David Risstrom - Greens Melbourne City Councillor 1999-2004
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NEWS AND VIEWS OF MELBOURNE CITY CR. DAVID RISSTROM: VICTORIAN GREENS LEAD SENATE CANDIDATE

David RisstromRosa The Policy Watchdog

WITH COMMENTS BY ROSA RISSTROM: MELBOURNE CITY COUNCIL POLICY WATCHDOG AND CHAIRDOG OF THE SENATE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE

David Risstrom and Rosa, the Greens' Melbourne City Council Policy Watchdog and Chairdog of the Senate Oversight Committee, keep a watching brief on news, ideas, issues and policies. If there are issues you think need to be discussed, please contact David at david@davidrisstrom.org or Rosa at rosa@davidrisstrom.org. David last updated this site on 17 March 2004.


 

17 MARCH 2004

SLOW PROGRESS FOR INDIGENOUS AUSTRALIANS

The Social Justice Report 2003 by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner reveals that despite some improvements, Indigenous Australians continue to be among the most disadvantaged people in our society.

The report highlights that while progress is being made towards achieving equality and eliminating the disadvantages Indigenous people face, the progress is too slow and having a minimal effect on the day-to-day lives of Indigenous Australians.

Greens Lead Senate Candidate and Melbourne City Councillor Cr. David Risstrom has called on all governments to look closely at the report and its recommendations.

"The Federal Government is happy to champion practical reconciliation as an effective way to deliver benefits to Indigenous Australians but according to the Social Justice Report it has achieved very little towards the goal of achieving equality for Indigenous Australians", said Cr Risstrom.

"Indigenous Australians continue to face great inequality, injustices and disadvantages", said Cr Risstrom, "they still die too young, they face more health problems, higher levels of unemployment and higher levels of imprisonment."

"The Federal Government has to make overcoming these inequalities a very high priority, it is a problem that can not be overcome in the short-term, it needs long-term commitment from all levels of government particularly the Federal Government", said Cr Risstrom.

"While all governments, their departments, Indigenous people, ATSIC, business and the wider community must work together, the Federal Government is best placed to manage and direct what is required to provide Indigenous people with the same opportunities as other Australians", said Cr Risstrom.

"It is time the Federal Government undertook their pledge to remove the inequalities Indigenous Australians face," he said.

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16 MARCH 2004

BLUE WEDGE COALITION HOLDS VERY SUCCESSFUL TOWN HALL MEETING ON PORT PHILIP CHANNEL DEEPENING PROJECT

The Blue Wedge Coalition organised a very successful meeting on the Port Philip Bay Channel Deepening Project at the Melbourne Town Hall tonight. Rod Quantock walked on water MCing a bevy of interesting speakers who detailed the uncertain environmental and economic consequences of dredging our bay. I will provide further information on resolutions passed at the meeting as soon as possible.

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15 MARCH 2004

GREENS SUPPORT VICTORIAN WORKERS ABC WORKERS IN SPORTS STAND - CANCEL ABC MANAGEMENT'S 'MELBOURNE AWAY GAME'

Greens Lead Senate Candidate and Melbourne City Councillor Cr. David Risstrom calls on the ABC management to reverse its ridiculous proposal to broadcast Victorian sports out of its Sydney studios.

"The betrayal of local audiences by the ABC board and management is a tragedy," David Risstrom said.

"I support the strike by ABC workers who are representing the wish of Victorians for a local, independent and strong ABC."

"Running ABC sports coverage from Sydney will dilute local Victorian sports coverage. The 'sharper focus' management claims it will bring is a focus on Sydney."

"The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance is to be congratulated for standing up for Victorians."

"It is essential for a strong democracy for our national broadcaster to be independent, adequately funded and in touch with their communities. The decision to move sports coverage for 3 million Victorians to Sydney is a bad sign of an ABC under pressure," David Risstrom said.

David Risstrom, a long standing member of Friends of the ABC, will attend the 10 am meeting outside the ABC Melbourne studios on Tuesday morning.

Further information: David Risstrom 0418 502 713 or david.risstrom@greens.org.au

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14 MARCH 2004

IRAQ DESERVES BETTER THAN THIS

20 March 2004 will be a global day of action against the war on Iraq, focussing in Melbourne with a rally beginning at 1 pm outside the Victorian State Library, Swanston St. This global day of action will have different messages from different groups but the over-arching message is one where we remind politicians and Governments why we opposed the war in Iraq last year and that the results of this tragedy have not changed our minds. We did not believe that war was the answer to Iraq/s problems and the reasons given for going to war have proved to be as we suspected - a gigantic lie. Below is the text of the leaflet being distributed to explain the Victorian Peace Network's position on the war.

A year ago, on 20 March 2003, devastating aerial bombing heralded an illegal, and unnecessary war on the people of Iraq. A year later, the war and the killing goes on. On 20 March 2004, people around the world will rally in a Global Day of Action to say no to the continuing occupation of Iraq by the United States and its allies, including Australia.

With over 800 Australian soldiers still deployed, we share responsibility for the mounting death toll and the chaos in Iraq. Hospital, schools, water and electricity are in a critical mess, and unemployment is estimated at between 50 and 80 per cent, far worse than before this war. Depleted uranium may affect the health of succeeding generations in Iraq.

George Bush's advisers had for a decade planned this war for oil. President Bush signed a formal order for war in February 2002. 'Weapons of mass destruction' was a deception, an excuse because we even Bush's allies did not want to publicly support his real motive of 'regime change'.

Saddam Hussein has been removed from power at the cost of almost ten thousand Iraqi civilian lives, the ruination of the economy, and the destruction of previously accepted standards of international law, especially the inadmissibility of nations invading other nations unless under immediate threat. Meanwhile other despots considered friends of the United States, from Burma to Saudi Arabia, from Uzbekistan to Pakistan, are armed and supported.

Today, the people of Iraq are subjected to an illegal occupation by the invading forces, protecting the interests of corporations who are benefiting from the privatisation of Iraq's economy, a policy supported by the American-appointed puppet "government" without any right of the people of Iraq to say whether they want their economy sold to foreigners!

The military occupation of Iraq, and opposition to the occupation, have exacerbated regional and ethnic tensions that may degenerate into a full-scale civil war. The people of Iraq want democracy, yet late last year the US occupation authorities refused resources to conduct a census, the basis for new electoral rolls. Now they say elections can't be held because there are no rolls! They talk democracy, but the occupation forces have opposed every concrete proposal for elections sooner rather than later, instead pushing on with plans for "tribal" appointments and "indirect" committees!

The Victorian Peace Network believes that the people of Iraq have the right to determine their own future, free of outside influence. Its time to end the occupation, which is the cause of Iraq's present catastrophe and not its solution.

Join us on March 20 to call for democracy, justice and peace in Iraq.

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12 MARCH 2004

AUSTRALIAN GREENS BACK PNG SOVEREIGNTY

Greens Senator Bob Brown came out today in strong defence of Prime Minister Somare in the showdown taking place between Papua New Guinea and Australia on the deployment of Australian police in PNG. Senator Brown said it was entirely correct for Prime Minister Somare to insist that his nation is accorded due sovereignty. "If Australian police operating in PNG are given immunity from Papua New Guinea civil law, it will invite breaches of civil liberties by police against PNG civilians," Senator Brown said.

"This is not a war situation, not even a civil war situation. Australia has invited itself to do this job and now they want legal immunity - it's just not on. Papua New Guinea is burdened with awesome developmental pressures, not the least of which is colonial attitudes that are repressing its dignity and independence. It is being treated by the Howard government as a delinquent child rather than being given due respect as a sovereign nation."

Senator Brown said Australia's mooted compromise - to try any breaches of civil law in Australian courts - would be unworkable because our court system is too far removed from the scene of potential civil crimes (such as assault) that may be committed by Australian police officers. Australia and PNG are presently in deadlock over this issue with the two ministers for foreign affairs, Mr Downer and Sir Rabbie Namaliu, meeting in the coming week.

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10 MARCH 2004

LATHAM'S STYX VISIT WILL SHOW OFF THE GREAT TREES

Greens Senator Bob Brown says he is looking forward to Opposition leader Mark Latham's walk in the Styx River's 'Valley of the Giants' next week. Mr Latham will be in Tasmania on Wednesday and Thursday (to visit the Styx).

"It will be a relaxing day in these giant forests. There has been a lot of media interest and I'm looking forward to showing the great trees off before they are logged," Senator Brown said. "We will look at various aspects of the Valley of the Giants and I remain hopeful that the Prime Minister will come next."

BAGGING PLASTIC BAGS WITH A MUCH NEEDED LEVY

This media release was forwarded from NSW Greens MLC Ian Cohen: A 25-cent levy on plastic bags would generate more than $120 million in NSW and provide a badly needed funding injection for essential services, including the environment, Greens MLC Ian Cohen said today. "This would be a first, publicly popular step towards a total ban which the Premier supports. NCOSS has proposed a 10-cent levy to raise $50 million, but the Greens believe a 25-cent levy provides an even greater incentive for consumers to reduce their use of plastic bags and boost the state's coffers by $125 million."

Mr Cohen said a plastic bag levy would help keep the NSW Budget in surplus. "Instead of selling off public assets, such as the state's pine plantations which Treasury has flagged, to prop up an ailing health system, the NSW Government should introduce a levy on plastic bags which has huge public support."

The Greens health and housing spokesperson Sylvia Hale MLC said the Greens endorsed the NSW Council of Social Service's (NCOSS) budget proposals for 2004-2005 released today. "These proposals are basic. They would bring a measure of economic equity and relief to poor members of our community without undue cost. With a decade of economic growth in NSW, now is the time to reform the antiquated NSW tax system."

Mr Cohen said part of any revenue generated by a plastic bag levy should be directed to the environment. "The NSW Government has announced it will give away billions of dollars in water entitlements by making 15-year water licences perpetual but has made no commitment to ensuring the state's stressed river systems receive any benefit or protection."

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9 MARCH 2004

GREAT NEWS FOR SPORTS

Last week saw the launch of a major new global campaign demanding that sports brands and the International Olympics Committee Play Fair At The Olympics and ensure respect for sportswear workers' rights.

The campaign will run up until the opening of the Athens Olympic Games in August, and is being organised by Global Unions, the Clean Clothes Campaign, Oxfams and their allies around the world. There will be a particular focus on brands that haven't received campaign attention up until now, including Fila, Asics and Puma.

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8 MARCH 2004

US FORCES ACCUSED OF LOOTING, TORTURE AND DEATH IN AFGHANISTAN

This article is reproduced from an article by Kim Sengupta in the UK Independent on 8 March 2004 and was forwarded in an email from Greens Senate Candidate Pamela Curr.

US forces accused of looting, torture and death in Afghanistan

American forces in Afghanistan have been accused of flouting international law with arbitrary arrests, torture and killing of prisoners in a report by a civil rights watchdog. Soldiers are accused of using unprovoked deadly force in capturing civilians, some of whom were then allegedly subjected to cruel and inhumane treatment leading to deaths in custody. It is also alleged that looting has taken place during searches of homes.

The report, by Human Rights Watch, says the situation at Guantanamo Bay is being replicated many times in Afghanistan, with detainees being held in even worse conditions at the military bases of Bagram, Kandahar, Jalalabad and Asadabad. At least three prisoners are known to have died during interrogation, with two of the deaths being ruled homicide by American military pathologists after post-mortem examinations. US officials have refused to explain what happened in any of the cases.

"This stonewalling must stop," said Brad Adams, the executive director for Asia at HRW. "The US is obligated to investigate allegations and prosecute those who violated the law. There is no sign that serious investigations are taking place. The US is setting a terrible example in Afghanistan on detention practices. Civilians are being held incommunicado - with no tribunals, no legal counsel, no family visits and no basic legal protections. There is compelling evidence suggesting US personnel have committed acts against detainees amounting to torture or cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment."

HRW's report, Enduring Freedom: Abuses by US Forces in Afghanistan, is based on research in Afghanistan and Pakistan over the past 15 months. The report states that while President George Bush insists that the US does not mistreat detainees, independent observers are prevented from seeing them. Many of the violations recorded by HRW were in non-combat situations and, the organisation stresses, some of the abuses were "inexcusable even within the context of war". Remnants of the Taliban and its Islamist allies have also been responsible for atrocities, including killing civilians and foreign aid workers, the report says, but "abuses by one party to a conflict do not justify violations by the other side."

In one case, Niaz Mohammed, a farm labourer, was killed during a raid by US forces in the Zurmat district of Paktia province in July 2002. Local people described how Mr Mohammed, who was outdoors to keep a watch on his newly harvested grain, was found dead. A villager said: "He had a bullet in his foot, and a bullet in his back."

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6 MARCH 2004

THE CHEQUE IS IN THE MAIL

There are ominous signs that the government is digging deeper into the family silver to see what they can privatise. Employing the principle that' if it makes money, sell it off' Telstra and now Australia post are under the gun, as this media release from Greens MP Michael Organ shows.

CLEARING THE DECKS FOR AUSTRALIA POST PRIVATISATION

Today's announcement that the government will pay $1.443 billion into the Australia Post Superannuation Scheme looks like another step on the road to privatising the postal service Cunningham MP Michael Organ said this morning.

"Finance Minister Nick Minchin says the change means that Australia Post will now be responsible for meeting the costs associated with the benefits under its superannuation scheme rather than the government", Mr. Organ said. "Senator Minchin's announcement also includes $3.123 billion for the Telstra Superannuation Scheme, and the government re-introduced its Bill to transfer Telstra to full private ownership yesterday. People may justifiably draw the conclusion from today's announcement that privatisation of Australia Post is also on the government's agenda, as I suggested when I spoke against the Postal Services Legislation Amendment Bill on 12 and 18 February this year."

"That legislation was clearly part of the government's privatisation agenda and its tendency to cater to vested interests which may well include some big overseas players. The Australia-US free trade agreement, which the government is trying to sell to an increasingly cynical electorate, seems to open up an avenue for US operators to break into our local market. Today's announcement clears the decks of a major unfunded liability for our mail carrier, and if that's not a step towards privatisation I don't know what is", Mr. Organ said.

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5 MARCH 2004

GOVERNMENT GREENHOUSE PROMISES A LOAD OF HOT AIR - AUDIT OFFICE CONFIRMS MASSIVE UNDERSPENDING

This media release was forwarded from Senator Bob Brown: The National Audit Office report on the Australian Greenhouse Office (AGO), released today, shows that less than 25% of $870 million earmarked for greenhouse programs had been spent by June 2003, according to Greens Senator Bob Brown. The seven programs involved represent 87% of the AGO's activities and were originally to have been completed by June 2004.

"The Audit Office report shows that the Howard government's claim to be spending nearly $1 billion on greenhouse programs is misleading and deceptive," Senator Brown said. "In fact, they have spent just $204 million since 1998, an average of $40 million per annum. $350 million out of $400 million allocated to the Greenhouse Gas Abatement Program remained unspent. At the same time, the Photovoltaic Rebate Program (PVRP) has used up its $31 million allocation and subsequently been starved of funding. The massive under spending is an indictment of the Howard government's ineffectual response to global warming, arguably the planet's biggest challenge," said Senator Brown.

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4 MARCH 2004

RESPECT, RIGHTS AND RECOGNITION - THE NEXT STEPS TOWARDS RECONCILIATION

I am sitting in North Melbourne Town Hall at a forum titled 'Respect, Rights and Reconciliation - The Next Steps Towards Reconciliation.' The forum is organised by Reconciliation Victoria and Melbourne City Council as a means of highlighting the best examples of local government reconciliation and identifying ways to further reconciliation. It is part of a program of action initiated by a Green Achievement Indigenous Reconciliation which you can view on this site.

Speakers have included Wurundjeri elder Doreen Wandin-Garvey, the wonderful Richard Franklin, Local Government Minister Candy Broad, Melbourne Lord Mayor John So, Professor Eleanor Bourke and Di Sisely - Co Chairs of Reconciliation Victoria, MCC CEO David Pitchford, Byron Powell, Aboriginal Policy Officer, City of Greater Dandenong, Municipal Association of Victoria Cr Rae Perry, Kerry Thompson, CEO City of Maribyrnong, and Julie Hansen, President Victorian Local Government Association.

Richard Franklin, who has a photo of himself and Rosa at Trades Hall a few years back, summed up what I imagine might be the frustration faced by people wanting their fair share of respect, rights and recognition: 'Minorities are made, they are not born.'

