THANK YOU PREMIER, thank you to the judges for this honour, and thank you to Paul Lennon and Gunns for a cast of characters so improbable and a story so outrageous that it would put a pulp novelist to shame.

Journalism matters, quality journalism matters. If you wish to see what a world without it looks like, if you want one image of barren waste for what happens when corporate lies become accepted as the truth — come to Tasmania and walk through a smoking clearfell.

I want to thank Sally Warhaft at The Monthly for publishing this piece and Morry Schwarz for backing me. I said to Morry that Gunns were highly litigious, and legal action a likelihood.

“That would make my day,” replied Morrie, and he meant it. He fully legally indemnified me.

You cannot be a city of literature without a culture of great publishers. How fortunate you are to count Morry Schwarz among your number.

Sadly, since this article was published too little has changed. Your taxes are still being used to destroy native forest unique in the world, to prop up a failing company whose environmental record would shame a Third World country. The Federal Government still supports a dying pulp mill with pledges of $120 million of infrastructure support.

We still have the grotesque situation of some of the earth’s most carbon-dense forests being clearfelled and then burnt in fires so extreme that for up to a month a year Hobart is blanketed in smoke.

How can Australia have any credibility on the issue of climate change, when this year the Asthma Foundation advised asthmatics to stay indoors while forests were napalmed. That our taxes are paying for the consequent carbon fallout that is not only warming the planet, but choking our own citizens, is a perversity that beggars belief.

In Tasmania today we have limited investigations underway which suggest to many the possibility of corrupted police, judiciary and polity. Incoming Premier David Bartlett has admitted he has inherited a mess and that trust in government needs to be restored.

Tonight I call on Premier Bartlett to establish a commission of enquiry — the island’s equivalent of a royal commission — into the relationship between the Tasmanian forest industry and the Tasmanian Government over the last decade. Because nothing less will end this rape of Tasmania and restore that trust.

And I beg of Australia to help the majority of Tasmanians who want old growth logging ended. Please, I ask you here tonight, please help us by pressuring the powerful in whatever way you can to end this obscenity in Australia’s Garden of Eden. We are better than this; we can, if we choose, end it.

Thank you.


Flanagan archive

Richard Flanagan  Acceptance speech of the Victorian Premier’s Award for Best Journalism, for Flanagan’s Gunns: Out of Control, published in the The Monthly magazine, May 2007. Flanagan was presented with the award by Premier John Brumby at a dinner Monday night, September 1,  in Federation Square, Melbourne.

Tonight I call on Premier Bartlett to establish a commission of enquiry — the island’s equivalent of a royal commission — into the relationship between the Tasmanian forest industry and the Tasmanian Government over the last decade. Because nothing less will end this rape of Tasmania and restore that trust.