Likely cause of Basslink failure is the Geelong Star

Kelvin Jones*, Kingston. Pics* First published September 26
27.09.16 6:00 am

Image for Likely cause of Basslink failure is the Geelong Star

The Basslink Saga: A technical perspective …

… It is known the Geelong Star left Geelong on the 16 Dec 2015 after net modifications to minimise well-publicised by-catch issues. This was the start of the pelagic fishing season and it soon turned off its compulsory AIS (Auto Identification System) which had apparently been allowed by Marine Authorities. Pelagic fish are found in the water depths and locations similar to where the Basslink fault was found. The Geelong Star’s next known position was fishing in NSW waters two days after the Basslink failure on the 19 Dec …

… Also of interest during the Carbon Tax period there was reported a serious dispute between a relatively newly-appointed Head of Treasury and Finance and political masters. Evidently the new head was previously the head of Aurora and resigned, citing personal issues, leaving before his five-year term finished.

• Pete Godfrey in Comments: … The photos of the fault released and the paucity of details did not look like a manufacturing fault to me. Thanks again, I believe that secrecy will prevail as it usually does in Tasmanian government matters, but we need to know who is paying and how much …

Bryan Green: Hydro document censored for political purposes

John Hawkins suspected the Geelong Star in February on this article, HERE: Geelong Star Whale Shark scandal deepens: I spent a lot of time and effort tracing Gerry Geen and his Seafish Tasmania and their involvement in the Small Pelagic Fishery. I tabled the results on Tasmanian Times: HERE. It was not a good look. The Geelong Star fishing under their licence in their allocated fishing area has its tracking device turned off with the permission of our political masters in order that it cannot be tracked by protestors. All ships carry a tracking device called an Automatic Identification System to be operated by law at all times to prevent collisions under the authority of the Maritime Safety Authority. It is most unusual if not unique for a vessel to be at sea in or off Australian waters without a trace. Additionally this means that the Geelong Star cannot be traced when it fishes within or without the allocated fishing areas allocated under the licences held by Seafish Tasmania. Has the Geelong Star crossed the Basslnk Cable ... if so on how many occasions? If the Geelong Star travels between Geelong and Eden the Basslink cable is at a very shallow depth of between 40 and 60 metres max between George Town and McGaurans Beach. If I was a betting man .......?

• Luigi in Comments: It would be simple enough for the Geelong Star to voluntarily make its whereabouts known to prove its alibi on the day of the Basslink outage. I would also be simple enough for our government to demand to know the whereabouts of the Geelong Star. Or is the six month outage just a $100 million giggle to our government? Or do they already know?

• John Hawkins in Comments: … The Singapore owners and the insurance companies should be pressing the Government and the owners of the Geelong Star for answers. Who is the current minister and is he operating a protection racket? It was Colbeck. Now is the time for Colbeck to dump on Abetz. …

• Mick Kenny in Comments: … The Geelong Star operators could, for example, release their logs and data in the form of a media release to dispel any potential for suspicion, if they are indeed confident that the ship did not in any way contribute to Basslink failing.

• Kelvin Jones in Comments: … Hydro engineers if allowed to disclose the current state of water turbine technology could answer this question very quickly. There is also a very pertinent comment that indicates the State Government is more interested in cash income than capital expenditure which is at the root of the Basslink saga which must have great weight. … At moment to me I am as certain as I possibly can be that external mechanical trauma caused the demise of Basslink. There also is circumstantial evidence that there is activity of a vessel with the capability of inflicting such trauma at that time.

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Writers | John Hawkins | Pete Godfrey | Politics | International | National | State | Economy | Environment | Editor's Choice | Opinion | History | Legal | Society

Passion in the raw down Huon way

Bob Hawkins* Pic*
27.09.16 5:30 am

Image for Passion in the raw down Huon way

Huon Valley Guessing Games  Roll up, roll up! It may be your last chance to witness what normally is one of the most excruciatingly boring shows on earth. Venue: Huonville council chamber at 6pm Wednesday (September 28); starring: a dysfunctional, about-to-be-sacked, Huon Valley Council.

What it is that made Gutwein so reluctant to take the advice of his BoI remains a mystery. Words like forestry, Duggan, woodchips, fish, Armstrong, biomass, Harriss, barges, jetties, exports (plus a mix of other pie-in-the-sky speculation), have been flying around for yonks in the cargo-cult cocoon that occupies a substantial chunk of Huon society. Could any of these have anything to do with the quandary with which Gutwein wrestles? And where’s Premier Will Hodgman?  …

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Writers | Bob Hawkins | Politics | Local | State | Economy | Environment | Editor's Choice | Opinion | History | Legal | Media | Society

NATION: Turnbull’s UN speech cannot disguise his government’s refugee crisis

David Tyler* (AKA Urban Wronski*) . Pic* First pub: September 26
27.09.16 5:00 am

Image for NATION: Turnbull’s UN speech cannot disguise his government’s refugee crisis

Thunderous applause, spontaneous outbursts of Hallelujah and impromptu gospel singing also break out at the United Nations Refugee Summit in New York this week as Malcolm Turnbull, and his minder, Peter Dutton reveal with similar modesty that Australia is there to help the world solve its refugee crisis. It is Australia’s duty as a world leader in humanitarian assistance, a nation prepared to invest over $40 million to re-settle one Rohingya man in Cambodia, but we must be cruel to be kind …

TUESDAY September 27 ...

