Peter Garrett

Benny on Bligh

This week is turning out to be very interesting.

First up, the Traveston Crossing Dam is no more. A rather belated move by Peter Garrett destroys his Labor counterparts plans. The Courier mail contains good coverage of the issue today, and highlights some very interesting points.

I don’t like Anna Bligh much. I didn’t like her much prior to her becoming Premier, but I decided to give her a chance and a clean slate. She has failed miserably in pretty much all respects.

However, she did have a tremendous task in front of her. She inherited a government that had spent up in the good times and left little for the bad, a SEQ grappling with water issues, a tarnished health sector, oncoming infrastructure problems (that many foresaw were approaching, but the past Labor government did little to avoid), and, it has to be said, a not overly sparkling bunch of MPs around her. So, it could be said, the previous Premier Peter Beattie bowed out just before his legacy took its crippling hold on the State.

It was nice though of Garrett to wait so long to enter the fold here. Good decisiveness by the Federal Government, who took the best part of two years to make a real stand against a project that has impacted so many people. Still, the move will probably win them further accolades as the saviours of the area. Maybe they were holding off so they didn’t impact Bligh’s chances, but then when they realised Bligh was too far gone, and there was no point trying to save a fellow party member if they are going to lose anyway, they may as well do something. It would be interesting to find out what happened behind the scenes there.

Still, Bligh has yet to display any real propensity for the job. She managed to introduce flouride, which was generally well received though controversial, and begin some water projects (all of which have so far had far more failings than successes). Many attacked her media profile, but I think this is a bit of a meh point. In today’s world of governance, public exposure is important. She used her leave for Master Chef, so while it was arguably a dumb move, it wasn’t exactly a decision deserving of major criticism.

Further into today’s Courier, the new Family (Surrogacy) Bill has gotten some coverage. Not content with the (very poorly written) article, I went and found the Bill. Indeed, section 9 (2) of the Bill provides eligible couples to only include married couples or mixed gender de factos. Springborg apparently has said the Bill is designed for hetrosexual couples only. So it might be a bit hopeful to suggest the language of the Bill almost sounds like it would be open in the future to providing surrogacy to all types of married couples (depending on who was defined as ‘married’). So, depending how you feel about surrogacy, this is at least a step forward. But, while making the step, there is also a bit of throwing the leg out and tripping some people over. It seems the LNP is adhering to its more conservative members on this one.

Which leads on to the next interesting happening. Senator Sarah Hanson-Young of the Greens has introduced a Bill to allow same-gender marriage. High fives all round Sarah Hanson-Young. So it seems there is one awesome Green. But then she goes on and says this:

“I’m calling for the prime minister to … grant his members a conscience vote so we can get a true reflection of how the Australian community is feeling.”

Pfft. A conscience vote has no chance of reflecting how the Australian community is feeling.

Hedgehogging your bets

I received a response today for my letter to the Prime Minister regarding Pygmy Hedgehogs.

It seems that in order to get the silly legislation that bans their import overturned I must present a compelling scientific case.

Hankinson, Kerrie

Dear Nathan

Thank you for your email to the Prime Minister regarding importation of the Pygmy Hedgehog as a pet into Australia. The species is currently prohibited for import as it is not on the list of specimens taken as suitable for import into Australia, or the live import list, under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (1999). Following are links to relevant information about the live import list:

Anyone may apply to amend the live import list. Please refer to the following pages for information:

However it should be noted that this is a very rigorous process, and requires a full environmental assessment of a species, based on specific Terms of Reference at a minimum. The report is to be written in a scientific style. An environmental consultant may be employed to do this, though the applicant must pay for this, and the Department cannot recommend consultants. Furthermore, lodging an application does not guarantee that a species will be added to the live import list.

Please read the information on the above web pages, particularly the guidelines to what is required in the report. If you have any further questions relating to this matter please contact me.

Kind Regards


Now. I know at least one reader who is probably qualified to write such a missive. Yes, I’m looking at you Miss Ecologist/zoologist turned editor… and Ben could put together some compelling pictures…

In the meantime I sent this response to Peter Garrett.

