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June 20, 2024

Bob Brown – an inspirational activist and leader

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Paul Thomas, Jan Barham, Tamara Smith and Bob Brown during Tamara’s 2015 election campaign. Photo supplied

Bob Brown is a legend, an inspirational activist who has devoted his life to protecting and preserving our precious environment and defending human rights. He will be in our region soon and I encourage residents to have that rare experience of being in the presence of someone who has proven the difference one person can make by being brave and committed.

Local activists formed the Nightcap Action Group (NAG) and were committed to direct nonviolent action to protect north coast forests. We decided to travel to Tasmania to join the campaign to stop the damming of the Franklin River. We ended up maintaining a camp in the upriver wilderness for many months.

This is when I first met Bob Brown; a young doctor who was leading the campaign. My commitment to a life of activism was encouraged by his support of the radical activist movement that embodied song, theatre and art. His example of grace and calmness in situations of intense violence such as Farmhouse Creek set the culture for nonviolent resistance.

In 1978 Bob Brown was appointed director of the Tasmanian Wilderness Society and led the campaign to prevent the construction of the Franklin Dam. He spent 19 days in prison and on the day of his release in 1983, he became a member of Tasmania’s parliament.

In 1990 he was the founder of the Australian Bush Heritage Fund, now Bush Heritage Australia which has protected hundreds of thousands of hectares of significant environment.

Bob led the Australian Greens from its foundation in 1992 until April 2012 when he resigned as leader and then from the Australian Senate in June.

He had been elected to the Australian Senate in 1996. In his inaugural speech he warned of the dangers of climate change and was ridiculed for being alarmist. From 2002 to 2004, when minor parties held the balance of power in the Senate, he became a well-recognised and respected politician. He was re-elected in 2001 and 2007. Bob Brown was also the first openly gay member of the Parliament of Australia and the first openly gay leader of an Australian political party.

Bob lives with his partner Paul Thomas in Tasmania and travels widely, supporting campaigns.

He has published a number of books including a memoir as well as photography and poetry. He has also won many awards, including recognition from the United Nations.

Criminal protest

Bob and Paul established the Bob Brown Foundation to promote environmental awareness, and these days continue the campaign to preserve Tasmania’s forest despite the laws that criminalise protest. The current focus of governments across the country is to deter people who are willing to take a stand and risk imprisonment. Bob is taking governments to court to protect our constitutional right to protest. The legal actions are made possible by the support of community donations to the Bob Brown Foundation. The legal wins clarify that it’s unconstitutional to disallow peaceful protest.

Bob has made many visits to the north coast. He was first here for a Greens gathering 30 years ago, just after we formed our local group in 1993, the Tweed Byron Greens. He travelled around NSW supporting the 1995 election that resulted in my being elected as the first Greens MP in the NSW Parliament. He has always delighted in our area’s successes, including the election of Australia’s first popularly elected Greens mMayor, Jan Barham in 2004. In 2015, another first, Tamara Smith decisively took the long-held National Party seat of Ballina, on the back of the successful Bentley campaign. She became Australia’s first Green regional local MP.

Now Bob is back to share his stories of the ongoing campaigns; the potential destruction of the Tarkine forests, the dangers to the marine environment from commercial fish production and the risks posed to Antarctica by tourism and the proposed airport.

He has many tales of the value of activism and the success of people showing up to defend what our governments are willing to destroy.

Bob’s here to support our local member, Tamara Smith, in the lead-up to the NSW state election in March for her third defence of our local electorate.

He is speaking at a fundraiser in Lennox Head on Saturday 28 January before he heads off on another campaign.

If you have never had the opportunity to hear Bob speak and be inspired, then don’t miss the event. If you’ve previously been uplifted by Bob, there’s always the joy of being reinvigorated by a legend who invites us all to join him in defending our precious environments.

Bob Brown event – Saturday 28 January 6.30pm, Lennox Cultural Centre. Book at: www.greensforballina.com/bob-brown-event.

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  1. A great life but he has done his best to keep the Tories in power with his purity in policy. Now the greens on the same mission with the voice.