SMH: Malcolm Turnbull takes another hit in latest poll Not for the first time may Malcolm Turnbull find himself ruing the day he cited Tony Abbott’s poor performance in Newspoll as a key reason for terminating his prime ministership. Tuesday’s Newspoll holds more grim news for the Member for Wentworth, who despite enjoying his best two weeks in the job strutting the world stage is back facing the reality of his domestic woes after presiding over another fall in the Coalition’s primary vote …

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Regulars | Urban Wronksi | Politics | International | National | State | Economy | Editor's Choice | Opinion | History | Society

Will Tourism assist Vandalism?

Ted Mead* First published September 24
27.09.16 4:45 am

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“The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity ... and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself.” - William Blake

EARLIER on Tasmanian Times ...

Nicole Anderson: The Secret Life of Trees ...


Guy Barnett: Support for Wood Pellet Plant Study … Today, I am pleased to announce funding of $250,000 to help complete a feasibility study into a $115-145 million plantation fibre-only wood pellet plant in Tasmania that would deliver 55 new jobs. New Forests Asset Management Pty Ltd is progressing a $5 million study and has already completed pre-feasibility work showing encouraging results. The feasibility study will fully investigate the viability for an advanced wood pellet plan to be established in Northern Tasmania …

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Writers | Ted Mead | Politics | International | Local | National | State | Forestry | Economy | Environment | Editor's Choice | Opinion | History | Legal | Personal | Society

Punishing offensive behaviour

Michael Stokes* Pic: Flickr First published September 24
27.09.16 4:30 am

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While amendments to the Anti-Discrimination Act are being considered, it is worthwhile considering when we are entitled to use the law to prohibit conduct which offends, insults or ridicules another …

Mercury: Lobby groups critical of proposed changes to anti-discrimination laws

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Writers | Michael Stokes | Politics | National | State | Economy | Opinion | History | Legal | Society

Australia panders to a despot and a loyal citizen pays the price ...

John Tully* Pic* First published September 24
27.09.16 4:15 am

Image for Australia panders to a despot and a loyal citizen pays the price ...

On 24 October last year, a slight, youngish man with a luxuriant moustache and an engaging smile flew into Tullamarine airport from Dubai. Arriving home must have been a great relief for him, but after a warm welcome by local well-wishers, members of the Australian Federal Police (AFP) hustled him away and grilled him over suspected links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Back in 2005, the PKK was added to the Federal Government’s list of proscribed terrorist organisations at the behest of Turkey, the sworn enemy of the Kurds …

Renas Lelikan’s ordeal highlights the idiocy and injustice of Australian government policy in the Middle East. The PKK and its sister organisations in northern Syria—the PYD, YPG and YPJ—are indisputably the most formidable foes of Islamic State and other Islamist terrorists. Although the facts were redacted from UN reports, no doubt upon the insistence of Turkey, it was the men and women fighters of the PKK who saved the Yazidis from genocide on Mt Sinjar in 2014. In many cases, the PKK fighters carried the old, children and the infirm on their backs to safety. Similarly, it was the PKK and its sister organisations who have saved Christian minorities in Syria from death and slavery at the Islamists’ hands …

Be that as it may, successive Australian governments have been complicit throughout this century in the injustices heaped on the Kurds. More than that, they have grievously insulted Australian Kurds, who are loyal Australian citizens, and equated the Kurdish freedom struggle with the vile dystopia of the so-called Islamic State. It is high time that the Australian public demanded that we stop appeasing the despot Erdogan. We should immediately drop the charges against Renas Lelikan and release him from horrible incarceration at Silverwater. We should also apologise to the Australian Kurdish community and recognise the right of the Kurds to self-determination.

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Politics | International | National | Economy | Editor's Choice | Opinion | History | Personal | Society

Will Malcolm Bendall launch a new religion?

Chris Sharples* Pic* First published September 24
25.09.16 5:30 am

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Tasmania’s own wannabe oil baron Malcolm Bendall1 has spent over 30 years convincing people to give him their money to pursue what I consider to be a grand delusion of finding vast quantities of oil in Tasmania on the basis of a supposed vision from God2 …

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Writers | Chris Sharples | Politics | International | National | State | Economy | Environment | Opinion | History | Personal | Society

Open Letter from Mayor Peter Coad to Huon Valley Ratepayers and Residents ...

Peter Coad, Mayor, Huon Valley Council. First published September 23
25.09.16 4:45 am

Image for Open Letter from Mayor Peter Coad to Huon Valley Ratepayers and Residents ...

The Minister for Local Government’s likely decision to recommend to the Governor to dismiss the Huon Valley Council councillors (pursuant to section 226(2) of the Local Government Act 1993) is a course of action that I fully support. I believe dismissal of council would, as the situation stands, be in the best interests of the people of the Huon Valley. I withdrew from the mediation process, ordered by Minister Peter Gutwein, because Heart of the Huon councillors and the general manager have demonstrated no genuine commitment to that process. A clear demonstration of that lack of commitment on the part of most councillors was the decision, at the August 31 ordinary meeting of council, to prevent me, as mayor, from being an ex officio member on council committees. …

Rosalie Woodruff: Huon Valley Ratepayers Shouldn’t Foot Gutwein’s Bill

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Writers | Bob Hawkins | Politics | Local | State | Economy | Opinion | History | Personal | Society

Was NZ’s OSPRI the successful business model for the Tasmanian false-fox program ... ?

Bill Benfield*
25.09.16 4:30 am

Image for Was NZ’s OSPRI the successful business model for the Tasmanian false-fox program ... ?

