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

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

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 Need to Increase Tasmanian Parliamentary Numbers

1/8//2019

The idea to diminish the number of politicians in the Tasmanian Parliament came about through the efforts of Liberal Premier, Ray Groom and implemented by Premier Tony Rundle who succeeded him.  It was in November 1993 that Ray Groom raised the parliamentary wage by a whopping 40 per cent.  This did not go down well with the electorate; this I remember very well. To off-set the bad publicity, what better way to win back a measure of approval than to cut back the number of politicians?  After all, are we not over governed?  Certainly on the face of it, it may appear – but are we really?  Perhaps we are indeed over governed, but not in the way most would understand it.


There is a popular cry that, “Tasmania is over governed”.  We have three tiers of government, Federal with its two Houses, State with its two Houses and twenty nine local municipalities. That does seem a lot for a State of 500,000 residents.  The Founding Fathers of our nation, aware of the insidious nature of man to acquire power, in their wisdom before federation, decided on splitting the responsibilities of government between the Federal Government and State Governments, as outlined in the National Constitution.  It was not long before there were complaints that the federal government was eroding State’s responsibility.  Our one-time Premier Edmund Dwyer-Gray (1939) expressed concern way back in 1931 of the encroaching powers of Canberra against the States and he took up the cry of “Justice for Tasmania and secession”. During WWII, Joseph (Joe) Darling of our Legislation Council (in my opinion probably Tasmania’s greatest politician) led and eventually won a nation-wide campaign to stop the Federal Government’s takeover of many State powers in an effort, so they said, to fight the war.  Joe was wise enough to know, once taken they will never be given back, even though the Federal Attorney-General Herbert Evatt guaranteed that after the war, those responsibilities taken away would indeed be returned.  Well, pigs may fly.  Even in our time, during the Franklin below Gordon Dam controversy there was a State-rights fight under Premier Robin Gray, who went as far as to threaten, like Dwyer-Gray, secession and even commissioned a feast ability study, a copy of which I have in my files.


It was good that our founding fathers split power, to break it down and to disperse it.  Municipal government of course is a State responsibility, although Tasmania had a number of local governments existing under the authority of colonial governments before federation.  Hence the three-tier system of government. To some, even this is too many layers, although the United States has a four-tier system, the City (or town), the County, the State and Federal. Then there are those who wish to centralise power, getting rid of State Governments altogether (which is almost impossible because it would need a referendum to agree) and just have regional government, say for Tasmania three, north, south, north west, and most of the power centralised in Canberra.  Heaven forbid! Then there are those who believe Tasmania should do away with its State independence and be governed from Victoria.  Again, heaven forbid!


There is then, the conception that Tasmania is over governed – too many tiers of government and too many politicians.  One way to stop this is to amalgamate municipalities and to cut back on the number of State politicians, which we saw happen in 1998.  It was a popular move and received the backing of the electorate. Now, however, we are looking at its reversal.


On the surface of course it does seem terrific. We have fewer politicians which is now costing us a lot less financially. It would be interesting to know much it all cost in 1998 and compare costs up for 2019.  I would suggest we are not really any better off.  Governments have a rule of increasing in size in various way, thus I would submit running government would be even more expensive now.  It is just like council amalgamations (often forced) with the carrot being that resources can be shared, there will be fewer aldermen and as a result rates will decline.  This has never happened of course.  It is a fervie. Rates don’t go down.


Tasmania in my opinion is not over governed, at least not in the way people understand that it is. The Lower House now has 25 members, down from 35, while the Upper House has 15, down from 19. From a small pool of thirteen which make up the current government, nine actually have portfolios of which there are thirty three. Being Premier is a responsible job in itself, but Mr Hodgman has four other besides this position.  Our Attorney-General, Elise Archer, who is very competent, has six, Guy Burnett four, Michael Ferguson five and so on. Perhaps there are too many portfolios. Regardless, how anyone can handle such responsibilities is beyond me and one must question, something which was recently pointed out to me and not contained in my written submission, can such awesome power transfer into authoritarism? Like our founding fathers, who broke up power, we should likewise break down the number of portfolios each minister can have.  This means of course increasing the number of representatives or cutting back the number of portfolios. Now there may be the claim that a government could win 15 and more seats.  No doubt if this happened it would spread the load, but this is unlikely and the worse thing for good government is a landslide. To handle such a load, must be stressful, demanding and almost impossible to devote adequate attention and time to every separate portfolio.  The job load would be for better government if shared around to others, as long as that person is competent and experienced enough.  Sharing such a large number of portfolios between small numbers could also see the situation where those who have a portfolio could be taking on a responsibility that they are just not prepared to accept.