  2. Saint Bob, yes a great environmentalist, hopeless politician, Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison and the Fossil fuel industry owe him so much for giving them a decade more than they deserved and expected to pump out their polluting CO2 emissions unabated; best thing Saint Bob did for Australia was along with Saint Christine to retire from politics and let the real politicians fix up the mess.

    • Pretty spot on there, Keith. And his March to Queensland in 2019 must have made all those on board feel good and noble but gave us Scott Morrison for three years!

      • Here it goes again, blame everyone else except Labor for losing 2019 Fed Election.
        Lizardbreath, here’s a newsflash, it was the voters that gave us Scott Morrison for three years.

        One of the greatest election own goals of all time, Labor’s complete capitulation over the Adani Carmichael Coalmine that ruined any climate credentials that Labor claimed to have.
        But we get it, ‘it all The Bob Brown Foundation led anti-Adani protest fault’.

        No matter how hard the wannabe history re-writers try, it doesn’t change facts.

      • Mr Lizardbreath, judging by the reply from our resident Greenspin expert, it looks like you really scratched that Green nerve once again. When Bob (a living legend) and his faithful band of followers arrived in Clermont, on the eve of the 2019 election, Matt Canavan and his coal fired Qld. LNP, who were looking at loosing seats in Qld, could not believe their good luck, it was like a gift from the Gods. The voters certainly did give Morrison another three years because entire communities were totally pissed off with the Greens and were afraid of loosing their livelihoods. The whole farcical adventure was so successful for the LNP at the election Matt Canavan begged Bob (a National hero) to return for the upcoming Qld election; thank God Bob (a living legend and National hero) must have finally swallowed some reality pills and came to his senses. The farcical adventure also forced the hand of the Qld Premier, who was also up for a difficult re-election, to give Adani final approval. History is only judged by results and facts on the ground not farcical Greenspin and wannabe history re-writers.

        • Here it is again, this farcical amnesia over Labor’s loss of 2019 Fed Election, best to trot out that tried and trusted ALPspin defender line of it was Bob Brown or it was Greens, that dunnit.
          In the leadup to 2019 Fed Election, Shorten ALP tried to make out that they were our climate champion and that ALP was fair dinkum about taking strong action on climate.
          But the actions of ALP over Adani blew up any climate credibility that the ALP thought that they might have had and with it went the 2019 Election.
          Climate change action, renewable energy , ending fossil fuel burning, all wonderful headline stuff from the Shorten led ALP at the time. Yay, ALP for climate action…oh wait.
          The question of Adani Carmichael Coalmine was the rubber hitting the road for ALP on climate.
          Q. How can opening up new coalmine sit with taking strong action on climate ?
          A. Cue the ALP’s vacating the field.
          The ALP could never bring itself to publicly oppose the Adani Carmichael Coalmine, the ALP left that to others, hoping to reap an electoral reward on the issue. ALP weak as urine!
          The only thing that the ALP publicly opposed on Adani, was a proposal using NAIF funding to build a rail line form pit to port. We got the on high rotation Shorten ALP lines of , the business case needed to stack up and environmental approvals had to be given – this was Shorten ALP weasel words. On climate alone how can a new coal mine possibly be supported and approved? The public saw through it all real quick and ALP climate credibility began to crumble real quick.
          And to reinforce the disingenuosness of ALP over Adani was the ALP in 2017 in the Senate voting with the Coalition to amend Native Title Law Rights that dismissed under Federal law, all objections to Adani Carmichael Coalmine. ALP shooting own goals, credibility shot to pieces, all of their own making.
          Things got so ludicrous with the ALP and their continual refusal to publicly oppose Adani that in the closing weeks going up to 2019 election day, Chris Bowen said that if Adani was approved that an ALP Government wouldn’t cancel Adani citing “sovereign risk” – pulling a last desperate ALP defence over the ALP’s debacle handling of Adani issue. Way to go ALP, Vote 1 ALP, The Climate Champions 2019 Election, yeah.
          But this is what you end up with from a political party that is bought by $’s fossil fuel industry.

