Out in the cold

Nigel Burch
Nigel Burch

FORMER Lennon government whistleblower Nigel Burch cannot get a job in Tasmania.

The once-highly skilled public servant has only worked three months since he was sacked four years ago from his role of government adviser to then-deputy premier Steve Kons.

This work was in the Northern Territory for an Aboriginal health service.

Mr Burch said he never set out to be a whistleblower but he would forever be known as the source of a shredded document that led to the downfall of a deputy premier.

``It all snowballed and became a nightmare,'' Mr Burch said.

``The government attacked me remorselessly, and one-eyed Labor people who did not understand what it was all about simply believed what the government said and vilified and abused me.

``I was cursed in the street and my property was vandalised.

``There was no way to tell people that I had nothing to gain and everything to lose by trying to do the right thing by them.''

Mr Burch was forced into this position during an interview by the Director of Public Prosecutions office over the 2006 ``deal for mates'' scandal.

The DPP was investigating a deal which ensured the Tasmanian Compliance Corporation had a monopoly on building accreditation in Tasmania.

It was signed between then-deputy premier Bryan Green and corporation heads John White and Glenn Milliner - former Labor ministers.

Off-the-record discussion about irregularities in senior government appointments during Mr Burch's interview led to him reluctantly making a formal statement.

``After some agonising, I decided that the public interest had to be paramount and agreed on the condition that my complaint was strictly confidential,'' he said.

``Unfortunately, that confidentiality was not respected - through no fault of the DPP.''

Mr Burch's allegations related to a document, signed by Mr Kons, then Attorney-General, which appointed Resource, Planning and Development Commission executive commissioner Simon Cooper as a magistrate.

Mr Burch was soon sacked from Mr Kons' Burnie office and a shredded document, handed over to the Tasmanian Greens, appeared in State Parliament a week later.

Mr Kons was forced to resign as deputy premier after denying knowledge of the appointment in public.

While Mr Kons has since found a new career, his old one as Burnie Mayor, Mr Burch said he was unemployable.

``As a direct result of the government's attacks and their consequences, I have not been able to obtain work in Tasmania,'' Mr Burch said.

``In the past four years, I have worked for just three months. The affair severely impacted upon my health and my finances.

``I believe that people must stand up for what is right, but I would have to say that as a result of my experience, I would not ask my friends and family to do so.''