What Hanabeth Did Next

Tim Baker
Talking Heads

When Hanabeth Luke was photographed helping a bloodied victim of the Bali Bombing out of the flaming wreckage of the Sari Club in October 2002, her image was plastered on the front pages of newspapers around the world. She was dubbed the Angel of Bali and became a symbol of selfless heroism in the face of the dire threat posed by terrorism. 

Now, two decades later, Dr Hanabeth Luke, an environmental scientist, academic, Marine Rescue volunteer, and three-time Evans Head longboard champion, is applying those same traits of courage and service to the swirling, hazardous world of politics. Standing as an independent candidate for Page, in northern NSW, the epicentre of recent devastating floods, Dr Luke is running on a platform of strong climate action, affordable housing, integrity in politics, and strong representation for the region where she lives, works, and surfs. 

A senior lecturer at Southern Cross University, Hanabeth’s an expert in the social and economic effects of coal seam gas development and the founding coordinator of the world’s first undergraduate degree in Regenerative Agriculture. She works with farmers and rural industries to ward off inappropriate development like coal seam gas and adapt to the impacts of climate change. 

Full disclosure: Ten years ago, I edited Hanabeth’s memoir 'Shock Waves', documenting her life leading up to the Bali Bombing and the devastating reality of that unthinkable event and its shocking aftermath. What impressed me most about Hanabeth back then was, far from seeking vengeance, she used that awful tragedy as fuel to campaign for peace and tolerance and to call out the scourge of Islamophobia that arose in its wake. Hanabeth famously took then-UK PM Tony Blair to task on live TV over the planned invasion of Iraq. 

When helping to launch 'Shock Waves' ten years ago I commented that, as remarkable as her story up to that point was, the thing I was most interested in was what she might do next.  What she did next was spend years charging big waves in Indonesia and Margaret River as she healed from the trauma of Bali, launch an academic career examining the impacts of coal seam gas and climate change on her community, start a family and, ultimately, a grass roots political campaign, as part of the 'teal wave' of independents demanding climate action. 

If you’re already feeling jaded about the shallow theatrics of the election campaign, a chat with Hanabeth might just be the antidote you need to ward off despair at our broken politics. 

Tim Baker: You’re three-time Evans Head longboard champ. You’ve got a great academic career and a beautiful family and a home by the beach. Why would you leave all that to hang out with a bunch of sociopaths in Canberra?
Hanabeth Luke: I’m a scientist and I know we’re on the brink of absolute climate catastrophe. Humankind has to do anything in its power to avert disaster and do it right now and that means how you vote matters. We’ve got to stand up for political candidates who have the political will to fight for this. The floods tell us this is bleak. Many people are still living in huts with dirt floors because they can’t deal with the government bureaucracy to access emergency funding. Our governance is in a terrible state. The political system is so skewed to the major parties it’s really hard to break in.

When I saw the Climate 200 movement funding independent candidates it gave me hope. When I got sufficiently angry at the National Party over their failure at the Glasgow climate summit I jumped up from my desk and threw down my pen and said, enough is enough. 

How has the response been? You’re a political novice – how have you found the reality of the campaign trail so far?
People have been amazing. It is exhausting, but I can count on my fingers the number of people who have been negative. Most people I meet say, ‘Yeah, I would vote for you. I really like your approach. This is doing politics differently. You’re not preferencing major parties.’

We were just getting the movement going when the floods hit so hard. Not just the region but also my team. One of my team, his house literally skidded down the hill. This is so, so real now. I found myself in a tinny on a lake where my daughters pre-school used to be, just sticking out of the water. 

Hanabeth, back to the wall but charging

How have your life experiences prepared you for this? You survived the Bali bombing and rescued people from the burning wreckage. You confronted UK PM Tony Blair about the Iraq War on live TV. You spent years charging big waves in Indo and Margaret River. In academia you’ve tackled coal seam gas and climate change and re-generative farming, working with local farmers and landowners. Does it feel like your whole life has been building to this point?
Some of them have prepared me well. Bali, it reminds me that you’ve got to have courage to change things. It is scary. A lot of people think it [climate change] is hopeless, so you’ve got to have courage to give it a go. There’s so much at stake. The system is stacked against you. A lot of people think in blue and red only [the major parties]. But yesterday 200,000 voters enrolled. That gives me hope.

