hospital.

    the feds getting in a huff with abusive,impolite,spendthrift & wasteful tassie pollies & going slow on transferring funds to tassie.

    changes in airfare price war -virgin & qantas.

    probability of investors & spenders sitting on hands for next 6 months.

  22. J

    November 29, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    @ 52 – not yet in Tasmania but try Kinglake for the most recent explosion in euc plantation farms.

  23. Robin Charles Halton

    November 29, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    # 53, Basil Fitch: Unbelievable Bernie Black needs time for us to get over her “Hi rock stars” assault on the general public! That was so stupid and i reckon that cost her dearly at the recent Federal election when Julie Collins managed to get her seat back.

    While Bernie has a good profile supporting the needs among younger mothers and their children in her area of Kingborough this lady needs to show more maturity and restraint with her ego driven ambition to enter Parliament.

    I was speaking with one of the MLC’s recently at a political function that I was invited to and he indicated that she needs to grow up first.

  24. Robin Charles Halton

    November 29, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    #52 Russell, Where exactly have euc plantations in this State created canopy fireballs that you mention, when and where did these events occur and what was the result!

  25. Andrew Ricketts

    November 29, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    You may remember this article invited the TT readers and contributors as follows:

    “Tasmanian Times is writing to the leader of each of our three major political parties asking them a list of pertinent questions as we lead into the State Elections early next year. We want to know what questions you would like to ask Lara Giddings, Will Hodgman and Nick McKim before we write. Please post your most important questions in the comments section below (no more than three each please). Thank you, the Eds.”

    Why only write to three parties? Clearly Palmer’s Yellow PUPs Party should be a questionnaire recipient contender, as should the Tasmanian National Party. In any Hare Clark type electoral system, working out the policies of the minor parties, especially the newbies, is completely wise and sensible, indeed necessary. So perhaps TT should be writing to all identifiable parties, not just the three mentioned above. An expansion of the target parties is warranted and seemingly would be easy, once the list of questions is finalised. Would that change the questions asked?

    I maintain that a well-phrased question over vegetation based fire remains germane. That the subject deserves to be broached with political parties. The debate in TT over this subject in this thread supports my contention.

    In Sept 2012 the Government introduced Planning Directive No. 5 Bushfire-Prone Areas Code but this, whilst constraining new development and being a significant impost on new homeowners who decide to build, is definitely not a complete or equitable panacea for responsible land management in bushfire prone areas.

    Tasmania has a matrix of vegetation and cleared land, a decentralised population and increasingly warmer climate and dryer summers. A limited number of localities have TFS Community Bushfire Protection Plans. Resources to create more plans are probably limited and many areas are yet to have one. A large part of any response to bushfire or wildfire is volunteer based.

    The issue is clearly complex and one, which has life threatening consequences as well as significant impacts on the environment, water, amenity and health.

    Over and over the debate clearly shows there is not a consensus over the best solutions especially when one seeks to balance all the competing objectives. For example: plantations, are they fire risks? I say they are, some others say no. The State by definition says they are Bushfire Prone. But amazingly there seems to be some contention.

    As for Post #53’s “unique” proposal: “In Tasmania we have the unique opportunity under an elected Liberal government post March 2014 for the formation of a State Fuel Reduction Unit for support landowners right to protect their land in a responsible manner.” (Mr Halton seems to be dreaming of a majority Liberal Government!) I have a few questions:
    1. What is a “landowners right to protect their land in a responsible manner”?
    2. How do you create these “protection rights” or do they already exist?
    3. Is this code for avoiding the opportunity to make people accountable for the fires they light?
    4. How does the creation of a State Fuel Reduction Unit give people a “right to protect their land in a responsible manner”?
    5. Why is it a unique opportunity?
    6. How does one actually protect oneself from the asinine ones who irresponsibly lights/controls a fire in such a way that it escapes?
    7. Are you seeking license to set fire to other people’s private land?
    8. What is the matter with improving bushfire fighting capability?
    9. How do fuel reduction burns actually prevent future fires being lit and then escaping?
    10. What prevents fuel reduction burns escaping?

    A key question to ask the Parties (not just the three mentioned in this article but the others as well):

    Would you form a coalition or minority government with another party/ies?
    And if so:
    Are you willing to identify which parties you would be willing to negotiate with?
    And if so:
    With which parties would that potential for a coalition or agreement exist?

    These are crucial questions, as it seems to me that a majority Liberal Government exists primarily as a dream. The proliferation of minor parties makes majority government far less likely.

  26. Basil Fitch

    November 28, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    #43- yes did catch that info-my take would be she’ll probably stand for LegCo as an ‘Independent’ (Lib transplant!), like Harriss. She didn’t deny as much during an interview with Leon Compton (ABC Mornings).

    As for FT being election issue-most anti FT posters here have identified ad nauseam the actual state of a bankrupt FT, with its $ billions of State & Federal handouts over years and years, til we are blue in the face. All to no avail, it seems! Doesn’t the penny drop, Tassie has to be in recession,(revealed this week), feeding so many broke GBE’s (and their board members) off the taxpayer’s teat?