As a number of speakers reminded us, the fortunate among us have an opportunity to further reconciliation.   While sitting at the forum today, I have listed 3 new Green Achievements titled, Reconciliation Groups in the City of Melbourne, Paying the Rent - Respecting Indigenous Heritage, and an Annual Elders Dinner (this idea was suggested by Byron Powell, Aboriginal Policy Officer City of Greater Dandenong).

Richard Franklin made a couple of good off the cuff comments while summing up at the closing of the forum,"Ultimately it is attitudes that perpetuate legislation" and "Reconciliation equals justice." Nice reminder Richard.

FIFTEEN PEOPLE ON ASHMORE REEF DON'T DESERVE AMANDA VANSTONE'S 'COLD HARD REALITY'

This media release was forwarded from Senator Bob Brown: The 15 people who arrived at Ashmore Reef today should be assessed as refugees under Australia's immigration law, Greens Senator Bob Brown said today.

"Amanda Vanstone's description of the people as '15 unauthorised arrivals' is a cold-hearted rejection of their humanity and international rights," Senator Brown said.

"If they are found not to be refugees the Minister should send them home. But meantime they deserve humane consideration."

The Greens will give Labor another opportunity to support restoring Ashmore Reef to Australia's migration zone when the Senate considers migration detention legislation next week.

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28 FEBRUARY 2004

ALEXANDER DOWNER GROSSLY IRRESPONSIBLE ON UNITED NATIONS BUGGING

This media release was forwarded from Senator Bob Brown: The Howard Government's complicity in receiving information from spying on the UN (including Secretary General Kofi Annan and Chief Weapons Inspector Hans Blix) is illegal and against Australia's national interests, Greens Senator Bob Brown said today.

"Foreign Minister Alexander Downer's labelling of ex-UK Minister Clare Short's revelations as 'grossly irresponsible' is a confirmation that he believes international law-breaking and breach of trust is not only right but should be protected by secrecy. It is Mr Downer's attitude which is grossly irresponsible. The UN is the global safety valve in a dangerous age and should be respected. Australia should move a strong resolution to enhance UN security and condemn the spying," said Senator Brown.

"Opposition spokesman, Kevin Rudd's, 'profound reservation' on the spying is 'profound pussyfooting' on a matter of huge global importance," Senator Brown said.

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27 FEBRUARY 2004

ENVIRONMENT VICTORIA FORUM ON THE NATIONAL PACKAGING COVENANT

Susie Brown of Environment Victoria organised a very successful forum on the National Packaging Covenant at 60L today. The National Packaging Covenant is a voluntary agreement between government and industry aimed at reducing the environmental impact of consumer packaging in Australia. It was established in August 1999 and is due to expire in August 2004.

The Covenant now has around 650 companies and organisations signed up, which means they must produce an Action Plan to improve their recovery of packaging materials, to support an increase of kerbside recycling, and to work co-operatively to increase markets for recycled materials. They are also required to pay into a funding pool that local councils can apply to in order to fund implementation of best practice recycling systems. The Covenant is backed up by a National Environment Protection Measure (NEPM) which is implemented by the State Environment Protection Authorities to ensure that companies either sign on to the Covenant or else be regulated under the legislation to ensure that all consumer packaging they produce is re-used or recycled.

The Covenant Council has initiated an independent review of the Covenant's performance as part of the process of determining whether to simply renew the Covenant, or to modify it and introduce a Covenant Mark II. The Covenant and associated documents can be viewed at: www.deh.gov.au/industry/waste/covenant

The Australian Greens policy is for the National Packaging Covenant to become mandatory and more comprehensive. Some reasons why packaging and the waste it can produce is discussed below.

NO TIME TO WASTE

Total waste generation tends to grow in line with economic activity, so the more we produce, the more waste that is also produced. Previous experience suggests that voluntary codes and actions have very little effect on the volume of waste going to landfill, or to the amount of waste dumped illegally. Recycling activities have reduced the amount of domestic garbage going to landfill, but it has imposed a heavy cost on councils, and when it is not possible to sell the recycled goods, they are sent to the tip anyway. Even when governments have adopted the goal of 'zero waste', the volume of waste generated has continued to increase unless producers are made responsible for used goods and packaging, high levies are imposed on the incineration or disposal of solid waste to landfill, and there is strict enforcement to avoid illegal dumping.

Australians currently produce the second highest level of waste per capita, only second to our American friends. While householders have made an effort to recycle more of their waste, an increasing proportion of the waste going to landfill is commercial or industrial waste, despite the decline of manufacturing activity. An increasing proportion of this is food waste from the restaurant and hotel industry, as well as wastes from the food processing industry. Another major source of waste is construction and demolition waste (concrete, bricks, timber, roofing iron, etc.). In the Netherlands, 80% of this waste is recycled, so much can be done if the political will is there. The dumping of re-usable building wastes should be banned.

The National Packaging Covenant is only voluntary, and only one state has container deposit legislation. Used packaging and containers should be returned to the manufacturer for re-use or recycling rather than leaving the cost and responsibility to councils. If deposits were charged on all containers, packaging and plastic bags, consumers would have an incentive to return them to the retailer so that they can be picked up by the truck that delivers new goods. Then it becomes the responsibility of the manufacturer, distributor or importer to find ways of dealing with the problem or reducing the amount of packaging used rather than leaving it to consumers or councils to deal with.

If the National Packaging Covenant were made mandatory, and included containers and plastic bags as well, the volume of garbage would decrease dramatically. Not only glass bottles, but also many plastic bottles (especially polythene and PET) can be re-used if the incentive exists. Moreover, if there were a Product Stewardship law that obliged manufacturers, distributors and importers to take back used goods (such as already exists in some European countries), then they would make more effort to design their products to make repair or remanufacturing easier.

To reduce the volume of waste paper, the recycled paper bounty should be restored and timber royalties increased. This would provide a greater incentive to recycle paper instead of using new paper. There should also be some restriction on the distribution of free newspapers and junk mail to reduce the volume of waste paper.

Finally, we need a strategy to reduce the volume of hazardous wastes sent to prescribed landfills. The bulk of these wastes are contaminated soil and toxic sludges from the treatment of liquid industrial wastes. Soil should be treated in dedicated facilities and re-used unless there are strong reasons for not doing so. Infectious wastes, organic sludges and intractable organic wastes, CCA-treated timber, etc. can be treated by pyrolysis or hydrogenation to produce energy. The toxic or heavy metal content of batteries should be taxed so that manufacturers would be encouraged to reduce or eliminate the toxic components. As well as batteries and fluorescent tubes, there is a need to collect electronic equipment such as TVs and computers to recover lead, gold and other metals from them.

The Australian Greens have set targets to:
• Develop a comprehensive national waste reduction strategy, addressing each stage of the production and consumption cycle and with mandatory targets and goals aimed towards eliminating all Australian sources of industrial waste by 2050;
• Ensure the elimination of all stockpiles of scheduled hazardous waste by 2015;
• Establish treatment facilities for most hazardous wastes so that their volume, including all stockpiles, can be reduced to an absolute minimum by 2015;
• Strengthen the National Pollution Inventory (NPI) by requiring companies to report all toxic substances released into air, soil or water, and sewer;
• Work to end the use of landfills for unsorted waste disposal by the year 2010;
• Introduce a system of Product Stewardship that obliges manufacturers, distributors and importers to take back used goods;
• Regulate to phase out non-recyclable plastics;
• Make the National Packaging Covenant mandatory and impose deposits on containers, packaging and plastics as well;
• Seek a levy on disposable plastic carry bags in shops;
• Restore the recycle paper bounty;
• Ensure the Government gives preference in purchasing contracts to recycled products or products that can be re-used, and those that are low in embedded energy and are sustainable within the environment;
• Regulate for and fund facilities for the collection of hazardous materials such as fluorescent tubes and all batteries;
• Tax the toxic and heavy metal content of batteries; and
• Support the establishment of tyre and tyre material recycling facilities.

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26 FEBRUARY 2004

CONSUMER CAPITALISM - IS THIS AS GOOD AS IT GETS? THE 15TH MAURICE BLACKBURN ORATION

Rosa and I really enjoyed listening to Clive Hamilton, Executive Director, The Australia Institute deliver the 15th Maurice Blackburn Oration titled 'Consumer capitalism - Is this as good as it gets?' at the Coburg Town Hall last night. So much so that, with Clive's permission, I have reproduced his speech below. It is also available as a 60 Kb pdf download by clicking on the underlined title. Clive's speech is a reminder of what could be.

CONSUMER CAPITALISM - IS THIS AS GOOD AS IT GETS?

Until recently, there has never been a time in human history when each of us could hope to live a truly fulfilling life. From the earliest days, the hopes of ordinary men and women were severely constrained by their cultural and material circumstances. For ordinary people the binding constraint was economic and the most they could reasonably hope for was to achieve a modest but secure existence in the company of their families. For almost all, cultural and social limits imposed at birth were also binding; one's life course was conditioned by one’s class, gender and race.

There were two dreams of liberation. Religious ecstasy in another life seemed attainable for everyone. Political authority was comfortable with this opium of the masses. The second dream, a society of equals, was much more threatening. Socialism promised prosperity in a classless society; by means of revolution it would abolish both the material and the social constraints on the full realisation of ordinary men and women.

In the end, it was not socialism that broke down the barriers of poverty and class, it was capitalism itself. In recent decades, in the rich countries of the world, the forces that held in check the hopes of the masses have for the most part fallen away. Despite pervasive money-hunger, most people in rich countries live lives of abundance in conditions that their grandparents would have regarded as luxurious. In the post-War decades, not only did incomes treble but mass education saw class barriers crumble. And the liberation movements of the sixties and seventies tore down the oppressive structures that confined the aspirations of women and minorities. The sexual revolution freed us from our Victorian inhibitions; the women's movement freed women from role stereotyping; gay liberation allowed free expression of sexual preference; and the civil rights movement eliminated institutionalised racism.

The rejection of traditional standards, expectations and stereotypes was a manifestation of the deeper human longing for self-determination. Democracy, combined with the arrival of widespread material abundance in the West, for the first time provided the opportunity for the mass of ordinary people to pursue self-realisation. The political demand for democracy of earlier generations became a personal demand for freedom to find one’s own path, to 'write one’s own biography'. The constraints of socially imposed roles have weakened, oppress ion based on gender and race became untenable, and the daily struggle for survival has for most people disappeared.

The democratic impulse – which until the seventies took the form of collective struggles to be free of political and social oppression – has segued into something else, a search for authentic identity, for self-actualisation, for the achievement of true individuality. At last, here was the opportunity for people to aspire to something beyond material security and freedom from political oppression.

But it was not to be. Before we had an opportunity to reflect on our new-found freedom, and to answer the question 'How should I live?', the marketers arrived with their own answer to the quest for true identity. Over the last two or three decades, the agents of the marketing society have seized on the primal search for authentic identity to sell more gym shoes, cars, mobile phones and home furnishings. And what happened at the level of the individual translated into society's preoccupation with economic growth, an autistic behavioural pattern reinforced daily by the platitudes of the commentators and the politicians.

Today, most people in rich countries seek proxy identities in the form of commodity consumption, consumer capitalism's answer to the search for meaning. The hope for a meaningful life has been diverted into the desire for higher incomes and more consumption. Why do we succumb? We continue to pursue more wealth and consume at ever-higher levels because we are afraid of the alternative. The yearning that we feel for an authentic sense of self is pursued by way of substitute gratifications, external rewards and especially money and material consumption. That attaining these goals can never satisfy our yearning leads us only to set higher goals - more money, a bigger house, another promotion. As Marilyn Manson declared: 'Keep them afraid and they will consume. Fear and consumption.' 1

As the values and conventions of the past were undermined by the liberation movements of the sixties and seventies, the values of the marketplace spread in their stead. The counter-culture tore down the social structures of conservatism that, for all their stultifying oppressiveness, held the market in check. Now many of the cultural leaders of the protest generation work for advertising agencies and major corporations for the benefit of capital. There is even a name for them – bobos, or bourgeois bohemians. The women's movement sought liberation but settled for equality. Gender equality has meant, above all, unfettered opportunity for women to create themselves in the images invented for them by the marketers. Whether a woman is a dutiful housewife or a kick-arse careerist is a matter of indifference to the marketers, as long as she continues to spend.

The demands of the baby boomers for freedom in private life, for freedom from the fetters of social convention, and for freedom of sexual expression were noble in themselves, but it is now evident that demolition of the social customs and moral rules did not create a society of free individuals. Instead, it created an opportunity for the marketers to substitute material consumption and manufactured lifestyles for the ties of social tradition. In the face of revolutionary changes in social attitudes in the West, consumer capitalism has remained unruffled. Indeed, each new social revolution has provided an opportunity for it to rejuvenate itself.

*****

The economics profession has a lot to answer for. It has provided the intellectual cover for the penetration of market values into areas of social and personal life where they do not belong. When market values rule calculation drives out trust, self-centeredness displaces mutuality, superficiality prevails over depth and our relationships with others are conditioned by external reward and, above all, by money. In a world of ruthless competition where market values prevail, playing fair seems naïve. When a cricketer walks or a mountaineer sacrifices the summit to help another, our admiration betrays our despair at the usual state we have descended to. Let's consider some examples of how market values and the spread of economic thinking has corrupted much that is decent in us.

One of the earliest and most aggressive exponents of this economic imperialism was Gary Becker, the Chicago economist par excellence, who in an article published in one of the profession's most prestigious journals applied the principles of microeconomics and consumer behaviour to what he called the market for marriage. Becker defined marriage as an arrangement to secure the mutual benefit of exchange between two agents of different endowments. In other words, people marry in order more efficiently to produce 'household commodities', including 'the quality of meals, the quality and quantity of children, prestige, recreation, companionship, love, and health status'. The rational person will base any marriage decision on quantifiable costs and benefits. The gain from marriage has to be balanced against the losses - including legal fees and the costs of searching for a mate - to determine whether marriage is worthwhile.

Becker went on to analyse the effect of 'love and caring' on the nature of the 'equilibrium in the marriage market'. To do so he defined love as 'a non-marketable household commodity', noting that more love between potential partners increases the amount of caring and that this in turn reduces the costs of 'policing' the marriage. Policing, of course, is needed 'in any partnership or corporation' because it 'reduces the probability that a mate shirks duties or appropriates more output than is mandated by the equilibrium in the marriage market'. There's no need to put a padlock on the fridge if your partner loves you. After pages of differential calculus, Becker reaches a triumphant conclusion: since love produces more efficient marriages, 'love and caring between two persons increase their chances of being married to each other'. What Becker's wife thought about this analysis is not recorded, but in 1992 the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences was sufficiently impressed to award him the Nobel Prize for Economics for this and related work.

We gasp, but are not pre-nuptial agreements a reflection of the economic approach to marriage? Has not the decision to become a parent for many young men and women become a 'lifestyle choice': what’s it to be, a baby or a beamer? Have not the economists and the accountants managed to insinuate their ideas into the way we form and conduct our relationships? If Gary Becker's barmy ideas infected only the thinking of academic economists then we would not have too much to worry about. But, driven by growth fetishism, over the last twenty years the economic way of thinking has, like a virus, invaded public and private spheres where previously it was alien. Let me give another illustration almost as disturbing as Becker's analysis of marriage.

In the early 1990s the chief economist at the World Bank was a man named Lawrence Summers. He was later appointed by President Clinton to be the Secretary of the Treasury. At the time the World Bank was taking an intense interest in global environmental problems and was proffering advice to developing countries. In a leaked internal memo, Summers argued that rich countries should ship their toxic wastes to poor countries, writing that ‘the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable' and that 'under-populated countries in Africa are vastly UNDER-polluted'. How do we know this? Because in poor countries, Dr Summers wrote, the forgone wages from illness and early death are so much less than in rich countries. In other words, the life of an African is worth much less than the life of an American. It must be conceded that, economically speaking, Summers' logic is impeccable; it's just that we should not think about these things economically.

We marvel at Lawrence Summers' chutzpah, but what’s the moral difference between dumping our toxic wastes in Africa and refusing, as the Howard Government has, to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and reduce our greenhouse gases unless poor countries do likewise? In the lead-up to the Kyoto conference in 1997, small island states in the Pacific expressed their alarm at scientific projections indicating that several of them would be flooded by rising seas. The Australian Government’s chief adviser on climate change told a conference in London that it might be more efficient to evacuate small island states subject to inundation rather than require industrialised countries like Australia to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.2

The values of the market have colonized our universities too. In the 1850s Cardinal Newman affirmed that knowledge is capable of being its own reward, and wrote of the attributes of mind that arise from a liberal education as 'freedom, equitableness, calmness, moderation, and wisdom'. Few would challenge this view in principle, yet all around us we see the idea undermined by the commercialisation of universities, the commodification of knowledge and the transformation of academics into industrial drones. The intrinsic rewards of knowledge are today belittled and mocked.

