A strange place is the World Wide Web.
Many years ago, as a bored employee of a Hobart-based stockbroking firm, I started a blog called Ethical Shares under a pseudonym. The web was still in its infancy, and although my comments were regularly quoted in internet forums, I suspected the total audience was limited to a handful of IT students.
Two years later, my thoughts on finance and economics were deemed sufficient to be published on a weekly basis by the Examiner in Tasmania, together with the Canberra Times and a number of other Rural Press outlets.
That was 13 years ago.
Around 2003, unperturbed by the tech crash, I launched an online financial advisory site, which was quickly closed by my competitors (who were beneficiaries of funds from the Department of Economic Development). Keen students of Tasmanian political history may choose to investigate the relationship between Shadforths Limited and financialadvisers.com ...
Little wonder I started to take an interest in the relationship between business and Government in Tasmania. Some of those early thoughts appeared on Tasmanian Times under the name Jarvis Cocker.
Jarvis quickly became unpopular with the Government media unit, to the point where I had to claim false media credentials to be allowed to examine one of the great works of modern fiction – Michael Aird’s 2008 Budget.
Looking back at the era, I thought I made a lot of sense. I wrote opinion pieces in The Examiner suggesting Aurora Energy should be sold for the going rate, which was more than $2 billion at the time. I pointed out Forestry Tasmania was failing in its corporate objectives. I analysed Gunns’ pulp mill project, and was forbidden by my employer to make further comment after suggesting the available resource was insufficient to meet the demands of the proposal.
John Gay, confessed corporate crook, demanded my head.
The New Examiner was my idea. I didn’t write every entry. Some 14 people (including current Tasmanian journalists whom I won’t name) submitted content. I, along with three others acted as moderators.
The Andrew Nikolic story ( Here and Here ) which ended up with a worldwide audience of around 140,000, was funny. I wasn’t surprised that Nikolic himself took offence – my limited engagements with the man simply confirmed him in my view as a selfish, angry attention seeker.
What isn’t funny is the long-term impact of Nikolic’s reaction to that story.
Nikolic took his anger to the Press Council ( Here ), who more than a year later made a determination.
They didn’t give him a free pardon.
They didn’t accept Nikolic’s claims that the New Examiner story was an attempt by political opponents to discredit him.
They made no assessment of allegations that Tom Ellison, writing under a pseudonym, had defamed him.
They simply found a journalist from a Fairfax newspaper should have dug more deeply.
Suggestions that I wrote a plagiarised piece of satire in an attempt to discredit a political opponent are false.
Those who know me would be aware I stand by my convictions, and would view a cheap shot against a political opponent, even one as impotent as Andrew Nikolic, as offensive.
I announced my candidature for the seat of Bass weeks after Nikolgate, as it is known is some circles. I said I would stand for parliament to offer an alternative to those who use intimidation, threats and bile in an attempt to gain public office.
Today (Monday), I said I would no longer be standing for Bass.
Already, supporters of the loopy conservative factions are claiming some sort of moral victory against an opponent who, on a good day with sunny weather, might have picked up 3% off the vote.
My reasons for withdrawing are personal, and won’t be divulged. Given the tactics of conservative politics in Australia, people can probably guess some of them.
But don’t believe for one moment I’m scared of Andrew Nikolic or his hate brigade. They may have made my life in Tasmania difficult, but even if I move permanently to Noosa, I’ll still have a voice. Probably one spoken under a pseudonym.
And to those who don’t like my view on life – f…k you too.
Pic*: Andrew Nikolic, above, right, talks to a police officer during the heckling incident, February 14, last year.