Tasmanian Premier David Bartlett is a busy man. In his first three months after being elected as Premier in late May 2008, Bartlett had well over five hundred meetings. The appointments ranged from regular sessions with his closest policy advisers and spin doctors, to appointments with a seemingly unending parade of corporate, industry association and interest group lobbyists wanting to bend his ear about their policy preferences for Tasmania.
There were meetings with advisors to grapple with plans for a new inner city hospital, schemes to redevelop Hobart’s famous waterfront, education reforms, the political albatross of Gunns proposed pulp mill and the perennial hot potato of forestry policy. There were proposals for major irrigation schemes and roads to be considered. To stay on top of all these issues and more, Bartlett had numerous briefings by senior departmental officials.
On top of that there were one-on-one meetings with Cabinet colleagues grappling with the latest hot-button issues troubling them and an occasional meeting with a backbencher pressing a case for a developer or community group.
As the leader of the Parliamentary Labor Party, Bartlett also plays an important role within the ALP, there was the expectation that he would put in an occasional appearance at ALP branch events and deliver speeches to rally the Labor Party faithful at state conferences. Every now and then he has also had a meeting with John Dowling, the State Secretary of the ALP, as well as an odd “networking function” with unspecified invitees. Occasionally there was a meeting with a representative or two from one the unions.
As Premier, Bartlett has also had a string of meetings with federal government officials including the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Stephen Conroy, the Minister for Resources and Energy, Martin Ferguson, the Minister for Superannuation and Corporate Law, Senator Nick Sherry and the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Kim Carr. There have been briefings from Professor Ross Garnaut and the Minister for Climate Change and Water Penny Wong on climate change as well as attendance at the annual haggling session of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG). (There was an upside to attending the COAG meeting though; Bartlett and Tasmanian Treasurer, Michael Aird, were scheduled to attend the rugby league State of Origin game between New South Wales and Queensland. Queensland won 16-10).
Added to the actual decision-making responsibilities as Premier is the necessity of being seen as being out and about. A substantial chunk of Bartlett’s appointments are designed to provide the media with a steady stream of photo opportunities; a presentation at a school here, wearing a hardhat at a business there. There is also steady stream of frequent media conferences making policy announcements, doorstops and, less frequently, one-on-one interviews with journalists. More strategically, there were occasional meetings with the editors or chiefs of staff of key media outlets.
Bartlett is also a magnet for lobbyists: property developers wanting changes to government policy, communications companies touting their broadband credentials, a mining industry lobby group wanting to discuss mine safety standards, and numerous other companies and industry lobby groups wanting a hearing.
In part, Bartlett’s relentless schedule is due to his dual role as both Premier and Minister for Education and Skills. (This is one of the consequences of the Labor and Liberal Party’s unsuccessful attempt to obliterate the Greens by reducing the number of seats in Tasmania’s lower house from 35 to 25, thereby raising the quota under the proportional representation electoral system. Fewer members for the majority party has loaded additional portfolio responsibilities onto a smaller frontbench). In part, the busy schedule is also a function of the government’s attempt to ensure it can project a sense of energy and purpose to voters in electorates where Labor was losing its grip.
The hundreds of appointments on Bartlett’s schedule provide an insight into the punishing schedule of a modern political leader. However, for the hundreds of meetings agreed to, many more are rejected.
Back in December 2008, a consultant’s report commissioned by the Premier’s Chief of Staff, Terry Field, recommended that requests for appointments with the Premier be carefully screened by the senior adviser responsible for the relevant policy area. The consultants—Michael Clarke, Ron Snashall and Bill Bowtell – recommended that when a senior advisor considered a request to meet the Premier that they should “bear in mind such factors as the Premier’s expressed preferences, the contemporary political scene and whether this request has any positive or negative bearing on that scene, the standing and status of the originator, and the current workload of the Premier”.
