John Hawkins* Chudleigh. Pic: of Eric Abetz from his website. First pub: Jan 16
18.01.17 4:30 am
Eric Abetz was the Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation in the Howard Government from 27 January 2006 to 3 December 2007. One could safely say that on all the available evidence Abetz was a disaster in this portfolio - think Managed Investment Schemes, tax scams protected and promoted by Abetz against the advice of the Tax Department leading to the eventual bankruptcy of Great Southern, Gunns, Wilmot, FEA and the loss of billions by both the ATO and investors.
Bob Hawkins* Pic*
17.01.17 4:00 am
Huon Valley Guessing Games A fellow critic of Huon Valley Council emailed me at the turn of the year. He said I should write an article headed ‘2016: Not A good Year in the Life of the HVC’. I found his suggestion intriguing: how could two people on the same side of an argument view things so differently?
Martyn Goddard* Pic* First published January 16
17.01.17 3:45 am
Long ago ‒ 150 years or more ‒ it was noticed that pregnant women whose children were delivered by doctors were much more likely to die of childbed fever than those tended by midwives …
The rates at which doctors, nurses and other staff wash their hands depends on the culture of the hospital. At the Royal Hobart Hospital some determined infectious diseases physicians and nurses have instilled in that hospital such a culture. According to national figures just released, the rate at the RHH is well below the average of its peer-group hospitals elsewhere in Australia. At the Launceston General Hospital, though, the situation appears to be different. Its rates were well above the average, and have been for several years …
Bob Hawkins* Pic*
16.01.17 5:10 am
At the turn of the year, my $117-a-week age pension disappears. I am not about to whinge that, at 78, I will be plunged into poverty and rendered unable to pay my way through whatever is left of my very fortunate life …
If Turnbull and his cronies had told me they were taking away my age pension because it was desperately needed to encourage, say, carbon-emission reduction, I would not have minded in the least. But to know that my $100-plus a week pension payment has been clawed back to go straight into the handout barrel that will help finance Adani’s assault on the Great Barrier Reef and a further spewing of fossil carbon into the atmosphere!
16.01.17 5:00 am
All across the globe there is a silent killer. It invades our everyday lives, outlives us, and invariably threatens all marine life on earth. Be aware, for it lurks and lingers in many durable shapes, and some of its pernicious forms may take centuries to degrade into minute particles …
Father Rod Bower of Gosford Anglican Diocese. Pic*
16.01.17 4:45 am
Speeches for Dead Manus Refugee Faysal Ahmed from Vigil Sydney 30/12/16 6pm Faysal Ishak Ahmed was told that there was nothing wrong, and now he is dead. As we now know, Faysal was told a devastating, and ultimately fatal lie.
Christopher Nagle*, writing.com Pic*
16.01.17 4:33 am
This essay started life as a response to Keith Antonysen’s excellent article on ‘Abrupt Climate Change’ in the Tasmanian Times: HERE . It made riveting reading as to just how perilous our collective future is becoming.
16.01.17 3:45 am
In the aftermath of reported incidents of sexual assault on women, a cultural dialogue and action is desperately needed …
Dr Kathryn Barnsley*, http://www.smokefreetasmania.com
16.01.17 3:30 am
E-cigarettes are not safe …
Michelle Terry* Pic: Kea feeds ... pic by Clyde Graf
16.01.17 3:15 am
... From Fiddling while Rome burns ... Isn’t it just incredible that the people of New Zealand are threatened with deadly poison in their water supplies, on their walking tracks, within the school holidays, and repeatedly over the years close to rural communities, and that this is affecting their ability to gather food from the Public Land? …
16.01.17 3:00 am
Dear Chilliwops, At the start of a new year I thought I would summarise some of the issues I have raised with you in my letters over the last year …
Ted Mead* 'Toon: Leunig, http://www.leunig.com.au/ used with permission
15.01.17 4:05 am
Trolling is the neo wave of inciting discord. This action appears in all forms of online news, blogs and social media. In many aspects it is destroying the wonders of the Internet messaging forums. So what can be done … ?
13.01.17 9:45 am
Used with permission ...
Bob Burton* First published December 31
05.01.17 3:14 pm
“Retail frenzy: Tasmanians set for $52m Boxing Day blast,” screamed the front-page of the Boxing Day edition of the Mercury, a headline which would have delighted the major retailers whose advertisements accounted for over one-third of the newspaper’s pages that day ... In the world of corporate public relations and marketing a perennial challenge is in repackaging commercial events up to be sufficiently newsworthy in order to garner sales-boosting free media coverage. If the coverage of the Boxing Day sales is anything to go by, PR is winning over journalism big time as narrow corporate financial self-interest is conflated with the public interest.
