Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Richard Butler's resignation and media hubris

Spare me the outrage and fury, pull-eaze.

If, as appears to be the case, the 60-something Butler was not entitled to any payout/pension upon resignation from “a secure five-year term”, then this reflects poorly upon his lawyers. Or more likely, a would-be viceroy is simply not expected to haggle their way through a draft employment contract, clause by clause. I’m hardly a Butler supporter, but I’m still less a Paul Lennon fan, which is why I think that the outrage and fury over Butler is quite misdirected.

Butler did not appoint himself; nor did he (i) change his stripes after getting the job, or (ii) come with seedy hidden baggage, a la Hollingworth. If there is a central villain in this piece, then, it must be the late Premier Jim Bacon, as ably assisted by his Iago-esque then-deputy Lennon. To put it mildy, Bacon had even more delusions of grandeur than Richard “I want an upgrade!” Butler:

Tasmanian Premier Jim Bacon described the appointment as "symbolic of the new Tasmania". "Richard Butler is a pre-eminent figure in international relations," Mr Bacon said. "He will be an ambassador for the state and play a major role in bringing the world to Tasmania."

Bacon’s being dead makes it a bit hard to demand accountability of him now. For a moment, I thought that it might be fair for Butler’s payout to come out of Bacon’s estate (i.e. presumably from the pockets of his widow Honey), but upon reflection this seemed a bit cruel. Honey Bacon could well-use every cent of that $650k, and more, towards getting a decent hair stylist.

Which leaves, IMO, the next-best candidate/s for carrying the can of Butler’s payout as the beneficiaries and/or underwriters of Bacon’s much-vaunted “new Tasmania”. Fortunately, these beneficiaries are not that hard to find. Most of the major ones, I suspect, are named in this article by Richard Flanagan. Combing the press for smaller-fry Flanagan detractors and Bacon defenders should fill up the rest of the donations hat quite nicely, so sparing the taxpayers of (the same old) Tasmania from the consequences of Bacon’s quasi-fascist mania.

And Harry Quick (a federal Labor member) and State Opposition Leader Rene Hidding could even dig into their own pockets, if need be. "For an ordinary Tasmanian worker a $650,000 payout would be like getting six numbers in Tattslotto" quoth Quick. Eh tu, Harry? And if Butler’s payout was, as Hidding suggests, “obscene moonlight robbery” then I’d hazard a guess that Hidding’s sooner-or-later upcoming parliamentary pension is daylight robbery.

Update 12 August 2004

Perhaps Tasmanian Premier Paul Lennon and his people are readers of this humble blog; having apparently taken up my idea that detractors of Richard Butler's payout could kick-in some of their own money. Upon closer inspection, this is not quite the case, however.

To clarify my thoughts – the whole Richard Butler controversy is not worth one single extant Tasmanian tree. Paul Lennon needs to go, not because of Butler, but because of Tasmania Inc. The Butler melee is serving as a media clear-fell, so setting-up an ongoing dream run for Tasmania Inc’s under-the-radar modus operandi.

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