Earth's living mantle is being degraded at the fastest rate in human history. Every day we 7.5 billion people wake to fewer forests, woodlands and grasslands, less wild coastline and coral reef, less arable land, fewer glaciers and icecaps, more acidic oceans and more extinct species of wildlife than ever before.
As the destruction spreads it is being accelerated, in democracies as in dictatorships. Global society, enthralled with money and goods, has installed the new religion of Materialism, with it its god of endless Growth, ignoring the limits of our finite planet.
American poet Drew Dellinger nailed the menace and challenge of Materialism with his acclaimed poem 'Hieroglyphic Stairway'. I quote:
"it's 3.23 in the morning
and I'm awake
because my great great grandchildren
won't let me sleep
my great great grandchildren
ask me in dreams
what did you do while the planet was plundered?
what did you do when the Earth was unraveling?
surely you did something
when the seasons started failing?
as the mammals, reptiles, and birds were all dying?
did you fill the streets with protest
when democracy was stolen?
what did you do
Well, suddenly, here in lovely Tasmania, the birthplace of the world's first Greens party, with one of the world's great traditions of wilderness campaigns, with an unsurpassed school of wilderness photographers following Truchanas and Dombrovskis - this island state with 15 times as many jobs in tourism compared with the logging of native forests - suddenly we face some of the most punitive anti-environment laws in the world. These are vandal laws.
And while I see in this something of the industrial logging dinosaur's last flick of its dying tail, the reality is that Tasmanians who go to protect our island’s heritage will be mandatorily fined and then jailed.
These laws would have jailed Ghandi and Jesus Christ. They would also have jailed Emiline Pankhurst, Paul Watson, Miranda Gibson, Manalargena and Michael Mansell.
These laws would have wrecked the Franklin and Lower Gordon Rivers, now acclaimed as amongst the top whitewater adventures on Earth and a mainstay of the West Coast's economy and jobs.
They would have enforced the continued destruction of the now World Heritage and world famous Valley of the Giants. The historic peninsula of Recherché Bay would be wrecked. And those Tasmanian Aborigines who have stood strong for their heritage against the bulldozers would have been locked in Risdon Prison.
These are also laws which would turn the good men and women of our Tasmania Police, who equally respect this island's beauty, into mercenaries for the most selfish exploiters.
Will we take Premier Hodgman's coercive sleeping pill, turn over and try to sleep with our stricken consciences, and leave defying the laws to someone else?
Well, no, we should not and we will not.
Will Hodgman may jail me to take away my freedom in order to settle an argument he cannot otherwise defend. Paul Harriss may take my property. Eric Abetz may confiscate my pension.
But like so many others here, and so many more beyond this City Hall, I will not be bullied or cowered by their brutal strategy.
We will not cave in to these vandals who have never lifted a finger to protect Tasmania's universally celebrated wild and scenic beauty.
Where Tasmania’s priceless heritage is at stake, we will stand against their chainsaws and bulldozers. Because our consciences and love of Tasmania cannot be blackmailed or imprisoned.
No matter how harsh and rotten their penalties and no matter how much we may lose along the way, our love of wild Tasmania and that duty of care to our great great grandchildren will prevail.
Tasmania will succeed and these vandal laws will fail.
16 August, 2014