What do you think it will take to get surfers more politically engaged, because from the conversations I’ve had many seem really disengaged?
We have Surfers for Climate, Surfrider Foundation, and local group the Clarence Catchment Alliance holding an event and call to action on May 7 in Yamba. With carpark convos on climate change, and a screening of the remastered ‘Morning of the Earth’ the local crew is certainly engaging.  

The young guys in Evans Head, they’re fired up. They were already struggling to find rentals, and now their rentals are flooded. Life’s tough for them. This government has taken away their penalty rates. House prices are out of reach. Everyone’s living with their parents and now their parents are moving in with their cousins because their house has been flooded. It’s a really really desperate situation.

Is charging big waves a good preparation for the rough and tumble of politics?
It's just like a wave. I feel like if you go surf a big wave, you don’t paddle out with noodle arms. You’ve got to be able to hold your breath. You’ve got to have the right board. You have to be fit for it. I feel a little bit under-gunned, there’s some big craft out there. I’m trying to paddle in when there’s guys on jet skis. But I’ve done that before out at Burleigh and got the wave of my life. 

What would you say to surfers who aren’t interested in politics?
Your vote is your golden ticket - don’t throw it away. We determine the future of our country when we vote and it’s not just our country. Being a leader in this space is something we can do. Politicians are meant to be the voice of the people; many feel they don’t represent them at all anymore. But there is hope and that’s where independents come in. We’ve got solar resources in this country like nowhere else on earth. There are private companies building cables to Singapore without any government support. We could be a net exporter of clean energy, but we need the political will. How do we get the political will? The voters.

"See y'all at the polling booth!"

Where do you think young people can find hope in the political world of shallow sound bites and petty point scoring?
Look locally. We’ve got some great candidates. We’re in the middle of a revolution. This wave of teal independent candidates, it’s all about the young people saying, 'We’re here to do a different sort of politics'. I’m here to act with integrity, to speak for the community. The speaking is done down in Canberra, but the listening’s all done at home. People say, I never see my local member. They never see them apart from photo opportunities. There’s something pretty awesome happening here. I’ll be here and I’ll be listening. I’ll not just be listening in the weeks leading up to an election. It’s time to use that courage again. It’s a hard thing to do. There’s a lot of power being exercised to resist change. That’s what I’m here to do, we’ve got to speak truth to power.

Comments

radiationrules's picture
radiationrules's picture
radiationrules Wednesday, 27 Apr 2022 at 4:12pm

all power to you Hanabeth - I'm gonna flick the majors this time around, in my electorate - too much sausage and not enough substance, or willingness for change

wax-on-danielson's picture
wax-on-danielson's picture
wax-on-danielson Saturday, 30 Apr 2022 at 9:17am

I agree. I think the progress before conscious approach has run its course. It’s time for change which isn’t focused around mining growth and inflated property prices.

big wave dave's picture
big wave dave's picture
big wave dave Wednesday, 27 Apr 2022 at 4:14pm

Go girl!!!
We've got Corolyn Heise ("Caz4Cowper") just down the coast in the Coffs to Port electorate of Cowper, also supported by Climate 200.
These candidates are real people who love their home towns and will fight for their constituents.
With a simple but powerful agenda of bringing integrity to politics, standing up for local issues and being serious about climate change, Caz will contrast the old fashion National Party candidates who cynically take the electorates support for granted.
It's time for a change, and I wish these "teal" candidates the best of luck

bonza's picture
bonza's picture
bonza Thursday, 28 Apr 2022 at 8:35am

Too right. The "voices 4" model is an excellent one demonstrated in the electorate of Indi held by Haines. A historically safe seat for the coalition until Cathy McGowan defeated that piece of work Mirrabella. Haines succeeded McGowan - endorsed by the community under the voices 4 democratic model. Encouraging to see such great independents being rolled out across the electorates. Good luck Luke and Heise!

kbomb's picture
kbomb's picture
kbomb Saturday, 30 Apr 2022 at 11:59am

Caz4Cowper definitely has my vote

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Wednesday, 27 Apr 2022 at 4:21pm

Hannabeth is the real deal.

