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

Charles Wooley

Machiavelli was alive and well in the Hobart Tally Room last Saturday …

Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) was an Italian Renaissance writer whose great contribution to history was to give politicians a bad name.

He was the first political scientist and in his most famous book ‘The Prince’, Machiavelli sanctioned the use of deceit, trickery, terror and even murder as legitimate tools of government.

Five hundred years later not much has changed.

Machiavelli was alive and well in the Hobart Tally Room last Saturday when I ran into an old friend, the long retired Tasmanian Labor Senator, Terry Aulich. Channeling Machiavelli he suggested that the ALP would have been wiser to keep its anti-pokies policy quiet until the last few days of the campaign.

‘MacAulich’ was quite right. With a Machiavellian strategy Labor could have gained the votes of a large number of Tasmanians who care about the damage pokies do while denying the powerful gambling lobby the time to marshal its forces and spend its vast winnings on a very effective campaign.

Elections are full of promises never redeemed in office (like fixing hospitals and educating the masses) so why is it any worse to enact undisclosed policies?

That same election night a reformed Tasmanian advertising executive (who now only does good works) told me that he agreed that the cause had been just but the battle unwinnable.

“Anyone in advertising could see that coming,” he told me. “The problem is there are no wise old heads in the Labor machine and the campaign was run by kids. You can have a young leader by all means, but you need a bit of cynical experience behind the scenes in the smoke-filled room. But there’s no smoking now and not much good old fashioned political cunning.”

My Machiavellian informants were in the Hobart Tally Room along with just about everyone else past and present in state politics. The Tally Room now only exists in Tasmania and like the Tasmanian devil and the red handfish is something else we should preserve. In our tiny polity it is great that ordinary punters can mix with politicians (the victors and the vanquished) and watch the process of democracy in action. In between making jokes about a place called Circular Head (they still can’t resist cranial jokes about our state) the visiting mainland broadcasters all enthused about the marvellous time warp of our Tally Room.

My reformed advertising mate saw the Labor pokies disaster coming. He has a world-weary acceptance of the things that can’t be changed in Tasmania.

“But what has upset me is the exploitation of that great Tasmanian icon, David Foster. He’s a decent bloke but advertisers keep recruiting him for divisive issues. His tragedy is that he is very good at communicating with the masses. Something at which Tasmania business leaders and politicians are spectacularly bad.”

In his more cynical younger days the adman coined the term ‘a beer and a ham sandwich’ to describe how cheaply celebrity could be purchased in Tasmania to spruik a cause or product. I wonder if they looked after David? He’s been a battler all his life. He once told me how cash-strapped he was after first winning the World Woodchopping Championship, which he then held for 20 years straight. It was an extraordinary athletic achievement but David remembers coming home crowned in glory but broke. He laughed, “Mate I was the bloody world champion but I couldn’t find a job. I eventually got work cleaning dunnies. Imagine that, the world champion cleaning public loos.”
Later he battled valiantly but in vain to keep afloat his dream, the Australian Axe man’s Hall of Fame in Latrobe, which celebrated Tasmania’s woodchopping heritage. The local council gave him no support.

I’ve filmed with David who is always generous to a fault with his time. Far from giving him ‘a beer and a ham sandwich’ he and his generous wife Jan fed me, which was an unforgettable experience. The large, jolly family, all of them athletes with the axe and the cross-saw sat around a table groaning with food. There was shouting and noisy hilarity until the starter’s gun.

Then there was sudden calm as massive amounts of food were inhaled in absolute silence. Dining with this good-hearted family of Tasmanian champions was an unforgettable experience.

I would hate those of you who are disappointed by the failure of the anti-pokies campaign to blame David. It was doomed to failure anyway. Rather than recriminate is there something we could do for big Dave Foster that would better befit his iconic status? Former Senator Terry Aulich put aside his copy of Machiavelli’s ‘Prince’ for a moment to suggest that there is indeed.

“A prophet is rarely honoured in his own land and so too apparently an axe-man. The government might recognise an unpaid debt here. This decent man, who has gone for so long unrewarded needs to be given an equally decent, respectable and fulfilling Tasmanian project to run with.”

As we ‘take Tasmania to the next level’ lets find something there for the big bloke.

