Dealing with the Media

18/3//2021

As one who at the time of writing has had more than fifty years of experience with the media in all its forms, printed, television, radio and video, I would like to pass on to you some experiences and knowledge how the media works.  In your time during your chosen career, your life outside of your profession and perhaps beyond, it is important for you to know how to deal with the media.

The media is never on your side.  Never make the mistake thinking that they are.  Never make the mistake believing you can use the media to your advantage.  You never can.  The media will do what it wants to do.  Always keep this in mind.  The media is not your friend.  On occasions it may appear they are, but that is only because they are getting a story or a comment from you, which is to their advantage, not to yours.  It may be true that you can also gain from the publicity, but publicity can work both ways, it can be helpful and/or it can be unhelpful.

Always be in charge of your acceptance of the media remembering they are there to use you. It is true you can use them as well, but do not make the mistake you are controlling them. You will not. They are not your friend.  They are not there to further your career.  It may be true that they can help your career, but keep in mind if it is in their interest they will turn against you and the result will be not what you were hoping it to be.

When being interviewed by the media, stay on the subject, do not stray.  Be careful what you say; saying the wrong thing can be disastrous for you.  Anything controversial said by you, they will latch on to.  That is why I say, be careful what you and stay on the subject.  If you can, think and rehearse what you are going to say beforehand.  I repeat, do not say outlandish things or controversial, for those comments will be what will be aired. Be careful. Remember too and this is very important and many in the limelight foolishly do not seem to consider it; everyone now has a camera, especially with phone cameras and security cameras.  Knowing this be sure you are on your good behaviour at all times.  Do not let them catch you out.  Speak and behave sensibly.  Anyone nowadays think they can have their five minutes of fame, by catching one on a camera in a compromising situation. Most people do not have personal responsibility when it comes to other people; they think only of their selves and what they can get out of it whether it is financial or their moment of brief fame – or it could be a combination of both.

I cannot emphasise your personal responsibility to yourself in this regard and to your family. Be aware of the media and be aware that everyone is now watching, because of the proliferations of cameras. Also too in this age of political correctness, the media is just hoping you will say the wrong thing and run with it. This is what I mean, when I say stay on the subject and speak sensibly.

I repeat, the media is NOT your friend, even though it may give an impression that it is.  Never, ever, give a comment “off the cuff” because that is what they will hone in on.

Be upstanding, be diplomatic and as said, keep to the subject and give sensible and authoritive comments.  Never criticise a colleague, be loyal to your friends and to those who depend upon you.  The media can be there to help you in your career, but also remember they can destroy your career.  Too many immature people in this regard have destroyed themselves.

Beware of the media; do not think you can use them to your advantage and that they are on your side.  Be careful in what you say to them.  By all means appear on the media, but manage your appearances wisely.  In time, experience will show you this and until then, be wary. They are not there to deliberately promote your career, even though they may say so or give that impression.  They are there to get a story and it means destroying you, they will.  Always be wise to them…at times it may be best to refrain from saying anything.  Always be polite to them because if they feel you are treating them poorly they have the power to give you bad publicity even though it would be unjustified. They are human beings and they can hold a grudge.

I cannot overly state too much, learn all about the media and their tactics. I can tell you knowing many in the media (and yes there have been some good ones) very few of them have scruples especially when on the scent of a good story.  They will manipulate the result they want, even though it is far from the truth, without any conscience. This is human nature and the media is no different.

Remember if you go “live” anything you say cannot be edited. Be extra careful in what you say.  On the other hand if it is pre-recorded they can edit it to their advantage, so again be careful in what you say.  Never relax your alertness.  Speak with confidence and speak with authority. At times it may be necessary to be fully honest and simply say something like, I really know how much about that subject or of those matters. Always be honest, never make up stories, exaggerate or lie, because it will be found out and you will have to answer for it.

When in public always behave like a gentleman; never show off or behave in an unruly manner, because you are on show.  People are watching you.  Many will be waiting for you to make a mistake and cause harm to your personal reputation or bring your club into dishonour.  Remember, we live in political correct times, so never give the media the story they want or would like.

Too many religious leaders, sportsmen, politicians, pop stars and movie stars believe in their own publicity.  They come to believe they are mini gods.  They are fools. Invariably their puffed-up pride is their downfall.  Remember the old proverb – the bigger they are, the bigger they fall.

I have survived all these years, simply because I knew how far I could go and how much I could and should say.

I can only give advice, the future is in your hands, but learn from one who knows.

You may consider that I have repeated myself on occasions.  I have done this deliberately so that it will sink it.

Categories In the news

Reflection on Christmas 2020

14/1//2021

Christmas 2020.  We finally got here, despite the traumas which we have experienced during the year.  Christmas survives. It is a different Christmas to last year and certainty a very different Christmas to past years.

Christmas has changed over the decades in regards to its traditional meaning and its observance. Commercialism, secularism and political correctness have taken its toll. As an example of the latter, for some it is “happy holiday” rather than “Merry Christmas”.  This was highlighted with the Obama American Presidency, when he sent out cards with similar words.

Tasmania has seen great changes as well.