Was the Tasmanian ‘false fox’ program based on an already successful business model? There is a case to be made that what became a A$50 million enterprise based on non–existent foxes could have been based on New Zealand practice. In what looks like a parallel situation, we now have the evidence that New Zealand has - for around 45 years - been running a similar program based on little more than a hunch that possum caused TB in cattle. The only real differences seems to be that where the Tasmanian exercise cost $50 million and was stopped, New Zealand has probably spent well over a $billion, and is still going …

• Ian Rist in Comments: What a sad indictment on Tasmania this fox saga is…politicians of all colors are turning a blind eye to all of this. Too many in too deep and we don’t want any egg on our faces.When I was working ‘at the coal face’ all those years ago I raised issues of evidence fabrication and evidence tampering with Liberals, Labor and The Greens, no-one wanted to know. I was aware in 2008 fox scats were coming into the State by the Eski full but when I raised the issue at the 2009 PAC Foxes Inquiry I was ridiculed, laughed at and it was suggested I was smokin’ something to suggest such a thing could be happening. In the few months leading up to the PAC fox Inquiry in 2009 Dr Tony Peacock from The Canberra based Invasive Animals CRC wrote many letters to the Tasmanian papers, especially my hometown paper   ‘The Advocate’ and tried to destroy my fox knowledge credibility before the upcoming Inquiry. I am pleased I kept the letters because now in the light of recent events this person has put themselves in a difficult situation. Peacock also had supporters down this end of the Island …

• David Obendorf in Comments: The former CEO of the Invasive Animals CRC had a conflict of interest in my opinion. He became a critical influencer and lobbyist for a unsubstantiated claim that foxes were in Tasmania and simultaneously the organisation he headed became a substantial beneficiary of the government funds that followed. If nothing else is achieved, a thorough scientific and administrative review of this single program should recognise the need for reform in the governance the provision of vast amounts of public funds spent over long periods of time. Increasing the efficiency, cost-effectiveness and scientific credibility of such undertakings must be learnt out of this fiasco …

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Writers | David Obendorf | Politics | Local | National | New Zealand | State | Economy | Environment | Opinion | History | Legal | Society

HVC’s ‘dysfunctionality’ in full media flood ...

Lindsay Tuffin* Pic: HVC GM Simone Watson, Peter Gutwein, Peter Coad
22.09.16 6:30 am

Image for HVC’s ‘dysfunctionality’ in full media flood ...

The saga of the Huon Valley’s ‘dysfunctional’ council flowed on this past few days in a torrent of media releases. The rush started soon after Local Government Minister Peter Gutwein, offering no evidence, dumped on Mayor Peter Coad as the cause of all the trouble. One wonders if the Minister has ever got around to reading for himself the report of his Board of Inquiry, which, in June, found HVC dysfunctional and made 55 recommendations — most of which Gutwein seems to have decided can be ignored …


ABC: Huon Valley Council to be sacked after infighting, Minister to appoint commissioner Huon Valley Council will be sacked after mediation failed to overcome bitter divisions between councillors and the general manager. Local Government Minister Peter Gutwein told the Tasmanian Parliament he had hoped the council would resolve its issues through mediation, but it had failed. “As this council is unable to work together for the benefit of the Huon community, they’ve left me no other option but for me to take the course of action I have outlined,” Mr Gutwein said. “They deserve to have strong leadership, goodwill and and good governance.” The council has been plagued with infighting. Last week, Mr Gutwein criticised Mayor Peter Coad for pulling out of mediation and told him to resign. But Cr Coad refused to go and called on Mr Gutwein to sack the entire council, in line with the recommendation of an independent investigation. Two other councillors have since pulled out of the mediation process …

Madeleine Ogilvie: Half a million dollars wasted in Huon debacle  Minister sat on his hands while dysfunction continued  Gutwein completely hands-off during critical mediation period  Ratepayers should not have been saddled with sorry state of affairs …

Peter Gutwein: Huon Valley Council It has been clear for quite some time that the Huon Valley Council has not been operating as well as it should. The Government believes that as a democratically elected council, in the first instance it is up to the councillors themselves to resolve their issues. We have assisted the council by appointing a Board of Inquiry to independently investigate a number of concerns and complaints that had been raised. The Board recommended that either the Council be dismissed or a mediation process initiated …

Rosalie Woodruff: Huon Valley Residents Suffer Gutwein’s Delay After three months, the Minister for Local Government has finally taken his Board of Inquiry’s advice on fixing Huon Valley Council’s toxic culture. Minister Gutwein’s decision to dismiss all the Huon Valley councillors, appoint a commissioner for at least 12 months, and then call elections at some point afterwards is a welcome relief. It took the withdrawal of three councillors and an online petition organised by Huon Valley residents to force the Minister to get his head out of the sand. We’re pleased he’s finally going to listen to his Board of Inquiry and address the dysfunction, but it shouldn’t have taken three months. It’s Huon Valley residents who have been left in limbo and who are suffering from Peter Gutwein’s poor process …

Watch Peter Gutwein make his statement HERE ...

EARLIER on Tasmanian Times ...

How low can Huon’s council go?

• phill Parsons in Comments: … Amalgamation with Kingborough may have broken the hold of local special interests but more likely is the pervasive idea that a ‘cargo’ will arrive in the hands of a white knight investor [Forestry, the hydro, a mining company, a sawmilling company, woodchip exports, world scale fish farms] will arrive to save the old guard will return to the halls of local government having festered in the other halls nearby and in Canberra. Until and only when the Huon transforms its own products and talents it will remain caught in the eddies of an economic backwater.

• Bob Hawkins in Comments: Between now and the arrival of the commissioner next month, Gutwein needs to appoint an acting commissioner to oversee day-to-day running of council. And, when the permanent commissioner takes over, a forensics squad should get to work delving into every nook and cranny of HVC files (well, those that still exist), going back if necessary to council’s formation in 1993. We don’t want to have to put up with more classic Lib/Lab crap such as, “Forget it. That’s all in the past. Let’s make a fresh start. Let’s move on!” I’m not alone in believing this council, one way or another, has never not had rot in it.

