|Member of the New South Wales Legislative Council|
25 March 1995 – 4 March 2011
|Born||5 June 1951|
|Political party||Greens New South Wales|
|Website||Ian Cohen MLC|
Ian Cohen (born 5 June 1951) is a former Australian politician.
After attending Fort Street High School Cohen attended and graduated from the University of New South Wales with the degree of Bachelor of Arts (BA) and later earned a Graduate Diploma in Education (DipEd). He is an environmental and social change activist and "has fostered a specific interest in the concept of theatre of the environment as an educational and community empowerment technique".
Cohen has organised and participated in many major environmental campaigns in Australia during the 1980s: Nightcap rainforests in Northern NSW, Franklin River, Daintree, South East forests NSW, North Washpool and Chaelundi. He has also participated in anti-nuclear campaigns including those at the Honeymoon and Roxby Downs uranium mines. Cohen's involvement in such campaigns was characterised by radical, front-line protest action; in the Franklin River Dam protest, for example, he opposed The Wilderness Society's decision to halt the up-river blockade in the period between the election of the anti-Dam Federal Labor government and the Australian High Court decision that ultimately saved the river.
Cohen was a founder of the Sydney Peace Squadron and the Brisbane Peace and Environment fleet and came to international attention in 1986 when photographed on a surfboard, while clinging to the bow of the destroyer USS Oldendorf (DD-972), as she pulled into Sydney Harbour to participate in the 75th Anniversary of the Royal Australian Navy. He was reported on ABC news as stating of the incident: "I think we sent a really strong message to the powers that be at that stage of the Cold War that there were Australians who objected strongly in a non-violent manner to the entry of nuclear warships into Sydney Harbour."
Cohen joined the Greens in 1984. He contested the Senate in 1984 and 1993. After contesting a seat in the state upper house in 1991, in March 1995 he was elected to the New South Wales Legislative Council as its first Green member. In September 1995, he was involved in organising a parliamentary delegation to protest against French nuclear testing in the Pacific.
In March 2003, he was re-elected to the NSW Legislative Council for a second 8 year term. He was involved, as a Member of the State Development Committee in Parliament, in enquiries into the Viability of Rural Towns, Sustainable Agriculture, and Fisheries, as well as looking into issues such as salinity. He also established the Genetic Engineering Committee to investigate Genetic Engineering in Agriculture. He has worked on a number of Joint Select Committees, undertaking a pioneering investigation into Medically Supervised Injecting Rooms, and investigating the Northside Sewerage Tunnel.
Cohen retired from parliament in 2011 and has since spoken out against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign supported by some sections of the party and the party's decision not to preference the Labor Party.
In 2008, Cohen was charged with assault occasioning bodily harm and common assault concerning his former partner, Donna Davis, and summonsed to appear before Byron Bay Local Court. Cohen said he was "absolutely not guilty". The charges were later withdrawn.
- Cohen I. Green Fire. An Account of the Australian Environmental Protest Movement Angus and Robertson. Sydney 1997 pp79-80.
- ABC TV. In Time Series. Broadcast 6.30pm on 10/6/2002 http://www.abc.net.au/dimensions/dimensions_in_time/Transcripts/s578493.htm (last accessed 16 July 2009)
- "Surprise disappointment for the NSW Greens".
- "NSW Greens MP: Israel boycott has undermined our campaign".
- "Greens MP Cohen accused of assault".
- "'I was devastated, disempowered. I feel belittled and degraded.'".