Review of Hearts and Minds: Creative Australians and the Environment, by Michael Pollak and Margaret MacNabb.

A recent special feature in The Australian asked a range of people what the land meant to them. Keith Williams, notorious most recently for his battle to 'develop' a resort at Port Hinchinbrook, said that the land means 'freedom'. Echoing that other great cham- pion of 'development' in the north, Ion Idriess, he went on to affinn his belief that 'man has been given the intelligence to manage natural areas and in some cases even improve on nature', and to describe himselfas a 'hands-on 'conservationist'. While the hearts and minds of many Australians may be driven by a sense of the need to restrain the human freedoms that have produced widespread degradation of the environment, clearly the hearts and minds of many are not- or not in the same way. Williams's very human- centred approach is at the other end of the spectrum from Tim Flannery's campaign to thwart plans to develop Sydney harbour's North Head in order to save Sydney's last remaining bandicoot population (Hearts and Minds 118-19). Hearts and Minds is a trail-blazing swvey of the role of creative and persuasive writing in the development of environmental awareness in contemporary Australia. Clearly committed to the environment and enthusiastic about their very large task, Michael Pollak and Margaret MacNabb display the campaigner's belief in the efficacy of their subject matter, telling us in their opening chapter that 'the spread of new ideas is the mightiest weapon in the fight to preserve tl1e environment' and that 'literature and the other arts have ... had an important role in forging our beliefs' (7). Yet I find myself wanting to ask what influence new ideas expressed in good writing have had on Keith Williams, and whether it was art or the dedication of activists that achieved at least some restraints on the Williams project

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Published 1 May 2001 in Volume 20 No. 1. Subjects: Natural environment - Literary portrayal.

Cite as: Blair, Ruth. ‘Review of Hearts and Minds: Creative Australians and the Environment, by Michael Pollak and Margaret MacNabb..’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 20, no. 1, 2001.