Dear Peter,

Hi. You don’t know me, but I am one of the legions of fans who think you make a better politician than rock star.

While Midnight Oil are a national icon, they were just not my cup of tea (white with no sugar, my mum always said if you need to add sugar to your tea you’re not mature enough to drink it – do you take sugar in your tea? Do you even drink tea? You look more like an energy drink drinker)…

I write to you to commend to you a member of staff in your department. I have attached an email I received from Kerrie Hankinson below.

I wrote a letter (it was an email actually) a week ago commending the notion of importing pygmy hedgehogs to Australia. My wife wants one for a pet.

Kerrie has provided very helpful information and advice and I look forward to submitting my submission to your office for consideration.

My family has a long and successful track record of importing animals into Australia. Animals that have metaphorically changed the landscape of Australian farming. My great-great-grandfather, or possibly great-great-great-grandfather, was one of the men who brought Brahman cows into the country. This is my family’s legacy, our claim to fame, perhaps one day people will look back at your bold and courageous decision to allow the importation of pygmy hedgehogs as a similar moment.

I have a dream that one day the Pygmy Hedgehog will replace the domestic cat in households around Australia. I hate cats. Cats kill birds and other native Australian animals. The replacement of cats with hedgehogs can only be a good thing for the environment.

I took a survey of cat owners in my office, and amongst my friends (sample size 16), and most said they would destroy their cats in order to own a hedgehog.

Hedgehogs are a suitable replacement because they have a smaller environmental footprint than cats. They have a smaller physical footprint too, and are much less likely to hunt our animals as prey. They also eat cat food so there will only be a minimal economic impact on cat food manufacturers.

I wonder if, on the basis of this research and my family’s history as animal importers, you might wave the need for my application to be “scientific” in nature. I am pursuing this avenue as a private citizen who wants to give his wife a present rather than as someone with commercial imperatives. I don’t like the idea of paying a scientist to do this research.

My wife likes pets. We have two pet turtles. There names are Franklin and Roosevelt. We have properly issued EPA permits for these pets, and I think a similarly seamless permit process would easily allow the keeping of these hedgehogs as pets without any negative implications for the environment.

I think there’s also an imperative from your “Arts” portfolio to allow these hedgehogs to be imported. Every artist needs a muse, and these hedgehogs would be perfect. I’ve read that Spike Jonze takes his inspiration from a hedgehog, but that was on a blog so it’s probably not true. At the very least, Sonic the Hedgehog is a hedgehog, though he’s blue and not a pygmy…

It’s worth thinking about.

To conclude I write you this verse… I hope it’s not a breach of your copyright…

The time has come
a fact’s a fact
Echidnas are cool,
hedgehogs the new black

How can we dance when our birds keep squirming
how do we sleep while our cats keep murd’ring

Cats keep killing the cockatoos
from Kintore East to Yuendemu
While pygmy hedgehogs live and breathes
they’re cute and don’t have fleas

I’m clearly not a songwriter, and the metre of this is out a beat or two – but you get my point. I think music can be a powerful tool to change people’s minds and the policy of governments. Wouldn’t you agree?

Best Regards

Nathan Campbell

Letter to the Prime Minister

I sent the following email to the Prime Minister. Please feel free to join me in this campaign.

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Nathan Campbell
Date: 2009/10/21
Subject: Petition to allow the import of Pygmy HedgehogsDear Prime Minister Kevin Rudd,

In last Saturday’s Courier Mail a story (attached) ran depicting the Pygmy Hedgehog. The Pygmy Hedgehog, or African Pygmy Hedgehog, is very small and cute. As you’ll see in the picture from the attached article. It is also illegal to own one as a pet in Australia, and to import them (according to the Department of Environment Exotic Animal Guide).

I write to petition you to allow the import of these animals into Australia because they are very cute and would make good pets.

They are, as I mentioned, very small and unlikely to pose as a threat to natural wildlife if released into the wild (but who would release a pet this cute into the wild).

They eat a balanced diet of insects and cat food.

