An Open Letter to Guy Barnett, Tasmanian Liberals in response to recent election flier.

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Please be sure and read the comprehensive response received from Mr Barnett and his insightful views on the various issues raised in my letter.  Its posted at the bottom.  Yep, this is the kind of ‘substance’ we need to run our society!

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Dear Mr Barnett,

I write to express my disappointment at having seemingly wasted my time this evening, visiting your website, guybarnett.com.au   I did so, having read your flier which arrived in my mailbox this week and which invites readers to visit the site “to find out more or to share your (my) views”.  I imagined you must have set up a forum where you were encouraging healthy debate regarding the sorts of issues raised and views expressed in your flier.

I am that scourge of the party political system, the swinging voter and I try hard to cast my vote, based on what I sincerely believe has the best chance of delivering the most desirable outcomes for our society.  My views on what constitute good outcomes are somewhat more broad than those expressed in your flier.  The Liberal Party has a long history of supporting business at any price and the notion that if business is happy, everybody will be better off, ceased to be convincing a long time ago.  I would point out that business is about making profits for owners. Expediency and the profit motive (the only motive that business has) dictate that people are only employed to the extent that is absolutely necessary and employment is best avoided altogether, if at all possible.  As an example, sound business management recently saw the Tasmanian firm of Blundstone Boots close down its local operation and move offshore, where the cheapest possible (read obscenely exploited in many cases) labour can be obtained and where industry is not constrained by the industrial protections that are inconveniently afforded to Australian workers.  I am guessing that the owners of that company probably aren’t Labor voters!  And they are apparently unaware of your expectation that healthy business decisions are supposed to be good for the community, the state or the country. What a surprise!

I apologise if this seems sarcastic and I assure you it is not intended to be.  I am simply seeking to illustrate a point.

The current Liberal mantras of ‘open for business’ and ‘business at any cost’ are certainly consistent with the party’s history but I question whether such an attitude is at all consistent with fostering an environment which will best serve ALL of the citizens of our country.  I take it as given that it will certainly serve the best interests of big business.   I have heard recently that there are currently moves afoot to introduce frac mining in Tasmania, despite that industry posing a significantly detrimental risk to the environment and it having a disastrous environmental record elsewhere in the world.  But I assume that the Liberal Party would go ahead and approve such methods.

Likewise, you are doubtless aware of the recent situation regarding the Australian Small Pelagic Fishery, where the total allowable catch was more than doubled and the entire quota increase was granted to a single company who wished to introduce a super trawler into the fishery.  The company also indicated its intention to buy up un-utilised quotas currently held by other fishermen within the industry.  With the full utilisation of those quotas, together with utilization in full of the quota increase granted to the company, the total take of the target species would be increased many fold.  There was a significant level of opposition to this nationally and particularly here in Tasmania.  I assume the Liberals will have those changes back on track in no time, notwithstanding that the total employment generated will be negligible (and at a low income level).  The risk to the long term viability of the fishery cannot realistically be determined, but there’s no doubting the potential for massive profits for one single multi-national effort.  The real benefits to the Australian people our doubtful at best, whilst the potential to permanently damage our fishery is very real.

With the greatest respect, I suggest that whilst the stated Liberal goals of job creation and healthy economies sounds good in principle, economic prosperity of an elite minority at the expense of the masses is not the goal that should be pursued.  A great deal of the gainful employment previously available to people has been replaced by technology.  The profit imperative of business will always dictate that machines are far more attractive employees than people. Business itself repeatedly demonstrates its total lack of concern for people, when it closes down entire factories in favor of using cheap, exploited offshore labour.  Even our former national Telco is using Indian call centres instead of employing Australian workers.  Do you seriously expect Australians to be so gullible as to believe that what is best for business is best for them?

If the Liberal Party wishes to achieve any credibility with ordinary voters, in terms of caring for their best interests, I believe it should pursue policies that support those interests.

Where businesses are making profits by extracting natural resources from the land which is ultimately the property of the nation’s citizens, then an APPROPRIATE share of any profits achieved should be returned to the people.  You can’t look after the citizens of your nation while you are carving up its resources between a group of obscenely wealthy ‘old boys’.

Laws should be introduced to ensure that ownership of and access to the nation’s resources by particular individuals or companies is strictly limited, thus reversing the current trend where more and more of those resources are controlled by less and less people.  For example, the idea of a single company being able to ‘own’ the entire Australian small pelagic fishery is an abomination to the whole notion of democracy.

The level of support given to new business ventures should be based on the level of ongoing employment that such ventures are likely to provide.  We don’t need more profitable business; we need business that provides livelihoods for ordinary people.