I received a letter from a student who, after gaining a TER or ENTER score of 98.9, decided to study Classical Greek at the University of Sydney. She wrote that through her studies she is exploring what it is to be human. But she has been told by friends and family that she is wasting her time, that while 'it's all very well to indulge in the humanities while [you are] young' sooner or later she will have to do something 'practical'. In other words, the purpose of a university education is to obtain the highest paid job one can. As more students than ever crowd onto our campuses, the reorientation of our universities to vocational and commercial demands promises to produce a nation of highly educated fools.

In a survey by the Australia Institute of academics in the social sciences, we were told repeatedly that university teachers feel compelled to make their courses more vocational, that is, more market-oriented. The changes have generally diluted their intellectual content. Nearly ninety per cent said their universities place greater value on courses that attract full fee-paying students than on other courses. The preference for money-spinning courses is at the expense of courses of a critical or speculative nature, that is, those that contribute more to social and cultural values. Many said that, increasingly, the ability to pay is more important than the ability to pass. Wrote one:

… the universities are no longer communities of scholars but institutions which are aiming to satisfy rather undefined and unexplored market needs. This will inevitably constrain freedom of inquiry often in non-transparent and non-coercive ways.

The spread of cheating and plagiarism is entirely consistent with the instrumentalist approach to education of the new enterprise university promoted by the economic rationalists. Perhaps the universities should be honest about it and discard noble mottos such as 'First, to learn the nature of things' (ANU), 'Although the constellations change the mind is constant' (University of Sydney) and, 'Seek wisdom' (UWA), and replace them with Shakespeare's observation in Timon of Athens: ‘The learned pate ducks to the golden fool’.3

Some academics have resisted and for their troubles have been accused by Alan Gilbert, the campaigning former Vice Chancellor of the University of Melbourne, of being Luddites. If, in the face of rapid change, academics are behaving like 18th century handloom weavers, it is because the managers of the enterprise universities are behaving like Lancashire mill owners.

The values of the market are transforming not just our minds but our physical bodies too. Huge industries are devoted to changing our shapes, our visages and our life-spans, all in pursuit of the notion of happiness that the market has given us. In the USA, in what is described as ‘the latest vanity craze sweeping the nation', Botox parties provide a congenial environment at which the guests drink champagne and take it in turns to have Botox injections to paralyze facial muscles. Botox is described as ‘the wrinkle- free fountain of youth'.

But this is child's play compared to the plot of a new US television program called Extreme Makeovers, which has now made the inevitable journey across the Pacific. Seven thousand people applied to win the chance to have their physiognomy remade. While millions watch, the renovation is carried out by an 'extreme team' of plastic surgeons, dentists, personal trainers, and hair, makeup and wardrobe stylists. One of the winners, Melissa, had a nose job, breast implants, brow lift, tummy tuck, ears pinned and Lasik surgery. She had her teeth whitened and straightened too. The other winner, David, a 38-year-old member of the National Guard who believed his appearance has barred him from promotion, had a nose job, chin augmentation, neck lift, brow lift, upper and lower eye lifts, teeth whitening and porcelain veneers.4

The millions who watched thought 'Wow, why not?’. The tragic answer, of course, is that these extreme measures don’t work. An Australian study has found that women who have had cosmetic surgery are also more likely to have chronic illnesses and use medication for anxiety and sleep disorders.5 A Swedish study found that women with cosmetic breast implants are three times more likely than the general population to commit suicide.6 It's not clear whether the psychological disorders lead people to cosmetic surgery or whether cosmetic surgery brings on psychological disorders, although the Swedish researchers refer to ‘the well-documented link between psychiatric disorders and a desire for cosmetic surgery'. Cosmetic surgeons are sometimes described as psychiatrists with knives.

The chances are that those who seek radical transformation of their bodies developed the basic yearning as children. Childhood, of course, has become a marketing free-fire zone, and the lounge room is the kindergarten of consumerism. We all know of the extraordinary pressures placed on children to consume; what is less understood is how the thick fog of commercial messages in which children now grow up conditions their understanding of the world and themselves.

While teenagers with pocket money were once the target, marketers are increasingly targeting tweens, children aged 8-14, not because they buy many of the goods marketed to them but because they hope to build life-long brand loyalty that will pay off for decades. According to the recently published and definitive marketing manual titled BrandChild:

… car companies, airlines, hotels and financial services are competing with traditional kid marketers to establish a relationship with young consumers. Initially targeted at teens, research and marketing programs are now seeking to understand and develop a relationship with younger consumers in the hope that their predisposition towards their brand will sway their purchasing decisions in the years to come. The result has been a dramatic increase in the number of advertising messages targeted at tweens … 7

Brands have become an inseparable part of children’s maturing consciousness. Nearly half of the world’s urban tweens state that the clothes and brands they wear describe who they are and define their social status.8 The manual notes that tweens are exposed to than 8,000 brands a day and that tweens influence close to 60 per cent of all brand decisions taken by their parents.9

What has become clear is that more and more tweens define their worth, their role in the social hierarchy, their popularity, and their success by the brands they wear, eat and live with. … functionality takes a back seat to the belief that along with ownership of a brand comes success and admiration. … [T]ween tribes … have become active advocates for the brand.

The dramatic change in the role of brands has been part of the advertising agencies' long-term goals. It was initially the advertisers who envisioned turning brand into a form of religion, to increase their sales. And it has worked. 10

Most children want to transcend the limitations of lifestyles manufactured by brands and available to everyone. They want to achieve the new pinnacle of social success - celebrity. Children do not see fame as the reward for achievement but simply as a state in itself. And with the proliferation of celebrities whose fame owes nothing to any talent or achievement, this is an accurate judgment. The worldwide survey of tweens for BRANDChild found that more than half say they want to be famous, with Indian children (90%) and American (61%) children topping the list (and with Japanese kids at the bottom (28%)). In Australia, when a talent hunt for Popstars was launched more than 120,000 young people put their names forward.11

Celebrity is a magic potion to be taken as an antidote to the affliction most feared by tweens, rejection and social isolation. To attain acceptance they will go to extreme lengths. A 1999 survey of tween and teenage girls found that 46 per cent say they are unhappy with their bodies and 35 per cent say they would consider plastic surgery.12

Being sexy is being cool and that's why even pre-pubescent girls are being sexualised. A year or so ago the Olsen twins visited Australia promoting their brands of lingerie, including padded bras, to their 6-12 year old fans. If adults sexually attracted to children are called pedophiles, what do we call adults who set out to make children sexually attractive? Advertising executives.

*****

Sigmund Freud used to complain that his American acolytes had interpreted his psychotherapeutic ideas as a technique for making people happy. Steeped in European philosophical tradition, Freud believed this to be a trivialization of a movement whose purpose was to understand the meaning of what people do and what their behaviour tells us about the human condition. The purpose of life is not to be happy; it is to understand ourselves so that we can achieve personal integration or reconciliation with our selves. It is a process rather than a final state.

The marketers have not only sought to persuade us that they can provide us with happy lives, consumer capitalism has redefined happiness itself. People have come to believe that happiness can be achieved by maximising the number of emotional and physical highs. The pursuit of short-term emotional highs swamps the longer-term and deeper need to fulfill one’s potential and realize one’s life purpose. Twentieth-century consumer capitalism has seen a progressive substitution of activities and desires that result in immediate stimulation in place of the more challenging and potentially more fulfilling demands of realizing one’s true potential. There is a trade-off that must be made between short-term gratification and attaining deeper goals of self-realisation.

Yet it is in the superficial form of happiness that we are told to invest our hopes. Today, the pursuit of happiness promotes a hedonistic, shallow approach to life. We don't need the psychological studies to confirm what our intuitive knowledge and folk wisdom tell us – that a worthwhile life is one of inner contentment marked by self-acceptance, the ability to maintain warm and trusting relationships, living in accord with personal standards, having a clear sense of direction in life and realizing one’s potential. This idea of happiness is hostile to the market because it cannot be provided by the market and recognises that the market constantly conspires to corrupt it. Yet it is the market's superficial idea of happiness that finds a theoretical rationale in the economics texts and that is reinforced every time a political leader offers us a fistful of dollars.

The market's definition of happiness changes our values and thus the way we behave. If I believe in the market's idea of life's goals then external rewards take precedence over intrinsic goals. In that case, I would go to the marriage market to pick out a mate who can best satisfy my own emotional and physical needs; I would never follow a passion to study Classical Greek; I would not understand why it's offensive to argue that Africa is vastly under-polluted and that it's cheaper to evacuate islands that will be inundated because we refuse to cut our greenhouse gases; I would genetically select perfect children and keep them happy by showering them with whatever goods they demand from me; I would walk over others to achieve my career goals; I would respond to life's vicissitudes with drugs; and, I would hire cosmetic surgeons to put on display the best body money could buy.

*****

All of these forces coalesce in the idea of growth fetishism. Nothing more preoccupies the modern political process than economic growth. As never before, it is the touchstone of political success. Countries rate their progress against others by their income per person, which can rise only through faster growth. High growth is a cause of national pride; low growth attracts accusations of incompetence in the case of rich countries and pity in the case of poor countries. A country that experiences a period of low growth goes through an agony of national soul-searching, in which pundits of the left and right expostulate about 'where we went wrong' and whether there is some fault in the national character. Throughout history national leaders have promised freedom, equality, mass education, moral invigoration and the restoration of national pride; now they promise more economic growth. Citizens once hoped for a more equal society, a classless society, a more compassionate society and a more democratic society; now they can hope for nothing more than higher incomes.

Growth has annexed the very idea of progress. While once powered by belief in technological advance, evolutionary biology or the ethical perfectibility of humankind, from the 1950s material expansion became the driving force of progress and the measure of success became growth of GDP. That is why we consult the quarterly national accounts so closely, to know how well we are doing. This is convenient, for capitalist firms became the central agency of progress and the entrepreneurs brought their own thinkers to explain their role - the neoclassical economists.

The belief in progress is the counterpart in society of personal hopes for a better life. As Charles Rycroft observed:

… all societies of any complexity seem to have a tendency to divide themselves into purveyors and recipients of hope, the purveyors being special people – shamans, gurus, priests, psychoanalysts – who receive an esoteric training and are endowed with some sort of 'mana' or charisma by the others …13

The economists are the modern purveyors of hope; they are the priests who hold the secret to attaining manna. The transformation of the idea of progress into the pursuit of a higher growth rate has meant the hijacking of hope itself. The neoliberal revolution of the last two decades has robbed us of hope because all it can promise is more growth and higher incomes. For those surrounded by abundance, more growth is nothing to look forward to; it cannot give us a better society and so the economists are the thieves of hope.

While economic growth is said to be the process whereby our wants are satisfied, in reality growth is sustained only so long as we remain discontented. Economic growth does not create happiness; unhappiness sustains economic growth. The vast financial and creative resources of the marketing industry are devoted to a single purpose, to manufacturing discontent and to persuading us to invest our hopes for the future in greater material consumption. That is its historical task. It is a wonderful scheme: persuade people to commit their hopes for a better life to higher incomes, but don’t let on that achieving those goals cannot provide better lives, so that the only apparent response is to wish for even higher incomes.

Consumer capitalism has thus redefined what it means to live a successful life, and it has done so in a way that ensures the vast majority will fail. If success is judged by material reward then the success of the few is purchased by the failure of the many. 'Hence, of course, the pleasure many people take in the misfortunes, scandals and downfalls of the famous’.14 The tall poppy syndrome is a legitimate and healthy defence mechanism in a world that consigns most people to failure.

*****

One cannot have hope without a vision. For a poor person, a practical vision is to be free of the material constraints that poverty imposes and to live a comfortable existence. The Republican candidate in the 1928 Presidential election, Herbert Hoover, famously pledged 'A chicken in every pot and two cars in every garage ’, a vision with appeal to a generation where, even before the Depression, deprivation was the lot of most. But in a post-scarcity society what can the vision be other than more of the same? George Bush knows, subliminally at least, that promising 'a nose job for everyone and two home theatres in every house' is unlikely to capture the public imagination, so he seizes on a war on terror – a dark but visionary project in the bleakness of American consumer society. Pity about the innocents.

The hope held out by growth fetishism and consumerism is a false hope. Under modern consumer capitalism, hope is dead, and in Mary Zournazi’s words: Without hope what is left is death – the death of the spirit, the death of life – where there is no longer any sense of regeneration and renewal.15

We live in an era where the opportunities to live fulfilling lives have never been better and yet where the danger of disappointment has never been greater. When the market hijacks hope but cannot deliver what we need for fulfilled lives it no surprise that we see so much social and personal distress. In a world of abundance, this fact is inexplicable for those who are the prisoners of growth fetishism.

The epidemics of mental illness that have grown with affluence are a natural response to the serial disappointments and dashed hopes of the market. According to one study, depression has increased tenfold among Americans born since the Second World War.16 Young people, the principal beneficiaries of super-affluence, are most prone to clinical depression, evidenced in record rates of teenage suicide and other social pathologies such as self-destructive drug taking.

According to the World Health Organization and the World Bank, the burden of psychiatric conditions has been greatly underestimated. Of the ten leading causes of disability worldwide in 1990 (measured in years lived with a disability), five were psychiatric disorders – major depression (the number one cause), alcohol use (fourth), bipolar disorder (sixth), schizophrenia (ninth) and obsessive-compulsive disorders (tenth). Major depression is responsible for more than one in ten of all years lived with a disability. While major depression is already the leading cause of disability worldwide, when measured in terms of disability-adjusted life-years it is expected to leap from being the fourth most burdensome disease in the world in 1990 to second place in 2020. Last year, The Australia Institute released a report showing that nearly a third of Australian adults depend on medications , alcohol or other substances for their mental wellbeing.

For decades now, the politicians and economists have told us that maximising economic growth will take us on the path to a better society, yet we are now in the grip of an epidemic of mental disorders and alienation. What does this reflect if not an endemic sense of hopelessness? For if we can discern no light to draw us on, no way out of our despond, then what else do we do? Mental illness is a natural response to the hopelessness of modern consumer life.

*****

The first step in the counselling process is to give the patient or client hope. To be cured one must believe that life can be better, that there is hope. To achieve this the counsellor helps the client to externalise the problem, to understand its causes, to enable some objective understanding of it. In the parlance of the religious healers of old, we must name the beast. That is what Growth Fetish does; in that sense, it is a remedy for hopelessness

In Growth Fetish I describe a post-growth society, one that is grounded in promoting the things that truly can provide for more fulfilling lives. A post- growth society will go beyond our obsession with growth and income and endless consumption. It will redefine progress in a way that puts at the centre the contentment of all of its citizens, in which everyone can become reconciled with themselves and find fulfillment in their vocations and their relationships.

We can imagine a society in which education is devoted to creating more rounded humans, where the purpose of jobs is first to provide fulfillment and meaningful activity, where we take poverty, unemployment and disadvantage seriously once again, and where we deal with the rest of the world on the basis of ethics rather than economics.

Radical as it might sound, the case for a transition to a post-growth society is by no means far-fetched or utopian. Many people in Western countries have already made a decision to reduce their work, incomes and consumption, a phenomenon known as downshifting. Most downshifters are ordinary people who have decided it is in their interests to step off the materialist treadmill and take up a more balanced and rewarding life. A survey by The Australia Institute found that 23 per cent of 30-60 year olds have downshifted, citing as their reasons a desire for more balance and control in their lives, more time with their families and more personal fulfillment. The downshifters, often people with no more than average incomes, expressed a desire to do something more meaningful with their lives, and to achieve this aim they considered it was necessary to consume less, work less and slow down.

The downshifters are the standard bearers in the revolt against consumerism, but the social revolution required to make the transition to a post-growth society will not come about solely through the personal decisions of determined individuals. The forces devoted to buttressing the ideology of growth fetishism and obsessive consumption are difficult to resist, and they are boosted immeasurably by governments' obsession with growth at all costs. Making the transition to the new dispensation demands a politics of downshifting. A politics of downshifting promises a return to human values to replace those of the market and provides a vision for a better world for, as Rycroft observes of us all: … so long as they have some ideal, be it for wisdom, self-realization, understanding, acceptance or truth, they will be able to transcend and survive adversities and disappointments.

We need a new politics, one that transcends growth fetishism, a politics that once again takes our wellbeing seriously rather than fobbing us off with promises of more money.
We need a new politics that creates the circumstances in which we, individually and collectively, can pursue fulfillment in our lives in place of an endless and futile scramble for more material goods. We need a new politics that promotes a rich life in place of a life of riches; a politics that can allow us once more to hope.

