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Bob Brown Speaks at Community Centre in Byron Bay

Bob Brown Speaks at Community Centre  in Byron Bay

From Left: Judy Shelley, Bob Brown, Christine McKew and Ian Cohen. Photo by Robert Hart

"We are here to replace the old political parties, not just to keep them honest" stated Greens Senator, Bob Brown, at a public forum in Byron Bay on Saturday the 1st of November.

"I feel fantastically optimistic to be Green and our aim is to put smiles on the faces of our grandchildren."

Bob opened his address by stating, "Indigenous people have been living with the planet instead of off it for thousands of years. We must do the same if we are to survive. At present, 3 or 4 planet earths are needed to sustain our current consumption level. We don't appear to have the collective ability to stop consuming."

BHP Billiton are wanting to tunnel under the Liverpool Plains, one of the world's most fertile agricultural areas.  This could negatively impact underground water. The Greens have moved an amendment to the upcoming Water Bill in the Senate. The Greens are  asking for a scientific enquiry into the impact of mining on underground water.

At  The Mary River they want to build a dam at Traveston Crossing, to provide a small amount of water to Brisbane. About  500 farmers could be affected. The fate of this river is on the desk of Peter Garett (Australia's most powerful  environmentalist) .

This dam is to provide water for Brisbane were there are no rain water tanks. This area is a primary nursery for rare and endangered species, particularly Lung Fish (Dura), of which there are only 6 species on the planet, and one is in Queensland. They have a lung and a spine and are living components of who we are. You can hear them sigh when they come up to breath!

 "Whilst flying from the UK to North America I looked down at Iceland which was covered in cloud. When we  flew over Greenland, the clouds parted and revealed massive snow covered mountains, glaciers and deep valleys." Bob, marvelling at this scenery, was tapped on the shoulder by a steward and asked to close the shutter because the movie was about to start. He said he would compromise and shut it half way, and felt sad that a man-made movie was considered more important than this extraordinarily unique vista. He  reckoned when Greenland melts, the sea will rise between 4 & 6 metres, and when the Antarctic ice caps melt it will raise 85 metres.

bob brown greens senatorDespite the fact that Penny Wong has stated we have got the current predictions and 700,000 properties in the east of Australia will be impacted by sea level rises, there is no national plan for the impacts on the estuaries and the coast. When the sea rises I metre, it will cover the land up to 100 metres back.

Is it beyond the wit and wisdom of this community to turn it around?

 Bob related his experience when he asked George Bush about the treatment of David Hicks,when the US president was a guest of  parliament in 2003. He said his whole being was in trepidation. He had to get up and speak and yet his body would not move. Despite many years of activism and public life he found himself temporarily out of his comfort zone.

Bob stressed "To change things we must get out of our comfort zone, and find an area where we can do our bit to change things. Otherwise we can become immobilised like rabbits transfixed in headlights. And this is what we have been conditioned to do."

We need to change the legislative process and not be coerced by lobby/polsters/PR spinners in Canberra who have got the environment locked up with the key in a back drawer.

Question from audience: My child is running an environment group at school, what advice would you give?

Bob: I have read his CV and John Howard never ran a environment group at school. My advice is to concentrate on one issue, such as fixing up one corner of the school ground that may be there for our grandchildren. Awareness of issues such as 1Kg of CO2 can be used in just going to the shops by car instead of walking.

Bob also mentioned the following

  • Gunns proposed pulp mill in Tasmania has been shelved due to the financial crisis.
  • Read any books by J K Galbraith, a US economist.
  • We must not impair ourselves to the point of inaction by being overwhelmed by world issues. We need to have a global parliament so that 6.7 billion people can have one vote for one planet.
  • The Garnaut Report stated that by 2050 we should have moved to an equal carbon allocation per head in the world. Women need to be empowered around the planet. That involves taking power when we can get it whilst being tough negotiators. We need to keep a sense of humility and humanity and remain aware of our own limitations.
  • In Germany people get paid 4 times the cost of electricity by selling it back to the grid.  Here in Australia this idea has been blocked.
  • “Information is the currency of democracy” (Ralph Nader)

by Deborah Lilly and Robert Hart



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