Hope she gets elected or at least gives Kevin Hogan a mighty scare.

batfink's picture
batfink's picture
batfink Wednesday, 27 Apr 2022 at 4:33pm

Your wave Hanabeth. Give it your best shot.

No ‘teal’ candidates locally. If there were they’d get my vote. Vive La revolution.

dandob's picture
dandob's picture
dandob Wednesday, 27 Apr 2022 at 4:48pm

She's got my vote.

mick-burnside's picture
mick-burnside's picture
mick-burnside Wednesday, 27 Apr 2022 at 4:52pm

Hi Tim or Hanabeth, Im in Melbourne. Is there some kind of independent MPs network set up nationally so the caring slice of the masses know how to vote in their respective electorate?
Could someone be appointed to set up a go to website for unaware people like myself?
future wise it could be worth investing in, with social media it could be easily shared.
Anything to de stabilize the current major parties. Theyre using the green and global emissions pitch for their own dodgy gains. Cheers.

bluediamond's picture
bluediamond's picture
bluediamond Wednesday, 27 Apr 2022 at 6:10pm

That's a fantastic idea @mickburnside.
And go Hannabeth. I'll be spreading the word to all the crew i know up that way for you.

mick-burnside's picture
mick-burnside's picture
mick-burnside Wednesday, 27 Apr 2022 at 6:50pm

Thanks BD.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Thursday, 28 Apr 2022 at 7:15am

Couple of good resources here Mick and others..

https://theyvoteforyou.org.au/

https://www.climate200.com.au/podcast

mick-burnside's picture
mick-burnside's picture
mick-burnside Thursday, 28 Apr 2022 at 8:35am

Thanks Craig. Ill listen to the climate 200 podcast tonight.

the-bower's picture
the-bower's picture
the-bower Saturday, 30 Apr 2022 at 8:18am

Hi Mick, in 2019 I started the Vote Tony Out campaign that led to Zali Steggall being elected here in Manly ( Warringah ). I have been mentoring many groups.

This time round I have set up the Keep Tony Out campaign. It show cases all the community backed independents.

www.keeptonyout.com

Robwilliams's picture
Robwilliams's picture
Robwilliams Wednesday, 27 Apr 2022 at 5:09pm

Good luck and represent. Change is possible when passion and knowledge arise. It starts with people like Hanabeth taking a stance. Go get the Bastards. No compromise for those and what she represents. Here, now and towards the future.

quote
Look locally. We’ve got some great candidates. We’re in the middle of a revolution. This wave of teal independent candidates, it’s all about the people saying, 'We’re here to do a different sort of politics'. I’m here to act with integrity, to speak for the community. The speaking is done down in Canberra, but the listening’s all done at home. People say, I never see my local member. They never see them apart from photo opportunities. There’s something pretty awesome happening here. I’ll be here and I’ll be listening. I’ll not just be listening in the weeks leading up to an election. It’s time to use that courage again. It’s a hard thing to do. There’s a lot of power being exercised to resist change. That’s what I’m here to do, we’ve got to speak truth to power.

Take a fucking stand

Standingleft's picture
Standingleft's picture
Standingleft Wednesday, 27 Apr 2022 at 7:03pm

Thanks Hanabeth, at last, some inspiring leadership.

san Guine's picture
san Guine's picture
san Guine Wednesday, 27 Apr 2022 at 7:19pm

Brilliant. Go for it Hannabeth.

I'll be voting for an independent this election.

Hoodie's picture
Hoodie's picture
Hoodie Wednesday, 27 Apr 2022 at 8:01pm

Me too. I hope we don't regret it.

Nav Fox's picture
Nav Fox's picture
Nav Fox Thursday, 28 Apr 2022 at 7:38am

Met Hanabeth at the Yamba Farmers Market, she’s the real deal. Good luck to her and I hope she gets in..