*Charles Wooley is a legend of Australian journalism, partly through his history with Sixty Minutes. His columns on Tasmanian Times are HERE

EARLIER on Tasmanian Times …

And And this is a leading light in the battle to save pokies …

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


  1. Ted Mead

    March 13, 2018 at 10:33 pm

    Well Charles, I admire your quirky humorous talent, however all writers are probably destined to pen an absolute fizzer at some stage, and I’d have to admit this is probably yours!

    No doubt you feel sympathy for a man who you believe is better than his media expressions and business associates.

    But should a man be judged by his fame or his appeal and actions?

    If you deal with the devil then you should expect to get burnt!

    I pity those ‘god-drilling’ gullible oil shareholders, and the pokie-induced famine suffering families.

    Mr Foster is in desperate need for some serious moral guidance.

    Good bloke or not – a vocation of cleaning dunnies may be his just karma!

  2. Robin Charles Halton

    March 13, 2018 at 12:40 am

    #9 Greg, Foster is not a fool but can be a bit of a devil using his natural communication skills can be put to any use that will deliver any message that politicians and business representatives havent much hope of convincing the general public.

    I did not believe the message on pokies and I doubt if Foster would either!
    The scary stuff really was about avoiding another hung parliament, people made their choice to drop their love of the Greens and voted for Labor instead, hence their marginal lift in voter support!

    To be truthful, I couldnt give a stuff about the pokies message either, my vote for Liberals was more about resentment for Labor’s Gidding when she never bothered to properly explore for a suitable greenfield site for a new Hobart public hospital as Health Minister as well as her poor understanding of the Peace Talks process by buggering up our state land tenure system to favor her Greens partners desire for more Reserves at the same time denying sufficient access to reliable resource for timber production from native forest.

    Those two issues so far have influenced me to give up altogether on Labor and as far as I am concerned the Greens are of no further value within our political system by protesting and protesting and relentlessly protesting!

    Getting back to David Foster, Jack Lumber at #7 as a good forestry man may recall when David teamed up with FC/FT back in the late 1980’s as I recall and made an excellent promotional Forest Practices Code film on soils and water protection realistically showing field examples of good practice with some humor and mateship thrown in to attract wider audience participation.
    It was a powerful message aimed at the forest industry for the benefit the forest industry and smaller private land owners for going foward to get their environmental act together.

    It worked as it brought with it many initiatives, especially coming from the younger generation of loggers who also had numerous field training sessions and audits per the FPA in order to protect water and soil from harm due to logging.

    Foster will remain as a very effective communicator,devilish or not, you are the judge as to whether or not you believe the message or simply ignore it. Common sense should tell the truth in the message.

    I will bet big money that Foster does not blow money on pokies but he would instead loves to have a beer or to at his local pub!

  3. John Biggs

    March 12, 2018 at 3:56 pm

    #9 … Greg, you paint a depressing picture but but I fear you are absolutely right.

  4. Greg James

    March 12, 2018 at 1:07 pm

    Charles it is not as simple as you portray the pokies issue. From October last year we (the anti-pokies brigade) knew that the ALP was fighting itself and it only needed a push and a shove to have them revise their pokies policy to what it is now. We created the opportunity and they bravely took it on.
    Aulich’s analysis is disingenuous, always wanting to play the long game to no beneficial effect or result, he and others had the ALP then play dead on the issue. Only one candidate mentioned the issue in their media, the rest ran like chickens knowing full well how Federal Hotels will deal with them in the future. White only mentioned pokies when asked. They couldn’t think the events through, they have no political intelligence.
    Your Adman is right the current ALP politicians cannot argue a point, they do not develop argument, organise the public, involve themselves in issues. They are kids, impotent and like the old adage ‘age, treachery and money will always overcome youth and inexperience’, they succumbed to the noise.
    Note their current complete silence or ability to make any waves about the corrupting money donated to the THA.
    Imagine if there was no pokies issue, then the result would have been the same. We fought the issue to a standstill. The pokies spent 10 times what we did, they lied, they wrapped their jobs argument in the Australian flag and using fools like Foster, presented misinformation as truth. (Do you remember his support for the dumbest of ALP candidates Brenton Best?)
    The Pokies lobby, Federal Hotels and Love your Local intimidated the Liberal candidates into complete silence on the issue. Do you think in their hearts Petrusma, Ferguson, Hickey or Barnett care one iota about the pokies, it was embarrassing to them or should have been. Recognise this as corruption, call it out these people are weak, spineless and corrupted by their involvement. To be incriminated in the blackmail and intimidation of the Pokies Lobby, shows how cheaply they could all be bought.

