Shortly after dumping him from his ministry, John Howard paid
tribute
to his Forestry Minister, Ian Macdonald’s “energy”, “skill” and
“prescient” political nous.
We prefer to remember Macdonald as a lightweight whose greatest achievement was
not being quite as bad as his predecessor – Wilson Tuckey.

During his time as Minister for Woodchipping (er, Forestry and Conservation),
Macdonald went out of his way to demonstrate his animosity to anyone prepared to
stand up for forest protection. We will long remember his media release last
August inciting biffo against greenies blockading a NSW south coast forest: “Barbeque an opportunity
to grill protestors
.”

Macdonald wasn’t happy with our report on his activities – and our description of him as “a low-profile
minister in the Howard pecking order.”

His response is worth recalling, given the events of the
weekend. The minister stormed into the Senate on 10 August and declared:
“Crikey.com, you are probably right. I am a low-profile minister. I just try to
do my job, and do the right thing for the people of Australia.”

Senator
Kay Patterson interjected: “You are a minister, that is the important
thing.”

Macdonald continued: “As you say, Senator Patterson, I am a
minister in the national government, more than Hugo Kelly will ever be. I say
this to Crikey.com: I may be low-profile, but Crikey.com is super low profile in
my electorate of Queensland.”

Interesting that the two good Senators involved in that attack
are the two ministers dumped by John Howard. No hard
feelings, ex-ministers. Enjoy your backbench retirement.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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