typing is not activism….

environ mentalism, fresh articles, interviews & checkitouts from Sydney.

Raverty under pressure – detailing the latest silencing strategy

with 7 comments

“…my New Zealand General Manager told me in a one-on-one meeting, acting as judge, jury and executioner, that this publication of ‘confidential CSIRO information’ contravenes my terms of employment and as a consequence I am to be removed from my current position of Sustainability Coordinator for the pulp and paper section of Ensis, consigned to a ‘back room’ and that my file is to be marked ‘Never to be Promoted’…”

On April 21 I had further communication with Dr Warwick Raverty, a public whistleblower on the major Tasmanian pulp mill proposal. Dr Raverty is employed by CSIRO although he is currently seconded to CSIRO’s Trans-Tasman unincorporated forestry joint venture, Ensis. During secondment, Dr Raverty remains a CSIRO employee. Dr Raverty’s General Manager is an employee of Scion, formerly the Forest Research Institute of New Zealand another government body.

Throughout his whistle-blowing attacks on the Tasmanian Labour Government and the Pulp Mill proponents, Gunns Limited, Dr Raverty has constantly stressed in media interviews that he is speaking as a private individual (he had 20 years experience in the pulp industry before joining CSIRO in 2000) and has been very complimentary about how CSIRO’s Office of the Chief Executive have allowed him to express his personal expert views without sanction.

“I am however getting what I see as completely illegal pressure and bullying from the other side of the Tasman,” Dr Raverty said. “My Scion General Manager subjected me to what was effectively a ‘kangaroo court’, or perhaps it was a ‘kiwi court’, I couldn’t really tell, last Wednesday. This action was totally illegal under my CSIRO conditions of employment, but apparently it isn’t in New Zealand.

“I was accused of breaching CSIRO confidentiality by this Scion man because I ‘whistle-blew’ the fact that the Gunns Pulp Mill Project Manager had contacted CSIRO and attempted to intimidate a Government official (an offense against the (Australian) Crimes Act as I understand it) into preventing me from making a public address when I spoke to the 400 people in Launceston. An hour or so earlier, I had in fact been contacted by a CSIRO colleague by phone, while on annual leave, who begged me to cancel the address, ‘or there would be very serious consequences for me’.

“My CSIRO colleague also begged me, in the same phone call, not to make the attempted intimidation public. Because I had been told that Gunns is well known on the streets of Tasmania as being a corporate bully, with a PhD in subtle intimidation of critics, but Ph Ds in little else of consequence to pulp mills, I decided to make the attempted intimidation by Gunns public on 26 March.

“Almost a month later, my New Zealand General Manager told me in a one-on-one meeting, acting as judge, jury and executioner, that this publication of ‘confidential CSIRO information’ contravenes my terms of employment and as a consequence I am to be removed from my current position of Sustainability Coordinator for the pulp and paper section of Ensis, consigned to a ‘back room’ and that my file is to be marked ‘Never to be Promoted’.

“I am para-phrasing what my General Manager said, but when I used those precise words to him in response, my General manger did not refute my para-phrase.

“Rest assured that I will use what remain of Australia’s industrial relations laws to fight this man tooth and nail. I have a Queen’s Council very willing to act pro bono on my behalf, so we will see where CSIRO stands on this issue.

“CSIRO has a mission statement that includes the words ‘to…..provide social and environmental benefit to Australia’. Now while I was not acting on behalf of CSIRO while I was on annual leave, I believe that I was contributing to the great Australian tradition of Volunteers and using my scientific expertise to provide both social and environmental benefit to 100,000 people in the Tamar Valley, whose health and quality of life will be put at severe risk if the Pulp Mill Assessment Act 2007, or Gunns’ Dream Act 2007 as the Leader of the Upper House in Tasmania calls it, takes its expected shonky course.

“If an Australian judge determines that I have technically breached one of the conditions of my employment in order to protect the health of 100,000 of my fellow citizens, I will willingly and happily go to jail for the offense. Nelson Mandela will be sitting right beside me in spirit keeping me company!”, Dr Raverty said.

