I’d be surprised if much turned on the whole Tassie forests issue in the end, but it’s certainly shaping up to be one of the more interesting theatres of the campaign. Watching John Howard trying to choose between the greens and the trade unions, then somehow claiming to be right behind both of them, is priceless.
The problem with the whole issue is that nobody seems to know what they’re talking about—or they know, but they’re not telling. Like on Lateline last night, Tony Jones valiantly but vainly tried to get Actual and Shadow Environment Ministers Senator Ian Campbell and Kelvin Thompson to explain what parts of Tasmania their policies covered. The Coalition is promising 170,000 hectares of new reserve; Labor will commission a review of 240,000 hectares. Nobody seems to know whether these areas overlap, how much of them would be subject to logging anyway, or even how big the Tarkine is. And these guys are meant to think about the environment all day.
Well, maybe they do know. According to the Wilderness Society, there are 450,000 hectares of Tarkine, which makes the Coalition’s promise to protect 76,100 hectares of the Tarkine, the Hewan and the Well valley combined look a bit stingy. Interestingly, this guy says that the Tarkine is just a recently-invented construct and that much of it doesn’t have a great deal of conservation value. Which may well be true, but when people start banging on about protecting the Tarkine they should at least be able to answer questions about what proportion will be protected and why.
And far be it from me to make personal comments about any of the candidates, but neither of those two gave us much else to work with, so I can only say that Senator Campbell looked kind of lop-sided the whole debate, and Thompson seemed to have the hiccups or to be about to throw up. We know of course from talkback radio that Bob Brown is a drug-addled communist paedophile, but I always think he presents as a pretty reasonable bloke. He went on a bit too much about the chainsaws at the ballot boxes for mine, but often his statements contain traces of content, and they almost never rhyme, which has to be a good thing (in politics, at least).