Photo and story Luis Feliu
Former Greens leader Bob Brown came to Bangalow last night to talk to the faithful about life after the Senate, enthralling a packed hall of over 400 people with his quietly-spoken but inspiring words.
The environmental hero/statesman had the audience at the Byron Greens function at Bangalow’s historic A&I Hall spellbound with his anecdotes on a diverse range of topics, from the threat to a humpback whale nursery off the Kimberley coast by a plan for ‘the world’s biggest gas factory’, to the historic first encounter between white Europeans and Tasmanian Aborigines at Recherche Bay.
But it was two other fellow eco-warriors he singled out for special praise, personally calling one of them on a mobile phone to chat and for the audience to hear her talk.
Anti-logging activist Miranda Gibson, who has been living atop a huge gum tree in the iconic Styx Valley of Tasmania for over seven months in an amazing and gutsy action to protect the old-growth forest there, obviously appreciated the call and hearty applause.
Dr Brown said he recently visited the ‘brilliant and courageous’ Miranda in the forest canopy and shared tea and cake with her in her tree platform.
He said she has been enduring freezing temperatures, cold wind and snow in her intrepid campaign, as well as some dumb media questions about her ordeal. Even pro-logging protesters against her protest only lasted several days in the forest.
Paul Watson, founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, is another activist putting his life on the line for his beliefs.
On the run
Watson is currently on the run after fleeing Germany late last month where he had been held for several months, at the bequest of the Japanese government, pending extradition to Costa Rica on trumped-up charges from his actions against whaling ships.
Dr Brown said this week he urged the federal attorney-general to offer Watson political asylum, which he quipped would boost the Labor government’s popularity.
The former senator said both Miranda’s actions and Watson’s hounding by the Japanese whaling authorities go unnoticed and hardly reported by mainstream media.
In Watson’s absence, Dr Brown will this week join the Sea Shepherd campaign against the massive gas-hub project near Broome in Western Australia to draw attention to the plight of the whales there.
It’s the first Australian mainland campaign by the Sea Shepherd, which normally campaigns against Japanese whaling in the Antarctic.
Dr Brown said the mining giant Woodside would decided whether to go ahead with the project next year and he urged Byron locals to lobby their MPs against it.
He said he has written to every MP inviting them to the Broome area to watch the whales and inspect the site for themselves, and urged locals to ask their MPs if they would take up the invitation.
The project includes the dredging of a 20-kilometre channel and the building of a two-kilometre jetty to access the gas from an onshore plant, which Dr Brown said would do massive damage to the sea bed and marine life.
Dr Brown, a raconteur of reality, also took aim at the disgraced Murdoch press and mainstream populist media and how they try to shape and influence politics, especially with their anti-environment stance.
It was Dr Brown at his best: inspiring, enlightening, and often humorous reminiscing including his attempts to conserve energy in parliament house over the years by turning off the lights, to lobbying for dual-flush toilets for the pollies. (He was however, puzzled as to why only the PM’s suite had one fitted).
Dr Brown will be in conversation with ABC presenter Kerry O’Brien in a session entitled ‘Bashed, sued, celebrated, revered’, at the SCU Marquee, tomorrow, Friday, August 3, 10.15am-11.15am.