Gabrielle Connolly – Fighting for what is ours

16th February 2007

Gabrielle Connolly has entered her story into ABC’s Heywire competition.  The Connolly’s have a long association with PRA.
Heywire is about giving regional youths a voice about what it’s like for youth’s growing up in regional Australia.  This is her story; 

It started 15 years ago, in 1991, when the National Parks and Wildlife walked into our home and told us that they were going to resume our property for a national park. If it weren’t for the passion and persistence of my great parents, the history and architecture of our homestead that was built in 1911 would have been destroyed.

My brother and I have loved our childhood, growing up in a rural environment, experiencing the highs and lows of good times and challenging times of drought, but sadly our security has once again been threatened by the introduction of the Vegetation Management Act 1999. With the ongoing drought that has been recorded as the worst in history and the enormous stress put on families, one could only hope for the freedom to feed livestock by pulling the Mulga tree, which has been managed by responsible farmers for over 100 years. Many farmers refer to it as their lifeline in times of need.

Once again our family has been invaded and are being prosecuted by the government, with tree police turning up on our doorstep with a warrant to enter and a tape recorder recording every word spoken. One would have to experience this behaviour to understand the stress it puts innocent people through. Sadly, innocent farmers have been made to plead guilty as they just don’t have the money to pay these fines—what a dreadful position this puts people in, who are the backbone of this great country we live in.

Sadly, many people in the city have lost touch that all food and fibre are produced on cleared land, and if they want to continue to enjoy the luxury of being able to purchase food in the supermarkets, they must spend some time in the country. I strongly believe that every child, politician and bureaucrat should experience first-hand what farmers experience in their day-to-day working operation, especially in drought conditions, so they can understand the challenges that farmers face, working diligently to put nutritious food into the supermarkets—not that produced in unhygienic methods, imported from other countries.

I sincerely thank my parents for opening up our property as a farm-stay so that other people from all walks of life can experience first hand that we are not destroying the environment and that we as a family have worked tirelessly to preserve our heritage.
Gabrielle Connolly