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Writers | Lindsay Tuffin | Politics | Local | State | Economy | Opinion | Society

A Timeline of Earth’s Average Temperature ...

xkcd, via Jon Sumby, Chris. Pic* First published Sept 18
22.09.16 6:15 am

Image for A Timeline of Earth’s Average Temperature ...

Since the last Ice Age glaciation When people say ‘the climate has changed before’, these are the kinds of changes they are talking about ...

• Kim Peart in Comments: … The sun of denial is setting now, as evidence melds into experience with fierce wildfires and the melting of the Arctic ice. In time, denial will vanish completely, but by then, our plight will be dark. I have been concerned for years now about a deeper level of denial, where the science is accepted, but the action needed is minimised for personal and political consumption. This is a far more dangerous form of denial, because it looks like a willingness to act, but allows the problem to grow and ultimately, contributes to the pending death of the Earth …

Low winter sea ice coverage around Antarctica There has been a noticeable reduction in winter sea-ice coverage around Antarctica in recent weeks, with sea ice extent starting its annual retreat early and setting new daily record lows for much of the past week. The result comes two years after winter sea ice extent around Antarctica reached a new record high in September 2014, when it exceeded 20 million square kilometres for the first time since satellite measurements began in 1979 …

Daily Mail: Earth is warmer that it has been in 120,000 years - and is ‘locked in’ to hit its hottest mark in more than 2 million years, study claims

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Politics | International | National | State | Economy | Environment | Editor's Choice | Opinion | History | Society

Closing of the Guard ... ?

Geoffrey Swan, Lonnavale
22.09.16 6:13 am

Image for Closing of the Guard ... ?

I am not inclined toward conspiracy theories but a letter received in the post today (dated 24 August 2016, a month to cross the Tasman?) from Grant Broadcasters’ legal counsel now has me wondering — and my question is, Why?

• Geoffrey Swan in Comments: … Or maybe it is now back in the hands of the Director of Local Government given that Minister Gutwein has now finally made his, sort of, determination. We all know the council is not yet sacked. Will he, or won’t he make a final, that’s it, decision in mid-October? Gutwein is starting to look like a man who really doesn’t want to sack HVC but has been steadily forced into a corner. None of us must forget that it is stuff like this that brings governments down.

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Writers | Bob Hawkins | Politics | Local | National | State | Economy | Opinion | Personal | Society

Just bad manners or something more sinister?

Simon Warriner*, Yolla, Pic: driveway Martin Howard, Flickr. First pub: Sept 18
21.09.16 4:15 am

Image for Just bad manners or something more sinister?

Today (last week) a random hire car drove up our 1km long driveway, pulled up, and its driver proceeded to take photographs of our house. The first my partner, busy inside, knew about it was our dog barking incessantly. My partner stepped outside to see what had upset the dog and was confronted by a male stranger taking photographs of the dwelling and surrounds …

• Simon Warriner in Comments: … Good luck with that, Jackie. Hope you insured that rental car. It is up to Roger Jaensch as my elected representative to do his job and find out for us. He has stated in a return email that he is seeking answers. What he comes up with will be revealing, on several levels.

• Ian M in Comments: @Simon #11, “The car was a rental, E 16 QM, white, late model, but make not recorded.” If interested, see: HERE Renault H45 Koleos Phase III.

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Politics | Local | State | Economy | Environment | Opinion | Legal | Personal | Society

World’s Wilderness Gone By 2100 ...

Ted Mead* First published September 19
21.09.16 3:45 am

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Unthinkable? But a recent study compiled by Australian and United States co-authors have identified that through human growth and the insatiable demand for natural resource extraction, the wild expanses of nature across the globe will be diminished to isolated pockets of primitive country in only a few nations by the end of this century …

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Politics | International | Local | National | State | Economy | Environment | Opinion | History | Personal | Society

NATION: Turnbull’s backflip marks a year of stunning under-achievement ...

David Tyler* (AKA Urban Wronski*) . Pic* First pub: September 19
21.09.16 3:30 am

Image for NATION: Turnbull’s backflip marks a year of stunning under-achievement ...

Urban Wronski ... a reincarnated Bob Ellis … Our cruelty is not only wrong it is expensive. This week sees both a Save the Children and a UNICEF report reveal off-shore detention has cost us $9.6 billion since 2013 – more than the UNHCR’s total global budget for programs this year. The reports coincide with an Audit Office report that puts the cost per detainee at $1570 per day or enough to put each asylum-seeker up in a Hyatt hotel and pay them the pension fifteen times over, calculates Fairfax’s Peter Martin.

The Audit Office report shows that not only did the Coalition government breach public service tender guidelines, it created a false sense of emergency to allow it to dispense with proper procedures permitting the successful contractor to add an extra $1.1 billion to its bid without facing any counter-bid. The department of Immigration kept this additional premium secret from then Immigration Minister Scott Morrison who was also not told of the price per head.

Also kept secret is Malcolm Turnbull’s own donation to his party campaign war chest made in the second half of the eight week election campaign although he has volunteered that he chipped in $2 million rather than the $1 million originally reported. It is still a good investment should he last three years. Turnbull is the only PM in Australian political history to have bought his own mandate but, oddly, no-one brings this up as his greatest achievement.

The Saturday Paper: Malcolm Turnbull’s biographer turns on the PM

The Age: We are living in the age of unreason and that’s a fact ...

• Luigi in Comments: Yes, Malcolm’s Prime Ministership looks pretty bad from the outside.  But we should have some sympathy.  Imagine how bad it is for him from the inside.

