Articles

NATION: Trump’s new world disorder catches Turnbull government napping

Urban Wronksi (aka David Tyler*) Pic: Gage Skidmore, Flickr
23.01.17 4:08 am

Image for NATION: Trump’s new world disorder catches Turnbull government napping

… Trump already has half the population offside – and not just in the USA. Eclipsing the inauguration crowd, half a million women in pink knit “pussy hats” march on Washington, the following day in the largest protest demonstration in US history while around the world 1.5 million more march in support in 161 cities across all seven continents. “You can’t comb over misogyny reads one sign.”

Expect a puff piece soon on Mr Donald Trump, the people’s president and the inspiring business types who comprise his cabinet. When it’s properly run down and ready to be privatised as the IPA wishes, the ABC could be flogged off to an American. Rupert Murdoch is reported to be currently enjoying Malcolm and Lucy Turnbull’s harbour-side hospitality …

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Regulars | Urban Wronksi | Politics | International | Local | National | New Zealand | State | The Psephologist | Economy | Environment | Editor's Choice | Opinion | History | Legal | Personal | Science | Society

Dawn of the Centrelink Robot ...

Kim Peart* of Ross. Pic*
22.01.17 4:30 am

Image for Dawn of the Centrelink Robot ...

When Sussan Ley’s Gold Coast jaunts at public expense were exposed to public view recently, the Federal Health Minister was forced to resign. Now that the Centrelink robot has been exposed to public view as a cheap and nasty grab for money, will the Turnbull government come tumbling down? We have had a third rate NBN forced on us at the same cost as a World standard service, which will have to be upgraded later at even greater cost. Then we endured the catastrophe of the national census grinding to a halt on-line, when the government computer systems failed. Now we are shocked to find a Centrelink robot has been released without regard for honesty or justice, like being in some zombie horror movie. Then we are told that same robot is about to be released onto a money clawback from pensioners and people with a disability. Emperor Turnbull now stands exposed to public view, stripped of integrity, naked of trust …

… Many innocent people are simply paying the debt, to avoid the extended strife of fighting Centrelink …

… Is this a new form of taxation by stealth, or simply a scam run by a criminal gang masquerading as our government? …

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Writers | Kim Peart | Politics | International | Local | National | New Zealand | State | Economy | Editor's Choice | Health | Opinion | History | Legal | Personal | Society

Unemployment: an exercise in spin ...

Martyn Goddard* Pic: of Peter Gutwein from his website
21.01.17 4:30 am

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Political spinners love statistics. So when the monthly unemployment data for December came out from the Bureau of Statistics, their little eyes shone and their keyboards began to glow. Let’s get one thing straight. The moving was done by the spinners, not the figures. The figures showed nothing much had happened over the month in the Tasmanian employment story. But that didn’t stop our political leaders. Media releases came swiftly from the Treasurer, Peter Gutwein and his opposite number, Scott Bacon. “Tasmania’s unemployment rate has fallen to 6.4%, with 225 new jobs created last month,” said Mr Gutwein’s release. “Another 600 full-time jobs were lost last month,” said Mr Bacon’s release. Eh? …

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Writers | Martyn Goddard | Politics | National | State | Economy | Editor's Choice | Opinion | Society

Hydro knows what caused Basslink to fail. Why can’t the Plebs know ... ?

Clive Stott* Pic* First published January 20
21.01.17 4:00 am

Image for Hydro knows what caused Basslink to fail. Why can’t the Plebs know ... ?

… Tasmania was put in a precarious position during the interconnector outage because dam storages levels had shrunk to almost 12%. Diesel gensets were brought in to augment Tasmania’s power generation. For example Catagunya’s 18MW generators alone used 80,000 litres of diesel per day. It is over twelve months since Basslink broke and we still do not know what caused the power cable to fail or why it took so long to fix. Tasmanians have a right to know …  …

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Politics | National | State | Economy | Editor's Choice | Opinion | History | Media | Personal | Science | Society

The Mercury ...

Geoffrey Swan* Pic: Bob Burton
20.01.17 4:45 am

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Over the years my newspaper diet has consisted of the Sydney Morning Herald, the West Australian (not the best), and in the past 10 years The Mercury. And, whenever possible, the Weekend Australian …

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Writers | Bob Burton | Politics | Local | National | State | Economy | Opinion | Media | Personal | Society

Voller and friends ...