The other aspect for the increase of numbers will be to represent the electorate more fully.  Here in Tasmania, many electorates not only know who their representative is, many actually have met them or know them quite well and are able to seek out their services for assistance. On the mainland, the electorates are so large, that most if they know who their representative is, would hardly have an opportunity to meet them on a personal basis (maybe election time is an exception) let alone know them.  Here in Tasmania twenty five members works out (approximately) one House of Assembly representative for every 20,000 people, but increasing it to 35, the ratio darts down to one to every 14,000 people.  This low ratio i.e. representative to the electorate can only be of benefit to the voter. This gives him or her far greater opportunity to get to know their representative rather than being just one person in a big cog wheel. Of course, the same can be said of the Legislative Council.  Nonetheless it is the Lower House Member which most electorate know more than say the Upper House Member, while not diminishing the importance of the Upper Chamber. More numbers means better representation to the electorate and while it may appear correct that we should have less numbers on the belief we are over governed, it can actually work against good government. The further away from the individual that government goes, the less chance that person has in influencing their members and indeed, the government – and isn’t this what it is all about…people representation?  Government of the people, for the people? The same can be said about council amalgamation.  It is an attractive concept, but the further away the seat of government gets from where the people live, the less say and influence the electorate have on how they are governed.


But we are over-governed, but not in the way popularly thought.  I am now in my twilight years and since a boy, through youth-hood, young man hood and middle age I have seen the freedom of society and of the individual reduce dramatically even to the extent it is like living in an occupied country.  How can this be so?  Simply, there is too much government legislation, too many boards, too many commissions, too many unelected public CEOs, too much outside influences which have increased government power enormously and when government power increases the freedom of the people decreases.  We have seen now on the mainland efforts to curb the freedom of the media. One of the most insidious pieces of legislation implemented by the Tasmania Parliament is section 17 of the Anti-Discrimination Act of 1998, and amended by Minister Brian Wightman’s bill of 2012 and commenced 1 January 2013. I bring Section 17 up as an example of governments being in our faces. Governments and politicians should be there protecting the people’s freedom, rather than taking it away. Such legislation is always opened to interpretation and abuse. In fact the actual amendment is dreadfully worded.  How it passed the Upper House, I don’t know. A few decades back it would have been sent back or even rejected.


I submit that low number of representatives is detrimental to the people in receiving good government.  It is also detrimental to those in government in being able to provide the best of government possible and that low numbers, regardless of the ability of some our ministers to handle such awesome responsibilities, can be just too much for one person to shoulder. Less numbers cuts down on the ratio of representative to the electorate, but higher numbers will obviously increase that number, which can only be of benefit to the people.  And government is about serving the people to its best ability. Yes, it will cost more in wages and expenses, but better government will result.  Cutting down on costs can be achieved in other ways, perhaps cutting back on the number of portfolios and their departments.


However, I also submit that we are indeed over-governed, but in a way in that we no longer a free people, over burdened by government interference and domination of our lives.  Born in the late 40s I can compare what was, to what is and the contrast is enormous.  This trend of curbing and controlling the beliefs, the thoughts, the opinions, the movements and the actions of the people is only increasing and people are seeing governments as the problem.  Surely this is not what our Founding Fathers intended when they broke up power and had it shared, knowing the human heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9).

Categories In the news

Bowen and Batman - who were they?

11/7//2019

There have been further demands to change traditional names, the latest being the bridges Bowen and Batman. Recently of course we had calls for the renaming of Franklin Square, named after Sir John Franklin.   Bowen Bridge in the south was named after Lt John Bowen RN, while the bridge in the north, Batman, was named after John Batman. Their contribution not only to this state, but especially with Batman, to the nation is enormous and they are worthy to have important venues named in their honour.  Neither men were perfect; no one is, including those who criticise them. Perhaps as Christ implores, they should cast out the beam in their own eye first.

