David Risstrom - Greens Melbourne City Councillor 1999-2004
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PROMOTING PEACE
 
 

ACHIEVEMENT: We engage the skills, tolerance and diversity of our community to promote peace where conflict is threatened.

TARGET DATE: Ongoing. PROGRESS: Achieved.

DESCRIPTION: The goal of this achievement is to crystallise all that we feel is good about being an Australian in Melbourne by promoting peace wherever it is possible.

We may do this by
• Engage the skills, tolerance and diversity of our community to promote peace where conflict is threatened.
• Giving a 'fair go' wherever we can, and to contribute to building diverse communities through accepting difference as a valuable characteristic.
• Reducing inequality and injustice as a means of avoiding present and future conflict.
• Being human and responding by empathising rather than a violence when it seems at first instance that a wrong has been done.

I will identify issues that emerge over the life of the Council that I see as important to promoting peace, tolerance and diversity is our community.

During the War On Iraq, I will try to maintain an up-to-date list of information and peace sites related to the War.

PROMOTING PEACE DURING A WAR ON IRAQ CONSUMER CAMPAIGNS PROMOTING PEACE

 

 

 

 

 

 

14 MARCH 2003

FEDERATION SQUARE SPEECH ON PEACEFUL ALTERNATIVES TO A WAR ON IRAQ

David had the privilege to speak at a Peace Rally today at Melbourne's Federation Square. I have provided the text below and attached it as a word download: Peaceful Alternatives To a War On Iraq

Peaceful Alternatives To A War On Iraq. Federation Square, 14 March 2003

I acknowledge that we are meeting on the traditional land of the Kulin Nation. For the Boonerwrung, Woiworung, Taungurong, Djajawurrung and the Wathaurung which make up the Kulin Nation. I thank them for sharing this land and I thank all of you for being here and standing up for justice.
John Howard’s attempts to provide a moral justification for this war are totally unconvincing. A pre-emptive unilateral invasion of Iraq is wrong.
*It is an unjustified attack on the innocent in Iraq.
*It is an unjustified attack on the United Nations
* It is an unjustified attack on the real security this planet so desperately needs.
No one believes Bush, Blair or Howard. The people here today know real security comes from
*Security of food supply for the worlds starving.
*Security of housing and sanitation for the world’s poorest.
* Security that force is not the principle that determines right and wrong.
Security will definitely not come from the ‘Mother Of All Bombs’.
The Australian Government’s willingness to enter a coalition of the willing, a coalition of the wilfully blind, fails to further any of those things that the world desperately needs.
Rather than investing in world stability, they are committing Australia to war.
This is not Australia’s war. This is an oil war. This is one of many resource wars that will dominate this century if we continue to squander the world’s resources. Oil, water, land, and human potential.
The Australian Greens absolutely oppose the deployment of Australia’s defence personnel, its men and women, to the theatre of war in Iraq and call on the Prime Minister to reverse that decision and bring those men and women home.
The Australian Greens condemn the Prime Minister for making that decision without reference to the Australian Parliament, without the backing of the Australian people and without a call, request or authorisation from the United Nations.
Some may say that whatever the mistakes of the past, Australia needs to act to stop Saddam Hussein. There is no doubt Hussein is a reprehensible leader, and that many innocent people in Iraq pay the price for his government’s avarice.
That is a fair argument, but the international history of selective military and political intervention and the Australian Government’s history of misleading the public during the children overboard affair and the Tampa affair where the very people fleeing the Iraqi regime were treated with a presumption of criminality, suggest the Australia Government’s judgement and motives do not deserve our trust.
This crisis has been catalysed by an Al Qaueda attack on the United States of America. No link between that attack and Iraq has been established.
Australia was further immersed in this crisis by a terrorist attack in Indonesia. No link between that attack and Iraq has been established.
Australia’s involvement in the coalition of the wilfully blind will isolate us from the ideals I understood we represented, and in doing so, place Australians and the value we hold in peril.
The price of our silence may be the lives of 10,000s of thousands of innocent civilians and belief that might and terror replace the United Nations as the most effective forum for resolving conflict.
We must give peace a chance. We must allow the weapons inspectors to complete their task.
Our actions must be to act in the interests of the planet. We must view an invasion on Iraq as if the lives of the 100,00 Iraqi children expected to die were our own.
The alternative of the war mongering we are seeing now, is both frightening and sickening. Iraq now. North Korea, Iran? Syria? When and where does it stop?
The decision to commit Australia to war is wrong. It will threaten our security, not secure it.
Waging war on Iraq will make us more alert. More alarmed. But,
* That is not a world moving closer to freedom.
* That is not a world in pursuit of justice.
That is a world in which real security is being jeopardised by our leaders who are placing wrongheaded national interests ahead of the common good.
The world deserves better. Better leadership. Leadership provided by the commonsense of the people.
As Martin Luther King Jr. said "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
The actions of our government convince me of this.
Regime change begins at home.

