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Rosa and Dave's News + Views Oct-Dec 04: Jul-Sep 04; Apr-Jun 04; Jan-Mar 04

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Victorian Local Government Elections 2008: 2005: 2004

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David Risstrom

David Risstrom keeps a watching brief on news, ideas, issues and policies. If there are issues you think need to be discussed, please contact David at David last updated this site on 15 July 2006.


25 JUNE 2006


I wrote the following letter to the editor in response to the Government’s further deployment of Australian troops in Iraq at the conclusion of their task to protect Japanese technicians. A 20 Kb word version of the letter can be downloaded by clicking on the title: Our Task In Iraq - Letter to the Editor.

Our Task In Iraq

With John Howard promising two years ago that Australia’s involvement in Iraq would ‘be months, not years’, our troops repeated redeployment suggests the ‘specific task’ the Prime Minister once spoke of is to do whatever, wherever and for however long American foreign policy dictates.

David Risstrom

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18 JUNE 2006


World Refugee Day Rally, 12 noon, Sunday 18 June 2006, Melbourne Museum, corner Nicholson & Gertrude Streets Carlton

Please make every effort to attend this important event to support refugees and asylum seekers. Next week parliament will vote on new legislation on the processing of refugees and asylum seekers, the proposed off-shore processing is truly horrifying in its implications.

Don't be late – Cyndi Boste will be performing before the speakers!

The World Refugee Day Rally begins at the Melbourne Museum, and will march to join Multicultural Arts Victoria's Emerge Festival at the Fitzroy Town Hall celebrating the cultures of refugees and asylum seekers.

Demand freedom and justice for all refugees! We call on the Government to let the boats land, end mandatory detention, and provide permanent protection and full rights for all refugees.

Speakers include Bishop Hilton Deakin, Senator Lyn Allison, David Manne from the Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre , Herman Wainggai, West Papuan asylum seeker, Peter Job of the Vic Greens (reading statement from Bob Brown and Kerry Nettle), Aladdin Sisalem and Pamela Curr from the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre

Join us in a massive display of support for refugees this World Refugee Day - and demonstrate your opposition to mandatory detention, to off-shore prisons, and to the repulsion by our navy of asylum seekers to countries where they may be killed or tortured.

This year’s World Refugee Day rally is organised by Victoria's Refugee Action Collective with the support of: A Just Australia, Actors for Refugees, Asylum Seekers’ Resource Centre, Australia Asia Worker Links, Australian Centre for Democracy and Justice, Australian Council of Trade Unions, Australian Education Union, Australian Jewish Democratic Society, Australians Against Racism, ChilOut, Christian World Service (Victoria), Civil Rights Defence, Federation of Community Legal Centres, Free West Papua, Friends of the Earth, Green Left Weekly, Islamic Council of Victoria, Labor for Refugees, Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union, Melbourne International PEN, Multicultural Arts Victoria, National Council of Churches in Australia, Project SafeCom Narrogin/Fremantle, Oxfam Australia, Rural Australians for Refugees (Maleny Branch), Socialist Alliance, Socialist Alternative, Union Solidarity, Victorian Council of Churches, Victorian Council of Social Service, Victorian Democrats, and Victorian Greens.

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17 JUNE 2006


Over the next two days while sitting in ACF Council at the 60L Green BUilding, I'll be making a few observations on the wonderful efforts that good people are making to help our environment and the people it supports. The work of the ACF can be seen on the ACF website, available online by clicking on the underlined title.

One of the extraordinary individuals to have emerged over recent years is a person called Bill Paine. Like a number of people before and many to come, Bill has realised that the health of the planet is something he can contribute to. Bill decided to make a significant person contribution by giving his house to the ACF, who auctioned it as a Green Home with the proceeds going to conservation work. Bill has again made a significant contribution by donating an inheritance he recently received to work on climate change. What a fantastic gift Bill and what a great heritage to provide to Australia. Thank you Bill from all those on the planet, now and in the future, who will benefit from your magnanimity.

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15 JUNE 2006


The Federation of Biological Farmers presents this fantastic opportunity for farmers, land managers, educators and service providers to gather in Seymour, 15th and 16th August 2006.  From information forwarded to me from Helen Chambers, it appears the symposium is already charged with a large number of good speakers.
'Healthy Soils through Communication' is a time for learning, networking, exchanging ideas and experiences in relation to our soils and sustainable farming.  The program includes a range of great speakers and field day options to provide food for thought; see and hear of projects, trials and experiences of how important soil is in the whole landscape and how we can improve and enhance this natural resource for benefit of all.
Hope you can join us for this inaugural event of the Federation of Biological Farmers and look forward to catching up with you there.