While companies and businesses were well represented in Bartlett’s appointments diary, this was not the case for major community advocacy groups. Aside from meetings with Rodney Croome from the Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group and Michael Mansell from the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre, it is notable that there were no meetings with the peak welfare advocacy group, the Tasmanian Council of Social Services, or anyone from any environmental group.
From the first three months of Bartlett’s appointments diary key patterns start to emerge. Bartlett was not only juggling the big picture management responsibilities of a traditional Premier leading Cabinet colleagues, but also the large workload associated with the big-budget education portfolio. Those seeking meetings with the Premier who managed to make it through the advisors sieve largely reflected those with substantial wealth and power in Tasmanian society. Or if they don’t currently have it, they want the government to provide their pathway to it, whether it be via government subsidies, tax breaks or favourable policy settings for development projects. While Bartlett initially sought to present to portray himself as representing a break in both style and substance from the government of Paul Lennon, there is little evidence from his appoitments diary that suggest anything other than business as usual.
Some of the David Bartlett’s appointments May 26, 2008 to August 11, 2008.
* May 27, 2008: “Premier’s meeting with Minister Wredit”;
* May 28, 2008: Saul Eslake, ANZ Chief Economist;
* May 28, 2008: (his third day as Premier): “Premier to meet with Deputy Secretary DIER for briefing on World Heritage Committee Report”; (The Deputy Secretary of the Department of Infrastructure, Energy and Resources is Bob Rutherford);
* May 29, 2008: “meeting with Michael Polley and Levendale Community Group”;
* May 30, 2008: “Premier to meet Doug Parkinson re Upper House matters”;
* May 30, 2008: “Premier to meet with Minister Wreidt”;
* June 2, 2008: “Premier to have preliminary discussions with the Treasurer concerning the Hobart waterfront”;
* June 2, 2008: “Premier, Treasurer with Minister Giddings briefing from Secretary (DPAC) and the project team on the new RHH”;
* June 2, 2008: “Premier, Treasurer and Minister Giddings for further discussions of the new RHH and the future of the railyards”;
* June 3, 2008: Guy Green and Elizabeth Walsh re Ten Days on the Island 2009;
* June 3, 2008: Bob Gordon and Ken Jeffreys from Forestry Tasmania “to discuss forestry matters”;
* June 3, 2008: Greg Alomes and Rob Nolan from the RPDC “re Central Coast planning scheme”;
* June 3, 2008: Dr. Carol Christensen, University of Queensland School of Education;
* June 3, 2008: Rodney Croome, Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group;
* June 4, 2008: “Premier’s infrastructure briefing on Brighton Hub and Kingston bypass from Secretary & Deputy Secretary (DIER) with Minister Sturges”;
* June 4, 2008: Ian Knop, Chair of Sullivans Cove Waterfront Authority;
* June 4, 2008: Premier, Michael Aird and Lara Giddings “briefing from Jeff Gilmore (CEO, Sullivans Cove Waterfront Authority)”;
* June 4, 2008: Robert Flanagan and Ian Wakefield, Australian Workers Union;
* June 4, 2008: Ron Ward, Veolia;
* June 6, 2008: “Premier to meet with Jeff Gilmore (CEO, Sullivans Cove Waterfront Authority) to discuss the broader issues concerning Sullivans Cove with Minister Sturges”;
* June 6, 2008: Robert Rockerfeller, Mary Massina, Matthew Page and Matt Clark, Property Council;
* June 6, 2008: Greg Butterworth, Boags “for meet and greet”;
* June 10, 2008: Premier to visit the offices of The Examiner and meet with Fiona Reynolds (Editor)”;
* June 10, 2008: “Premier’s luncheon with key members of the Northern Tasmanian business community”;
* June 16, 2008: James Sutherland, David Johnston and Tony Harrison, Tasmanian Cricket Association “to discuss TCA’s proposal for Bellerive Oval”;
