Christine Milne ‒ the dairy farmer’s daughter who became the Australian Greens leader – was obviously strongly influenced by Bob Brown along the way. In an entertaining talk at the WA Greens Bequest Launch on February 18th, Christine recounted the intriguing piece of advice she received from Bob when she asked him “what keeps you going when all seems lost.” Bob’s reply was “If you refuse to give up, and keep campaigning for the right thing, something will fall out of the sky!”
Surely not another version of the irrational scare-mongering “the sky is falling” routine that The Greens are often accused of (falsely, of course!)? Not even remotely. More like Bob’s version of ‘Fortune favours the bold’ or a belief that the arc of history bends towards justice. It’s the spirit of an attitude I love to bits: “The situation is impossible – let’s take the first step.”
Christine gave two examples. Firstly, victory in the long, frustrating and bruising struggle against the Wesley Vale Pulp Mill came about partly because a totally unexpected pollution event fell from the sky (or the water?). Secondly, just when South Australia’s fight for renewables seemed doomed after the blackouts, along came Elon Musk’s sudden offer of the Big Battery.
I think most of us humble doorknockers have experienced the same phenomenon on those days when “Meaningful Conversations” are nil. And the inner voice goes “Why bother?” Then suddenly you hit three or four doorsteps in a row where people listen, argue, engage, find common ground – and definite shifts of attitude occur.
Christine’s clear message is that Greens’ voices are essential at all three levels of government. She hastened to add that this in no way replaces or reduces the importance of grassroots campaigns. The two are equally essential and complementary: We need Greens in parliament to be the voice for community activism.
Like many of the post-war generation, Christine was lulled into complacency by the Social Democracy decades of scientific advance, secure jobs for all, affordable housing, reasonably well-shared prosperity, some progress towards race and gender equality. The farmer’s daughter became a teacher. But she got interested in the Franklin, then became alarmed by what was happening to Tasmania’s forests, then by 1990 became even more alarmed as the evidence mounted: biodiversity loss, climate change, extreme inequality, the corruption of democracy by big money. Any life other than political activism was not even worth contemplating.
“Vote with your grandchildren in mind” – another Bob Brown gem. The Greens are the only party that will stand up for these important ecological and social justice principles all around the world. People know what The Greens will do – our pillars give that certainty.
Our MPs are only as strong as the grassroots members and supporters, whose campaigning and other input is invaluable. Although this grassroots focus means we don’t need big money, we do need a reliable income stream – and that’s where a Will comes in handy. Your will, my will. Members and supporters are challenged to leave a bequest to The Greens (WA) as a way of making a difference way beyond their lifetime.
Jordon added a nice twist at the end of the formalities. He reminded us that our membership has never been stronger, but a more secure source of funds might just ensure that we’re better prepared and more ready at those moments when something falls from the sky.
Something has already fallen out of the sky. Just before the bequest launch we received a large bequest from a member’s inheritance and heard of another promised bequest from one of our life members. Every gift, large or small, makes a difference.
To ensure your vision lives on after you, visit our website, download our brochure explaining how easy it is to contribute to a safe planet for your loved ones and/or submit an expression of interest and someone will contact you: greens.org.au/wa/makeabequest.
Or you can contact our bequest co-ordinator, Chillabulbeck@gmail.com or 0407 165 753, to discuss how you would like to remember Greens WA in your will.
Header photo: Christine Milne speaking at the Greens (WA) Bequest Launch, 18th February, with Jo Vallentine and Senator Jordon Steele-John on the dias. Rob Delves