The contact email address on the brochure is biological and phone and phone number contact as 03 5794 9279.

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4 JUNE 2006


I took part in two great events today. The official opening of the Royal Park Wetlands in Royal Park Melbourne and the World Environment Day Forests Rally down Swanston Street.

Rosa, former Chairdog of the Senate Oversight Committee, and I took proud part in the 2004 rally that led up to the 2004 Federal election. Marching from the State Library to Federation Square, thousands of good people stood up and marched for the forests and the life they sustain. While Rosa's paws were pounding in spirit only today, she would be proud to have seen so many people standing up for what they believe in.

I also had the joy to then go to the Royal Park Wetlands for their official opening. While a Greens melbourne City Councillor and chairperson of the Royal Park Master Plan Implementation Committee, with great support from the community and some of my colleagues, plans were finalised and money committed to create a much needed wetlands refuge within Royal Park. As I said to a few of those involved today, the establishment of the wetlands is a decision that people will look back on in 50 years time with a great sense of pride. While they invariably won;t see it in the same terms, those water birds and animals that establish themselves within this all to rare refuge may well take a similar view on the place the future will allow them to now call home.

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3 JUNE 2006


Predictably and deservedly, a number of parties are claiming their credit for stemming the Government reflex to sell anything that moves with the recent change of mind on the sale of Australia's Snowy River Hydro Scheme. One of those who deserves credit that has yet to be identified is Melbourne barrister, Brian Walters, who pointed out that while controlling both Houses of parliament may allow you to pass just about whatever law the Constitution allows, to try to privatise the Snowy without even proper parliamentary scrutiny or the Governor General's assent was not lawful. As Greens Senator Bob Brown's media release below points out, it is always a good idea to (metaphorically) polish selling the family silver before you try to flog it.

Snowy fiasco - Greens celebrate victory

"The big parties have been routed by Australian public opinion," Greens Leader Bob Brown said today as the Greens celebrated the victory of keeping Snowy Hydro in public hands.

"The Howard Government schemed to sidestep public debate by rushing motions through parliament in March. It was backed by the Nationals and Labor with fierce opposition from the Greens."

"Then a Greens' legal opinion from Mr Brian Walters SC showed the sale would be illegal unless properly legislated. The Government then announced it would legislate, in a sea of public hostility. It has now backed down."

"Messrs Howard, Vaile and Beazley misread the Australian public. The Greens did not. This is a Greens political victory but, above all, a victory for democracy."

"John Howard must now answer obvious questions including his government's legal blundering, how much the sale fiasco has cost and how much merchant bankers will be compensated for achieving nothing."

"Now he has regained his senses on the Snowy, the Prime Minister should also withdraw Telstra from sale," Senator Bob Brown said.

Further information: Ebony Bennett 0409 164 603

* Details of the Parliamentary debate on the Snowy Hydro privatisation can be read in the Senate Hansard (29 March 2006) and the House of Rep Hansard (30 March 2006)

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26 MAY 2006


East Timor is close to my heart. Having visited Dili in 1989 just a couple of months after the Pope had visited, I got to see the conditions the East Timorese faced under Indonesian occupation. Despite being unable to return since, I have kept an interest in East Timor, and particularly the relationship it shares with its near neighbour Australia. Australia's bullying of East Timor leading up to and during the Timor Gap oil and gas negotiations was disgraceful. With the inability of the Government to finance wages for sectors fo the East Timor security forces,Australia's role in this negotiation should neither be forgotten, nor discounted as a contribution to the problems the people of East Timor currently face.

As a current member of the Australia-East Timor Association (AETA), I receive news updates and media releases passed through the organisation. Below are 2 releases I received today from the AETA from the East Timor Office of the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation.


Timor-Leste's Senior Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation and Nobel Peace Laureate José Ramos-Horta said today he hoped the current crisis in his country would jolt the leaders into a more inclusive, sensitive and humble form of leadership.

"I would hope as well that those responsible for the violence can take stock of the cost to the country both financially and psychologically and embark on action that is based on the spirit of reconciliation and inclusion," Dr. Ramos-Horta said.

