Thursday, November 22, 2007

Tasmanian Author Promises Biggest "Civil Disobedience Campaign" In Decades For Anti-Pulp Mill Protests

The new Tasmanian pulp mill scored the approval of both Labor and Liberal, and saw conservationist Peter Garrett forced to toe the party line, and lose a rainforest worth of credibility while he was at it. We won't know until after the weekend just how much of an impact the controversial pulp mill's approval will have on the election, or in particular on the electoral choices of the voters of Wentworth, the seat of pro-pulp mill environment minister Malcolm Turnbull.

But activists against the mill are promising that it will never be built.

Here are some excerpts from a fiery speech given by author Richard Flanagan to a crowd of anti-pup mill protesters in Tasmania a few days ago.

While providing some solid background on the history of the massive corruption linking the Gunns woodchipping corporation and the Tasmanian state Labor government, Flanagan promises to join protesters in a civil disobedience campaign he declares will be the biggest since the successful protests stopping the damming of the Franklin River in the early 1980s, and claims the controversial pulp mill will never get the chance to destroy a forest or pollute the environment :

And if, in the end we have all other avenues denied us, if we are left with no other alternative, if it takes standing on the road to the pulp mill site and placing our bodies between their machines and our home, we will stand there, in peace and with pride, united against hate and greed, joined in our love for our island. And if we are arrested and thrown in jail, then we will go to jail in our tens, we will go to jail in our hundreds, we will go to jail in our thousands, and Paul Lennon will have to build seven new prisons to house all the people who will come and who will keep on coming before they even attempt to pour the foundations of one new pulp mill.

Now is the time for turning, now is the season for our change, now must come that moment when we no longer are cowed, when we cease to be silent, when we speak the truth to power and say no to this pulp mill and yes to a future in which we are governed in the spirit in which we live: with goodness, with the interests of others in our heart and not the leash of greed tearing at our throat. Now is that hour, now is our future. The journey is long, the road is dark and frightening, but together we can reach our destination: the Tasmania of which we all dream, where all are welcome and all prosper, made not of lies but truth, built not of rich men's hate but our love for our island and for each other. Our love. Our island. Let's take it back. Let's start marching.

Richard Flanagan brought the issue of the new Tasmanian pulp mill, and the long history of foul corruption linking Gunns and Labor and Liberal governments, to national attention in this shock-inducing article from The Monthly magazine. It is a story that every Australian should read.

Flanagan is the author of the novel, 'The Unknown Terrorist', which has become an international hit and has now been optioned for a movie by Steven Spielberg's company Dreamworks.

'The Unknown Terrorist' is so despised by Tim Blair and Andrew Bolt, who haven't made clear that they've actually read the book they've dismissed as trash, that I had to read it myself. If they hated it so much, there was likely much on interest to be found in those pages. I'm halfway through, and it's a fast, interesting read, which successfully predicted the terror-related non-events of this year, where 'unknown terrorists' were rounded up, publicly prosecuted and then released.

Tim Blair and Andrew Bolt appear to be on a dedicated mission to trash Richard Flanagan as often as they can, but not so often as to raise suspicion to their motives.

Perhaps Bolt is annoyed at Flanagan's best-seller status, while his own book's sales stalled. Perhaps Blair is jealous that Flanagan has actually written books in the first place.

Naturally, Bolt and Blair seem to have absolutely no problem with what Gunns is doing to Tasmania's environment, and the further damage to come from the pulp mill, all against the will of the majority of Tasmanians. Flanagan remains their target of choice, even though there is a state Labor government involved that should be mocked and derided at every opportunity.

Flanagan's promised "civil disobedience" campaign will supply both Bolt and Blair with plenty of material to continue their mockery of those who choose to not sit idly by while a behemoth like Gunns mows down whatever, or whoever, gets in their way.

Expect the Tasmanian pulp mill issue to leap back into the headlines in the first few months of 2008.

By then, the pro-Gunns sate Labor government will probably be feeling cocky enough to try and stop the anti-mill protests and blockades using powers under the anti-terror laws. The powers that already allow for the prosecution of protesters who "interfere" with the smooth running of corporations, like Gunns.

The fear of Islamic terrorism was the bulldozer that rammed through the anti-terror laws, but the laws, and the definitions of what actually constitutes terrorist actions or terror support, are open enough to allow for the prosecution of pro-environment related protesters should a corporate entity like Gunns wish to do so. The bet is that they most certainly will.

If Richard Flanagan goes through with his plans for massive "civil disobedience", he may find himself in a very similar position to a key character in 'The Unknown Terrorist'. Except in his case, it will be his pro-environment actions that may see him fighting 'anti-terror' related charges in the courts.

Flanagan, however, appears ready and willing to fight that battle.