About Me

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The Author Erik’s family emigrated from Britain to the island State of Tasmania then lived in the woods. The family home schooled, helping to pioneer the home education movement in Australia. The Blog …explores ways to create a sustainable and just community. Explores how that community can be best protected at all levels including social policy/economics/ military. The Book Erik’s autobiography is a humorous read about serious things. It concerns living in the bush, wilderness, home education, spirituality, and activism. Finding Home is available from Amazon, Barnes&Noble and all good e-book sellers.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

The Extremely Greedy Forty Percent Extra Party

How to embarress politicians on polling day

Anybody ever heard of politicians downsizing Parliament to save money then voting themselves a 40 per cent pay rise in the middle of a recession?  Well, it happens in Tasmania.  At the time unions were pushing for pay parity with other States but the government said there wasn’t enough money, but they found enough to fund their own pay rise.  Chris Kelly put out the idea of founding a political party to protest the pay rise and push for Parliamentary reform.  Chris, a small group of friends and I formed and registered the ‘Extremely Greedy Forty Per Cent Extra Party’ with a pink pig as the party logo.  Within weeks our party had 300 members and attracted serious and comic commentary in the press. 
Wouldn't YOU vote for these lovely people?
We ran candidates in each electorate – out polling the National Party in Franklin. My running mate Peter Heading and I got 384 primary votes from the good people of Launceston.  If we had campaigned in Launceston we would have got more!  What creative political parties are out there that you know of?  Note: I am not interested in the far far right!

Australian Defence Force Reform and the RAAF

From 'Lost International Soldiers' photo collection

Debates about buying things for Defence to blow people up with tend to fall into two camps.  There is the “war is bad so we need to stop funding it, fighting for peace is like procreating for virginity, all wars are the fault if the West so if we spend more money on foreign aid we wouldn’t need a defence force because all the nice people over there wouldn’t come over here and invade” camp.  Then there is the “what the fig are smoking, international relations works by the law of the jungle, you only own what you can defend, there were lots of nice Germans in the 1930’s but WWII still happened, we need lots and lots of shiny new weapons to scare the bad guys with” camp.  Then there are lots of people who understand international relations and geo-strategic policy quite well but lack the technical knowledge to understand practical military things, such as why the Chinese J-20 stealth fighter/bomber/interceptor is a strategic game changer that eats the US Joint Strike Fighter for breakfast and has the Superhornet for desert.

Remember the Somme?  Lots of propaganda, lots of theory, not much empirical
analysis. There are a very small number of people who actually do real analysis – like Dr John Stillion of Rand Corp (at that time) who told them the truth about the Joint Strike Fighter – center piece of a defence ponzi scheme that is now threatening not just Western budgets, but Australia’s future existence as a nation.  The Australian Defence Force bureaucracy ignored him and every other analyst who didn’t sing along to the JSF song.  The fact is, if more people had understood what military technology meant for strategic policy WWII would not have happened.  The fact is, history is repeating. 

In subsequent posts I have added my submissions and correspondence and a number of opinion pieces based on research done over nearly a decade. See for example here:


You will note that all my predictions have come to pass and none of the issues I raised were addressed. Read more analysis from ‘down under’ in the book and here:

Saving the Tarkine Wilderness

True wilderness still exists on planet earth – within driving distance of a domestic airport.  The Tarkine is named after the Tarkinener Aboriginal people who inhabited a large expanse of North West Tasmania at least since the land bridge to mainland Australia was flooded circa 6000BCE.  It’s an incredible primordial and still largely unspoiled place.  It is also a stronghold of the new threatened Tasmanian Devil.  Stands of tall Eucalyptus forest give way to pure temperate rainforest that wash up against rolling grassy hills interspersed with woodland, rivers and streams that find their way to a wild coastline. 

This should have been made national park along with Yellowstone but instead the Tasmanian government spent scarce public funds bulldozing a road through the middle of it.  It was calculated vandalism.  I joined the fight against the road, eventually suing the Government in the Supreme Court.  Largely as a result of that campaign eco-tourism is flourishing in the Tarkine and the world’s largest tract of temperate rainforest is protected from logging.  However it is now threatened by mining. Given the size of the area some small scale or underground operations could be managed without doing great violence to the integrity of the area.  Unfortunately we are talking ‘open cut,’ lots of mines and lots of roads.  

This is not my video, is was shared on youtube by user jeffdjtube. It shows some of the gorgeous scenery in the Tarkine region.

This is a call for help.   

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Saving the Old Growth Forests

A face growing in an ancient, mossy tree
A face in the forest.  This used to be in Mt Field National Park.  It has now been logged.

Ever wondered what the world would look like without people?  I once answered that question by walking solo through unbroken old-growth forest for five days on a compass bearing.  Those forests are gone.  Forty years of industrial logging have taken their toll on the great forests of the world and Tasmania’s forests are no different.  I spend the better part of a decade fighting to save them. We are now in the end-game fighting over what’s left and there is still much to gain.  This photo essay is as relevant as ever since these sorts of forests are being logged as I type. 
Girl standing in front of a huge tree
This is the East Picton forest, now logged.
So am I against logging?  Where is the balance?  I’ll just say that after 200 years of land clearance and four decades of industrial logging it is time to protect what’s left of world heritage value and transition to plantation and re-growth, with some small scale carefully managed logging for furniture/craft timbers.  Meanwhile the timber industry is experiencing the collapse that academics and environmentalists predicted 20 years ago.
Woman sitting on tree stump looking out over logged forest
This wasn't protected by the Feds. Can you spot the lady?
Note that the Tasmanian government has actively suppressed development of industrial hemp as an agricultural industry in Tasmania.  Now even the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association is asking for those restrictions to be removed so they can found a new industry.  We did it before with poppies and essential oils.  Only ignorance keeps us poor.

Ancient forest destroyed by Forestry Tasmania
Forestry Tasmania felt the need to regenerate this patch of old growth forest that had been there since the last ice age.
Where the road ends.  Logging road pushing west into virgin forest.
Get a birds eye view from the observer tree: www.observertree.org