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet Thursday, 28 Apr 2022 at 8:11am

For those curious, here's HL's campaign video:

&t=54s

Westofthelake's picture
Westofthelake's picture
Westofthelake Thursday, 28 Apr 2022 at 8:43am

That's one pretty slick campaign video. One thing's for sure is we need more Hanabeths.

" Dr Luke is running on a platform of strong climate action, affordable housing, integrity in politics, and strong representation for the region where she lives, works, and surfs."

I really hope she gets in because authenticity can't be bought.

AndyM's picture
AndyM's picture
AndyM Thursday, 28 Apr 2022 at 11:24am

Considering that the incumbent member for Page, Kevin Hogan, votes in favour of drug testing welfare recipients, votes consistently against the lowest paid workers and is in favour of reducing corporate tax rates etc etc, I hope Hannabeth knocks him off the perch he's been on for the past nine years.

And that's a great campaign vid, to me it speaks of authenticity and being in touch.

Ash's picture
Ash's picture
Ash Thursday, 28 Apr 2022 at 12:25pm

To me this election is all about not giving the nod to Scott, but I'm a bit cautious about Albo as well. So this article prompted me to quickly check on my local independent Rebekha Sharkie. Happily for me she's supported by Climate 200 as well.
Good article Tim and SN

rich74's picture
rich74's picture
rich74 Thursday, 28 Apr 2022 at 12:56pm

the fact that the local Nationals member for Page Kevin Hogan has no mention of the National Party on his local TV ads this week shows that he is in electoral trouble with the Fed govt on the nose in this region after all thats happened. She is in with a real chance at this election I reckon.
i went through uni with Hanabeth in Lismore 20 years ago and bumped in to her at 10ft+ outside corner Uluwatu on one of the anniversary of the Bali bombing years ago, she totally charges in and out of the water

StormyAndBo's picture
StormyAndBo's picture
StormyAndBo Thursday, 28 Apr 2022 at 1:33pm

Hanabeth is one of the smartest and kindest people I know. She is seriously across all the issues and in a good position to really shake out the national incumbent. If you are in Page, Hanabeth will get your voice heard. She's a tenacious little character and worthy of your voice. If you're in Richmond, Mandy Nolan is also gonna shake the tree, in a good way. I've had a few good chats with her on various issues, and she will do a great job. Both electorates need change, and now.... BTW, Great write up Tim.

H2O's picture
H2O's picture
H2O Thursday, 28 Apr 2022 at 4:04pm

The following is from the conclusion in the 2021 Grattan Institute report on Independent candidates .
"But there is little sign of the Commonwealth making big policy reforms, and no sign of any government pursuing the kind of institutional changes that this report has identified as important to enabling policy reform in future. .... The most likely prospect for institutional change is that independent members of parliament demand it as the price of their support when they hold the balance of power or their votes are needed to pass legislation."
https://grattan.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Gridlock-Grattan-Repor...
Hope Hanabeth and others get up.

Roystein's picture
Roystein's picture
Roystein Friday, 29 Apr 2022 at 5:09am

Fuck yes go Hannabeth

Smorto's picture
Smorto's picture
Smorto Friday, 29 Apr 2022 at 10:19am

Its pretty risky to vote for candidates who's policies are primarily climate focussed, so many more issues relevant to governance and society.

Don't shoot me down as I'm not some rusted on Liberal, but the amount of people I've spoken to who don't want to hear about La Nina or the pacific dipole and think that the sole reason for the weather of the last 6 months is simply 'climate change' is actually quite scary, and its scarier to think what would happen if these people have the balance of power in government.

I focus's picture
I focus's picture
I focus Saturday, 30 Apr 2022 at 10:11am

Wow a real person go Hanabeth hope you get up.

Ferguson's picture
Ferguson's picture
Ferguson Monday, 2 May 2022 at 10:57am

You are a dream come true, and in the Nick of time

Patrick's picture
Patrick's picture
Patrick Sunday, 8 May 2022 at 9:13am

Good interview love her passion.