    Trouble is another round of $$$$’s waiting to be handed out, all the time other operators (Artec, Neville Smith and Gunns-Korda Mentha) forge onwards and upwards at a rate of knots, into our old growth.

    Once govts (Lib or Lab) could be trusted when spelling out their elections ‘promises’. We are now aware they mean nothing. Be they blatantly denied, blame other party or the press,
    anything to avoid them carrying through with that promise.

    Where does that leave the voters – very sceptical
    on everything? Basil

  27. Russell

    November 28, 2013 at 8:30 am

    Re #50
    “I think that we have been through all of this before on previous TT sites but…Managed high quality euc plantation poses little fire risk as thick scrubby understory is absent and therefore there is little fuel to carry fire.”

    Robin, Just have a look at ANY plantation in Tassie and you’ll see a lot of fuel at ground level. PLUS once a fire gets to the canopy of these same age, same height, same species not-for-profit monoculture scams whatever’s on the ground doesn’t matter one iota. In recent fires these plantation canopy fireballs leave the grass green as they race across the top of the trees on the wind blowing massive ember storms ahead of them to burn down the next group of houses.

    “We dont know yet, high quality areas may be sold to owners who have an interest in retaining the plantation areas as an investment to to sold as export wood chip over the 3 thinning regimes of the plantation cycle.”

    You’re dreaming.

  28. Robin Charles Halton

    November 28, 2013 at 1:15 am

    #49 PB, Thanks for the introduction to the age of enlightenment on Victoria’s plan to reduce the effects of future wildfires
    I’m not arguing as to whether or not the 5% target is right, wrong or even achievable in practice, I would guess that the fire authorities should know by now!
    Enter Victoria’s Commissioner for Sustainability Kate Auty ” focusing on key assets” I guess that this means strategic reduction burning closer to the fringes between bushland and suburban sprawl whether it be on multiple privately owned or Crown Land.
    Quite a huge public relations issue at large here to get the public on side to see smoke rising for the fire protection benefits for the broader local community.
    A durable action plan is a necessity and needs to be put into operation while memories of 2009 are still fresh.
    I hope that Kate Auty is actually supportive that immediate action is necessary NOW not later.

    In Tasmania we have the unique opportunity under an elected Liberal government post March 2014 for the formation of a State Fuel Reduction Unit for support landowners right to protect their land in a responsible manner.
    After the Dads Army control and political deception by the heavily uniformed top ranking officers of the Tasmania Fire Service, the changes would be welcomed asap.

  29. Robin Charles Halton

    November 28, 2013 at 12:00 am

    #47 #48 Andrew, Russell. I think that we have been through all of this before on previous TT sites but………….OK lads…..

    Managed high quality euc plantation poses little fire risk as thick scrubby understory is absent and therefore there is little fuel to carry fire.

    Now, here is where the problem may exist, poorly managed, located and marginal Euc plantations that have either been abandoned by the owners or JV partners could pose a fire risk either because of lack of ongoing management or as an attraction for arson.

    The current politics attached to euc plantations is creating many of the negative comments that we hear every day on TT sites including some from me when it comes to suitability for future high grade sawlog supply.

    Of cause if firebreaks are not maintained regularly then there is room for criticism by neighbours who too are not sure of the future of many plantation areas.

    The sale of Gunns plantations hopefully will more certainty resulting in areas to be sold locally for clearing back for agricultural purposes, perhaps the government may be interested in rehabilitating watershed habitat in areas deemed to require future and permanent water quality protection.

    We dont know yet, high quality areas may be sold to owners who have an interest in retaining the plantation areasas an investment to to sold as export wood chip over the 3 thinning regimes of the plantation cycle.

    I see little point in bagging Mentha Korda who are instrumental on bringing about a sale of Gunns plantation estate which may result in a commercial use of these areas currently held in receivership.

    Remember in the first instance, 25-30 years ago the Greens believed that euc plantations would produce sawlogs removing harvesting pressures from native forest, we are still waiting and waiting!

  30. PB

    November 27, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    A new scientific report rejects the arbitrary 5% target for fuel reduction burns and recommends a new approach to manage bushfire risk.

    In Victoria the 2013 State of the Environment Report, produced by the Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability, has just been released and the Age reports:

    “The report also says the state government should withdraw support for a recommendation by the 2009 Bushfire Royal Commission to burn five per cent of public land each year to prevent bushfires. The report says this target could mean some areas will be exposed to fire frequency above its tolerance, impacting biodiversity.

    Professor Auty recommends instead a new approach be developed focusing on protecting key assets from bushfires for both public and private land, with the results reported to demonstrate the risk reduction achieved. She also notes the government is yet to report on the biodiversity impacts of planned burns, a recommendation of the Royal Commission.”

    Read more:

    and with links to report:

  31. Russell

    November 27, 2013 at 3:08 pm

    Re #45
    “Remember that we are at least 20 years behind the times with protective burning since the Greens took over, brainwashing the community with their anti burning agenda.”

    And just how did you come up with that plucked-out-of-thin-air bit of information? Especially when they’ve only been ‘sharing’ Government in Tasmania since the last election and obediently done whatever Labor asked of them?