The four lane Bowen Bridge crossing the Derwent River was opened in 1984 and was (as stated) named after Lt. John Bowen.  Bowen was twenty three years of age (incorrectly stated in many sources as eighteen) with 48 other settlers, (free, military and convict) who settled at Risdon Cove in September 1803. He was instructed to land at Risdon Cove on the order of Philip Gidley King, acting on the recommendation of explorers, John Hayes and George Bass. Thus Bowen established the first British settlement in Tasmania. For that alone, he should be remembered and recognised. It was an incredible important historic episode for Tasmania and for Australia.  He came with Martha Hayes Quinn who remained here after Bowen left our shores.  Martha had two daughters by him, with descendants living here today. Martha went on to marry twice after John had gone and had further children.

Importantly, the settlement at Risdon Cove was named “Hobart” as testified by correspondence between Bowen and King. The settlement at Sullivan’s Cove the following year, which of course became Hobart Town, was actually the second settlement of that name. Lord Hobart was the Secretary of War and Colonies.

The contentious aspect about the Risdon Cove is the confrontation between the natives and the settlers which occurred in May 1804.  An historian in a recently published book states that Bowen was there at the time, but in actual fact this is erroneous, as he was away exploring the Huon River. In charge of the settlement was marine Lieutenant William Moore.  The scene saw a large number of natives confronting the small number of settlers and shots were fired.  The few documented accounts we have indicate that possibly up to five natives were killed.  The figures have now escalated to one hundred.  A lot of this comes from the testimony of Edward White who gave evidence at the  March 1830 inquiry into the affair.  The big problem is, despite White saying he was there at the time, he was not, and thus his evidence cannot be accepted as accurate.

The arrival of Colonel David Collins to Risdon Cove in February 1804 was the start of the end of the Risdon Cove settlement. Even so, four settlers who died from Collin’s expedition are buried there. Dr C Pardoe, anthropologist, actually inspected the remains of one several years ago.  The skeleton was found by farmer Fred Sargent in 1917.

Bowen, who came from a distinguished naval family, left the island to fight the French during the Napoleonic Wars.  Much more can be said of this young man, his achievements, his frustrations and yes, his failures.  That he played an important role in this state’s history cannot be denied.

The Batman Bridge spanning the River Tamar was opened in 1966. It is named after John Batman, who probably is best remembered for the founding the city of Melbourne.  We should be proud as Tasmanians that we not only preceded Melbourne, but that city had its origins from one who lived here.

Batman was born in Parramatta, NSW, in 1803. Leaving NSW, he and his brother Henry arrived in Launceston in 1821 and his life here was full of achievement. He actually captured bushranger, Matthew Brady.  Batman did indeed take place in the Black Line in 1830 which was an attempt to round up the aborigines of Tasmania. Here we have the conflicting nature of Batman.  He did attack and kill a number of natives, including a woman and a child.  Yet in October 1830 he gave refuge to twelve natives who sought sanctuary from him after a ferocious inter-tribal fight. He lived on his property which he called Kingston, north east Tasmania where he co-habited with Elizabeth Callaghan. They had a number of children and were eventually married.  By 1835 he with friends, John Fawkner and John Helder Wedge, discussed plans to make discoveries on the mainland. Batman visited Port Phillip (where Melbourne now stands), returned and then set sail again on the vessel Rebecca which was built at Rosevears in the north. Once there he noted a suitable place for a village, the future Victorian capital. He was accompanied by a number of Sydney aborigines who he said (his journal – Mitchell Library) helped him with his dialogue with the local aborigines, he writing that they “perfectly understand each other”. The whole episode is a large story unto itself.

I would like to end on Batman what I have written in my book Parramatta – Tasmania historic connections about this man. “Certainly as John Bonwick early historian and author picture him, he was no hero, full of warts and all. Indeed, he was human.  He was a man, however, who rose from humble beginnings and obtained prominent heights in our history books.  It can be said that he grasped an opportunity and made the most of it.”

Changing names because certain people are out of favour with certain people is not a genuine reason to do so. If we are looking for perfect people to name things after, then we shall not find them.  Many prominent people of international renown, like Lincoln, Churchill, Kennedy, Ghandi, Mandela (etc., etc.) had their flaws and some serious ones, but we must recognise their positive contributions as we must with Bowen and Batman.

Reg. A. Watson is a Tasmanian historian and author of “John Bowen the Founder of Tasmania”.

