The local people had made it overwhelmingly clear that they were opposed to the Walker Corp. plan for Ralphs Bay. 

If the coming together of locals and the ensuing efforts of The Save Ralphs Bay campaign were not enough, poll after poll clearly and unambiguously demonstrated public opposition to the Walker Corp’s Ralphs Bay proposal. 

Even the Liberal opposition, in an unprecedented move had said they are against it, which is so unusual because opposition parties in Tasmania always support the government on big projects. 

Last year the proposal was even voted down at Labor conference, and prior to the election it was well known that the Lennon Cabinet were divided on how to handle the hot potato electoral issue. 

But that wasn’t going to stop Paul Lennon from publicly and controversially pre-empting cabinet on whether the Walker Corp proposal for Ralphs Bay was worthy of Project of State Significance status.  The Premier then told us : “It is not the job of politicians to decide what is, or is not an appropriate development for Tasmania. That is the role of the expert RPDC under the guidance of our world-class planning system.” 

Yeah sure Mr Premier. 

Well we all know what happened next. 

Or do we? 

It appears Clarence Council is set to betray them also

Well we do know that in September last year that Paul Lennon allowed Ralphs Bay locals to believe that they had won the right to be spared the project they had fought so long against (Walker have said that the reasons for scrapping the proposal were ‘commercial’!).

But now, after an election has passed, the seat of Franklin secured   ‘Lauderdale Quays’ is back.

        So why then would the Tasmanian Government —  and it appears that Clarence Council are set to betray them also —  knowingly and deliberately oppose the wishes of a local Tasmanian community? 

There may be one answer to that and to find it one need only look to the growing catalogue of dodgy and incompetent deals done by State Labor.  Indeed, at this moment in time, the priorities of the Lennon Labor Government   are becoming clearer. Top priority is to stay in power, and Labor clearly believes that to do this, they must first and foremost repay their debts to the powerful people who fund them. 

It is also clear now that the Premier, like many of his predecessors is a pushover when it comes to the wishes of powerful business interests. 

We know that “Walker Corporation and its associated company, McRoss, have long been amongst the largest donors to the ALP nationally” (James Boyce: Gee, thanks Lang, mate) and exert a good deal of power and influence over the party. 

Now we see what appears to be another very sweet deal where Walker Corporation is likely to pay just $7200 for each of the Ralph’s Bay waterfront blocks, yet could take up to $400,000 in return for each of them. (A mates’ deal: $7,200 a block) Very sweet. Go figure? 

Exactly what sort of arrangement, what sort of informal understanding passed between The Premier and Lang Walker last year at the time the proposal was originally scrapped? The Premier himself said that he suggested to Lang Walker during a meeting in Sydney last August that any withdrawal of the project might only be temporary. 

The Premier said, “I restated my position that if the company did pull out … and if at some stage in the future Walker Corp wanted to resubmit the project, I would seek cabinet approval for … declaring the project to be one of state significance,”. 

We are beginning to see the 2006 election in a new light

Now, at this point it is also worth bearing in mind that we have a Premier who has an intense hatred of the Libs, the Greens and of pro-conservation campaigns and was furious was when he was stitched up by Cassy,  and Will Hodgman ,  on Ralphs Bay, the first time around.
 
This is such an unpalatable state of affairs, and now we are even beginning to see the 2006 election in a new light. The glory of Labor’s victory is not so glorious anymore with Brian Green’s secret deal with the TCC the subject of multiple inquiries including a DPP investigation, not to mention revelations of the politically expedient manipulation of the Spirit 3 scrapping and now of course the rebirth of Walker Corp’s ‘Lauderdale Quays’ project. 

Presently, a dark pall hangs over the reputation of the Government because of the many unanswered yet serious and well justified questions of deceit, ineptitude, election deals and cronyism. 

All this has now culminated in one of the nation ’ s biggest newspapers,  The Australian’s stinging critricisms of the Lennon Government in an editorial entitled “Rot at the core of the apple isle”.  (Rot at the core of the Apple Isle)

      Indeed it can now be argued that it is the great defenders of the “good name of Tasmania” the Lennon Labor Government that have now become something of a smear on Tasmania because of its shady and incompetent business dealings. It is not Richard Flanagan’s fault, nor the Greens or the media or even the Libs that there are serious questions being asked about democratic standards in Tasmania. Indeed, I would also argue that in the process the Lennon Labor Government has actually damaged the very concept of democracy that is held in the wider Tasmanian community. 

Contributing to this is Premier Paul Lennon’s apparent inability to accept any sort of criticism or blame for the problems he and his ministers create.

  His immature and unstatesmane-like strategy for dealing with negative feedback usually consists of blaming the media, the Greens or the Libs and to cynically assassinate the character of his opponents. 

Paul Lennon is now famous for his style of verbally intimidating others, which is what we have already seen with Cassy O’Connor and Ralph’s Bay round 2.

  Whether Cassy O’ is your cup of tea or not, the sincere and genuine nature of her commitment to the preservation of Ralphs Bay cannot be questioned.  Let ‘s at least give her that. So, for Paul Lennon to attempt to vilify and discredit Cassy O’Connor, as he did the other week, by cynically suggesting that she “used the people of Ralphs Bay to further her political career” was deliberately misrepresentative,  and intellectually corrupt. 

Paul Lennon knows that this is not true, yet he preferred to try and smear O’Connor rather than deals with the facts of the situation. It leads one to wonder whether this sort of behaviour merely confirms for us the way the Premier has done, and continues to administer government in Tasmania? 

So, are all the requirements for the existence of democracy fulfilled because government is democratically elected? 

Of course not. 

By privileging the interests of business

All levels of government must continue to foster democracy after they are elected by continually prioritising democratic decision making as long as they are in office. 

By privileging the interests of business over the expressed wishes of a local Tasmanian community the State Labor have once again failed to optimise democracy in Tasmania. 

They have failed tragically. 

Under State Labor it has at times been unclear where business ends and government begins. It has also been difficult to see where the needs and interests of local communities stand in all of this. It now looks very much the case that the Lennon Labor Government has been willing to compromise accountability , transparency , normal democratic processes and therein, the people of Tasmania, for political advantage. 

This betrayal of the community and indeed, all Tasmanians who were opposed to the million dollar makeover of Ralphs Bay is one of the worst acts I have seen from any Tasmanian government. I believe the premier may have made a grave error by caving in to Walker Corp and also in underestimating Cassy O’Connor and her supporters. 

I for one will be happy to stand “on the beaches” with Cassy and all the people of RB who don’ t want this project .

Rick Pilkington
Citizen,
Launceston

Earlier:
Lennon and Walker’s magical fantasy
A brief recent history of Labor mateship, family, nudge wink

Rick Pilkington, Citizen

Contributing to this is Premier Paul Lennon’s apparent inability to accept any sort of criticism or blame for the problems he and his ministers create.

  His immature and unstatesman-like strategy for dealing with negative feedback usually consists of blaming the media, the Greens or the Libs and to cynically assassinate the character of his opponents. 

Paul Lennon is now famous for his style of verbally intimidating others …