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Written by typingisnotactivism

April 22, 2007 at 3:02 am

7 Responses

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  1. hey good rave, good on Raverty for refusing to be intimidated and for being honest, which is more than can be said for many others invvolved in the Pulp Mill process.

    john

    April 23, 2007 at 6:00 pm

  2. One of the good things that is emerging from mounting corruption surrounding each move in the pulp mill tragedy is that it’s causing courageous people like Warwick to emerge, which inspires and encourages us lesser people to fight on, and on the other side it’s flushing out egregious creeps like General Manager, a nice generic term for corporate bullies. That shit was quite out of order and I hope Warwick nails him,.

    John Biggs

    April 24, 2007 at 9:12 am

  3. Thank you for your commitment Warwick. We can support you but only you can speak with the authority of knowledge. You will be supported.

    Claire

    April 24, 2007 at 6:24 pm

  4. A big thank you to all of you have expressed support so far. Please remember that there is no ‘greater’ and ‘lesser’ in battles like these – all fair-minded people are ‘in it’ together. I was ‘given’ (without HECS fees) the opportunity to complete a Ph D 34 years ago by that great Australian socialist, Sir Robert Gordon Menzies. I am very grateful for that opportunity and I see it as my resposibilty to use that gift for the good of as many Australians and other citizens of the world as I can. On the eve of that terrible landing on the beaches of Turkey 82 years ago, I recall that one of my grandfathers was wounded on that beach and my father fought impending tyranny as it percolated southwards through the jungles of New Guinea between 1942 and 1944. I am simply following a fine family tradition. Today of course, at least in Tasmania the situation is arguably worse – the ‘traitors’ are not just at the gate, they are walking the floors of the people’s parliaments making laws that would make ‘the fallen’ turn in their graves. It is up to all Australians who feel unease at what is happening in Tasmania, and in the rest of Australia, to make their concerns known to their elected representatives and to use the Australian law in whatever way they think appropriate to restore what our forefathers and mothers fought to preserve. Remember that for evil to prevail, it is only necessay for women and men of goodwill to do nothing. It is your democracy – make it work for you and for your community!

    Warwick Raverty

    April 24, 2007 at 9:10 pm

  5. Thanks Warwick for not simply walking away when these traitors – intent on sidelining the people and undermining our chances of a decent life in Australia -moved against you to the extent that you had to resign. Walking away would have been easier, but by staying on, saying what you believe is right (and courting more cowardly retribution in the process) you continue to inspire us all.

    As you say, there are not ‘greater’ and ‘lesser’ in battles like these, but there are those with more or less opportunities to make themselves heard. For myself, I’m trying to assist by running for the Legislative Council in Tasmania against a Lennon Labor candidate. If I can convince enough Pembroke voters that the Government is sufficiently on the nose, and convince them to elect me, I will make an awful lot of noise in the Chamber when the pulp mill matter comes back. Be assured.

    Neil Smith
    South Hobart.
    candidate for Legislative Council division of Pembroke, Tasmania

    Neil Smith

    April 25, 2007 at 3:55 pm

  6. Warwick, you are truly courageous and I hope that you will be an example to your colleagues is CSIRO and others. Usually the bullying and intimidation meted out to public interest disclosers such as yourself leads to the phenomenon of ‘self censorship’ whereby peers in the same workplace realise the implications of dissent and speaking out about scientific, ethical or morally unsound actions (to name but a few) within the public & private sectors. Invariably the fear of losing one’s job; being down-graded or having your file stamped ‘never to be promoted’ is sufficient in most circumstances to gain total corporate compliance from staff.

    This is like an ethical ‘war’ and courageous soldiers who stand up for what is ethical should be awarded a ‘VC’ rather than be courts marshalled or given a dishonourable discharge. In the case of Gunns Ltd, they might just resort to the firing squad!

    David Obendorf

    April 25, 2007 at 11:39 pm

  7. Thank you Warwick. I was one of the 300+ in the audience on March 26th at Launceston’s Pilgrim Hall, and I thank you for sharing your expertise and your concerns with those of us who are fighting for our health and our way of life here in the Tamar Valley.

    You are indeed an inspiration, and your courage gives us courage to continue the fight.

    Anne

    April 27, 2007 at 9:14 pm


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