Tasmanian premier Paul Lennon has now lost two deputy premiers in two years. This morning, infrastructure minister Steve Kons was forced to resign after apologizing for misleading the state parliament yesterday over the appointment of a magistrate last year. In 2006, Mr Kons’ predecessor Bryan Green was forced to resign as deputy premier after he signed off on a business monopoly deal with two ex-Labor ministers. The common factor in these two cases is Mr Lennon’s interfering style.

Mr Kons has been forced to resign because the opposition parties revealed, after reconstructing a shredded document, that Mr Koms had agreed to appoint Simon Cooper as a Magistrate in Tasmania. Mr Cooper, at the time, was chairing the independent inquiry into the Gunns pulp mill and had revealed that the proposed mill was non-compliant with some key planning regulations.

When Mr Lennon found that Mr Koms wanted to appoint Mr Cooper, he vetoed the decision. It has been revealed that Mr Lennon had the head of the Department of Premier and Cabinet, Linda Hornsey, order the document noting Mr Koms’ approval of the appointment shredded.

Mr Kons’ downfall today was brought about by his statement to parliament yesterday, denying that the document had been shredded.

One cannot help but feel sorry for Mr Green and Mr Kons. In Mr Green’s case, Mr Lennon’s office badgered him about the business deal that he signed off on just prior to the 2006 election.

Mr Lennon has a penchant for directly interfering in ministers’ portfolios, particularly concerning key state appointments. It would appear that if individuals appear to be critical of Mr Lennon’s pro-Gunns Ltd stance they have their file marked ”not for promotion”.

Mr Cooper is not the only example. It was widely rumoured in government circles earlier this year that Tasmania’s most talented lawyer, Stephen Estcourt QC, was overlooked for the Solicitor General position because he had acted in the past for a group of individuals that had been sued by Gunns for defamation and trespass.

The Labor party in Tasmania is in crisis today, because of Mr Lennon, not because of Mr Kons and Mr Green. 

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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