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Regulars | Urban Wronksi | Politics | International | National | Economy | Editor's Choice | Opinion | History | Legal | Personal | Society

Teen Challenge Tasmania and Assemblies of God:  why the denial?

Karen Hillman*, Meander. Pic*
21.09.16 3:15 am

Image for Teen Challenge Tasmania and Assemblies of God:  why the denial?

Like many I was shocked at the Four Corners program on Sept 12, 2016 about drug rehab centres. So I looked closely at Teen Challenge Tasmania Inc. (TCT), as they are converting the Meander Primary School into a “Home of Hope” rehab centre … 

MONDAY, September 26 ...

Premier Hodgman fails to respond and lets Community down

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Politics | Local | State | Economy | Opinion | Religion | Society

The Secret Life of Trees ...

Nicole Anderson* First published September 17
19.09.16 11:15 am

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… The author, Peter Wohlleben, vocationally was an industrial forester, who changed tack in line with his convictions emerging from a lifetime working with trees.  …

What I appreciate about this author is that he challenges, and convincingly refutes, forest doctrines with not just evidence from what he has literally seen, but with what is emerging from the latest rounds of forestry and arboreal research. This takes guts as anyone who challenges the status quo in a knowledge base is sure to have their opinions and ideas scrutinised to the highest degree …

It will ring so true with many readers looking to validate their feelings. It will be vehemently dismissed as drivel by those committed to traditional beliefs about the value of non-human life …

Australian Geographic: People are ‘blind’ to plants, and that’s bad news for conservation Plant blindness is more than an interesting quirk of human perception. It impacts on our efforts to care for and understand plant species.

Late Night Live Legend Phillip Adams interviewed Forester Peter Wohlleben on Wednesday night on his astonishing global smash-hit, which has already been translated into 19 languages ... here’s an extract: … Unmanaged forests can cool down up to three degrees more than managed forests … trees have to deal with climate change … nowadays we are cutting a lot of timber for example for biomass power plants … we fire climate change by hurting the forest … therefore it would be better to reduce our consumption and leave a bigger percent of the forest alone …

• John Hayward in Comments: Even if, like most of us, we don’t give a stuff what other people, much less other life forms,  are feeling, you should be shaken by discoveries about what plant sentience tells us about how little we know about the complexities of the ecosystem …

• Ted Mead in Comments: Fantastic review Nicole! – This book should be a mandatory read at primary school because as a child we are far more receptive to the laws and attractions of our natural world.

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Politics | International | Local | National | State | Forestry | Gunns | Economy | Environment | Editor's Choice | Health | Opinion | History | Personal | Society

Digital economy is our fifth pillar ...

Madeleine Ogilvie MP*, Labor Member for Denison
19.09.16 11:00 am

Image for Digital economy is our fifth pillar ...

“The internet is a telephone system that’s gotten uppity” Clifford Stoll. In that one phrase, US based author and tech commentator Clifford Stoll, nails the Tasmanian challenge …

Our digital economy is the fifth pillar of the Tasmanian economy - and we can grow our intellectual exports, consulting and professional services, data management and creative economy. At the heart of Tasmania’s ability to operate, trade, educate, heal and employ is a robust communications infrastructure.  It is precisely because we have had such a good system that on a day to day basis many of us don’t need to give much thought to whether we will be able to access our Facebook today, do some online shopping or upload data to sell on the mainland …

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Politics | International | Local | National | State | Economy | Media | Personal | Society

TT upgrade .. and glitches ...

Lindsay Tuffin. First published September 4
19.09.16 4:15 am

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In case you are experiencing problems loading TT, it is because Andrew the Tech is upgrading TT ... for which Beloved Readers have so generously donated heaps. The technol underpinning TT is about 10 years out of date. Hence the upgrade. There may be glitches ... but the end result will be wondrous ... well, little will change for the gentle readership. But heaps for the Backend. Blessings, Linz!x There will be a delay in uploading the latest Urban Wronski, a feature from Madeleine Ogilvie MP ... and the very latest Ted Mead

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Writers | Lindsay Tuffin | Blogging | Media | Society

How political donations distort democracy

Max Atkinson* Pic* First published September 14
18.09.16 5:20 am

Image for How political donations distort democracy

Recent revelations that a Labor frontbencher accepted funds from a company linked to the Chinese Government, and that Chinese companies have donated over $5 million to the major parties, raise concerns about the influence of foreign interests, political as well as commercial …

BOB BURTON has written extensively on Tasmanian Times about donations to political parties and the need for reform ...

Careers Australia digs deep to donate to the Tasmanian LiberalsHis extensive archive is HERE

• funding & disclosure (inc) in Comments: … This committee has produced 5 reports since the beginning of 2014. The Government response? None. There is a simple but important change that could and should be introduced right now. Real time declarations of all donations of more than, say, $500 pa from any individual or entity. …

Guardian: Leaked documents reveal secretive influence of corporate cash on politics Sealed Wisconsin court documents from Scott Walker investigation expose extent of corporate influence on democratic process rarely seen by the public

• In TT Media: Old Parties Refuse to Support Real Time Donations Disclosure

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Writers | Max Atkinson | Politics | National | State | Economy | Editor's Choice | Opinion | History | Legal | Society

The sparrows ...

Philip Lynch* Pic: Brian Rogers, Flickr
18.09.16 5:15 am

Image for The sparrows ...

Like the quolls living under our house, the sparrows had to go. They were starting up before dawn, while we were still asleep, and well before our rooster had even stirred in the chook house. Their chirping and frenzied activity under our eave was driving me to despair …

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Writers | Philip Lynch | Economy | Opinion | Personal | Society

How low can Huon’s council go?