1 In Mike Moore's film Bowling For Columbine
2 See Clive Hamilton, Running From the Storm: The development of climate change policy in Australia (UNSW Press, Sydney, 2001) p. 79.
3 Timon of Athens, Act IV, Scene III
4 www.entertainmenttonight.com/celebrity/a15483.htm Accessed July 3, 2003
5 ABC News in Science www.abc.net.au/science/news 17 June 2002
6 ABC News in Science www.abc.net.au/science/news 11 March 2003
7 Martin Lindstrom, BRANDChild: Remarkable insights into the minds of today’s global kids and their relationship with brands (Kogan Page, London, 2003) p. 46
8 Ibid. p. 77
9 Ibid. pp. 6 & 23
10 Ibid. p. 82
11 Ibid. p. 81
12 Ibid. p. 196
13 Charles Rycroft, 'Steps to an ecology of hope' in Ross Fitzgerald, The Sources of Hope (Pergamon Press, Rushcutters Bay, 1979) p. 17
14 Ibid. p. 8
15 Mary Zournazi, Hope: New philosophies for change (Routledge, New York 2002) p. 16
16 For references see my book Growth Fetish (Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 2003)
17 Clive Hamilton, Growth Fetish (Allen & Unwin 2003)
18 Rycroft, op. cit. p. 9

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23 FEBRUARY 2004

AFFORDABLE HOUSING FORUM

CEDA Chairman Ivan Deveson began the Affordable Housing Forum with the observation that with 5% of Australian owning 50% of our private wealth and the bottom 30% owing more than they own, the Australian egalitarian dream has passed us by. For social and economic reasons, there are very good reasons for making affordable housing more available.

The forum officially launched the report Better Housing Futures - Stimulating private investment in affordable housing. The report was sponsored by the Brotherhood of St Laurence, CEDA, VicUrban and Melbourne Affordable Housing. It is available as a download from the Brotherhood of St Laurence website.

Three models are proposed in the launched document 'Better Housing Futures': a Bonds Model, Partnership Model and Tax Credits Model:
• The Bonds Model involved government investment in affordable housing financed by government bonds with rental income supplemented by a recurrent government subsidy.
• The Partnerships Model involves private sector investment in affordable housing financed by private equity and/or debt investment, supplemented by a variable capital grant or recurrent subsidy.
• The Tax Credits Model involves private sector investment in affordable housing by private equity and/or debt, supplemented by a fixed value tax credit.

For myself, as Chairperson of Melbourne Affordable Housing, and as the lead Victorian Greens Senate candidate, it is essential that support for public housing is increased from its current pitiful level and that affordable housing is not used as a political excuse for a non-negotiable responsibility of government to address market failure.

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22 FEBRUARY 2004

GLOBAL DAY OF PEACEFUL ACTION ON 20 MARCH

The Victorian Peace Network is organising a Rally and March calling for the end of the occupation of Iraq: 1 pm 20 March 2004 at the Victorian State Library. For further information call 9659 3582 or visit the Victorian Peace Network website.

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21 FEBRUARY 2004

THE 'FREE' BECOMES 'EXPENSIVE' TRADE AGREEMENT

This media release was forwarded from Senator Bob Brown: "The Australia-US Free Trade Agreement has become the 'expensive' trade agreement as sugar growers claim $600 million from taxpayers in compensation," Greens Senator Bob Brown said in Adelaide today. Our sugar farmers will get hundreds of millions of dollars because the Howard government buckled to George W Bush over sugar and other items. No wonder the government won't show us the fine print," he said.

In a subsidy heist on both sides of the Pacific, billions of taxpayers dollars (otherwise available for schools and hospitals) are going to prop up an industry which should open to multilateral free trade if Mr Howard's market fundamentalism is dinkum. Senator Brown said "the Greens will vote against the FTA in the Senate, which has an effective veto."

The outcome is up to Mark Latham and Labor as well as the Democrats.

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20 FEBRUARY 2004

HOWARD RELEGATES AUSTRALIA TO THIRD CLASS

Despite a degree of skepticism about the 'weapons of mass destruction' justification showing through in the United States and British administrations, the Australian Government's moral certainty in committing to a pre-emptive non-UN sanctioned invasion of Iraq is breathtaking. As I said loudly and clearly while speaking to my Melbourne City Council motion opposing a War on Iraq, the current debate on whether weapons of mass destruction posed the security threat that the US-UK-Australian coalition claimed was one we should have had before we invaded Iraq.

The ability of governments to exploit xenophobia in the Australian public is of little credit to any of us. It is cheap politics that sells every Australian short. The same tactics were used in the Tampa crisis, they underpin the adoption of the Pacific solution and the ALP's Indian Ocean solution, and are a sorry reminder of the blind nationalism that led to the rise of fascism. The common tactic is to scapegoat less powerful groups and people as a substitute for governing in the national interest.

This media release was forwarded from Senator Bob Brown:

The repatriation of British and Danish detainees from Guantanamo Bay, following the earlier release of US and Spanish citizens, leaves Australians as third rate considerations, Greens Senator Bob Brown said today."

John Howard's obsequious attitude to the Bush administration has left Australia humiliated," Senator Brown said.

"It is not what David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib may have done which is at issue (they can be tried in Australian courts if returned); it is what Howard has done in not demanding the Australians be treated the same as the US internees.

"John Howard is guilty of relegating Australia's stature in diplomacy and law to mendicant. He should secure the return of the two Australians immediately," Senator Brown said.

Senator Brown said the Greens will amend the bill before parliament to insist that Australians not only serve their sentence in Australia but be tried here and to make it illegal for foreign entities to hold Australians in legal limbo, as at Guantanamo Bay.

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19 FEBRUARY 2004

THE PRIVATE PUBLIC TRANSPORT SYSTEM RATTLES ON

The Premier is expected to announce today that the privatised public transport system will get $1billion more of our money to keep it rattling on the rails.

The Labour Party, which at some time in its distant past had a commitment to public services and public ownership, appear to have completely adopted the economic rationalist approach of 'cut if out' or 'contract it out' to privatising just about everything that moves. Unfortunately, public transport moves.

Years on, we have yet to see this approach provide the promised conductors on public transport. Years on, we have yet to see a ticketing system that encourages patronage, rather than requiring a PhD in ticketing, the need for advance purchasing of the right ticket and a potential fine when you make a mistake. I will provide further comments when details are released by the Premier today.

MEASURING CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY IN AUSTRALIA

This message was sent as part of Ethics News, the newsletter of the St James Ethics Centre. I am a financial member of the St James Ethics Centre and a Vincent Fairfax Ethics Fellow.

The St James Ethics Centre, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, supported by Ernst & Young, are due to launch a new Corporate Responsibility Index in Australia today to measure performance in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

The Index, designed by over 80 UK businesses with Business in the Community (BITC), is the next stage in the evolution of measuring corporate social responsibility in Australia.

While not being involved directly in the task of rating companies, St James Ethics Centre will act as the 'trustee' overseeing the integrity of the process. Ernst & Young, donating time and expertise to the validation process, will examine all surveys submitted for completeness and consistency.

Australia's top 100 companies and Business Council of Australia members have been invited to participate in the Corporate Responsibility Index, with results to be published by The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age in mid-2004. Participation is free of charge.

You can find more information at www.corporate-responsibility.com.au

AFFORDABLE HOUSING FORUM NEXT MONDAY

The Brotherhood of St Laurence and Committee for Economic Development Australia is launching a discussion paper titled: Better housing futures - Stimulating Private Investment in Affordable Housing. The report will be launched at an Affordable Housing Forum at CEDA Level 5, 136 Exhibition Street, Melbourne from 8.45am – 1.30pm, Monday 23rd February 2004

In February 2003, representatives from the housing, development, finance and government sectors agreed to work collaboratively to promote the development and implementation of a national strategy to increase the supply of affordable rental housing. The Allen Consulting Group was engaged to compare policy options that would increase the supply of affordable rental housing and to examine the impact of these options in terms of the costs and benefits facing governments and society more broadly.

The Affordable Housing Forum is now being reconvened to consider the findings of the report and discuss responses to it from representatives of government, the finance sector and organisations involved in the delivery of affordable housing. The forum is by invitation, so if you wish to attend, please contact Sally Jope on 03 9483 1306 or by email at sjope@bsl.org.au at the Brotherhood of St Laurence by Friday 13th February.

An executive summary of the report is available by clicking on the title Better housing futures: Stimulating Private Investment in Affordable Housing

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18 FEBRUARY 2004

MONSANTO'S CHAPATI PATENT STIRS INDIAN ANGER

This article by Randeep Ramesh in New Delhi published in The Guardian Weekly was forwarded on Leftlink.

Monsanto, the world's largest genetically modified seed company, has been awarded patents on the wheat used for making chapati - the flat bread staple of northern India.They give the US multinational exclusive ownership over Nap Hal, a strain of wheat whose gene sequence makes it suited for crisp breads. Another patent, filed in Europe, gives Monsanto rights over the use of Nap Hal wheat to make chapatis, which consist of flour, water and salt.

Environmentalists claim Nap Hal's qualities are the result of generations of Indian farmers who spent years crossbreeding crops, and collective, not corporate, efforts should be recognised. Monsanto, activists say, is out to make "monopoly profits" from food on which millions depend.

Monsanto inherited a patent application after buying the cereals division of the Anglo-Dutch food giant Unilever in 1998, and the patent has been granted to the new owner. Unilever acquired Nap Hal seeds from a publicly funded British plant gene bank. Its scientists identified the wheat's combination of genes and patented them as an "invention".

Greenpeace is trying to block Monsanto's patent, accusing the company of "bio-piracy". Dr Christoph Then, Greenpeace's patent expert, said after a meeting with the European Commission in Delhi: "It is theft of the results of the work in cultivation made by Indian farmers. We want the European Patent Office to reverse its decision. Under European law patents cannot be issued on plants that are normally cultivated, but there are loopholes in the legislation."

A spokesperson for Monsanto in India denied that it had any plan to exploit the patent, saying that it was pulling out of cereals in some markets. "This patent was Unilever's. We got it when we bought the company. Really this is all academic as we are exiting from the cereal business in the UK and Europe," said Ranjana Smetacek, Monsanto's public affairs director in India.

Campaigners in India say there are concerns that people might end up paying royalties to Monsanto for making or selling chapatis. "The commercial interest is that Monsanto can charge people for using the wheat or take a cut from its sale," said Devinder Sharma, who runs the Forum for Biotechnology and Food Security in Delhi.

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17 FEBRUARY 2004

BROWN - CITY OF SYDNEY WILL BE GREENER AFTER MARCH 27

This media release was forwarded from Senator Bob Brown: Australian Greens Senator Bob Brown today announced the Greens ticket for the City of Sydney elections on March 27, including the Party's first-ever shot at the position of Lord Mayor.

"The Greens are a growing force in local government across the country and this election looks set to result in a record number of Greens councillors elected across NSW," said Senator Brown.

"The Greens are a serious contender for the Lord Mayoral position. Our candidate Chris Harris would be a fantastic lord mayor and would put the interests of the community ahead of those of the big developers for the first time. The Greens also have a very strong chance of getting two and possibly three councillors elected, with 20%-30% of the vote possible. This is very exciting for the people of Sydney, who have been crying out for community-focused councillors for a long time. Sydney is about much more than big business and overdevelopment, and it's time that this majority view was represented in Town Hall.

"We want Sydney to be the green metropolis," said Senator Brown.

The State Government's recent sacking of the City of Sydney and South Sydney councillors has outraged the community who know this is nothing more than a grab for power by the Labor Party," said Greens Lord Mayoral candidate Chris Harris. Greens are needed now more than ever before on the City of Sydney council and we'll focus on sustainable development, adequate community services and more open space if elected," said Mr Harris.

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14 FEBRUARY 2004

GENETIC ENGINEERING-FREE CAMPIGN WORKING AS WORRIES GROW

This information was forwarded from Bob Phelps of Genethics: Opponents of genetically modified foods and crops are winning the public opinion war, with a new poll showing Australians are increasingly worried about the technology.

Compiled for Biotechnology Australia, the report found a majority of people would not eat GM foods and opposed their use by farmers. But it also found Australians believe that the nation's farmers are growing GM fruits and vegetables, even though they are not. The survey has tracked more than 1,000 people over the past four years to measure changes in attitudes towards GM products. Only two GM crops - cotton and carnations - are commercially grown in Australia, although GM canola has been approved for use. State bans are preventing the commercial planting of the GM canola varieties. The survey found that while a majority believed GM technology could be beneficial in foods, drinks, crops and medicines, the general public's attitude towards the process is now negative. Eighty per cent of respondents said they were concerned about the use of gene technology in food, although there was slightly less concern about its use in human health applications. The number of people saying only traditional, non-GM, methods should be used in the breeding of plants and animals increased 10 percentage points to 56 per cent. A bare majority of people would now eat GM food altered to make it healthier, down 10 percentage points, while a majority said they would not eat GM foods. The number saying they would not eat foods genetically altered to taste better increased six percentage points to 58 per cent. Biotechnology Australia's Craig Cormick said part of the reason for the increase in opposition to GM foods was linked to the September 11 terror attacks and Bali bombings. The concept of risk has changed enormously in the last two years," he said in a statement.

"Australians have increased risk perceptions right across society, fuelled by global insecurities such as September 11 and the Bali bombing. Despite having concerns about GM foods, people seemed more comfortable with genetically altered medicines. (who knows which drugs are GE modified!). It found 58 per cent of people supported the screening for genes which may cause diseases, while 73 per cent supported the use of left over IVF embryonic stem cells for research. The survey also uncovered many people had little knowledge about what constituted GM foods, or how prevalent they were in Australia. About 55 per cent of people believe there are GM fruit and vegetables on the nation's shelves, even though they do not exist. A third of people believed foods with colours or preservatives were genetically altered, while a quarter believed crops treated fertiliser were GM.

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12 FEBRUARY 2004

TIME TO COME CLEAN ON THE AUSTRALIA - US FREE TRADE AGREEMENT

I put the following Notice of Motion to Melbourne City Council's Environment, Sustainability and Indigenous Affairs Committee:

That the Environment, Sustainability and Indigenous Affairs Committee: 1/ seek confirmation from the Federal Government on whether the Australia/US Free Trade Agreement will bind local government and seek confirmation of any implications; and, 2/ ask the MAV and the VLGA to conduct a Forum on the issue.

I provided the following background: The proposed US-Australia Free Trade Agreement may allow foreign corporations and governments to sue Australian local, state and federal governments for any action they take on sustainability if they believe that the actions interfere with their right to free trade in Australia.  

The proposed US-Australia Free Trade agreement is likely to be based on provisions in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) known as 'Investor State Provisions' that have already seen legal actions in the United States, Canada and Mexico result in damages claims and settlements of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Liberty Victoria and the Catholic Commission for Justice Development and Peace hold serious concerns about the lack of transparency surrounding the current closed negotiations for a free trade agreement between Australia and the United States. It is our view that the Australian Government should subject these negotiations and any resulting agreement to parliamentary scrutiny and full public debate, before signature.

I have attached a copy of a paper they have distributed, which is also available on the CCJDP website at http://www.ccjdp.org .

I believe many Victorian local governments and their constituents are unaware of the implications of these proposed agreements.

Cr. David Risstrom

The Committee resolved to seek confirmation from the Federal Government, but inexplicably, felt a forum to inform the public was not necessary until a reply was received from the Federal Government.

The following media release was forwarded by Michael Organ, Greens MP on Feb 11: Government 'spin' is masking the real impacts of the US-Australia Free Trade Agreement, Cunningham MP Michael Organ said today."A summary document issued by the Office of the United States Trade Representative paints a vastly different picture to the one being touted by the Howard government", Mr. Organ said. "For example all US agricultural exports to Australia receive immediate duty-free access, while Aussie beef and dairy continue to face tariff barriers. The agreement contains what the Office of the United States Trade Representative describes as unprecedented provisions to improve market access for US films and television programs. All US investment in new businesses is exempted from screening by our Foreign Investment Review Board. The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme is to be 'improved' with the establishment of an independent process to review determinations of product listings; in other words Australian decisions about medicines for Australians will be subject to US interference. Does the government really expect us to believe that the world's largest market, which already has a $US9 billion trade surplus with Australia, won't use the FTA to increase its dominance of our economy?" Mr. Organ asked.

