Ain’t it grand to know that Mr Plod is hard at work training to apprehend the real criminals in our midst? 

We must establish a register of known Tasmanian hijackers, another of probable hijackers, another of possible hijackers, another of fellow-traveller hijackers, their friends, contacts, workmates, sporting connections and neighbours. 

The police will need all the help they can get.  It’s in the sub-national interest.  To upgrade it to the national interest we need Mick Keelty on the job.  The feds really know how to get their lists in order.

Now that we all know for sure that the real enemy is within, living next door, and in the next suburb, and in the next town, we need to gather information, create a slush fund for a network of informers, infiltrate their open meetings, identify them on talk-back radio and when they speak and write to the media, build a profile of their personality types, and rank them.

Let’s not mess around with remote foreign security threats any more.  All our security problems are internal.  We need to identify them more comprehensively.  Forestry activists are only the tip of the iceberg.  While it is essential these people be put on curfew, legislation curtailing further (even excluding completely) their access to the common law must be strengthened and rigorously applied. A start has already been made in this direction.  The PMAA model is there, the precedent has been set.  It merely requires extension. 

It is also necessary to impose a close watch on these people’s movements, in the public interest, and build extensive dossiers on their links.  They need an acronym for easy recognition.  Any ideas?  “Nimby Nutters – Approach With Extreme Caution”? (NNAWEC)?  A bit long? 

We need to know how far they have permeated all sectors of society.  Are they at work in the timber industry itself?  How large is their presence in our schools and colleges, not to mention the academy, the law, the fourth estate and the civil service?

There is not a moment to waste.  How far have their tentacles encroached into the arena of political influence and power?  Do they have Terry Martin in their pocket, or at a national level, Barnaby Joyce?  Are they trying to interfere with our young David Bartlett being kind, clever and connected in the ways that he has already decided?  He must be left alone to get on with it.  As he has said in defence of Graeme Sturgess swearing at a farmer, swearing at ordinary people (who clearly have no right to speak their minds in the first place) is a necessary part of the ministerial code of conduct, and is enshrined in ethical standards expected of our elected representatives if we are to restore faith in “democracy” as we know it.

I digress, but before I leave this matter of the proper use of language in maintaining the full measure of respect due to our public institutions and office-holders, those in public employ, in government-funded media units for example, must be encouraged in their use of the vernacular.  The Sturgess model should be de rigeur for all official responses to those who would promote public debate and discussion, especially by anonymous letter writers.  The precedent for a partnership between anonymity and government-sponsored vitriol is already well established, but could be further explored with a commensurate increase in funding (perhaps from the health or education allocations, which are obviously out of control).

Back to police training.  One can only hope that the forestry activist hypothetical is a small part of the overall education and training program for police.  They must be thoroughly aware, in their hearts and minds, of the criminality and threat to the state that exists throughout the community, from top to bottom.

It is incumbent on the Minister of Police to create a special, but large and lavishly funded, internal security unit (ISU), which could take as its model any number of similar forces throughout the world now and in the past.  Otherwise the police might become redundant.  Perhaps the Mugabe model is a little extreme.  The Argentine, Chilean or South African apartheid model would no doubt be worth looking at, as would the rendition program employed at great expense by the current Bush administration.

Finally, but perhaps most important of all, it is vital that whole regions of Tasmania be regarded as potential risks to security, not just groups of people.  After all, whole populations in some districts, men, women and children, farmers, workers, business owners and professionals, are more capable of mounting serious hijacking operations at all Tasmanian airports at the same time, or in a rolling series of strikes.

This type of scenario should be examined more carefully, particularly now that Peter Cundall has more time on his hands for visits to Victoria and elsewhere, ostensibly to speak about gardening, producing healthy food and growing beautiful trees.  Senator Christine Milne also uses flight on a regular basis, and knows all the detail about how pulp mills operate, whether they be at Wesley Vale or the Tamar Valley.  Geoff Law, now in retirement, is no novice when it comes to planning and organizing.

Then there are the asthmatics.  They all need to be carefully watched.  Now there’s a hypothetical scenario the police would be well advised to prepare for.  A bunch of ventolin and seretide-wielding asthmatics of all ages, from the cradle to the wheel-chaired, hijacking Qantas Flight One (QFO) from Launceston on New Year’s Eve, on a one way trip from Western Junction to Bell Bay – a pre-emtive strike, so to speak.

Now, wouldn’t that be an embarrassment if the asthmatics could bring it off?  A real wheeze into 2009.

Peter Henning


Peter Henning
We must establish a register of known Tasmanian hijackers, another of probable hijackers, another of possible hijackers, another of fellow-traveller hijackers, their friends, contacts, workmates, sporting connections and neighbours.