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

History

Right of reply, free speech and editorial discretion …

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Eric Abetz …

First published March 6.

Recently I read that the Tasmania’s Chamber of Commerce wants the Prime Minister to re-appoint Liberal powerbroker Eric Abetz to Cabinet, as Tasmania now has no representative in Cabinet and Senator Abetz is “very passionate for our state.” (Mercury, 17 January, 2017.

I wondered why they would want that, given some recent misjudgements by Eric, but when this plea was backed up by a Mercury Editorial (18 January) I felt a letter coming on. It was this:

Letters, 26/1/17 Why back Abetz?

What puzzles me is why the business lobby would want Eric Abetz in Cabinet (Editorial, 18 January). He has shown shocking judgment when Minister for Forestry in the Howard Government with his Managed Investment Schemes (MIS), which allowed 100 per cent tax offset to businesses for buying good farmland for plantations, which now uselessly litter the Tasmanian countryside, had cost taxpayers billions in tax losses and the downfall of several companies including Timbercorp and Great Southern amongst others. That same mind insisted that Richard Colbeck be placed well down the Senate list because he had voted for Turnbull, thereby handing a Senate seat to the Greens. He himself was elected only because his name was #1 on the Senate ticket (who decided that?). It is a mystery to me why the Tasmanian Liberals not only put up with him but allow him all this power. Abetz is the best thing going for Labor and the Greens.

Shortly after that was published, Abetz replied:

Letters 1/2/17 Off the mark

It seems that John Biggs’ factless and nasty letter writing will regrettably continue unabated in 2017. For the record, management investment schemes existed prior to my entering Parliament so they were hardly mine.

Further, Mr Biggs is 100 per cent wrong to assert that the schemes allowed 100 per cent tax write-off for the purchase of land. But can I remind him that it was the Greens that sought generous tax concessions on plantations.

Also for the record, it was not only the Liberal Party that placed me on the top of our Senate ticket but the Tasmanian people through their vote which graciously ensured I was the first Tasmanian senator elected in 2016.

Now that letter is Abetz as his disingenuous best. He first of all asserts that I am factless and nasty. One of my alleged post-facts is that I said MIS schemes in general were his idea. I did not, but MIS schemes as applied to plantations were surely his idea that he implemented when Forestry Minister under Howard.

I slipped in saying 100 per cent tax write-off applied to “buying” land; it also applied to planting and maintaining the plantations, as he admitted on Four Corners. So I was only a teensy bit wrong, not 100 per cent, and certainly not “factless”.

Next bit of disingenuousness: The Greens might have at one stage sought tax concessions on plantations but it was the Liberal Government with Abetz as Forestry Minister that actually implemented them. The Greens were never in majority government so how could they have legislated for their tax-write off status?

Finally, his “not only the Liberal Party put me on top of our Senate ticket, but the Tasmanian people graciously through their vote …” Of course with voting above the line Abetz was in that case the first Tasmanian senator elected. That’s the way above the line works. In terms of personal votes, Colbeck was way ahead of Abetz.

What I wrote was substantially true and in good faith, but Abetz pounced on minor lapses of focus to destroy the whole picture. Unfortunately, I was too eager to reply and dashed off a longish letter as follows:

Letter (2/2/17) to Mercury: Unpublished

I apologise to Senator Abetz if I am wrong in saying that MIS schemes allowed 100 per cent tax write off. However may I quote his responses to a question on this very subject by Chris Masters on Four Corners (9/4/2007). CM: “Can you explain the commercial rationale for this very generous 100 per cent tax allowance?” EA: “It is the 100 per cent tax deductibility … for anyone involved in an agricultural pursuit … the difference with forestry is that … you might be looking at a three-decade turn around. But by absolutely securing for them (forestry investors) the 100 per cent deductibility that will provide assistance.” So it looks like Eric does agree that I am 100 per cent right in asserting that MIS forestry investments allow 100 per cent tax write off, not only for the purchase of land but including conversion to plantations.

