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Byron Shire
July 6, 2022

A woman on fire with nothing to lose

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There is something magical about a country hall. These small wooden buildings dot the landscape. They have a frugal modesty and an old fashioned generosity. If they had names they’d be called Thelma or Rose or Alan. They’re a pungent olfactory mix of last week’s wedding enmeshed with yesterday’s committee meeting. Curry and Jatz, tea and beer, tears and laughter.

Flood-prone land in Murwillumbah swapped for flood-free land 

It has been five years in the making but the innovative land swap of flood-prone land for flood-free land in Murwillumbah is underway with a second round of ‘expressions of interest’ about to open. 

Trees Not Bombs gone but not forgotten

On Friday evening the space that was home for the Trees Not Bombs recovery café stood empty of its tent, pots and pans, makeshift kitchen sink and cups of tea and cake, but the most noticeable absence was the smiles and support of the volunteers.

Sue Higginson MLC was sworn in, made her First Speech in the NSW Parliament, voted on the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill and supported other Greens candidates through the election process – and that was just her first week. Photo Tree Faerie.

As a brand new MLC, Sue Higginson’s first week in the NSW Upper House has been huge but she says it’s a taste of things to come.

Higginson was sworn in on May 12 and made her First Speech on Tuesday last week. Two days later, she voted after the Upper House spent 10 hours debating amendments to the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill, before a final vote of support 23 to 15. ‘I came in at the very end, basically, but my vote helped and supported and counted for voluntary assisted dying becoming law in New South Wales.’

Always supportive of other Greens candidates, Higginson spent Saturday going to the booths and supporting Greens volunteers and Page candidate Kashmir Miller. ‘It’s been a fantastic display. The Greens have had a very strong presence. We have been in the northern part of the electorate. I started in Goonellabah, We went over to Nimbin stopping along the way, came back via Goolmangar, we did Lismore, Lismore Heights, and Lismore High. We’ve been having really good, engaged conversations.

Heads are nodding

Kashmir Miller and Sue Higginson MLC. Photo Tree Faerie.

‘I think it is fair to say that this is the first election where I have campaigned loudly about climate change. And I think that experience is very real. We know that more and more people here know exactly what we mean when we’re talking about climate change. I feel that strongly.’

Higginson says Kashmir Miller has been outstanding. ‘She has been such an incredible force of political nature. She is strong, she’s smart, she’s got a really clear vision, about the fact that she will be a member of parliament one day, wherever that is. She’s got a vision, she’s got the intellect, and she’s got the staying power. She’s also got the strategic vision.

‘Today I see her winning hearts and minds. As soon as you talk to Kashmir and you meet her, and you hear her, people are really convinced that she could do the job, should do the job.

‘She’s a brilliant advocate for our region. She’s a brilliant advocate for young people, something we don’t have in the parliament, and she’s very politically astute. She’s been engaged in local politics, and fully engaged at frontlines since she was a really young person. So she’s got a massive presence and I would say she’s more qualified than other people in the race right now.

‘She has absolutely blown my socks off and absolutely instilled in me serious hope for where we’re going to be in the future of politics.’

A precious tree faerie. Photo Tree Faerie.

Our endangered furry buddy

Higginson believes that the recent classification of the status of koalas to endangered will add leverage in the fight to save forests. ‘It has to. Having our national icon listed as endangered – only a step away from extinction – the science is on the table and the evidence is there. There is the legal acknowledgement that we are at the end of the road for koalas.

‘If we don’t pull out all the stops and do everything we can, we know what that means. We have to protect koalas where they live and their habitat right now. Part of that is our public native forests. And we’re still logging the crap out of them. We’ve got to stop.’

The first vote

Higginson says she could not be happier in terms of the way she came into the parliament voting on the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill. ‘It was my first vote. Labor, the Liberals and Nationals allowed the conscience vote, anyone could vote, however, they chose. There was a diversity of views. There were strong proponents against the new laws and there were strong advocates. So it was a very interesting dynamic. We saw how, when an issue that is so significant, like this, and members of parliament are able to vote with their conscience and their heart, we actually could get an outcome. And that’s what happened.’

Higginson said it was particularly meaningful that her first vote was an issue like this. ‘It’s been part of our Greens platform and our policy for a long time. Personally, it’s absolutely something that is important to me. Again, you only have to look at the cases of the people who have died waiting, and to have heard their stories and to have watched their suffering, to be able to know now that we have got compassionate laws. For me, that is part of the biggest and broadest narrative of why I’m in politics, and that is the politics of love and hope, justice and compassion.’

The five year plan

Sue Higginson MLC at Lismore’s Trees Not Bombs Community Recovery Café. ‘I’ve got five years. I’m a mature woman – I’m a mature woman on fire and I’ve got nothing to lose. I’ve got a five year plan.’ Photo Tree Faerie.

Now that she has taken her seat in the New South Wales Upper House she will be there for five years and Higginson is on a mission. ‘I’ve got five years. I’m a mature woman – I’m a mature woman on fire and I’ve got nothing to lose. I’ve got a five year plan and that plan is about improving action on climate and it is to protect our native forests once and for all. It’s to try to stop the absurdity of the extinction crisis and to level up the playing field in this inequality crisis that we experience, and all the things that that means.

‘And of course, fundamentally, it’s New South Wales’ turn to start working on First Nations justice properly,’ she said.

‘Seriously – truth, treaty and voice – we need to do that at the New South Wales level, and we need to do that at the Commonwealth level. That’s massive for me.’ 

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  1. A bit of a shame with all this backslapping when people, unfortunately, increased their vote for the climate denying tories in this electorate.
    As far as the Uluṟu statement the greens are trying to change order put out in that statement. Look to the federal government who are going to deliver on this, not trying to make it a divisive issue, but working with First Nations people.

  2. The local government area is a more logical place than the federal government for improving the lives of Aboriginal people. The local history of interaction is better known and the Aboriginal people that are affected by local government are more likely to be known.


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