 

28 JANUARY 2003: CR. RISSTROM OPPOSES MELBOURNE CITY COUNCIL'S DECISION TO BAN FALUN DAFA FROM THE MOOMBA PARADE

I strongly oppose the decision taken by Melbourne City Council last night to ban the involvement of Falun Dafa in the 2003 Melbourne Moomba Parade. To exclude them from participating in the Moomba Parade is discriminatory and wrong on political, ethical and legal grounds.

A majority of Melbourne City Councillors have sought to silence political freedom in a way that, fortunately, is rarely effective. By confirming the exclusion of Falun Dafa from the 2003 Moomba Parade in a decision in the Council meeting of 27 February 2003, a majority of 6 to 3 on Council have attempted to suffocate the rights of public participation of Falun Dafa members that are analogous to the claims Falun Dafa or like groups maintain concerning the suppression of those freedoms in China.

For Melbourne City Councillors to limit community involvement on the sole basis that a group may have a political affiliation is a dangerous precedent to promote. It involves us as politicians picking favourites among our community, rather than promoting engagement, tolerance and diversity.

Ethically, it is wrong to exclude a group that was invited to join the parade earlier this year, and then to withdraw that invitation over concerns that the group is political, and not a community group. Countless other Councils and a Federal Government body have recognised Falun Dafa as a community group. It is also wrong to characterise Moomba as being for families and to assume that means community groups such as Falun Dafa are unable to contribute to such a celebration.

In my opinion, legally, the decision discriminates against Falun Dafa on the basis of their presumed political beliefs and activities. To exclude a community organisation from engaging in, or gaining from, an activity provided by the Council on the basis that they express a political view has many characteristics of an act of discrimination on the basis of political belief alone. If true, I believe anti-discrimination law makes that decision illegal.

As I was quoted in the Melbourne Times on 26 February, "If they (the Falun Dafa) are organised and they have got something to contribute to Moomba they should be allowed. They have been recognised as a community group by countless other local governments and the Federal Government.

It appears likely that this issues will be pursued in a legal forum, from which a clearer view may emerge.

In my opinion, the question to be pursued is not whether this decision is popular. It is whether it is right.

________________________________________________________________________________

I moved the following motion at the 19 December 2002 Melbourne City Council meeting. It was defeated 3:6.

MELBOURNE CITY COUNCIL MEETING 19 DECEMBER 2002

NOTICE OF MOTION BY CR. DAVID RISSTROM: PEACEFUL ALTERNATIVES TO A WAR ON IRAQ

We, the Councillors of the City of Melbourne, call upon the Australian Government not to involve Australia in a war against Iraq.
We believe peaceful alternatives to a war on Iraq should be pursued for many reasons, including the following::
There is no clear evidence that Iraq poses an immediate threat to Australia or any of our allies.
There is no established link between Iraq and the shameful attacks of September 11, 2001.
Democracy in Iraq cannot be enforced by war. Australia must play a part in diplomatic and peaceful solutions to this conflict, and should help the Iraqi people move towards democracy.
There is no need for Australia to support or be involved in this conflict.

We, as elected representatives of our community oppose
• An attack on Iraq;
• Australian involvement in war on Iraq; and,
• Pre-emptive strikes by any nation against another.

We, as Councillors in this city of great multicultural diversity and tolerance, ask the Australian Government and our people to put the interests of peace and the world community above those of the United States.

MOVED: CR. DAVID RISSTROM
SECONDED:

BACKGROUND PROVIDED BY CR. DAVID RISSTROM
Since the tragic events of September 11, 2001 our Government has been part of an alliance with the United States of America pursuing the so-called War on Terrorism. In recent months United States President George W Bush has been talking about an alarming extension of this war to new fronts. In particular, public comments by the United States and Australian Government have focused on Iraq as a military target.

This planned attack on Iraq is despite the fact that there is no evidence linking the Iraqi Government or people to the attacks of September 11. President Bush has said that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. But little evidence that Iraq has these weapons has been released to the Australian Government or the public. On the contrary, many commentators, including a former United Nations weapons inspector, say that Iraq does not have weapons of mass destruction capability.

A US attack on Iraq would not be an act of self-defence. It would be a ‘pre-emptive strike’ - an unprovoked attack by a strong country against a weak one. Pre-emptive strikes are against all international law and conventions. They breach the United Nations Charter, as well as international human rights agreements. Yet our Government has made Australia one of very few countries in the world offering enthusiastic support for an attack of this type. The Prime Minister, also more recently, has provocatively talked up the options of pre-emptive strikes in our region, at a time when many in our on community are suffering the consequences of prejudice and racism.

