THE dream was: “Open laws, openly arrived at …” It was not Bob Hawke who called for this but an American, Woodrow Wilson, President of the USA during World War I.
Wilson had already conflicted with Big Oil, Big Steel and Big Business as a governor and for a moment held this tsunami of wealth back. Laws were passed, cartels broken and the western world seemed to be on the road to a more democratic era.
The philosophy was that by passing laws to control Big Business, people would benefit by having a more democratic society. That was the idea. Sometimes it worked as in the break up of Rockefeller’s oil empire. But like so many good ideas, forces of moneyed power, watered good laws down.
That same, destructive moneyed, process continues in Tasmania this very moment. Except today we are caught in a new type of tsunami. I call it, “The Cosy Relationship”.
This new “Cosy Relationship” has come about by the illegitimate marriage of Large Business with a co-operative and accommodating Government of the present and an even more co-operative Government of the past. You fill in the blanks. You would not be wrong.
A group, of which Joan and I were members, attended The Launceston Council meeting on Monday the 28th of August. The meeting became a witness to the fact that democracy, instead of being alive and well, has had a serious set-back in Northern Tasmania. But then, the history of the Launceston Council has been one of unabashed pro-business. We should not be surprised; although I celebrate the aldermen and women who seek to establish an impartial and democratic government in the face of autocracy.
It was immediately obvious as the questions from the floor were dealt with; that we have a part-time mayor (in two full-time well-paying jobs) who does not know the issues, quotes nefarious statistics and holds upset citizens in contempt. He even threatened to stop the question period if we naughty little children were too noisy. (Shades of Miss Hackett!) He quoted spurious quotes of quotes such as: “… world’s best practice…” and did not seem to know the difference between Tamar silt and Trevallyn drinking water. Not only that, he did not speak loud enough. We had to use the mike but he did not. He needed it more than the citizens! First rule of communications is that if you don’t want to communicate … do not let yourself be heard. His Worship is a genius at not communicating.
I have attended many parliaments, courts, state legislatures and council meetings in Canada, USA and Australia. Never, before Monday, did I feel so distanced from the people “in power”. It was His Worship’s playing field and he only kicked behinds (in a sense). He did not score once.
Our group of citizens and our organization of hundreds have a deep angst and worry about the proposed pulp mill. They are valid concerns and fears. We are all citizens who want the best for our state. We are not negative oppositionists. But we DO want … no demand … to be heard.
We should have known better than expect a dialog or some answers from the session with the council. As they say at Wrest Point, “It was a stacked deck!”
Part 2 tomorrow, Part 3 Wednesday