Women have always played a lead role in environment groups

2 May 2014

The Editor,

Women ran the most crucial and contentious part of the campaign to save the Franklin River, the blockade.

From 1981 when Emma Gunn, Lilith Waud, Cathie Plowman and a band of others prepared for peaceful protest as the bulldozers were brought into the wilderness, this huge operation depended on their long-range planning, backed by national training for volunteers organised by people like Karen Alexander in Melbourne, Judy Lambert in Sydney, Jenny Whinam in Canberra and Louise Sladdin in Adelaide. The best account of arrangements on the Gordon River are in Alice Hungerford’s recent book ‘UpRiver’.

Our huge Hobart rallies relied on women like Jill McCulloch and Sue Forage and, on the podium, actress Lorraine Bayly. The biggest rally was kicked off by Jane Thompson in Hobart and our national finances were kept in perfect order by Hobart businesswoman, Judy Mahon. An eighteen year old from Western Australia, Margaret Robertson, was invaluable and a driving force for wilderness legislation, and Labor whip Mary Dalyell (Willey), crossed the floor of state parliament to help save the Franklin.

Of course men, myself included, were involved and ofter up-front, but the campaign owes its outcome to the women who made it happen.

The Upper Florentine forest rally's success was remarkable but also reflects polls showing women and young people care a little more than men.

One thing hasn't changed in Tasmania's parliament - both houses have far too few women: now there's a problem!

Bob Brown
(travelling in the Outback)


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