Tasmanian Premier Paul
Lennon’s attack dog Matt Rogers was barking mad this morning over fresh
allegations against his master – and only a day before Lennon is tipped
to call a state election on March 18.

A rumour has been circulating in Hobart, which appeared on the Tasmanian Timeswebsite
this morning, that Lennon used timber giant Gunns Ltd’s construction
division, Hinman, Wright and Manser, to renovate the colonial sandstone
pile he bought at Brighton, near Hobart.

The company is known
for its anti-union stance, which would make it a surprising choice for
Lennon, given his vociferous opposition to Howard’s IR legislation. And
it would undermine Unions Tasmania, the old Tasmanian Trades and Labor
Council, which is poised to support Labor at the election, because of
its support of workers’ rights.

Gunns hopes to build a billion dollar pulp mill in Tasmania and the Tasmanian Times
suggests the Premier should document the costs and payment of the work
done on his house so electors can go to the ballot box “assured of his
probity and integrity when they come to make their choice at the ballot
box”.

Crikey rang Rogers for a response, but he told us he
hadn’t read it. Really? Could he comment? Nope. In typical Rogers
fashion, he told Crikey it was an old rumour; that journalists from The Mercury and the Herald Sun
had asked about it ages ago, and dropped it. “I hear Cassy O’Connor
(Greens candidate in Denison) has been stirring it up again,” he went
on. “That’s where it’s coming from.” A Green Plot? Nope – the story was
around before she announced her candidature.

Meanwhile,
contracts given to Global Value Management, a management consultancy
company run by and half-owned by Lennon’s brother, John Lennon, will be
investigated by Tasmania’s Auditor-General, Mike Blake.

The
state’s top financial watchdog announced yesterday he would investigate
the process involving contracts from departments or enterprises for
which Lennon has held ministerial responsibility after The Australian
recently uncovered a number of examples – one a $30,000, two-day
workshop involving the impact of a Gunns pulp mill. It’s not a good
week for the premier, so maybe the March 18th date will be postponed…

Peter Fray

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