Senator Bob Brown, Leader of the Australian Greens, who inspired an Armidale audience last night with his vision for restoring and preserving the health of the planet, began by praising the farmers of Caroona who have mounted a blockade against mining exploration on the Liverpool Plains.
“It’s wonderful to see people defending their patch,” he said.
Speaking at the University of New England’s Earle Page College, Senator Brown explained that he had visited Caroona earlier that day with the Federal Member for New England, Tony Windsor.
Although the priority for the future of mankind is food and water, he said, “the law is with those who want to pull coal out of the ground to pollute the atmosphere”.
Senator Brown emphasised the urgency of stopping atmospheric pollution. “And it’s not so difficult,” he said. “If we stopped logging native forests, Australia’s greenhouse emissions would drop by 20 per cent.”
His lecture last night, titled “Coal or Cool? Australia in an age of catastrophic climate change”, was the 25th in the series of Earle Page College Annual Politics Lectures. In introducing him, Emeritus Professor Graham Maddox, one of the initiators of the lecture series, referred to Senator Brown as “an icon of Australian politics” and “the conscience of our nation”.
“Climate change is not coming,” Senator Brown said. “We’re in it. And there’s one constant: the news gets worse.” His central message was the need to act now to preserve the health of the earth “in the interests of those who come after us”; to act “with a sense of requiting this marvellous planet from which we come”.
In reviewing the gifts that “this marvellous planet” had bestowed on him, he included his schooldays in Armidale, with its New England environment. “Armidale has a very special place in my heart,” he said.
After the lecture UNE’s Deputy Chancellor, Scott Williams, moved a vote of thanks to Senator Brown, saying that his talk had been “a real treat”, providing “great insights into the message and the man”.
THE PHOTOGRAPH of Senator Bob Brown displayed here was taken during the formal dinner at Earle Page College that preceded the Politics Lecture. It expands to include the Master of the College, Mr David Ward.