Categories In the news

Franklin Square and Sir John and Lady Franklin

6/6//2019

There have been recent calls for the re-naming of Franklin Square in Hobart which was dedicated to Sir John Franklin, with his statue contained in the grounds. It may be well worth to inspect Sir John and Lady Franklin’s time in Tasmania and understand why the park’s name should remain.

Sir John has been remembered world-wide more for his Arctic exploration rather than his colonial administration of Van Diemen’s Land.

He died in 1847 while exploring the vast, icy expanse and 129 fellow travellers died with him.  The exact date and cause of his death has puzzled scientists and historians for years.

Franklin was born in 1786 in Lincolnshire, England.  Before beginning his exploration in earnest in 1845 he had already led an amazing life. Between 1819 and 1825 Franklin set off in several expeditions to the Arctic Ocean and returned to England with valuable geographical and scientific knowledge.

In 1836 he was appointed Lt. Governor of Van Diemen’s Land, arriving in January 1837 with his wife, Lady Jane, both of whom were well educated and well travelled.  Upon arrival in Launceston they were received by the citizens and were accompanied to Hobart, it was reported, by “300 horsemen.”

His eight year term of the penal colony was that of an able administrator with a humane outlook.  He clashed many times with his colonial secretary, John Montagu, over the issue of land speculation.  The controversy would reach London.

Another very interesting episode in Franklin’s life was to do with bushranger, Martin Cash.  Martin with two comrades, Kavanah and Jones together with Bessie (politely referred as Mrs Cash) were held up in their fort at Mt Dromedary. Knowing the military were out to find them, they sent Bessie to Hobart Town for safety.  Bessie was subsequently arrested which made Martin furious.  As a consequence he wrote the following letter to Sir John Franklin:

’If Mrs Cash is not released forthwith and properly remunerated we will, in the first instance, visit Government House and beginning with Sir John administer a wholesome lesson in the shape of a sound flogging.’’

Bessie was indeed released, but not because of the threat.  Her release lured Martin into Hobart Town, as planned, where he was recognised and after an enormous and dramatic chase, was captured, ending his bushranging career.

The Franklins left in 1845, his wife exhorted him to seek further glory and he set his mind to explore the Arctic wastes. The fabled North-West Passage across the top of Canada had been sought for centuries and Britain had taken a major interest in its discovery.

In 1845 the British government despatched Franklin, in command of the Erubus and Terror, in another search.  In July he reached Walefish Island in Davis Strait. He was never seen again and it was not until 1847 that serious apprehension began to be entertained regarding the fate of the expedition.

For the next 14 years, 40 expeditions were sent to determine the fate of the Franklin party. In 1860 the expedition of Captain Charles Hall learned of several particulars concerning the Franklin death.

He found a small boat off King William Island near Cape Crozier, containing two skeletons and a pathetic baggage of soil handkerchiefs and silver teaspoons engraved with Franklin’s crest.  Both Franklin’s vessels had been trapped in ice and eventually sunk.  The explorers and crew managed to disembark in time taking supplies and a large row boat.

What followed is a story of heroism and self sacrifice, but also illogical behaviour. When leaving the sinking vessels the survivors took hundreds of bibles and hymnals and office furniture, placing them in the row boat only to drag them across the ice for more than 1600km. Certainly, the cruelty of exposure took its toll.  Scientists believe after visiting the sites and a thorough investigation, concluded that lead poisoning could have caused their illogical behaviour.

Franklin’s wife, died in 1875 in London, a few days before the unveiling of a memorial to her husband in Westminster Abbey.

Lady Franklin was a promoter of the arts.  In 1839 she purchased 410 acres of land at Lenah Valley (then called Kangaroo Valley) and began to plan a Museum for the display of Sculpture, Natural History and Painting.  It seems an odd place to build at the time so far away of the capital, Hobart Town.  She wrote to her sister in England, Mrs Mary Simkinson of the Museum which she described as “a pretty little design of Greek proportions with one or two rooms.”

The actual museum site was chosen in 1841 and was officially opened with its library in October 1843. It was unfortunate that Lady Franklin had little time to enjoy her accomplishment as the Franklins left the island soon after.  The property was called Ancanthe, a Greek word meaning a “vale of flowers”. Care of it passed to the Governors of Queens College until 1938 when it was transferred to the Hobart City Council. In 1947 it was leased to the Art Society of Tasmania, who still cares for the building.

