On Friday night as I was settling in with a glass of pinot for the Federer v Tsonga match at the Australian Open.
I noticed a TV ad where Labor Bass candidate Scott Mclean was inviting the public to his campaign launch at Royal Park, Launceston (Saturday January 31). The event was described as ‘Politics in the park’.
Sounds interactive, me thunk. My type of political launch. Better go along and pay my respects.
So, on Saturday on a sunny verandah next to Hallams Restaraunt in Royal Park, a few of Launceston’s Labor Party faithful gathered.
This place has a lovely outlook on the high tide across to the entrance to the cataract gorge. But on the low tide….hmmmm??
Surprisingly Federal Minister for Resources, Energy & Tourism, Martin Ferguson had popped down for the event. Also present was the Federal member for Lyons Dick Adams and Chief Government Whip in the Senate - Kerry O’Brien. However, notable by her absence was the Federal member for Bass - Jodie Campbell. Now, I had only walked past Ms Campbell in Launceston a day or two before. There was also another Jodie sighting in Launceston on Sunday. So it was fairly clear that the member for Bass was in town. So why the no-show?
HERE is the video of the event.
There is a great cameo by a local yachtie who heckled both McLean and Ferguson throughout their speeches.
This fellow shouted and interjected from the deck of his yacht in dry dock at the Tamar Yacht club some 50 metres away.
He may well have had a VB breakfast but he rightly pointed out that the launch was conveniently being conducted on the river’s high tide when there was of course no sign of the Tamar Basin’s awful silt problem. The yachtie pointed towards the north east and bellowed at Minister Ferguson “what about the forestry” and then he pointed back at the river yelling “it’s the forestry causing the silt”.
Keep an eye out at when the camera pans over towards Martin Ferguson.
Ferguson had seen a protester move by him with a large placard. Ferguson grinned and then moved in front of her to block her sign from view. I noticed this and pointed the camera at Ferguson. You can see him then look at the camera and quickly move away from the protester and her sign.
Not long after I asked my first question.
During this time Dick Adams berated me telling me repeatedly “to get my own platform and that this wasn’t a media event”.
I replied that this in fact was my platform.
You can just hear Mr Adams call me a “mongrel”. You can see Mr Adams’ aggressive body language as I point the camera at him. Many people were witness to this and clearly heard him call me a mongrel.
At no time during the event did I return the compliment to Mr Adams or anyone else present.
Anne Layton-Bennett’s article (HERE: Dick does mongrel during Scott McLean’s walk in the park) on this event covers a fair bit of what happened after the speeches had finished. I had a conversation with Mr McLean and the following is a summary of some of my questions and Mr Mclean’s responses.
Mr Mclean could not put a figure on how many new full time Tasmanian jobs would be available during the construction of the Gunns pulp mill, and neither did he think that this was an important point. I pointed out to Mr McLean that indeed Tasmanian jobs at the proposed pulp mill is a crucial issue especially considering that along with the urgency of Gunns’ financial needs, the promise of 2000 new full time jobs was cited by the former Premier Lennon as the key reason for allowing Gunns to wriggle out of the RPDC assessment and be given a parliamentary fast track assessment.
I also pointed out to Mr Mclean that the other point in relation to Tasmanian pulp mill jobs was whether there would be enough jobs to in some way justify the likely loss of other existing jobs and businesses in the Tamar Valley due to the impacts of the pulp mill. Mr McLean said that potential job losses were only based on assumptions yet he agreed with me that the reason it was this way was because the government had refused to undertake a proper cost-benefit analysis.
I challenged Mr McLean that should he be elected he should see to it that a cost/benefit analysis of all impacts of the pulp mill would be undertaken. He emphatically agreed that he would do this (cough, cough).
I challenged Mr McLean that he was afraid to be seen criticising Gunns and sticking up for his workers when Gunns were laying them off. We both agreed that job losses could be attributed to a down-turn in the wood chip industry yet Mr McLean maintained that the down-turn in the demand for wood chips was the fault of ‘Greenies’.
As for Dick Adams, his behaviour towards myself and others dissenters present was at best inappropriate and at worst threatening and offensive. There were enough witnesses present to testify to this fact. The way in which he spoke to two of the female protesters was objectionable and intimidating and no publicly elected official whether they be Green, Liberal or Labor should ever deal with protesters in the way Mr Adams did on Saturday. Indeed Scott McLean, who it has to be said maintained self control and engaged in a reasonable and polite fashion with protesters, had to intervene and usher away Mr Adams - presumably before Mr Adams created an even greater scene than he already had.
I reminded Mr Adams that he was my elected member and that rather than abusing us, he should listen. Mr Adams’ response was to hiss, Snarl and point saying “I don’t care what people like you think”.
Well whatever I think or whatever Mr Adams thinks, my friends and I had a legal right to be there, ask questions and protest.
It was a public event, in a public area, to which the public were invited, staged by publicly elected officials who are on the public pay role. I am shocked that after all his years serving as a democratically elected official in our democratic Parliament Mr Adams does not understand and respect these basic democratic rights.
Picture: Dick Adams at another event