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Tasmania: happy and bleeding? « Previous | |Next »
March 15, 2010

A week out from the Tasmanian election former Labor and Liberal Premiers Michael Field + Paul Lennon and Robin Gray + Tony Rundle made a combined public statement urging Tasmanians to vote for Labor or Liberal, thus avoiding a Green power sharing government. They told the electorate to focus on the façade of “stability” of the status quo, to preserve “democracy”, rather than to look at where Tasmania’s future direction should lie.

In Tasmanian Election 2010: Cynicism as Virtue in the Tasmanian Times Peter Henning comments about the latest scare campaigns against the Greens from the corrupt Lib-Lab alliance:

Certainly, the unity of the four former Labor-Liberal Tasmanian premiers is telling in one way, for it shows the electoral contest between Labor and Liberal is a hollow confection, with no basis in real differences in policy. In other words, the election itself is a deception, both parties exaggerating the minor differences they have to appeal as real alternatives to each other, when they are merely rivals for power within the same committee. The only thing that separates Labor from Liberal is the matter of personal self-interest, of competition for the perks of office. Nothing else.

This does suggest a bipartisan Labor-Liberal accord about the massive use of Tasmania’s natural resources of land and water for pulp mills (wood chipping and pulping), monocultural plantations, and irrigation agriculture.

Kevin Bonham in Demolition row in the Tasmania Times says in the context of the latest polling:

the Bartlett Labor Government is set for a very serious trashing at the state election next Saturday. It will do well to keep the swing below double figures, is struggling to hold any of its four most vulnerable seats, and could even do so badly that others come into play.....One way of looking at it is to see the pre-2006 Labor government of Bacon and Lennon as a broadly centrist regime capturing both centre-left and centre-right votes. With the many failures and scandals of the last four years, and deliberate repositioning of both the other parties towards the centre, both wings seem to have fallen off the Labor aeroplane at once.

Does it matter that much if the Liberals return to power in Tasmania? It's just a different hue of corporatism; one that is being challenged by The Greens who want to end sourcing timber from high-conservation forests or even native forests entirely and abandon the proposed pulp mill and associated wood-fired power station.

The good news is that Gunns are in a bad way these days.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 4:55 PM | | Comments (9)


A common theme with the Greens has been how their vote has been growing substantially over recent times. Will this continue in Tasmania?

Despite this, the recent debate between Tasmanian Premier David Bartlett and Opposition leader Will Hodgman excluded the leader of the Greens, Nick McKim. The two parties are both pretending that they can form a majority government.

They try to deligitimise the Greens by excluding them from the debate, but the Greens are all they can talk about because their public legitimacy threatens both majors.

It's going to be an interesting weekend, in Tasmania and in South Australia.

I understand that Bartlett now has agreed to participate in a three-way leaders debate in a special edition of ABC-TV’s Stateline program to be broadcast at 8pm on Tuesday night. His polling must be quite bad if he is facing political reality.

Both major parties--Liberal and Labor support the plundering of Tasmania's old-growth forests. That is the status quo.The status quo is common sense, with which all clear-thinking citizens would agree. Those who disagree and say that there is a need to fix the forestry industry to make it more environmentally sustainable are deemed to be eco-terrorists and loonie lefties.

So says John Biggs in Environmentalism, Lies and Minority Government. He adds:

The commonality between the two major parties exists because the major powerbrokers in the timber, hospitality and other industries play the major parties against each other in the same game. The result is that politicians of both sides commit to commercial interests rather than to the general public interest.....they have both have been bought out by the same powerbrokers, committing them to the same outdated paradigm. When the differences between parties are not based on policy, party preference becomes a personality contest, a bitter competition between the leaders to see which personality appeals most to the electorate and which one the powerbrokers see as the more effective in implementing their interests. Thus the two parties spar for attention like Tasmanian devils snarling over a rotting carcase. However, both hate the Greens even more than they hate each other because the Greens are a threat to the two party system itself – and to the rewards of cutting deals with the world of big business.

A Lib-Lab accord after the 2010 election would be a disaster for democracy, with corporate interests completely smothering the public interest.

According to Bob Burton in The fear-reaching implications of Gunns boardroom drama both both the Labor and the Liberal parties locked themselves into supporting The New Forest Industry Plan:

a logging industry policy wishlist featuring support for the pulp mill, wood-fired power stations and relaxed planning restrictions relating to forestry. The plan, which was put together by the Forests and Forest Industries Council, a government funded advisory group featuring major timber industry companies and lobby groups, claims that over 2,000 jobs can be created if only the industry’s preferred policy prescriptions are followed.

The role of John Gay and Gunns, the pulp mill and the future of native forest logging should be a key issue in the state election.

The Labor machine's scare campaign to marginalize the "extreme" Greens claims that The Greens will legalize heroin, give Tasmania’s most serious criminals the right to vote, drain Lake Pedder, which supplies up to one third of the state’s electricity, and plans to slash jobs.

Richard Flanagan judgement of the Labor Party in Tasmania is that:

The terrible truth is that under Labor our government has been used to hurt us, to divide us, to hold us back.Their legacy is terrible: they have left us with a demoralised public service, a brutalised education system, a devastated environment and the possibility of our waters poisoned.And they shamed us as people.

He adds that in the history of the Australian federation no state government has garnered such international opprobrium as the Bacon-Lennon-Bartlett Labor governments for their destruction of Tasmania’s environment.
Worse, they have destroyed the necessary trust a society must have with its government. For now few trust that any government decision is not free of corruption. Few trust the government to be impartial in making decisions where there is a conflict between the profits of big business and the interests of Tasmanians.

He says that perhaps the ALP’s real crime is that they thought we were as mediocre as they. They never trusted that Tasmanians were better, larger and smarter than their mean, brutish and dumb politics.

Newspoll just released shows Labor on 35, the Liberals on 36.5, and the Greens on 25.5. That has been interpreted by Matthew Denholm in The Australian as meaning 10-10-5 ( with no seat breakdown) as a likely outcome --a certain hung parliament

Dr Kevin Bonham in the Tasmanian Times says that:

two seats are really in play: Braddon which could go 2-2-1 or 2-3-0, and Denison where any of the three parties could miss out on a second seat. In all probability, nine seats for each major party and four for the Greens are relatively secure, and the fight is over the remaining three, with Labor only really in the hunt for one of those. That reduces the range of seriously likely outcomes to these: 10-11-4, 10-10-5, 10-9-6, 9-11-5, 9-10-6. Anything other than these five would be a surprise at this stage.

He adds that of these 10-10-5 now seems the most individually likely, because it can occur in two very plausible ways, depending on how unevenly spread the evidently very high level of Green support is. Every electorate can go 2-2-1 or Braddon can go 2-3-0 with Denison going 2-1-2.