Sawmilling Greens? The Tasmanian election has thrown up some surprises.
Wow! Labor 15, Libs just six and four to the Greens. No wonder Premier Jim “Crispy” Bacon was in such a good mood at his presser on Sunday morning.
He didn’t even seem to mind that that there on the wall of the Premier’s office, for all the national meeja to see, was a photograph of the one time Monash Maoist with his mate Norm Gallagher and other bruvvers from the good old days at the BLF.
Slap on the Cheek
Liberal leader Bob “Buttocks” Cheek was unusually frank when he described the election outcome as “a debacle, a disaster”. In the wake of the defeat, he has bowed to inevitable and said he is considering his position.
Indeed, it’s not even known at the moment if Buttocks will be in the Parliament. He and Hillary’s old drinking pal, Michael Hodgeman, are battling for the sole Liberal position in Dennison. If Hodgeman wins, the veteran MP and one time Fraser Minister may well end up as Liberal Leader.
Bacon allowed a few jokes at their expense at his presser, suggesting that they’d also be fighting over the Opposition Leader’s chauffeured car while they waiting for the final results.
He seemed stuck for words, however, when an interjector suggest Green leader Peg Putt get a bike for official duties.
Buttock’s campaign is already being ripped apart with the leader he deposed, Sue Napier, leading the charge.
She described the campaign as “quite inappropriate when in fact the feedback was that Bob Cheek was not liked, particularly in the north, north-west and in Lyons”, saying “you just have to speak to the candidates to know the kind of feedback they were trying to battle their way through” and warning that Federal intervention might be needed.
Her deputy, Rene Hidding, has also joined in the fun, with the comment “people were saying I can’t vote for this bloke, therefore I’ll vote for a non-sitting member.”
They’re right. First no federal Reps seats, now this. Erica Betz and his chums in the bookburning faction have presided yet again over unprecedented humiliation for the Tasmanian Liberals.
Still, they have one big excuse the fact that 18 per cent of the Tasmanian electorate seem to want to go and live in caves.
Yes the Greens. People like Kim Booth, the newly elected Bass MP and campaigner against clearfelling who, er, owns a sawmill.
If you can overcome contradictions like that, then voting for the Greens is easy. And who actually does that? Well, the more you look at the booth by booth figures, the more you see just what a lot of Balmain basket weavers Green voters are.
Down in Dennison, in Battery Point, the oldest and about the most prestigious suburb in Hobart, they topped the poll with 40 per cent of the vote. In the north of the seat, however, in working class Glenorchy, they only got 12 per cent.
To put it simply, it looks as if the Greens most loyal supporters are selfish silvertails. Their motto is stuff the workers. It’s fine to vote Green when you live in a leafy suburb of Hobart. If you work in the Huon Valley where your job or the jobs of your friends may well depend on the timber industry, it’s another matter.
So who are the new MPs? We already know about the environmentally friendly sawmiller, Kim Booth and can expect to hear a lot in the future about his imported timber, too. But what about the other members of the beards ‘n’ Birkenstock brigade.
Nick McKim, from Franklin, is an advertising consultant. If that sounds unusual for a Green, a quick look at Nick’s CV is reassuring, He has been a salesman at Paddy Pallin, a freelance musician, the assistant manager of a bio-dynamic market garden in Switzerland and a shepherd in Scotland. Feed the man meat. His time in Switzerland inspired him to enter politics. He seems to have been inspired by their system of community referendums the system that denied the vote to women in that country until the 1970s.
The fourth Green, Tim Morris, should be worrying for the shrubhuggers. He too is a sawmiller. Is there a stack on?
The ABC runs scared
Was it under resourcing or what. The Hobart ABC seems to have run scared for much of the Tassie campaign. The Libs and ALP beat them up continually, and they didn’t bother turning up to the launch of the A Just Australia refugee campaign, even though all other media outlets attended.
When they finally spoke to Greg Barns on the matter, they pulled the interview claiming his accusation that Cheek and Bacon were sanctioning child abuse in supporting mandatory detention was to strong and too overtly political. The item was only run after Barns argued the point with the news director.
A second interview with Barns on refugees was dropped by the ABC, while Big Bad Rupe’s Mercury took quotes for their story the following day.
Don’t give up the day job
Sticking with Barns, the year maverick Liberal turned Democrat hasn’t had a good week.
In April, Barns was engaged to write a weekly column for the Launceston Examiner. The only feedback he received from the editor Rod Scott was positive. During the period when he was publicly canvassing joining the Australian Democrats, he received a number of calls from Examiner journalists seeking exclusives about his plans for the future, if he would run in the state election and under which banner.
In the end, Barns gave the story to the Mercury in Hobart as an exclusive, given that it covered his electorate. That was a bad move. He got a call from Scott on the day of his announcement on the Dems telling him that dragging out the decision had put his credibility at risk and that his journalists were disappointed not to get the story first. He then told Barns that his wife liked the column but he was winding it up because the paper now had a political journalist.
Then there was the Democrat result just 0.7 per cent of the vote, down 0.2 per cent on 1998 and the fact that they abandoned Dennison and only contested Bass and Franklin. That Senate campaign is going to be interesting.
Finally, thank you to all the readers who e-mailed pointing out that Melbourne was settled from Launceston not vice versa.
Hillary stands humbled, chastened and corrected.
Hillary Bray can be contacted at [email protected]