          The climate protestors against Adani Carmichael Coalmine, 100% correct action, and we all know it.
          Don’t blame Bob Brown, Greens, Environment Groups for the the ALP’s shameful going MIA.
          That the ALP couldn’t articulate the case against Adani is on them and their failure to have a policy that addressed ‘just transition’ for coal communities makes it all the more dire.
          Newsflash for all the anti-Green blowhards, the only political party that had a comprehensive climate and energy that included ‘just transition’ at the 2019 Election was the Greens – ‘Renew Australia 2030’, it was based on the climate science. But yeah, we know it, it is all the Greens fault that the ALP didn’t do the policy work.

          Poor Premier Annastacia, another one trapped over Adani.
          This virus of ALP impotence over Adani spread out to Annastacia QLD ALP.
          The approval farce, on environmental grounds again. As if climate / new coal wasn’t THE issue enough we had WATER in the mix, namely the source of that outback oasis, The Doongmabulla Springs and the impact of Adani on the Springs.
          The proving of the source of the Doongmabulla Springs is an environmental condition of approval of Adani Carmichael Coalmine…..calling Adani, Annastacia, Ken and all the ALP booster fans, how’s that source of the Springs going? We still waiting but don’t concern yourselves too much, we’ve got all this lovely coal being dug up, existential threat and all
          Keep on digging, every last black. Its only the likes of Bob Brown etc that are worried about climate and environment.

          Climate Science, in part tells us ‘NO NEW Fossil Fuel Adventures.
          If only the ALP had fully backed climate science in 2019.
          Climate Science, the ALP still in hiding, its what happens when political party is bought by $’s fossil fuel industry.
          Best just keep on blaming everyone else and to the better keep sticking it to the Bob Brown or Greens, its all their fault.

          • My God is the Greenspindoctor into writing fictional novels now? you must realize that the more you write does not necessarily make it rite; the Greens seem to keep forgetting that the Labor Party is in Majority Govt and does have a clear mandate to implement it’s policies free of interference.

          • Keith, fictional novels eh. Is that the best you can come up with?
            You didn’t bother to write a word of where I was wrong in what I outlined further above about the ALP and the Adani issue.
            So we’ll take it as your confirmation of my writing.

  3. Look you might have a point there Joachim with your conclusion about “Labor’s complete capitulation over the Adani Carmichael Coalmine that ruined any climate credentials that Labor claimed to have.” Except for one small thing – as you note, they voted for coal wielding ScoMo and the LNP, despite their worse climate credentials and the unelectable rabble they had become.

    Just a coincidence that the rout took place in Queensland where mining communities did not take to being pontificated to by publicity seeking pollies who appeared little concerned with plans for replacing their livelihoods? The Greens didn’t fare that well out of it.

    The explanation for the 2019 election result is likely multi faceted but complexity and nuance aren’t your strong points.

  4. Lizardbreath for once we are 100% agreement – the blame is 100% upon the enablers, the general voting public.
    On QLD and coal communities – that the ALP didn’t embrace the climate science and have a comprehensive climate and energy policy that incorporated ‘just transition’ for coal communities is on the ALP. The Adani issue and ALP’s actions, was a python of ALP’s own making.

      • He can’t explain, just like he can’t explain how Greens MP’s end up in the lower houses of parliaments- where, unlike the Senate you do need to get 50+% of the vote- without LABOR preferences, or like in the last Victorian State election the Liberals actually preferenced them ahead of Labor; I suppose we’re now going to see the Greens voting with the Liberals.

        • Keith, great to hear from you again.
          What, you also didn’t read what I wrote. Have another look.
          We still waiting on those numbers of ALP seats won with Greens preferences. How is this going?

