Kevin Lyons (Tasmanian deputy premier 1969 – 1972)
This excellent short article in last Saturdays Mercury (5/8/2017) newspaper provides interesting background to how first the Hydro and then the forest industry became willing participants in the environmental wars that have dominated Tasmanian politics for the past 45 years.
The alleged bribing of a State MP and the bringing down of an elected Government provided the spark that went on to become first the dam wars (1970-1983) and then the forestry wars/crisis (1983-present).
The arrival of a party (the United Tasmania Group that went on to become the Greens) focused on the environment was a double-edged sword. It delivered victories for the natural world, and attracted support from disaffected Labor and Liberal voters.
However, without a mandate to govern, the presence of the Greens has helped marginalise the environment as a party-political issue rather than as a matter that should be front and centre of all human endeavour.
Anti-Green sentiment is now a factor in the voting patterns of a cohort of Tasmanians large enough to deliver power to whichever major party is prepared to harvest the negativity.
It is a vicious cycle. Divisions in our community are amplified by major parties competing for the anti-Green vote. Governing parties incite this conflict to maintain power. We have seen it all the way through from premiers such as Reece to Robin Gray and Paul Lennon, with overt displays of aggression and ridicule to green ideas in a bid to firm their voter base.
The forest industry is not mentioned specifically but any Tasmanian knows immediately what the author is talking about. Up until 2011 the forest industry was a more-than-willing participant in these high-stakes political games.
But the only winners in political games are the politicians. Everyone else loses!
And so many Tasmanians still believe the political rhetoric as if it was gospel. Finger pointing has become a Tasmanian obsession.
A vicious and destructive cycle indeed!