If the United States supports a policy of pre-emptive strike, the door may be opened for other countries to launch unprovoked attacks against other states. This has a destabilising effect on an already fragile international community. This could undermine Australia’s security. In a world where an unknown number of countries have nuclear weapons, exacerbating these risks is irresponsible

Our community is extremely concerned that any attack on Iraq would have a range of unpredictable and dangerous consequences in the Middle East and worldwide. Already, the first casualty of these escalating threats is immediate efforts for peace in Iraq and the region. Neither President Bush nor the Australian Government have a plan for how an attack on Iraq will lead to peace. Iraq has already suffered under inhumane sanctions for nearly a decade. Further military attacks would make a recovery to prosperity and democracy even more difficult.

10 REASONS TO OPPOSE THE WAR As published The Victorian Peace Network

1. The United States, with the support of the Australian government, is threatening all-out war on Iraq that will cost thousands of innocent lives and further destabilise the Middle East.
2. The people of Iraq suffered through war against Iran from 1980-88. An estimated 205,000 people died in the 1991 attack by a US-led coalition - over 70%were civilians.
3. Over the last decade, economic sanctions - enforced in part by the Royal Australian Navy - have resulted in the unnecessary deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, especially children and the elderly.
4. This is not about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, which former weapons inspector Scott Ritter says have been "rendered harmless." There is talk about ‘evidence’ but it is simply a public relations stunt to justify war. US Defence Secretary Rumsfeld recently paraphrased Winston Churchill, saying "Sometimes the truth is so precious it must be accompanied by a bodyguard of lies."
5. This war is not about Iraq ’s military strength, which was severely disabled by the 1991 Gulf war and a decade of sanctions. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer has stated "The policy of the US is regime change, with or without [weapons] inspectors." Iraq has the world ’s second largest oil reserve, and America wants to bully its way into controlling them. This is a war about oil, not democracy.
6. When George W. Bush talks about ‘regime change’ he means replacing a brutal dictator he doesn't like with a brutal dictator who will do his bidding, as in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
7. United Nations resolutions on disarmament and human rights will only work if they are applied equally, without fear or favour. All the nuclear powers and all Middle East states must abolish their stocks of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons (including Israel, which has over 200 nuclear weapons in its arsenal). The USA and Israel have defied UN resolutions on Palestine for decades, and the US has refused to sign, ratify and abide by numerous international conventions on weapons of mass destruction, including the test ban treaty.
8. Concern about weapons of mass destruction means a world-wide move to reduce armaments and arms sales, not selling huge amounts of weapons into Middle East countries and then bombing them to oblivion. Another war on Iraq would be a high-tech massacre, creating a toxic regional swamp of biological and chemical residues, plus radiation from radioactive depleted uranium-hardened warheads.
9. We must not inflict another war on the people of Iraq and neighbouring states, with ecological and humanitarian devastation, and a flood of new refugees.
10. Australia is already supporting this rush to war. Australian warships are in the Gulf, enforcing sanctions. Defence Minister Robert Hill says the Pine Gap intelligence base near Alice Springs "would be utilised in the event of military action against Iraq".

    WHY WE SHOULD NOT SUPPORT WAR ON IRAQ

There are many arguments against launching a war on Iraq. These include:
• There is no evidence of an imminent threat by Saddam Hussein, and therefore no call for action in ‘self defence’
• A pre-emptive strike against any country is against international law
• There is no consistency in the application of moral arguments. Saddam Hussein was supported and armed by the United States for many years. The United States itself holds the largest stock of weapons of mass destruction on earth.
• This is not justice. Many other States, including Israel, Pakistan and Turkey, are in breach of UN resolutions and still attract US support. The US should reinforce not undermine the United Nations.
• It will not lead to peace. The United States has no plan for how an attack on Iraq will lead to long-term peace and stability in the Middle East and the world.
All non-violent means for the resolution of conflict must be exhausted before military action is even considered. This is clearly not the case in this conflict. The way to deal with Iraq is to:
• Stop the threats, step back from military build-up, and take a rational approach to the problem;
• Meet the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people by ending non-military sanctions (including the failed ‘oil for food’ program) and making a massive investment to rebuild civilian infrastructure;
• Support the Iraqi people in moving towards democracy, similar to how the international community supported the people of South Africa while they were living under Apartheid;
• Bring Saddam Hussein before the International Court of Justice to account for his crimes and atrocities, as has been done with former dictator Slobodan Milosevic; and
• Address the underlying inequality, poverty and injustice which sets countries against one another and cultivates terrorism and violent extremists.