          This thing about voting with the Liberals, funny how you overlook ALP past votings with the Liberals…like on Adani, like in a Fed ICAC, like with Banking Royal Commission.
          The Greens didn’t vote for Adani.
          The Greens had been crying out for years and years for a Fed ICAC and Banking Royal Commission but your ALP was having none of it and voted with the Liberals to keep the block on them. In the end the ALP caved in on ICAC and Banking Royal Commission. I’m surprised you even have the nerve to bring up ‘voting with the Liberals’ given your ALP’s outstanding record if voting with Liberals.

          But we get it, it has to always be the Greens wot dunnit even when the record shows the urine weak ALP did it by themselves.

          • It’s quite easy to say SOME ALP members of the house of Reps have been elected with Green preferences like Justine Elliott in Richmond, it’s also easy to say ALL Greens Lower House members have been elected with ALP preferences prior to what recently happened in Victoria, the Greenspin is still not working, nor will it.

          • Keith, it as like pulling teeth, but you finally did land it, in you answering the original question of how your majority ALP government getting there – “SOME ALP members of the house of Reps have been elected with Greens preferences…”.
            I feeling your pain, “its all the Greens fault” that Greens preferences – Ouch – getting some ALP members elected.
            Congratulation to you Keith, to the ALP majority government and to the Greens preferences that made it happen.

  5. Bob Brown has my respect.. the best the
    Greens have rolled out ..unlike the current
    Leader “absolute” enept fool..along with the
    Vile senator Thorpe .. on the subject of leaders
    What about Mr Victoria sitting in the emirates
    Box at the Australian Open enjoying all the
    Hospitality of a company who is owned
    By someone in Dubai .. how are the LGBTQ
    Communities received in Dubai .. punishable
    By death if caught Mr Andrews.. yet roll back a few months when a CEO of a football Club Mr Andrew
    Thorburn who publicly had not denounced the LGBTQ Communities at all , however the church
    He was chairman of showed love towards the
    LGBTQ Communities.. but were not supportive
    Of same sex marriage.. Mr Andrews response
    How could Mr Thorburn remain as CEO of the
    Football Club when his church dos not support
    Same sex marriage.. the rest is history Mr Thorburn
    Resigned the same day he started.. Yet Andrews
    Is happy to sit in the emirates box .”.nothing to see here ” .. world record “Hypocrite” as i have always
    Suggested..” if it were not for double standards The left would have no standards at all” .. imagine if this
    Were Morrison Echo anything to add ?

      • Well keith it was hardly a contest was it ?
        Better the devil you know .. !! Andrews
        Is highly intelligent, cunning and knows
        The spin game especially in front of
        Pesky journalists who present Andrew’s
        With facts however the master of defection
        Spins them off course.. Game over !!
        Having said that Keith not a good look
        Or decision to sit in the emirates box
        As expressed above was it keith ?

      • And whilst on the subject of noses in the Trough Keith ..was at the tennis for the Last week including the finals.. could not help
        Your leader the Prime Minister injoying
        The festivities at the Australian Open
        In plum seats of course ..great to see our
        Prime Minister at the Tennis supporting
        a wonderful event .. Small issue Keith
        3 nights Albo? ..know the opposition
        Was present for one night guess he had
        Priorities to attend to .. Maybe the Prime
        Should have spent more time in Alice Springs
        Keith ?

        • I seriously doubt Albo has finished with the Alice Springs problem, nit-picking about being at the tennis is petty indeed, shows just how much the opposition is struggling to be an opposition, is dog-shit Dutton still on 19%.

    • Barrow, you’ve missed the point entirely of Andrew Thorburn with his church and football club troubles.
      Irrespective of his personal view, he was going to ( but not now ) represent two organisations with opposite views on an important issue.
      It was a case of conflict of interest, pure and simply, that anyone would easily spot and it really surprising that someone like Andrew Thorburn couldn’t see that, Perhaps a pointer to him not seeing things too clearly was his demise as CEO of NAB.

      • Oh i see what you mean now Joachim Bravo 👏 … so Dan Andrews should resign effective
        Immediately ? How could Mr Andrews have
        Opposite views on the same very important
        Issue .. one regarding Mr Thorburn
        and two acceptance of sitting in the emirates
        Box of whom it’s owners have an appalling
        Views and opinions on the LGBTQ Communities.. yes i have missed the point
        Entirely “Not “

        • Barrow, Dan STILL the Man has to answer for himself as to his seating arrangements at sports – has he been quizzed on his Tennis seating?

