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My name is Lindsay Tuffin. I am the founder and editor of tasmaniantimes.com – with the indispensible help and wisdom of James Dryburgh and Bob Burton, and the input of dozens of writers, citizen journalists, contributors and commenters. It is a great joy to welcome you here tonight to the inaugural Tasmanian Times lecture.

Tasmanian Times began in October 2002 because of my strong sense as a practicing journalist that much of the truth of Tasmania was not being told and that many lies were being retailed as the truth by our major media here. I saw Tasmanian Times in the tradition of dissenting Tasmanian journalism, drawing inspiration from the first great Editor of the Sydney Morning Herald, John West (b. 1809). West earlier had a strong association with The Examiner, founded in 1842. He successfully used its columns as a vehicle of dissent to promote the abolition of the transportation of convicts to Van Diemen’s Land.

West wrote this in his History of Tasmania (1852): “The newspapers of this hemisphere were long mere vehicles of government intelligence, or expressions of the views and feelings of the ruling powers. Malice or humour, in the early days, expressed itself in what were called Pipes — a ditty, either taught by repetition or circulated on scraps of paper: the offences of official men were thus hitched into rhyme. Thus, the fear of satire checked the haughtiness of power.”

In 2002, I felt the media here—the ABC along with the newspapers—were once more the mere vehicles of government intelligence. It was time once more to play the pipes, no longer on scraps of paper but bytes of data over the internet.

Over the next nine years we broke and progressed many major stories, from the renovation of then Premier Paul Lennon’s house by a Gunns Ltd subsidiary, to the seemingly inexplicable and scandalous decision by the state Labor Government to award Federal Hotels a gaming monopoly in Tasmania, estimated to be worth $130 million, for no charge. We have also run countless small stories, the sum of which has been to create a mosaic of the truth of what really goes on in our island that I hope has to some extent helped check the haughtiness of power.

Today Tasmanian Times has god-knows how many readers ... the stats depending on which analysis is used reveal somewhre between 20 and 50,000 Unique Users a month, 4 to 5 million hits a month. And all this on donations, a few splendid advertisers, and voluntary effort.

It is, then, a great joy to be here tonight, introducing a man who has in his political life embodied a sense of independence and the courage, to speak Truth to Power.

Born on 8 November 1961, Tamworth, New South Wales, Andrew Wilkie had a successful career as an army officer and then intelligence analyst, until 2003, when he made national headlines over his courageous resignation from his position in the Office of National Assessments, over concerns that intelligence was being misrepresented for political purposes in making the case for Australia’s contribution to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, under the Howard government.

He was a Greens candidate for both the federal Division of Bennelong in the 2004 federal election and for the Senate in Tasmania at the 2007 federal election. In 2010 he ran as an independent candidate for the state seat of Denison at the Tasmanian state election, narrowly missing election.

Later in the year, again as an independent candidate, he ran for the federal seat of Denison at the federal election. On that remarkable election night the ABC’s Antony Green became so confused by a battle in Denison that was anything but two-party preferred that he at one point called the seat for Robert Menzies. Only Tasmanian Times’ snail expert and pre-eminent psephologist Dr Kevin Bonham got it right—alerting TT readers three hours before the ABC woke up that a huge upset was on the cards in Denison.

Andrew has been upsetting people – not least Clubs Australia - ever since. And thank God for that. Tonight he has very kindly agreed to speak to us on the very relevant subject, Has Politics Failed Us?

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the member for Denison and the inaugural Tasmanian Times lecturer, Andrew Wilkie.

Questions ...

Before we head home to the fire, or to Knoppys or wherever ... we have another very important – and brief - function to perform. The announcement of this year’s winner of the Tasmanian Times Tasmanian of the Year Award, sponsored by Pete and Di Henning of Lentara Grove, which produces award-winning olive oil in the beautiful Tamar Valley.

Our inaugural winner was Dr Alison Bleaney. Last year we chose Dr Frank Nicklason.

This year’s winner is John Lawrence, who writes regularly and forensically on tasmaniantimes.com . He’s not here sadly. But I have arranged to meet him at Grape, Salamanca in the next couple of weeks, where for the price of a few fine Heathcote shiraz, this will be handed to him ...

John self-describes cryptically as “having been employed as an economist for five years before returning to Tasmania where working life has been spent as an accountant in public practice.”

But there is nothing cryptic about his writing ... as he interprets for the unwashed and unschooled the arcane and complex financial statements of opaque organisations like Gunns Ltd and Forestry Tasmania; and unravels the bankruptcy of Managed Investment Schemes. John, we are immensely grateful to you ... and this is our tribute to you.

Before we head ... one more brief task ... 30 seconds from James Dryburgh about our brand new foster band Little Bear: (HERE)

The full text of Andrew Wilkie’s speech will be posted tomorrow.

First published: 2011-10-06 08:28 PM

• Andrew Wilkie nominated as Australian of the Year ...

A CAMPAIGN has been launched for anti-pokie MP and former Green Andrew Wilkie to be made Australian of the Year.

And the man behind the bid is a former One Nation candidate.

The immediate past president of the ultra-right wing anti immigration party has launched a media blitz declaring he is nominating Mr Wilkie for the nation’s top honour.

Bob Vinnicombe, who was also the One Nation candidate for Blaxland at the last election, has bombarded newspapers from Coffs Harbour to the South Coast with form letters declaring his support for Mr Wilkie.

“Let me nominate Andrew Wilkie to be Australian of the Year,” the letter begins.

“He is a man of integrity ... not since Pauline Hanson has a member of parliament been attacked in such a ferocious way by vested interests.”

The Daily Telegraph has discovered at least four local papers who have printed the letter.

Mr Vinnicombe said he was planning to nominate Mr Wilkie formally, although he wasn’t sure if nominations were still open.

“That was one thing I was going to check on,” he said.

Mr Vinnicombe said he had left One Nation after his failed bid in last year’s federal election.

“It gives me more room for other political causes,” he said.

Read more HERE