Bob Hawkins* Pic: Cr Mike Wilson, Mayor Peter Coad and General Manager Simone Watson
14.09.16 4:30 pm

Image for How low can Huon’s council go?

Huon Valley Guessing Games The bad news from the Deep South is that the secretive Huon Valley Council has sunk to even deeper depths of contempt for the people who own it. …

Mercury: Peter Gutwein calls for Huon Mayor to resign in the interests of Huon Valley community

Rosalie Woodruff (former HVC councillor: Gutwein Ignores Board of Inquiry, Sets Up Huon Valley Mayor

Saturday Mercury: Fresh elections best way for Huon, governance expert says

Rosalie Woodruff: Huon Valley Council Mediation Fruitless, Fresh Elections Needed

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Writers | Bob Hawkins | Politics | Local | State | Economy | Environment | Editor's Choice | Opinion | History | Planning/Heritage | Media | Personal | Society

Shooting the messenger … a subjective analysis of a new millennium Tasmanian inquest

Paul Tapp* First published September 9. Main pic: Lucille Butterworth
13.09.16 5:30 am

Image for Shooting the messenger … a subjective analysis of a new millennium Tasmanian inquest

As with the Gilewicz Commission of Inquiry, the Butterworth Inquest to me was flawed. But who cares when it happens in this State? Who cares for my opinion? It’s been happening for aeons … everywhere and in all institutions …

… But the main media stayed away from it. To acknowledge a retired award-winning investigative journo and an online paper as the Tasmanian Times as the source of the breakthrough might be just too much for the modern Fourth Estate to acknowledge …

… He would later describe what he found to university specialists in human anatomy and they confirmed that indeed Don Hazell had held in his hands, the rib-cage of a human being. But whose? It’s why Don came to me with his story. Ageing and conscious-ridden, he wanted to get it off his chest. But, why me? Why not the media? He had read my postings onto the Tasmanian Times and saw the Buckland Tapp-Hanuszewicz-Lesage interview on YouTube …

… Nothing else needs to be said … except a burning question on my mind. What or who made Lance Lesage change his story? Why has the man the Coroner named to me as disposing of Lucille’s body not been part of the inquest process? Why has the man the Coroner will name as Lucille’s murderer, not been charged? Dare I proffer a reasonable guess? There’s not enough evidence to convict him? And at 80 years of age, he won’t be about for much longer and the truth will die with him. Well at least the finding removes the Lucille mystery from the conscience of those entrusted to preserve the integrity of pristine jurisprudence and due process. The whitewash machinery has done its job …

• Barry Reynolds in Comments: I’m fed up with the claim that Lucille Butterworth is the oldest “unsolved” disappearance. My uncle disappeared in 1965 near Lake Sorell. Not a word from the Media or anyone else about that. It went back to the Coroner’s court about 3 years ago to get it off the books and in their wisdom decreed that he’d wandered off into the bush and perished. This was a bloke who grew up in the bush and a WWII vet but because of the reputation he had, which was fairly deserved by all accounts ... not a mention anywhere. To make matters worse the police had a very strong suspicion who the culprit was but could never prove it. I feel for Miss Butterworth’s family as my father, uncles and aunts went through the same thing and the surviving family members still do. The story needs telling certainly and people brought to book. The big difference between Miss Butterworth and my uncle is that some of the main protagonists are still around ... where in the case of my uncle they are not. I hope for her family’s sake there can be some closure ... where in our case there won’t be.

• Simon Warriner in Comments: There is a lesson in all this. Especially when it is taken in concert with the case John Hayward wrote about earlier this year ... ( HERE ). Governor Underwood was right in what he told the assembled students at Yolla School, that justice and the rule of law only ever prevails while the legal system and the courts have our respect. Mr Simon Cooper might well ponder what contribution his performance as described has made to respect for the “system”.

• Pete Godfrey in Comments: Hi Paul, well it really sounds like someone is being protected very well to me. And it is not you. How disappointing to have so much evidence just ignored. As you say it seems to be the way things are done here. I went to an RPDC tribunal once to assist some folk in a planning matter. The whole thing was a farce that appeared to be set up to back the newly-made Protection of Agricultural Land Policy …

• Paul Tapp in Comments: Comments are appreciated. I expected to be treated with a bit more respect but as I told SC assisting that Lesage’s unchecked false testimony would make for an interesting chapter in my book on the Lucille mystery. But without becoming too cynical about the quality of jurisprudence in this State, I was urged by many to at least put my treatment on record. Not just as an insight into how we who dare, fare at the coal-front of probity are treated but to acknowledge the courage of practitioners as Caroline Graves who readily came to my assistance. My view now is that such a hearing should never have been before a coroner, given the enormity of logistics required to hear accounts from witnesses from such a diverse demographic. But its early days and I would like to think that Madame Jurisprudence might be doing some probing of her own to ensure that witnesses should not be so intimidated by an antediluvian yes/no system to a point where they simply won’t come forward …

• Isla MacGregor in Comments: Paul, your battle with the corrupted adversarial legal system in Tasmania sends a big message to the Tasmanian community - that the adversarial legal system has gone past its use by date and we must implement the truth seeking European inquisitorial system of justice in Australia. You are not alone Paul - there are many in Tasmania who stand shoulder to shoulder with you yet.

• Lynne Newington in Comments: From a distance, something wonderful going on here. Strong men standing for men whose allegiance isn’t to a political or religious body.

• lola moth in Comments: … It is sometimes difficult to do the right thing when it comes to our justice system. Sometimes we are made out to be the bad guy when all we are trying to do is help. When the people we thought were on the same side as us turn around and bite us we hurt all the more from the sense of betrayal. Just remember Paul, that the only person who is right behind you all the way is Lucille and she appreciates everything you have ever done for her in this case.

