2004 THROUGH GREEN COLOURED GLASSES
2004 Through Green Coloured Glasses is my look at the year that was and a reminder to website's visitors of some of the events that travelled with us through the year.
2004 began with a jolt, with news that Andrew McNaughtan, my friend of 15 years and tireless human rights activist, died in his sleep at the early age of 50. I first met Andrew in Nicaragua in 1988, where he offered his skills as a doctor during the Nicaraguan war. Our travels over the next few months involved moments that have radiated through my life ever since, including travelling to stay with a tribe in the Amazon (interspersed by much discussion on political economy); a monkey jumping on Andrew's back with me trying to lever it off using a big knife between the monkey and Andrew's back amidst Andrew's deep voice momentarily converted to high pitched screeches of 'Get if off, get if off!"; being threatened by guerrillas including having a gun put to my head and the trigger pulled; grabbing Andrew as he fell forward off the front of a truck during a 24+ hour trip across the Andes; watching him, six foot plus in a country of shorter people, almost knocking himself out as he ran cross-legged to the toilet during a bad bout of the trots in the Peruvian mountains; being threatened by an armed drunk policeman because we wouldn't share his wickedly strong home-made spirits; treating a donkey for serious saddle blisters on a trek to a lost city in the Andes; arguing about sharing and socialism when Andrew took my 8 cent block of chocolate without asking; drinking a touch too much Ouzo during the Rio de Janeiro Carnivale celebrations, ending up in a ghetto and the police moving us on so as that 'if we get killed it wasn't on their territory', having police trying to smash our fingers with long sticks as we clung to a fence to see the Carnivale and ultimately sneaking into the Carnivale and dancing our way into nirvana through the stadium with the dancers.
Our paths crossed again after I travelled to East Timor in 1989. The injustice of the Australian and USA sanctioned Indonesian invasion lit a flame in Andrew that lasted many years, effectively devoting his energies full-time to East Timor. I believe that without Andrew's tireless work in Australia, the independence of East Timor might not have occurred. History often writes out the catalysts of change as a way of avoiding embarrassment for those of us who favour wilful blindness in the face of injustice. Andrew and I talked about this, and not long after Australia’s policy back flip on East Timor, it was apparent this process was writing out the inconvenience of Andrew's and other political activism in the face of nearly 30 years of political opportunism.
Andrew was also instrumental in bringing justice to Jo Gersten, who as far as I know, is the only person to seek political asylum from the USA. Jo Gersten was a Florida politician who ran fowl of powerful people, and was ultimately charged on very questionable grounds with a number of crimes including trumped-up murder charges. Andrew spent months in the USA at his own expense investigating the claims, resulting in a US Congressional report that indicated a serious abuse of government power at a very high level.
I really miss you Andrew. I can't believe that you are dead. I keep seeing your wide smile that escapes from you as you say something cheeky in the course of working out how the world might be a little better. Thank you Andrew for the simple things that your life's efforts have made more possible for countless people.
January delivered another bit of bad news: An international group of scientists published their prediction in the scientific journal 'Nature' that a quarter of all land animals and plants will not survive the onslaught of climate change and that more than a million existing species could be extinct by 2050 as human-induced climate change heats up the earth.
Australia Day, also known as Invasion Day, gave me the fortune to deliver a short speech at the opening of the 'Share the Spirit' Songlines Festival in Treasury Gardens, Melbourne. Australia's national anthem 'Advance Australia Fair' is founded on a folklore of fairness, but unfortunately, Australia is in many ways for many people becoming less and less fair.
A warm Sunday February 1 at the 60L Green Building saw the official launch of the Victorian Greens 2004 Senate Campaign. Australian Greens Senator Bob Brown, Maribyrnong Councillor Janet Rice, Melbourne candidate Gemma Pinnell and yours truly spoke to launch the Victorian Senate Campaign.