Christopher Nagle* http://www.writing.com/
20.01.17 4:30 am

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The other day I was listening to ABC News Radio, when I heard a segment on how Dylan Voller and his friends were suing the Northern Territory government. When I heard the lawyer starting to talk, outrage overtook me and I actually switched the only news station I listen to, off, in visceral disgust and anguish

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Writers | Christopher Nagle | Politics | National | Economy | Opinion | Personal | Society

Let them vape ...

Nick Wallis*
20.01.17 4:13 am

Image for Let them vape ...

A response to: E-cigarettes should be banned, not promoted by government E-cigarettes are devices which vaporise a liquid for inhalation, first successfully developed for commercial sale by a Chinese scientist in 2003. Hon Lik was a 52 year old pharmacist and heavy smoker and like most smokers, he was quite aware of the harms of smoking tobacco.

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Politics | International | National | Economy | Health | Opinion | History | Society

Seafish Tasmania, Cocaine, Trawlers and a fine old Stink ...

John Hawkins* Chudleigh. Pic: of Eric Abetz from his website. First pub: Jan 16
19.01.17 7:00 am

Image for Seafish Tasmania, Cocaine, Trawlers and a fine old Stink ...

Eric Abetz was the Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation in the Howard Government from 27 January 2006 to 3 December 2007. One could safely say that on all the available evidence Abetz was a disaster in this portfolio - think Managed Investment Schemes, tax scams protected and promoted by Abetz against the advice of the Tax Department leading to the eventual bankruptcy of Great Southern, Gunns, Wilmot, FEA and the loss of billions by both the ATO and investors.

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Writers | John Hawkins | Politics | International | Local | National | State | Economy | Environment | Opinion | History | Legal | Personal | Society

2016: A very good year in the life of the HVC — now for the final clean-up

Bob Hawkins* Pic*
17.01.17 4:00 am

Image for 2016: A very good year in the life of the HVC — now for the final clean-up

Huon Valley Guessing Games  A fellow critic of Huon Valley Council emailed me at the turn of the year. He said I should write an article headed ‘2016: Not A good Year in the Life of the HVC’. I found his suggestion intriguing: how could two people on the same side of an argument view things so differently?

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Writers | Bob Hawkins | Politics | Local | State | Economy | Editor's Choice | Opinion | History | Planning/Heritage | Society

When hospitals make patients sick ...

Martyn Goddard* Pic* First published January 16
17.01.17 3:45 am

Image for When hospitals make patients sick ...

Long ago ‒ 150 years or more ‒ it was noticed that pregnant women whose children were delivered by doctors were much more likely to die of childbed fever than those tended by midwives …

The rates at which doctors, nurses and other staff wash their hands depends on the culture of the hospital.  At the Royal Hobart Hospital some determined infectious diseases physicians and nurses have instilled in that hospital such a culture. According to national figures just released, the rate at the RHH is well below the average of its peer-group hospitals elsewhere in Australia. At the Launceston General Hospital, though, the situation appears to be different. Its rates were well above the average, and have been for several years …

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Writers | Martyn Goddard | Politics | National | State | Economy | Editor's Choice | Health | Opinion | History | Personal | Society

Perish the pension ...

Bob Hawkins* Pic*
16.01.17 5:10 am

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At the turn of the year, my $117-a-week age pension disappears. I am not about to whinge that, at 78, I will be plunged into poverty and rendered unable to pay my way through whatever is left of my very fortunate life …

If Turnbull and his cronies had told me they were taking away my age pension because it was desperately needed to encourage, say, carbon-emission reduction, I would not have minded in the least. But to know that my $100-plus a week pension payment has been clawed back to go straight into the handout barrel that will help finance Adani’s assault on the Great Barrier Reef and a further spewing of fossil carbon into the atmosphere!

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Writers | Bob Hawkins | Politics | International | National | State | Economy | Environment | Editor's Choice | Health | Opinion | History | Personal | Society

Conservation fiddles while the Kea goes extinct ...

Michelle Terry* Pic: Kea feeds ... pic by Clyde Graf
16.01.17 5:05 am

Image for Conservation fiddles while the Kea goes extinct ...

