Home' Nova National : NOVA JULY 12 Contents a convict, selectively logging for masts for
the British Navy. It could be tens of
thousands of years ago, with the quiet
Tasmanian tiger padding across the moss.
And then there is the thunder sound of
the HEC helicopters, and the drama of
the barges with bulldozers. Protestors
witnessed a huon pine being chain sawed
down in front of them, just to provoke.
But the protestors were committed to
nonviolence, including not making the
people wrong -- just their ill considered
actions. But as the police and the chain
saws and the bulldozers came, and the
politicians fudged their promises, there
seemed no hope.
We defied the systemic foolishness
anyway. More than 1200 people ended up
getting arrested, tossed into the back of
paddy wagons, and driven up the nauseous
curved road back to Queenstown before
being sent, in many cases, to Risdon Gaol.
But the day Bob Brown walked out of his
cell, he was elected into the Tasmanian
Parliament, as a replacement for Norm
Sanders, from the Australian Democrats,
who had just been elected to the Federal
That election was my introduction
into the hard yards of campaigning for an
issue, not a party. I joined many knocking
on doors in nearby marginal electorates,
having to explain that the "No Dams"
sticker applied to a state, Tasmania, that
rarely experienced drought, and had
(and would have for many years) excess
I met Bob Brown again outside the
High Court later in 1983, while it was
hearing the appeal that became the
Franklin Dam Case. Brown was deter-
mined, as ever -- when was he not? -- and
his mind was clicking over all the
possibilities. When at last the High Court
approved the actions of the Federal
Government to make the South West a
UNESCO World Heritage Area and protect
© NOVA JULY 2012
'When there is no hope, Brown
has given me, and many
its values, including stopping the dam,
I went to see him speak in someone's
house. Thirty of us huddled together in
a small lounge room as he announced
that now the Franklin campaign was
over, a protest against native trees being
woodchipped would be his priority.
And so it was. After leaving the
Tasmanian Parliament, Brown would
come up to the Australian Parliament,
drink a milkshake at Aussie's deli for
parliamentary staff, and then go off to
lobby backbenchers. Members of all
persuasions who would see him go by
would leave their desks and call him
into their offices. They liked him: they
liked him a lot. Brown's simplicity, and
good humoured willingness to listen and
share, meant in turn they also listened
with interest, for their own party's role
in widespread foolishness, to how we
could lose money selling our native
forests to Japan so they could be turned
into disposable chopsticks. He changed
And then he was a Senator himself.
And now he is not. Bob Brown, once a
doctor, then an activist, then a parlia-
mentarian, is now retired with his partner
Paul. When he came through Broome
last month, Brown's message to the 450
strong meeting was this -- the desecration
of land at James Price Point, to construct
a gas hub over dinosaur footprints and
Aboriginal songlines, must not go ahead.
He is back campaigning.
I've met Bob Brown a dozen times
or so, and seen him speak and win over
audiences of all kinds. I've also seen
some people dig their heels in, and grow
angry and frustrated that he should be so
successful at promoting the environment,
and a clean, green vision for the future,
but I've seen them change too. But what
has impressed me about Bob Brown has
not been his call for hope, though he
makes that call many times. He knows
there are times when there is no hope,
but he won't let it rest there. When there
is no hope, Brown has given me, and
many others, courage. That vision for
the future: hope, and courage where
there appears to be no hope, will live
on, long after Bob Brown is a distant
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