For the vast majority of Christians, including of those who are nominal, it heralds the birth of Jesus Christ and provides a Message of Hope for mankind. For the staunch Christian fundamentalist, Christmas is not honoured as they believe December 25th was observed by early European pagans who celebrated the changing of the seasons on that day. Later the Church put a Christmas meaning to it. Various sects contend that it not scriptural, so the day should be ignored.  

Historically, the first Christmas was not observed until more than three hundred years after the birth of Christ. Therefore, originally, there was no Christmas.  For Tasmania, the first Christmas came with Lt John Bowen RN who settled at Risdon Cove.  He held the first one, December 25, 1803. The following year came Colonel David Collins and with him the Rev Robert (Bobby) Knopwood and the first Christmas in Hobart was held December 25, 1804.

In the north of the State, Colonel William Paterson arrived in 1804 with 181 settlers and although I cannot find any documentation of the observance of Christmas, I have no doubt it was held.

In Australia the first ever recorded Christmas (referred to as Yuletide) took place in Governor’s Phillip’s modest residence at Sydney Cove, December 25, 1788,

Christmas 2020 will again be a day of family visiting, wonderful meals, gifts, watching the delights of children, picnics and for some, religious observances. Yet there will also be businesses operating and mass entertainment aired as though it was is just another day.

It was very different once – and not so long ago.  When black and white television was introduced into Tasmania for a number of years on this special day, only religious programmes were presented.  It was the same for the wireless (radio) until a certain hour in the evening, only religious and Christmas music was aired.  Businesses were closed for the day.  Everyone enjoyed themselves, rested and had the time to catch up with family. Churches were full with many who rarely went to church making this day a particular reason to attend.

In short there was more reverence, more respect and a more relaxed day. Christmas has always been commercial, but the sense and belief that it had a spiritual significance was recognised.

We live in a very secular society. The meaning of Christmas may be still there, but it has faded into the back ground. It is now no longer fully acknowledged.  Perhaps we have become too embarrassed over its meaning?  After all, don’t we live in a multi-cultural society, one of many faiths and cultures?  We certainly do not want to offend anyone. Yet in all my years (and I am now matured) I have never, ever, met a person (outside Ebenezer Scrooge) who wanted Christmas or even its meaning, banned.  I stress no atheist have I met, agnostic or those of a different faith or culture have expressed a desire to do so. They are content to enjoy Christmas Day in their own way and while they may not observe its religious significance, they are not the ones complaining.  Are we being therefore, socially manipulated and non-Christians being used as an excuse?

I personally think we have lost some of the quality of Christmas.  For me I thoroughly enjoy the carols, Christmas cards, the lights, the goodwill, the food, the fun, the family, the visiting.  Perhaps we should regain some of that something that made Christmas a day of uniqueness, specialness with a spiritual meaning. A child-like expectation.

Times are grim enough and those who wish to see the end of Christmas, I say “Bah Humbug”. Let’s continue to enjoy ourselves and observe Christmas for many years to come.  And yes,

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL

Categories Events

The Tasmanian Flag is 45 years old

10/12//2020

Tasmanian Flag

 

 

 

 

 

December 3rd 2020 is the 45th anniversary of the Tasmanian flag. Indeed Tasmania was the first state to proclaim its own state flag.

The history of flags in Tasmania goes back to November 1642 when the explorer Abel Tasman raised the Dutch flag at Blackman Bay near Dunalley.  In September 1803 Lt John Bowen RN raised the Union Jack at Risdon Cove, the site of the first British settlement of Tasmania.

Tasmanian received a bi-cameral system and Responsible Government in 1856 together with a name change from Van Diemen’s Land to Tasmania. On August 7 of 1869, Queen Victoria ordered colonial governors to fly the Union Jack with the arms or badge of the colony emblazoned in the centre, following the suggestion of Tasmanian Colonial Secretary, Thomas Reiby.

He stated, “The distinguishing flag or ensign of the colony for vessels belonging to or permanently employed by the Government of Tasmania shall be a Blue Ensign with a Lion Passant red on a white shield in the fly”.

It was not, however, until September 25th, 1876 by proclamation from the governor, Frederick Aloysius Weld, did the colony receive a flag.  Then there were three official flags, they being the Governor’s flag, the Tasmanian vessel flag and a Tasmanian merchant flag.  Up until 1856 the Union flag and the British Ensign was primarily used on state occasions.

Between the years 1876 and 1975 the blue ensign flag containing the Union Flag (better known as the Union Jack) in the left top corner with a Lion Passant (sideways walking past) red on white shield on the fly, was used when representing the state.  This was, as we have learnt, the original Tasmanian Government vessel flag.

On December 3rd, 1975, the Governor Stanley Burbury issued another proclamation officially recognising the Blue Ensign with a Lion Passant red on a white shield on the fly as the State Flag.  The Labor Premier, Mr William (Bill) Neilson endorsed it.  As said, Tasmania was the first state to officially recognise its flag.  It was also the first state to authorise the flag for general use.

The proclamation read: “Governor in and over the State of Tasmania and its Dependencies in the Commonwealth of Australia acting with the advice of the Executive Council of the said State do by this my Proclamation declare that the Blue Ensign with a lion Passant red on a white shield in the fly thereof being the flag or ensign more particularly described in the Schedule hereto shall be the distinguishing flag or ensign of the State of Tasmania and shall be known as the Tasmanian Flag.” It was dated 3rd December 1975.

Consequently it only has been of recent times that Tasmania has had its own official state flag which can be flown by all, including individual burgesses.

The Union Flag of course, tells of the origin of our state as a British colony.  The Lion Passant represents the connection and loyalty to the Crown, Tasmania being a Constitutional Monarchy as recognised in the Tasmanian Constitutional Act of 1934, an Act which had its origins back in 1854. Indeed Tasmania was the first colony to adopt its own Constitution.

The Lion Passant has strong heraldic meaning, at least going back more than a thousand years to William the Conqueror, possibly a great deal more. For instance the Lion Passant was a symbol of the ancient House of Judah.

Our state flag can be flown on state government buildings, municipality flag poles and by businesses, clubs, societies and by private individuals. If the Australian National Flag is flown as well as the state flag, then the national flag takes precedence over all other flags, including other national flags.  The national flag must be flown on the left of the observer facing the flag or if three flags are flown, the national flag should be flown in the centre.  All flags, however, are to be flown at the same height.

Tasmania has led the nation in many instances end being the first state to proclaim its own flag is just one example.  It may be that some Tasmanians do not even know we have our own flag, so perhaps it should be flown more than what it is.

Categories In the news

Rememberance Day

5/11//2020

Remembrance Day is exactly that – to remember. To remember those who went away, leaving their families, their community and country, to serve in war zones, risking their life and limb. Most were young and many were to die young. Nations call upon their youth to answer the call, while the older men, either military or civilian, direct their destinies. For many it was a call to adventure or let’s be frank, an opportunity to get away from an unpleasant love affair, a boring job or financial trouble.  No doubt many too, enlisted because of patriotic reasons.

Remembrance Day is to remember those who served during World War I and is perhaps over shadowed by ANZAC DAY which has become increasingly popular.  But on this day 11th November all those wars and conflicts our nation has been involved in, even before federation and after world war one, are also embraced.

So why do we remember and who do we remember? Remembrance Day for me is to remember those ordinary folk who served in our military forces and our nurses who gave so much. We remember the families whose sons, brothers, grandsons, friends and cousins who were thousands of miles away and they, not knowing what their fate was to be, suffered anguish.  Remembrance Day should not be exclusively recalling the feats of those in charge like Generals Monash, Chauval, Birdwood, Blamey, etc, albeit worthy they were, but the young soldier, sailor and airman who plodded the jungles, the marshes, the seas, the skies, the deserts, the arctic ice and whatever for they were really the ones who sacrificed themselves on behalf of others. We remember the privates, the stokers, the able seamen, the air crew, the non-commissioned officers, the lieutenants and captains who led troops while at an incredibly young age and the rate of fatalities of the latter two, per ratio, was very high. We remember those who served in the merchant navy and our nurses should also be remembered because of their unflinching call to duty, their sense of obligation and too, their sacrifice. These are the people what Remembrance Day is all about.  The generals have their medals, their awards, their exclusive clubs, with books written about them revealing their exploits on how great they were. But it was young Johnny that really fought and made the sacrifice and if he came home at all, often he did without an arm or leg(s) or perhaps a mangled burnt face as did our fighting airmen and certainly all with jangled nerves.

Mind you, one of my greatest heroes was a general – Sir General John Gellibrand, the highest ranking Tasmanian officer in WWI.  A sign of a good general is one who looks after the welfare of his troops and Gellibrand was one of them.  His concern was so great that during WWI he clashed constantly with superiors and in one incident, General Monash actually apologised to him, admitting he was right.  Gellibrand’s concern for the men continued after the war, founding what was then called the Remembrance Club, later to become Legacy.

Gellibrand would not be easy to get on with.  In civilian life he clashed constantly with those with whom he worked, but always, always, his concern was with the returning servicemen. On ANZAC DAY he marched with the men in civilian uniform much to chagrin of Monash and Chauval. In my eyes, Gellibrand was a great man who would not suffer fools easy.  Oh, how we need such in these grim days – fearless and righteous leaders!

They are the ones who should not be forgotten.  Many of them nameless.  Many in unmarked graves in Western Europe and elsewhere, buried at sea or shot down over enemy territory. How much did their mothers and fathers, grandparents, their brothers and sisters and all those who loved them, grieve? How many ladies in black were to be seen in the streets of our cities after World War One? Three thousand young Tasmanians died in that war, not to mention the 6,000 who returned wounded.

They went away to fight for their country, their family and freedom, from the Boer War to Afghanistan and in between. We have seen, however, how fragile freedom is.  It can be taken away without a flicker by the whims of those in charge, backed up by State authorities. Yes, they went away to fight for the continuation of freedoms which we enjoyed in Australia to the extent of fighting off an invading, brutal enemy – but freedom can be taken easily away.  It is important, nay, imperative that we remember those who went before us to battle on our behalf and that we cherish what they believed in; freedom of expression, freedom of movement, freedom of assembly and freedom to make our own choices. We must never, never give it up so easily as it seems to have happened in this modern era.

Remembrance Day.  To remember those who left our shores and as distance in time increases there is the possibly that it will grow dim in our memory.  To do so would be selfish in the most extreme.  Today and next year and the years after, let us pass the lantern to those who follow.