    But Robin, you profess to be the expert on wildfires in every other comment you make on the subject, yet you can’t/won’t give the fifgures to back them up! Hardly credible.

    The fact is Robin, that wildfires have been more dangerously prevalent and much fiercer since our cool climate landscape was turned from one of wet forests into one of dry eucalypt infernos by FT and Gunns’ push into woodchip/pulp close-planted, same age, same height monoculture not-for-profit plantations.

    As Andrew correctly raises the issue, those who light the fires should be made fully financially and legally responsible for their outcomes.

  32. Andrew Ricketts

    November 27, 2013 at 1:08 am

    Perhaps Mr Halton has the statistics, on an area basis to support his contention stated at post 28? “Wildfires are generally more prevalent in areas of native forest where understorey fuel loads and carry fire more frequently.” (Misspelling fixed)

    Why are we talking about wildfires? I was raising the issue of improving responsibility for lighting fires that go horribly wrong. You know, burning stumps that are not extinguished ages later on – that sort of thing – regen burns without adequate firebreaks – gorse burning that escapes etc etc etc.

    But while we are on the subject, have a look at the fire breaks of those plantations nearby to you, any will do and then once you have inspected a few, you decide if you would attempt to go down one and fight a fire.

  33. Robin Charles Halton

    November 27, 2013 at 1:06 am

    #44 Basil Fitch, both democracy and reason reigns.
    By all means add the extra pazzazz to your name!

    I have often been referred to as “she” and “her” in both the Mercury and with TT on occasions.
    There has been confusion globally among persons sharing my name from Cheshire County England and Westmeath Eire.
    Even the legendary French Foreign Legion was showing an interest in recruiting me recently.

  34. Robin Charles Halton

    November 26, 2013 at 6:15 pm

    #38 Russell, I would suggest that you contact the State Fire Authorities as I am not privy to that information on actual numbers of escaped fuel reduction burns, if any in recent times!

    I am only aware that the Forcett fire may have started from a burning stump on Inala Rd, that is why I went to the trouble to quote for you, that important link, Habitat Advocate online!

    The Liberals are keen to support landowners through the TFGA to form a State based Fuel Reduction Unit with up to 70 persons with an estimated budget of $28.5M.to professionally deal with reducing high fuel loads.

    Remember that we are at least 20 years behind the times with protective burning since the Greens took over, brainwashing the community with their anti burning agenda.
    We have act now to reduce the overcost to the community and the environment of wild fires activity in the future.

    You are welcome to conduct your own investigation if you are serious, but just watch out for persons quoting their full name or titles thereof.

  35. Basil Fitch

    November 26, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    I may have missed the answer to an obvious question, but can some-one report why we now have a contributor ‘Robin Charles Halton’. Perhaps I (and us) should use ours! Basil (John Fitch).

  36. The Subversive Voter

    November 26, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    I just saw this on the ABC news site http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-11-27/bernadette-black-pulls-out-of-election-race/5119382?section=tas.

    Is Ms Black perhaps a casualty of Paul Harriss’ decision to nominate in Franklin – has she been ‘asked’ to step down to make his run easier?

  37. John Hawkins

    November 26, 2013 at 9:41 am

    TGC #40


  38. Shaun

    November 25, 2013 at 11:54 pm

    A more direct and to the point example of what I’m on about.

    Suppose that I own a consulting or contracting business and you are the government.

    I provide my services for $150 per person per hour. I pay my staff $50 per hour each + superannuation, I have costs of administration, office, phone, internet, utilities, cleaning, cost of tendering for your work, various insurances, profit for me and so on. I must also factor in that since I have no guaranteed work, my employees will necessarily not be busy 100% of the time. I’ll keep the workflow as constant as possible, but there will inevitably be some downtime.

    If you have a one-off need for the services that I offer that will never be repeated then it’s logical that you would use me, or a rival consultant / contractor, to supply this service to you.

    But what if you have an ongoing, regular need for such services?

    You do the maths and find that you need to pay your worker the same as me, you need office space and all the overheads that come with it, you need senior management, you need a human resources branch and so on. So you conclude that your costs are about $150 per hour, the same as I’m charging.

    Now this is where you are doing the maths wrong.

    Assuming you are not considering abolishing the entire department, you will still need a CEO and other managers etc whether or not you employ an extra person. Those overhead costs are essentially fixed and will be incurred regardless.

    In most cases you will also have an existing office that extra staff could work from. When is the last time someone saw government renting out space in a building because they downsized? It just doesn’t happen, the office space will be paid for regardless. Most likely, you’ll just move the partitions around and give all your remaining staff a bit of extra space.

    Insurance? Well you are self insured, right? So you won’t be needing to pay premiums to a for-profit insurer.

    Tendering? Well if you get me to do it then you have the costs of awarding tenders and the ongoing costs of administering the contract. For starters, you need someone who knows what you want me to do in the first place. And you need legal people to do the actual contracts etc. None of these costs exist if you just employ someone yourself.

    And then there’s wages. As a consultant, I can’t offer my staff the same certainty of ongoing employment that you can. That’s why I pay them $50 an hour. You could easily poach my staff, or a rival’s, for a 10% lower rate simply because everyone knows that government jobs are relatively stable.