The reason Wikipedia gives ( for many countries not allowing pygmy hedgehogs is that they can carry “foot in mouth” disease.

I’m sure that you, as politicians, can relate to this disease and understand that it is no big deal as the news cycle only lasts a couple of days and then slip-ups are forgotten.

Foot in mouth disease, and hedgehogs (if eaten), may also help to eradicate the cane toad.

Foot-in-mouth disease is also carried by many other animals. Including Deer. Which according to that same exotic animal checklist ( are able to be imported.

These are just a sampling of the reasons that you should consider to allow the import of these hedgehogs.

At the end of the day the equation is very simple. The cuteness of these animals far outweighs any negatives as either a biosecurity issue or environmental impact.

If you are not able to allow the import of Pygmy Hedgehogs at this time could you please advise what steps must be taken to one day enable Australian pet owners the basic human right to own whatever animal we please. This right was established in the Christian creation account in Genesis. In prohibiting the import of this animal you are limiting our right to exercise dominion over creation. I know you are both Christian men so you will understand the importance of this.

I have CC’d the Australian Christian Lobby’s Jim Wallace in the hope that this matter will become part of the ACL policy platform. As you can tell I am keen to explore all possible avenues of persuasion in order to buy one of these for my wife. She isn’t sick or dying so I can’t tug on your heart strings. But she does love animals. And I think this would be a fantastic Christmas present.

I look forward to receiving your response.

Yours faithfully,

Nathan Campbell

PS. I didn’t vote for you last time – so I’ll understand if you don’t want to help me. But allowing the import of these hedgehogs would sway my vote this time. They are better looking than Malcolm Turnbull.

Courier Mail Clipping

Where there’s smoke…

Hello blog reader.

It has been a while since my last post and much has happened. I recently celebrated the one year anniversary of my new financial year resolution to not eat fast food. My definition of “fast food” included anything from McDonalds, Hungry Jacks, KFC and Red Rooster. I’m happy to announce that I made the whole year – plus some nine days as I’m yet to return. This year’s NFYR sees me forswear the joys of carbonated “soft” drink including the products of Coca Cola and Pepsi – but not extending to Bundaberg Ginger Beer or Lemon, Lime and Bitters at the pub.

I got all cultured and stuff in the last week with the Australian Festival of Chamber Music. I went to their gala “Chefs in the North” dinner as I did last year. The food was above average and the wine was superb. Robyn and I went to the Guv’nr’s Gala Concert on Saturday night featuring a string quartet from NZ, an opera performance, some improv didge and a pretentious “art” piece from the festival’s resident composer.

I spent Friday on a luxury charter boat circumnavigating Magnetic Island – I’ll post photos later. Wedding plans are continuing – we’re putting together a map so that people can find the farm. It’s exciting times people. That’s a little update from me…

And now, without further ado – the subject of my topic… Daniel Johns and Peter Garrett. The Australian media was briefly up in arms today, keen to see Garrett’s credibility go up in flames over allegations made that he’d been burning the Midnight Oil (and some THC) with the Silverchair singer and U2’s Bono.Johns was quick to hose down the speculation – claiming he’d made a spur of the moment, off the cuff, joke to lighten the mood on JJJ’s sullen breakfast program… from Crikey –

”In an interview I did this morning on Triple J I made a stupid joke. It’s just been brought to my attention that some people in the media have taken my dumb joke seriously so I want to set the record straight. At no time have I ever “smoked a joint” with Bono or Peter Garrett. They are both well known to be very anti-drugs so that’s why I assumed everybody would know I was joking when I made that comment. Clearly that wasn’t the case and I feel sick that I might have caused embarrassment to two people who I admire so much.”

“I was fortunate enough to once get to play them some of my demo’s but I swear that no joints were involved. I guess I felt a bit like a namedropper mentioning them on the radio so that’s why I added a silly throwaway joke. I accept that drug use is no laughing matter and I apologize sincerely for any confusion or harm I’ve caused. Just by the way, this is one of the reasons why I hate doing interviews. I really should just shut up and stick to singing.”

Convincing? I’m not so sure.

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