"The deterioration of our security has shocked everyone.

"It was so serious yesterday that our President Xanana Gusmčo, was forced to take the grave step of taking over control of the security affairs of State. This move was welcomed by the people who have enormous trust in our President, a national hero.

"I have also said publicly many times that the issues leading up to the demonstrations in April that escalated into the violence we have suffered in the past few days, were issues capable of resolution. They still are and despite our situation I have continued to talk to all aggrieved parties in the hope we all can find a lasting peaceful solution.

"We all came to Government, including me, with little or no experience of governance and therefore need to be more humble in our approach in listening to our people, seeking advice and ensuring our people are listened to and get good hearings on issues that concern them," he said.

Dr Ramos-Horta has paid tribute to the enormous contribution of the Church during the current crisis.

"I have to thank particularly the Bishop of Dili, Dom Alberto Ricardo da Silva, and our wonderful Sisters from various orders for the role they are playing in both feeding and sheltering people in helping to keep people calm and to even talking to some of the persons causing trouble, thus avoiding further bloodshed," Dr Ramos-Horta said.

Commenting on the current deployment of defence and security forces, Minister for Foreign Affairs said that he wants to express his deep appreciation to the Australian Defence Forces who yesterday arrived in Dili to help with Timor-Leste’s immediate task to restore security.

He further expressed his appreciation to Malaysia, Portugal and New Zealand who along with Australia comprise the deployment contingent and to the UN Security Council that lent its support by way of a resolution that supports these governments that have deployed defence and security forces.

"I want all our friends to know that we deeply appreciate their strong support in our hour of need.

"It breaks my heart when I look at my beleaguered country, and see young children, mothers, grandmothers, men - old and young , all innocent people, fleeing in fear of their lives.

"But I know the people of Timor-Leste and I have faith in my people and I know that we all will rise and be a peaceful and proud country. I do also have faith in our friends, who I ask for their continued support," Dr Ramos-Horta concluded.

Chris Santos, Media Advisor - Office of the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation

Security perimeter implemented

The Timor-Leste's Defence Forces (F-FDTL) had decided this Friday, May 26, in coordination with the Australian commander, a security perimeter around the Timor-Leste’s capital. The Australian troops started arriving Dili yesterday. They are now patrolling the city.

This security perimeter includes the offices of the four pillars of the State (including the private residences of the President of Republic, the National Parliament speaker, the Prime Minister, and the President Judge of the Court of Appeal), the power station, the communications towers, water reservoirs, the National Hospital and the airport, among others key facilities.

The political definition of this security perimeter was made by the Government, in straight cooperation with the Head of State.

The Government decided to include the four pillars of the State on the security perimeter due to the need to protect the vital structure and the critical activity of Timor-Leste’s State.

This morning rumours were spread about an alleged attack to the President Office, in Dili centre. Nevertheless, the Prime Minister asked the intervention of the Australian troops to protect the President’s Office premises.

The deployment of Forces in the field follows the signature of an agreement between Timor-Leste’s and Australian’s authorities on the terms of reference of their intervention.

New Zealand had also agreed on the terms of reference of its action.

An advanced team of 25 policemen from Malaysia has also been deployed, 8am, in Timor-Leste. This group was scheduled to arrive yesterday. These policemen are anti-subversion experts.

Three police officials from the Portuguese GNR are expected to arrive in Dili, Sunday, 28, to evaluate the situation. The Commander of the group composed by 120 elements is among the first to arrive to Timor-Leste. Portugal announced also that its advanced team will arrive next week.

F-FDTL Commander guarantees that the author of shooting have been detained. After yesterday’s confrontations in Dili centre, next to Timor-Leste’s National Police (PNTL) and Military Police Headquarters, which involved members of F-FDTL and PNTL, the F-FDTL commander, brigadier general Taur Matan Ruak, says that the alleged military, author of the shooting against several policeman who had deposed [deposited] their weapons after United Nation Military Observers mediation, was immediately disarmed. He is now detained and will face justice in due time. Investigation will continue in order to find if there are other members of the military involved.

Government maintains its security powers

The Government maintains in full its internal security powers. After the President’s statement of having assumed the referred powers, Prime-Minister contacted the President and was informed that the meaning of the President’s statement was that in questions of security there has to be coordination between these two sovereign bodies. Prime-Minister agreed with the President and said they always had and always will maintain a good institutional coordination on these issues.