MIS schemes in general certainly did exist before Abetz entered Parliament but when he was Minister of Forests he greatly encouraged their expansion into plantations with the result that, for several reasons, both MIS investors and the Tax Office lost a lot of money.

Senator Abetz’s first placement on the ticket, with above-the-line voting, of course ensured he was the first Tasmania Senator elected. Likewise, his placing of Richard Colbeck fifth ensured that Colbeck was not elected.

So, are my letter writings factless, as Eric says? Only if Eric got his facts wrong on Four Corners. Are they nasty? That depends on the point of view of who is reading them. Certainly they are not as nasty as what Senator Abetz’s party is doing to legitimate asylum seekers and to the hapless clients of Centrelink.

Two weeks passed: no publication. However I had replied in haste and thought my letter must have been too long; also, I had missed some points and rambled on others. I phoned David Killick, Opinion Editor, to ask if I could submit a shorter version. Killick said he can’t publish all the hundreds of letters received. Of course, I replied, but in this case I said Abetz has got some things wrong and I should have right of reply, so I sent a pointier letter:

Second reply to Abetz (sent 12 Feb):

Senator Abetz has accused me of being “100 per cent wrong to assert the (MIS) schemes allowed 100 per cent tax write off the purchase of land.” (1 Feb). When the land purchase includes establishing plantations, my assertion is 100 per cent correct. Abetz admitted so when interviewed on Four Corners (9/4/2007), in which he stated that when MIS schemes are applied to forestry “you might be looking at a three decade turnaround … (so that) a 100 per cent tax deductibility … will provide assistance.”

He also said I was wrong in saying the idea of MIS schemes were his. Certainly MIS schemes existed before Abetz entered Parliament, but applying such schemes to forestry was a decision of his when he was Forestry Minister in the Howard Government. They were a very expensive failure as we now know.

Senator Abetz accused me of “factless and nasty letter writing”. The above assures the reader that my letter writing is far from factless, and to say that I am not telling the truth when I am is nastier than anything I have written about him.

Not published

I emailed Killick saying inter alia that several people had asked me why I hadn’t replied to Abetz’s attack. My reply was “I have, twice, but neither has been published.” I continued:

… I think we are getting into serious territory when a senior politician can publicly accuse a private citizen of lying when he is not, and the press does not publish the accused’s rebuttal.

I must ask you to please publish my letter of 12 Feb. I reproduce it below if it has somehow got lost in the system …

I received the following email reply:

Thanks for the note. As you know, we receive dozens of letters a day and can only print a small number. In the interests of giving as many people as possible a chance to have their letter published, I’ve decided not to run a continual back-and-forward exchange between you and Senator Abetz,

regards,

David

I was unhappy with this as I felt strongly that having been accused of lying I had the right to set the record straight. After couple of weeks thinking about this I replied to Killick:

Hello David,

I have thought about your reply of 17 Feb in which you effectively refuse me right of reply to Abetz’s accusations that I am a liar and a nasty person. These comments by a senior politician about a private citizen exercising his right to comment on current events cannot go unanswered. If you still insist on not allowing me this right, I shall see what the Australian Press Council thinks about the matter.

Mentioning my intention to go to the Press Council was probably not wise, for Killick got in first:

Thanks for your note. I had a quick look in our archive. You had letters published which were critical of Senator Abetz in February and November last year and in January this year. Senator Abetz has had a single response published. As I said in my previous email, I am unwilling to turn the letters page of the Mercury over to an endless series of back and forth exchanges between you and Senator Abetz.

I have spoken to the Press Council this afternoon. They are expecting your complaint. It might assist you to refer to the Council’s guidelines on the topic which you can access via the link below:

http://www.presscouncil.org.au/document-search/guideline-adequate-response-may-2009/

The key feature of these guidelines:

a. Editors are not obliged to publish letters on demand. It is their responsibility, guided by fairness, balance and the public interest in the views submitted by correspondents to select and, where necessary, edit letters for publication.