A few days later, on 6 February, Sydney City Council was sacked by another State Government that believes in Local Government! Sydney speculation was that the ALP government were trying to clear the way for inner city development to get the go ahead with a minimum of fuss. State and Federal Government indifference to the role and integrity of local government will not be cured until local government is protected by Constitutional guarantee. The expediency of the major political parties suggests promises mean otherwise.
February 9 was a bigger day in Australia's history that most Australians realised. Our Government signed the Australia-USA Free Trade Agreement, wetting the ink for a $600 million cheque as compensation for the sugar industry while simultaneously eschewing the benefits of limited government involvement in trade matters. Australians awoke to find their government had signed onto what the 'Office of the United States Trade Representative' describes as “Free Trade Down Under.” The inconsistent pictures painted domestically in the United States and in Australia proclaimed each country would benefit from concessions made by the other. It didn't seem to stack up, and made less and less sense, as more detail became known.
16 March saw the Blue Wedge Coalition organise a very successful meeting on the Port Philip Bay Channel Deepening Project at the Melbourne Town Hall. Rod Quantock walked on water MCing a bevy of interesting speakers who detailed the uncertain environmental and economic consequences of dredging our bay.
The NSW local government elections heralded in by the sacking of Sydney City Council saw 57 Green councillors elected across 33 Councils, with three new Green Mayors among them.
April heralded Bob Brown's launch of his book 'Memo for a saner world', which included a 10 point plan worth doing. Bob's 10-point plan for future prime ministers: How to make Australia a proud, compassionate, independent nation is to:
1. Commit to guaranteed, free, quality public education from pre-school to university, which means ending the HECS scheme:
2. Guarantee a universal public health scheme, ensuring access for all to a family doctor, dentist mental health professional and hospital.
3. Make Australia a world environmental leader by protecting old growth forests, woodlands and grasslands, restoring our rivers, ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, and investing in clean, efficient public transport.
4. Give Australia back its humanity, and save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars annually, by closing down the long-stay detention centres and ending temporary protection visas.
5. Abandon the US-Australia free-trade agreement, which will leave Australia disadvantaged by threatening our environmental and quarantine safeguards and our public utilities while not removing US agricultural protection.
6. End Australia's involvement in the war in Iraq by bringing home our troops.
7. Return to the belief in multiculturalism and develop an independent foreign policy, rather than continue subservience to the White House.
8. Give justice to Australia's first people: rekindle the plan for national land rights legislation abandoned by Bob Hawke.
9. Drop plans to disempower the Senate and instead campaign energetically for a democratic Australian republic.
10. Lead a global effort to divert some of the US$1 trillion annual weapons budget, so that every child on Earth has food, clean water and a school to attend.
The exclusion of Falun Dafa from the 2003 Moomba Parade by Melbourne City Council was a mistake with consequences I had made clear at the time. On 8 April 04 Justice Bowman's decision confirmed my view that the majority decision of Melbourne City Council to ban Falun Dafa from Moomba was wrong on political, ethical and legal grounds, and wasted tens of thousands of dollars. The need for a legally settled arrangement to provide an apology "did little to enhance the Council's reputation". As it did.
The ever increasing numbers of cameras watching people in the city has accompanied an ever increasing cost and uncertain efficacy. A report one year in the making failed to provide evidence that the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent by the city on surveillance cameras was effective in reducing crime. Following consideration of this report in April, the City Safety and Health Committee supported my motion to suspend the operation of the Safe City Camera Program pending proof it is: 1/ an effective contribution to city safety; and 2/ a necessary function for Council to fund. I put the motion following Council's consideration of the Safe City Cameras Program Evaluation 2003. The report failed to provide adequate evidence that the expenditure of hundreds of thousands of Council dollars on the camera program was producing tangible improvements in city safety. The full Council subsequently overturned the decision, despite no further evidence being available to justify the majority decision.
The Victorian Government announced in April 2004 that the Docklands would return to the City of Melbourne, subject to satisfactory due diligence. Having challenged the government to implement its 1999 policy to return Docklands to democratic control, I described the return of Docklands to democratic control as a positive, with two questions remaining. At what cost is the wrongful excision of Docklands from the City of Melbourne to be righted, and why has it taken the Victorian Labor Government five years to implement its policy for the Docklands should return to local government control?
