typing is not activism….

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

PM Rudd’s first domestic courtesy of the Greens

with 5 comments

By any objective measure, the vote in most of Australia was heavily influenced by Green preferences and should be seen as a call to the Rudd Government to consider a more environmentally friendly way to deal with this issue of the pulp mill.

– Dr Warwick Raverty, 26th November, 2007

It is certain that under Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (*aahhh*) Australia will be an international citizen like never before. A veritable treasure trove of global possibilities now lie across the sea. Ironically, so shall his first major domestic challenge.

Barely had the Rudd victory been declared on Saturday than Greens Senator Bob Brown, surrounded by cheering supporters and green ‘no pulp mill’ triangles, declared the result a vote against the proposed Gunns pulp mill.

“From Bass to Bennelong to Bowman, this pulp mill has had an influence,” Senator Brown said. “And the pulp mill was the single most defining environmental issue which has made this huge swing against the government to the Greens.”

The eviction of the Coalition government was partially rejection of a government that approved the pulp mill. The difficulty is that a vote – primary or preferential – for Federal Labor was still a vote for a party that supported the pulp mill.

The Greens may now try to leverage what is already being characterized as a political debt and force federal Labor to reassess either the legality or the environmental merits of the proposed Gunns pulp mill in Tasmania’s Tamar Valley.

In his congratulation speech, Brown reminded Rudd of his vow to govern for all Australians. “The great majority of people in Australia, not least in Tamar, have said no to the pulp mill so the question everybody is wanting to see answered is Kevin Rudd’s response to that majority view.”

Dr. Warwick Raverty was the scientific advisor on the independent panel assessing the mill for the greater part of that panel’s existence. He has become better known to many Tasmanians since – both for his constant preparedness to stand against greater powers and speak what he considers to be objective truth, and also for his post-panel ability to speak publicly what is on his mind.

When contacted for his personal opinion of this post-election matter, Dr. Raverty said that “by any objective measure, the vote in most of Australia was heavily influenced by Green preferences and should be seen as a call to the Rudd Government to consider a more environmentally friendly way to deal with this issue of the pulp mill.”

The Greens will be a crucial voting bloc in the new Senate from July next year but their support will only be significant on legislation opposed by the Coalition.

Whoever Rudd might anoint as federal environment minister, with any choice other than Peter Garrett likely to be the first cause for major public outcry, it is unlikely they will make any significant statement regarding the pulp mill for at least three weeks.

After the Bali climate conference, they might review the conditional approvals given by their predecessor, Malcolm Turnbull. Significantly, although The Wilderness Society (TWS) recently lost a Federal Court appeal against Turnbull’s decision, they have gleamed one nugget from the legal action.

Of the three judges, one gave a dissenting opinion stating that Turnbull may have erred in law. Such a prospect could give the new government cause for the reassessment demanded by Tasmanians in mid-November. TWS intend to pursue the matter in the Supreme Court.

And despite heavy rains and strong winds, close to 15,000 people recently rallied in Hobart against the mill. As a keynote speaker, distinguished author Richard Flanagan – the same man whose writing moved millionaire Geoffrey Cousins to action – made a promise to Gunns’ financial supporters – particularly the ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, and Perpetual Investments – and to the next government of Australia.

They “will have to deal with the fallout of the biggest civil disobedience campaign in Australian history since the Franklin River blockade if they do not take action now.” Thousands of people joined him in pledging to be arrested, rather than allow the first foundation to be laid.

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Written by typingisnotactivism

November 26, 2007 at 9:53 pm

5 Responses

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  1. It’s relevant to keep a tally the political consequences of allowing one powerful oligarchy coupled to an “Tweedle dumb/Tweedle dee” State Labor Government/Liberal Opposition & compliant Upper House.

    The individuals that stood their ground in the face of Government & corporate bullying and various forms of white-anting – Dr Warwick Raverty, Julian Green, Christopher Wright (RPDC officials), Terry Martin (Labor MLC) and to some extent Lisa Singh (Labor MHA, who abstained from voting on the final State Pulp Mill approval).

    The casualities – Rod Scott (Head of Paul Lennon’s office), Linda Honsey (Secretary of DPAC), Ivan Dean (Mayor of Launceston (one term)), Michael Ferguson (Liberal member for Bass 2004-2007), maybe even John Howard (Prime Minister of Australia, 1996-2007).

    Were it not for the very strong Green vote in Bennelong in the election of 2004 set up by Greens candidate Andrew Wilkie, the PM’s seat would not have become ‘marginal’ in 2007 allowing Maxine McKew to achieveTHE boil-over humiliation defeat of John Howard supported by 10% Green preferences!