Of course an editor can’t publish every letter, but in their discretion they are to be “guided by fairness, balance and the public interest.” Fair enough, the essence of my complaint is that not having the right of reply was unfair to me, leaving the status quo lacking balance and the facts of tax write-offs for investing in MIS plantations are of course in the public interest. So I launched my complaint to the Press Council with some confidence, with the preamble:

“It is true that I have criticised Abetz’s policies and actions in the past, which is my right as a citizen. However that is irrelevant to the present matter, which is that I have been publicly named and accused of lying and being “nasty” by a senior politician and The Mercury is refusing me my right of reply. That is the substance of my complaint to the Press Council.”

The council asks that a complainant quote any of the Council’s Standards of Practice that the complainant thinks have been breached.

Yes, I replied Number 4: “… where material refers adversely to a person, a fair opportunity is given for subsequent publication of a reply …”

I also sent copies of my correspondence with Killick, as requested by the Council.

The Australian Press Council replies

The Complaints and Governance Officer replied:

After careful consideration, the Executive Director has decided not to proceed further with the complaint. In reaching this decision, we have taken into account that your concern “is not about what Abetz wrote, but that the Letters Editor denied [you] right of reply”. In this regard, we note the Council’s Advisory Guideline – Letter to the Editor, which states, in relevant part:

“Editors are not obliged to publish letters on demand. It is their responsibility, guided by fairness, balance and the public interest in the views submitted by correspondents to select… letters for publication”

As such, the selection of letters and articles for publication is generally considered to be a matter of editorial discretion and does not usually concern the application of the Press Council’s Standards of Practice.

We have also taken into account that the letter’s statement “factless and nasty” refers to your letter only and not to you personally. In any event, we consider that both you and Senator Abetz have been afforded the opportunity to voice your opinions on the subject.

Although we are not proceeding further with the complaint, the publication will be informed of your concerns about the article …

The crux of the issue

There are two kinds of rights involved here: the right of reply to an adverse attack, and the right of opinion editors to refuse publication, guided by fairness, balance and the public interest.

In this case, the Australian Press Council has ruled that editorial rights outweigh the rights of reply by private citizens to unfair, unbalanced attacks, in this case by a senior politician.

Ironically, on the day that I received the Press Council’s reply, the Mercury ran an Editorial (3 March, 2017) entitled “Attack on free speech”. The editorial, à propos of the Education Department forbidding a child development expert to mention school starting age in a talk he was contracted to give, went on to say how important free speech is in a democracy.

Congratulations, Mercury, I entirely agree. It’s just a pity this sentiment seems not to include right of reply to a personal attack made in your pages.

Finally, for the benefit of future letter writers, let me share some lessons that might be drawn from this incident:

1. Make sure your contribution is nit-pick proof, even when it is substantially correct.

2. Don’t flag your intentions of Taking Matters Further.

3. Don’t expect an easy victory when dealing with bureaucracies.

*John Biggs is a frequent contributor to the Mercury and to other media (including the epitome of free speech the Tasmanian Times) on matters that inflame his concern about those public figures who appear from time to time not to be acting in the public interest.

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Comment 8 …

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Comment 8 …

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29 Comments

29 Comments

  1. John Biggs

    April 20, 2017 at 4:08 pm

    #28 Thanks Max, needless to say I agree!

  2. max atkinson

    April 14, 2017 at 2:10 pm

    Regardless of anything else, the Press Council appears to have made an egregious error in its characterisation of the Abetz letter when it concluded that the phrase ‘factless and nasty’ refers only to a particular letter and ‘not to you personally’. In fact the Abetz letter reads ‘It seems that John Biggs’ factless and nasty letter writing will regrettably continue unabated in 2017’.

    This describes a course of conduct with the clear inference that it is the kind of thing one must expect from a journalist who does not care about the truth. This is not just a robust exchange of opinions (for which the Press Council ruled both parties were afforded an opportunity) but an attack on the character of the complainant.

