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Vale, Doug Duthoit

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Tags: Environment

Ms WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Madam Speaker, I rise tonight to pay tribute to Doug Duthoit. I read now from a speech which was written by Rene Raichert, who is the Kingborough Council's NRM project officer, and Michael Christie. Rene delivered this speech to the Tasmanian Landcare Awards on 10 October this year. She said:

There is no doubt that Landcare is filled with that 'special kind of someone'. The commitment and passion embodied within Landcare volunteers leaves those that work in the industry humbled, in awe of what can be and often is achieved by people.

Last year Landcare volunteers in Tasmania lost a valued member of the family, a special kind of someone who has left behind one large pair of muddied and well-worked boots to fill. Doug Duthoit was convenor of the Snug Land and Coastcare Group and a passionate advocate of the natural environment.

From the moment that Doug and his wife, Margie, moved to Kingborough 15 years ago, the landscape was never going to be the same. It didn't take long for Doug to sow himself intricately into the fabric of the community, becoming a member of the Channel Citizens Association in response to rumours of a north-west deep seaport, a member of the Kingborough North-West Bay Progress Association, founding member and for many years president of the Snug Land and Coastcare Group, Treasurer of the Kingborough Landcare Advisory Group, inaugural President of the Kingborough Community Consultative Forum and founding member of the Snug Community Group.

Unofficially, Doug also filled the role of the Snug Welcoming Committee, his hospitality leaving newcomers feeling most wanted albeit a little stimulated and educated. Knocking on the door with an offering of a native plant, he would pounce on the opportunity to bring them into his network of landcarers. Many coordinators and facilitators could learn from the way he synchronised and harmonised the many factions of the community. He could coordinate bands of people, defined by street or interests or some other genre and for whom he would affectionately provide an identity such as 'the naughty boys' or 'the Taranaki mob'.

The goals of these assemblages were often poles apart - a walking track to school, a view to the river, fire hazard reduction or pure conservationist. After 'the Doug effect' was applied however they operated as though they were one inclusive colourful and well-oiled machine, all with a common goal.

Doug knew that in reality you can't teach most old dogs new tricks but you can get them interested in a biscuit and if enough dogs like biscuits then the world is your rehabilitated and well-conserved oyster. The Snug Landcare Group is not about a patch of bush or a bunch of people; it is about all of the bush and the whole of the community.

It was hard to keep up with Doug, a man equally comfortable with a meeting agenda as he was wielding a pair of loppers. His inextinguishable drive to perform the most menial or dirtiest of jobs often with more energy and commitment than others half his age meant there was no choice but to admire him. It was this drive and tenacity which made him a mentor for many that worked beside him.

His mentoring was not limited to work on the tools. It also extended to the art of networking, community-building and leadership. Nor were his lessons restricted by age or title; be he a volunteer, facilitator or mayor there was always something to be learnt if you gave him your time or if he actually demanded it.

His passion did not stop at the local environment, either; he was a fierce campaigner for climate change mitigation, a voice for the generations to come. From this stemmed his involvement with TasMarc, a project aimed at monitoring shorelines and their response to storm events and sea level rise. Out in inclement weather, Doug and the team would be measuring the dunes of Snug, recording the information for historical purposes.

Clear, mow, brush-cut, weed, plant, scheme, and repeat the cycle. He was a driven landscaper of public places - open up, rehabilitate, conserve and protect. These cycles Doug would live and breathe. Walk around many parts of Kingborough and you will find the legacy of this determined 'old boy', a title he claimed for himself.

Doug and his wife Margie, along with Jonathon Roe, had taken on the monumental task of cutting an unofficial walking track through the bushland of Snug so that others, too, could be inspired by the landscape. He would map, negotiate, weed and plant as he went. When asked by council staff if he knew who exactly was responsible for the unofficial construction work, his response was always, 'It could not have been me; I'm just an old boy'. They all knew the real answer, of course.

He had a vision for Kingborough that went beyond conservation. He saw it as a community that made informed, collective decisions about its present and future. He never shied from a fight, preferring to speak his values and present his truth, but always in a manner that gained him respect. Do not give up or give in, instead gather evidence, try other avenues, knock on a different door, build your alliances. His environmental vision was complemented by a political one as well.

A public consultation could not slip past the scrutiny of Doug Duthoit. Some may have seen it as trouble in their way, but he operated with the fundamental belief that people should have real opportunities to make decisions about their street, their town and their region.

Finally, many Kingborough landcarers share Michael Christie's memory, which he illustrated so beautifully when he wrote:

'My abiding memory of Doug is him unfurling his master plan of Snug on a table: the large plan with the official lines and divisions overlaid like a manuscript with his handwritten lines and rough sketches of where boundaries actually were, or where large rumoured subdivision developments might better be located. "Here, let me show you", he would say, and as he talked, you were drawn into his vision.'

Vale, Doug Duthoit.