• Paul Tapp in Comments: … Pete Donnelly had gone to my ‘funeral’ (a namesake) and drove on with a friend from SBS to my home in Orford, when he knew I was still in the land of the living. Must admit we laughed a lot. But he did tell me all my material, award-winning footage, stories and the high-profile coverage of events in my tenure as cop reporter at Aunty had been removed from ABC archives. Sadly and ironically at the same time as I was tangling with the Butterworth inquest, Pete died and I didn’t get to see him off …

• TT has finally been able to locate a picture of Coroner Simon Cooper ... It’s in this ABC story, A Timeline of Key Events, HERE

• Paul Tapp in Comments: … A debate must include the fact that my information, readily made to the coroner seems to have been purposely denied him. If so, the implications are John Haywood, that the renovators were hard at work so that all the simple-minded taxpayers who unwittingly support the largesses of our subjective justice system can simply watch the footy and the reality TV shows and the no-news news without much time to think about anything else. And that’s exactly what the renovators want.

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Writers | Paul Tapp | Politics | Local | National | State | Economy | Environment | Editor's Choice | Opinion | History | Legal | Personal | Science | Society

Handouts to transnationals while hospitals in crisis ...

Isla MacGregor* First published September 13
13.09.16 5:15 am

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Premier Hodgman’s recent offer of $25 million to Vedanta’s Copper Mines of Tasmania adds to the growing list of unethical transnational companies that Tasmanian Governments want to subsidise …

While patient waiting lists in Tasmanian hospitals are blowing out and some Tasmanians are dying because of the crisis in health services, Premier Hodgman is handing out money to Vedanta, a multi billion dollar transnational company which is at the centre of a global human rights campaign to have it delisted from the London Stock Exchange because of human rights abuses and poisoning of thousands of people, land and waterways …

• Pete Godfrey in Comments: Gifting public money to mining companies seems to be a perennial game. Especially in Tasmania where the gifts are usually used to help failing companies close down and leave. Surely it would be much cheaper if the Government just bought them out and reopened the mines as State run operations.

• Isla MacGregor in Comments: #17 The tragic consequences of self regulation and regulatory capture. I was in Rosebery in May 2009 and witnessed a serious tailings spill into the Stitt River.  I watched as an MMG Environmental Officer took samples from both sides of the Stitt - one side was heavily polluted from the tailings entering the Stitt from Rosebery Creek and the other side was much clearer.  The entire waterfall below was covered in a thick grey paste and the river just a grey soup. I do not wonder which set of data was submitted to the EPA. As has happened with other mines that have had pollution events, MMG Rosebery was not fined for this event - in one case I read in the EPA Annual Report the reason for no fine was ‘not in the public interest’. The Tasmanian community are justified in demanding a return to effective government regulation of mine activities in this state. Without proper enforcement of mine licence agreements and environmental and human health standards some in our community are right in saying NO to any new mines in Tasmania.

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Writers | Isla MacGregor | Politics | International | Local | National | State | Economy | Environment | Opinion | History | Society

Dastyari-bashing a risky gambit for Turnbull

David Tyler* (AKA Urban Wronski*) . Pic: of Sam Dastyari. First pub: Sept 12
13.09.16 5:00 am

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… Abbott should spare us his own panic attack at increasing relevance deprivation. Retire. Spare us his hypocrisy. Many of his own calls, such as his plebiscite on gay marriage were equally desperate and just as cynical a delaying tactic as his PM’s Royal Commission. Is Shorten’s mob paying Junkyard to stay on just to cruel Turnbull’s faint hopes of success? Abbott does not revisit marriage equality this week, preferring instead to re-heat an IPA leftover. The government should be “very careful” he says about making retrospective superannuation changes. Very careful. Junkyard has no hope, however, of upstaging Dastyari who is in the limelight for all the wrong reasons. Sam puts on a shocker of a show of public confession and contrition, “What I did was within the rules but it was wrong,” he says as if somehow he can still bet each way on his own culpability …

Senator Sam Dastyari or Dasher, as he is to his NSW Right pals, (Nifty was already taken) is the new anti-Christ according to Murdoch papers which have him in bed with communists. “Dastyari’s donor has party cell” thunders The Australian. Leigh Sales savages him. It’s not so much that he took Chinese money, a practice unknown to Liberal MPs, but that he spruiked Chinese policy. He must be hung, drawn and quartered. And burnt in effigy …

Yuhu group companies made $500,000 in political donations including $100,000 to Andrew Robb’s Bayside Forum a fund-raising entity the day the trade deal was signed. But this is quite a different matter says the Liberal-News Corp-ABC affiliated slayers of Sam and no defence at all of his conduct. Nor does it matter that the PM himself was a keen comprador for a Chinese firm with equally inescapable links to the Chinese government …

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Regulars | Urban Wronksi | Politics | National | Economy | Opinion | History | Legal | Society

Restoring the numbers to Parliament ...

Cassy O’Connor MP | Greens Leader . Pic: of Cassy O'Connor from the Greens' website
13.09.16 4:29 am

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State Conference Opening Address … On behalf of the Greens, I’d like to personally commend the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry for coming out yesterday in support of a restoration of the numbers in Parliament. …

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Farewell Soulmate

Geraldine de Burgh-Day
13.09.16 4:00 am

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Dear All, Today I lost my soulmate of 33 years.  At 10.40 pm tonight ( July 29 ) my dearest Paul passed away.