Reginald GordonFredrick Wentworth WatsonRichard Marriot

Left: Reginald Gordon Watson 2/12th WWII

Middle: Trooper Frederick Wentworth Watson, 2nd Tasmanian Imperial Bushmen. The Anglo-Boer War

Right: 2nd Lieutenant Richard Marriott Watson Royal Irish Fusiliers WWI. KIA

Categories Events

Our inherited freedoms and the concept of fear

17/9//2020

Australia has changed.  It is not the Australia I knew.  As a mature man I can compare what was to what is.  Our freedoms are something which I took for granted.  I was under the illusion that those in authority would protect and honour our inherit freedoms, but we have seen those very same identities who should be in the forefront in defending our freedoms, only too willingly to erase them. Not only that, but to persecute those who stand up for freedom backed by a police force which, in instances, has become an instrument of the government and not the servant of the people. I never, ever, thought I would see things happening in this land of ours under the banner of “we are doing it for your own good

The late US President Regan said that the ten most feared words of the English language are “I am from the government, I am here to help” (2nd August 1988). Yet even before the present virus outbreak, our freedoms were being eroded and this current situation has provided an excuse to erode them even further.  Democracy we have seen is not a guarantee for freedom.  We have witnessed dreadful laws enacted and enforced throughout Australia, especially in Victoria and Queensland that would make some less worthy nations envious.

Freedoms do not come easy; they are not given; they are fought for and won. We must be eternally vigilant otherwise they will be taken away.  We are familiar with those who went to war to ensure that our way of life and freedoms are protected from a brutal enemy.  Freedom, however, has to also be won through the corridors of powers, such as our parliaments and institutions. We cannot be free unless we have freedom of movement, freedom of expression and freedom of thought. We must have a free media. We must be protected by unbiased laws, but we have seen Australia governed by the executive and not by parliament.

The freedoms which we have enjoyed have been inherited from Great Britain.  Millions have been attracted to our shores because of the freedom we offered and once enjoyed. Long before the Norman Conquest, King Alfred, (the only British king to be called “Great”) implemented laws which laid foundation of the rights of the common man.  He was a studious law giver, a man who promoted literacy and was concerned with the weak and the dependent. He based his laws on earlier worthy codes and the bible. He was a learned man who was full of compassion.

Then in 1215 we had the Magna Carta when King John was forced to sign the charter forcing the King to be subject to the same laws as any other person. It influenced the United States Bill of Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948. Both these latter peoples’ right were also influence by the British Bill of Rights of 1688 which set out the basic laws of parliamentary rule and rights of the common man, while putting a break on the powers of the Monarch, the then government.

Then we have the Australian Constitution, with sections 92 and 117 guaranteeing the freedom of movement backed up by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, with Article 13 guaranteeing the free movement in and out of a country, with Article 20 guaranteeing the right for peaceful assembly and association.  Australia signed this, but what is the point of signing something which we are NOT going to honour?  What is the point of an Australian Constitution if State Governments do not honour it? Or a federal government too weak to do anything about it? We have a High Court for the Federal Government to show these States that they are simply acting illegal.

We also operate under English Common Law and among other aspects, states that we are innocent until we are proven guilty, not the other way around.  Governments exist to serve the people, we the people are not here to serve governments.

We have seen State Governments act in a dictatorial way, again especially in Victoria. There, the police do terrible things to their own citizens and there have been multiple breeches of human rights in this regard.  When Premier Daniel Andrews were questioned on this during a media conference, he replied “THIS IS NOT ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS”. His own words. We are in trouble. We, the people, must protect our rights, because it has been shown that the political elite will not do so on our behalf while the various Oppositions have proven to be weak and hopeless including that in Tasmania. Our governments have been bereft of compassion.

But how come we have got to this stage?  Simply out of fear. Fear is feeling overwhelmed.  Fear will make people submissive. Fear creates the belief that is it enduring and because of fear we believe life can be reduced to a set of rules and the more rules we create the more habit-bound we become. We lose innocence and spontaneity, we forget the light and vitality of life and we end up living in the shadows.

Hence, because of fear, we allow ourselves to be under house arrest, putting our trust in governments that not only tell us what to do, but supplies all our needs. Government then becomes not only our mother and father, but god.  When the true God is rejected all we have is Big Government. Again to quote the late President Regan, “Government is not the solution, government is the problem”. (Jan 29 1981).

We have a brain, an intelligent and hopefully enough wisdom because of experience to be able to judge for ourselves.  We are individuals, not sheep.  Too many of our people have accepted what is being told and the message is one of fear giving predictions that simply have not happened.  We cannot every time a new virus appears shut down society, imprison its citizens and destroy its economy.

The one fear I have, come January next year (2021) we will truly see the horrific hardship of this shut down fully occur, which a leading QC, Michael Wyles, has stated is illegal. It has not only destroyed the economic life of people, but too, their mental and social life.  The rate of suicide is far higher than the death rate of this current virus, much of which could have been avoided if the vulnerable were instantly protected and those who had the virus were adequately quarantined which governments failed to do. We also must take note that 99 per cent of those who contract the virus will survive and that most will only have a mild case of it.

A certain percentage (and it is quite high) of people like to be told what to do. It brings security and they don’t have to make decisions for themselves. I have been staggered how easy and how quickly we have been willing to give our freedoms away and let us not be fooled, governments have learnt from this.

