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


The Talented Mr Michael Ferguson: Onward Christian Soldiers

First published May 3

In his election pamphlet Michael Ferguson made his usual claim for “Christian” values and moral “integrity” before the arresting claim that he was also a “scientist”. Startling because he has neither conducted original research nor published in any peer-reviewed journal. And more startling because he is an avowed Creationist.

In fact he was previously a rather pedestrian and unoriginal science teacher. His exaggeration can be dismissed as a bit of political fudging, a minor political porky, but Michael Ferguson has a curious habit in this area. In 2006 Mr Ferguson claimed on both the Tasmanian Liberal website and his own that he was “awarded the Order of the British Empire … for community service”.

The OBE, a prestigious British award, is a considerable claim. The truth was he was given an award for “community service” in 2001 by chums in the Order of the British Empire Association, a local imperial anachronism, not remotely the same as an actual OBE.

So was this a naïve error or simply a piece of fudging and minor aggrandisement? Like the claim of being a “scientist” it implies substance that is illusory yet it grants rare insight into the character of the person – a sad glimpse into personal inadequacy and self-delusion.

This becomes particularly pertinent when someone claims the high moral ground of truth and Christian integrity, of course. Most politicians of sincere Christian persuasion rarely headline their faith. Declaring faith as a political qualification is a bit like a Boy Scout badge for bugling – it trumpets something but no-one’s quite sure what. After all the Bible states, by their fruits shall you know them, so such posturing is a parody of faith.

Again the relevance only becomes apparent in an electoral context. During the last State election, Michael Ferguson hung banners prominently with those of the gambling lobby on pub sites. It is bizarre that someone of Christian persuasion would align so deliberately with rapacious exploitation of the most vulnerable in our society for simple political gain. After all it was Jesus who drove out the spivs and moneymen from the temple.

But like Patricia Highsmith’s, Tom Ripley in the 1956 “Talented Mr Ripley”, Michael Ferguson has a “talent” for chameleon transformation, an ability to elide, alter and align, that deflects attention from fundamental inner failing. Why else would someone so consistently engage in such petty inflation and needless exaggeration?

It is in his Health portfolio that Michael Ferguson has displayed spectacular inability. On taking office in 2013 he made a fanfare of sweeping changes to centralise hospital administration in Launceston. Four years later, just before the State election, he announced he would dismantle the whole edifice. It was a spectacular admission of failure.

It has been a tale of administrative tension centring on ministerial interference, a story of staff deserting the system, of indecision leading to alarming criticism by specialist colleges. In the Royal Hobart, the College of Psychiatrists have harshly criticised psychiatric arrangements in the refurbished hospital, a message telegraphed around the fraternity to the detriment of Tasmania.

In Launceston provision of emergency training accreditation has, alarmingly, been seriously threatened, again following staff resignations. A vital, core hospital function, this is no idle issue and again it places the reputation of the hospital in doubt with the wider medical fraternity.

Contradictions by Michael Ferguson following public statements by senior staff has left the situation muddied in the public mind. An unease prevails and concerned medical staff are privately seething. And all the while Michael Ferguson drags his Neanderthal knuckles in a fugue of indecision and denial. He is no longer a Creationist myth.

It is no exaggeration to describe hospital health in Tasmania as in crisis. On taking office the Hodgman government savaged hospital funding, as did the Abbott government, only to announce major restored funding in the recent election. This form of political fiscal pantomime plays havoc with long term planning and staffing and telegraphs uncertainty around the professions. And the community.

In the mean time the “talented” Mr Ferguson, inflated by his own self-estimation and subverted by ineptitude, blithely blunders on turning health into prospective and continuing dysfunction. Such failed ministerial leadership and direction undermines functional policy and will inevitably seriously damage the government’s public performance.

*Dr Michael Powell is Adjunct Researcher, Humanities, University of Tasmania. He is Co-joint Senior Lecturer, Humanities, University of Newcastle

Examiner: Housing Minister says colleagues will not benefit from new housing scheme New Housing Minister Roger Jaensch says the Deputy Premier and Health Minister, who both own Airbnb properties, will not benefit from a $13,000 scheme for landlords to encourage them to rent their properties to low income earners. In Parliament on Wednesday Mr Jaensch was questioned by Labor leader Rebecca White as to whether Mr Rockliff and Mr Ferguson would be eligible for the scheme, and whether they had declared a conflict of interest when it was being discussed …