The Museum and park is located in the most wonderful of places.  It is surrounded by natural bushland with Mount Wellington beyond.  It is an oasis in a rapidly urbanised area, bringing tranquillity and beauty and a link to the past.

The Franklins played an immensely important part in our history.  It is noticed that 78 per cent of responses to The Mercury wanted no name change to the park.  I hope, on this occasion, the majority’s wish will be honoured.

Categories In the news

Are our freedoms being erased?

10/1//2019

It is often said that in Australia we live in a free society.  Yet over the decades I have seen freedom of speech, thought and movement erased by stealth. This trend to control people is very dangerous.  Our politicians and governments who should protect the electorate’s freedom are often the very ones who are taking it away.

As one who was born post WWII, I can reflect growing up in the 50s, 60s and into the 70s and how much freedom we had compare to what now exists.  Those who were born in the post 90s understand very little how it was.

The past decades were far from being a perfect world. Alcoholism was a very serious social issue. Pondering on this fact I put a lot of it down to the war.  Men returning in their hundreds of thousands, adjusting back into civilian life, endeavouring to adapt without a great deal of social help and with severe psychological problems turned to alcohol. Yet we were a united nation….true there were divisions, Labour versus Liberal, Catholic and Protestants, but these divisions were not out of control.  The tensions between Catholics and Protestants were played out on the school boy’s football field with perhaps a black eye as a result.  Today in modern Australia we are divided not only on race, but culture, sexual orientation and religion. We don’t seem to be able to agree on anything. I have seen my country once united now developed into a country divided.

The social manipulators tell us this is all very good, but it has produced severe tensions and frictions.  I am reminded what Christ said (as endorsed by Abraham Lincoln) “a house divided against itself cannot stand”. I much prefer the wisdom of Christ than that of the politically correct.

There was little fear in previous years of being frightened in what you said and wrote and having now near fifty years of published experience I know how it has changed. Today you can be prosecuted and persecuted for speaking one’s mind and having an opinion, particularly with the legislative powers of 18C (federal) and Section 17 here in Tasmania which is even more repressive than the former.

 One could move about without the horrid control which exists now.  In those days a trip to the airport was pleasant.  Now it is an unfriendly place where one is looked upon with suspicion.  Tasmanian Parliament House you could walk in as you wish; now you have to go through rigid security and to leave, your access is blocked, which I think is quite illegal impeding your right of progress.  This is all because of “terrorism “, yet I wonder whether this is often used as an excuse.

Going to a place of entertainment like football or cricket can also be unpleasant.  Security guards even approach one outside the stadium to check your bags (again I believe this quite illegal as you are on a public place).  Once in, you are a captured audience exactly the same with the Hobart Cup.  In past years one was able to take one’s own beverages, now it is not permitted forcing everyone to buy what is offered at inflated prices.

There was very little control in past days when attending local football.  It was fun and casual with only a constable or two in sight.  Now there are dozens and dozens of security guards of dubious talent.  Something has happened to society.

The other issue which one did not have to content with was drugs.  Even in my early twenties, I never came across the scourge.  Today of course they are everywhere, even with primary school children, resulting in crime that is often brutal in the extreme.

A couple of years ago I went to a book launch at a primary school where the author told the students they have the right to say what they want without being threatened.  That may have been the case, but it is not so today.  With political correctness, people are fearful of repercussions if they speak up, try to contest the status quo or act independently. Of course, most of us will agree to the concept of freedom of expression, but herein lays the problem;   most will only tolerate freedom of expression if that opinion agrees with them. We are afraid of offending others who have a variety of ways to silence those who offended them and take vengeance.  Yet freedom of expression can only exist when one has the right to offend.  People have become too sensitive and too self-centred.  I never thought I would live to see the day when Australia had to pass legislation to protect freedom of religion.

Mankind’s march for freedom began thousands of years ago.  Socrates faced it, even in liberal Classic Athens, by questioning the gods. He was convicted and died as a result.  Yet through those thousands of years, the inborn desire for freedom has always been present and won not only on the battlefield, but through the corridors of power. Both Benedict Spinoza and English Liberal John Locke developed a political theory where natural rights were protected by governments. However, with the growing power and interference of governments, the opposite is happening.  Our rights are actually not only being curtailed but being taken away from us. The weakness of the party system is of course that most politicians will do exactly what their party tells them to do. If you don’t, you will not survive within the system.