I thank you for your time.  We are a loving people, loving our family, our friends and our country.  Therefore, we are indeed concerned what is going on. Our national anthem says, “We are young and free” – well, we are no longer free.

Categories Events

Freedom

3/9//2020

An address that was read on behalf of Reg Watson on 5th of September 2020 at the Hobart Freedom Rally.

I am sorry that I am unable to be with you today, but circumstances do not permit.  I am now in my mature years and I have never, ever seen such an abuse of power in Australia from the political elite. There is a lack of compassion from those who say they are acting on our behalf, backed up by a police force that should be spending their time, preventing, tackling and solving crime.  Instead we are seeing, particularly in the State of Victoria, innocent people, even pregnant women, arrested for expressing an opinion. What I have also observed is a lack of courage from our Federal Government that avoids taking action in bringing these Premiers under control.

Our freedoms of movement, expression and indeed thought, have been eroded to the point that – as has happened – we can be arrested.  Is this Germany of the 1930 and 40s?  Is this Soviet Russia or Red China today?  No, it is Australia in 2020 under the threat and fear of a virus which has given the excuse for governments and questionable medical experts to shut down our society to the detriment of physical and mental health. We have seen our nation destroyed economically.  The Federal Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg announced on the 2nd September, that Australia is in a recession which will be far worse than the recession we had to have under Prime Minister Paul Keating.  This has all been created by our own leaders, under the guise they are acting on our behalf and for our benefit. The recession has just begun. The horror which is yet to come can only be imagined.  Thanks to our dubious leaders who have acted in their own interest and have used the virus issue to increase their power and their ego.

Our borders are closed, which is contrary to the Australian Constitution as guaranteed by Sections 92 and 117.  It is also against the Human Right Declaration of 1948.  But who cares about existing law?  State Governments don’t and the Federal Government seems to be reluctant to tackle this serious breach.  Mr Morrison TEAR DOWN THIS WALL.

My father fought for this country in battle as did his father.  Three members of the family died in World War One.  I now ask, what was it all for?  To see our freedoms taken away under the banner of exaggerated fear?  And to those who believe that once this is all over, governments will return our freedoms? Let me answer by saying once taken, do not expect them to be returned.  Our suppose representatives are silent.  Where are they?  All major parties support this lock down, Labor, Liberal, and The Greens.  Politicians and governments clearly will not protect our freedoms.  There is only one group who will and that is – US! The People.

We are governed, quite illegally in my opinion, by executive government, not by Parliamentary law. Australia operates under English Common Law which is constantly being ignored and rejected. When we have people in great medical need refused access to urgent care because someone in authority will not allow them to cross the border to go to hospital we are in deep trouble.  We have had deaths result from this madness. Farmers can’t get access to their markets and businesses are going bust.  Children cannot attend their parent’s funeral. Yet we are told we are in it all together.  Not so, if you are a sporting personality, an entertainment celebrity, a rich businessman or one of the political elite, you can cross the borders and avoid any 14 day quarantine, such as the South Australian Premier, Steven Marshall, who recently went to his son’s graduation in Queensland. The inconsistencies are numerous.

Last week, 100 concerned doctors wrote to the Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, voicing their opposition to his current corona-virus policy.  In their petition they have pointed out that the cure is worse than the illness and more misery is to come. I am pleased to report that more and more doctors are signing the petition. As yet he has not answered them.

We have had the absurd positon of children being denied their education.  There is an increase in suicide, particularly among the young. These draconian lock-downs must end.  If we as a people allow this to continue, then we have only ourselves to blame for the long term dreadful effects.

We must act and we must regain our freedom.  We must say no, loud and clear. This is not to say we do not recognise that there is a situation on which we should be concerned.  But the policies to tackle it, are in error.  Winston Churchill said, “never let a good crises go to waste” and the political elite who would agree.

Thank you my friends.  Again, I am sorry that I have not with you today. I am proud of you all. And I will end with this:  I am currently reading Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago.  The contents are horrifying and Alex makes the comment that they lost their freedom because and to quote, “we did not love freedom enough”… and, “even more, we hurried to submit. We submitted with pleasure.”

Categories In the news

It is important to keep the Upper House independent

13/8//2020

There have been progressive moves over the years for political parties to dominate what was once an independent Legislative Council (LC), the Upper House of the Tasmanian Parliament.  The House has fifteen members.  Now, eight are party members. More and more, political parties are selecting candidates for the Upper House and with the political machine behind them; an independent rarely has the resources to effectively compete. The future can only see more political party members.

But what does it matter?  The problem is showing itself already, and it will be detrimental for the electors of Tasmania. To understand why, one has to know the history of the House and its purpose.

The LC’s heritage goes back a long way. Independence from New South Wales for Van Diemen’s was proclaimed in 1825 and the following year, the LC was formed to administer the new colony.  There were six members, all nominated. In 1854 the number of members was enlarged to 33, most mostly nominated, but new members were elected by restricted voting.

In 1856, the colony, now called Tasmania, received Responsible government and a bicameral Parliament established, made up of the Lower House, the House of Assembly and the Upper House, the Legislative Council. This system was established by the Tasmanian Constitution Act of 1854. The first Speaker of the LC was Sir Richard Dry.

