By Pip Hinman
SYDNEY — Tasmanian Greens leader Christine Milne and Australian Conservation Foundation director Tricia Caswell were guest speakers at a public lecture organised by the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at Sydney University on March 23. Of the two well-known environmentalists, Milne expressed a broader and more radical view of how to achieve a green future.
Milne focused largely on arguments about the need to build a less alienated society and improve everyone's quality of life. She stressed the need to "not lose sight of the fact that all things are interconnected and that we are just a strand in a web".
The choice, she said, is to live in "an enterprise association" or a "society". There were many groups and small parties, like the Greens, striving to "work towards an ethical future". "We need a complete rethinking of values — not just bandaids."
Milne said it was simply hypocritical of the federal ALP to accuse the new shadow environment minister, Rod Kemp, of not being willing to use the federal external affairs power to override the states, while John Faulkner has refused to intervene to save the Tarkine wilderness from "the road to nowhere".
Apart from Australian environmental issues, Milne commented on the federal government's use of the aid budget as "the export budget for business and industry", GATT as a destroyer of cultures and less developed countries and the government's support of Indonesia's illegal occupation of East Timor.
After outlining many areas in which the major corporations and parties in government are exacerbating both the environment crisis and social injustice, Milne nevertheless argued strongly for an optimistic perspective. "Young people are far more radical than their parents", she said, maintaining that the new generations offer hope for realising an alternative form of society.
Caswell, who focused on "pragmatic" issues, outlined the ACF's main projects, including research and lobbying around greenhouse gas emissions, saving old-growth forests, water, and green jobs and industry.
She said ACF's role is to lobby politicians and industry representatives on the benefits of being "green".
Although she said Australian companies were lagging behind, Caswell is optimistic that corporate Australia will come to the party with the development of new production technologies. They should learn from some Japanese firms which pride themselves on being "ecobusinesses", she said.