What’s a personal history worth?

Well,
if you’re Bob Brown, and you’re auctioning off your art and artefacts
to raise money for a legal battle against Forestry Tasmania, over
$70,000.

Bob told Crikey he was overwhelmed by the response to
his auction, held in Melbourne last week, which saw items like My Very
First Book
and the “Piece of sh*t” constituent letter go under the
hammer for $700 each, the Buddhist beads blessed by the Dalai Lama
bring in $1,300 and a John Wolseley colour lithograph print sell for
$3,600.

“We’d expected to get thirty-five to fifty thousand
dollars,” said Bob. “It was obvious that people were bidding with the
aim of saving Wielangta – there was a donation element in all of the
bids.”

Only six items, including two Archibald portraits of
Bob, were passed in – and the circular rock picked up by Bob when
rafting the Franklin River in 1976 was sold for $1,000.

The
successful bidders promptly returned it to Bob, who said he’s delighted
that he’ll be able to put it back at the junction of the Franklin and
Jane Rivers, as he’s always planned. “I unwrapped it at home last night
very carefully and put it on my desk – and I’ll definitely get it back
in the river soon.”

The landmark legal action, which is using a
proposed logging operation in the Wielangta Forest to test whether or
not endangered species are actually protected under the Environmental
Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, resumes in court today.
Judges are hearing expert witnesses from both sides being
cross-examined about the three endangered species found in the
Wielangta Forest region.

“We’re onto the Wedge-tailed eagle today,” Bob told Crikey. “It’s really fascinating stuff.”

So, is he confident that they can actually take down Forestry Tasmania? “Well,
the case basically questions whether an entire ecosystem can be logged
without impacting on the species that live in it. I wouldn’t like to be
defending that.”

The hearing continues through until next week, and a ruling is expected in May.

Peter Fray

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