... From Fiddling while Rome burns ... Isn’t it just incredible that the people of New Zealand are threatened with deadly poison in their water supplies, on their walking tracks, within the school holidays, and repeatedly over the years close to rural communities, and that this is affecting their ability to gather food from the Public Land? …

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Politics | International | New Zealand | Economy | Environment | Opinion | History | Society

Plastic Pollution and our Noxious Consumerism

Ted Mead*
16.01.17 5:00 am

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All across the globe there is a silent killer. It invades our everyday lives, outlives us, and invariably threatens all marine life on earth.  Be aware, for it lurks and lingers in many durable shapes, and some of its pernicious forms may take centuries to degrade into minute particles …

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Writers | Ted Mead | Politics | International | Local | National | New Zealand | State | Economy | Environment | Opinion | History | Legal | Personal | Society

The terrible, fatal lie ...

Father Rod Bower of Gosford Anglican Diocese. Pic*
16.01.17 4:45 am

Image for The terrible, fatal lie ...

Speeches for Dead Manus Refugee Faysal Ahmed from Vigil Sydney 30/12/16 6pm Faysal Ishak Ahmed was told that there was nothing wrong, and now he is dead.  As we now know, Faysal was told a devastating, and ultimately fatal lie.

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Politics | International | National | Economy | Environment | Editor's Choice | Opinion | History | Personal | Religion | Society

The whole damned thing ...

Christopher Nagle*, writing.com Pic*
16.01.17 4:33 am

Image for The whole damned thing ...

This essay started life as a response to Keith Antonysen’s excellent article on ‘Abrupt Climate Change’ in the Tasmanian Times:  HERE . It made riveting reading as to just how perilous our collective future is becoming.

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Writers | Christopher Nagle | Politics | International | National | Economy | Environment | Opinion | Personal | Society

Sexual assaults at the Falls Festival ...

Joanna Pinkiewicz*
16.01.17 3:45 am

Image for Sexual assaults at the Falls Festival ...

In the aftermath of reported incidents of sexual assault on women, a cultural dialogue and action is desperately needed …

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Politics | International | Local | National | State | Economy | Opinion | Legal | Media | Personal | Society

E-cigarettes should be banned, not promoted by government

Dr Kathryn Barnsley*, http://www.smokefreetasmania.com
16.01.17 3:30 am

Image for E-cigarettes should be banned, not promoted by government

E-cigarettes are not safe …

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Politics | International | National | State | Economy | Environment | Health | Opinion | History | Society

Letters to my grandchildren (21)

Anton Clever*
16.01.17 3:00 am

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Dear Chilliwops, At the start of a new year I thought I would summarise some of the issues I have raised with you in my letters over the last year …

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Writers | Anton Clever | Personal | Society

Avoiding the Sadistic World of Trolls ...

Ted Mead* 'Toon: Leunig, http://www.leunig.com.au/ used with permission
15.01.17 4:05 am

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Trolling is the neo wave of inciting discord. This action appears in all forms of online news, blogs and social media. In many aspects it is destroying the wonders of the Internet messaging forums. So what can be done … ?

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Politics | International | Local | National | State | Blogging | Economy | Environment | Opinion | Media | Society

The Online Editor ...

Leunig, http://www.leunig.com.au/
13.01.17 9:45 am

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Used with permission ...

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Politics | International | National | State | Cartoons | Economy | Society

The Mercury goes shopping at the Boxing Day sales

Bob Burton* First published December 31
05.01.17 3:14 pm

Image for The Mercury goes shopping at the Boxing Day sales

“Retail frenzy: Tasmanians set for $52m Boxing Day blast,” screamed the front-page of the Boxing Day edition of the Mercury, a headline which would have delighted the major retailers whose advertisements accounted for over one-third of the newspaper’s pages that day ... In the world of corporate public relations and marketing a perennial challenge is in repackaging commercial events up to be sufficiently newsworthy in order to garner sales-boosting free media coverage. If the coverage of the Boxing Day sales is anything to go by, PR is winning over journalism big time as narrow corporate financial self-interest is conflated with the public interest.

• Grant in Comments: How can anyone not love the retail and real estate puff pieces that appear regularly in the Mercury? I think they are fantastic and hope everyone went to the Boxing Day sales to keep the cash registers ringing. It’s all that matters surely?