Voting in Tasmania is compulsory and the voting age was lowered to 18 in 1973. Whereas those who were allowed to vote in LC elections was previously restricted to the property classes, since 1969 full adult franchise exists.

Voting systems, length of time served, and boundaries differ for both houses, but so is the purpose and that difference are vital to good government.

Tasmania’s Upper House has been unique in Australia in that it has had a long tradition of independent members. Past years it has been seen as a comfortable institution for members of the establishment acting more like a men’s club than anything else.  Opponents have criticised the LC as being “archaic” and time for it to go. The role it plays, however, is most important. One reason is to ensure the Lower House, which is dominated by two parties, Labor and Liberal, and a number of Greens, is held in check.

The LC can be very powerful, able to block supply and call elections. Because of this and for other reasons, it is often the bane of the Lower House. Often legislation coming from the Lower House, which must be passed by the Upper House for it to become law, is not only poorly worded, but it may not be in the interest of the Tasmanian people. Therefore the LC is a house of review.  Legislation from the Lower House can be sent back, delayed or even rejected.  By nature the LC has been a deliberate conservative house, so there can be a check and review on what is coming from the other House.

Some decades ago, wanting to know further on the workings of the LC, I was advised to interview the late William (Bill) Hodgman who was a member of the Upper House from 1971 until 1983 and a an ex-President of the House. He pointed out to me, in no uncertain terms, that the LC was not only a house of review, but also a legislative house, being able to introduce its own legislation.

There are regular calls for the abolishment of the LC.  Only recently, ex-Premier Michael Field said so, backed up (oddly enough) by Independent member Ivan Dean.  Ex-Premier Robin Gray in his new book agrees, believing that if is dominated by party politics there is no reason for its existence. While I do not agree with Mr Gray, I can understand his reasoning.

The Labor Party has more LC members than the Liberals.  The LC can abolish itself and given enough party politicians it could be in the party’s interest to do so. We can see this happening. What then, are the ramifications of only having a unicameral system of Parliament?

Party politics does not necessarily represent the people. Political parties first established themselves in Tasmania’s Parliament in 1909.  Members of whatever party represent the party first and if they do not are asked to move on. They also can represent powerful lobby groups and international bodies.  This may not be in the interest of the Tasmanian people.  The parties tell the people at election time, these are our policies, now choose between us, whereas it should be the reverse. The people should be saying, these are our policies, now represent our will.

If there are no independent members of the LC we will see further poorly worded and ambiguous legislation, which (again) may not in the interest of the electorate, passed without any review or checking. The LC exists for an important service. On most occasions the debate of the LC is superior to the Lower House.  W.A. Townsley wrote (his book The Government of Tasmania 1976) LC members express their views “in the strongest term, unhindered by party affiliation” and later “The great strength of the Council rests on having a body to reach decisions without having to respect party affiliations” (P. 82).

Without this check, political parties would be able to pass legislation in their own interest.  On occasions the opposition will support the government which (again) may not be in the interest of Tasmanians. We will see political parties even more, push their own agendas.

The development of political parties taking over the LC will ultimately see the abolishment of the LC which will result in less representation for the electorate and less checks and balances on politicians. Good for the government, but not for the people.

Categories In the news

The Derwent River Recreational History and Future Potential

16/7//2020

Hobartians are blessed with a spectacular recreational and beauty area called the River Derwent with its many wonderful beaches. Weekends see the various sailing clubs utilising its resources and during the various months, bathers take to its waters enjoying its pleasures. Sometimes it is just plain worthwhile to sit and view the scene. Even so, can more be done to use of what we have?  Indeed in the past, water activity was more substantial than what it is now. True, in this modern age, there is so much to occupy our leisure time.

Water activity began right from the beginning of settlement in 1804. Indeed a newspaper report from the 1827 mentions horse racing on New Year’s Day at Long Beach, Sandy Bay which was “crowded with people”. From thereon there a great deal of activity which the public could enjoy and may I add, more than now.  The question can be asked.  Are we under utilising our natural resource and if so, what can we do to maximise this asset without affecting its beauty and natural environment?

Regattas on the Derwent were numerous, not only the Hobart regatta (the oldest continuous in Australia), but Bellerive (1853), Kingston, Sandy Bay and as far afield as New Norfolk and at one time Prince of Wales Bay. The Royal Hobart Regatta began in 1838 and I remember in the 1950s, 60, 70s how enormous crowds flocked to it, but I have to say, attendances are now down.  The Sandy Bay regatta began in 1849 while the Kingston regatta is now more commonly known as A Day at the Beach. One can see how early our river was used for pleasure and recreation.

Then there were the numerous jetties from Old Beach and Sandy Bay (Manning Reef still exists), Lindisfarne, Bellerive right down to Kingston Beach. Jetties were vital with the advent of river steamers dropping off passengers, the delivery of fruit and cargo, for pleasure craft and for recreational fishing and diving for swimming.

At Sandy Bay there were public baths dating back to the 1840s.  Baths areas were set aside for changing for both women and “gentlemen” allowing a great deal of community interaction. The Baths were located where the Sandy Bay Rowing club now are. In September 1882 a Mercury report makes mention of the spring board and in every hour of the summer season were in constant use. In 1929 the newspaper reported of the “sickening and filthy conditions”. Indeed they were closed because of water quality.