* June 16, 2008: “Premier to meet with Peter Patmore for verbal briefing on narcotic industry”;
* June 17, 2008: Geoff Booth, Group Managing Director Telstra Country Wide and Kate McKenzie, Group Managing Director Wholesale;
* June 17: “Premier to meet with Michael O’Connor and Scott Mclean from the CFMEU Forestry Division”;
* June 17, 2008: “Premier’s property council meeting with Robert Rockefeller, Mary Massina (Executive Director) and Matt Clarke (Div Councillor);
* June 19, 2008: “Premier to speak at meeting” of Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Board of Management “to outline Government’s plan for industry + commerce”;
* June 19, 2008: “Premier, Treasurer and Minister O’Byrne to have briefing from Stuart Lennox on the Three Capes Track”;
* June 26, 2008: “Hold for Premier to meet with Bill Bleathman and Tas Museum and Gallery team”;
* June 27, 2008: “Premier’s briefing re Tas Irrigation Development Board with Minister Llewellyn”;
* June 27, 2008: “Premier to meet with Treasurer and Aurora reps to discuss City Springs”;
* June 30, 2008: “Premier’s proposed press conference following Cabinet concerning Sovereign Risk Agreement”;
* June 30, 2008: Premier’s meeting with 2020 Summit participants”;
* June 30, 2008: “Premier to attend PLP dinner in honour of Paul Lennon”;
* July 1, 2008: “Regular tafe/Min Office Meeting with Malcolm White, CEO TAFE Tasmania and Paul Byrne Chair TAFE Tasmania Board”;
* July 1, 2008: “Premier to be involved in PM’s teleconference with State Leaders with Treasurer”;
* July 1, 2008: “Premier to meet with Deputy Premier re Health COAG agenda items and the Mersey Hospital”;
* July 1, 2008: “Premier to meet with John Green (Rotary Tas) to discuss honorary membership of Moonah Rotary and Workers Compensation with Mr Speaker”;
* July 1, 2008: “Premier to meet with Simon Cocker, Unions Tas”;
* July 3, 2008: COAG meeting, Sydney;
* July 4, 2008: “Premier to meet with Ian Knop (MD, Profile Ray & Berndtson);
* July 7: “Premier to speak by phone to Scott McClean from CFMEU Forestry Division for briefing on Scottsdale mill/softwood supply position”;
* July 8, 2008: “Premier & Minister O’Byrne to meet with Mayor Partridge at Council Chambers with Wayne Cuthbertson from NE Chamber of Commerce and John Williams & Stephen love from Dorset Economic Development Group”;
* July 8: Premier to meet with workers from Tonganah mill;
* July 10, 2008: “Premier to meet to discuss Climate Change Launch”;
* July 10, 2008: Jeff Kennett to discuss Hawthorn Football Club and beyondblue initiatives;
* July 10, 2008: “Premier to meet Tania Rattray-Wagner MLC”;
* July 10, 2008: “Premier to meet with representatives from Building Associations incl HIA and MBA”. (The HIA is the Housing Industry Association and the Master Builders Association;
* July 10, 2008: “Bishop John Harrower and Tom Woodlace (Education Adviser) “re possible development of an Anglican Community School (Primary) at Port Sorrell and the intention of an Anglican Community School (Primary) at Port Sorrell and the intentions of the Education Dept. to develop a state school in that area (TM)”;
* July 11, 2008: “Premier’s briefing from Forestry Tasmania on pulp mill and woodsupply”;
* July 13, 2008: Premier’s Forum in Smithton;
* July 14, 2008: Visit Britton Timbers in Smithton to “view green and dry mills”
* July 14, 2008: “Premier to visit Simon Kang at Ta Ann”;
* July 14, 2008: visit to David Kenworthy’s business MES (Tas) “to view polyethylene pipe production”;
* July 14, 2008: “Premier to visit Bob Calvin’s business Haulmax”;
* July 15, 2008: Lindy O’Neill, President and Chris Guesdeson to discuss Tasmania Love This Place;
* July 15, 2008: “Premier to meet with Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor to discuss Hobart Waterfront issues in preparation for Premier’s 18 July speech @ breakfast for key stakeholders”;
* July 15, 2008: “Premier to meet with Barry Chipman, Timber Communities Australia” in the Premier’s office.