Political correctness, which is simply people control, now dominates the entertainment industry, corporate Australia, advertising, art, science, professional sport, the public service and education. That is why it is imperative to safeguard the freedom of the press.

Things have certainly changed and one can site much more.  If they continue as they do, I can see us entering a new dark age.  Freedom will only come if the people take a stand. The hunger for freedom cannot be stifled regardless of the efforts of those in control and it is deliberate; it is not happening by accident.

Categories In the news

Cambria

13/9//2018

What type of tourism should Tasmania have?

True tourism is when the visitor experiences the life and the environment of the locals.  In essence they blend in and absorb.  There is another type of tourism which has become very prevalent and could be called “manufactured” tourism. This is when visitors in large numbers arrive only briefly and then leave our shores really not experiencing the real Tasmania.

Tourists of this manufactured kind can over stay their welcome.  This is currently being seen in Europe where places like Venice (Italy) reveal that the residents have had enough because of their lives being dramatically altered. This type of ugly tourism can make the natives feel like living in a zoo.

The proposed Cambria Green resort project is one of these manufactured tourist schemes, which do not entirely benefit the locals changing their lifestyle. It certainly will benefit the big end of town and for governments, State and local who then can boast of growth figures, even though the economic positiveness is not passed down to the general population.

The original Cambria is of great historic significance to Tasmania and perhaps more can be made of this for Tasmanians and visitors alike. It was the home of George Meredith with Cambria being the ancient name for Wales.  It was known as “Government House” with a procession of Governors and their wives staying there. At one time son Charles (who was to come a politician and there is a memorial to him on the Queen’s Domain) and wife Louisa Anne lived on the property.  Louisa was an outstanding observer of colonial life and society.  Described by historian Douglas Pike as a “poet in feeling” she was much more than a writer, but also an artist, naturalist and botanist who achieved international fame. She wrote of Cambria: “commands an extensive view of large tracts of bush and cultivated land and across from Head of Oyster Bay of the Schoutens.”

Now it is to be a golf course, 100 room five star hotel (where locals cannot afford to stay), 300 units and an airstrip.  While the developer said the historical aspects of the property will be maintained, one wonders how will this be achieved. 

To be truthful it will only be a playground for those overseas visitors who can afford it.  They will fly in (own airstrip) enjoy the manufactured surroundings, then fly out….what have they really seen or experienced of the true Tasmania?  Little.

I have said it before and I will say it again, Tasmania’s attraction is being Tasmania; in other words, being unique.  Our lifestyle, our small population, our history, the scenery, quality of product, our distinctiveness is what attracts people to our beautiful island.  We can boom with proper visitations, but these “playgrounds” will only destroy our lifestyle.

I repeat, the true experience of tourists should be to experience the REAL Tasmania.  As an example of this, some years ago I was employed to take a day trip of visitors from New Jersey in a mini bus.  The itinerary was ridiculous.  Picking them up from the boat, I first took them up Mount Wellington, then to Salmon Ponds, then to National Park, then to Richmond and the finally back to the departing vessel. All within a few hours.  They were totally exhausted and some of the elderly ones complained – and quite frankly I did not blame them.  I thought the whole thing embarrassing. Did they see the real Tasmania? No.

It is pleasing that many community groups have taken the time to protest against the Cambria development with similar developments going on throughout Tasmania.  The problem is of course in such circumstances, whole areas are changed dramatically and forever and after the damage, the developer moves on to another project and does likewise.

Do we need development?  Of course, we can’t stay in a time warp – but we can have good and controlled development.  Can we have a successful tourist industry which is welcomed by the locals and not abhorred?  Of course, but not this ugly and stressful input.

On many occasions the local are treated like second class citizens because of the perceived need to attract huge numbers of visitors.  As another example, when booking into a Tamar resort I also booked a seat for dinner in the dining room.  In the meantime, two large tourist buses arrived and because so, I was delegated to the bar.  In the morning hoping for a fine breakfast I found that the tourists had already come and gone, leaving little left; it was like a horde of locusts had descended on everything.  Leaving the premises to return home, I, stopping at a dining premises down the Mainland, was refused entry because a tourist bus had come and there was no room. This type of thing can only build resentment from locals.

The developer has stated that those who will be staying at Cambria will be people from China and finance will be coming from both China and the USA.  To be quite frank I am tired of our politicians who are prepared to sell our real estate out to the highest and short term buyer.  To those who may charge me with “racism” let me say, the Cambria development in its present form from any nationality would be opposed by me.