• Grant in Comments: How can anyone not love the retail and real estate puff pieces that appear regularly in the Mercury? I think they are fantastic and hope everyone went to the Boxing Day sales to keep the cash registers ringing. It’s all that matters surely?
• Paul Carter in Comments: This analysis is worthy but outdated. These erudite energies are best focussed elsewhere. Journalism long ago left the building. The Mercury before it disappears is on track to become a surburban freebie, a Hobart shopper, with 70% ad to 30% editorial content. Its editor rose to that level of journalism and its news editor isn’t a journalist. So I don’t think they share your concern about “journalism”. They are salarymen and women, content with their journalistic standard. They are not crusaders for your journalism. The business’s only lifeline, the digital paywall, is doomed to fail when so much better is available for free and core advertisers develop their own digital projection platforms for a completely digital savvy audience. For the Mercury, the band is still playing but there’s no more lifeboats. They are presently managing decline. So you are fighting a good fight. It’s just that the fight at this location finished long ago. The dogs bark, but the caravan goes on.
01.01.17 4:39 am
The photos were all taken on my property at Loyetea, North West Coast …
Bob Burton* 'Toon: Leunig, http://www.leunig.com.au/ used with permission ...
28.12.16 5:13 am
Most people in Tasmania could be forgiven for not realising that the local media landscape may be about to go through a dramatic shake-up if the Senate bows to pressure from the big private media companies and allows much greater media consolidation. One effect of the demise of newspapers is likely to be that it emboldens those who already wield significant influence behind the scenes – government spin doctors, lobbyists, political donors and powerful lobby groups – to believe that they can get away with far more with little risk of being publicly exposed.
23.12.16 11:19 am
First of all a huge thanks to the monthly supporters including JB, PJB, AD, AB, Anon, Anon, Anon, Anon, Anon, RCH, Bob, Monthly Subs, O’Dw, N&CG, WB, Andrea, PJG, KR, Ben Bradlee, GC, CG, Gerry, BF, JH among many, many others. Thankyou Guyzzzz … Now to the Chrissy/New Year hiatus ...
Don Knowler* First published December 22
23.12.16 5:45 am
Amid fears about tourism development in Tasmania’s wilderness, Don Knowler takes a cruise on Bathurst Harbour in the remote and pristine south-west which leaves a gentle wake instead of a human footprint.
Rosalie Woodruff*. Pic: Kris McCracken, Flickr. Fish farms in Birchs Bay. First pub: Dec 22
23.12.16 5:30 am
… The motion followed a leaked TasWater document that heavily objected to the financial viability of building the proposed dam in the upper catchment of the Prosser River. TasWater highlighted the impact on long-term water needs for Orford and Triabunna, townships who were on water restrictions last summer, and raised the risk of future litigation because of flawed user-pays measurement methodology. This appears to be the next in the long line of convenient government arrangements for Tassal’s stake in Okehampton Bay. The Marine Farming Review Panel has yet to present its findings on the review of the 20 year old Okehampton Bay lease for intensive salmon farming by Tassal. It’s not due until February 2017 …
• Richard Kopf in Comments: Development at any cost. Cost to the ratepayers that is. The township of Orford and its long suffering ratepayers will be the hardest hit by these crazy schemes. Most ratepayers in Orford own holiday dwellings. They receive few services. Compare the quality of the infrastructure at Bicheno, Swansea and Triabunna with Orford. Few footpaths, few businesses, open drains that overflow during rainfall events and a river that once saw pleasure boats in abundance, become a backwater following the disastrous decision to change its course at the mouth. A decision that was promised to be reversed “should unforeseen detrimental effects occur”. Except following floods, the river can only be navigated by nothing larger than canoes and kayaks. This is the river that was once an important small harbour and now this, river, sorry drain, is to be further damned. The outcome will be that the Prosser will seldom, if ever, flow out to sea and ultimately will become a stinking backwater. The good citizens who built their holiday homes in this once delightful town, will have to tolerate the mess being created by this Council, watch their real estate values fall and ironically, be slugged for the privilege. Worse, non-resident ratepayers are not entitled to vote at Council elections unless having sought to be on the General Manager’s roll. So there will be no retribution available at election time.
