Launceston City Council deputy mayor and councillor Danny Gibson will no longer present his weekly Events in Northern Tasmania segment on ABC breakfast radio.
Full disclosure, Danny Gibson is my friend. Launceston is a small regional city. Tasmania is a small state.
Across the North-East, it's not uncommon to know many townsfolk or, in fact, be related to them.
On most occasions, living in a close-knit community is pleasurable and relaxed; with g'day or hello common greetings when strolling the city, suburbs or towns; offering salutations to people you only know through tenuous community or family connections.
It's what sets us apart. In a mainland city it just doesn't happen; it's too big and too busy to enjoy the pleasantries that we hold dear.
Occasionally, familiarity has its drawbacks. Particularly if wearing 'tracky dacks' or 'sneens' with bedhead hair accompanying your quick trip to the shops, because you're in such a hurry to grab the kids' 'must-haves'.
The embarrassing explanations become stuff of legend; repeated ad nauseam at crucial moments to maximise jovial taunting. But that's just us, and we wouldn't have it any other way.
From experience, media personalities and politicians are the most easily recognisable figures. They are overly generous with their time and happy to assist with charities, community groups and sporting clubs whenever their heavy workloads permit.
By example, Launceston City councillors are well-known. They also significantly contribute to our community outside of their elected work.
Councillors come from a variety of backgrounds; adding diversity and life-experience to important political debates. Local charity members and volunteers, publicans, Rotarians, school board representatives, and leaders like Cr Janie Finlay who has been chairwoman of the Launceston Tornadoes since 2012, bring invaluable skills to the decision-making table as a result.
Therefore, it was with much surprise that we read, via Facebook, that deputy mayor, Councillor Danny Gibson's weekly segment on ABC Northern Tasmania Breakfast, with host Belinda King, was removed from the airwaves.
The only explanation that we have read, via Danny: "management determined that an elected representative should not have such a spot on Tasmania's ABC airwaves and sadly, that's that," he posted.
Danny presented Events in Northern Tasmania for six years; initially on Drive, then state-wide, before finding its niche on the breakfast program. He was first elected to council eight years ago.
His rapport and repartee with Belinda King - herself a founder of the amazing Encore Theatre Company, was infectious; turning run of the mill events into spectacles not to be missed. Their friendship obvious and strengthened through theatre links, with Danny stage managing or directing many of Launceston's most successful productions.
For the ABC to have a crisis of conscience, indicating that his regular segment, suddenly, contravenes the Charter makes no sense at all. Of course, there could be another explanation - but the public broadcaster has not said a word.
In creating a precedent, it is appropriate to ask whether other politicians including Ministers of the Crown, who are informing the public of policy settings, or sharing personal stories including support of the arts, charitable or sporting events, will be permitted to voice their views on the ABC in the future?
Danny used his weekly segment to alert the community of upcoming events; many of those facilitated by not-for-profit or small community-minded organisations who could not budget for such an advertising spend that a simple mention on a Friday morning provided.
But not anymore.
We live in a small community and many of us wear different hats.
There will always be conflicts of interest; not corruption, just conflicts. In most cases, the ethics and morals of individuals ensure that unfair situations where personal advantage could be gained do not transpire.
Further, good governance through rigorous transparent due process, which is crucial for successful organisations, ensures trust is maintained.
It is essential for the culture and success of our city and region that elected officials are permitted to utilise their broad range of skills further afield than the council chamber or parliament.
The removal of deputy mayor, councillor Danny Gibson from a weekly ABC radio segment, that had nothing to do with his elected position, is a clear example of failure to understand the importance of harnessing talent and confusing it with a concern that doesn't exist.
- Brian Wightman is a former Tasmanian Attorney-General and school principal