Yes I was barefoot, and loud and I did barge into the Prime Minister’s entourage and I should have been a little more polite.

The truth, however, is that it was not a set-up. I was not even thinking about John Howard at 7am on Saturday morning. I was down at the Nightcliff boat ramp to talk to fisherman about landclearing in the Daly River, industrial development in the Darwin Harbour and conservation issues generally.

We noticed the Prime Minister pull up outside the member for Solomon, Dave Tollner, during his breakfast do and start his walk. So there was no plan, no strategy, it was simply a chance to engage with the Prime Minister on environmental issues. (View the intervention here, or click the image below).

I do not normally berate or shout at people. But when coming face-to-face with the man who has denied climate change, sabotaged Kyoto, promoted and supported fossil fuel based energy over renewable energy, plans to dump nuclear waste in the NT, done nothing about energy efficiency, personally intervened to divert the McArthur River, and promoted landclearing in the NT (Tiwi Islands and Daly River) while trying to claim credit for stopping it in Asia, well I suppose I just vented some of my and Australia’s collective frustration. *

Credit should go where credit is due and Howard will be remembered as the man who helped the US delay international action to address climate change. And he has done it all with a smug smile on his face and, despite his recent conversion, no sign of regret. Costello has nothing on Howard when it comes to smug complacency.

For those who might think I am a Labor stooge then think again. So far Rudd’s alternative government has given little sign that anything substantial will change. I should acknowledge, however, that one of the small differences between Rudd and Howard is on climate change, where Labor has a slightly better policy, though it falls well short of what is required. To get back to environment in the NT, Rudd’s Labor has been silent on landclearing, diverting the McArthur River, uranium mining…

Perhaps if enough people interrupted Howard and Rudd’s complacency we might get the Government that we need.

* I wanted to stop there but I should also mention the war on terror, the RFA, inadequate conservation areas, treatment of refugees… you can see why I needed more time to talk to Howard.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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