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10 FEBRUARY 2004

'BACKGROUND BRIEFING' REMINDER OF THE EVIL'S OF INTENSIVE FACTORY FARMING

Sunday's Background Briefing 'Factory Farming: Enough is Enough' was great listening. You can hear it at your leisure using Real Audio on the Background Briefing homepage. Information outlining the program states:"Thomas Scully, the senior speech writer for George W. Bush says we must face up to what we do to factory farmed animals." "One common response is 'I don't want to know, I don't want to know."Cruelty to animals is an abuse of power, and when people take advantage of animals and do cruel and wicked things to them, they debase themselves.

For those of you who agree, you may also wish to enter the amazing website The Meatrix. If you do, you may meet you meat maker, take the red pill and hopefully never look back! Thanks to Liz Conor for forwarding the link.

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9 FEBRUARY 2004

AUSTRALIA - US FREE TRADE AGREEMENT SIGNED

Australians awoke today to find their government has signed onto what the 'Office of the United States Trade Representative' describes as "Free Trade Down Under" The picture painted domestically in the United States and that in Australia proclaim each country is benefiting from concessions made by the other that just doesn’t seem to stack up. I will provide more detail in the coming days on what the new agreement means. It may be up to two months before the full text comes out, so further analysis will emerge as the veil of secrecy slowly starts to peel away and Australians realise what our government has just traded away.

And much to the chagrin of the sugar industry, without a sweetener,

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8 FEBRUARY 2004

ECOFESTIVAL AT LEO BAECK CENTRE, KEW

Tu Bishvat, meaning new year for trees, was celebrated with an Eco-Festival this weekend at the Leo Baeck Centre in Harp Road Kew. As part of the celebrations, an eco-festival will be held from 10 am to 6 pm this Sunday 8 February 2004. The festival attracted many people. The EcoFestival is Australia's first Jewish environmental festival, featuring the latest environmental technology, expert speakers and panel discussions by politicians on their policies. A panel of elected people with Tony Lupton (ALP), Andrew Macintosh (Liberal) and David Risstrom (Greens) discussed the issue of 'Power, Water and Environmental Challenges Facing Victoria." More information is available on www.jeco.org.au.

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7 FEBRUARY 2004

REPORT FROM THE THE RURAL AUSTRALIAN FOR REFUGEES CONFERENCE IN ALBURY

I am sitting in the Charles Sturt University building in Albury at the Rural Australians for Refugees Conference. There is a large list of great speakers, having just heard Father Frank Brennan and committed members of Rural Australians for Refugees, the Conference promises to be a great event. I'll report back when time allows.

Julian Burnside QC. gave a fantastic talk explaining the legal issues surrounding refugee issues and the propensity for the Federal Government to avoid them. He encapsulated the sentiment of the conference perfectly with the following statement: "I cannot stay silent in the face of the immense moral crime that this country is committing." Many of us agree. Brilliant work Julian.

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6 FEBRUARY 2004

ECOFESTIVAL AT LEO BAECK CENTRE, KEW, THIS SUNDAY

Tu Bishvat, meaning new year for trees, will be celebrated this weekend at the Leo Baeck Centre in Harp Road Kew. As part of the celebrations, an eco-festival will be held from 10 am to 6 pm this Sunday 8 February 2004. The festival is hoped to attract up to 1,000 people. The EcoFestival is Australia's first Jewish environmental festival, featuring the latest environmental technology, expert speakers and panel discussions by politicians on their policies. For more information, go to www.jeco.org.au or call 9859 5417.

As part of a panel of elected people beginning at 4 pm on Sunday, I will be speaking on the Greens environment policy. I look forward to seeing you there.

SYDNEY CITY COUNCIL SACKED

Sydney City Council has been sacked!! By another State Government that believes in Local Government! State and Federal Government indifference to the role and integrity of local government will never be cured until local government is protected by Constitutional guarantee. The expediency of the major political parties suggests promises mean otherwise. The media release below calls on a stand to be taken.

Greens Call on Turnbull and Pooley to Boycott Tony Kelly

"The Local Government Minister's sacking of Sydney City and South Sydney Councils is an abuse of power and affront to democracy", Greens MP Sylvia Hale said today.

"The Greens call on Tony Pooley and Lucy Turnbull to boycott their appointments as administrators of the Sydney City Council. As vocal critics of the amalgamation, the two former mayors should pursue every legal avenue to prevent contest the Minister's decision. If Lucy Turnbull and Tony Pooley are opposed to the amalgamation, why aren't they contesting it? Turnbull and Pooley should be fighting for their councils and constituents, not protecting their own positions of power. By sacking the council and gerrymandering the elections the ALP is hoping to control the City and pay their dues to their developer mates. The Government wants developers to have a free hand in South Sydney. Before the state election last year the government promised no forced amalgamations. If this isn't forced amalgamations, then what is? The Government is bulldozing democracy by sacking Sydney City and South Sydney Councils for its own political gain and will pay for it at the ballot box in March," Ms Hale said.

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5 FEBRUARY 2004

I WILL BE ATTENDING THE RURAL AUSTRALIAN FOR REFUGEES CONFERENCE IN ALBURY THIS WEEKEND

Greens Senator Kerry Nettle and I, as the lead Victorian Greens Senate candidate, will be attending the Rural Australian for Refugees Conference in Albury this weekend. A media release that sets out some of my views is provided below.

BORDER VIEWS ARE CRITICAL - GREENS

The Victorian Greens lead senate candidate David Risstrom is in Albury-Wodonga this weekend to attend the Rural Australian for Refugees conference on refugees and voiced his support for Border communities and their concerns. "The things that matter to the towns and communities on the Border will also play a big part in the forthcoming federal election," Mr Risstrom said today. "I want to make sure that my campaign represents a country voice."

"I know that people on the Border share many of the values that are at the heart of the Greens vision", said Mr Risstrom.  

"They want a fair chance for present and for future generations."

"I also know that Albury-Wodonga is leading the way on some of these things. For example, I am up here to attend a conference about refugees and asylum seekers." Mr Risstrom said, "just look at what that says - Albury is hosting a national gathering on an issue of national importance, and it is being organised by country people."

Mr Risstrom said, "the Border also shares other central concerns with the Greens.   Its location at the foot of the mountains - the start of the Murray - makes it a central player in important environmental issues; water catchments, environmental flows and farm water."

"There is also global issues they are concerned about. The recent drought reminds us about the critical issue of global warming.   And farmers on the Border are trying to find a way to stop their livelihoods being sold off to US farming conglomerates in the Free Trade Agreement", said Mr Risstrom.   Mr Risstrom said, "we need to stop seeing all of these things as separate problems for others to solve. We need to be involved in the solutions and the solutions need to reflect our community needs."

"I know that people in the Northeast of Victoria often can't find a doctor who will bulk bill, or specialist services for themselves and their kids.   I know that the distances mean that people sometimes can't get access to what is available", Mr Risstrom said. "I sympathise with parents and young adults who not only have to face crippling debts for university fees but also have to shell out for accommodation just so they can get a tertiary education," said Mr Risstrom.

"Greens share these concerns. Greens policies aim to address community interests and needs and not just those of the big end of town. More importantly the Green way of doing things is to reflect and support the voice of communities", Mr Risstrom said. "Victorian voters need to know that they can have a way of getting their concerns on the political agenda, and that's what I am here for."

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4 FEBRUARY 2004

THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT IS NOT SERVING THE NATIONAL INTEREST

The Australian Government's aversion to public scrutiny has become a common theme. Philosophically, the government's preference is to privatise government functions, and therefore public decision making. We saw this in Victoria when the State Government bestowed us with the dubious privilege of being the privatisation capital of the world. The results included a public transport ticket mess, diminished public services and an increasingly unstable electricity system. We saw health care networks being established while hospital funding went backwards, complaints being hand balled between the two while people on hospital waiting lists took the brunt.

We can expect more of the same duck-shoving if John Howard's stance on an inquiry into Australia's involvement in the War on Iraq is any guide. Amazingly, while the USA and UK acknowledge the need to account for their actions, the Government seems to believe it is OK to bury its head in Middle East sand. The Australian government's obsession with an Australia - US Free Trade Agreement is another case of believing selling off the farm is a good way to advance Australia. Two media releases from Senators Bob Brown and Kerry Nettle hit the nail on the head. If you see the connection, and agree, congratulations, you are now eligible to Vote 1 Green and if you want, Vote 2 'the Usual', in the upcoming Federal election.

HOWARD SHOULD BE IN DOCK OVER WMDs - BROWN

Prime Minister Howard would be the primary witness in any genuine inquiry into the Weapons of Mass Destruction deception used to justify war on Iraq, Greens Senator Bob Brown said today.

"Now that George W. Bush and Tony Blair are moving towards inquires, the Howard government becomes obliged to follow suite. It must be a judicial inquiry with power to call anyone.

"The question Mr Howard has to answer is not 'What went wrong with intelligence', but 'Why did you not insist on detailed corroboration of the false WMD claims before sending Australian service people to war?" Senator Brown said.

HOWARD'S TRADE AMBITIONS THREAT TO WORLD ECONOMY

Greens Senator Kerry Nettle today endorsed the comments of World Bank President James Wolfensohn who has criticised the pursuit of bilateral trade deals such as the US/Australia Free Trade Agreement as bad for the world economy.

"The demise of the FTA this week will not only be a good for Australia, it will be good for the sustainability of the global trading system," Senator Nettle said.

Mr Wolfensohn who visits Australia this week was reported today as saying; "It would be a tragedy, I think, if the world fragmented into regional trade arrangements because it leaves people out."

"The Greens support the pursuit of multilateral trade deals that respect rigorous environmental, cultural and social standards. Such trade agreements provide a way forward to a more sustainable and just world economy.

"The Prime Minister's eagerness to jump into bed with the US's bilateral trade agenda has been exposed by the World Bank as economically reckless.

"Australia's Trade Minister would best serve our long term interests by returning home without signing a deal and busying himself with the task of introducing environmental and social elements to the substance of multilateral trade talks."

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3 FEBRUARY 2004

BREAD ABC AND CIRCUSES

The media release below was forwarded from Friends of the ABC. I am a financial member of the Friends of the ABC and support the stand taken by them: David Risstrom

ABC Betrays Public if it Proceeds with The Kids Kingdom Theme Park Venture

Friends of the ABC thought ideas for ABC Disney-style ventures went with the disgraced Managing Director, Jonathan Shier, who engaged the services of former Disney executive, Keith Bales, back in 2000.

"Tacky and dangerous, an action which would seriously damage the ABC's reputation if it proceeds," is how Terry Laidler, a Friends of the ABC spokesperson described the ABC's involvement in the children's theme park planned for the Royal Melbourne Showgrounds and Flemington Racecourse.

"The ABC's integrity lies in its independence. The broadcaster has earned public confidence and respect because it does not sell cars to adults or lollies to children", said Terry Laidler.

"FABC recognises that the ABC is struggling for funds. But joining in ventures, or selling its creations and trusted name to a commercial operation to make money out of children, is unethical and downright dangerous.

"If the ABC Board allows this scheme to proceed, it will be a betrayal of the public's trust in the broadcaster's integrity. It will undermine the esteem in which the community holds the ABC.

"And, with the spurious excuse that the ABC can earn its own money, the government will withdraw further from its responsibility to fund the broadcaster.

"The ABC is the national broadcaster - a major producer of independent information and culture in Australia. The public broadcaster exists to produce quality programming for the community. It is not a business, and was not established to make money out of our children."

Friends of the ABC is calling on the ABC Board to immediately renounce its plans for ABC involvement in the children's theme park venture.

Further Comment: Terry Laidler, a Friends of the ABC spokesperson 0412 363 699
Further information: Glenys Stradijot (03) 9525 5717 or 0409 11 04 11

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2 FEBRUARY 2004

'THE GREENS TIP THEIR FIRST SENATE SEAT' - THE AGE

Melissa Fyfe, The Age Environment Reporter, penned the following story on Feb 2 our Victorian Senate Launch at the Green Building, 60L, in Carlton on Sunday.

Melbourne city councillor David Risstrom yesterday kicked off his bid to be Victoria's first Greens senator.

The Greens are confident of winning a Victorian Senate seat in this year's federal election. Launching the Senate push, Greens leader Bob Brown said: "If you look at the real odds as well as the tea leaves, we are on track to return a Victorian Green in the Senate for the first time."

Cr Risstrom, a criminal defence barrister, said: "The Greens are a great party that doesn't look to the polls to decide what's right and wrong."

The Greens polled 10 per cent of the vote in the last Victorian election, with strong support in inner-Melbourne. The party took a NSW Senate seat in the last election and a lower house seat in a by-election in 2002.

A Roy Morgan poll released on Saturday had the Greens on 8 per cent of the vote, up half a percentage point. The Democrats were on 2.5 per cent.

Election analyst Antony Green said the demise of the Democrats gave the Greens a chance of winning a Senate seat: "And the rise of Mark Latham is why their chance of winning a lower house seat has ended."

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1 FEBRUARY 2004

VICTORIAN GREENS LAUNCH SENATE CAMPAIGN

The Green Building, 60L, was the location for the official launch of the Victorian Greens 2004 Senate Campaign. Australian Greens Senator Bob Brown, Victorian Greens Convenor Maribyrnong Councillor Janet Rice, Melbourne Candidate Gemma Pinnell and yours truly spoke briefly to launch the Victorian Senate Campaign.

Victorian Greens Senate Launch


The Victorian Greens Senate Team was selected by postal ballot of Victorian members following a thorough and exhaustive preselection process. The ticket is headed by myself, David Risstrom and Dr. Richard Di Natale, with Pamela Curr, Dr. Peter Christoff, Dr. Liz Conor and Sue Pennicuick. Television, radio and newspaper media attended the launch, as did a good number of Greens members and supporters.

As I said during the launch, it was great to be in The Green Building, among so many good people who are optimistic about the future. Fairness and consistent values were a strong theme of speakers, providing contrast to the pragmatic and poll driven policy flip flops, aggression and divisive politics of the major parties.

The Greens are looking forward to a good strong campaign, and to elect at least one, and possibility two Victorian Green Senators.

If anyone would like me, one of the Senate team or your House of Representative Candidate to come to speak to your community or provide information on specific issues, please contact me at david@davidrisstrom.org

Senator Bob Brown issued the following media release yesterday ahead of the launch:

Greens Can Win Victorian Senate Seat

Greens Senator Bob Brown officially announced the Australian Greens Senate team in Melbourne today.

"Melbourne City Councillor David Risstrom will head the ticket and is set to become the Greens first MP in Victoria," Senator Brown said.

"David is an outstanding candidate.   His work in greening Melbourne is huge: from increased public housing to an ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets."

"He will be backed up on the Senate ticket by Dr Richard Di Natale whose experience as a doctor working with Indigenous peoples in remote areas and in Community Health Centres in Melbourne makes him invaluable to the Greens team."

"The Greens narrowly missed out on a Senate seat in Victoria at the last election despite out polling the Democrats, when the ALP preferenced the Democrats over the Greens. With the Greens' growth since the 2001 election David's chances are greatly improved. He can win the seat."

"After Labor's failure to endorse a just refugee policy at its national conference, many voters will see the Greens as the humanitarian option, particularly in the Senate."

"The Greens will also be campaigning nationally to protect Tasmania's old growth forests.   Protecting these forests will be a stand-out election issue.   Victorians were critical to winning the fight for the Franklin River and t again they will play a significant role in having Tasmania's forests protected."

"The Australian Greens Senate campaign for this year's election will be bigger than anything the Greens have put on before," Senator Brown said.

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31 JANUARY 2004

ALP NATIONAL CONFERENCE

The Australian Labor Party National Conference in Sydney has concluded with a lot of enthusiasm about very little. It appears that mark Latham is enjoying a very positive response to his leadership, while the response that the ALP intends to provide to lawful refugees has enjoyed a less dramatic transformation. From the party that brought you mandatory detention and remains a willing participant in the game of 'war on crime' and 'tough on crime' during election campaign, expect to hear "Tough on ... " as many times as their focus groups and polling will allow.

I'll provide a much more thorough analysis of what the Alternative Liberal Party Conference policies mean in the near future.

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30 JANUARY 2004

GIVE A VALENTINES GIFT THAT DOESN'T COST THE EARTH - BUT SAVES IT

This good idea was forwarded from the UK-based World Land Trust: What could be more romantic than receiving a single red rose on Valentine's Day? Receiving a whole bunch of red roses? Perhaps, until you look at the price tag for the Earth.

