Seems like
Bob Brown is one politician who’s prepared to put his money where his
mouth is – early next month he plans to auction off his personal art and artefacts to raise funds for a landmark court case against Forestry Tasmania.

The
Greens senator has opted to pay all legal and scientific costs
connected to the case himself (estimated at around $250,000), so that
means parting with a hefty slice of his prized possessions.

Up for sale are personal mementoes like My Very First Book presented to Bob in 1950 for neat books in 1st class.

Or bidders can try for the “Piece of sh*t” letter sent
to Bob by an anonymous constituent after he moved to have the Senate’s
Lord Prayer replaced by a minute of reflection back in 1998.

For the more serious minded, there are numerous artworks donated by
Australian artists including Jeff Dyer, Deborah Halpern and Robert
Hannaford. Scientist Tim Flannery
is donating an original Gould’s illustration, and there are archival
items from the Lake Pedder and Franklin River campaigns.

The case,
which was launched against Forestry Tasmania in May 2005 and kicked off
in court in December, attacks the presumption that logging operations
are exempt from the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 as a result of the Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement, signed in 1997.

Auction
organiser Amanda Sully told Crikey that the landmark court action is
using the case of three endangered species in the Wielangta region – the
Wielangta Stag Beetle, the Swift Parrot and the Wedge-tailed Eagle – to
determine whether or not national law actually does protect endangered
species.

It’s hard to be cynical about a man who’s selling off
the Christmas presents he got from his parents in the 1950s to save
the Wielangta Forest, but Crikey was curious about just what percentage
of his assets Bob’s putting on the line.

“I couldn’t put a
percentage value on it,” Bob told Crikey. “It’s important to remember
that I’m a senator, and I’m on a large income compared to a lot of
people. I do have a strong emotional attachment to some of the items –
but more important than the assets that you can’t take with you when
you pass on are the global assets that you leave for the next
generation.”

With
a reserve of $17,000, Jeff Dyer’s portrait of
Bob Brown, an Archibald Prize finalist, is probably going to be the
most expensive item – but it’s the circle rock that he picked up while
rafting the Franklin River in 1976 that’s hardest for him to part with.

“It’s been travelling down the river, gathering that beautiful red
patina, being smoothed out in rock pools for millions of years. I’d
always meant to put it back if the Franklin River ever became safe,” he
told Crikey. “I do feel a little bad that I’m not, but I think that
using it to contribute towards saving another piece of Tasmanian
wilderness is a positive exchange.”

Peter Fray

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