This article is based on a speech to a rally against Gunns' proposed pulp mill, in Launceston on August 23. It was delivered by Stef Gebbi and Gabby Forward on behalf of Students Against the Pulp Mill.
There are events in history that bring out our strengths, unite us in a common cause. The pulp mill controversy has been one of these. We, as the majority of Tasmanians, have stood up and demanded that our voices be heard. When so many unite, somebody must take notice.
In some struggles, it can feel as though we are taking one step forward and two steps back. But we have the power to change things — even the world. The pulp mill was supposed to be under construction already, but our dissent has stopped it so far. We can take a stand for what we believe in and speak out against the ugliness and corruption so blatantly exhibited by our government and the companies that control it.
We can take control of our future; it is ours and we will not let it be stolen away. By fighting the pulp mill, we are fighting for the protection of the Earth. We are here to say that our forests, our waters, and the air we breathe are not resources to be exploited until obliterated. The voices of the people are more important than the profits of big business.
Do we want our air polluted? Do we want our forests destroyed? Do we want corruption to conquer democracy? Will we allow corporate business to suffocate our lives and take away our right to live in a clean and pristine environment?
It is no longer just the pulp mill itself we are fighting, but everything it embodies: corruption and environmental destruction. The pulp mill symbolises the devastation of the pristine Tasmanian environment. We should be protecting our environment not destroying something that can never be replaced.
We need to put the pressure back on Tasmanian Premier David Bartlett, to show him that this mill is still a pressing issue. We need to send him a message that we will not let this pulp mill be built.
We are gathered here from across Tasmania, and some have actually flown from the mainland, for one cause and one cause only: to show our opposition to this pulp mill. Farmers, scientists, authors, artists, lawyers and students: we are united in our determination. We are many people, but now, we are one people, and together, we can move mountains, save forests, and protect rivers.
One person can make a difference, but together, we can create change. We are united despite our differences. We hold the future in our hands. And we do not want a pulp mill in our future.
We can and must stop this mill. We must show the world that we will not lie down and let something so precious be stolen from us. We will not be bribed into condemning something that is priceless.
[Stef Gebbi is a member of Resistance.]