April 25 saw the raising of questions about the appointment of Donna Staunton, former Tobacco Institute CEO and former Vice President of Corporate Affairs for Philip Morris, as CSIRO Communications Director in a Sunday Age story called ‘CSIRO’s smoking gun’. As a director of the climate change skeptic Institute of Public Affairs, I was aware that CSIRO scientists were concerned her associations and public statements about smoking and addiction made her wholly unsuited to represent the high standards of scientific investigation that CSIRO stood for.
I had the great privilege in May 2004 to attend the United Cities and Local Government Founding Conference, on behalf of ICLEI as Vice President and as a Councillor for the City of Melbourne. This new organisation evolved from the merging of the International Union of Local Governments and the United Towns and Cities Organisation. I was invited to be the facilitator for a Human Rights and Local Sustainable Development session, where the speakers were Klaus Töpfer, Executive Director United Nations Environment Program; Konrad Otto Zimmerman, Secretary General of ICLEI - Local Government for Sustainability; Alfredo Sirkis: Minister for Urban Environment - Rio de Janeiro; Margaret Pageler, ICLEI Executive member. Seattle: Joan Parpal, and Secretary General Med Cities, Spain.
While I was at the ECLG conference, the City of Melbourne moved to censor a public art display that incorporated a star of David and claims about the Israel-Palestine conflict. By chance, I found the article on the issue while surfing the net at the conference in Paris. Even as Deputy Chair of the responsible committee, the organisation failed to even tell me about the issue! On 12 May I issued a press release in response to the rapidly moving events, wanting to publicly acknowledge the significant work done by the arts community in supporting the value of the program. As the sole defender of the right to display the art, I went on the record saying:
Melbourne City Greens Councillor and Victorian Greens No. 1 Senate candidate David Risstrom defence of independent public art, backed by a strong community campaign, has headed off the potential emaciation of the best local government arts program in Australia.
Amidst attacks to Melbourne City Council’s Arts Grants Program, Greens Cr. David Risstrom was on the record last week as saying, “Thoughtful public art provides a valuable platform for public engagement, and the right of artists to contribute to public life is an ideal I strongly defend.”
On May 22 I had the good fortune to accept the 2004 Savewater local government award on behalf of the City of Melbourne for the water management program called ‘Watermark’. Watermark evolved out of my work to introduce water efficiency to the municipality, to pilot the ICLEI water campaign in Australia, and the hard work of staff that made it happen. Detail on the work that led to the award is contained in the following two green achievements: A 20 year water management regime and ICLEI Water Campaign Pilot Council.
Amid the madness of spending billions dollars on a falsely founded war in Iraq, I wrote an article titled ‘The Need For Real Security’ (36 Kb word document) for the June 2004 edition of Waste Management and Environment. I made the obvious but infrequently applied observation that if climate change results in the disruption of stable weather patterns, if soil degradation reduces our capacity to feed a rapidly expanding population, and if fresh water becomes even less available, the threat to our social stability has the potential to be greater than any terrorist could ever produce.
On May 25, as part of a commitment to increasing bike access and use in the city, I secured two million dollars in the next two budgets for bicycles. The administration countered by including projects they already had wherever they could, but hopefully the effect will be to provide more transport choices for those using and breathing in the city.
May 30 saw more needed publicity on the secret plans to store butadiene at Coode Island, following an earlier resolution I got passed on 25 May. I publicly condemned a proposal to transport highly dangerous butadiene in gas ships up the Yarra and to keep them it storage for decades to come at Coode Island, asking the obvious question as to why out the community been made aware of the risks they will face? The people have a right to know, which I doubt the current State Government will readily answer.
On June 3, some four months ahead of the Federal election, Bob Oquist, our Australian election watcher in Brussels and former media officer to Greens Senator Bob Brown, wrote of a clear, present and largely ignored threat to the system of Senate checks and balances in his article 'Magic 38'. I have reproduced the article here, to contemplate ahead of 1 July 2005 when the Coalition takes controls of the Parliament.