A peaceful program for resolving conflict will always seem more complex than a military attack. There are no short cuts to stability in the Middle East and the world. We should be calling for our leaders and our communities to take the hard path to peace in the long-term interests of all the peoples of the world.

FURTHER INFORMATION: The motion above I moved at the 19 December 2002 Melbourne City Council meeting was defeated 6:3.

17 January 2003:The Australia Institute is hosting another excellent paper title 'Putting Pressure on Rogues' by Gavan McCormack. It is available as a PDF by clicking on the 'What's New' button on the Australia Institute Website: http://www.tai.org.au/. The Australia Institute supports a lot of good research and critical analysis and is well worth supporting. Membership details are on the site. This is The introductory paragraph follows:

Putting Pressure on Rogues

North Korea is a member of President Bush’s ‘axis of evil’ and is demonised in the world’s press. But there is a history to North Korea’s withdrawal from the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty that must be understood before we call that country a ‘rogue state.’ Even Australia has become involved, dispatching a three-man mission to Pyongyang. This paper by Gavan McCormack causes us to question the objectives of the Australian Government in sending a three-man mission to Pyongyang. Gavan McCormack is research professor of East Asian History at the Australian National University. He is co-author of Korea since 1850 (New York, St Martin’s Press, 1993).

23 January 2003: Joseph Camilleri, Professor of International Relations at La Trobe University and President of Pax Christi, has written a short essay on Australia and the Impending War on Iraq. Click on the title to download a word document.

6 February 2003: David continues to oppose a war on Iraq and believe we need to do more than endorse the Australian Government's position. David has forwarded this e-mail to all Councillors in response to a request by the Council to sign a letter to the Iraqi Embassy in Canberra:

Councillors and Staff,

I have been invited to sign a letter to Iraq's Australian Embassy arising from the alternative resolution to my defeated motion 'Peaceful Alternatives to a War on Iraq'.

This resolution came after the rejection of a stronger resolution moved by me titled 'Peaceful Alternatives to a War on Iraq' on 19 December 2002. My resolution, with an invitation to amend it if needed to ensure its passage, was defeated 3 votes to 6. Both resolutions are detailed below.

As you would be aware, I will not endorse the second resolution at a time our Government has distinguished itself by being among only three countries in the world providing support to a non-United Nations endorsed pre-emptive strike.

I will also not sign a letter, produced some six weeks after the resolution, that reflects a weakened resolution I did not support. Is there a reason for this delay?

In my view peace is not likely to be achieved by supporting "the Australian Government’s efforts to enforce the United Nations resolutions on Iraq as the best way to ensure that peace is maintained."

I have been amidst war and seen the effects of war in Nicaragua, East Timor and Peru. I won't endorse actions other than those that strenuously oppose the possibility of killing an inestimable number of innocent people in a pre-emptive strike.

Our decision not to take an independent moral stand, as citizens and on behalf of our citizens, to pursue all possible steps to avoid the death and injury of countless people is deeply worrying.

Yours sincerely,

Cr. David Risstrom

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Resolution moved by Cr. Risstrom on 19 December 2003:

We, the Councillors of the City of Melbourne, call upon the Australian Government not to involve Australia in a war against Iraq.

We believe peaceful alternatives to a war on Iraq should be pursued for many reasons, including the following:
There is no clear evidence that Iraq poses an immediate threat to Australia or any of our allies.
There is no established link between Iraq and the shameful attacks of September 11, 2001.
Democracy in Iraq cannot be enforced by war. Australia must play a part in diplomatic and peaceful solutions to this conflict, and should help the Iraqi people move towards democracy.
There is no need for Australia to support or be involved in this conflict.

We, as elected representatives of our community oppose
* An attack on Iraq;
* Australian involvement in war on Iraq; and,
* Pre-emptive strikes by any nation against another.

We, as Councillors in this city of great multicultural diversity and tolerance, ask the Australian Government and our people to put the interests of peace and the world community above those of the United States.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

This subsequent resolution, which prior to my strenuous objection included a sentiment to endorse the actions of the United States and Australia, was adopted 7 votes to 2 with Clrs. Risstrom and Nicholson opposing:

We, the Councillors of the City of Melbourne,
* note the United Nations Chapter 7 investigation and the resolutions of the Security Council;
* fully support the United Nations and the Australian Government’s efforts to enforce the United Nations resolutions on Iraq as the best way to ensure that peace is maintained; and
* urge the Iraq Government to co-operate completely with the United Nations’ weapons inspectors and comply with all United Nations’ resolutions to ensure conflict is avoided.

 

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.

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