Bob Brown, the Bob Brown Foundation
23.12.16 5:22 am
... and Guy Barnett replies ... then Bob Brown writes a thank you letter ... Congratulations on taking on such an exciting portfolio for Tasmania’s future. At the outset, I pass on an invitation from the leading expert on the world’s largest freshwater crayfish, Astacopsis gouldi, Mr Todd Walsh. Todd would welcome the opportunity to show you, on site, these remarkable giant blue crayfish in the Frankland River in Tasmania’s Tarkine wilderness this summer. Plans by Forestry Tasmania to log upstream in the Frankland catchment later in summer are a direct threat to one of the best habitats left for these remarkable creatures. Here’s a gold-plated opportunity for you, as the responsible minister, to see the crayfish for yourself. The good alternative to industrial logging and incineration of the Frankland catchment forest is to allocate it as a tourism precinct for the northwest by establishing a self-funding, local-job-sustaining World’s Biggest Freshwater Crayfish Centre right there by the Frankland …
… I would also point out that it is well documented that significant declines of Astacopsis gouldi are thought to have occurred in many catchments within it’s range. Now even I wouldn’t draw the longest bow to associate forestry with all the declines, but I would suggest that there would be a correlation in certain areas where forestry was the major land impacter. On the basis of what I have surveyed and from what I have read from reputable scientists; you will have to excuse me and many other conservationists when I seem rather sceptical of those in the industry portraying everything as going rather well with little impact upon the environment. It wasn’t so many years ago that the forest industry, environmentalists and government drew up a plan to reserve large tracts of Tasmania’s forests. Only a political decision scrapped the agreement. I accept evidence, I just don’t accept that those in power are seeking to do the right thing by the environment; their environmental management is far more based on polling rather than science or economics.
• John Hayward in Comments: Guy’s reply seems to bubble out of the same murky psychic depths that motivated ISIS to blow up Palmyra. Everything he claims about the benefits of Tasmanian logging is completely at odds with demonstrated reality. I suspect that a goodly part of Guy’s attitude might stem from antinomian religious beliefs, i.e. his conviction that his faith alone absolves him of any obligations to morality, which would include respect for the truth. Then again, he may be acting on his party’s traditional devotion to personal self-interest, and unswerving hostility to anything which stands in its way.
• Geoffrey Swan in Comments: Guy Barnett’s response is an absolute travesty - either poorly concocted by his spin doctors or even worse possibly from his own pen. Bob Brown’s letter in contrast is succinct, considered and eloquent. Time for Mr Barnett to be removed from this portfolio. He is not representing the true interests of Tasmanians, he is out of touch and I feel he has not even read Bob Brown’s letter - he simply responded in a typical anti-green manner. Read the letter again Minister and take your head out of the sand.
• John Biggs in Comments: Guy is repeating old stuff we now know to be false. Further, Bob’s point was about crayfish and he doesn’t mention crayfish once. And to get a measure of the person, Bob’s letter is scrupulously polite whereas Barnett’s is crabby, accusatory and just plain unpleasant. Which fits.
• Todd Walsh in Comments: Hi Guy, Thanks for showing the ticker to not even mention the animal. You may think that locking up scrub, mountain tops and buttongrass constitutes forested reserves, but I can tell you that exposing the environmental gerrymandering that encompasses these reserves; for example the Arthur-Pieman Protected area, will be a hallmark of my push to showcase the “world leading” forest practices of Tasmania. The fact also remains that you have to split the industry in two, just so one part can finally achieve international FSC. Apparently the rest of the world disagrees with your self labelling, world’s best practice. Unfortunately for you, social media is becoming more and more useful as a tool to expose nothing politicians. I understand you are gearing up the forest issue for an election, that’s good, so am I …
… More than happy to organise a trip to these sites and others to compare areas that have been clearfelled. We can start at the top of the Duck where the sediment is that thick you could skate on it. I’ve had numerous people say exactly the same thing over the years, but have usually gone to water when you show the difference between a good site and one full of sediment. Seeing a few adults walking around doesnt constitute a healthy population, one of my best sites has 400+ individuals in a 3km stretch tagged over a 16 year period, compare that to kilometre after kilometre of bugger all using exactly the same survey methods. What do you base your lobster data on? A walk in the bush? …
Claire Gilmour in Comments: … I’ll go even better … Giant Freshwater Lobsters for sale … $15,000 each … $10,000 for the fine and $5000 to eat! Why is it that poachers get fined, but FT and the government can wreck the GFC’s environment for free? … Where are you Bryan Green? You stood on my property overlooking my giant freshwater lobster creek and said … this should not happen – when I said FT wanted to log down to and trash the creek. I said to you but FT have said to me they will silt up my creek by their actions, You said – “we will deny that!” Hunters and gathers eh! …
Kim Peart* of Ross. Pic* First pub: Dec 23
23.12.16 5:15 am
Northern Midlands Council proposes to sell the old School Oval in Ross Ross is frequently referred to by politicians as one of the best heritage places to visit and experience in Tasmania. Why would politicians set out to destroy the heritage values of Ross? …
• Kim Peart in Comments: A petition to Save Our Old School Oval was launched on Boxing Day and is available for anyone to sign at ~ 39 Church Street, Ross ~ “We humbly call upon the Mayor and Councillors of the Northern Midlands Council to keep the old School Oval in Ross in public hands, as a recreation ground next to the Town Hall and public toilets in Ross, where members of the Ross community and visitors to Ross can enjoy the public open space, and where events are held from time to time.” We will have the petition on the old School Oval on New Years Day ~ Sunday 1 January 2017 ~ so come join us and bring a picnic lunch. A soap box will be available for anyone wishing to make a speech …
Pat Caplice*. Pic: of Peter Gutwein from his website ...
