BARRY Prismall says: The political motivation of federal Environment Minister Tony Burke's ban on the fishing giant Abel Tasman - formerly the Margiris - is coming back to haunt him.
Seafish Tasmania now plans to use the super trawler as a floating freezer, and lease its original catch limit of 18,000 tonnes to smaller trawlers. They could then stow their catch at sea on the mother ship rather than running a costly shuttle service back to port.
The federal government backed the venture last year until a political backlash forced a sudden change of mind. Seafish Tasmania's revised plan seems perfectly sensible and legal, if that is in fact the plan.
Mr Burke may have a tough time convincing a court otherwise if the super trawler is not engaged in actual fishing.
A freezer could be anywhere, on land or water. It is a storage facility, not a fishing harvester.
If Mr Burke seeks to re-enforce the ban it will expose his snap decision last September as no more than a political stunt, and the wrong signal to investors who always carry the sovereign risk.
PRIME Minister Julia Gillard's unilateral shoe horn of former Olympic athlete Nova Peris into the Senate, over the career of Labor veteran Senator Trish Crossin, is another example of why political parties keep losing membership.
Ms Peris is not a member of the ALP. Her privileged treatment ensures that existing loyal members of the party, indigenous or otherwise, have no career path.
If Ms Gillard wants to indulge in elitism she obviously presumes that she can do so with impunity. All parties engage in this occasional rigging of their own democratic rules.
The Liberals are just as bad.
It does nothing for grassroots participation or even a sense of fairness in a political party.
If the ALP's patronising practice of affirmative action wasn't bad enough, the Gillard intervention takes the party's own standards and posture down to the basement level of participatory democracy.
There is no such thing as a `'captain's pick" in a democracy. It is an insult to Aboriginal people, who strive for racial equality on the strength of their own endeavours.
- BARRY PRISMALL, deputy editor