Hell hath no fury…

Hell Hath No Fury like an electorate scorned.

And as more and more Development Applications flood the Glamorgan Spring Bay municipality, residents are becoming adept at securing their own specialist advice and opinion and are becoming true frontline fighters. Amongst their number are scientists, town-planners, environmental specialists, journalists and most importantly, lawyers skilled at pulling apart legislation. No longer is a rate-paying base ignorant. That same rate-paying base is also aware of the various ombusdsman facilities available to them in order to examine any complaint they may have.

So much of how we live here on the east coast has been threatened by a Council trying to slip things under the radar. There is no public consultation beyond the presentation of a DA advertised in small print in the public notices, or tied to a fence somewhere or hammered onto a pole where it can’t really be seen. No attempt is made to contact ratepayers at large (not just those who are immediately geographically affected) to offer a Council Meeting. Of course, the General Manager will tell every ratepayer that by law, that is all the Council is required to do, and this is true. But Council should perhaps not be so naïve or disingenuous to assume that the rate paying base is content, when it is now seething.

Earlier this year, nearly 300 ratepayers attended a meeting organised by Marine Protection Tasmania to express concern that any opinion they may have had about the proposed salmon farm development by Tassal in scenic Okehampton Bay had been completely ignored. The Mayor attended the meeting and was shouted down, having been completely derogatory toward ratepayers. He was escorted from the meeting by the shouts of ratepayers saying that their rates paid his and GSBC’s salaries.

(Michael Kent,  Mayor, and David Metcalf, General Manager of GSBC)

On Saturday just passed, according to ABC News ,  ‘Mayor Michael Kent said the Okehampton Bay proposal has been approved by the independent review panel and the matter is unlikely to become an election issue. “I believe it’s almost done and dusted, it will happen,” he said.’

Unlikely to become an election issue? Who is he kidding? Have we voters got news for him!  This will be a massive election issue with 2000 people from Floatmo already arming themselves.

With a little research, it has been easy to find indicting statements made by Michael Kent. These comments were made when he called himself Mike Kent, candidate for Council elections in 2014.

“I can understand the antipathy towards a sea-pen infrastructure in what ranks as the most popular unspoiled recreational marine fishery in Tasmania.”

 Can he? Really? He shows little empathy now that he is Mayor.

“…It’s world war three,” Mike Kent said.

 You ‘aint kidding, Mr. Mayor.

In 2104, he also said “that the question of sea-pens is coincidental with others related to changes in Tassal’s new rural-based factory out of Triabunna.

“I’m informed that the goal-posts are being relocated there as well, without any consultation with those councillors who approved and objected to it.”
“If this is an extension of the fast-track mindset of the Glamorgan-Spring Bay Council, it seems they have backed the wrong horse with this project.”

 Fascinating, isn’t it? More detail on his chest-beating prior to his election, can be found at http://tasmaniantimes.com/index.php?/pr-article/sea-pen-rumours-rings-alarm-bells/

Mr. Kent’s continued refusal to listen to public concerns or to admit that he secured his seat in Council on the platform of ‘No Fish Farms in East Coast Waters’, switching horses the minute he was across the finish line, has turned a significantly large number of ratepayers against the Mayor. Their fury at him and at all bar two other councillors, will emerge at the next council election.

Also yesterday, according to the ABC news bulletin mentioned above, “Opposition Leader Rebecca White said she had not seen the final legislation (to strengthen monitoring of the fish farm industry) but appeared to be giving qualified support.”

This is alarming. All those concerned about Tassal’s rampant move into east coast waters have read the final draft legislation. How is that we who are not politicians can take the time from our own busy lives to secure the draft and read it, and yet Ms. White, who expects us to vote for she and her party, has not?

Not only that, Ms. White sat and listened to an afternoon of people informing her of their distrust of government, the EPA and Tassal. She was presented with a printout of strategic ideas that allowed a bi-partisan government to slow Tassal’s march without affecting the industry in general, and gave the industry across the board time to clean itself up.

The State Government says they are talking about a plan for the industry to move forward. It’s due out in a couple of months. This is the Government’s chance to show they are listening to an angry populace who feels that they have been emasculated. If one looks at all the comments on the No Fish Farms Facebook page, one can see what voters feel and it’s not pretty.

Whilst it seems as if we who care for the the east coast are all pissing in the wind, it should be noted that every time we are ignored by all aspects of Federal, State and local government and every time something is fast-tracked, it just heightens the desire to use every legal facility open to us to reveal lack of transparency and lack of clear and independent governance.

At some point, these ‘leaders’, and I use that term advisedly, will have to realise that the issue of Okehampton Bay is a turning point. It’s the straw that has broken the camel’s back and the outcry isn’t merely coming from east coast residents. Revelations have finally hit the mainstream – of appalling management by both sides of government and the industry of the Channel and Macquarie Harbour regions, of wholesale stormtrooper behaviour off Port Arthur, Storm Bay and Nubeena. Major Australian TV networks and newspapers now report on uses of chemicals, dyes and antibiotics in Tasmanian salmon, chefs across Australia are asking highly sensitive questions, the public now want labelling and food provenance, Tassal’s shares on the ACX fall by the week. Social media is in overdrive.

And all because Tassal got greedy and wanted to move into the beautiful white beaches of our tourist hub, the east coast.

What price Brand Tasmania and all the wonderful commodities we produce? Are they to be tarnished by government and Tassal?

Shame Tassal, shame State Government, shame Labour Opposition and shame our own local government. All have failed to protect us and our most loved assets on any account.

NB: Should politicians and Mr. Kent think that fish farms won’t be an election issue, click on this link  and read the latest poll.

It’s enlightening and can only get worse.