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Image: Dave Groves

2020 got off to a historic start with the final agreement on the merger of the Liberal and Labor parties Australia-wide. The two parties, out of government since the Green landslide in 2016, finally acknowledged what the electorate had been saying for years, that there were no substantial policy differences.  Their platform - development at any cost, industry as the saviour, trickle down welfare arising from the rich getting richer, had essentially become one and the same.  The migration of the Trade Union movement towards Green allegiance in 2015 had proved the last straw. 

Labor and Liberal parties first coalesced into a single party in Tasmania in 2016, but for many years Liberal Leader and PM Tony Abbott had refused to contemplate a national merger.  Abbott’s death in a surfing accident at Melbourne’s Cheviot beach had been the final straw, allowing moderates in the party to accept the inevitable.

The Tasmanian picture had been accelerated in 2015 when Liberal opposition leader Erik Abetz, in a sudden fit of apoplexy, simply lost it and attacked Bob Brown at a book launch in Salamanca, apparently attempting to strangle him with his bare hands.

In the struggle that ensued, Abetz slipped and fell into the water by Constitution Dock.  He was rescued, but his political career was at an end.  Attempts to blame the incident on defective blood pressure medication never gained traction.  The security camera footage was on Youtube within ten minutes and went viral worldwide.  Octogenarian Brown was unhurt. 

Also in local news, Gunns share price fell from 2 cents to 1 cent, and there was talk of a new Joint Venture Partner being just around the corner.  A new report on the stalled Inter Governmental Agreement found that Tasmania’s forests had increased by 15% in the interim, and now had a carbon value of seven billion dollars.  Per year.  The winding up of Forestry Tasmania after the 2013 Royal Commission had lead to the discovery that the forests did better with no-one managing them at all.  Savings had lead to the rebuilding of Royal Hobart Hospital and there were no more waiting lists for elective surgery. 

Hobarts light rail service and integrated cross Derwent Ferries were opened to widespread acclaim, the automated trains linking seven ferry terminals giving a seamless flow from Bridgewater to Bruny Island, linking Kingston, Margate, Howrah, Taroona and Bellerive for commuters to the city, an average trip taking ten minutes.  Hobart won the most liveable city in the world award for the third year in a row. 

Premier Kim Booth and his education minister Airlie Ward announced the opening of seven new primary schools across the midlands, Huon,  and northwest coast.

Peter Cundall celebrated his hundredth birthday by opening the 90 acre retirement village Greenacres at Longreach, near Bell Bay, on an abandoned industrial site. 

And Prime Minister Nick McKim announced that Pontville Refugee Centre would be a temporary home to 30,000 American refugees, until the US West Coast earthquake recovery could be carried out, a task expected to take at least five years.  He said that Australia was proud to play its part in the care of over 6 million Americans worldwide who had lost their homes.  Stopping the boats was inhumane in this context, and he would debate opposition leader Julie Bishop at any time.