Retiring EPA Director Warren Jones has been dubbed a State Treasure and has achieved legendary status in his final week at the office.
Catching his colleagues on the hop with his momentous decision to permanently "leave the building" after 30 years’ service sparked cries of astonishment, disbelief and denial.
Among the bewildered throng was Environment Minister David O’Byrne who revealed an 11th hour legislative plot to halt Warren’s departure: the Warren Jones Never to Retire Bill.
The Minister related details of the hastily-concocted bid at Warren’s retirement function last night.
"Unfortunately the move came too late," he quipped "and Warren, who is indeed a State Treasure, is leaving us."
DPIPWE Secretary Kim Evans also paid tribute to Warren and thanked him not only for his long service to the State but for his energy, integrity and huge contribution to improving the Tasmanian environment.
The accolades flowed thick and fast as Warren’s last days approached and the man who everyone describes as modest was obliged to take centrestage.
Warren joked that among his greatest achievements was his ability to retain the same phone from his early days as an investigations officer right through to EPA Director. He reckons it must surely be a record.
And he congratulated himself on the selection of his excellent EPA Division branch managers and staff. "I will take a bow for that," he said. "A lot of people have cycled through the Division over 30 years and almost everyone without exception has been brilliant to work with. The people in this Division are hardworking, smart, ethical and dedicated and I thank everyone for helping me to have had such a satisfying career."
He also thanked his colleagues across the Agency and throughout government for contributing to a readily accessible "brains trust". He referred to his network of contacts as an incredibly important tool in his work.
Warren noted that he had witnessed many positive changes over the years, not only in technology and issues but in business culture and procedures.
"There was a time when some [clients] were very dismissive of the environmental regulator," he said. "Sometimes we were not permitted on site. I am glad to say that attitude has improved."
Warren also reflected on the steep learning curve he and Division staff encountered with the various Tasmanian pulp mill proposals and the "many happy hours" spent on the phone to callers complaining about a variety of environmental issues.
"I have been very lucky to have ended up in a job that is so worthwhile doing and has allowed me to make a contribution," he said.
Warren made special mention of his wife, Sue, and his faithful gatekeeper, Barbara McLeod , who he said had been "truly marvellous and a really important part of Team Jones".
Warren says he has not plotted his life map but intends to spend less time at the keyboard and more time outside.
"I won’t watch cricket or go fishing all day, every day," he said. "It will be fun and exciting for me to work out the right balance."
Warren’s retirement brought out a very creative side among EPA Division staff. Tributes included a magnificent bound book entitled "This Wazza Your Life", a Regulation Rap featuring the best of ACDC by Phil Roberts and Damien Blackwell's funky video clip extolling Warren’s virtues: