MY recent letter to the Leader of the Opposition is an appeal. ( Dear Will Hodgman )

It is a straight forward appeal and all the concerns expressed are based on my research and are genuinely heartfelt. I like many Tasmanians am looking to Will (who is actually younger than me) to win the next election and lead Tasmania back into a period of inclusive, ethical and representative government.

In the meantime I would love an opportunity to discuss my concerns with Will or with any politician who has supported the Premier’s pulp mill bill. I would love an opportunity to discuss them in a public forum. Thus far it would seem that they are not interested.

If anyone has the right to ask questions it is people like myself who live in the firing line. We drive the roads. We breathe the air. We wake up here every day. Myself, I am a sportsman who spends many hours per week outside, on the local roads, on the trails and in and on the water. I am therefore very vulnerable to the outside environment. At this stage I am thanking god that I don’t have asthma. I know plenty who do. I fear for the poor buggers. Especially the young ones won’t understand what’s happening to them. I suppose they might be OK if they stay indoors.

Am I being alarmist?

Do your research girls and boys!!

I genuinely believe that I live in the best place (the Tamar Valley) in Australia. I wouldn’t live anywhere else now. I am Hobart born and bred and I also love that region as I do the whole of Tasmania really. I lived away for around 4 years up until recently and frankly the longer I was away the more I missed the place and that very much includes my family and friends.

It is an understatement to say that I wouldnt allow those bonds to lapse, for a career interstate. The fact is Tassie stacks up against any place I’ve lived. Sure, the employment opportunities aren’t as good here, but if you want to live here badly enough you can make it work. For goodness sake Tasmania is not a Third World country (though some of the governance and industrial practices have similarities). I believe that many Tasmanians are aware of, and value the fact that they are rich in lifestyle and natural amenities and this of course is why we can all be heard saying that we live in the best place in the world. I am just one of those believers.

But I wasn’t born yesterday and all the weasel words in the world wont convinvce me that a pulp mill will improve the Tamar Valley. That when the mill has pulled up stumps (pardon the pun) and is dead and gone it will have left this region and all that lives here, be it person plant or animal in a better state than it was before.

Surely, the Tamar Valley has plenty to offer anyone who wants to make a go of it without this development. The proposed mill will benefit one company and its shareholders and a few hundred employees and it will provide some indirect employment for others. I don’t dispute that.  But I reckon you can’t justify a development that will harm people, the environment and the local flora and fauna.

Do no harm. Our government has a duty of care to do no harm.

      However it would appear thus far from Will Hodgmans public statements that he is taking the position that we desperately need this pulp because of the injection of taxation revenue and jobs that it will bring to Tasmania.

We don’t know what Will really thinks about possible harm and the much publicised public health and environmental risks because he has not specifically addressed any of these issues.

Yet, interestingly he himself has criticised the Premier for leaving the public in the dark on the Mill? Mr Hodgman’s recent carefully worded and quite soft public statements and his parliamentary support (despite heightened concerns in the Tasmanian community about the Premier’s fast-track pulp mill approval process, Will, the public record shows that you and your party recently supported a gagging of debate around the mill, in the House of Assembly.) for the Premier’s pulp mill bill suggest that he wants to gain some political advantage by attacking the Premier without doing or saying anything that might offend Gunns and offend the powerbrokers in State and federal Liberal Party who like the Premier are prepared to have a mill in the Tamar Valley at any cost.

I can only assess Mr Hodgman’s position based on what he has and hasn’t said. Unlike Terry Martin, Will Hodgman seems willing to forgive the Premier and the proponents trashing of the RPDC and overlook their infamous relationship and allow the continuation of what must now be surely one of the most farcical, tainted and biased ‘planning” processes undertaken in recent Australian history.

Even against sound scientific advice Mr Hodgman, without any sort meaningful opposition,  seems happy for this the mill get up in the Tamar Valley (ie: Pulp-mill technology expert Dr Warwick Raverty says Long Reach on the Tamar estuary near Bell Bay is an “atrocious location” for this project) if it means he will keep his job and get a crack at the Premier’s job at the next election.

On the subject of Dr Raverty, Mr Hodgman recently stated that comments by Dr Raverty about the antics of the Lennon Labor Government and its “schoolyard politics” would resonate with Tasmanians. Yet funnily the long list of reasons that the former RPDC expert has now given us as to why the mill shouldn’t be built in the Tamar Valley don’t resonate with Will? And Mr Hodgman is also on record as saying: “It is important that Tasmanians understand the pulp mill will be approved only if it meets the stringent guidelines set down by the independent Resource Planning and Development Commission (RPDC)(http://www.tas.liberal.org.au/default.cfm?action=news_detail&ID=6183),

You are the one preaching it Will! What has happened there?

Sorry Will but you are not giving us much to look to in terms of a Leader who sets himself apart from the rest of Tasmania’s self-serving, ambitious career parliamentarians. I therefore don’t see much to admire at present. You might make a big powerful premier for the next 10 years but I will still hold a marginalised politician like Terry Martin in higher regard than you because he did what was right despite what it meant for his career. I’m sorry Will but I expect no less that from you. Call me naive if you like. I can live with that.

I would like to finish by asking Mr Hodgman to consider the words of Martin Luther King jnr as quoted by MLC Terry Martin during his recent speech to the Leg. Co. where he formally rejected the Premier’s bill: “(He) said, and I quote: `On some positions, cowards ask the question, is it safe? Expediency asks the question, is it politic? And vanity asks the question, is it popular? But conscience asks the question, is it right? There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because conscience tells him it is right’. Mr President, I know this bill is not good governance and I cannot and I will not vote for something that goes against my beliefs and commitment to proper process.”

Mr Hodgman, by what process did you arrive at your decision to support the Premier’s bill? As leader of Tasmania’s opposition you owe the people of Launceston and the Tamar Valley an explanation?

Rick Pilkington

Sorry Will but you are not giving us much to look to in terms of a Leader who sets himself apart from the rest of Tasmania’s self-serving, ambitious career parliamentarians. I therefore don’t see much to admire at present. You might make a big powerful premier for the next 10 years but I will still hold a marginalised politician like Terry Martin in higher regard than you because he did what was right despite what it meant for his career. I’m sorry Will but I expect no less that from you. Call me naive if you like. I can live with that.