    So all up, you can do the job for $45 an hour + super and a few expenses like stationery and phones. At most, your costs will be HALF what I or any other consultant is going to charge you to do the work.

    So why, exactly, are you paying me to do it? Fair enough if it’s a one-off, but there are plenty of consultants or contractors around who have their entire business doing government work which sure isn’t one-off in nature.

    Now, I’m not actually in the business of providing consulting services to government but hopefully you get the point.

    It’s a flawed logic to be doing things at unnecessarily high cost, thus adding to the tax burden of every household and business in the state, in order to create a few jobs in specific consulting and contracting businesses.

    Whilst there would be some short term pain, it would be far better in the long term to adopt the cheapest approach to doing the work so as to reduce costs and ultimately taxation (or improve services, repay debt etc).

    If it’s a one-off then sure, give it to my hypothetical consulting business or a rival. But if it’s ongoing then you’d be much better off just employing someone and doing it yourself.

    So my real question is about looking at ALL the options for getting things done, considering the ACTUAL costs of them, and choosing the best one.

    In short, throw away the ideology and just do things in the most economical manner possible, using the savings to repay debt, cut taxes etc.

  39. TGC

    November 25, 2013 at 11:42 pm

    And will #36 realise it’s ‘Labor’ not “Labour’ (UK)

  40. Simon Warriner

    November 25, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    Q1,how will you address the fundamental conflict of interest between your role as the elected representative of an electorate comprised of many different voices, viewpoints and ambitions, and your parties dogma, ambitions and expediencies?

    Q2, Do you think it appropriate that having left a suicidal worker in an office under the care of her workmates until she gets violent and a workmates partner blows the whistle, that same previously suicidal person is returned to the workplace a further 12 months later, as the whistle blower’s partners direct supervisor?

    Q3 Would you be happy if your partner or child was placed in the position of the whistle blowers partner?

    Q4 If you came across such a circumstance in a publicly funded office would you demand an inquiry?

    Q5 If the allegations were found to be true would you demand the resignations of those responsible?

  41. Russell

    November 25, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    Re #35
    You presume wrong Robin. If I meant a specific fire I would have said so. Read and answer the questions as posed please.

  42. Shaun

    November 25, 2013 at 9:53 pm

    #30 I was just using electricity as a reasonably well known example to make the point. It’s certainly not the only one.

    But so far as electricity is concerned, Basslink and all other electrical infrastructure currently in Tasmania is very much in the case of “costs already incurred” such that the issue going forward is how best to use it rather than whether or not it should have been built in the first place.

    Hydro seems to be one of the few that “gets it” in terms of the overall situation financially in Tasmania and I commend them for that.If you look at what Hydro is actually doing, then they’re being pretty smart to be honest.

    In short, they’ve thrown out a lot of the silly nonsense surrounding Tamar Valley power station (as an example) and are just operating it as cheaply as possible. Aurora and government looked at total costs, meaning they were running it flat out 24/7, whereas Hydro is well aware that it’s a lot cheaper to run water through an existing turbine than it is to buy gas and pay the carbon tax.

    The trouble with government overall, is that they tend to not take advantage of cost differences at the margin, instead focusing only on total or average costs. This leads to temporary or unusual cost savings simply being ignored as too difficult to implement. Trouble is, collectively they add up to quite a lot of money.

    There’s a significant amount of money that could be saved, and employment transferred to Tasmania, simply by looking at the real, actual costs of various options for doing all sorts of things instead of focusing on theoretical arguments about efficiencies, savings and so on that are never achieved in practice.

    Aurora was just an example. But it’s somewhat crazy to think that anyone would choose to not purchase the product of a company they own, buying from a rival instead thus depriving themselves of profits from their own business. It’s outright crazy to be honest.

  43. John Hawkins

    November 25, 2013 at 8:43 pm


    Will you campaign to reinstate the size of our Tasmanian Parliament so those elected can actually find some time to govern?


    Will you get rid of the Legislative Council using the increase in numbers to expand the Lower house so that if only by chance a modicum of talent is available to run the State when and if if you are elected?
    PS It has to be a core promise.


    Can you provide Tasmanians with candidates who can actually read and write and have not been before the Courts and are hence worthy of a vote?
    As an article of good faith will you withdraw your support for Brenton Best as a Labour candidate at the next election?

  44. Robin Charles Halton

    November 25, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    #28 Russell, fair enough, I presume you are talking about the origins Forcett fire.
    There is a well constructed article that questions the events leading up to that fire.
    The Habitat Advocate- Tasmania’s Forcett Fire 2013, 16 Questions. Question 13 may interest you, it still intrigues me.
    Good luck with your deductions.
    * FT were not responsible for managing this disaster but played a significant role in the mop up that went on for weeks to make the resultant wildfire safe.

    #31 Thanks John Powell, it certainly adds prestige for my powerful messages. It clearly denotes me of the male gender, there has been confusion in the past. As I recall a self description of attending a convent, actually it was a convent school.

  45. A.K.

    November 25, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    After reading through this thread, now understand why nothing will change after the election. Everyone is expecting the current incumbents to do something to change our direction and bring the state into the 21st century, in a sustainable progressive manner. Yet all the questions seem to revolve around things which will make little difference to the future we face and are basically administrative.

