REAL AUSTRALIA

People you hate can have good ideas

Voice of Real Australia is a regular newsletter from Australian Community Media, which has journalists in every state and territory. Sign up here to get it by email, or here to forward it to a friend. Today's newsletter is written by Burnie-based journalist at The Advocate, Lachlan Bennett.

SIT IN: Protester Andy Szollosi camps in a tree sit in the Sumac area as part of a Tarkine conservation protest. Picture: Supplied

SIT IN: Protester Andy Szollosi camps in a tree sit in the Sumac area as part of a Tarkine conservation protest. Picture: Supplied

Former Tasmanian Minister for Resources Adam Brooks once proclaimed the Tarkine was "nothing but a Green myth".

At the time, conservationists were promoting the term to describe (and ultimately save) a breathtaking region in North-West Tasmania that includes Australia's largest tract of cool temperate rainforest.

Theses environmental advocates have continued to fight for the Tarkine despite arrests and metal heads planning a bush doof counter protest.

And while they have yet to stop legislated logging, they have ensured the Tarkine moved from a myth to a matter of fact.

Today, many businesses use the term to market their products, from Tarkine Wilderness Honey to tourism operator Tarkine Forest Adventures.

Even politicians from parties staunchly opposed to the environmental protests have conceded the 'Tarkine' brand is good for business and worth using in tourism marketing campaigns.

And to think it came from a cause so thoroughly despised by those who argue saving jobs is much more important than saving trees.

Veteran environmentalist Bob Brown has been at the forefront of the campaign to get the Tarkine a World Heritage Listing.

Veteran environmentalist Bob Brown has been at the forefront of the campaign to get the Tarkine a World Heritage Listing.

The decades-old battle over the Tarkine is much more complex than the jobs vs environment dichotomy.

But it does highlight the fact economic prosperity comes in many forms and unpopular ideas can become profitable for communities.

A lot of motorists aren't huge fans of cyclists, but the proposed New England Rail Trail in New South Wales is expected to bring $5.77 million from tourists every year.

And if you're skeptical Lycra lovers could ever pedal a community towards prosperity, just check out how mountain bike tourism transformed the sleepy town of Derby in Tasmania's North-East.

Wind farm developments were also once derided as unnecessary eyesores, but my friends down at Granville Harbour would tell you they can deliver hundreds of jobs and millions in investment.

It's an economic windfall the people of the Hunter Region can expect if several major renewable energy projects get the green light, even if some lament the upcoming loss of the Liddell power station.

And when it comes to brilliant albeit unexpected branding success stories, look no further than Wollongong's Santafest Pub Crawl, which was named in the Lonely Planet's list of eight best cities in the world for bar crawls.

READY TO RUN: Granville Harbour Wind Farm project director Lyndon Frearson said the project had created 200 jobs and millions of dollars of economic activity. Pictures: Lachlan Bennett

READY TO RUN: Granville Harbour Wind Farm project director Lyndon Frearson said the project had created 200 jobs and millions of dollars of economic activity. Pictures: Lachlan Bennett

As for the Tarkine, not everyone will agree with the conservation cause or believe the region is at a real risk from the forestry industry.

And even those use tourism to argue for environmental protection have doubts about certain development, such as the legal battle over a high-end fly-fishing venture at Lake Malbena and the opposition to building huts within a Kangaroo Island national park.

But if the branding success of the Tarkine is to teach us anything, it is this: some times good ideas come from people you dislike.

Lachlan Bennett

Journalist, The Advocate

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