    Max Atkinson

  3. John Biggs

    March 11, 2017 at 10:29 am

    Yes it had occurred to me that those in the know would see through Abetz’s reply, but there are not enough of them! But no I hadn’t thought lack of reply was a moral victory but I’m willing to start thinking along those lines, thanks for that.

    If the editor was in fact doing me a favour I am quite sure from the nature of his replies to me that he himself wasn’t thinking along those lines.

  4. Steve

    March 10, 2017 at 8:34 pm

    #24; I’m thinking you’re a bit optimistic to expect balance and fairness from the press, especially in Tasmania, but in this instance, I don’t believe you have been hard done by.
    It’s pretty sad for a minister of the crown to stoop to a personal attack on a critic. Anyone who knows anything of the subject, knows the truth of the MIS schemes. Have you considered that by not replying you have quite possibly scored more of a victory than by having the last word and having Abetz ignore you? The Mercury editor may have done you a favour.

  5. TGC

    March 9, 2017 at 10:09 pm

    #24 No-one gives a stuff what I contribute-why
    should #24 be condescended to?

  6. John Biggs

    March 9, 2017 at 7:48 pm

    #23 Two points Steve. First, editors have guidelines to follow: balance, fairness, and the public interest as I noted above. They don’t have open slather to do as they like, ethically anyway.

    Second, I would agree that the matter would be finished if Abetz had replied honestly. But he didn’t, the points he made needed correcting so that the reader is not in a position to judge whether or not the “nasty” was justified.

  7. Steve

    March 9, 2017 at 1:50 pm

    I must confess I can’t see the point here. It appears to me that the press council performed perfectly correctly.
    After all, letters to the editor are just that. It’s the editors right to publish what he will. In this instance, Eric Abetz responded to a letter. His response is there to be read, as is the letter that invoked it. The reader can make their own mind as to whether the “nasty” was justified. Likewise the accuracy question.
    I have no liking for the Senator but I can’t see that it’s an attack on free speech for an editor to decide what he publishes in the letter columns. Free speech is alive and well as John has been able to publish his response, just not in the Mercury.

  8. Chris

    March 9, 2017 at 10:56 am

    Insurance- base load- =geothermal
    Look at Kuth Tasmania for starters.
    Any call for gas = lets sell some more hydrocarbons and or coal.
    How much of a mess will the Tamar Valley generation be as gas runs short.
    Let the Minister for development take the bit between his teeth and install thousands of solar cells to back storage and increase security and employment.
    http://www.proactiveinvestors.com.au/companies/news/137935/kuth-energy-reports-on-drilling-geothermal-targets-in-tasmania-10329.html

  9. Robin Charles Halton

    March 9, 2017 at 10:31 am

    Mates, Romans and countrymen, hate speech will become more common as there will be uncontrolled violence pitted against the Federal and State MP’s as Climate change freakery escalates in those States facing electricity crises unless there is urgent action to rectify impending energy shortage.

    Currently I could care less about Section 18c, flying of rainbow flags and the new penalty rates that the unions are bitching about!
    Counter attacks by unions will only see more 457 visas and no growth for small business to stay on their feet.

    Now getting back to the most senseless situation to ever hit this country especially affecting the southern States SA, Vic, NSW and now Qld where diesel generation is more economical rural and industrial business.

    The closure of Hazlewood this month with a loss of 20% electricity in Vic section of its three state interconnector grid will create an immediate crisis of power loss where demand is already exceeding supply.

    With no replacement coming gradually coming on stream coinciding with staged shutdown the energy supply situation is dire.

    On top of that we are now informed as a nation that most of our potential gas supply is tied up in export contracts creating problems for the expansion of gas fired power stations.

    What a mess while the governments who are divided over Climate Change with our PM who can be likened to the Roman emperor who fiddled while rome burned.

    Global security agent Donald Trump should be furious when its South Pacific partner cannot look after its home front.
    China must be laughing at our self inflicted folly following our gas and coal export greed which could backfire if national security in SE Asia/ Pacific region suddenly becomes an issue and I reckon it will!

    The urgent business for government is to either take over Hazlewood pending a staged shutdown while a new Federal government funded coal or gas fired power station is gradually brought on stream.

    The government(s) must do more to promote actions for householders and business on how to deal with anticipated power losses by providing extensive concessions for installation of solar panels with advanced Tesla type storage units as well as installation of generator sets.

    At the same time this vast nation must advance quickly for new gas/coal power stations as insurance measures for power supply before it is too late.

    Arguing over Sect 18c at this point in time is irrelevant while issues like energy security, immigration and home ownership stifles the everyday citizen to make a go of it while government fight over “Climate change”!

    As things stand Governments deserve to cop abuse!

  10. mark

    March 8, 2017 at 9:39 pm

    Yes, you need to remember you’re dealing with political pedant who expertly narrows down on the minutia as a means of distraction.

  11. garrystannus@hotmail.com

    March 7, 2017 at 7:39 pm

    Regardless of whether those last observations in my #15 had any merit or not, I also wanted to comment on another aspect of John B.’s article which touched on the issue of fairness – an issue which from time to time has attracted my interest and one which quite recently prompted me to do a little further thinking and some quick googling:

    I’d read John Hawkins’ recent research-based examination of the Abetz property interests and disclosures [Here: “The Senate Register of Interests, 83 Davey Street, Hobart and Senator Abetz …”]. Having read John H.’s article, I wondered what Eric A. might say (in his own defence) were he (‘in response’) to offer some defence on TT. We are not likely to find out, in my opinion, and I must make the observation that TT rarely has contributions from the major-parties’ ‘side of the fence’ (though from time to time, some Green MPs have posted articles and – more tellingly – have entered the cut and thrust of the comment threads … e.g. Cassy at the time of the TFA). But I don’t really see Eric A. as likely to try and argue his case on TT. Why would he? Surely TT has long ago declared itself as partisan … as I write, Eric A. and Andrew N. are both prominently vilified, occupying as they do, their billboard positions near TT’s masthead.

    John Biggs, in his article, quotes the Press Council’s…
    “Editors are not obliged to publish letters on demand. It is their responsibility, guided by fairness, balance and the public interest in the views submitted by correspondents to select and, where necessary, edit letters for publication”.

    That statement from the Press Council recalled to me the TT’s former…
    “Balance is appeasement, fairness is truth.”

    That ‘Balance v fairness‘ TT motto always intrigued me. Recently, prior to John’s article, I again explored this former TT motto and came across the following ( [See NPR Handbook Here] ):

    To tell the truest story possible, it is essential that we treat those we interview and report on with scrupulous fairness, guided by a spirit of professionalism. We make every effort to gather responses from those who are the subjects of criticism, unfavorable allegations or other negative assertions in our stories. What we broadcast and put online is edited for time and clarity. Whenever we quote, edit or otherwise interpret what people tell us, we aim to be faithful to their meaning, so our stories ring true to those we interview. In all our stories, especially matters of controversy, we strive to consider the strongest arguments we can find on all sides, seeking to deliver both nuance and clarity. Our goal is not to please those whom we report on or to produce stories that create the appearance of balance, but to seek the truth.

    We can distinguish (above) between NPR’s…
    “Our goal is not to please those whom we report on or to produce stories that create the appearance of balance, but to seek the truth.”

    …and the Press Council’s policy on letters:
    “…It is their responsibility, guided by fairness, balance and the public interest in the views submitted by correspondents to select and, where necessary, edit letters for publication”

    I also liked that NPR…
    “We make every effort to gather responses from those who are the subjects of criticism, unfavorable allegations or other negative assertions in our stories”

    I guess that’s linked to my wondering how Eric A. might have responded to John’s unpublished ‘letters in reply’. Furthermore, I would have thought that more than a few Mercury readers would want to read John’s response to Eric A.’s possible misrepresentations. Perhaps the Mercury’s Opinion Editor, David McKillick, made an ‘error of judgement’ in disallowing John Biggs’s proffered response/s to the Abetz ‘letter-to-the-editor’. Thankfully, Lindsay Tuffin gave John his due and allowed us to read what the Mercury did not.