• Paul Carter in Comments: This analysis is worthy but outdated. These erudite energies are best focussed elsewhere. Journalism long ago left the building. The Mercury before it disappears is on track to become a surburban freebie, a Hobart shopper, with 70% ad to 30% editorial content. Its editor rose to that level of journalism and its news editor isn’t a journalist. So I don’t think they share your concern about “journalism”. They are salarymen and women,  content with their journalistic standard. They are not crusaders for your journalism. The business’s only lifeline, the digital paywall, is doomed to fail when so much better is available for free and core advertisers develop their own digital projection platforms for a completely digital savvy audience. For the Mercury, the band is still playing but there’s no more lifeboats. They are presently managing decline. So you are fighting a good fight. It’s just that the fight at this location finished long ago. The dogs bark, but the caravan goes on.

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Writers | Bob Burton | Politics | State | Editor's Choice | Media | News

First Day ... January

Kaare Wind
01.01.17 4:39 am

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The photos were all taken on my property at Loyetea, North West Coast …

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Economy | Environment | Society

Comment: Is Bigger Media really a good option for Tasmania’s democracy?

Bob Burton* 'Toon: Leunig, http://www.leunig.com.au/ used with permission ...
28.12.16 5:13 am

Image for Comment: Is Bigger Media really a good option for Tasmania’s democracy?

Most people in Tasmania could be forgiven for not realising that the local media landscape may be about to go through a dramatic shake-up if the Senate bows to pressure from the big private media companies and allows much greater media consolidation. One effect of the demise of newspapers is likely to be that it emboldens those who already wield significant influence behind the scenes – government spin doctors, lobbyists, political donors and powerful lobby groups – to believe that they can get away with far more with little risk of being publicly exposed.

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Writers | Bob Burton | Politics | National | State | Economy | Editor's Choice | Opinion | Media | News | Society

The Chrissy/New Year hiatus ...

Lindsay Tuffin*
23.12.16 11:19 am

Image for The Chrissy/New Year hiatus ...

First of all a huge thanks to the monthly supporters including JB, PJB, AD, AB, Anon, Anon, Anon, Anon, Anon, RCH, Bob, Monthly Subs, O’Dw, N&CG, WB, Andrea, PJG, KR, Ben Bradlee, GC, CG, Gerry, BF, JH among many, many others. Thankyou Guyzzzz … Now to the Chrissy/New Year hiatus ...

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Writers | Lindsay Tuffin | Blogging | Media | Society

A gentle wake ...

Don Knowler* First published December 22
23.12.16 5:45 am

Image for A gentle wake ...

Amid fears about tourism development in Tasmania’s wilderness, Don Knowler takes a cruise on Bathurst Harbour in the remote and pristine south-west which leaves a gentle wake instead of a human footprint.

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Writers | Don Knowler | Politics | International | Local | National | State | Economy | Environment | Editor's Choice | Opinion | History | Personal | Society

Glamorgan Spring Bay Council’s secret business ...

Rosalie Woodruff*. Pic: Kris McCracken, Flickr. Fish farms in Birchs Bay. First pub: Dec 22
23.12.16 5:30 am

Image for Glamorgan Spring Bay Council’s secret business ...

… The motion followed a leaked TasWater document that heavily objected to the financial viability of building the proposed dam in the upper catchment of the Prosser River. TasWater highlighted the impact on long-term water needs for Orford and Triabunna, townships who were on water restrictions last summer, and raised the risk of future litigation because of flawed user-pays measurement methodology. This appears to be the next in the long line of convenient government arrangements for Tassal’s stake in Okehampton Bay. The Marine Farming Review Panel has yet to present its findings on the review of the 20 year old Okehampton Bay lease for intensive salmon farming by Tassal. It’s not due until February 2017 …

• Richard Kopf in Comments: Development at any cost. Cost to the ratepayers that is. The township of Orford and its long suffering ratepayers will be the hardest hit by these crazy schemes. Most ratepayers in Orford own holiday dwellings. They receive few services. Compare the quality of the infrastructure at Bicheno, Swansea and Triabunna with Orford. Few footpaths, few businesses, open drains that overflow during rainfall events and a river that once saw pleasure boats in abundance, become a backwater following the disastrous decision to change its course at the mouth. A decision that was promised to be reversed “should unforeseen detrimental effects occur”. Except following floods, the river can only be navigated by nothing larger than canoes and kayaks. This is the river that was once an important small harbour and now this, river, sorry drain, is to be further damned. The outcome will be that the Prosser will seldom, if ever, flow out to sea and ultimately will become a stinking backwater. The good citizens who built their holiday homes in this once delightful town, will have to tolerate the mess being created by this Council, watch their real estate values fall and ironically, be slugged for the privilege. Worse, non-resident ratepayers are not entitled to vote at Council elections unless having sought to be on the General Manager’s roll. So there will be no retribution available at election time.

