Tags: forestry tasmania

A while ago I wrote a post on LP about SLAPP suits, the weapon of large corporations against ordinary people and non-government organisations who threaten their hegemony. Then, just after the long weekend, I had one of those “I heard the news today, oh boy” moments: Bob Brown had been SLAPPed down.

Score one for the woodchip industry, and against parliamentary democracy.

Sometimes I wonder why Bob Brown is the target of so much hate from Mr and Mrs Typical Australia, more so than other left-ish politicians. Has the steady drip of disinformation from the media and politicians, Labor and Liberal both, convinced so many “working families” that they’d be living the high life if only the logging companies could just remove the last vestiges of old-growth in South-Eastern Australia? It’s not just the environmental activism; the animus against Brown is so personal. He isn’t annoying, or trollish, in the way that other parliamentary “personalities” like Wilson Tuckey or Steve Fielding are trollish. He’s not from a rich or elite background. His NSW country drawl is real and unforced, and he looks as if he’s stepped out of a Russell Drysdale painting. Perhaps it’s because he’s a gay man in a homophobic culture that he incurs an extra dose of bile from the News commenters and talkback.

I was trudging through the rest of the week, filled with gloom, thinking that the Forces of Darkness had won again. Then, this.

Australian businessman Dick Smith has pledged to help Australian Greens leader Bob Brown pay a $240,000 legal bill which is threatening to force him into bankruptcy.
…Speaking from his helicopter over Lake Eyre today, Mr Smith said it was inappropriate for the industry to threaten someone’s political future.
“I’m very disturbed when I understand the legal letter which came in to Bob Brown threatened to make him a bankrupt, and of course, Forestry Tasmania would know that means he’d have to vacate his seat from Federal Parliament,” Mr Smith said.
“And I don’t really like that at all. I think that type of threat is quite uncalled for in Australia.”

…”I believe it’s just not acceptable and Forestry Tasmania will do themselves great damage if they think they can remove Bob Brown from Parliament because he doesn’t have much money,” he said.
“I know if need be, I’ll come in with some money and I’m sure others will too.”

Before the anti-Brown forces could work up a full head of steam about how terrible it was that Brown would take money from a businessman and how morally bankrupt that made him – never mind the steady stream of corporate money to the Liberal and Labor parties, not all of it above board – the story took another twist: Brown wouldn’t need Dick Smith’s offer after all, because the public had donated the money. All of it.

It was really wonderful to see the level of support for Brown, even in unlikely places and the condemnation of such antidemocratic SLAPP litigation tactics. Flicking around a few comment forums, I noticed many comments from people who said they disagreed with Brown and would never vote for him, but would still donate because Forestry Tasmania’s action was simply wrong. The animus against BB had abated somewhat (although I’m sure it’ll be back.) I think that middle Australia had been shocked out of its complacency, and Dick Smith had reminded them what human decency could do.

Score one for Bob Brown, and none for “Gunns, Forestry Tasmania and the [Forestry wing of the] CFMEU, which, at this stage of the game, are basically different arms of the same misshapen beast“.

3 Jan 2008, Comments Off on Image for 2007: Activist Angels

Image for 2007: Activist Angels

Author: Helen

Here is the image from 2007 that I will keep with me.

Image from http://matthewnewton.com.au/
Image by Matthew Newton

Isn’t she beautiful? This is Alannah Beltran, the Weld Angel, who did a tripod sit at the entrance to a tourist attraction in the Weld in Tasmania – an area being logged by Forestry Tasmania. She was sued by the police for the trouble and expense of bringing her down, and since she escaped the $5,000 dollar fine and received a good behaviour bond, Forestry Tasmania is suing her now.

Earlier this year, SO and I spent a long weekend in the Huon region of tasmania. We stayed in an eco-lodge run by a couple of wonderful men who have bought up a whole mountain to keep in perpetuity as cool temperate rainforest. Travelling west to do some kayaking, we passed the turnoff to the Tahune airwalk and debated going there, then decided we hadn’t enough time to do it all. We just missed seeing the Weld Angel on her lofty tripod.

I know there are many activists working in many places in the world, and I don’t intend to take anything away from them. I single out the people protecting Australia’s old growth forests because they are so frequently and so thoroughly reviled. They are constantly accused of “emotional” wrongheadedness by people who use logging trucks to blockade Houses of Parliament. They are abused, sworn at and sometimes physically attacked on the ground. At times, their lives are on the line; their livelihoods certainly are. Their personal hygiene, appearance and values are distorted out of shape and mocked by ignorant commenters in the media. People find it acceptable to make obscene jokes or bumper stickers about killing them. They’re now at the risk of SLAPP suits – lawsuits initiated by rich and powerful corporations to shut activists up.

Because they do this, we and our children and grandchildren may still be able to see the cool temperate rainforests in the years to come.

I’d like to see them take a bow. I would like to give them a pat on the back and say “thank you” for spending weeks, months, years in cold, wet and windy conditions (and, in summer, living under the threat of fire.) Alannah Beltran, Holly Creenaune, Jill Redwood and all the forest activists whose names I don’t know: Thank you.

Donations here or here wouldn’t go astray either.