  5. spikey

    March 12, 2018 at 12:41 am

    yeah jackie
    i guess we’re all entitled to our opinions
    what makes great men
    and what makes great manipulators
    problem being
    you talk crap for 30 years
    it catches up with you
    one man’s spin
    is another’s blatant lies
    for personal, political and financial gain
    at any cost

    so buddy, where do you sit?
    on the fence of delusion
    ready to push your neighbour over?
    or help him across?

    no chance at all anyone pulled wool over your eyes
    you’re acting in the best interests
    of as much humanity
    as you have to offer

  6. Jack Lumber

    March 11, 2018 at 9:20 pm

    As always Charles W makes glaring omissions to make his narrative “work”

    David was a cleaner and discovered by the PR department of APPM and was sponsored, quite well, to travel around Australia to promote wood chopping, wood-chipping and himself. He got a car, a generous salary and had his travel expenses paid .

    Don’t blame Latrobe for the failure of the Hall of Fame . The public didn’t visit it . Simple economics.

    A good man who is an icon of his chosen sport, but not unskilled in the workings of PR and spin. Just like Wooley.

  7. john hayward

    March 11, 2018 at 7:59 pm

    Though Machiavelli may have preceded Will by half a millennium chronologically, he is about the same time span ahead in political sophistication. In terms of commitment to democratic principles they are probably neck-and-neck.

    John Hayward

  8. Chris Sharples

    March 11, 2018 at 6:50 pm

    The last advertising campaign I remember David Foster supporting was Malcolm Benders “Inspired by God” oil drilling nonsense. I wonder how many Tasmanian battlers gave their money to Malcolm’s company on David’s say-so? They will certainly never see any of it back.

    I suspect David Foster is (probably) well-meaning but just plain simple. Somebody should sit him down and tell that with (local) fame and (minor) celebrity status comes responsibility. He would do well to think about that before the next time he ignorantly spruiks for the greedies.

  9. Robin Charles Halton

    March 11, 2018 at 4:09 pm

    A major blue by Labor to support an anti pokies stance which seemed to be its main reason to seek election.

    Although I dont support pokies I was not stupid enough to vote for Labor given the economy was already going pretty well under the Liberals. T
    That is despite an example of few hiccups with fish farming for which I hope the Liberals will take a tougher stance exprcting to far better results from existing salmon farm concerns even if it means exiting or alternatively resting Macquarie Harbour and then if the environmental outcome is successful then only with limited stockings.

    Labor should kick themselves, not follow Mr Wilkie who has effectively led Labor astray!
    Far better for Ms White to have focused on a social issue such as public housing issues for which both successive Liberal and Labor governments have been ignoring for decades by reducing available public housing stock.

    Liberals will take the credit for instigating a Public Housing Summit, hopefully there will be snappy action to follow with construction of a range of suitable accomodation over a broader area of the State where ever demand is high.

    With the advent of unlimited Air B&B in the State the affordable housing and rental crisis was blatantly obvious well before the election!

  10. stephen menadue

    March 11, 2018 at 4:05 pm

    Whether he was paid, paid enough or paid a lot, he supported the pro-pokies campaign. If it was coming from passion then he stands as opposition to the anti-pokies campaign. If he was doing it because he needed some money to live on then he stands as the opposition, but deserves to be cut down because issues like this deserve champions who FEEL for the subject.

    If he is so naive as to be suckered in by the pro-pokies entities, then I hope he has learned a valuable lesson – namely when you are paid to support an issue you need to have your heart in it, and secondly those who pay you will throw you out when they are finished with you.

    Basically, he CHOSE to support the enemy and now his credibility will be whatever it will be.