The 'Magic 38' - Complete Coalition Control of the Senate - The Big Election Issue.
This election is the one of the most important Australian elections ever. And it has nothing to do with whether John Howard or Mark Latham wins. Whatever political party you support, if you believe in democracy you'll want to keep the Senate out of any single party's control.
Even if Labor wins Government, it is possible, indeed likely, that the Coalition will secure the 'Magic 38' Senate seats. 38 is of course exactly half of the total 76 positions in the chamber. This means the Coalition in Opposition would be able to block any piece of legislation on its own.
More to the point, they could block supply without needing a single vote of any independent or minor party being required.
Imagine how hamstrung a Labor Government would be if any budget measure or any piece of legislation it introduced could be simply blocked by the Liberal/National Coalition. Such a government could be brought to its knees within months.
Worse still, imagine if the Howard Government is returned. They will have almost full control of the Senate needing only one vote to pass any legislation. They would have the numbers to stymie any opposition amendment, motion or Senate inquiry.
The very nature of our democracy is at stake.
So how is it that the Coalition could control the Senate even after losing the election?
Only half the Senate is elected at a normal Federal election. So eighteen Coalition Senators elected in 2001 will not face election this time around. As a result of their success in the previous election, the Coalition only needs to win 20 out of 40 senators up for re-election. They will only need to equal their 2001 performance - three Senate seats in each state and one in each territory - and they will reach the 'Magic 38'.
To win three seats in any state requires only 42.2 percent of the vote after preferences are distributed. Even if the Coalition loses the election, a vote of that magnitude is more than likely. In fact they may well need a much lower primary vote than that. In each State, the last Senate seat is usually won by a candidate with much less than a full quota.
Normally the Coalition is assured of one Senator in each territory (where there are only 2 spots contested unlike the 6 in each State) but this time the Greens Kerrie Tucker is mounting a substantial challenge to the incumbent Liberal Senator in the ACT. Kerrie Tucker could very easily be the best chance to deny the Coalition their 'Magic 38' seats.
And around the country the Greens Senate prospects are stronger than ever before. A good Greens vote could be enough to stop the third Coalition Senate being elected in your state.
Never before has your Senate vote been more critical. Complete Control of the Senate would be a disaster for Australia.
Greens around Victoria celebrated World Environment on 5 June with 'Great Green Garage Sales.' Australian Greens Victoria branches all over Victoria held ‘Green Garage Sales’ to raise funds and to put into effect the mantra of ‘Reducing, Reusing and Recycling.’
The June 6 'Stand Up For Our Forests Rally' was a great success. Thousands of people and a very special hound took to the streets across Australia to protect our great forests. It was a lovely day to be Green. Being amongst so many good people, children, dogs, colours, music and great optimism, it was a day to behold. Many hoped the people we trust us politicians would have the foresight to protect some of the priceless forest areas in Tasmania and Australia more widely, while ensuring the workers involved are properly compensated for the bad government policies that have led us to where we are. As events later in the Federal election campaign demonstrated, cynicism, devastation and despair threaten to remain the only thing left standing.
In response to the increasing trend of wedge politics emerging in Government campaigning, a contingent of Victorian Greens, including myself, travelled to Canberra on 15 June to join indigenous people for an Indigenous Rights Rally on the steps of the Federal Parliament to voice our concern over the bill to demolish indigenous determination. While the bill was best known as relating to the abolition of ATSIC the bill was directed towards doing much more. It bends the hands of time backwards, to give indigenous Australians no illusion that there sense of self will be subject to the Government's will. While White Australia has taken more than 200 years to develop an imperfect three tiered system of government, the Federal Government with the support of the Australian Labor Party, will deny indigenous Australians even one system of governance. The rationale for this is that service delivery hasn't been good enough, when the realty is that the majority of the services are already provided through non indigenous departments and bureaucracy. Indigenous legal aid services are to be 'mainstreamed', allowing for the tender of public legal services for indigenous people to mainstream legal firms. While ATSIC has been far from perfect, and is deserving of some of the criticism I hear from within the indigenous community, the paternalism of the Federal Government and Opposition is patently clear.