Each year we spend a staggering £22 million on Valentine's flowers: A single rose with gift decorations is likely to cost around £20 while a bunch of roses will knock you back something closer to £70. "So what", you might say. "It's only once a year, surely a gesture of love can never cost too much?"

Well, sometimes it can cost far, far more than you think. Most of those glowing roses in their cellophane wrappers will have travelled a long way -from places like Zimbabwe, Israel, Colombia and Kenya. Transporting these flowers contributes substantially to global warming from aircraft emissions.

What can you give you Valentine instead? In contrast to flowers or chocolate, which both give brief moments of pleasure, there is something you can give that is literally priceless and lasts forever: An acre of tropical rainforest.

For the environmentally conscious, this really is the only Valentine's gift worth considering. An acre of rainforest saved on behalf of your sweetheart costs just £25 and after the World Land Trust has purchased it on your behalf it will be protected forever by the Trust's local partners.
This is the Valentine's Day present that just goes on and on giving pleasure. And not just to you and your beloved: Your acre will be part of a luxuriant tropical rain forest where giant trees, thickly hung with wild orchids, shelter rare species of animals and birds. The tropical rainforests are the most diverse areas on Earth and the multitude of animals and plants living there rely on the trees for their survival. Not only are you saving a piece of unique wildlife habitat from destruction, you are supporting the crucial role played by rain forests in preserving the world's carbon balance. What's more, you and your loved one can even visit the forest you have helped save.

Buy an acre of rainforest as a unique, green Valentine's gift and you will receive a Valentine's card, a personalised gift certificate and a copy of the World Land Trust's newsletter twice a year. You will be giving a love token that will last forever and help save one of the most beautiful habitats on the planet.

Read more and buy an acre of rainforest for Valentine's Day by following the directions on the World Land Trust website.

Australian equivalents that you could use as your own Valentine's gift include:
Australian Conservation Foundation Forests Appeal
Bush Heritage
Earth Share Australia
Environment Victoria
Otway Ranges Environment Network
Tree Project
Victorian National Parks Association
WWF Australia

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27 JANUARY 2004

FEDERAL COALITION ELECTORAL PRIORITIES MADE CLEARER: MORE FIGHTING, MORE FEAR

The announcement today of Australia's purchase of the behemoth US Abrams tanks and recent speculation about the expansion of US bases in Australia confirms our Government is doing its best to make us a supplicant to another country. Now that is national pride for you, writ large. It is clear that the Federal Government and Opposition, having flogged off just about everything government's used to own on our behalf, and now looking to flog off our national identity as well.

In the coming months, I will be highlighting the hollow ring of the major parties' appeal to national pride, when their actions show that their real approach has been if it is not nailed down, flog it off, if someone is stronger than you, grab onto its shirt tails, and if someone is weaker than you, you can blame them for just about anything. Privatisation, US-Australia Free Trade ambitions, unilateral military invasion of Iraq, ruthless refugee action including SIEV-X, children overboard and the Pacific Solution, 'Son of Star Wars' supplication, ever increasing wealth inequality, privatising Indigenous Reconciliation, undermining Medicare, bleeding dry and vilifying our public education system! The list is sickeningly long!

US Bases and US tanks confirm dangerous deputy-sheriff status

Greens Senator Kerry Nettle today cited news of Australia's purchase of the US Abrams tanks, coming hot on the heals of speculation that a US military base will be set up near Rockhampton, as evidence that Australia's military relationship with the US has become too close.

"The government appears set on treating the Australian Defence Force as a deputised wing of the US military," Senator Nettle said.

"Australia's security interests are not best served by becoming a fully integrated cog in the US military's global network, but this is the objective apparently being pursued by the government.

"Our regional neighbours have understandably voiced concern over Australia's 'deputy sheriff' status. These concerns do not appear to have registered with policy makers.

"The Defence Minister must explain how the establishment of bases, the purchase of heavy duty US hardware, and participation in an expansion of missile defence technologies will improve our relations with our regional neighbours.

"Despite serious concerns as to the usefulness of such large tanks, the US military have announced that the ADF are spending $600 million to buy more than 100 of them.

"The challenge for Opposition leader Mark Latham is to join The Greens in opposing this worrying trend in Australian's defence policy."

The Greens support an independent defence and security policy which focuses on disarmament and regional security.

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26 JANUARY 2004

ADVANCE AUSTRALIA FAIR

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. Advance Australia Fair is a short speech I gave on how fair Australia is to its indigenous inhabitants, made at the opening of the 'Share the Spirit' Songlines Festival in Treasury Gardens, Melbourne, on Australia Day 2004. It is available as a 44 Kb word download by clicking on the underlined title.

ADVANCE AUSTRALIA FAIR

Welcome to the City of Melbourne. Thank you for welcoming me to your country and thank you for sharing it. It is great to be here. I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we stand today and to pay respect to the elders who are present.

Welcome to Share the Spirit, a celebration of what Australia is today and will be in the future. It is a day when we can come together and enjoy ourselves. It is also a day we can recognise and enjoy the history and culture of the first Australians. Share the Spirit is new to Australia Day. Organised by the Songlines Music Aboriginal Corporation, Share the Spirit was kicked along with a $15,000 grant from the City of Melbourne's Indigenous Arts Grants Program.  

The City of Melbourne has made a commitment to ensure that the Indigenous Communities of Melbourne and Victoria are supported culturally and artistically. We want the Indigenous community of Melbourne to be visible and their culture to be celebrated. Share the Spirit is an alternative celebration of Australia Day, but not with animosity, resentment or hatred.   We want the spirit of today is generous, open-hearted and of course fun. And to encourage a sense of community. We reckon a better future depends on everyone concentrating on the road ahead, and getting on with it.

Australia Day is one of those reminders. Australia Day is a chance to reflect that the overwhelmingly majority of us are in some ways refugees of one sort or another from another place. Australia's indigenous people have a heritage measured in millennia, but for most of us our pride derives from a much shorter history. Australia Day is an opportunity for reflection on where our good fortune emerged and whether and how fairly we distribute its fruits.

As someone who believes the common good can be, I want a fairer Australia, where difference is less important than an instinct for generosity, and where our future is strengthened, rather than mortgaged by fear and political expediency. As a continent with a proud indigenous and rich migrant history, the invasion posing the greatest threat to Australia today is the invasion of our spirit by a fear that we can no longer afford to be as generous a community as our folklore suggests we have and can be. And there is no doubt, the Australian National Anthem, 'Advance Australia Fair', has become an important part of that folklore. This led me to take a closer look at the words of Advance Australia Fair, beginning with verse 2. The one's people mumble if they sing it!

Verse 2 of Advance Australia Fair: When gallant Cook from Albion sail'd, To trace wide oceans o'er, True British courage bore him on, Till he landed on our shore. Then here he raised Old England's flag, The standard of the brave; With all her faults we love her still, "Britannia rules the wave!" In joyful strains then let us sing "Advance Australia fair!"

Interesting words about gallant Cook. "Then here he raised Old England's Flag." Despite Captain Cook acting under directives from the British Admiralty to "with the consent of the natives to take possession of convenient situations in the country in the name of the King of Great Britain", or "if you find the country uninhabited take possession for His Majesty ...", on finding Indigenous Australians,   Cook took possession of half the continent without doing so. Even though British convention was to obtain consent through treaties, as in New Zealand and Canada, no official attempt was made to negotiate a treaty for any part of Australia. Had Captain Cook executed those directives strictly, or the Crown subsequently adhered to the intent of the directives, Australian Aborigines' legal situation might bear more similarity to those of New Zealand or Canada.   Australia might be advancing a little fairer.

Verse 3 of Advance Australia Fair: Beneath our radiant southern Cross, We'll toil with hearts and hands; To make this Commonwealth of ours Renowned of all the lands; For those who've come across the seas We've boundless plains to share; With courage let us all combine To advance Australia fair. In joyful strains then let us sing "Advance Australia fair!"

As some of you may know, 'For those who've come across the seas, the Federal Government and Opposition policies now mean that although "We've boundless plains to share", people seeking refugee status in Australia don't get to share it quite as easily. And for some of us, some of you, your share of the boundless plains is far from fair.   We seem at times to becoming meaner, not fairer.  As we all know, Indigenous people are still dying much younger than they need to. Indigenous people, as some other people not in the majority, are still being discriminated against in too many ways.  Social disadvantage, grog, violence and jail are too common amongst a good people.  Indigenous health isn't improving.  Wealth inequality is growing.  Finding good housing is difficult. Social dislocation is far too common. So What about Advance Australia Fair?

Verse 4 of Advance Australia Fair: While other nations of the globe Behold us from afar, We'll rise to high renown and shine Like our glorious southern star; From England, Scotia, Erin's Isle, Who come our lot to share, Let all combine with heart and hand To advance Australia fair! In joyful strains then let us sing "Advance Australia fair!"

Some of us may have come from England, Scotia, Erin's Isle, but a fair few of us didn't. My mother was born in Japan and had to flee when World War II escalated, running for the docks and having her ship chased by a submarine to sink it, arriving in Australia with only the clothes she was wearing.   She learnt the value of having nothing, and the value of good people in a generous country. My mother, like many of us, believe Australia is capable of seeing Australia Advance More Fairly.

Verse 5 of Advance Australia Fair: Shou'd foreign foe e'er sight our coast, Or dare a foot to land, We'll rouse to arms like sires of yore To guard our native strand; Britannia then shall surely know, Beyond wide ocean's roll, Her sons in fair Australia's land Still keep a British soul. In joyful strains then let us sing "Advance Australia fair!"

Australia, at a time when we are using its natural resources, its water, its air, clearing its forests and degrading its soil at the greatest rate in Australia's modern history, is possibility at its richest and with the best opportunity to Advance Australia Fair. And it is amazing to me how defensive some of us can be when you scratch beneath the surface about what it is to be Australian.  Talking to Royce Millar of 'The Age' newspaper last year about these gardens, and the possibility that, in line with having Australian trees in an Australian landscape, when asked, I said I could see a time within 50 years that there were indigenous plants within these gardens. Some 3,000 letters later, including generous advice for me to go home to the country I came from and letters adorned with Australian flags, it reminded just how much some people identify with the British branches of Australia's heritage, while somewhat blind about the strength of its indigenous Australian roots.  

Sometime the problems seem so big they drown out any possibility of making improvements. I have felt that way in the past, so I knew it was worth making progress wherever we can, even if our Federal Parliament appear incapable of doing so. In August 2002, as a Green Councillor on Melbourne City Council, I asked the Council to agree to commencing a 12 month discussion between the City of Melbourne, its constituents, ATSIC and the wider indigenous community on how to advance reconciliation in the City of Melbourne, and to initiate discussions on options for: 1. Negotiating a land use agreement 2. Identifying and acknowledging our pre-European history in the City of Melbourne. 3. Providing cross-cultural awareness training. 4. Increasing the involvement of indigenous people City of Melbourne services. 5. Flying the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flags. 6. Advancing representation by Indigenous councillors; and, 7. Establishing an Indigenous Unit in Council, which now employs two very senior staff.

We decided on a discussion, because we wanted people to talk to each other about what they want. Rather than one group of people tell the other what is best for them. That has been done too often.   Probably by all of us. The Council agreed unanimously.   Not one councillor voted against it.

A large number of people have worked hard and keep working hard to open the doors to a fairer Melbourne for Indigenous Australians.   It is not a straightforward job, but it is a worthwhile one. The discussion is ongoing. What is produces is up to us. It has already made changes in Melbourne. As you can see, it has already made a difference about how some of us think about Australia Day. Perhaps we could Advance Australia Fair.   Fair for all of us. Enjoying the friendship of great people in this great country is a very good start. Thank you for being a part of it.   Now and in the fairer future to come.

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22 JANUARY 2004

DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION IS CLASSIC CONSERVATIVE WEDGE POLITICS

The Coalition Government introduced legislation into the Federal Parliament without public debate that would make it lawful to discriminate against a person with a drug addiction on that basis alone. The Disability Discrimination Bill 2003 proposes that irrespective of whether a person's addiction causes any impact on anyone else, their capacity to work or their ability fulfills any other obligations, they can be discriminated against in their employment, tenancy and the provision of services. Some exemptions apply to people undergoing treatment and those using drugs in permitted circumstances, such as might happen in palliative care. The Bill does not define what addiction is.

The Greens see no need for this legislation. By co-sponsoring a Senate motion, the Greens and the Democrats, supported by the ALP in the chamber, referred the Bill to the Senate Committee, in order to give the Bill necessary public scrutiny. The Green anticipate the Committee report to be released on 25 March will confirm the Greens' view that this is punitive, unnecessary and counterproductive legislation.

Background information on the Disability Discrimination Bill 2003 is available on the Public Interest Law Clearing House (PILCH) Website.

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19 JANUARY 2004

TARKINE FORESTS A NATIONAL DISGRACE

This was forwarded by Jill Bannon of the Australian Green Tarkine Working Group: Australia's largest single tract of rainforest is not in Queensland but in northwest Tasmania's Tarkine wilderness, almost 150.000 hectares of it, in fact. This stunning, pristine rainforest contains areas not yet seen by Europeans. Here are giant and ancient trees including myrtle beech and huon pine. One huon pine tree is estimated at ten thousand years old, making it the world's oldest tree. It is home to many ever-diminishing species of endangered fauna including the Tasmanian Wedge-tailed Eagle, the White Goshawk and the world's largest freshwater crayfish (growing up to a metre long!) It has least twice been recommended for world heritage listing, but this has not been acted upon by either state or federal governments. This is the area which in 1982 was protected by Tasmania's then government placing a moratorium on logging it. Last June that moratorium was cancelled when Deputy Premier Lennon announced plans to commence 'selective' logging of the central Tarkine as early as this summer. If the proposed logging proceeds unchecked, it is estimated that the Tarkine's rainforest will be gone altogether by 2030.

Now being a Tasmanian or a New South Welshman or a Victorian, Queenslander or whatever might count at a football game, but when it comes to wholesale clearing of Australia's pristine public forests, then surely that's the concern of us all. Especially as it only benefits the short-term employment prospects of less than 2% of Tasmanians and lines the pockets of timber company shareholders and directors. By contrast, Tasmanian tourism employs about forty thousand people (i.e. over 10% of its population). With a federal election looming and the Howard Government able to intervene to save the Tarkine, public awareness and pressure might help the Tarkine (and the fate of all Tassie's public forests) to become a major election issue. Please do at least one thing to help the Tarkine. Send letters, lobby politicians, 'phone talkback radio, tell everyone you know. Also - do yourself a favour - go and visit the Tarkine for your next holiday, and see for yourself!

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17 JANUARY 2004

VENUS BAY DEVELOPMENT PROPOSAL UNDERLIES NEED FOR GREATER COASTAL PROTECTION

The threat of overdevelopment to Victoria's coastline is putting at risk the natural values and beauty they are drawn to. I attended a 500 strong public meeting about a proposed 2000 lot subdivision that is proposed for on what appears to be a floodplain at Venus Bay. The meeting, organised by Beverley Walker and others, was vigorous, with the following 3 resolutions accepted overwhelmingly from the floor:

Resolution 1

We the Residents and Ratepayers of Venus Bay and surrounding districts resolve that the South Gippsland Shire Council (SGSC): reject outright any rezoning proposal that would expand the existing boundaries which define the coastal village of Venus Bay and therefore that the Council reject immediately the current and inappropriate Evergreen Eco Group proposal for residential development on 865 acres of rural lad known as 'Evergreen', adjacent to the 1st and 2nd estates, Venus Bay.

Resolution 2

We the Residents and Ratepayers of Venus Bay and surrounding districts resolve that the Bass Coast Shire Council (BCSC): reject outright the rezoning for the development proposal at Maher's Landing/Pound Creek, Inverloch known as 'Tarwin Cove' as an inappropriate development that will have severe impacts on our shared inlet, its biodiversity and migratory birds.

Resolution 3

That in resolving to reject such rezoning and development the SGSC and the BCSC take into account that: We the residents and ratepayers of Venus Bay and surrounding districts resolve to:
Protect the habitat, biodiversity and sensitive environs of Anderson Inlet, the Venus Bay/Point Smythe Peninsula and the Cape Liptrap Coastal Park.
Preserve the low density, non urbanised character of the Venus Bay coastal village and the existing lifestyle of its residents and ratepayers.
Reject both of the inappropriate developments proposed for Anderson Inlet at Venus Bay and at Maher's Landing/Pound Creek, Inverloch.
Support the findings of the Department of SUstainability and Environment (DSE) 'Strategic Planning Issues Paper - Proposed Major Coastal Developments at Anderson Inlet' and the clear strategic directions of the Victorian Coastal Strategy and the Gippsland Coastal Board - Coastal Action Plan.
Agree with the decisive action of Planning Minister Delahunty in rejecting the scale, position and out of character nature of these development proposals.