Examiner: OPINION: Déjà vu, as female MPs forge a new path forward

ABC: Liberal backbencher Julia Banks challenged to live on Youth Allowance payments after ‘insulting’ comments Could you live on $40 a day? Liberal backbencher Julia Banks says she could, and now she is being challenged to do exactly that by someone doing it for real …

Andrew Wilkie: The Proof’s in … Tasmanian government incapable of safeguarding animal welfare The Independent Member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, will discuss the Tasmanian Government’s pattern of incompetence or disregard when it comes to animal welfare, as evidenced by there now being at least four unresolved instances of animal cruelty …

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


  1. MjF

    May 10, 2018 at 11:00 pm

    Two telling factors in the poms Deloitte analysis :

    1) In 2015/16 the average per annum earn for Tas airbnb properties was just $7,120. Considering this accommodation has to be furnished and all services provided at the landowner cost, I think this level of return may not be all that cost effective. This return equates to $137 per week while funding all utilities consumed. False economy. Better off locking in renters.

    2) 80% of Airbnb’s across Australia have the hosts sharing their properties with guests, ie room or rooms only being hired. How many of these arrangements were previously in the long term rental market ?

    I suggest very few.

    Interesting report all the same.

  2. Wining Pom

    May 10, 2018 at 4:48 pm

    #19 … Well, if the media are biased, how about this:


    If X amount of homes have gone from rental to Airbnb I would take a guess that the same amount of homes have been lost to the domestic rental market.

  3. Harry

    May 10, 2018 at 3:02 pm

    Since rental properties have been transformed into Airbnb destinations, does Aurora continue charging tariffs at the standard residential rate or are the owners paying commercial rates as the status of the property has altered?
    Instead of the government offering handouts to landlords, why not devise a new tax aimed at the very lucrative Airbnb operations?

  4. MjF

    May 10, 2018 at 2:36 pm

    #18 … Thanks, Pom.

    The ABC story is clearly biased and deceptive.

    It states the tenant was evicted, but provides no evidence of that. It also claims this is an example of long term rentals reverting to short term stays. Again no evidence is presented to support that claim. The landlord’s reason for vacating was for renovations. Possible use as airbnb was also included, but is irrelevant as that may in fact not happen.

    I’m not sure of what the tenancy legislation in Tasmania states, but the 42 days notice to leave in the landlord’s letter suggests to me the legislated minimum period of notification required when a rental is to be vacated was observed. The wording also suggests to me this was not an ‘eviction’ situation as the ABC story states.

    More media rubbish.

  5. Wining Pom

    May 9, 2018 at 10:07 pm

    #17 … I believe she had been there for some while. I heard the story on the ABC but it doesn’t say that in the article I posted.

  6. MjF

    May 9, 2018 at 8:34 pm

    #15 … You make a good point WP re knowing the facts.

    In your example, do we know if a rental agreement is in place to protect tenant and landlord positions, end of lease, or just no lease ?

  7. Leonard Colquhoun

    May 9, 2018 at 6:05 pm

    Hasn’t there been some criticism of State governments (not sure whether it applies here) for restricting too severely the land available for housing?

  8. Wining Pom

    May 9, 2018 at 4:37 pm

    TGC, Airbnb has caused the housing shortage – http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-03-28/concerns-airbnb-effect-is-spreading-to-outer-hobart-suburbs/9594422

    ‘Airbnb is spreading into Hobart’s outer suburbs, leading to more long-term rentals being taken off the housing market, Tasmania’s tenants union’ says.

    The union was contacted by a tenant in Moonah in Hobart’s outer suburbs who was evicted because the landlord wanted to use the property as an Airbnb rental.

    “Please note that I am giving you 42 days’ notice to vacate the premises on a permanent basis … I wish to do some renovating and possibly using premises for Airbnb,” the letter read.’

    It really does help in a debate to know some facts.

  9. Chris

    May 9, 2018 at 1:56 pm

    Comments #1 and #8

    This article by Wolf St adds a bit of context to TGC’s comments giving unqualified support to AirBNB in Tasmania …


  10. Snowy

    May 6, 2018 at 2:44 am

    #8: No you don’t…as per your #1. “Investing in a property they could then rent out to very needy constituents”. Airbnb is not designed for constituents, or the needy. In fact, it is creating needy constituents.

  11. Soapy Dodd

    May 5, 2018 at 4:55 pm

    Isn’t it more likely that the Minister only claims to be Christian in order to attract the votes of that sector? They don’t care about any ‘pearly gates dilemma’ because they don’t believe in them, surely.