    There have been many more local government, bureaucracy and business consequences *& casualties arising out of Tasmania’s period of Government under Gunns P/L. Please add to this list……

    David Obendorf

    November 27, 2007 at 3:29 pm

  2. A closer look at the HoR results in Tasmania shows a swing AGAINST Labor in all five seats – small in some, but by no means the hefty endorsement across the mainland – coupled with a big swing to the Greens – up to 6% in Bass. So it is moot point if Rudd has a mandate to allow the pulp mill, given that the anti pulp mill campaign was as much a focus of the Greens, especially here, as the anti Work Choices campaign was for Labor. So, logically, if Rudd has a mandate to repeal WorkChoices – and he prides himself on his logical approach – he also has a mandate to repeal the pulp mill approval.

    lmxly

    November 28, 2007 at 3:25 pm

  3. I think the fact that there was a national swing towards the Greens in the face of an ascendant Labor party (which captured a large primary vote swing) means that people look to the Greens as a party which will act as the conscience of the ALP. The results in Tasmania show a massive amount of support for the Greens’ stance on the pulp mill and if the ALP ignore this result they might run the risk of galvanising Greens support at both the State level and in the Federal Senate at their own expense.

    Sam Clifford

    November 28, 2007 at 8:15 pm

  4. Yep – I think it’s interesting that for all the scare campaigning about unions, the economy, and even green extremism this election, there was none of the news-limited-beloved Greens-as-drug-pushing-IVF-parents-with-HIV type hysteria of the past. It’s sad to think that Andrew Bartlett will be leaving the Senate, eventually to be followed by Natasja Stott-D, but the Greens have really risen closer to cruciality this year. Without the conscience of Tassie – Peg Putt & Posse – would there have been such pressure on the State government? Similarly, the complete sacking by the electorate of all Tassie’s federal Liberal members of the Lower House.

    I dig where you’re coming from but I think it’s linguistically loose to say that the Greens will be the conscience of the Labor Party. I actually think the ALP this time round has a decent conscience. Julia Gillard has been completely impressive and really walks her talk, declaring on day 2 that Sorry will be said has elevated an opinion of Kevin Rudd that was already somewhat airborne, John Faulkner as consiglieri means there’s some seriously good stuff happening in the back room, etc.

    Along with you, I do hope there’s a rethink on the pulp mill. The only sustainable long term solution will be one that doesn’t split generations and communities into winners and losers. Going ahead with this mill would certainly do that, and the ratio of losers to winners would be more brutal than the ratio of federal ALP to federal LIB. A little bird at Tasmanian Times has today suggested that based on supposedly reliable second hand information, Paul Lennon will shortly be stepping down as Premier.

    Of course if you spread such a rumour and you’re wrong, it’s just one of those things. But if you say it first and it happens, you’re a genius. Lennon going would definitely be good for Rudd and the new posse to not have to be associated with blatant corruption, but it would also be essential if a rethink of the mill is on the cards. If Rudd or his environment minister is going to stare John Gay down, they will need a state leader that will stand with them, rather than with Gay.

    typingisnotactivism

    November 29, 2007 at 1:45 am

  5. Let’s not forget the role that TAP’s Voter’s Block has played in recent electoral happenings in Tasmania. First we turned the pro-mill West Tamar Council – they did a complete 180 on support of the mill following the public meeting, and then the Voter’s Block ensured the election of two anti-mill councillors and an anti-mill Deputy Mayor.

    Following that, we effected a change in the balance of the Launceston City Council, with the election of an anti-mill mayor and the ousting of rabidly pro-mill mayor, Ivan Dean. With the shift in balance, the Council has rescinded support of the mill. Then our Voter’s Block ensured the election of Jodie Campbell over Michael Ferguson in Bass, with Green preferences from the record vote to Tom Millen. In Lyons, arguably the most ‘redneck’ electorate in Tasmania, the combined anti-mill vote of the Green, Karen Cassidy and the anti-mill independent, Ben Quin, was over 20%! In a climate of 5-6% swings to Labor, there was actually a swing of almost 1% away from Dick Adams, although he still won comfortably. The imperative to rid the nation of the Howard blight was strong!

    The Voter’s Block currently has 15,000 names on it and it is proving to be a potent force for change. We aim to extend it and use it in the State elections due in 2010. Bit by bit we are taking back our democracy. We are patient and we are determined.

    Valleywatcher

    November 29, 2007 at 8:58 pm


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