Alpine cattle grazing raised its head again an 18 June, with a release in response to an ongoing State Government review on whether cattle grazing should continue on public lands and at public expense. I had successfully lobbied the Victorian Parliament to create the Alpine National Park in 1988 as Alpine Project Officer with the Victorian National Parks Association. We are awaiting the government's decision.
21 June saw the Federal Government's shameful attempts to disenfranchise young voters, with their attempt to close the rolls to new enrolments on the day they call the election. It was a crass and cynical move to exclude young people from their right to vote, fortunately defeated with support of the Greens, Democrats and ALP in the Senate.
Andrew Wilkie's book 'Axis of Deceit' was launched the following day, exposing how the Howard Government lied all the way to Iraq. In March 2003, Andrew Wilkie resigned from the Office of National Assessments, Australia’s senior intelligence agency, in protest against the Government’s fraudulent case for Australia’s commitment to the looming war in Iraq. His courageous stance made world headlines and strengthened the growing opposition to the war. In a prophetic stance, Andrew's book explains why he decided to blow the whistle and risk everything to tell the truth about WMD’s and Iraq.
Tariq Ali continued to highlight the extent to which Australians were being misled, attracting a crown of approximately 2300 at Melbourne Town Hall on 28 June, providing a greatly needed acidity to the debate on Australia's involvement in the War on Iraq. The human tragedy caused by a war generated to support a cheap oil addiction is something that is sitting less comfortably with more and more Australians. I personally hope the backlash is felt at the ballot box, which appear is one of the few places that conservative Liberal and Labor politicians remain sensitive.
On 8 July I put forward a motion to the Planning and Development Committee recommending that Council either prohibit or regulate transit in the Central Business District of motorised vehicles and trailers whose primary purpose is mobile advertising and for which no other purpose is apparent. The COuncil would ultimately squib on this, probably under industry pressure, but the issue made news in papers from Asia to Africa.
Moreland City Council hosted a Human Rights Forum at Coburg Town Hall on 11 July. Mandouh Habib's family and others made quite an impact on those present, but two of the great quotes from the forum where from the ever irrepressible Rod Quantock, MC for the event, describing Philip Ruddock as "the man with the cryogenic charm." and Julian Burnside, who said, "They say they (the Australian Government) will protect us from terrorism, but who will protect us from the Australian Government."
13 July saw the Victorian Farmers Federation begin its attack on the Greens. I welcomed the VFF recognition of the Greens as having major party influence and look forward to working with the Victorian community to begin taking sustainability seriously, rather than simply have it pop up on political agendas when elections come around. I issued a media release saying, “The Greens have made sustainability an election issue. Nothing will make us back down from that.
On 21 July in floated in a letter from Alemania. The good people at the Northcote Leader took an interest in my website wanderings. A nice young man with a camera came to my house to take some pictures that turned up in the Northcote Leader, A beautiful picture of Rosa the Policy Watchdog doing some of her behind the kennel campaign work made it to page 3 of the Leader. The picture still graces Rosa's fridge long after the mighty hounds paws prance in another place.
In what turned out to be just a warm up for the Federal election, the Environment Minister Ian Campbell gave us an insight into how they viewed the emergence of the Greens. It was obvious the new Environment Minister Senator Ian Campbell had problems with the colour green being seen to often as associated with progress on environment issues. During an interview on ABC Insiders that broached a number of issues, when asked about implementing a policy to ban plastic bags, which the Greens led with and Labor since followed, Senator Campbell skirted around the issue, to then release what I call his 'rainbow plastic bag policy.' Senator Ian McDonald, interviewed by Barrie Cassidy on the ABC 'Insiders' program said: "One of the things I've already done this week, Barrie, is I'm working with retailers to bring on a new series of bags. We want some blue bags, for example, people like these green bags, I want a new initiative to link the importance of the damage plastic bags can do to our rivers and oceans to send a strong message by saying that this is a very important measure for the world's oceans and Australia's beaches." Blue bags replacing green bags! Perhaps it has more to do with the Liberals not likely progress being associated with the Greens. Incredible!
