Frankenfish

Richard Flanagan’s exposé of the salmon industry
by
June 2021, no. 432
Buy this book

Toxic: The rotting underbelly of the Tasmanian salmon industry by Richard Flanagan

Penguin Random House, $24.99 pb, 224 pp

Frankenfish

Richard Flanagan’s exposé of the salmon industry
by
June 2021, no. 432
Salmon pens in Macquarie Harbour on the west coast of Tasmania, 2016 (Christopher Bellette/Alamy)
Salmon pens in Macquarie Harbour on the west coast of Tasmania, 2016 (Christopher Bellette/Alamy)

Listen to this article read by its author.

 

Before reading Richard Flanagan’s new book, Toxic: The rotting underbelly of the Tasmanian salmon industry, it is useful to remember that Australia’s southern isle was once the penal colony of Van Diemen’s Land. During the first fifty years of the colony’s existence, a small ruling élite achieved a near monopoly over the island’s most lucrative natural resources, the subservience of the majority convict population, and considerable profit from the public licences and patronage associated with political power. Far from these privileges ending with the cessation of transportation, self-government allowed the establishment to so entrench their interests that no substantial separation existed between the promotion of them and the functions of the state. The enduring cost of a historically corrupted polity was well highlighted (including by Flanagan) during the environmental conflicts of recent decades, but despite the saving of the Franklin River and the demise of forestry giant Gunns, a fully functioning democracy seems as distant as ever. Even the most basic task of government – returning a public profit from highly valuable public licences, be they poker machines or public waters – is still not being achieved in a state that is the poorest, sickest, and most disadvantaged in the nation.

James Boyce reviews 'Toxic: The rotting underbelly of the Tasmanian salmon industry' by Richard Flanagan

Toxic: The rotting underbelly of the Tasmanian salmon industry

by Richard Flanagan

Penguin Random House, $24.99 pb, 224 pp

Buy this book

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Comments (2)

  • Bizarrely, the Financial Review is reporting this week that Andrew Forrest has bought a stake in Huon Aquaculture: "The Forrest family’s private investment arm, Tattarang, has paid almost $20 million for a 7.33 per cent stake in the Tasmanian salmon farmer."
    Posted by Patrick Hockey
    24 June 2021
  • "After the publication of 'Toxic', I doubt Tasmania will ever be the same again."

    That's a massive claim, James Boyce - but it would be superb if it was true. Tassal's share price is below its pre-Covid highs, but investors continue to support the idea that this company has a future. In reality, far too few are turning out to organise and advocate for better environmental outcomes. Without organising, nothing is achieved and business and politically vested interests run riot.
    Posted by Patrick Hockey
    18 June 2021

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