And what of the river ferries and the amazing past river ferry races?  I am mature enough in years to recall the many that were used not only for recreational reasons but for passenger services between Hobart City and the eastern shore destinations. John Sargent local river ferry historian adds that way back in 1816 a licence was granted to Urias Alexander and John Newland to operate boats propelled by sail and oars between Hobart Town and Kangaroo Bay. Olsters may remember the romantic days of the river ferries, Rowitta, Dover, Excella and Cartela, the latter, the last of the lot.

Then there were the beaches.  Hobart and the river are ringed by magnificent places of leisure. Long Beach, Sandy Bay Beach was the hotspot for swimming and picnics.  By the 1920s and onwards thousands arrived by cars and later trolley buses enjoying the waters of this easily assessed beach.  It was not only on weekends, but week nights as well.  Bands played, hundreds strolled with many taking advantage of the then bathing boxes. To service the demand boat sheds were erected, tables and seats, swings for children and reserves were set aside adorned with pine trees and picnic booths, plus shops to supply ice-creams, cordials and cups of tea. It was a marvellous festive atmosphere. There were also lifesaving team demonstrations.

The river has often been a venue for swimming competitions and still is, such as the Trans Derwent Swim, a Royal Hobart Regatta event and the Derwent River Big Swim, a 34km competition from New Norfolk to Hobart, judged as one of the thirteenth toughest marathon swims in the world.

Sailing for recreational reasons began almost from the year dot, although one would have to watch out for the many whales which swam in the river during early colonial times. Yacht competitive classes of Dragon, Sharpies, Lasers and Fireballs are seen nearly every weekend, home to a number of yachting clubs.  One of the main one is the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania (1880) which is reputed to be Australia’s largest yacht club and plays a major role in the annual Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race as the finishing line.

However, much has been what was and we should be looking at what can be. The river has so much potential for a greater amount of water activities and facilities to the benefit of the public, not so much to the big developers and corporations.  It is OUR river for all Tasmanians and visitors alike.  We have an incredible asset right on our door step, yet I cannot help think it is so under-used and with a little more planning, thought and innovation I am confident much more can be made of its practical use.

Anzac Day 2020

16/4//2020
Anzac Day.  On that day 105 years ago Australian and New Zealand troops went ashore at Gallipoli, hence the term embracing Australian and New Zealand Army Corp. Nearly 8,000 Australians died from the bullet, disease and sickness during that campaign which continued to the end of the year. There were another twenty six thousand casualties. Yet, it was not the first action Australians saw nor was the first fatalities for our nation recorded at Gallipoli. It was during an action against a German signal station in New Guinea which was then under German control.  It is called the Battle of Bita Paka (11/9/14). It was a successful Australian attack, navy and military, in which we incurred our first casualties. Seven Australians were killed.

Perhaps on this day, 25th April, we should remember Private Harry Hodgman, the first Tasmanian to die, perhaps the first Australian, on that fateful morning when he was being rowed ashore.  A Turkish sniper put an end to his young life. He was twenty three years old and is buried at Line Pine Cemetery, Gallipoli.

We should remember Nurse Elizabeth (Lizzy) Orr, later Sister Orr, and then Matron.  Lizzy hailed from near Hamilton and was Matron of the hospital ships that took the wounded and sick from Gallipoli, the Mediterranean and Salonika, over those many months.  What a responsibility. That was not her first military experience as she was a nurse during The Anglo-Boer War in South Africa. Like all nurses at that time, she paid her own way to get the front.

And we remember, General Sir John Gellibrand, born at Ouse, not far from where Lizzy was.  Gellibrand became Tasmania’s highest ranking officer during the war. Gellibrand, though always controversial, was a humane man and after the war started the Remembrance Club helping the veterans, widows and families. It became Legacy, a nation-wide organisation which still has the same principles commenced by Gellibrand.

From Gallipoli of course, men were evacuated to the Middle East, to be joined by many others, for recreation, re-training and to be sent to the battle fields of the Western Front, France and Belgium. Thousands of Australians remained in Palestine and Egypt as mounted infantry with the Australian Light Horse to fight the Ottoman Empire.

There were many battles and campaigns in the western front and Tasmanians were awarded eleven Victorian Crosses, one going to Henry William (Harry) Murray from Evandale, who became the highest decorated soldier in the British Commonwealth. Overall, 60,000 Australians died during WWI, including 3,000 Tasmanians and three as many, casualties.  In all, a quarter of million men from a small national population of under five million.

The war ended 11th hour, 11th November 1918 and the Versailles Treaty was signed the following year.  Just twenty years on, the scenario was repeated when on the 3rd of September 1939 WWII began. Australians served in all theatres of war, army, navy and air force and more than eight thousand died because of neglect, brutality and disease while POWs under the Japanese. The toll of our Air Force men was enormous, more than ten thousand.

In all, 14 Tasmanians have been awarded the Victorian Cross, our last in Afghanistan Corporal Stewart Cameron.  By my reckoning, that’s 14 per cent of the hundred awarded to the whole of Australia.  Yet, we make only up only 2 and half per cent of the national population.  A huge sacrifice and record.

Many memorials dot our hamlets, villages, towns and cities calling us to remember those who made the greatest of all sacrifice and those who served.  Post WWII saw Korea, Malayan Emergency, Indonesian Confrontation, Vietnam and the latter military campaigns, including Afghanistan which rages still.