    It also seems everyone is happy to accept that our future will be governed by those in politics at the moment, which means nothing we say will make any difference whatsoever. Anyone who thinks it will is living in fairy land, the incumbents have brought our state to this point, to expect them to change direction, have new ideas or accept others ideas, is fanciful and not possible. Ideologues can’t change, their programming doesn’t allow for it and that is perfectly obvious in the future and current situation our island faces.

    Wouldn’t it be a better idea for TT posters to formulate a set of policies which will take us forward into the future in a sustainable, safe and environmentally friendly way. Then present it to the parties and the general public, via the media if possible. This would show the people there are alternative policies that do have the future in mind and would open up debate across the state. From this a new party and direction may appear which empowers the people, the only other choice is more of the same.

    However the thread is about questions for our pollies which may take us forward, so here are what I see as the most pressing issues that have to be addressed first, or nothing will change and our future is doomed.

    1. What does your party intend to do to energy and fuel proof the state for the future, to bring sustainability and future certainty to farming and rural communities.

    2. What does your party intend doing to reduce the control of coles woolworth and other corporations, to reduce the importation of foreign foods into our state to the detriment of local growers, processors and economy.

    3 Will your party support a change to referendum style government utilising current technology, so the people control the states destiny and governance. Instead of minorities and vested interest corporate controlled political parties.

  46. Russell

    November 25, 2013 at 4:55 pm

    Re #31
    It has been my experience never to trust anyone who quotes their own middle name, adds a Dr to the start of their name if they aren’t a respectable medical practitioner, or has the name Martin.

  47. Gordon Bradbury

    November 25, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    Thanks for that William (#30). Very unfortunate and mysterious.

  48. John Powell

    November 25, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    Impolite Russel, he is now called “Robin Charles”. Very Imperial is it not!

  49. William Boeder

    November 25, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    A question for you shaun, could Tasmania save the annual rental of Bass link, (some $100 million per annum) if they halted the export of our supposed hydro-generated electricity?
    In my mind having to pay out a hundred odd $million each year for having an access to that export facility is a no-brainer?
    I doubt if we could ever export that volume of electricity even if it rained 24/7 for 52 weeks each year.
    I read all your comments related to the electricity situation in Tasmania with a great deal of interest shaun, as you appear to be the best informed on this topic among the attendees to the Tas Times Forum.
    Your views on the whole GBE system is quite interesting as it appears to me to have all these small kingdoms and their expensive director boards just rambling about but costing their taxpayer plenty with some of ’em not returning a Dicky Bird of profit to the State’s Revenues.

    Note for Gordon Bradbury, the email from Brian Green arrived into my junk email box, on opening and reading this rare correspondence then moving onto the next inappropriate junk-file located email, t’was shortly after that when I found that the Bryan Green email had self destructed and was now gone for all time.
    I cannot explain its demise other than as I have stated.
    But yes this was the essence of the email from my ‘good friend’ the giggler.

    With all due respect Robin you persist with the burning off and transformation of all that Forestry Tasmania and other minor agencies can clap their hands upon.
    Comment #25 by Russell Langfield carries the same
    seriousness of how this burning manifestation and desire arose as a product of the stunted minds of our privileged hierarchy, yet ever always approved of by the deplorable fixations of the former and maybe some current directors of Forestry Tasmania.
    (Back in the days of when Miles Hampton was also a part of this gregarious herd of non-thinking journeymen gravy-train passenger-ed graspers, twas he that called for the clearing and burning of some 7000 hectares some year or so ago, Bryan Green then arranged the means that Hampton could be given special privilege to set the torch amongst this land so there could be a lot more grazing opportunity for his little moo-cows on the Van Diemans Land Company’s plot.
    (As was gifted to a former highly privileged `Bushranger’ cum Nobleman- by a long ago Kingly Monarch in the 1820s. (Who incidentally, was greatly fond of giving away bit of countries to whoever he chose during his daily carnage upon the Royal Palace expensive Brandy during the time of his reign over the great unwashed.)

    One has to wonder how so much of Tasmania and its GBEs could happen to fall under the control levers of one particular person as is the case with Miles Hampton.

    This now chairman of directors viz-a-viz Taswater seems to have the same destiny planned for this GBE as was the gig of Forestry Tasmania, a huge money-draining dung-hill domain formerly captained by this same wily chairman.

    Now a fair question for you shaun, could this same person also have strings to pull among Aurora’s directors?
    It seems awkwardly odd to me that the directorship of My State Financial (he being among those directors of course) can turn a profit in that particular ‘private enterprise institution,’ yet all his former and present GBE experiences have not shared that same level of accounting brilliance and expertise that he has become acclaimed for.

  50. Russell

    November 25, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    Re #28
    Once again you have avoided answering the simple specific questions I posed you.

    Here it is again: “How many prescribed “Fuel Reduction” fires were lit in the last year, and how many of them got out of control, costing how much Robin?”