* July 16, 2008: “Premier’s meeting with David O’Byrne from LHMU”. (LMHU is the acronym for the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union).
* July 16, 2008: “Premier to meet with Senator Carol Brown and Julie Collins MP to discuss Tas government housing debt to the Commonwealth”;
* July 16, 2008: “Premier and Treasurer to meet with Michael Egan (former NSW Treasurer now Chairman of Terria who put in a bid for the National Broadband Network initiative) & MD Nick Simmonds”;
* July 16, 2008: “Premier to meet with Terry Long from Tasmanian Minerals Council to discuss mine safety”;
* July 17, 2008: “Premier to meet with Daniel Hanna & Simon Currant (Tourism Industry Council) to discuss general briefing on the state of the industry and Tourism 21 Strategic Business Plan”;
* July 17, 2008: “Premier to meet with Bruce Higgs of Synergy to brief the Premier on Hydrogen cars”;
* July 18, 2008: “Premier to meet to discuss the Expressions of Interest for the Boards of the new Tasmania Tomorrow organisations”;
* July 18, 2008: “Premier’s briefing from Tas Together Chair Bob Campbell”;
* July 28, 2008: “Premier to meet one on one with the following Ministers Cox, Wreidt and Sturges”;
* July 28, 2008: “Premier to meet with Hydro reps to discuss water issues”;
* July 29, 2008: Premier to meet with Andrew Connor and Warren Seen of Digital Link to discuss broadband”;
* Premier to meet and greet David Hocking from National Office and Gill Batt, Industrial Officer for the NUW”; (The NUW is the National Union of Workers);
* July 29, 2008: “Premier to meet with Michael Mansell from TAC to discuss Aboriginal matters”;
* July 30, 2008: Premier and Minister Llewellyn to meet with Neil Stump CEO Tas Fishing Industries Council and Rodney Treloggen Tas Rock Lobster Assoc”;
* July 31, 2008: “Premier to meet with Robert Heazelwood and Lyndon Adams (Chairman) to discuss Brand Tasmania Council initiatives and strategy”;
* August 1, 2008: “Premier to meet with Mayor van Zettan to discuss issue including Education matters and siltation”;
* August 5, 2008: “Premier to meet with Senior Adviser and Secretary, Treasury, to discuss Tamar Valley Power Station”;
* August 6, 2008: Premier’s briefing on Midlands Water Scheme from Minister Llewellyen, Jock Chudacek & John Lord from the Tas Irrigation Board”;
* August 7, 2008: “Premier’s meeting to discuss Tamar Valley power Station with Minister Llewellyn”;
* July 7, 2008: “Premier to meet Mr Speaker to discuss grants”;
* August 8, 2008: “Premier’s Innovation launch at Houston Lettuces”;
* August 8, 2008: “Premier’s business luncheon as organised by Ian Warner with Brian Spears and Michael Johns”;
* August 11, 2008: “Premier to meet with Richard Gardner and the Southern Midlands Water Action Group with Minister Llewellyn with Jock Chudacek & John Lord from the Tas Irrigation Board”;
* August 15, 2008: “Premier to meet with Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor to discuss way forward for Information Communication Technologies (ICT) in Tasmania);
* August 18, 2008: Premier’s press conference in relation to Tamar Valley Power Station”;
* August 19, 2008: “Premier & Minister O’Byrne’s networking function with the business community”;
* August 20, 2008: Premier to meet with Optus reps Director of Government and Corporate Affairs, Maha Krisnapillai and Director Government, Tony Whigham;
*August 20, 2008: “Premier to meet Nystar reps for briefing”;
* August 26, 2008: Premier to meet with Brenton Best MP and Mike Leary developer re Devonport Airport; and
* August 26, 2008: “Premier’s meeting with NYSTAR reps with Minister Sturges”.