They fought for freedom.  Yet, freedom is not only won on the battlefield.  The freedoms which we have and have inherited go back thousands of years.  Freedom is not given; it is won by sacrifice backed by a hunger to treasure such a concept. War is not the only way to defend our freedoms.  We, as a people, must be forever vigilant to maintain those freedoms, such as freedom of movement, thought and expression.  Those treasured rights that our forefathers fought for – and won, are under severe threat, not by an enemy heading to our shores, but from our own legislators.

This year 2020 is a strange year in that our usual ANZAC services cannot be held.  This is a tragedy. Never before, in my now long life or anyone’s for that matter, has this occurred.  Still, we must not be deterred.  We must remember those whom we honour on this day and reflect on for what they fought.  They fought for their families, their community, Australia and their friends and our way of life. Let us reflect not only on their sacrifices, but also why they left our shores to do so.

Lest we forget.

Categories Events

Captain Cook 250th Anniversay

2/4//2020

Captain CookApril 26th 2020 will be the 250th anniversary of the first voyage of James Cook and the first European discovery of the eastern coast of Australia then known at New Holland.

On the 26th August 1768, one of the world’s greatest explorers, James Cook, left Plymouth England on the bark, The Endeavour, of 370 tons, originally called The Earl of Pembroke. Then a lieutenant (commissioned by King George III) and not captain, this Yorkshireman of forty years of age was ordered to sail to Tahiti where the transit of Venus was observed the 3rd June 1769. It was hoped that by doing so, the distance could be worked out between the sun and the earth.  Navigation depended on astronomy, so besides being a voyage of exploration it was also a scientific one. On board with Cook were some notable people, such as astronomer, Charles Green, two well-known naturalists, Swedish Dr Daniel Carl Solander and 25 year old Joseph Banks together with assistants and artist John Reynolds and artist and naturalist Herman Sporing. There were also a crew of 71 and 12 marines, making a total of 93 men.

Cook was also innovative in that he took measures to prevent scurvy (lack of vitamin C) in his men, making sure they ate fresh meat, fruit, vegetables, pickled cabbage and vinegar where ever possible. He looked after the men’s clothing, so they would have dry and warm things to wear in the cold latitudes. He also took musical instruments, books and fishing lines for the men to use in their time off.

Opening his sealed orders after the transit, he was told to explore the existence of any great land south of Tahiti to latitude 40.  Leaving the south Pacific island he took a chief with him named Tupaia.  Not finding any great south land he sailed for New Zealand. There he met the local natives, which was a peaceful encounter, leaving on the 1st March 1770 after five months sailing around the two islands. He then had to make a decision to return directly to England via Cape Horn or to go home via Cape of Good Hope. So, on 1st April 1770 the Endeavour sailed westward towards Van Diemen’s Land. On the 20th April, second-in-command, Lieutenant Zachary Hicks sighted land which was on the north-east coast of Victoria. Cook named it Point Hicks. Nine days later, 29th April, following the coast, he anchored for the first time in Australian waters at a spot knows known as Kurnell a site on Botany Bay. Cook ordered his wife’s cousin Isaac Smith to “jump out” and set foot on land.  Therefore Able Seaman Smith was the first recorded Englishman to set foot on Australian soil. The following day, in the afternoon, Cook, Banks, Solander and Tupaia landed. Here they met some aborigines and a minor altercation occurred, but efforts of friendship were fruitful. They stayed for a week. During this time, Seaman Forby Sutherland died of illness on the 2nd May and became the first European known to die on the shore. Sutherland District takes his name. Also one sailor deserted and what became of him no one knows.

There are numerous memorials to the landing, sometimes confusion with the date.  This is because Cook’s log dates are a day behind calendar dates. After leaving, further exploration and landings occurred. Port Jackson, Port Stephens, Cape Hawke, Moreton Bay, Cape Townhend, the Barrier Reef, Magnetic Land, Whitsunday Passage and many other points and localities were named.  Off the coast of Queensland the Endeavour struck a reef and after 23 hours on the rocks, Cook succeeded in heaving her off into deep waters. He did this by throwing overboard guns, ballast, casks, decayed stores, in an effort to lift the ship off the coral on the next high tide. Initially he was unsuccessful; finally in a higher tide the Endeavour was free and floating. In his journal he gave the overall name of “New South Wales.” He then sailed through the strait between Australia and New Guinea and landed at Batavia, where a number of his companions and crew died from malaria. Finally Cook returned to England where he became the hero of the day.

So what are we doing to celebrate and highlight this remarkable man and most important historical voyage to our land?  Very little I am afraid, whereas New Zealand is planning substantial events. Here we are bereft of leadership on the issue.  The replica of the Endeavour will be sailing around Australia for the anniversary, but in actual fact, it only sailed the eastern coast. There will be a number of exhibitions. How can such a powerful event be down-played by the nation?  One can only shake one’s head for lack of fibre.

Cook, as we should all know, had two more voyages and after the second voyage he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society. He died 14th February 1779 while in Hawaii on his third voyage.

How do we sum up Cook?  His meticulous maps of his discoveries and his humanitarian treatment of both his crew and the people he came in contact with have given him a heroic reputation which has lasted for centuries.

Categories People