I was present at both meetings in Canberra this past Sunday of the Wilderness Society. The flurry of emails and media coverage about the looming stouch implied it was important. They do good work, and are one of the best known environmental groups in Australia. At the meeting it was announced that there are 45,000 members; I wonder if the political parties can claim as many?
Along with many others there, including some of my acquaintences, I sought clarity on the divisions that had become rancorous. I came, I sat, I listened, I formed a view. Along with most of the 300 at the first meeting I trotted along to the second meeting. This sort of subsumed the previous one, which seemed to be left with no agenda.
The second meeting voted out the Management Committee, ie, Alec Marr and others, and voted in a new bunch. There were a lot of passionate people there, some campaign employees and others who were long term volunteers. Lots of overnight bags indicated they had come from interstate. I had just come from a weekend at Moruya, but it meant I was dressed for the part. Don’t know why dreadlocks should be a symbol of affinity with nature, but that’s their trip. I just left a bit of bark on my jeans so they would know I’d been doing some serious tree hugging recently.
The Wilderness Society clearly needs a goverance overhaul, and I hope the dedication of the new committee can get on with it.
As an outsider-insider, with voting card, my perpective drifted to a wider perspective. Maybe the TV images of the fisticuffs in the Ukrainian Parliament were fresh in my mind, or I remembered being told that in the Indian state and national parliaments everything is bolted down so nothing can be thrown.
I thought Hooray for our civil society, with its procedural detail and Electoral Commission oversight! Hooray for the one man in the room wearing a suit (although his hair was rather explosive.) He was ensuring the due process, apparently with some independent authority.
We’re a long way from our convict past, the tough times to come should reveal how robustly we can support the hard-earned decency of our citizenry.