  11. John Biggs

    March 11, 2018 at 1:53 pm

    Come on Charles you are patronising the man. He has had plenty of recognition for his sporting efforts. To be leading a disingenuous “Love your Local” when pokies are inimical to social life in your local as David must well know — for if he doesn’t then he hasn’t been in many pubs and has been used by the hospitality industry and presumably well paid for it.

    But I think Aulich is right. Labor shouldn’t have given the THA and Liberals so much time to organise their disgraceful and corrupt campaign

  12. Christopher Nagle

    March 11, 2018 at 1:16 pm

    Oh dear, another heart warming story of the tragedy of last Saturday; more like a fiasco I would have thought.

    The vast majority of people who quote Machiavelli as a byword for heartless and cynical Realpolitic haven’t read ‘The Prince’ and had a chance to appreciate his intellectual clarity when it comes to not only getting and keeping power, but using it wisely to optimize outcomes, having regard to all the circumstances.

    That is what the ALP, Greens and supporters signally failed to do during the last election at a number of levels, which meant the other side didn’t win it so much as the ideologically worthy ones lost it.

    They clutched defeat out of the jaws of victory, are now feeling sorry for themselves and blaming everyone and everything else except their own foolish lack of judgement.

    Tasmania has a very small population, a narrowly based economy that has had to (and quite properly) give up old growth forestry as an economic plank and stop the expansion of hydro, a relatively poorly educated populace and a government that doesn’t have much money.

    The educated petty bourgeois cogniscenti can appreciate that gambling is just burning cash and giving idiots with poor life habits (sorry, disadvantaged poor thing ‘addicts’ who can’t help it) the chance to show just how easily they and their money can be parted.

    And yes, while when asked about this vice everyone tut tuts and says how ‘regrettable’ the bottom end social effects of gambling are, the quiet truth is, they rather like the ‘occasional flutter’ on the pokies to spruce up their night out on the town.

    Like all petty bourgeois disapprovers of vice, the goodbody dogooders know that the wages of sin are high. The profits are enormous, as are the taxes. Cash strapped governments get hooked too; all of them….

    Anyone who is not a complete moron and not overwhelmed by their morality can see that getting rid of the pokies will cause a fiscal hole. But this constituency doesn’t want a big burgeoning replacement tourist industry with tower blocks and mountain railcar rides because they spoil their views (sorry, are environmentally ‘insensitive’) and will turn the sleepy little hollow into a tourist soiled Venice of The South, that actually threatens the place with the catastrophe of economic success!

    But being determined to keep themselves virtuously out of power, the troglodytes on other side will inevitably get to oversee it, and they can be relied on to make as big an environmental mess of it as humanly possible.

    Oh, and did I mention that the tourists, particularly the Chinese, are rather fond of gambling…?

    But that is not the worst of it. The pokies industry is powerful and wealthy, which means that if it is threatened, it will defend itself with lots of its dirty money, as you do. And you wouldn’t need to be Socrates or Aristotle to work that out in advance and to know with absolute certainty that an unprepared full frontal assault would be suicidal, even if you do own the moral high ground.

    A well entrenched perceived evil cannot be brought down easily or quickly. It has to be weakened, outflanked, undermined and thoroughly blitzed FIRST.

    And if you do manage to take the beast down, you also have to have a plausible alternative source of government income and industry development.

    Tourism is going to be that ‘development’ and inevitably, that will involve ‘environmental’ compromises.

    The good news is that if it is even vaguely properly managed, it does not pose the sort of existential threat that the forestry industry does. And it will provide funding for environmental protection, including being fiscally able to go after the fish farming industry and close it down if it does not clean up its act.

    Having a bit of fat in the fiscal system makes governments of all descriptions much more ‘courageous’ with environmentally delinquent industries.

    Oh, and tourism brings new citizens of the most excellent, industrious and enterprising type, whose children and grandchildren will be an enormous asset to little Tasmania, most of whom will gamble responsibly, like most of the rest of us do already.

    Gambling is almost inevitably going to be the subject of compromise, as is dealing with and managing fools and their money. A much more disciplined system of education and socialization might be a start…

    “Oh dear, we can’t have ‘repressive’ and ‘authoritarian’ stuff like that, can we children?”

    “No Miss!”

Leave a Reply

To Top