  12. John Biggs

    March 6, 2017 at 5:57 pm

    #2 Yes – that was my point but the Press Council evidently doesn’t agree.

    #8 Thank you very much John. That letters says it all.

    #15 Thank you for your comments Garry especially 1. As for 2 it’s the old thing about hating the sin while loving the sinner. Not that Eric will ever love me — what he does is another of his tricks. He was referring not to just this issue of MIS plantations but of John Biggs’ “letter writing (which) will regrettably continue unabated …” Thus he is accusing my letter writing past, present and future (at least throughout 2017) of being factless and nasty: it’s a short step from there to a generalisation about the author of these letters. Isn’t calling my writing in general factless and 100 per cent wrong (when I’m not — see John H’s copy of the Abetz to Gay letter) another way of saying that I am lying? The Press Council took the view that Abetz was just referring to the one letter I had written when he was generalising from that to all my letters. The pub test would say that he is thus disparaging me personally — as indeed one reader said when asking me why I hadn’t replied.

  13. Peter Bright

    March 5, 2017 at 11:51 pm

    I agree with Philip Lowe at #16 where he correctly declares that what’s sometimes deliberately left out of newspapers is perhaps more interesting than that which is published.

    Mischievously suppressing important material constitutes propaganda by omission, and in the misnamed “free press” it’s very common.

    Sins of omission is a method used by newspaper owners to excercise control over the popular vote. It’s extremely effective at nobbling elections – just as intended.

  14. PHilip Lowe

    March 5, 2017 at 9:11 pm

    Mates,all over the world it isn’t what goes into newspapers that is interesting,it is what is left out.It sometimes sounds as if Tassie is slowly leaning towards a police state,with the help of the media.

  15. garrystannus@hotmail.com

    March 5, 2017 at 7:51 pm

    I I really liked John Biggs’ presentation … it is one of the better-crafted pieces to grace TT’s pages in recent times. John’s use of layout, formatting and blockquotes (inter alia), combined with consistency in the use of these tools, resulted, in my opinion, in an article of high readibility.

    And leaving aside these technical considerations, it was a very interesting read. I accepted as truth John’s first letter, and on reading Eric A’s reply, found apparent merit in that, and stupidly concluded in the interim that Eric A. had perhaps got the better of John. But John’s subsequent replies (unpublished until Tasmanian Times took the issue on board) again turned the tide: Now, not only was I relieved that John had shown (for example) how Eric A’s response had rationalised/covered-up his own Ministerial role in the promotion of the MIS forestry plantations, but I also took on board some of John’s remarks which reflected on how he himself (John) might have better tackled/worded his own various letters.

    II If there were one weakness in John’s article, I would suggest that it lies within his approach to the Press Council. Please pardon me if I get things wrong, but on my brief examination, it seems that John sought a right of reply … because … Eric A. had said that John was not telling the truth and thus that Eric A. had publicly accused “a private citizen of lying” and thus that he (John B.), “having been accused of lying”, had a right-of-reply to Eric B.’s own earlier reply.

    My own rereadings, yielded only that Eric A. had accused John B. of being “factless” and “100 per cent wrong”, yet John B. in his article, seems to have parlayed-up these two expressions up into an accusation that he, Eric A., was “getting into serious territory when a senior politician can publicly accuse a private citizen of lying when he is not”.

    I don’t think Eric A. accused John B. of not telling the truth and of lying: I think Eric Abetz accused John B. of being “factless” and 100% wrong. I don’t think that John’s Press Council case ‘had [strong-enough] legs’.