What is needed is strong action from the State Government to ensure that further overdevelopment of our coast is stopped.

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16 JANUARY 2004

AUSTRALIA DAY? INVASION DAY?

Australia Day is a chance to reflect that the overwhelmingly majority of us are in some ways refugees of one sort or another from another place. Australia's indigenous people, and its plants and animals have a heritage measured in millennia, but for most of us our pride derives from a much shorter history.

Australia Day is an opportunity for reflection on where our good fortune emerged and whether and how fairly we distribute its fruits. As someone who believes the common good can be, I want a fairer Australia, where difference is less important than an instinct for generosity, and where our future is strengthened, rather than mortgaged by fear and political expediency.

As a continent with a proud and rich migrant history, the invasion posing the greatest threat to Australia today is the invasion of our spirit with a fear that we can no longer afford to be as generous a community as our folklore suggests we have and can be.

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15 JANUARY 2004

ACF URGES NATIONAL ACTION REQUIRED ON CLIMATE CHANGE, WHILE GREENS IN LOCAL GOVT 'JUST DO IT'

This ACF release calls on State and Federal governments to act on climate change. As a Melbourne City Councillor and Vice President of ICLEI International, I have been hopeful, but unwilling to wait for moribund governments to act. Details of what I have initiated as a Green at Melbourne City Council include: 100 Green Power Users, 30% Green Power, Car Fleet with average fuel use of 8 litres/100 km or less, Community Power, Climate Protection, Grown Up Cars, Kyoto Protocol, Solar Installation, Sustainable Melbourne Fund, Sustainable Living Fair in Melbourne, Toronto Declaration and Zero Net Greenhouse Gas Emissions for Melbourne.

This release was put out by the ACF: Urgent action must be taken to prevent Australia's national greenhouse response from grinding to a halt, the Australian Conservation Foundation warned today.

Executive Director Don Henry said three key actions were urgently needed to deliver community and industry confidence in Australia's climate change response:

1. State Governments should legislate to reduce greenhouse pollution and establish a state-driven, but nationally consistent, emission-trading scheme, until the Federal Government is prepared to act.
2. Federal and State Government's must act to set strong mandatory renewable energy targets and mandatory energy efficiency targets.
3. The Federal Government must not only reconsider its opposition to the Kyoto protocol but the Prime Ministers should use his 'special relationship' with the United States to urge them to act in the global interest by supporting the protocol.

Mr Henry said the Federal Government was running down Australia's response to greenhouse driven climate change. "There is no direction, no action and no sense of urgency," he said.

In the past month, as scientists warned of more drought, bushfires and major extinctions of native animals, the Federal Government has:

* Axed funding and support for Australia's participation in the international emissions trading scheme, a key part of the Kyoto Protocol.
* Delayed the announcement of its climate change forward strategy that was supposed to be released last year.
* Seen major corporations walk away from its Greenhouse Challenge.

"It is time the Federal Government withdrew from their climate change wonderland and realised climate change is real. It is harming Australia's environment. It will damage our economy. Until the Federal Government takes a responsible position on climate change, the Australian community will look to State Government's to provide the national vision and leadership required. The ACF urges State Premiers to meet urgently to create a state-driven, nationally consistent Greenhouse response and urges the Australian public to pressure the Federal Government to change course."

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14 JANUARY 2004

SECRET AUSTRALIA-US FREE TRADE PLANS A SUBVERSION OF OUR DEMOCRACY

The Greens opposition to a Australia-US Free Trade agreement reflects community concern that secret government negotiations are subverting Parliament's legislative process. The agreement, with almost no public or Parliamentary scrutiny, will bind Australian federal, state and local government's to obligations that will wipe out domestic economic, social and environmental achievements. Information on Greens Senator Kerry Nettle's Australia-US Free Trade agreement Campaign is available by clicking on the underlined title. Further information links are available on David Risstrom's Useful Internet Sites page under 'Australia-US Free Trade Agreement'.

The following information is adapted from an email forwarded today on Greenleap:

Australia: Say No to a US-Australia Free Trade Agreement- Vote now at http://www.nofta.org

The Australian Government is negotiating a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the USA that threatens many fundamental parts of Australian society, and that will be almost irreversible once signed. Now a new site gives you the chance to make your voice heard in opposition to this agreement.  Visit http://www.nofta.org and cast a vote against this secretive, undemocratic and very destructive agreement.

How will the FTA affect you? 

An FTA would Diminish Democracy - The US wants new rights in the FTA for corporations to sue the Australian government for compensation if environmental or health laws reduce their profits. More: http://www.nofta.org/impacts/democracy.html

An FTA would Erode Public Services - The FTA could lead to post, health, water and other public services being privatised. US drug companies are also using the FTA to make changes to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme which would increase the cost of medicines. More: http://www.nofta.org/impacts/services.html

An FTA would Harm Australia's Economy - Modelling by the International Monetary Fund shows that a FTA would actually shrink the Australian economy by 0.03% per year and increase US imports by $5.25 billion. More: http://www.nofta.org/impacts/economy.html

An FTA would Destroy Family Farms - Trade liberalisation is the main cause of the low commodity prices which are sending Australian farmers broke: since the 1960s, the number of Australian farms has almost halved. An FTA would continue this trend. The US also wants to dismantle single- desk export boards which primarily help small farmers. More: http://www.nofta.org/impacts/farmers.html

An FTA would Threaten Australian Culture - The US is demanding that the government give up the right regulate new media to ensure that Australian culture survives. More: http://www.nofta.org/impacts/culture.html

An FTA would Eliminate More Jobs - Since 1987, almost 200,000 jobs have been lost from tariff reductions. The FTA will reduce tariffs further, endangering the jobs of millions of Australians. Even Toyota says an FTA could destroy our car industry. More: http://www.nofta.org/impacts/jobs.html

An FTA would Threaten Australia's Environment - An FTA would increase production of Australia's most environmentally damaging crops, increasing water use by up to 1.3 trillion litres - almost equal to our total domestic water use! The US also wants changes to our quarantine laws, making it easier for US pests to enter Australia. More: http://www.nofta.org/impacts/environment.html

Visit http://www.nofta.org and register a vote FOR affordable medicines, a healthy Australian society and culture and a strong democracy, and AGAINST to a free trade agreement with America!

Increasing numbers of Australians have already raised their voices in opposition to this potentially devastating agreement which has been negotiated in secret and will not be voted on by parliament.  Pressure from civil society groups and farmers has meant that negotiations have continued into 2004, but the government needs to conclude them by the end of January.  If this agreement is signed, it will be almost impossible to "un-sign".

So in this election year, take this opportunity to show the Howard government that you're ready to VOTE against this trade agreement. Make your voice heard against this dangerous agreement, but remember to get your vote in by the end of January. YOU can help STOP the FTA: Vote today at http://www.nofta.org

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13 JANUARY 2004

COALITION'S MISSILE MADNESS IS DANGEROUS

Today's confirmation that the Coalition Government is set to purchase missile technology for George Bush's 'Son of Star Wars' program is a strong sign that this government has got its priorities absolutely wrong. With climate change, species extinction and energy shortages amongst many other urgent issues a reality, conservative governments are back on the old election path of pick a fight in order to get votes. The USA's obsession with aggression is dangerous. Australia's supplication is absurd: David Risstrom

THis media relEase was forwarded today from Senator Kerry Nettle:

AUSTRALIA MUST SUSPEND MISSILE DEFENCE TALKS

The Federal Government must immediately suspend negotiations with the United States over Australia's involvement in the missile defence program to allow Parliament to scrutinise the proposal, Greens Senator Kerry Nettle said today.

"Federal government officials are today in talks with US negotiators about Australia's involvement in this program, which has enormous financial and security implications for this nation," Senator Nettle said.

"The Greens will be moving to establish a Senate inquiry into Australia's involvement in the missile defence program when Parliament resumes next month."

"We call on the Howard Government to immediately suspend these talks so that Parliament can fully scrutinise the implications of Australia's participation in this dubious and costly program.

"These talks are proceeding in the face of growing concern in the Australian community about the Howard Government's latest foreign policy adventurism with the US. To commit to such a program would make Australia part of the expanding US military outreach and lock us in for decades.

"Our concerns have been reinforced today after a former US defence official stated that, far from security and strategic advantage being the main factors driving the US, its primary motivation is most likely a desire to spread the cost of this technology.

"Committing Australia to spend money on dubious defence proposals is wrong, particularly when there are so many needs in our schools, hospitals, childcare and environmental protection. The Greens will oppose funding a missile defence program.

"While the Howard Government says it is motivated by a desire to improve security, the missile defence program actually threatens world security by starting a new nuclear arms race involving China, Russia, India, Pakistan and North Korea. If we are not a target already committing us to such a program will make us a target.

"Numerous Asia and Pacific nations have already expressed concern about Australia's involvement in the US missile defence program."

*Senator Bob Brown gave notice of a motion on 5 December 2003 to refer Australia's involvement in the missile defence program to the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee to report by July.

AND WE THOUGHT (COAL)ITION MEANT LIBERAL AND NATIONAL PARTY

David Kemp, Federal Environment Minister's announcement that the Coalition Government is rejecting emission trading out of hand on the silly assertion that there is nothing in it for business is a true (Coal)ition. A (coal)ition of coal interests and conservative head in the sand politics.

Minister Kemp has scuttled efforts to include Australia in carbon emission trading schemes being developed internationally. Emissions trading allows companies to trade value of the impact of their activities in a market. Some examples that Japanese companies have been pursuing include offsetting carbon emissions by financing new forests. This might allow a coal fired power station to use market forces to say we can either spend money on increased efficiency or they can spend money on going some way to ameliorating the environmental damage caused by climate change. Emissions trading is part of a growing trend for polluter pays, which works to put a financial cost on the externalities of environmental degradation that polluters have in the past either not paid for, socialised the cost by making governments pay, or privatised the costs by making communities and individuals pay.

Under my guidance, melbourne City Council has set a target of Zero Net Greenhouse Emissions by 2020, which was to be achieved through a combination of reduced consumption and waste, higher efficiency, potential emissions trading and some sequestration. Now, the Federal Government bowls another strike, making good initiatives harder to achieve. Bring on the Federal election and something Greener.

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12 JANUARY 2004

THE AGE GETS IT IN THE BAG - BAGGING MELBOURNE (IN A NICE WAY)

Today's Age editorial 'When plastic is no longer fantastic' was a welcome public statement of the urgent need to reduce our wasteful use of plastic bags. I have reproduced a letter I sent to The Age in response. Information on my Melbourne City COuncil initiative to reduce plastic bag use in Melbourne is on this site at Bagging Melbourne (in a nice way).

Bagging Melbourne (in a nice way)

Monday’s Age editorial ‘When plastic is no longer fantastic’ got it in the bag. Australia’s love affair with the plastic bag is suffocating our environment and costing each and everyone of us and our environment a great deal. 6.9 billion bags full last year.
 
Greens Senator Bob Brown and independent Mr Peter Andren MHR introduced two bills to Federal Parliament in October 2002 specifying a levy of 25 cents on plastic bags in Australia and outlining how the money could be collected for an environment fund. As a Melbourne City Councillor, I got support for Melbourne City Council to provide calico shopping bags to residents in December 2002 and Victoria’s State Government backed the 25 cent levy at an Environment Minister’s meeting in March 2003. But still, we, or more accurately, our environment, is suffocating from the some 6.9 billion plastic bags Australians use each year.
 
Now, the Federal Government’s own report identifies what we already know. Voluntary measures continue to fail. Our environment is suffering as more and more plastic bags accumulate, as does the cost to ratepayers of disposing of them. Shoppers already pay for plastic bags, but they are not always aware of it. By paying for increased disposal costs, ratepayers are picking up the tab without being aware of it.
 
The experience overseas is that when shoppers are asked to pay for plastic bags through a levy, plastic bag use goes down. In Ireland, a 25 cent levy saw a 90% reduction in the number of plastic bags distributed since March 2002. It is time we did the same here.
 
I will move to expand the co-operation between Melbourne City Council and city retailers to provide alternatives to plastic bags. While some uses may be necessary for fresh meats and some vegetables, a great deal of plastic bag use is simply excessive. Some retailers, such as Bunnings, have already taken steps to reduce plastic bag waste and should be congratulated. Others are content to let the bags pile up and to keep our landfills getting fuller by the year. I will seek Melbourne City Council to negotiate with city retailers to introduce plastic bag levies and to facilitate arrangements for the proceeds to be distributed to waste reduction and recycling measures.
 
It is time we all took a stand, and started using what power we have to make change. For or some of us, it is as straight forward as thinking when we shop. Try bringing calico bags with you when you shop. Suggest to your local shopkeeper that they sell carry bags. Consider saying no to more plastic waste. Ask your politicians why they don’t support a levy. Next time you shop, bring along a bag and enjoy the fact that you are contributing at least one less plastic bag to the 6.9 billion bags we collectively dumped into our environment this year.

Further information on a much needed plastic bag levy can be found at plasticbaglevy.com.

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11 JANUARY 2004

D-DAY AT ROYAL PARK GAMES VILLAGE SITE

This information is adapted from a media release forwarded to me: On Monday next, 12 January 2004, members and supporters of the Royal Park Protection Group (RPPG) and the newly formed State-wide Protectors of Public Lands (PPL) coalition will picket the Royal Park Games Village construction site.  This is in protest over the alienation of 20 hectares of our public land, the axing of nearly 2,000 trees on parkland, the destruction of wildlife and the demolition of significant heritage buildings. All this is to make way for a wall-to-wall, high-rise, high-density development by overseas property interests to be used for 2 weeks only in March 2006 as a Games Village.   

Julianne Bell, Convenor of RPPG, said: "In some ways this is the culmination of a six year long campaign to have the 2006 Games Village relocated to an appropriate site.   We have always said, "Royal Park is No Place for a Village - Any Village."  We have been attempting to appeal to the conscience of the Bracks Government to stop this gross development proceeding.   We know that a massive housing complex, like the old style Housing Commission flats, in this isolated, environmentally sensitive location will have a disastrous long term environmental and social impact on surrounding suburbs and on the inner north of Melbourne.

Rod Quantock, Deputy Convenor of RPPG added: "The theft of a large area of historic Royal Park for a private-for-profit development is another example of a government selling the past to prop up the present at the expense of the future. The success of the newly formed The Protectors of Public Lands with member groups from all over metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria is indicative of the range and level of concern over threats to public lands. These lands are not the government of the day's to dispose of, rather governments have a duty to protect, conserve and manage them for this and future generations."

Protestors will be assembling from 7:30 am on Monday 12 January 2004 (when construction is expected to start after the holiday break) at the main gates of the Royal Park Hospital site in Park Street.   (Melways Map ref 29 10 C).   

Media contact: Julianne Bell RPPG Convenor and PPL Spokesperson   Ph; 98184114 or 0408022408 Web: www.royalparkprotect.org.au

NEW AUSTRALIA INSTUTUTE PAPER 'BUYING AN EDUCATION: WHERE ARE THE RETURNS HIGHEST'

A new paper titled 'Buying an Education: Where are the returns highest?', written by Richard Denniss, has been published by the Australia Institute. The paper is available as a 116 Kb pdf download by clicking on the underlined title, or by going to the Australia Institute website at www.tai.org.au and finding the file under the What's New tab.  

The paper considers the recent trends in private school enrolments and fees in light of the new university arrangements which allow for Australian citizens to enrol as full fee paying students rather than having to rely solely on academic merit to earn a place. It argues that if parents are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on their children’s school education to ensure that they gain a place in a prestigious university course then they would be financially better off sending their children to public schools and using the money saved to buy them a full fee paying place at an Australian university.

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10 JANUARY 2004

DAVID DOES FIRST HAND RESEARCH INTO AUSTRALIA'S PUBLIC HEALTH SYSTEM

I have returned home following surgery and an overnight stay at Sandringham & District Memorial Hospital for a long standing problem I have had with my nose and sinuses. The treatment I received as a public patient was excellent, and a real credit to Australia's public health system. Due to a rather unsightly bleeding nose and some pain, I will be keeping quiet for a few days, getting my strength back for a big year of campaigning.