The Vivid Green Art Auction on 28 July at 45 Downstairs in Flinders Lane, Melbourne was a great success. Many generous artists donated their art to the Greens for auction, with quite a few buyers both snapping up absolute bargains as well as doing their bit to help the Greens keep alternative political voices alive.
2 August saw the ALP signal its intention to back the sell out of Australians with support for the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement. The recommendations of Labor Senators on the Senate Select Committee on the Free Trade Agreement provides 42 reasons not to endorse the FTA, introduced by one statement recommending that ALP Senators agree to it.
The ALP did it again on 4 August, playing into John Howard's wedge politics on same sex marriage. ALP backing of same sex marriages. Betraying gay and lesbian rights by agreeing to pass John Howard's anti-gay marriage bill, Greens Senator Kerry Nettle made the observation that "By agreeing to this legislation Labor are agreeing with the government that gays and lesbians do not deserve the same rights as the rest of the population."
Kevin Andrews, Parliamentary Christian crusader and future Minister for Workplace Relations continued his ideological assault on 16 August, describing the Greens as a 'risk'. I responded to the scare tactics of the Coalition delivered by conservative Liberal MP Kevin Andrews, pointing out that “What Mr. Andrews is really saying is that the progressive politics of the Greens is a risk to the Coalition’s re-election, and more of the same old tired policies of yesteryear."
The long awaited 9 October federal election was announced by Prime Minister John Howard on 29 August. Many saw the timing of the announcement as catalysed as an attempt to avoid scrutiny of the children overboard affair in Parliament.
30 August: I attended by invitation a Jewish Bund meeting on Saturday to present the Greens policies and our view of the world if the Greens were in power. I had expected to be sharing the platform with the member for Melbourne Ports, Michael Danby. Unfortunately Michael chose not to attend the function at the last minute, ostensibly due to picketing of the meeting by representatives of the Citizens Electoral Council.
Herald Sun readers woke on 31 August to a seriously misleading article on Greens policy, particularly drugs. Following the dirty tricks start to the Howard government's campaign, the Prime Minister's fake claim of 'kooky' Greens' drugs policy yesterday was followed up in the Herald Sun by a Victorian Liberals dossier with false claims on the Greens drugs and other policies and, the Melbourne Herald Sun following suite with a story which is concocted to be anti-Green. The newspaper, which did not contact Senator Brown about the story but took comments from the pro-Liberal Institute of Public Affairs, was subsequently described as seriously misleading voters and having greater similarities to claims in a Liberal party document than the policies of the Greens.
On Sep 1 2004 I pledged to present a bill that requires the economic, social and environmental implications of proposed laws to be identified and genuine progress indicators to be published. My proposal was soon followed up by a Family First initiative to require 'Family impact statements'. The Government to be chose to adopt the Family First proposition, I suspect as part of their supplication to conservative groups that they can use as their vanguard. The Federal Government has been adept at allowing more radical views, such as those espoused by One Nation, to be floated and for the government to claim it is moderate in comparison. It also allows for dog whistle politics, another polished skill of the current leader. This allows the government to foster more radical views by ostensibly acting is if they disapprove of them, but then, as for refugee policy, implement them and gain the approval of that sector of people who may potentially drift away to more right wing political groupings.
A number of years ago I established the Metropolitan Environment Forum with the assistance of Melbourne City Council. On 2 Sept 05 a Local Government Accord was signed, largely due to work initiated and followed through by Phil Johnstone, various local government organisations and the State Government signed the Local Government Environment Accord as a foundation for future action. The local government groups that are signatory to the Accord are the Metropolitan Environment Forum, The Municipal Association of Victoria, the Victorian Local Governance Association and the International Council for Local Environment Initiatives.
