The Hobart

Tasmanian Film Maker And Journalist, Craig Leeson

by Lily Whiting
Tasmanian Film Maker And Journalist, Craig Leeson

Filmmaker, journalist, television presenter and entrepreneur, Burnie-born Craig Leeson wears many hats and was recently named the Australian Tasmanian of the Year 2022. His environmental advocacy work has stretched far beyond Tasmania, but upon each return does he’s reminded just how fragile our planet is.

Craig was very young and playing by the oceanside of Burnie when he realised the environment and humans weren’t living separately on the one earth. The rockpools that Craig grew up exploring were meant to be the home of small fish and crabs but were instead housing polluted outfall from heavy industry, no life in sight. This environmental decay was his first under­standing of the relationship of environ­ment, industry, and human survival.

Working on his documentary A Plastic Ocean was an unanticipated culmina­tion of decades of infatuation with the movements of Blue whales. Diving off the coast of Sri-Lanka to catch a glimpse of these great creatures instead meant watching plastic floating in the same ocean. These animals are the voiceless he speaks of, with a need to protect, like that of the next generation to live after us. “We only think that other species are voiceless because we don’t understand their language,” Craig explains. “If you’ve ever been underwater and heard a blue whale talking to another that’s ten kilometres away, you’ll understand how good at communicating they are, we just haven’t given them a say.”

His role as a self-declared storyteller has found him a world stage to talk about his findings and collaborate with and advise international governments. Not long after watching A Plastic Ocean, the Chilean environmental minister banned plastic bags along its coastlines, and not too long after, extended it across the whole country. His time with governments as far afield as Columbia were ones that made Australia’s lag in adopting similar policies all more obvious. Like that of Australia’s hesitation in banning single use plastics until 2042. “We’ve seen Australia fall behind in the way that we treat the environment compared to the rest of the world,” he explains. “Previously I used to get asked about things Australia is excelling in, like medicine and science, today I get asked what is Australia doing? Why are you not committing to net zero by 2050? These questions are coming from people involved in oil and gas man­ufacturing, and I don’t have an answer for them,” Craig says. “Nature capital has to be considered the top of any business plan and I think Australia is a business that needs to start looking at nature as the most important asset that we have.”

Craig has spent the last twenty years trav­elling and consulting across the world, making coming back to Tasmania special and close to his heart when destruction is evident close to home. “Everywhere I travel, I talk about Tasmania,” says Craig. “There are few of these [Tasmania] places left on the planet and people come here to see what they can’t see anywhere else on the planet.” It’s no surprise then that the industries that rely on Tasmania for income, whether it be tourism and hospitality, or salmon, logging and mining are in Craig’s periphery. In what sounds like a strange contradiction, Craig details it being more than just an environmen­tal issue. “This is a business issue and Tasmania has a great deal of scope left to become a smarter business entity in the way it markets the special nature of its environment.” With as much awareness as his time in the rockpools, he understands better how finely tuned our planet is, with positive or negative effects of actions felt on every other species no matter where you live.

After initially marking the nomination emails from the Tasmanian Government as spam, Craig is hopeful that his position as Tasmanian Australian of the year is the turning point for environmental change. “I see my role as sharing the knowledge of what I’ve witnessed so that other people can make their own decisions about how they wish to treat the envi­ronment, how they wish to conduct their own lives, whether they feel that what they’re doing enough in their own home is enough,” he says.

“We’re seeing the youth movement having a very strong voice about what they believe is a critical issue with climate and they absolutely should be included in the conversation. My generation has another 30 or 40 years of life left, these kids have sixty 70-80 years of life left.” Craig goes on to say, “What we’re handing to them guarantees that they have a healthy and beneficial life and they’re able to take advantage of the resources of this planet as much as I have, or my parents ever did and to me that’s the only legacy that I think is worth leaving.”

Love this

Cold Water Wake Up Call
It seems everywhere I turn someone is talking about or participating in cold water swimming right now.
A Short Geelong Getaway
Since the Spirit of Tasmania terminal moved from Melbourne to Geelong late last year, a visit to Geelong has been on the radar.
27 Hobart Friends Get Snipping For One Off Wine
The borders were declared shut in Tasmania on the 30th of March, 2020; the first stare to do so amid the COVID- 19 pandemic and hard lockdown of Hobart followed.
Danphe Nepalese and Indian Food + Peppermint Bay Bar and Bistro
Nepalese food is a comfort in our house. Having spent much time trekking and mountain climbing in Nepal as a younger man, Nepalese food is something I always love to go back to.
That’s DR Hannah Gadsby To You
From Smithton to Netflix and the Emmys stage, Tasmanian stand up comic Hannah Gadsby has forged an unlikely path. Following on from the massive success of her shows Nanette and Douglas, Hannah brings her new show Body of Work to Hobart this month.
PODCAST: Incat founder Robert Clifford on why electric boats are the future
Robert Clifford is the founder of Incat, a Hobart company building fast ferries for the world. Always looking to future opportunities, he has identified where Hobart sits in the next wave of transportation. For more of this interview listen to The Hobart Magazine podcast.
Is Tourism Ready For More Forestry Wars?
Tasmanian forests are special. They’re home to centuries-old trees, including the tallest flowering trees on the planet, and support unique native species. Yet not everyone agrees on how these forests should be managed.
Hobart Chefs: When The Obsession Becomes Real
Tasmania’s brand as a foodie haven is cemented. But within the local hospitality industry there are those who love to use local produce...and those who are next-level obsessed with it. We spoke to a bunch of Hobart chefs who are top of the game when it comes to fostering relationships with local farmers and growers.
Did You Know Australia’s First Female Doctor Was Hobartian?
Tasmania, despite its small size and population in comparison to the mainland, has produced more than its proportionally predicted percentage of significant figures and heroes of Australian history. 
Return Travellers Adding Pressure to Hobart Housing
For all of us 2020 was a year like no other, punctuated by rapid change and plenty of new challenges. For vulnerable people in Tasmania, including people facing homelessness, those on low incomes and those facing increasingly higher rents, it was very challenging. We are seeing a growing demand for homes in Tassie from international travellers returning home, people moving for work and others seeking the lifestyle that our Apple Isle has to offer.
AboutContributeAdvertiseNewsletter Sign UpContact
June 2024

Stay up to date with everything happening at the Hobart Magazine.

Thank you to Luke Brokensha for mobilising his friends and local residents recently to host two rubbish clean ups along the Hobart Rivulet after heavy rains.
The warm weather returns...hello summer.
Need a laugh? Check out @theinspiredunemployed feed on Instagram.
Moto Vecchia Cafe in Bellerive and Czegs Cafe in Richmond have joined the Clarence City Council dementia program, creating dementia-friendly spaces for all patrons.
It’s hard to believe it’s not standard practice to have a working phone in every aged care room - shared phones make private conversations impossible and increase the risk of spreading COVID-19.
Tacks on the tracks. Mountain bikers beware of tacks being left on certain tracks on the mountain.
Just when you think your cousins are alright. NZ Opposition Leader Judith Collins took aim at Tassie during her recent (unsuccessful) campaign, calling us Australia’s “poor cousin.” She also seems worried about us nabbing tech businesses, “It’s a lovely part of the world but do you necessarily want to go there with your high- tech business? Possibly not,” she said. We beg to differ!