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9 JANUARY 2004

ONE MILLION SPECIES EXTINCY BY 2050 CLAIM EMINENT SCIENTISTS

This article is taken from a Greenleap e-mail dated 8 Jan 04 reproducing a Melbourne 'The Age' article by Melissa Fyfe. For information on green achievements I have initiated at Melbourne City Council to avert climate change see: Climate Protection By Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Growing Green, Kyoto Protocol, The Toronto Declaration and Climate Security, Zero Net Greenhouse Gas Emissions for Melbourne by 2020 and Climate Legacy for Council Travel.

Humans must change their ways if animal and plant species are to survive.

A quarter of all land animals and plants will not survive the onslaught of climate change, an international group of scientists has predicted.

Their alarming findings, published in the scientific journal Nature today, show more than a million existing species could be extinct by 2050 as human-induced climate change heats up the earth.

Chris Thomas, the study's lead author and professor of conservation biology at England's University of Leeds, has called for urgent government action on greenhouse gases to reduce the number of predicted extinctions.

The research, on 1103 species in six biodiversity-rich regions including Australia, used computer models to work out how animals and plants will react as the climate changes.

Some species will be forced to shift to areas where they will have a better chance of survival. Some will be forced - along with other species - into smaller areas, causing extinctions, and some will have nowhere to go.

The scientists based their work on the predictions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of more than 2000 scientists who, through the United Nations, advise the world's governments on global warming.

Under the panel's minimum scenario - an expected rise of 0.8 to 1.7 degrees celsius by 2050 - 18 per cent of species would be lost, the research predicted.

But if the warming follows the "middle-of-the-road" prediction - 1.8 to 2 degrees - 24 per cent of species will die. If temperatures rise more than 2 degrees, 35 per cent will become extinct.

Based on these projections, the scientists say minimising climate change will save animals and plants. "An immediate and progressive switch to technologies that produce little or no new greenhouse gases, combined with active removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, could save a million or more species from extinction," Professor Thomas said.

The scientists studied 24 of Australia's 200 endemic butterflies and found that by 2050 all but three would be extinct in their current range. The most threatened species are Queensland's orange white-spot skipper, and the western jewel, from Western Australia. These species could lose up to 90 and 99 per cent of their range respectively.

A lizard from Queensland's wet tropics, the Boyd's forest dragon, is also at risk because of how it regulates body temperature. Ninety per cent of its habitat could be unsuitable by 2050.

The Australian research was conducted by Linda Beaumont from Macquarie University and Stephen Williams, an ecologist at James Cook University, whose research last year showed that almost all of the species in north Queensland's wet tropics were threatened if the worst predictions for climate change came true by the end of this century.

Other at-risk animals, plants and ecosystems around the world include areas of the Amazonian rainforest, the Brazilian cerrado or savannah, European birds including the spotless starling, azure-winged magpie and citril finch; the South African toffee-apple conebush and that country's Cape Floristic region and Kruger National Park.

Co-author Lee Hannah, of Washington's Conservation International, said that climate change was the earth's biggest new extinction threat.

Human-induced climate change occurs when greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, are released into the earth's atmosphere and trap heat.

Land clearing and the burning of fossil fuels to create electricity and transport fuel are among the worst contributors.

The Howard Government - like the Bush Administration - has refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol, the global framework for reducing greenhouse gases.

The Nature report says other effects of climate change, including landscape modification, species invasions and a build-up of carbon dioxide, could also disrupt ecosystems.

Nature says the study is the largest collaboration of scientists to have investigated how climate change will affect global biodiversity.

8 JANUARY 2004

COLLINGWOOD CHILDREN'S FARM FARMERS MARKET THIS SATURDAY

The Collingwood Children's Farm Farmers Market is on this Saturday at St Heliers St Abbotsford. Melways Map 44 G5, 8am - 1pm Saturday 10th January 2004, BYO Bags!!! Entry before 1pm $2 (includes Farm entry for the day).

This month you will find, from 60 Victorian producers direct to you, new season stone fruit, sweet corn and berries, citrus, avocadoes, tomatoes and beans, as well as the usual fruit, vegies, herbs & seedlings, bread, condiments, fresh & smoked meat & fish, cheese, honey, free range eggs and chooks.

That's just the beginning! For your brunching needs try the Farmers' Breakfast, iced and hot coffee, fresh cooked corn, homemade
muffins, buffalo and pork sausage sizzle, ice creams, smoothies and fresh fruit juices.

Meet the growers - taste the freshest produce - direct from farm gate to your plate. Local food = global prosperity. Collingwood Children's Farm Farmers' Market is Victoria's first NEW plastic bag free event - so don't forget to BYO bags, baskets, trolleys and boxes.Be a part of the big picture and reduce, re-use and recycle your plastic. More info? Call Miranda 0429 146627, or e-mail Greg Milne.

The market is on each second Saturday of every month - whatever the weather. We'll be here Feb 14th and March 13th too, and we need YOU!

6 JANUARY 2004

USE OF PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION IN VOTING FOR THE NEW COUNCILS

Changes were made by the Victorian Parliament in 2003 to how Councils can be elected. The changes allow for proportional representation to be used in Council elections, which means that the people's vote is more likely to be reflected in the Councillors they elect. In the past, large party domination allowed for an overrepresentation of Councillors from major parties and greater difficulty for smaller resourced candidates to be elected.

The Local Government (Democratic Reform) Act 2003 authorises processes to allow Councils to use proportional representation for election of Councillors, but requires a number of steps to occur before that is the case.

For Councils that elect one Council per ward, proportional representation does not apply. For all Councils with more than one Councillor to be elected per ward, proportional representation will be used if an Electoral Representation Review is undertaken for that Council and the change is approved by the Local Government Minister.

The number of Councillors to be elected per ward is not necessarily limited to two, and would be a matter for Councils, Electoral Representation Reviews, and the Minister to determine. Melbourne City Council already employs proportional representation to elect seven councillors at large.

The first round of Electoral Representation Reviews have been gazetted to allow for nine councils to commence or have commenced reviews from 1 January 2004. Those councils are Moreland, Yarra, Stonnington, Hobsons Bay, Moorabool, Pyrenees, Greater Bendigo, Corangamite and Warrnambool.

The second round of Electoral Representation Reviews are expected to occur in the second half of 2004 and the first half of 2005. In practical effect, only those nine Councils already gazetted have the time available to seek approval for a change to proportional representation by the November 2004 Local Government Elections. If your Council is not gazetted and you believe it should be, please approach your Council. I understand that gazettal can occur as a consequence of a request from a Council or at the separate initiation of the Minister.

Following authorisation by gazettal, Electoral Representation Reviews will commence on appointment by contract between the Council and an electoral commission (such as the Victorian or Australian Electoral Commission, or other interstate commission). The anticipated process will be for the reviews to be advertised by public notice, written and oral submissions invited through public hearings. A report will be compiled at the conclusion of the review that will be presented to the Minister for her approval.

For those nine Councils in the first round, appointments for Electoral Representation Reviews must be made by 13 February 2004 and reports must be completed by 26 May 2004. The reports represent advice to the Local Government Minister, who may then take administrative action to make the new arrangements for that particular Council law. It is expected that the first round reforms will be completed so that, if approved, they take effect in those nine Councils for the 27 November 2004 elections. The following two rafts of reviews will allow for changes to occur for those Councils going to election in November 2005.

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5 JANUARY 2004

ACF'S CONTRIBUTION TO THE 2004 YEAR OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT

The Australian Conservation Foundation's Submission to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Environment and Heritage Inquiry into Sustainable Cities 2025 sets a vision for a 5 star city, which:
• Produces zero net greenhouse pollution;
• Recycles and reuses water;
• Creates zero waste;
• Has an integrated transport system; and
• Protects its natural and cultural heritage.

A 5 Star Green City would provide incentives for people to use public transport, walk and cycle and would help families wanting to install solar power and rainwater tanks. It would provide mandatory energy and water efficiency standards for commercial and domestic buildings. It would protect and enhance urban bushland and open space. Finally, it would provide assistance to low income earners to help them do the right thing by the environment while keeping their costs down. The ACF's Sustainable Cities 2025 submission can be downloaded as a 158 Kb word document by clicking on the underlined title.

ACF believes the Federal Government should develop a 5 Star Green Cities Program, and should endorse the following key recommendations:
1. That the Federal Government set a national greenhouse pollution reduction target of 70-80% of 1990 levels by 2050 and a mandatory renewable energy target of 10% by 2010 and 20% by 2020.
2. That the Federal Government ratify the Kyoto Protocol on climate change and commit to a 50% reduction in energy use by 2025, backed by a revenue neutral carbon tax or domestic greenhouse emissions trading scheme.
3. That the Federal Government support the reduction of greenhouse pollution produced within our ten largest municipalities by 30% of 1990 levels by 2025.
4. That the Federal Government endorse and implement the recommendations of the Senate Inquiry into Urban Water Management.
5. That the Federal Government obtain COAG’s commitment to a national waste reduction strategy, including a target of Zero Waste in our capital cities by 2020.
6. That the Federal Government either remove Fringe Benefit Tax advantages for company car use and parking or provide equivalent advantages for public transport fares and bicycles.
7. That mandatory 5 star energy and water efficiency requirements be introduced for all new residential and commercial buildings.
8. That a National Sustainability Council be established, reporting to COAG, with powers akin to the National Competition Council.

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4 JANUARY 2004

MY FRIEND AND HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST, DR. ANDREW MCNAUGHTAN - VIEWS AND CLOCKROACHES

Andrew's death prompted me to look for some photos I took the last time I stayed at Andrew's house in Sydney. Andrew was never one to be fussed by the presence of clocks, thus the emergence of the 'Clockroach' in Andrew's kitchen. The wear and tear on the time adjustment knob may have been a consequence of Andrew trying to move everyone else's timetable back in his characteristic use of 'East Timor time'.

The views from the balcony are good though, as this shot taken near dawn from Andrew's balcony shows. Many of Australia's and East Timor's problems were thrashed out here.

The inspiring view from Andrew's balcony Andrew's McNaughten's Clockroach
The inspiring view from Andrew's balcony
The McNaughtan 'Clockroach'

For the benefit of Godzilla fans, quarantine officers and ANSTO scientists worried about giant cockroaches, these photos are not shown in scale.

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3 JANUARY 2004

MY FRIEND AND HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST, DR. ANDREW MCNAUGHTAN - FAREWELL

The memorial service and wake for my friend Andrew McNaughtan was moving. Family and friends and respected colleagues including Justice O'Keefe, Jose Ramos Horta and John Pilger spoke volumes about the contributions Andrew has made. Thanks for a good life Andrew. I wanted to share more of it with you.

John Pilger

John Pilger speaking of Andrew McNaughtan as one of his heroes.

A strong theme of Andrew's wake was a belief that Andrew would want us to continue work he has catalysed. Australia's appalling behaviour over resources in the Timor Gap is one of those issues Andrew and many others feel strongly about. The Australian Greens position is clear, as outlined in a press release of Senator Bob Brown on 10 December 2003:

Government and ALP Should Respect International Law on East Timor

Greens Senator Bob Brown has called on the Government and ALP to reverse their stance on the disputed maritime boundary with East Timor.

"In March this year the Greens attempted to amend the Timor Sea Treaty legislation to properly reflect the maritime boundaries but the move was not supported by the ALP and Government.

Senator Brown was expelled from the Senate during debate on the legislation for accusing the Howard Government of political blackmail.

"East Timor is one of the poorest countries in the world while Australia is one of the richest. It is unconscionable for Australia to be attempting to cheat East Timor out of what is rightfully theirs," Senator Brown said.

"Australia must heed East Timorese calls not to allow any further oil exploration and development activity in the disputed maritime territory without mutual agreement.

"Prime Minister Howard stands condemned for refusing to let the International Court of Justice settle the disputed maritime boundary", Senator Brown said.

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2 JANUARY 2004

MY FRIEND AND HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST, DR. ANDREW MCNAUGHTAN - FAREWELL

I am travelling to Sydney to say a final farewell to my friend, Andrew McNaughtan, whose funeral will begin about 1 pm at Mary McKillop Chapel, 9 Mount St, North Sydney. I have reproduced some thoughts about Andrew I have had since I found the world lost another good person. Good on you mate. Lots of love Andrew: David.

Andrew McNaughtan, my friend of 15 years and tireless human rights activist, has died in his sleep at the early age of 50.

I first met Andrew in Managua, Nicaragua in 1988. Andrew had travelled to Nicaragua to offer his medical services to the people of Nicaragua during the war between the Sandanistas and US. Government backed Contras. With the Contras habit of raiding villages and smashing doors down as they did, Andrew was instead put to work replacing doors in villages after they had been raided.

Andrew, my friend Phil Darmody and I first met Andrew at El Chapito's in Managua, but later met by accident in Quito, Ecuador. As Andrew tells it, he had been confronted late at night in the streets of Quito by a group of people with a knife, and by luck and some good thinking, made it back to the hotel. When he heard two Aussie voices the next morning, he decided to hitch up with us. Our travels over the next few months involved many moments that have radiated through my life ever since. Some of them included travelling to stay with a tribe in the Amazon (interspersed by much discussion on political economy) with Andrew being absolutely overawed as he handed out by then stale bread to a frenzy of activity; 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 guerillas including having a gun put to my head and the trigger pulled; by a stroke of luck, grabbing Andrew by the collar as he fell forward off the front of a truck during a 24+ hour trip across the Andes on the top of a truck; watching Andrew, six foot plus in a country of shorter people, almost knocking himself out as he ran cross-legged to the toilet during a particularly bad bout of the trots in the mountains in Peru; 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 in the middle of nowhere on a trek to a lost city in the Andes; arguing about socialism and sharing when Andrew took my 8 cent block of chocolate without asking; drinking a touch too much Ouzo during the Carnivale celebrations in Rio de Janeiro resulting in us ending up in a Rio ghetto and the police moving us into another nearby ghetto so that, as they explained 'if we get killed it wasn't on their territory'; having police trying to smash our fingers with long sticks as we held onto a fence to try to see the Carnivale dancing to the cheers of tens of people watching the 'crazy gringos', and ultimately sneaking into the Carnivale and dancing our way into nirvana through the stadium with the dancers.

After spending three months negotiating with Fretilin in Darwin to meet with Xanana Gusmao in late 1989, I travelled to East Timor. That good fortune led Andrew and my paths to cross again. Andrew was uncomfortable with the injustice and the Australian and US sanctioned Indonesian invasion of East Timor lit a flame of energy in Andrew that lasted for many years. Between living in Sydney, Darwin and East Timor, Andrew worked tirelessly on helping East Timor move towards independence. Andrew effectively devoted his energies full-time to East Timor and gave his Sydney home as a media base for the cause. While I in no way diminish the efforts of the countless East Timorese and other people who gave so much to the cause of East Timorese independence, I strongly believe that without Andrew's tireless work in Australia, the independence of East Timor might not have occurred. History often writes out the individual 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 did its policy backflip on East Timor, it was apparent that 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, as far as I know, 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 alleged crimes including trumped-up charges of murder against Jo. Andrew spent months in the USA at his own expense investigating the claims, that resulted in a US Congressional report strongly hinting at a very serious abuse of governmental power at a very high level. An explanation of Andrew's involvement in Jo's case is online at: The Trial of Joseph G.

After Andrew approached me some years ago about standing for the Greens, I encouraged him in his candidacy for the NSW Greens preselection. Andrew did very well, and would have made an excellent Greens Senator if time had been kinder in allowing him to pursue his ambition for a fairer Australia.

I'll 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. I will miss sitting on your balcony on a warm night, and going down to the beach for a swim. Thank you for the simple things that your life's efforts have made more possible for countless people.

Thank you Andrew for being what you are, what you have done, and for all that you hoped for. Others have noticed and all of us have gained: David Risstrom

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1 JANUARY 2004

HERE'S TO A HAPPY, JUST AND FAIR 2004

Have a happy, just and fair 2004, wherever you are, whoever you are and for whatever good you wish for the world: David Risstrom

WE DID BUT SEE HERR ROSA PASSING BY

My propensity to open my muzzle more often than banks close their branches has meant Rosa's Rave has had to move to new pages each three months. This page provides my news and views from October 1 2003 to January 31 2004. The pervious edition of current news and views are available by clicking here: NEWS AND VIEWS OCTOBER - DECEMBER 2003 IN THE GUISE OF ROSA'S RAVE 2003: Rosa.

 

Cool Green Tip Of The Week -

23 April 2017: Only those who decline to scramble up the career ladder are interesting as human beings. Nothing is more boring than a man with a career: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918 -1956.

This site is written, authorised and maintained by David Risstrom , 377 Little Bourke St. Melbourne, Australiaand had more than 1,003,082 visitors and 3,052,017 hits when updated on Sun 23 April 2017.