Susan Austin

In a move that took most people by surprise, Tasmanian Labor Premier David Bartlett resigned on January 23. Deputy premier Lara Giddings was sworn in the next day as the first female premier of the state. Giddings will also keep her position as Treasurer. Bartlett announced his decision with a message on his Facebook page that said: “To all my Facebook friends and contributors. I have decided to step down as premier and leader of the Labor Party.” He said his reason was that he wanted more time to be a better father to his children.
About 40 people attended a ‘Hands off WikiLeaks’ rally held in Franklin Square, Hobart on January 29. Speakers from the Greens, the Socialist Alliance, the Secular Party, Young Libertarians and unaligned individuals addressed the rally. They called on the Australian government to support Julian Assange, defend WikiLeaks and support the right to free speech and freedom of information.
Since the March 20 state elections and the installation of a power-sharing government between the Labor Party and the Greens, there have been quite a few notable developments in Tasmanian politics. Tasmania could be the first state to legalise voluntary euthanasia. The attorney-general and deputy premier Lara Giddings told states parliament on June 22 she would work with Greens leader Nick McKim to prepare a private members’ bill about voluntary euthanasia.
Tasmanian Premier David Bartlett announced on June 22 that he “accepted the [state] Planning Commission’s recommendation” to reject the Lauderdale Quays canal estate proposal at Ralphs Bay. “It found the proposal was unsustainable, and not consistent with the objectives of the planning system or the state coastal policy”, Bartlett said.
Mel Barnes, a well-known Tasmanian political activist, will contest the seat of Denison in the upcoming federal elections, for the Socialist Alliance. Barnes is a leading climate and renewable energy campaigner involved in Climate Action Hobart. She has also campaigned for women’s rights, Palestine solidarity, refugee rights and Latin American solidarity. In 2006, Barnes went on a solidarity tour of Venezuela to learn about the revolutionary changes occurring there. Barnes stood for the Socialist Alliance in the recent state elections.
On January 12, community group Climate Action Hobart launched its document Ten Steps for a Safe Climate — Tasmania’s contribution to preventing dangerous climate change, which was developed over the previous year with input from industry experts, scientists, climate activists and the general community.
Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) is the name of a World Bank sponsored carbon offset program. The idea is to pay owners of forests in the global South to stop deforestation as a way of reducing carbon emissions.
On July 10, 100 people rallied for Aboriginal rights as part of National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) week.
The Burning Season
Written & directed by Cathy Henkel
Limited screenings nationally through July. Visit for details
Despite widespread opposition, forest giant Gunns Ltd is still pressing ahead with its proposed pulp mill in the pristine Tamar Valley in northern Tasmania. But the campaign against it shows no signs of going away.
Since police raided the Florentine Valley protest camp on May 4, at least 32 people have been arrested for participating in protests against logging in the southern Tasmanian valley.
More than 50 people gathered outside the Mercure Hotel in Hobart on April 30 where Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and state premiers met for the Council of Australian Governments forum.
Three hundred people rallied for Aboriginal rights on Invasion Day in Hobart. Protesters pointed out that Aboriginal people remember January 26 as the date that their land was first invaded, their ancestors massacred and their rights trampled.
Forestry Tasmania has pushed more than three kilometres of road through the old growth forests of the Upper Florentine Valley, sparking weeks of intense protest.
Seventy people attended a protest on January 15 outside MP Duncan Kerr’s office in Hobart to voice their outrage against Israel’s attacks on Gaza.
Tasmania’s Wilderness Battles: A History
By Greg Buckman
Jacuna, 2008
272 pages, $29.95

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