• Geraldine in Comments: Thankyou Pete. The coffin was cardboard, and was supplied by the only “eco funeral” people our daughter Catherine could find in Tassie , Serenity funerals.  It was Paul’s wish to return to the forest that provided the poles for our home, and give the forest something back.  No chemicals, everything biodegradable.  Friends here insisted on digging and preparing his grave.  It was a beautiful way to say goodbye to him. Love to you all, Geraldine

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The Goose and the Gander ... Dastyari and Harriss

John Hawkins*, Chudleigh. Pic*
11.09.16 5:45 am

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… Why has the owner of the Mercury not pursued Harriss with the same relentless vigour as shown by the Australian in its pursuit of Dastyari? I raised the matter of Harriss and Ta Ann in my history of forestry in Tasmania as tabled by Andrew Wilkie in the House of Representatives and again here on TT: HERE: Forestry Tasmania, Andrew Wilkie MP and the tabled document ... Not a squeak out of the ever-compliant Mercury. …

• Bob Hawkins in Comments: Thanks John. I was still almost young when I realised that there are none so blind as those that are paid not to see. Early in my years in Asia and the Pacific, I discovered how a handful of dollars here and a handful of dollars there can bring on instant blindness (and, of course, onset of I-don’t-recall syndrome). Australians in Asia were in my days (maybe still are) notorious for their capacity to pay a bribe or take one. I had to smile recently when an elderly Third World “statesman” from a forest- and mineral-ravaged nation protested that he was clean as a whistle, and always had been. Malaysians (and not just them alone) have been actively corrupting Asia-Pacific politicians since way back to the 1960s. It’s everywhere, John, it’s everywhere.

• Trish Kyne in Comments: The musings surrounding the lack of investment, along with the ongoing difficulty in attracting viable businesses to Tasmania as a whole, and the Huon Valley in particular, can be laid squarely at the door of the closed shop attitude of the puppet masters. Underlining this in small communities are the faceless financial contributors that engineer the exclusive money making deals, which ultimately line their own pockets; while the community they espouse to support trail further and further behind. Newspapers appear happy to publish the most amazing claims by ‘large employers’ in the state, without doing due diligence in following up those stories by looking under rocks for the truth. Likewise, the papers rarely publish letters from the public that point out the flaws in said stories. Tasmania needs independent watchdogs across the board that actually have the power to do their designated job. Maybe an anti-corruption Crime Commission with the power to investigate, prosecute and oust the bad guys. Quiet retirements don’t deliver change.

… John Hayward in Comments: While no one could accuse Rupert of being politically non-partisan, he has generally recognised that the Tas LibLabs are true neoliberals in their devotion to kleptocracy. If Harriss seemed to have a stash of get-out-of jail-free cards,  what about the Labor lads immersed in pulp mills, land swaps, fox hunts, and sweetheart sales of public assets? Not much thunder heard from Mercury. Sam should have set up shop here, a renowned blind spot for ethical radar.

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Writers | John Hawkins | Politics | International | Local | National | State | Forestry | Gunns | Economy | Environment | Editor's Choice | Opinion | History | Legal | Personal | Society

UTAS: Conceit and deceit

Dr Michael Powell* Pic*
10.09.16 5:30 am

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… This kind of pious prattle is common UTAS rhetoric, cloaking failure in the Emperors’ raiment. The shift to on-line and other delivery is aimed simply at staff reduction and cost containment and is nothing more noble than that. To suggest that drop-outs are a by-product of a ‘social mission’ aimed at those of lower socio-economic backgrounds is a cruel deceit. Further scrutiny reveals that the shift to online and other delivery is more pronounced in the North and North-West where staff reductions have led to plummeting enrolments as well as higher attrition rates …

• lola moth in Comments: Having recently retired, I was looking forward to doing some adult education courses which I never found time for whilst working. I soon discovered that not only were there very few courses on offer but that nearly all of them were online. If I want to learn about a subject to pass a written test then online learning is ok but if I want a clear understanding of the subject I need the inter-action of not only a teacher but of other students as well. For me, the classroom environment is just as important as the text book. If I had to start my education again now by sitting in front of a screen in my PJ’s and drinking tea all day, I would most likely be classed as special needs and unteachable.

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The Sixth Global Extinction – We are Now Entering it ...

Ted Mead* All images: Ted Mead. First published September 8
09.09.16 6:00 am

Image for The Sixth Global Extinction – We are Now Entering it ...

Extinction is Forever ... History shows us that over millions of years the world has been through several eras of mass extinction where countless plants and animals have vanished forever …

We have now entered the 21st century in an alarming and disturbing manner as much of life on Earth is under siege from the careless and ignorant impacts of modern society. In our blatant disregard for all living creatures, humans over the past few centuries have essentially flailed a wrecking ball across virtually all parts of the planet’s biosphere by fouling the land, water and atmosphere through our insatiable desire to cultivate the soil, and consume or exploit where possible its finite resources …

• Greg James in Comments: Jack, the first practical attempt at containment must be the reduction of the human population and thus reduce the effects of our ‘footprint’. Without that start and then a simplification of the remaining humans needs there is only catastrophe waiting. Moral questions and production need to change, are we entitled to pets that survive on a high protein diet, which in turn is emptying the oceans? Do we just carry on and hope that if we do not change our behaviour and needs, then it’s ok to indulge in the death of many species. The dissonance we have from the effects and demands of seven billion people on the water supply and the waste they produce is inevitably catastrophic. A utopian world with little effect on human nature is about 200 million people according to the UN. That requires the death of 97% of the population and their pets.

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Writers | Ted Mead | Politics | International | Local | National | New Zealand | State | Forestry | Gunns | Economy | Environment | Editor's Choice | Opinion | History | Planning/Heritage | Personal | Science | Society