2013 Environmentalist of the Year

Drew Hutton grew up in Queensland in the western Darling Downs town of Chinchilla. His mother was a teacher and his father was a World War II veteran, a drover and a butcher. Drew has been a high school teacher and an academic, teaching history and political science at the University of Queensland.

Drew cut his progressive teeth protesting against the Bjelke-Peterson government's laws banning democratic rights in Queensland in the 1970s and 80s. In 1987 Drew edited "Green Politics in Australia" and in 1999, with his partner Libby Connors, he wrote the definitive "A History of the Australian Environment Movement".

In the early 90s Drew and Bob Brown worked hard to set up the Australian Greens, which was established in 1992. Drew became the main spokesperson for the Queensland Greens (1991 to 2007) and was an authoritative voice on a number of environmental issues including the ravages of uncontrolled mining in Queensland. He contested numerous elections and received good results on several occasions but ultimately never succeeded in making it into parliament.  

In 2009 he had retired from political life, but was forced back into the fray when the coal and coal seam gas mining boom spread across Queensland, including into the food bowl of the Darling Downs. Drew set up 'Lock the Gate!', a group dedicated to empowering farmers and other landowners to block gas exploration companies from invading their lands.

In 2011 Drew became the president of the national Lock the Gate Alliance. The alliance has over 8,000 members and 170 affiliated groups. Drew’s ability to bring together environmentalists and farming groups into one movement means it has now become an enormously credible and successful voice for rural and regional communities.

Drew has been arrested a number of times for peacefully protesting. Last year he appealed against a conviction following a sit-in at a farm gate on the Darling Downs. A curious coalition of supporters, including Bob Katter, Alan Jones and Bob Brown, appeared in his support outside the hearings. The appeal was upheld.

Drew tours Australia and overseas in his work leading the 'Lock the Gate'.

Drew accepting his awardDrew receiving his Environmentalist of the Year award from Bob at the ceremony in Hobart on 1st July 2013.
Photos: Kristy Dowsing

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