Where businesses are fostered and supported, every effort should be made to ensure that they do not thrive at the expense of the environment, or of other businesses.  I would cite, for example, the damage to oyster farms in North Eastern Tasmania some years ago, which was, it was suggested, caused by chemicals produced by inland monoculture tree plantations.  And if you’ve ever driven from Corinna to Burnie, I’m sure you will be aware of the ‘settlement ponds’ which look like an inland sea, except that the lifeless water is the colour of copper sulphate.  The current difficulties within the plantation timber industry are, it seems to me, at least in part created by changes in world demand for paper and I don’t think there’d be many people who would fail to acknowledge that the modern use of computer technology must inevitably reduce the need for print quality paper products.  I think its absurd to suggest that the decline in the forestry industry is the outcome of a dastardly Greenie plot.

I believe that business and commerce has value to society, only to the extent that it serves and enriches the citizens of that society.  If it serves only an elite few, and if its benefits are purely financial, then it isn’t the kind of business that society needs now.  The loss of employment opportunities to technology was and is inevitable.  It will continue.  What governments need to focus on, is fostering businesses that will create NEW employment opportunities in NEW industry areas.  Such fields as computer engineering and software design, electronics and other high tech ventures all require people and brains.  Too many existing businesses require only capital and machinery.

And if a political party is serious about providing meaningful livelihoods for its citizens, it should be looking to help people to achieve a greater level of independence from conventional, city concentrated industry.  Recognizing that future employment opportunities will inevitably continue to decline, a government would do well to think about encouraging and helping families to achieve a level of independence by repopulating rural areas and rediscovering small, mixed farms.  In past history, rural areas supported vibrant communities and provided rich, diverse and meaningful lifestyles for a significant portion of the population.  Modern economics has seen people forced or lured into crowded city environments and the countryside is largely devoid of people or vitality.

Every new initiative that we have seen from government over the last twenty years or more, seems aimed to discourage and stamp out involvement by any but big business in rural lifestyles and industries.  If the Liberals were serious about cutting red tape as a means to nurturing the country’s citizens, they could start by getting rid of some of the recent and exclusionist policies now governing farming and livestock ownership of all kinds.

In conclusion, it is fallacy to believe that the happiness and good health of society is somehow inextricably linked to the economic prosperity of business.  Employment opportunities are far more likely to be provided by small and medium business activities and I believe that governments should be concentrating their efforts there.  Big business has already demonstrated its ability to look after itself, as well as its willingness to roll right over little people to do so.

So there you go Mr Barnett.  I have, as your flier invited, shared a few views.   I know my thoughts won’t gel with current thinking by you or your peers.  But as long as you continue to recite the mindless mantra of ‘Business profits good … People happy’ I cannot imagine why I’d want to support your ideologies.  Government must aim to serve the whole community, a group in whom big business has zero interest.  I fear its a view that is shared by most politicians, lipservice notwithstanding.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Caddle  2013-11-15

andrewcaddle.com

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Response from Guy Barnett on 25/11/13

Dear Andrew
 
Thank you for your recent email.  It is appreciated.
 
It is clearly a comprehensive overview of what is important to you at this time.  You have some firm views on what should happen in Tasmania and how we should go forward.
 
I can take criticism but always try to my best and I sincerely want the best for Tasmania and want to be part of a new majority Liberal government that can turn this State around.
 
Thank you again for your feedback.
 
Kind regards

 

Guy Barnett

State Liberal Candidate for Lyons

                                         

PO Box 80

EVANDALE  TASMANIA  7212

Australia

P    | 0428 622 333

W  | www.guybarnett.com.au

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Reading over Mt Barnett’s response, he seems fond of expressions like ‘going forward’ and ‘turning the State around’.   Well, the wonderful Tasmanian Liberal government are in the process of opening up 300,000 hectares of forest land for logging … land that was previously protected under a forestry agreement that was achieved after much blood, sweat and tears by the previous government, forestry industry, and environment groups.

The first thing the ‘profit at all cost’ Liberals did on gaining office was to throw out that agreement.  So much for certainty ‘into the future’.  In a world that is already denuded of natural environment over most of its surface, and where humans are beginning to appreciate what little is left and are willing to pay to enjoy it (eco-tourism) our state, under the care of the Liberal Party, is turning the state around …… and going backwards.

Dig it up

Cut it down

Suck it dry

Fish it out

Cash it in

One day, this philosophy will be recognized for the dinosaur thinking that it is, and such actions will be seen for what they are … crimes against future humanity. Surely we should know better by now?

20170322

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Thank you, Andrew.

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