AN ACTIVIST LIFE
My latest ‘read’ has been Christine Milne’s Autobiography, ‘An Activist Life’. I suppose outside of Australia, or inside it for that matter, she would not be a familiar name. But she should be, as she was and is a remarkable person.
Born in North Western Tasmania (that little island that hangs off the bottom of Australia), in a small farming community, she went to University and then on to life as a local teacher and mother of two small boys.
Her first introduction to activism was the campaign to save Lake Pedder- a failure, and then the Franklin, one of the beautiful wild rivers of Tasmania- a success. However it was the fight that she led to protect her birthplace from the construction and destruction by a large pulp paper mill (using native forest timber), that precipitated her into a political career. She was elected to the Tasmanian parliament and, along with Bob Brown, became a foundation member of the nascent local environmental movement, which evolved into the Tasmanian Greens, the first Green party in the world.
Eventually she was elected as a Greens senator in the Australian parliament, and on the retirement of Bob Brown in 2012 she became leader. Being a Green is not easy. You have to have a very tough hide, be canny, have unlimited patience and advanced negotiating skills. You must also have the stoicism to endure the spectre of all ones efforts coming to naught, as has happened with attempts to price carbon and reduce emissions in Australia.
Christine retired from politics in 2015 but continues her environmental work pro bono, in ten NGOs. I have never met her personally, although we have friends in common, but I felt a connection with her due to our mutual despair at the outcome of the Cop15 environmental summit. She was the one who put all the effort into it, of course. I did nothing. But it motivated me to try and do something, however small, and the result was my climate change romance novel ‘Gloam’.
Since Christine had been the inspiration for my efforts, I dedicated my book to her, and she has recently found time in her very busy life to read it. I expected I might receive a quick email from her, but instead a book sized parcel arrived in the post along with a three page letter. She is certainly the prime example of a busy person who makes time for everything.
This book is a good read, a well written insight into all aspects of political life; the personal costs, under the counter machinations and public deals that make up government in all democracies.
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