    Lobajewski, and others who study psychopathy, have alerted us to the psychopaths’ tendency to claim virtue by joining some public group (eg Ruddock joining Amnesty International) and getting into the early development phase of political parties as a cable car to power.

  12. Peter Black

    May 4, 2018 at 12:29 am

    # 10 … Yes elk.
    And so will Guy Barnet, who in his election leaflet spoke of his Christian, Community and Family values.

  13. elk

    May 3, 2018 at 1:29 pm

    Michael Ferguson will fear the day of judgement as per his Christian beliefs.

    When he meets his maker he will have to explain his endorsement in allowing profit from the misery of pokies addiction, and that he cannot escape the judgement of his God.

  14. TGC

    May 2, 2018 at 6:58 pm

    Whoopee #3! Sock it to ’em ..

  15. TGC

    May 2, 2018 at 6:55 pm

    #2 … “You don’t really understand Airbnb, do you, Trev?”

    Yes I do – and Rebecca White took pride in broadcasting no Labor MPs are involved in the ‘industry’.

    Where’s the pride in not having the initiative to invest in something that can contribute towards a good industry – as well as provide a financial return? And if you are a socialist and can see that there’s a need – currently housing required – transfer that investment (second house) into accommodation for those in need.

    ‘Don’t talk of stars shining above …’

  16. Jean

    May 2, 2018 at 6:53 pm

    I can vouch for the ‘run of the mill’ science teacher.

    I also spent several years recently while working at Hansard listening to Michael F in committees. His method with any opponent was to put them down in the most arrogant, sarcastic, albeit “extremely polite” manner.

    I may be even more biased than some because in 2004 when he was first elected to the House of Reps, I had just become state president of the Teachers’ Union. An appointment was made for me to see him and he treated me in the same cringingly polite but incredibly arrogant and condescending manner. Perhaps “Creationist” should really read “Self-creationist”.

  17. Studler van Surck

    May 2, 2018 at 5:29 pm

    Yes John, you have hit the nail on the head.

    Not only did Michael feature as a scientist and an OBE, he is a doctor, a reverend and a stainless saint. All that however would not automatically guarantee the blessing of TGC which can only be earned by producing the receipt for current membership of the fast dwindling Hodgman Appreciation Society.

  18. Tim Thorne

    May 2, 2018 at 4:36 pm

    [b]O[/b]nly [b]B[/b]ullshit [b]E[/b]mitted.

  19. john hayward

    May 2, 2018 at 3:06 pm

    Does not Michael doctor facts on a regular basis?

    Is Michael not a soul brother to a stable genius?

    Does he not minister to the needs of those needing temporary accommodation?

    Did Michael not swear the Hippocratic Oath in joining the Tas Libs, which renders all its adherents immune to the stain of sin?

    Is he not endorsed by no less a moral authority than TGC?


    John Hayward

  20. Leonard Colquhoun

    May 2, 2018 at 1:58 pm

    “Could you live on $40 a day? Liberal backbencher Julia Banks says she could, and now she is being challenged to do exactly that by someone doing it for real …” This looks like a challenge for both challenger and challenged ^.

    Here’s another two …

    ~ Take ALP MPs who outside their electorates in quintile 1 or 2 areas, while claiming to represent voters in quintile 5 areas: how about they shift to live in their actual electorates and make public statutory declarations that they will so move by 30 June, 2018;

    ~ To show that they not all “Words! Words! Words!”*, how about all ALP MPs publicly – very publicly – demonstrate that all their parliamentary perks, lurks, entitlements and other rortable payments are donated to organisations dealing with the homeless?

    ^ what a productive pair of suffixes this has evolved into!

    * otherwise they deserve the contempt in the rest of Eliza Doolittle’s declaration.

  21. Spike Pedestal

    May 2, 2018 at 1:29 pm

    You don’t really understand Airbnb, do you, Trev?

  22. TGC

    May 2, 2018 at 12:50 pm

    It was disappointing to have Labor leader Rebecca White admit no-one on the Labor team had any ‘Airbnb’ properties.
    These MP’s are on very substantial salaries and ought to be able to invest the residue over their living costs in ways which can benefit the community which- as Socialist comrades – they see as a priority.
    Investing in a property they could then rent out to very needy constituents would be a practical sign of the phiosophy which they broadcast when seekinbg election.
    It is not something of which to indicate sone sort of ‘pride’ that they bury their ‘talents’
    I know a few of these Labor chappies- chapesses- and they are settled on substantial acreages and drive top of the line 4wheel drives -towing big boats-.
    They are not believers in the “you can’t take it with you” dictum.

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