22.12.16 6:30 am
With pride Peter Gutwein has dangled his principles for all to see. Will his pride oversee the end of Pokies in Tasmania ... ?
Bob Burton* First published December 19
22.12.16 5:45 am
In the past decade the combined circulation of Tasmania’s three largest newspapers – the Mercury, the Examiner and the Advocate – has fallen by over one-third with no sign the decline has yet bottomed out. The dramatic decline of the three newspapers and a push by major media companies for the axing some of the rules blocking increased media concentration indicate further upheavals in Tasmania’s media landscape may be imminent.
• Mike Bolan in Comments: At a meeting of the media and public I attended 5 or so years ago ( TT here ), the media people expressed no interest in listening to the public regarding the content of their papers. It was a kind of ‘what would customers know about it?” stance. The established media organisations looked on growing organisations (like TT) with contempt because many of the writers ‘weren’t journalists’!! Yet what has the media become but a foghorn for government policy and propaganda, coupled with a desperate demand for ‘more advertising’. What it has utterly failed to become is a valued community information resource. (Spot on O’Brien @1) That failing means that it usually isn’t worth paying any of the cover prices for the paper, nor worth paying News to read about their ‘paywall’ articles. Until they start to deliver something that’s actually worth reading, their decline is likely to continue.
Bob Burton* First published December 20
22.12.16 5:30 am
The fate of the lobbying push by Australia’s largest media companies for the abolition of two legal rules frustrating greater media concentration may hinge on the vote of Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie.
22.12.16 5:16 am
Submission to the Australian Energy Regulator on TasNetwork’s revised tariff proposal and supporting documents as listed at … However in many places where smart meters have been rolled out there have been complaints from consumers who claim it has adversely affected their health, depending on the location of the meter in their homes. This possibility should be addressed and not simply ignored as an inconvenience …
22.12.16 5:15 am
Hobart’s Lord Mayor, Alderman Sue Hickey recently conveyed a view about the proposed memorial to the ‘Black War’ in making comments about Mona’s vision for Macquaire Point. A vision she clearly shares as I do. One very small part of her statement out of context was seized upon. The resulting nasty commentary, specially on social media, but also in the traditional electronic media and the letters to the editor of the Mercury was beyond the pale …
• Mark Horstman in Comments: … The question in the headline – “whose narrative should prevail?” - is soundly answered by your assertion that everyone should just forget about the negatives of colonisation and focus on the positives. That is, the view of the victors should prevail, regardless of historical truths. We can truthfully commemorate the achievements of Tasmania’s development over the last two centuries only when we recognise the realities that it was based on. That is not guilt, but clear-eyed acceptance of historical fact. When it comes to war memorials for people who died defending their country, try substituting ‘ANZACS’ for ‘Aborigines’, and see how your views sound.
22.12.16 5:00 am
The Silly Season is upon us, and most summers from around Christmas through into the new year the Tasmanian Search and Rescue helicopter is seemingly flying non-stop to rescue bushwalkers, boaters and-off roaders from emergency situations …
Senator Helen Polley* Pic: of Malcolm Turnbull, Donkey Hokey, Flickr
22.12.16 4:45 am
A leader is defined as: “A person that holds a dominant or superior position within their field, and is able to exercise a high degree of control or influence over others” …
David Leigh*. Pic: Gage Skidmore, Flickr
22.12.16 4:30 am
Watching the news pan out around the globe it rather puts one in the mind of a song. Prophetic and lyrical, the verses are not merely repeats but different ideas around the same ideology and only the chorus repeats.
A Christmas Story by George Smiley. Pic: Flicker Quinn Dombrowski
22.12.16 4:15 am
There is this soft arm across my face. “Sunday!” I say, “and we have a lot to do beside get ready for that barbecue tonight …”