Thursday 12 November 2009

Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Governments are wise to gauge public support before throwing money at a problem in the hope that it could be an effective solution.  Sometimes it is, and sometimes it can be an ineffective waste.  Problems are more likely to be solved, though, if a substantial part of the community is dedicated to a solution; then it is a matter of coordination and strategic funding.  An example, I am sure, will be the Tamar Estuary and its catchment, with community-based groups and others working to solve problems with the coordination and support of a statutory authority, and strategic government funding.  This approach works in other areas, too.  Take for example the problem of the Tasmanian devil facial tumours.  If you want to see community action in play you just have to look at a recent fundraising dinner held in Launceston.  Efforts to save Tasmania's iconic carnivorous marsupial have a number of programs.  One is the establishment of so-called devil islands.  I have mentioned them here before.  They are free-range enclosures to house healthy devils in isolation from those that may be affected by facial tumours.  It is a great idea, but establishing islands of healthy devil populations is both expensive and needs careful organisation, backed by community groups.  That means community fundraising.

Community fundraising sends a clear message to Government that the community wants a problem solved and is prepared to help.  The State Government is already offering $400 000 for the islands - 60 per cent of the cost of the next three devil islands - and the community-based devil island project is committed to raising the remaining 40 per cent.  We had a fundraising dinner at Launceston's Grand Chancellor Hotel on Friday 30 October.  The event was organised by our vice chair of the Devil Island Project, Fiona Hoskin, with the backing of the founder of Kathmandu and now the owner of the Chickenfeed Group, Jan Cameron.  She promised to match all the money made from the dinner through the Chickenfeed Foundation.  There are fundraising dinners and fundraising dinners, and sometimes the food can be mediocre, but not this one.  It was called 'A Devil of a Dinner, A Divine Degustation'.  Seven of Tasmania's most talented chefs prepared six dishes matched with Tasmanian wines and beer.  There were 68 businesses involved and people donated time and goods for the evening and it was attended by 140 diners.  The first course for the night was prepared by Paul Foreman of Peppermint Bay Restaurant in the Channel.  His sugar-cured Huon ocean trout, caviar custard, potato wafers and ruby grapefruit salad was exquisite, with a glass or two of 2008 Holm Oak riesling.  Where from?  Rosevears, of course, at Rowella.

The first course was followed by Fiona Hoskin's chicken and sweet corn cigar with carrot sauce and splashes of parsley oil and capsicum coulis for colour.  Fiona is Fee of Launceston's internationally acclaimed former restaurant, Fee and Me.

Mr Wilkinson - Whatever happened to the pie and sauce?

Members laughing.

Mr FINCH - Third course was presented by Andre Kropp, the executive chef from the Henry Jones Art Hotel here in Hobart and featured donated olive oil poached Atlantic salmon, salad of cannellini beans and smoked ham hock with chorizo emulsion.  The dish was washed down with a beautiful 2008 Bark Mill Chardonnay.

Next was Matt Adams of Pierre's Brasserie Cafe with his nut-crumbed West Haven chevre, sherry reduction methods of vegetables served with a 2008 Cornwall Devil of a Red pinot noir.

The last savoury dish of the night was created by Terry Fidler of the Brisbane Street Bistro, Tasmanian beef cheeks - excellent; they were cooked for 20 hours - onion marmalade and creamed kenebecs served with a 2008 Rosevears Electorate Tamar Ridge Devil's Corner pinot noir.

The passion for pastry and dessert work was demonstrated by Paul Herbig of Tant Pour Tant who presented a mouth-watering dessert of farm mascapone mousse, Tamar Valley leatherwood honey, apple jelly and walnut glace, which was greeted with many sounds of oohing and aahing, and topped off with a Craigow dessert wine from 2008.

My co-host for the night was Ed Halmagyi from Better Homes and Gardens and he provided expertise on the gourmet food plus a lot of banter and frivolity.

Why was it a success?  Because it was community-based, it was organised with great flare by Fiona Hoskin and her team of Rosie Saville, Monica Wiggins, Karen Stallard, Kristen Finnigan and numerous others.  Adding to the professional Grand Chancellor staff were hospitality trainees from the Polytechnic college who gave their time and certainly took a lot of experience from it.

David Llewellyn, the minister, said, 'As I look around the room and see support for our largest surviving marsupial carnivore, you can't feel other than hope that we'll be successful in ensuring its ongoing survival in the wild.  I think all of us are grateful to all who have shown an interest in the Tasmanian devil, whether it be Save the Tasmanian Devil Program, the Devil Island Project or other efforts that are under way.  It is that desire to be involved and make a difference that will drive a successful outcome for the future of the Tasmanian devil.'

I know time does not permit me to salute Bruce Englefield, our Tasmanian of the Year, but we will in fact build the next three because let me tell you, ladies and gentlemen, with Jan Cameron's dollar-for-dollar donation, our total fundraising effort for the night was, and this will astound you and amaze you, $137 000.