There have traditionally been very few women in the halls of power, influence and industry. To fit into the blokey power culture some have had to be as tough as. Many started out spruiking for the logging industry or had close associations with logging heavyweights like Michael O’Connor. Our most famous woodchippers apprentice is Julia Gillard – once the girlfriend of Forestry Union boss, Michael O’Connor. They are still close friends. She admits he remains a trusted adviser.
How’s this for more cozy connections – Michael O’Connor’s brother is called Brendan and happens to be the Employment Participation Minister who works closely with Gillard.
Now let’s look at Penny Wong, Minister for Climate Change. Senator Wong used to be part of O’Connor’s loggers division of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU). Later she advised the NSW Carr Government on logging issues. This makes you wonder if Penny Wong’s anti-conservation position of the past will influence her policies on climate change and carbon emissions.
Then there’s Jill Lewis, former Timber Communities Australia executive who’s now with the NSW Trucking Association; Robyn Bain (formerly Loydell), who held the same position with TCA, is now chief of the Cement Industry Federation. She says that women have a natural advantage of not being afraid of an emotional argument. Then we have Dominique La Fontaine, a past lobbyist for clearfelling and woodchipping, now heading the Clean Energy Council(!).
Another woman who started off pushing the barrow for the pulp and paper industry is Belinda Robinson, now chief executive of the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association.
Gas industry promoter Cheryl Cartwright was a former adviser to one-time Forestry Minister Warren Truss.
The CEO of the national umbrella group for logging, the National Association of Forest Industries, is Catherine Murphy, a former adviser to Opposition leader Brendan Nelson.
And who doesn’t know Trish Caswell – a eco-Judas who went from the Australian Conservation Foundation into the logging industry’s lap. The Victorian Association of Forest Industries successfully head-hunted her. She said the strategy of having women as figureheads in these traditionally dirty, tough, male-dominated industries softened their image in the media. Mascara-thick eyelashes are the antithesis of a beer gut in a check shirt.
Maybe the green movement needs a few burly blokes to thump politician’s desks.