Launched on 6 Sep 04 under the banner of ' Vote for Someone Else', the Brotherhood of St Laurence entered the 2004 election arena with an Advance Australia Fairly campaign for government policies that include all Australians. As described by the Brotherhood, the Advance Australia Fairly campaign opposed the exclusion of millions of Australians from full time jobs, affordable housing, quality aged care and education opportunities, by asking Australians to think about someone other than themselves when they go to the polling booth.”
Finally, stop the presses - Rosa was outed! The good works of my four footed friends, and one in particular, were outed in Annabel Crabb's Politics column in The Age. While I had been doing most of the tapping of the keyboard recently, as the election has made Rosa too busy to get her nails clipped, thus making typing very difficult. As regular visitors would know, the federal election proved to be Rosa's last major contribution to progressive politics. As do many others, I miss her incredibly and travel with her in my mind every day. We love you Rosa: David. Woof, click, dribble, woof: Rosa.
14 Sep signalled a sea change for me. Penning my Council resignation ahead of formal nomination as a Senate candidate marked the end of five and a half years directly representing the people of Melbourne as a Green Melbourne City Councillor. With the great fortune to have implemented around 100 policies during that period, with some of my proudest achievements listed on my Melbourne City Council page, I was very much looking forward to taking my experiences as being in a minority of one in nine, to apply the same principles in the Federal Senate to green our Parliament and Australia.
Campaigning. Campaigning. Campaigning, goes on. Mid-September gave us the chance to get some very good media coverage on our policy to remove the GST on public transport fares. Federal Government policy currently favours tax deductions through the salary packing of company cars, while people using public transport to travel to or from work receive no deductions and pay GST on their fares as icing on the cake. With the Liberal Party favouring big business and high car ownership and the Labor Party being concerned about electoral support from the car industry, Australia's largest manufacturing sector, there has been bipartisan support for this car clogging madness. Launching the Greens policy of abolishing the GST on public transport fares, Bob Brown and I pointed out that a family of four, with one child in primary or secondary school and one dependent at university who have to travel to the City from zone 3 are paying more than $550 a year on GST alone, even using the cheapest options available!
The second last weekend of campaigning across city, rural and regional Victoria involved travelling to north west Victoria and the proposed site for the Nowingi waste dump this week as part of my visits . I have put significant work into dealing with the causes and amount of waste we produce, rather than allowing the problem to become a larger and more difficult burden for communities, the environment and future generations. We received a very good reception from the locals, who had already begun an effective and well backed local campaign to stop their food bowl becoming a toxic dump.
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29 Sep: The Greens Victorian number 1 Senate candidate David Risstrom today said he was very disappointed with the action of the Assemblies of God backed Family First Party in launching a dishonest federal advertising campaign against the Greens.
The Greens have lodged a formal complaint with the AEC and will consider further legal action against Family First today
The advertisements make the deceitful claim that the Greens are "giving my kids easy access to marijuana" and wish to legalize heroin and ecstasy. The claims are blatantly untrue, as the Greens have no such policy of legalizing illegal drugs, and none of the party’s drugs policies are aimed at children.
On 29 Sep, the Greens identified their appeal to True Liberals, as the party earning their name moves further and further away from the ideals they initially stood for. In a twist on the 'Doctors Wives' syndrome, Greens Kooyong candidate Peter Campbell partners and myself are both partners of female doctors. With at least two of many more 'doctor's who are wives 'votes secured, Peter and I held a very successful launch of the Kooyong campaign.
The final week of campaigning was understandably frenetic. Public meetings, media events, travel across Victoria
4 Oct: Fossilised Future; coal station
8 Oct: Final Family First warning
9 Oct: Thank you
12 Oct: MAH status
14 Oct: Devil is in the detail
29 Oct: LG co-ordinator
4 November 2005, the formal declaration of Victorian Senate results, was personally a difficult day. The results confirmed that despite a Green vote across Victoria of more than four times that of Family First, grubby preference deals with the ALP and Democrats have delivered the sixth Senate seat to Family First. The Victorian Greens primary vote of more than 260,484, or 8.8%, was the third highest vote after the Liberals and ALP by a country mile. Steve Fielding, the Family First candidate, received a primary vote of 55,551 or 1.9% of the vote.
