The questions I asked in ‘The Pulp Mill … Democracy or Oligarchy’ were sent to all politicians, Legislative Council and House of Assembly. This was one week ago and so far I have received answers from 6:

Kerry Finch MLC, 18 September: ‘The pathway is through the Gunns Pulp Mill section, then through Poss then through Panel/Consultants.’

Don Wing MLC, 19 September: ‘We have contacted the RPDC but were unable to obtain any information for you. The email addresses are shown on the website’. (email addresses for members of the RPDC were supplied.)

Sue Napier MHA, 20 September: This was the longest and most detailed response. Here are some excerpts:

‘The Resource and Development Act 1997 established the Resource Development and Planning Commission (the ‘Commission) as a statutory body … we set it up as a big reform of the planning process, and numerous complaints that planning decisions were too often influenced by political favours, and there was lack of certainty for developers as to what the process was. The complaint (was) that too often, even when the planning process had been gone through, that political interference could wipe the results of the process, sometimes on less than publicly available reasons. … Quite often the complaint is that the RPDC is too independent, and doesn’t like to take into account the views of the government or local government. Julian Green the head of the Commission fervently defends his independence as the Commissioner.’

Minister for Tourism, Arts & the Environment, Paula Wriedt, 20 September: Following the email was a disclaimer: ‘The information in this transmission … is intended for the person or persons to whom it is addressed … (if you are not) you are warned …’ No information except ‘we will communicate …  at a later date.’

Premier Paul Lennon, 20 September: Same disclaimer and message as above.

Peter Gutwein MHA, 20 September: ‘I will have a look.’

Kim Booth MHA, 21 September: ’… I can answer most of the questions except the priors of some of the RPDC and advisors.’

Comments: I find it interesting that the ‘priors’ of some RPDC and advisors are not available. Unless previous employment is revealed to the public there remains the suspicion. Transparency is vital to trust. It is also interesting that the RPDC seems reluctant to provide information. Even more interesting is the disclaimer attached to both Labor responses. Thank you to Kerry Finch for providing the pathways.

So far no politician has tackled my questions re ‘previous employment’ and ‘financial affiliation’. These are tough questions and can be seen as an invasion of privacy. However, why should a question of ‘privacy’ hide important information that could effect decisions involving every person in the State? Stepping into the political arena by definition demands the loss of some privacy.

Next Step: (1) Send two specific questions to each politician. ‘Are any members of the RPDC compromised by previous employment?’ … ‘Do any members of the RPDC hold financial interests in the timber or related industries?’ (2) Begin to seek answers to the first question from members of the RPDC.

Your comments are invited.

Joan Dehle Emberg

MY thanks to those who responded to my column on pulp mill misinformation ’ (Pulp mill: Democracy or Oligarchy)

So far no politician has tackled my questions re ‘previous employment’ and ‘financial affiliation’. These are tough questions and can be seen as an invasion of privacy. However, why should a question of ‘privacy’ hide important information that could effect decisions involving every person in the State? Stepping into the political arena by definition demands the loss of some privacy.