Topic: election Oz 2007
The editor had an interesting interview recently with long time qualified high school teacher here in NSW, and Canada, Peter Woof, a long time supporter of environmental causes.
He tells an interesting story from his parents lounge room in Killara (a pretty exclusive north shore suburb of Sydney):
In 1978 25 year old Woof stood up to student politician, now federal government health minister, Tony Abbott who he says was allegedly caught doing unethical or perhaps illegal things like changing the locks on the student union offices and other things.
Woof says Abbott, a well known boxing enthusiast now if not then, punched Woof in the face. Woof was a 24 year old technician employed at Sydney University.
The date can be corroborrated by reference to civil assault suit documentation against Abbott presumably created for Woof in the Glebe local court at the time. Woof represented himself but was totally out muscled financially, he says, by 'half a dozen' barristers and lawyers who turned up at the preliminary hearing turning the civil suit into a high risk of huge legal costs against the alleged assault victim Woof.
Woof assumes these expensive lawyers taking a student activist dispute to another level were paid for by Abbott's 'rich father'. (It also suggests a serious fear of a blossoming conservative political career almost destroyed at birth.)
This legal bullying tactic arguably at the expense of justice has the echo of the vexatious legal suit by Gunns Ltd bullying of Tasmanian environmentalists in the last few years.
Woof withdrew the civil suit he says under financial duress.
Peter Woof is a very experienced and qualifed person. He has an engineering degree. He is a qualified radio operator and mechanic who ws driving an LPG 4 cyllinder sedan in the early 1980's years before LPG was so popular. He owns his own house.
Woof is no shrinking violet. He is a friend and colleague of anti pirate whaler Paul Watson of Sea Shepherd fame. Woof has participated in environmental protests including conviction for entirely peaceful protests against a nuclear warship in Sydney Harbour and the docking of a rainforest timber ship in the 1980ies and 90ies. During this period in 1986 Woof held down a high school teaching job in Bombala, a well known 'Timber Town' in NSW.
The Canadian teaching accreditation authority are aware of this lively history and have endorsed Woof's employment as a talented and committed non prosletising high school teacher. He is flying out today to continue his teaching job in remote Saskatchewan Canada
Woof notes that global warming has massively contracted the viability of traditional 'winter roads' (over frozen swamp and bog) in remote Saskatchewan, such that only one month mid January to mid February is now safe for high volume road transport during winter. This is too small a window he says to properly provision remote areas prefacing a depopulation of large swathes of North America in the future.
Peter Woof can be contacted by email on:
Woof whose eyesight is suffering long sightedness in middle older age is no longer able to do much close work but obviously has some very interesting tales to tell still in his career of environmental advocacy back to the Franklin River blockades and earlier.
The alleged assault by Tony Abbott was openly discussed at a recent reunion of the Sydney Bushwalkers Club in 2006 and there are likely to be several sources to corroborate this version of student activist history of the 1970's here in Sydney.
One such witness in the 1970's approached Woof (attending with his elderly parents) at the dinner and said words to the effect of "It's a pity Peter you didn't knock Tony Abott's block off when you had the chance."
Obviously the student politics back then was very willing. Woof's social companion who made this comment unprompted is now a senior executive with a NSW Govt agency (details held by the editor).