  16. mike seabrook

    March 5, 2017 at 6:31 pm

    don’t knock the mis forestry and other mis in tassie

    remember all that mostly mainland money which found its way down to tassie and kept the tassie economy afloat when the tassie economy was/still is stuffed.

    so much business activity, jobs for battling tassie blue collar workers and great prices for those astute/lucky enough to sell out in time before the balloon went up.

    the only rational activity which can save tassie now is to recommence construction of the gordon-below-franklin hydro scheme and pumped hydro storage on the upper henty not yet constructed.

    is eric/malcolm listening – forget jacqui and the tassie libs – they are ignorant.

  17. mike seabrook

    March 5, 2017 at 6:23 pm

    not with malcolm – remember the godwin gretch ballsup eric dropped malcolm in

  18. Studler van Surck

    March 5, 2017 at 3:31 pm

    There must be so many among the avid readers of the Mercury and its editorial team that would wish to see Eric immediately returned to a Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation (and what an unbelievable combination that was) portfolio. Immediately ticking the box for opening up all reserves in Tasmania for logging and conversion to plantations. Fast track a salmon farm or two for Wineglass Bay or off the Friendly Beaches and most importantly conserve his No1 spot on the Senate ticket.

  19. O'Brien

    March 5, 2017 at 3:10 pm

    Never forget forces of greed & darkness are capable of, willing to do, just about anything.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYupSHWEJxA

    The ‘Ballad of Peter Pumpkin Head’ puts it concisely, in our lingua Anglia even New Australian’s, Deutsch Volk can understand…

  20. O'Brien

    March 5, 2017 at 2:34 pm

    Thank our heavens above for Linz and his team of reporters, journalists & cadets* that would have given Bernstein & Woodward a run for their money. Where would Tassie be without Linz, Mr R.Flanagan, Colonel Wilkie, Mr D. Walsh, Neville at the petrol station and the ferals at the Soho tip shop?

    As per usual the used toilet roll of raw free market capitalism (Murdoch’s Mercury) have ignored, buried or lied about real issues of government/public service corruption, millions & millions of our tax dollars, criminal links to government/public service, threats upon honest citizens , etc., etc.

    Please find two links below that would otherwise be consigned to the ‘D-notice’ dustbin/shredder of dept. records. Yep, let’s all consider how important TT has become. If anyone should be nominated for Order of Australia it’s Linz. Or perhaps not. Maybe TT should be reported as subversive media? Perhaps Linz is a raging rabid red commie hell bent on facilitating Red Communist Chinese takeover? Oh, hang on Senator Abetz, James Packer & Tony Abbott already have that gig….

    http://www.examiner.com.au/story/4491871/barker-murder-link-to-carcass/?cs=95

    http://www.themercury.com.au/news/opinion/editorial-attack-on-free-speech/news-story/36b5b16af7c132ec45d6eeb67d60c350

    *Ed: There’s just moi, ageing lustful old drunk that I am. And Tassie’s best investigative journalist Bob Burton. TT could not exist without the wonderful and endless contributions of its citizen journos. Thank YOU girlzzzzzzzzzz and guyzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

  21. John Hawkins

    March 5, 2017 at 1:33 pm

    John Biggs

    Well done. As we have never met or spoken this may help in regard to your quest for the truth over MIS scams and the protection over nitens plantations which was vital to keeeping Gunns afloat.

    The Mercury is never going to rock the Liberal boat.

    Over to you Sir and well done Lindsay and Tasmanian Times for helping the cause of free speech.

    I attach a two page letter written on 22 June 2006 by Minister Abetz to John Gay CEO of Gunns Ltd.

    This letter was written by Abetz in his capacity as the newly minted Minister of Forests after Gay had given $50,000 to the Liberal Party on behalf of Gunns, a company then reliant on MIS scams and pushing a pulp mill.

    The publication of this sort of knowledge provides an excuse for a Minister of the Crown to send his Goons to your front door.

    I have the letter Gay wrote to Abetz on the 29 March 2006 immediately after he was appointed Minister and written before the money was paid.