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Politics | Local | National | State | Economy | Environment | Health | Opinion | History | Planning/Heritage | Society

Bob Brown writes to Guy Barnett ... (update with new Bob letter)

Bob Brown, the Bob Brown Foundation
23.12.16 5:22 am

Image for Bob Brown writes to Guy Barnett ... (update with new Bob letter)

... and Guy Barnett replies ... then Bob Brown writes a thank you letter ... Congratulations on taking on such an exciting portfolio for Tasmania’s future. At the outset, I pass on an invitation from the leading expert on the world’s largest freshwater crayfish, Astacopsis gouldi, Mr Todd Walsh. Todd would welcome the opportunity to show you, on site, these remarkable giant blue crayfish in the Frankland River in Tasmania’s Tarkine wilderness this summer. Plans by Forestry Tasmania to log upstream in the Frankland catchment later in summer are a direct threat to one of the best habitats left for these remarkable creatures. Here’s a gold-plated opportunity for you, as the responsible minister, to see the crayfish for yourself. The good alternative to industrial logging and incineration of the Frankland catchment forest is to allocate it as a tourism precinct for the northwest by establishing a self-funding, local-job-sustaining World’s Biggest Freshwater Crayfish Centre right there by the Frankland …

… I would also point out that it is well documented that significant declines of Astacopsis gouldi are thought to have occurred in many catchments within it’s range. Now even I wouldn’t draw the longest bow to associate forestry with all the declines, but I would suggest that there would be a correlation in certain areas where forestry was the major land impacter. On the basis of what I have surveyed and from what I have read from reputable scientists; you will have to excuse me and many other conservationists when I seem rather sceptical of those in the industry portraying everything as going rather well with little impact upon the environment. It wasn’t so many years ago that the forest industry, environmentalists and government drew up a plan to reserve large tracts of Tasmania’s forests. Only a political decision scrapped the agreement. I accept evidence, I just don’t accept that those in power are seeking to do the right thing by the environment; their environmental management is far more based on polling rather than science or economics.

• John Hayward in Comments: Guy’s reply seems to bubble out of the same murky psychic depths that motivated ISIS to blow up Palmyra. Everything he claims about the benefits of Tasmanian logging is completely at odds with demonstrated reality. I suspect that a goodly part of Guy’s attitude might stem from antinomian religious beliefs, i.e. his conviction that his faith alone absolves him of any obligations to morality, which would include respect for the truth. Then again, he may be acting on his party’s traditional devotion to personal self-interest, and unswerving hostility to anything which stands in its way.

• Geoffrey Swan in Comments: Guy Barnett’s response is an absolute travesty - either poorly concocted by his spin doctors or even worse possibly from his own pen. Bob Brown’s letter in contrast is succinct, considered and eloquent. Time for Mr Barnett to be removed from this portfolio. He is not representing the true interests of Tasmanians, he is out of touch and I feel he has not even read Bob Brown’s letter - he simply responded in a typical anti-green manner. Read the letter again Minister and take your head out of the sand.

• John Biggs in Comments: Guy is repeating old stuff we now know to be false. Further, Bob’s point was about crayfish and he doesn’t mention crayfish once. And to get a measure of the person, Bob’s letter is scrupulously polite whereas Barnett’s is crabby, accusatory and just plain unpleasant. Which fits.

The Wedgie flies again ...

