TASMANIA"S LABOR government is in crisis with fresh allegations of corruption that now implicate the state’s highly unpopular premier Paul Lennon and the Tasmanian police force, with, at its heart, Gunns pulp mill.

In an article that has impacted significantly around the island, author Richard Flanagan in Saturday’s Mercury called on Paul Lennon to resign for the good of Tasmania and his own party.

 

‘Mr Lennon’s policy would seem to be reducible to this,’ wrote Flanagan, ‘keep power however, destroy whoever, and please Gunns with whatever.

‘This is not the rule of law, but the rule of lawlessness.’

 

http://tasmaniantimes.com/index.php?/weblog/article/battle-cry-for-our-tasmania/

 

Now Tasmania’s Premier Paul Lennon is facing the increasing prospect of his own demise, for today (Thursday)  he faces accusations –

 

http://tasmaniantimes.com/index.php?/weblog/article/shredded/

http://www.news.com.au/mercury/story/0,22884,23553076-921,00.html

 

that he has overseen breaches of the Constitution Act 1934, the Criminal Code Act 1924 and the Archives Act 1983.

 

He is accused of compulsively interfering in the Justice portfolio, directing former Attorney General Steven Kons to appoint a magistrate for political rather than professional purposes.

 

Most astonishingly is the claim by whistleblower Nigel Burch that he took his evidence of a magistrate’s appointment being dudded because of political interference to the Tasmanian police seven months ago. The question arises: if this is true, why have the police not acted?

 

Kons was deputy premier until being forced to resign on April 10 for lying to parliament. Tasmania had earlier watched Kons’ deputy premier predecessor Bryan Green go through two conspiracy trials - with hung jury verdicts each time.

 

Paul Lennon is the nation’s least popular Premier, hovering consistently and embarrassingly around a 30 per cent approval rating.

 

Since taking over from deceased Premier Jim Bacon in 2004, Lennon has been bedevilled by accusations he has overseen an administration characterized by cronyism, corruption, and backroom deals to benefit the Big End of Town.

 

Lennon is widely perceived to run an administration that has governed, not for his constituents, but for a couple of major corporations, particularly monopoly woodchipper Gunns Ltd, the largest landowner and richest company in Tasmania, proponents of a $2 billion pulp mill.

His judgment has been frequently questioned - he stitched up a deal to sign up betting company Betfair while enjoying the six-star luxury of Melbourne’s crown casino, owned by Betfair’s joint venture partner, PBL. He had his colonial mansion just outside Hobart renovated by a subsidiary of Gunns Ltd. He oversaw a deal with the other major corporate mate, Federal Hotels which gave the Federal group a monopoly to operate Tasmania’s poker machines until 2018 for no charge; a licence to print money estimated by Citigroup to be worth $120 million in governement revenue.

The latest accusations centre on a statement

http://tasmaniantimes.com/index.php?/weblog/article/what-nigel-burch-said/

made by Nigel Burch, previous advisor to Kons,  the substance of which is that Premier Lennon had interfered in the appointment of a magistrate, Simon Cooper, because of this lawyer’s role, as commissioner of the state body that was assessing Gunns pulp mill, the RPDC, in pointing out that Gunns had been ‘critically non-compliant’ in answering key environemntal questions.

 

At heart of the drama is a question of whether or not, as many Tasmanians now believe, their governemnt is corrupt.

If Burch’s claims are true, the Tasmanian police will need to mount a very convincing argument to prove that they are not politicised, and that they are above the corrupted processes that afflict so many other areas of Tasmanian life.  Endless calls from across the Tasmanian community for a royal commission have been rebuffed … while Premier Lennon revs up his strategy of bread-and-circus distraction – just yesterday with his much publicized Tassie AFL team push.

 

http://www.news.com.au/mercury/story/0,22884,23553032-3462,00.html

But the ripples of disquiet spread much further than the arcane world of Tasmanian politics.

 

At the centre of latest scandal is the woman who now heads Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s 2020 Talkfest: Linda Hornsey.

 

Hornsey is former head of Lennon’s Department of Premier and Cabinet ... and among the Burch claims is that she may have been acting without the authority of the Premier, raising the question not only of potentially exceeding her authority; but whether a personal vendetta was in play due to her being exposed as playing a part in politically interfering with the RPDC process of assessing Gunns pulp mill proposal.

 

Linda Hornsey is of course not new to community consultative processes. Back in 2001 she shepherded a similar Labor initiative, then Tasmanian Premier Jim Bacon’s Tasmania Together process. Like Rudd, Bacon committed wholeheartedly to the process and the search for good ideas emanating from outside conventional politics. Like 2020 a group of community leaders was selected. It only went wrong when on consulting the Tasmanian people it was discovered that what Tasmanians overwhelmingly wanted was the ending of old growth logging. This was of course unacceptable to the pro-logging industry Bacon government and this finding only became public when two leaders left the process with claims of political interference.

Hornsey is again associated with a highly serious matter which has at its heart the Tasmanian woodchipping industry.

 

The question that needs to be asked of Kevin Rudd is: Is this the best person to manage his 2020 meeting? Do his oft-stated standards of probity and ethics in public life no longer apply when it is a Tasmanian sister or brother up for the job?

 

To what extent does he wish the stench of corruption blowing ever stronger out of Tasmania to now sully his own name? Kevin is of course a Christian and he could do worse than ponder that timeless wisdom of Ecclesiastes: ‘Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour.” .

To date Kevin Rudd has shown no interest in what has been described as a Tasmanian ‘public sphere characterised by lying, threats, intimidation and evasion in public, and cronyism and closeness to a handful of robber barons in private.’ He has wholeheartedly endorsed Gunns and the Tasmanian logging industry. He has promised $120 million of rail infrastructure for the pulp mill, to ensure logs from southern forests are sped efficiently on taxpayers’ money to the northern mill.


But more scandal and evidence of corruption is going to emerge from Tasmania.

 

The question is whether Kevin Rudd will act to dissociate himself from it, or allow it to begin damaging him and his ambitions… Will it be possible to take seriously any recommendation emanating from 2020 about greenhouse gas emissions when Rudd has chosen to oversee this process a woman whose actions have become associated with the biggest contributor to Tasmania’s greenhouse gas emissions: the Tasmanian logging industry?

Lindsay Tuffin written for Crikey, Thursday, but unused …

The question that needs to be asked of Kevin Rudd is: Is this the best person to manage his 2020 meeting? Do his oft-stated standards of probity and ethics in public life no longer apply when it is a Tasmanian sister or brother up for the job?  To what extent does he wish the stench of corruption blowing ever stronger out of Tasmania to now sully his own name? Kevin is of course a Christian and he could do worse than ponder that timeless wisdom of Ecclesiastes: ‘Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour.”  To date Kevin Rudd has shown no interest in what has been described as a Tasmanian ‘public sphere characterised by lying, threats, intimidation and evasion in public, and cronyism and closeness to a handful of robber barons in private.’ He has wholeheartedly endorsed Gunns and the Tasmanian logging industry. He has promised $120 million of rail infrastructure for the pulp mill, to ensure logs from southern forests are sped efficiently on taxpayers’ money to the northern mill.


But more scandal and evidence of corruption is going to emerge from Tasmania.