NEARLY y 700 people attended a ‘Healthy Democracy’ forum in Launceston, an amazing turnout for a discussion about governance. Speakers from Liberal party, Greens, sacked Labor MLA Terry Martin and others (1), all argued that democracy in Tasmania was failing badly in a variety of ways.

Evidence for these failures included secret decisions, the exclusion of the public from the pulp mill process, the secret poker machine licence giveaway and other actions by the Lennon government that those present found odious and inconsistent with democracy.

Chairman Bob McMahon (2) challenged that the liberal Opposition weren’t opposing government effectively, they were instead going along with decisions that many people found offensive.

Comment was made about the Lennon government’s dismissal of criticism as somehow inspired by Greens, which was exemplified by a government press release from Graeme Sturges, Cabinet Secretary, that same day (3).

Cabinet Secretary Graeme Sturges has called on the organisers of tonight’s ‘healthy democracy’ public meeting in Launceston to be up-front about their links with the Green movement.

Why pick on the Greens? Why not call for the same disclosure about Labor links (there were Labor folks there) or Liberal links? And what’s a link anyway? If a group of doctors meets to criticise health care standards, must they declare ‘organisers have some links to the Liberal party’? It’s patent nonsense - Mr Sturges needs to take a shower or be transferred to a job that he’s better equipped to handle.

Mr Sturges assertion ignores the odium created by government actions instead implying that attendees were either Greens or misled by the organisers. Later Mr Sturges says…

“People who organise public events being critical of government should be true to their colours and disclose their political affiliations at the outset rather than behaving evasively’.

This may be true when political parties are organising meetings, but that wasn’t the case. The Launceston meeting was more about a wave of disgust and disquiet at the secrecy, corporate subsidies/giveaways, and the trashing of due process by the Lennon government in an environment of health and education cuts due to budget restrictions.

The government would like to believe that whenever anyone becomes disenchanted with their performance, it must be the fault of ‘anti government’ and/or ‘Green’ groups.

“A quick search online confirms both have strong links to the Green side of politics through their opposition to the pulp mill,” Mr Sturges said.

Another false implication by Mr Sturges, this time that those opposed to Lennon’s pulp mill must perforce be Green. Surveys have shown that over 50% of Tasmanians are opposed to the mill and/or the process that approved it so clearly there’s a lot of people who aren’t Green who oppose the mill.

Mr Sturges fallacious implication that people opposed to the pulp mill must have strong links to Greens is typical of the hysterical tribalism of minders and apologists for a failing government.

Mr Sturges goes another bridge too far when he comments on Jeremy Rockliff’s presence saying…

’This is further evidence of the developing coalition between the Liberals and Greens in this State’.

Given Jeremy Rockliff’s trenchant defence of the pulp mill and the huge differences between his and Kim Booth’s position, Mr Sturges conclusions appear uninformed at best. His next remarks were…

‘It should be noted that since the last State election, the Liberals and Greens have voted together…41 times as opposed to Greens voting with Labor on only 9 occasions. Mr Rockliff’s participation in this event continues this cosy alliance’.

The notion that anyone critical of the Lennon government must somehow be involved in a Green conspiracy is typical of paranoia. It’s also a convenient excuse for inaction.

The idea that all critics and criticism must somehow be invalid simply because they are critics, is a very dangerous one for any group to hold, particularly for a political party that must face elections.

At least one member of the audience was driven to attend the meeting out of desperation due to a local disabled centre being closed by the government.

Was she a Green sympathiser?

No, she was just a frantic mum at her wits end about the problems being created by state government insouciance towards disadvantaged members of the public.

She typified the concerns that drove such an unprecedented number of people to give up their evening to discuss a topic like governance.

Instead of listening however, the Lennon government has once again decided that there’s some kind of conspiracy against them led by the Greens, and that therefore no further action is required.

Of course, the Lennon government’s constant demonisation of those it argues are ‘Green’ begs the question ‘Is it legitimate or legal for a government to discriminate against one group of taxpayers in this way’?

The audience clearly enjoyed themselves, with lots of clapping, cheering and jeering as they involved themselves in a community event of great importance to them (described as ‘rowdy’ by Channel 9) and their future.

The meeting closed after passing resolutions (4) that were cleverly disguised not to resemble Green policies, but instead focussed on what people believe is needed to keep their state government focussed on ethical and moral behaviour.

People are now saying that Lennon’s government is a model of bullying, waste, ignorance, favouritism, lack of care, self-aggrandisement and incompetence.

Lennon isn’t looking good as a brand for Australian Labor.

What next? A fifth makeover?

Watch this space.


Mike Bolan
http://www.abetteraustralia.com
Mike is a complex systems consultant, change facilitator and executive and management coach.

(1) http://tasmaniantimes.com/index.php?/weblog/article/democracy-public-meeting-tuesday-april-29-7pm1/
(2) http://tasmaniantimes.com/index.php?/weblog/article/tasmania-a-failed-democracy/
(3) http://www.media.tas.gov.au/release.php?id=23593
(4) http://tasmaniantimes.com/index.php?/weblog/article/four-resolutions-for-democracy/

Mike Bolan

The notion that anyone critical of the Lennon government must somehow be involved in a Green conspiracy is typical of paranoia. It’s also a convenient excuse for inaction.  The idea that all critics and criticism must somehow be invalid simply because they are critics, is a very dangerous one for any group to hold, particularly for a political party that must face elections.  At least one member of the audience was driven to attend the meeting out of desperation due to a local disabled centre being closed by the government.  Was she a Green sympathiser? No, she was just a frantic mum at her wits end about the problems being created by state government insouciance towards disadvantaged members of the public.