    When this is suitably digested I will put it up on Tasmanian Times.

    John Hawkins

  22. Paul Tapp

    March 5, 2017 at 12:29 pm

    Yeah well Eric shoulda been at Triabunna at the meeting on Tassal plans yesterday. Mercury report said 50-100, but I’d say three times that many. Standing room only. Outside much mumbling about absence of politicians and from those some least likely to divert their political allegiances beyond major parties, the feeling was that the only thing that can spare this region’s degradation are Green politicians. Time then for a Green resurgence, time now for sinecured do-nothing politicians to move out and make way for a new wave. Green voices would have been well received yesterday. TV journo’s were about and were welcome and well received by the huge crowd. There were quite a few boos, directed at Mike Kent, where a motion was put that he resign his position, mainly as he has misunderstood the mood of the people and stupidly categorised those opposed to Tassal here are ‘shackies’. The Abetz’ of the political world have been around for far too long. I know I’ve quoted him before but I’m sure Mr Tennyson had visions of us today and the Abetz’ of today and the pathetic Labor and Liberal Parties of today and the environment-destroyers in mind when he said: “The old order changest, yielding place to new and God fulfils himself in many ways, lest one good custom should corrupt the world”. He also said “I perish by this people which I made.” The PM is not being apprised of the threat to beautiful Okehampton Bay and surrounds and to appoint Abetz to Cabinet for his ‘passion’ is no more than semantics. It really is time for a new order in this and Eric is too well entrenched in an ancient one to understand poetry.

  23. Chris

    March 5, 2017 at 12:04 pm

    Erica Betz would not fare at all well if he had to endure a Robson rotational ticket, he would disappear down the proverbial, where some would say he should be.
    The Mockery, owned by the Hacker should be irrelevant within a decade along with their servants, the Press Council.
    Erica Betz should be back in cabinet very very soon as the right wing bigots and Poor Lean rule their agenda, welcome to Trump Bull politics.

  24. TGC

    March 5, 2017 at 11:12 am

    Not sure what ‘John Biggs’ is on about- as a result of saying “I can’t get no satisfaction” with The Mercury he has an open go on TT- and in previous contributions he has favoured this outlet over the ‘Murdoch’ press- which many TT’ers say ‘no-one reads anymore’!

  25. john hayward

    March 5, 2017 at 11:08 am

    Returning Eric to a mere cabinet post would be a token gesture.

    A leader of his stature is urgently needed to lead us in the looming war with the Gay and Lesbian Kingdom of the Coral Sea Islands, of whose threat he recently alerted us.

    Eric is also the only Australian leader of sufficient gravitas to deal on an equal footing with the current leaders of the US and Russia.

    In these perilous times, it may be prudent to authorise charges of treason against irresponsible critics, such as Mr Biggs.

    John Hayward

  26. Keith Antonysen

    March 5, 2017 at 10:38 am

    I agree 100%, that the Tasmanian Times provides a good venue for free speech.

    Abetz, appears to be ideologically driven and does not take into account the wishes of the electorate. He is ideologically driven as shown by being closely allied to Abbott. The ideologically driven Abbott probably provided the worst government in Australian history; where on a weekly basis you could be assured of at least one stuff up. Sadly, the infighting in the Turnbull government has not allowed for “adult” government to shine through.

    For a long standing politician, Abetz obtained a very ordinary below the line vote at the last election as John has stated.

  27. Geoff Capper

    March 5, 2017 at 10:34 am

    Don’t they have a duty to publish the letter in order to correct the public record, given that Abetz has made provably false claims?

  28. phill Parsons

    March 5, 2017 at 9:47 am

    You sure took on a nit and a gnat and the mercury misses out on reader interest by supporting Abetz as the final arbiter.

    Fortunately reader have a multiplicity of choices for news nowadays that excludes paying for a bunch of carbon sinking fish and chip wrappers masquerading as a newspaper.

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