          • Yes Sir Lord Dan has attempted to addressed
            Majority concerns regarding his world
            Record double standards/ hypocrisy..
            Apparently whats good for Sir Dan
            Is not good for others…!! Master of Spin
            & Deflection just brushed of as though
            Nothing to see here.. !! That’s why he is the
            Top seed ..

  6. Keith the opposition are not in government !!
    Need for the reminder but it’s all about
    Labor now .. and no it’s not petty keith !!
    If Morrison & wife were present three consecutive
    Nights at the tennis you my friend and your
    Party would have gone into meltdown..!!
    and dont get me started regarding how
    Ms Court was not asked to attend because
    Of her democratic Freedom of speech views
    Regarding same Sex marriage etc .. you know
    Of whom i speak of Keith those who lecture
    and preach tolerance , love , respect one’s
    Views .. Ms courts Church feeds more homeless
    And needy in one day than the Australian Open tennis dos in one year .. F- ing hypocrites..
    Sorry for veering of course Keith.. became
    Somewhat passionate when i accidentally
    Came accross a Senior Australian Open
    Official.. !!

    • All of Australia is very aware that the opposition is no longer in Govt, they kicked them out big time, and NSW is poised to do the same in March.

    • My specs are fine. That sentence communicates the obvious – that we got the Morrison govt because people voted for them. It also suggest that you didn’t like the way the electorate voted.

      It does not explain the apparent contradiction in your claim that we got the Morrison govt because of Labor’s lack of environmental credentials. Why, if this is the motivation, would anyone vote for someone who brought a lump of coal to parliament? Would you elect Greens en masse?

    • The biggest gripe/scandal you can raise about the new government is that Albo went to the tennis for 3 days? The AO is an event of international significance that occurs one a year. Not weekly like ScoMo’s sharkies. January is also a bit of a political downtime.

      Remember the aged care minister who had such urgent business at the cricket that he couldn’t attend an enquiry on his portfolio area?

      Contrary to you opinion, I thought Albo looked VERY pretty at the tennis 🎾 🎾

  7. Joachim, as usual reality is not your strong point and Greenspin is, you are still in complete denial that ALL of those Greens lower House members are there because of ALP preferences, time to swallow that misdirected Green pride and fess up, the whole world already knows, it’s COMMON KNOWLEDGE.

  8. All of Australia is very aware that the opposition is no longer in Govt, they kicked them out big time, and NSW is poised to do the same in March.

    • Keith how many times have Labor held office
      This past fifty years federally ? For a reason
      Somehow .. !! You know this..
      Iam all for what’s best for our country
      Irrespective of who is in power ..
      Just never the greens Keith .. !!

        • Actually the voters keep voting to keep the Greens out of Govt., only 10 to 12% are gullible enough to vote Green in the lower house, that’s why they need Labor preferences, something you don’t seem to either understand or want to admit to, yes?

  9. I’ve always understood Greens winning HoR seats with ALP preferences.
    Just like ALP winning HoR seats and winning Government with all those AWFUL Greens preferences – as you only recently have admitted.

    • That’s how preference deals have working for many years, anyone with an average amount of political nous would know that, but it’s great to see you have finally admitted it, there now that didn’t hurt too much did it.

      • Keith, I think the ‘hurting’ is all on your side – ‘Greens Preferences’ making majority ALP Government, that must be unbearable painful for you.

        • Actually it’s about the least thing that worries me, I’m a realist so stop fantasizing that’s all you do, typical Greens.

    • One would hope they preference one another, they are supposed to have some common ground. What they perhaps differ most in is approach with one side seeing politics as the art of the possible and the other idealism at any cost. I’d conclude there’s lots of politicing for both as well, with neither having a monopoly on political sainthood.

      It’s really not like football teams.


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