Despite Family First failing to receive the 4% primary vote required for return of their electoral deposit, ALP preferences secured Family FirstÕs election. Exclusion of the third ALP candidate, Jacinta Collins, saw her votes elect Family First. David RisstromÕs votes remain undistributed. Had the ALP preferenced to the Greens ahead of Family First, I would have been elected.
Although less than one in 50 voters wanted Family First when they voted, the ALPÕs failure to tell their voters that their grubby preference deals would favour Family First gave a huge leg up to Family First and was a betrayal of Labor heartland. The Greens issued warnings ahead of the election that this very situation could occur, though it is clear from the outrage following polling day that many people felt misled when they voted. We have had reports of group voting tickets being unavailable on polling day and people calling the Australian Electoral Commission to ask for their vote to be withdrawn on finding their preferences unwittingly transferred to Family First.Ó
The Senate election system needs to be reformed to allow people to vote with their preference above the line. This form of electoral fraud by parties who apply pragmatism before principle would then be much more difficult. Victoria still needs a strong Green voice to stand up for Victoria. A strong voice for free education, stronger Medicare, truth in government, and care for people and our environment. I doubt that is what Victorians have got. It is encouraging that a record Green vote has seen Christine Milne and Rachel Siewert joining Senators Bob Brown and Kerry Nettle to continue to speak for a better future.
While I am very disappointed not to be serving Victoria as a Green Senator, I thanked those 260,000 people who supported the Greens and have begun work forwards a further opportunity to represent the Greens in 2007.
5 Nov: MCC fleet policy
The Greens National Conference on November 12 in Melbourne gave many in the Greens the first chance to get together to discuss the implications of the Federal election for the Greens and Australia. Two newly elected Green senators offset by conservative control of the Australian Senate, and the apparent rise in influence of the religious right riding on the back of a pragmatic two party duopoly.
The November 2005 Local Council elections brought a great opportunity to bring the global to the local and to give some communities the opportunity to be represented by a truly Green voice. Employed as local government campaign co-ordinator, I had a great chance to help those wanting to contribute to their communities. While a number of excellent Green candidates worked their ring off to win seats, others had to be realistic that the dishonest use of phalanxes of Labor Party and Liberal party stooges, having no intention of taking up office and standing purely to direct preferences, meant even a strong Green vote was unlikely to lead to election.
Green Councillors were elected to Maribyrnong, Melbourne, Moonee Valley, Whitehorse and Yarra Ranges Councils. Fraser Brindley - Melbourne; Julie Rivendell and David Jones Š Greater Bendigo; Jenny Farrar, Kathleen Maltzahn andGurm Sekhon Š Yarra; Josephine Connellan and Andrea Sharam Š Moreland. They join Maribyrnong Crs. Colleen Hartland and Janet Rice in bringing much needed Green voices on behalf of their communities. Greens Leadership candidates Drs. Richard di Natale and Liz Conor polled the second highest primary vote in the Lord Mayoral race, on a budget of around $5000, out polling most big spenders.
After some rest and respite after an absolutely jam packed and exhauting year, I took some time in December to relax and reflect. in December and look back.
In 2003 I had written: "I am really looking forward to contributing to Federal politics and to translate some of the energy the Greens have put into Melbourne City Council onto a broader canvas."With the ink dry, and none of it on the Federal canvas, 2004 will conclude with a different outlook than I had hoped for. Coalition control of the Senate, a strong increase in the Green vote proving ultimately insufficient to overcome the lousy ALP and Democrat deals electing Family First, and the prospects of progressive gains being blanched by an unstoppable Government see many decent Australians hoping 2005 will be better. Given all that, it has to be!
With the unexpected and untimely passing away of my good four-legged friend Rosa, hair packaged optimism on four paws, 2005 was lining up to be more unpredictable than 2004. Let’s grab it with all our strength and make good of it, as good people do.