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The Council’s Torpedo

Originally published in full in Tasmanian Times on 27 April 2013

The Legislative Council has fired a torpedo into the Tasmanian Forest Agreement.

After the Agreement was struck last year the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, made it clear that she expected it to be implemented without alteration. In perhaps the biggest downpayment in Tasmanian history, the Commonwealth gave $120 million to the collapsed logging industry to make good the Agreement.  It promised over $100 million more for regional development on condition that the Agreement was fully implemented, including its promised forest reserves.

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Voting for the Environment

19 Jan 2013

Last week I sat with 50 other campaigners for Tasmania’s forests, beside the deep, cool waters of the wild Picton River, and reminisced about the violent attacks on peaceful protesters in those same forests two decades ago.

At nearby Farmhouse Creek in 1987, and at the bridge (where we now sat listening to the bird calls) in 1993, pro-logging vigilantes fired shots, blew up cars with gelignite and, when two girls hugged a flowering rainforest tree, chainsawed through the tree between the screaming girls’ shins while 40 police, with arms folded, stood aside. I will never forget that scene.

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Swift parrot

Swift parrots at home

Tangled up in green

Originally published in Australian Birdlife in Nov 2012

BOB BROWN meditates on how moves to cut ‘green tape’ will impact on the future of Australian birds.

As I write this, the Swift Parrots have just arrived back on Tasmania’s coastlines to breed for the summer (and to create a turbo-charged racket in the Blue Gum blossoms around my house). There are barely a thousand pairs of these stunning little birds left but if you believe the pro-development lobby, it is not the Swift Parrots, but those with billions of dollars of foreign capital ready to pump into so-called developments that we should feel sorry for. For apparently ‘green tape’ is holding up gas factories, open-cut coalmines, mega ports and a bevy of developers’ dreams right across Australia.

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Why I am a Green

Originally published in Resurgence magazine

I studied medicine at Sydney University and practised for 12 years after graduating in 1968, but I have always been an activist at heart. During my tenure at the Royal Canberra Hospital, I joined other doctors to certify young men who did not wish to fight in the Vietnam War as unfit to be conscripted. I moved to Tasmania in 1972 to take up a post as a GP and in the years after became active in the state’s environmental movement and joined the newly formed United Tasmania Group (the world’s first-ever Green Party). In 1976 I campaigned to overturn the law that made homosexuality a crime in Tasmania, and I spent a week fasting on top of Mount Wellington in protest against the arrival at Hobart of the nuclear-powered warship USS Enterprise.

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