  51. Robin Charles Halton

    November 25, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    #27 Russell you know all of the answers very well from previous blogs over the past few years that I have provided for you and other interested TT parties.
    Wildfires are generally more prevalent in areas of native forest where understroy fuel loads and carry fire more frequently.
    Obviously I am keen to see euc plantation areas harvested on schedule, I dont have the current information on the extent of harvesting at present or for that matter the future usage/value of plantation areas.
    Sure it seems like a financial gamble, I am not denying that but it will be interesting to see what happens to the sale of Gunns plantation estate.
    You live in the north of the State, close to plantation areas, you tell us what is happening!

    It was never my idea to plant nitens especially as an alternative shorter term sawlog resource.
    Nitens is a fine pulpmill feedstock but we dont have a pulp mill do wer!
    PUP is standing politically on the ground breaking news it wants a pulp mill for the old Burnie site, good luck to them, a tough ask for an Asian Coy to set up in little Tasmania far from the marketplace with cheap labor and dodgy pollution controls.
    Plenty of resource available here from mainly plantation wood but too far from markets to make a financial killing.
    I think it best for the dreamers to export the wood to cover their costs and call it quits for the long term value of carrying plantation eucalypt if there is no pulp mill to be.

  52. Russell

    November 25, 2013 at 9:10 am

    Re #25
    Are you going to answer my questions, Robin?

    The other thing to consider in your non-answer is that we wouldn’t have this “firey eucalypt landscape” if it wasn’t transformed into one by your industry over the past 30-40 years with Bluegums and Nitens replacing wet forests and mixed species non-eucalypts.

    The guilt, blame and costs of all Tasmania’s fires since and in the future should fall squarely upon those who stupidly and drastically changed the landscape to suit an unsustainable not-for-profit industry.

  53. mikey

    November 25, 2013 at 4:08 am

    To add to #15 Geoff’s very sensible 3, when making true evidence based policy the government must seek input from the population rather than invite input so policy is not based on the noise from uninformed minorities.

  54. Robin Charles Halton

    November 25, 2013 at 1:49 am

    #8 Gordon Bradbury, #9 Andrew Ricketts and #20 Russell Langfield, please read my contribution to into today’s Mon. Mercury newspaper “Liberals Bushfire policy” announcement by Will Hodgman.
    Note my Fire Management experience and technical know how based comments at 8.55am, 305pm and 4.49pm time slots.

    The Green inspired Labor government never bothered to act on the State Fire Management Committee’s 2011 recommendations that were placed in front of both former Premier Bartlett and soon to be defeated Premier Giddings to act upon forming a Fire Management Unit to combat the future effects of wild fire on the community living within a firey eucalypt landscape.

    Look out watch out for the Public Health and Climate Change experts outrage at this long awaited policy as outlined by the Liberals!

  55. Pat Caplice

    November 25, 2013 at 1:12 am

    To All Parties
    Will the Pokies Deed currently held by the Farrell family be put out for highest tender when it expires.

    To Labour
    Is Treasury in current negotiation with Federal to again roll over the deed, with it’s chief negotiator having “one hand tied behind my back” as was the case with Don Challen under Jim Bacon?


  56. TGC

    November 24, 2013 at 11:52 pm

    “It’s the economy,stupid”—can’t top that!

  57. Shaun

    November 24, 2013 at 10:10 pm

    Something I’d like to see, and which would make a real difference to Tasmania’s finances, is the adoption of a “whole of government” approach to the operation of government-owned businesses and other “in house” suppliers of goods and services.

    The better known ones are the likes of Aurora but there are plenty of other areas in various departments where government is both the supplier and purchaser of services.

    An example to illustrate the point.

    Suppose that government department X issues a tender for the supply of electricity. They receive 3 bids as follows (this is a hypothetical example):

    Aurora = $10 million, of which $8 million is the actual cost of supplying versus not supplying the power and the other $2 million is recovery of fixed overheads (having an office, paying the board and the CEO, etc) plus actual profit. So long as Aurora is in business, those other costs exist whether or not they win this tender – only the $8 million is a “variable” cost actually incurred.

    Suppler 2 = $9.6 million. Privately owned therefore the profit figure is unknown.

    Supplier 3 = $9.2 million. Also privately owned with an unknown profit.

    Now, from the perspective of a “silo” system of accounting which looks only at the Department in question, Supplier 3 is the cheapest option and, all other things being equal, will win the tender.

    But from a “whole of government” perspective, Aurora is clearly the cheapest option since the $2 million profit ultimately comes back to government. The real cost is thus $8 million versus the $9.2 million that would be paid to the winning tenderer.

    This is just one hypothetical example but there are countless such things right across government. Taking a “whole of government” approach, rather than treating each department as a business in its’ own right, would produce significant savings across overall government operations.

    Department / state owned company “A” saving $1 million in a manner that costs Department / state owned company “B” $2 million just doesn’t make sense when they are all part of the same government.

    A significant side benefit is that some of the work now sent interstate would be retained in Tasmania thus generating local employment and keeping money within the state’s economy.

  58. Terry James

    November 24, 2013 at 7:49 pm

    Will your government legislate to decriminalise the personal possession, cultivation and use of cannabis?

    Will your government legislate for Citizen Initiated Referenda?

    Will your government, as a priority, strategically address the Bass Strait freight/passenger issues and deliver cheaper and more efficient solutions (to users)?

    Will your government fix the whole fines collection injustice that can result in the loss of driver’s licence (and associated penalties) because of non-payment of a parking fine?

    Will your government offer an alternative system for the payment of fines that enables citizens to perform community service in order to ‘pay off’ fines?

    Will your government implement a ‘home detention’ program in order to keep non violent offenders out of jail, cut costs, preserve families?

    Will your government call a halt to the Copping C cell until such time as the State investigates and implements a 21st century State Policy on waste management?

    Will your government support the establishment of a commercial hemp industry in Tasmania?

    Will your government establish more free camping areas in Tasmania (think Bay of Fires, Chain of Lagoons, Lime Bay) and encourage ‘grey nomad’ and ‘backpacker’ tourism?

  59. Russell

    November 24, 2013 at 7:38 pm

    Re #5
    “Gordon Bradbury, probably FT wont be profitable but now will find itself closely involved by providing an important Public Service function with the State Fuel Reduction Unit to assist landowners and managers to raise the bar for their fire safety standards on their properties.”

    How many prescribed “Fuel Reduction” fires were lit in the last year, and how many of them got out of control, costing how much Robin?

  60. Gordon Bradbury

    November 24, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    “Forestry Tasmania will become a profit generating industry, that this GBE of Forestry Tasmania will quite soon be providing honest revenues to the State’s Treasury.”

    William (#11) that is an astonishing letter you received from Mr Green.

    Are you able to scan it and post a copy on TasTimes? I’m sure there are many of us who would love to read it.

    Fts recent annual report makes no mention at all of any plan to become fully commercial and profitable. In fact their focus for the next few years seems to be to continue to be a drain on State finances.

  61. Casey

    November 24, 2013 at 6:15 pm

    Q1. Do you support people buying properties being fined for that activity via a ‘stamp duty’?

    IMHO..Payment for services should mean that the entry into a titles register somewhere should maybe cost a $100 flat fee, not be wealth tax pretending to be a ‘duty’. The revenue loss should be made up from a percentage levy on all properties, as all properties benefit from society’s and government services – and their unimproved valuations reflect the value of those benefits.

    Q2. Would you support, or not support, direct or indirect taxpayer subsidy for the ‘proposed’ Tamar Valley pulp mill?

    IMHO..It is beyond time that state finances be guarded and used for the benefit of all citizens, not particular companies, or some football clubs, or horse racing clubs. Non-government activities should be just that, self funding or fail.

    Q3. Would you support removing taxation exemptions from religious organisations, placing them on the same footing as any other private groups?

    IMHO..In a secular society, is it completley unfair that ‘religious’ groups avoid or have reduced taxes and charges that all other corporations or bodies have to pay.

  62. Dr Bob Murfet

    November 24, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    1. The number of jobs in Tasmania is declining despite the best efforts of some to turn this around. Have any of the politicians got any new innovative ideas on how to create new jobs?

    2. If so many people at the peak of their life cannot get a job how are people between 65-70 years of age going to get a job in Tasmania?

    3. Politicians say that the Tasmanian Planning System, with its red and green tape is holding back the economy of Tasmania. Other than having one planning scheme for the State are there any other specific ideas on how planning can be improved in Tasmania?

  63. Nigel Crisp

    November 24, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    I really can’t better Pete Godfrey’s attempt, but:

    (1)In these digital days why can’t we have quick, low cost referenda to kill stone dead contentious projects, ideas that just go on and on sucking up public dollars.

    (2)I’d like to hear loud and clear from Michael Hodgman that the Liberals in Government will be employees of all the voters, not Eric Abetz or their largest donors. Tell me that and my vote’s in the bag.

    (3)Pretending is great, like having a Liberal party online questionnaire, then all your thoughts are caste aside as an excuse to stuff our letter boxes full of party political clap trap. So prove to us you’re listening, want to be statesman like, and the electors will beat a path to your door.

  64. Geoff Couser

    November 24, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    My three questions are all health related:

    1) Will all political parties acknowledge that fundamental changes must be made to our health system to ensure access, equity and long-term sustainability?

    2) That embarking upon an unwinnable bidding war of glitzy promises in the heat of an election campaign is unfeasible, nay, impossible? So please don’t do it.

    3) And to commit to undertake true evidence-based policy that includes an honest attempt to involve the population in the decision making?

  65. Geraldine Allan

    November 24, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    Ditto to #2 & #7.

  66. mike seabrook

    November 24, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    don’t waste your time talking

    there is more than enough evidence of incompetence & dealings with special mates & a looted tassie treasury to boot.

    just vote the bums out

  67. David Obendorf

    November 24, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    How does your party determine if your incumbent MPs (or re-contesting former MPs) are likely to be unelectable?

    Will your Party MPs sign up to a pledge to behave as authentic community representatives and not as thespians in a pantomime ever time your MPs ‘perform’ on the stage of Parliament or in media performances?

    Thank you.

  68. William Boeder

    November 24, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    So much of certainty is needed by the people of Tasmania before they consider to offer their vote to whatever worthy persons we have representing the people of Tasmania.