The fact is that such a massive development with change the attractiveness of the area.  It is true I do not live in Glamorgan, although I am a member of the local history society and and my family, the Watsons, were colonial settlers.  However, the east coast is also the playground of all Tasmanians and quite frankly, we do not like our State exploited.

Categories In the news

Religious Freedom

23/8//2018

It is strange that Australia has an inquiry into the need to protect religious freedom and religious expression.  We will see what the report is like when it is handed down by Philip Ruddock.

I say “strange” because I thought there would never be a need for it in Australia. This freedom has existed for many years as it is part of our inheritance from Great Britain and guaranteed in our laws.

This is obviously no longer the case, otherwise it would not be necessary.  Things socially are ever so different to the 50s and 60s, even the 70s.  The younger generation, say from the 80s, have little understanding how it has changed.

When we say “religious freedom” we are in reality meaning Christian freedoms.  Christianity was brought to our national shores in 1788 and to Tasmania in 1803. Britain of course, has been home to Christianity for 1300 years, longer elsewhere in Europe. It has been a part of our culture and heritage.

It was Alfred the Great who codified much from the Old Testament into English law and down the ages we have inherited The Magna Carter, the 1689 Bill of Rights, English Common Law, trial by Jury and Habeas Corpus all resulting from a country with a Christian background.  In Australia we have our own Constitution, which states in its beginning paragraph “relying on the blessings of Almighty God”.  This part was added by the insistence of the Churches of the day, excluding the Seventh Day Adventist Church which took the view that if such a wording was added it would force Sunday worship upon them rather than Saturday.  This obviously did not happened

Whereas “almighty…God” was neutral in its emphasis it was clearly to mean at the time, the God of Christians.

Down through the centuries it has influence dramatically our ethics, morality, modesty, principles,art and consciousness.  There is no denying there are faults; any Institutions developed by imperfect man will fail to some degree.  Over all it worked very well with many leading charitable organisations and acts emanating from Christian belief, not just here in Australia, but world-wide and many examples can be cited.

Australia since settlement has not been a strong church-going community, unlike say the United States. Even in the hey-day attendance percentage-wise would not have been more than fifty percent of the population.  Yet, the influence was there and people though nominally Christian did respect its Institutions and certainly used it for Sunday School, Christenings, Confirmations, Weddings and funerals.  During WWI ninety per cent of our soldiers declared themselves Christian.

Today by recent statistics only about fifty per cent of the population now give the title “Christian”.

In the 50s it was all so different and it was just taken as the norm that what was will continue.  I remember all too clearly when on Christmas Day, all radio stations (and later in the early days of television) played religious music as they did at Easter.  Sundays was indeed a day of rest, with most businesses, sports and entertainment taking a break.  It was a day for church, going on picnics, visiting or being visited. Today of course Sunday is very different, our roads are full of traffic, sport is the new religion, shops are open and while our communication has expanded technologically, we communicate less with each other including families.

All what was has gone and I really do not think for the better.  Society must believe in something and that “something” will determine how we view things and our attitude to situations. It appears that we are still searching for Christianity’s replacement.  There is no such thing as a vacuum as people crave for something.  To some it appears to be socialism, environmentalism, militant atheism, science and even hedonism – whatever.

To some extent the fault does lie with the Churches themselves.  It is apparent such institutions have not fulfilled many people’s spiritual requirements. One naturally has to refer to the appalling publicity which many, particularly of the established mainstream churches, have been subject to.  This has disillusioned many of faith.  Herein lays the problem, because people have placed their faith on man-made institutions and church leaders, rather than the faith itself. Yet that is an easy statement to make. It must be very difficult for those ‘good’ and ‘sincere’ members of the cloth who are now under unfair suspicion.

We do live in a post Christian where the religion and Christians can be subject to criticism, attacks, mockery and even abuse which would not be allowed if the target was another religion or of a particular ethnic group.

I am yet to be convinced we are a better and happier society without Christianity.  We seem to have more problems than a one armed fan dancer.  Australia now is divided sometimes aggressively and it seems permanently on race, religion, culture, gender and sexuality.  We are beset with numerous and it seems unsolvable social problems.  All this has developed and co-incided with the demise of the Church’s influnence.

Categories In the news