• Todd Walsh in Comments: Hi Guy, Thanks for showing the ticker to not even mention the animal. You may think that locking up scrub, mountain tops and buttongrass constitutes forested reserves, but I can tell you that exposing the environmental gerrymandering that encompasses these reserves; for example the Arthur-Pieman Protected area, will be a hallmark of my push to showcase the “world leading” forest practices of Tasmania. The fact also remains that you have to split the industry in two, just so one part can finally achieve international FSC. Apparently the rest of the world disagrees with your self labelling, world’s best practice. Unfortunately for you, social media is becoming more and more useful as a tool to expose nothing politicians. I understand you are gearing up the forest issue for an election, that’s good, so am I …

… More than happy to organise a trip to these sites and others to compare areas that have been clearfelled. We can start at the top of the Duck where the sediment is that thick you could skate on it. I’ve had numerous people say exactly the same thing over the years, but have usually gone to water when you show the difference between a good site and one full of sediment. Seeing a few adults walking around doesnt constitute a healthy population, one of my best sites has 400+ individuals in a 3km stretch tagged over a 16 year period, compare that to kilometre after kilometre of bugger all using exactly the same survey methods. What do you base your lobster data on? A walk in the bush? …

Claire Gilmour in Comments: … I’ll go even better … Giant Freshwater Lobsters for sale … $15,000 each … $10,000 for the fine and $5000 to eat! Why is it that poachers get fined, but FT and the government can wreck the GFC’s environment for free? … Where are you Bryan Green? You stood on my property overlooking my giant freshwater lobster creek and said … this should not happen – when I said FT wanted to log down to and trash the creek. I said to you but FT have said to me they will silt up my creek by their actions, You said – “we will deny that!” Hunters and gathers eh! …

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Politics | International | Local | National | State | Forestry | Economy | Environment | Opinion | History | Planning/Heritage | Personal | Science | Society

And they’re at it again ...

Kim Peart* of Ross. Pic* First pub: Dec 23
23.12.16 5:15 am

Image for And they’re at it again ...

Northern Midlands Council proposes to sell the old School Oval in Ross  Ross is frequently referred to by politicians as one of the best heritage places to visit and experience in Tasmania. Why would politicians set out to destroy the heritage values of Ross? …

• Kim Peart in Comments: A petition to Save Our Old School Oval was launched on Boxing Day and is available for anyone to sign at ~ 39 Church Street, Ross ~ “We humbly call upon the Mayor and Councillors of the Northern Midlands Council to keep the old School Oval in Ross in public hands, as a recreation ground next to the Town Hall and public toilets in Ross, where members of the Ross community and visitors to Ross can enjoy the public open space, and where events are held from time to time.” We will have the petition on the old School Oval on New Years Day ~ Sunday 1 January 2017 ~ so come join us and bring a picnic lunch. A soap box will be available for anyone wishing to make a speech …

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Writers | Kim Peart | Politics | International | Local | National | State | Economy | Environment | Opinion | History | Planning/Heritage | Personal | Society

The Peter Principle ...

Pat Caplice*. Pic: of Peter Gutwein from his website ...
22.12.16 6:30 am

Image for The Peter Principle ...

With pride Peter Gutwein has dangled his principles for all to see. Will his pride oversee the end of Pokies in Tasmania ... ?

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Politics | International | Local | National | State | Economy | Environment | Editor's Choice | Health | Opinion | History | Planning/Heritage | Personal | Society

The growing financial crisis in Tasmania’s newspaper industry

Bob Burton* First published December 19
22.12.16 5:45 am

Image for The growing financial crisis in Tasmania’s newspaper industry

In the past decade the combined circulation of Tasmania’s three largest newspapers – the Mercury, the Examiner and the Advocate – has fallen by over one-third with no sign the decline has yet bottomed out. The dramatic decline of the three newspapers and a push by major media companies for the axing some of the rules blocking increased media concentration indicate further upheavals in Tasmania’s media landscape may be imminent.

• Mike Bolan in Comments: At a meeting of the media and public I attended 5 or so years ago ( TT here ), the media people expressed no interest in listening to the public regarding the content of their papers. It was a kind of ‘what would customers know about it?” stance. The established media organisations looked on growing organisations (like TT) with contempt because many of the writers ‘weren’t journalists’!! Yet what has the media become but a foghorn for government policy and propaganda, coupled with a desperate demand for ‘more advertising’. What it has utterly failed to become is a valued community information resource. (Spot on O’Brien @1) That failing means that it usually isn’t worth paying any of the cover prices for the paper, nor worth paying News to read about their ‘paywall’ articles. Until they start to deliver something that’s actually worth reading, their decline is likely to continue.

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Writers | Bob Burton | Politics | National | State | Editor's Choice | Legal | Media | Society