    Considering the letter I recently received from minister Bryan Green vowing that Forestry Tasmania will become a profit generating industry, that this GBE of Forestry Tasmania will quite soon be providing honest revenues to the State’s Treasury, as opposed to the continuance of F/Ts begging for more Letters of Comfort and or conspired pseudo grants from both the Federal and State governments.

    I am of the opinion that the ministers and the political party they represent that have the highest rate of deception scores should be dismissed from selection by voters as not being a worthy contender or candidate for the peoples vote.

    As for the questions;

    1. What guarantee is there that the discerning voter will not be prejudiced against by the presently employed Hare Clarke system ‘of apportioning preferences to the undeserving rabble of so many of our current ministers?’

    2. What is the reason for retaining that many advisers that seem to offer quite useless advices for the minister to follow, then to the resorting of consultancies for advice, only to ignore that high-costing advice?

    3. When can we expect to see this State’s bevy of ministers begin to look to the economically important suggestions freely given by member of the public, then also give attendance to the wishes and desires of this State’s general populace?

  69. john hayward

    November 24, 2013 at 2:34 pm

    1. Is there anything more futile than asking a Tas government for an honest explanation of its chronic failings?

    John Hayward

  70. Andrew Ricketts

    November 24, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    First question:
    Will you ensure, through amended legislation and/or enhanced permit controls, that people (any person) who lights a (vegetation based or other) fire will be held fully accountable for their actions or negligence, regardless of the circumstances?

    Second question:
    Will you as a priority, draft and support the creation of legislation to protect Tasmania’s scenery and cultural heritage landscapes as well as to ensure that this vital asset is both assessed and recognised?

    Proper scenic landscape protection has been avoided by Tasmania despite it being a crucial economic asset of the State.

    Third question:
    Will you remove the plethora of legislative exemptions granted to forestry, especially now that there is no shred of public interest benefit in continuing to grant such largess?

  71. Gordon Bradbury

    November 24, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    Robins (#5) obvious support for “forestry as a loss-making community service” business model suggests that we need a referendum in Tasmania to decide once and for all time where Tasmanians sit regarding the forest industry.

    QUESTION: Is the forest industry a commercial business or is it a community service/employment program/charity? Current and potential future private forest growers may want to express their opinions on this issue….

  72. Bill Rowlings

    November 24, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    Adding to Comment No. 2 by Isla MacGregor:
    Will you support the introduction to Tasmania of the ‘Right to Appeal’ law, passed in South Australia in May 2013, when new or newly-interpreted forensic or factual evidence comes to light in questionable convictions, like that of Sue Neill-Fraser?

  73. Shaun

    November 24, 2013 at 11:41 am

    A nice list but I expect that one issue above all will determine the votes of most Tasmanians next year.

    The economy.

  74. Robin Charles Halton

    November 24, 2013 at 11:22 am

    #3 Gordon Bradbury, probably FT wont be profitable but now will find itself closely involved by providing an important Public Service function with the State Fuel Reduction Unit to assist landowners and managers to raise the bar for their fire safety standards on their properties.

    Many thanks to the State Liberals for their announcement of funding of $28.5M for the formation of a State Fuel Reduction Unit.

    Last night on the ABC news Greens leader was crying foul over Climate Change, bring on the State election, we’ve had enough of the silly nonsense by the Green inspired Labor Govt under Premier Giddings.

  75. Estelle Ross

    November 24, 2013 at 10:34 am

    1. Is your party going to make the commencement of a direct overseas shipping service a priority?
    2. The report into a Hemp Industry for Tasmania was revealed recently. Will your party support the immediate lifting of the ban on hemp as a food and increase the viability of a vibrant hemp industry for Tasmania by removing the countless obstacles which at present are a disincentive for farmers and manufacturers of this commodity?
    3. There is no way that the pulp mill could be built thus the Pulp Mill Assessment Act is now obsolete, will your party repeal this infamous Act?

  76. Gordon Bradbury

    November 24, 2013 at 10:02 am

    What about Forestry Tasmania becoming fully commercial AND profitable? The latest FT Annual Report was a pathetic read. Absolutely no plan at all to return FT to profitability. So they will be sucking on Tasmanian taxpayers for many years to come. Is FT a GBE or a charity?

  77. Isla MacGregor

    November 24, 2013 at 9:57 am

    1. Will you support a Coronial Inquiry into the disappearance of Bob Chappel and a fully empowered Integrity Commission Inquiry into the grave miscarriage of justice over the conviction and imprisonment of Sue Neill- Fraser.

    2. Will you support the establishment of a properly empowered Anti Corruption Commission in Tasmania with the powers recently suggested by Dianne Merryful from the Tasmanian Integrity Commission and put to the Attorney General.

    3. Will you strengthen whistleblower protection laws so that they will actually work to protect whistleblowers, will provide compensation provisions for them and cover private sector whistleblowers.

  78. Pete Godfrey

    November 24, 2013 at 9:41 am

    One question could be .
    Will your party commit to representing the majority of voters in Tasmania and rule out representing the minority of companies that give your party political donations.
    And maybe
    Will you commit to being honest with the people of Tasmania.

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