The coordination between the two offices has been total. An example: the decision to require the military international intervention to solve the Timor-Leste’s crises, an idea of the Prime Minister, was fully supported by the President and the National Parliament speaker. The State appeared as a whole requesting the intervention. The letters requesting the foreign intervention to the Governments of Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, and Portugal were signed by the three leaders.

Dili, May 26, 2006

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18 MAY 2006


The Greens have long advocated for forward planning to avoid the traffic congestion and public transport failures that some political commentators seem to suggest have developed overnight. While I made a number of advances while a Melbourne City Councillor, the major progress is to be made in areas under the influence and control of State and Federal Governments. With the Victorian State election due in November this year, the State Government has decided it is time to make some public pronouncements. Below are two Greens media releases I received that deal with the issues in metropolitan, rural and regional areas.

Victorians face a dismal four year spend on public transport say the Greens

The reality behind the Victorian Government's transport hype is sobering. A deeper dig into the statement released by the Premier Mr Bracks yesterday reveals the Government plans to spend comparatively little on public transport between now and 2010.

"There is very little in short term improvement for the state's public transport service in this statement. It focuses mostly on buses and there is very little for trains," said Bill Pemberton, Greens Transport spokesperson.

The figures in yesterday's statement reveals that only a third, or less than $4billion of the $10.4 billion promised for public transport is to be spent over the next four years. Of this: only 16%, or $620 million, will be spent on new public transport services. This will be mostly on buses and will provide very few additional train services only 27%, or about $1 billion, will be spent on new public transport infrastructure, such as duplicated new rail lines, some signalling and other systems. No new train or tram rolling stock purchased over this period.

However, the biggest single slab, or 42%, will go on roads.

"Unfortunately, the average commuter will not notice any difference for years and years to come. The people who are packed in like sardines on every peak hour train have been offered virtually nothing by Mr Bracks," said Bill Pemberton. "Furthermore, we still don't know how much of the promised funding is new money or merely dollars recycled from existing programs. We will have to wait another two weeks for the state budget to find an answer to this."

"The Greens in parliament will work for an immediate start rail to extension projects in Melbourne's north, east and west. People in these areas have had enough of the Government's failed rail promises," said Bill Pemberton.

For more information, contact Bill Pemberton (mob) 0428 636 316

The Victorian transport plan is an unhealthy development for Rural Victorians say the Greens

Rural Victoria's lack of accessible public transport is chronic and is a real public health issue for people living outside of Melbourne," said Jennifer Alden, the Greens Northern Victoria Upper House candidate and Spokesperson on Regional and Rural Community Health. "It's disappointing that during Victoria's Rural Health Week the Bracks Government has offered so little in the short term* to improve passenger transport services outside Melbourne."

"Regional and Rural Victorians already face a lower life expectancy than Melbourne residents. We can start to turn this around by addressing the transport disadvantage faced by older people, particularly women, who can no longer afford to travel to medical and other services," said Ms Alden. "For older members of our community, social isolation also correlates strongly with an increased risk of depression and heart disease."

"Rising petrol prices are making car travel impossible for people on fixed or low incomes. The absence of frequent and reliable public transport in regional Victoria means that many people are becoming isolated and stuck at home," said Ms Alden.

"Lack of access to transport also disadvantages our youth, as employment, education, social activities and services start to slip out of their reach. Lack of recreational opportunities and boredom among the young in our rural and regional communities contribute to mental health problems such as depression, as well as alcohol and drug abuse."

"The Greens in state parliament will, after the state election on November 25, strongly represent the 27 per cent of Victorians who live in regional and rural Victoria. Our needs are being overlooked because of the Melbourne mindset of Bracks government policies. Yesterday's transport statement proves the point. Our regional and rural communities
deserve better," said Jennifer Alden.

For more information, please contact: Jennifer Alden on (mob) 0427 430 233 email:

Background: Yesterday's transport statement, included a $90million commitment to improve regional bus services and connections over ten years. However, over 40% of this figure appears to be a recycled commitment from last year's "Moving Forward: Making Provincial Victoria the Best Place to Live, Work and Invest" statement. "......the Victorian Government will invest $37.8 million to create new bus and transport connections in growing regional and country communities." See page 50. We will have to wait a couple of weeks for the May 31 state budget statement to find out exactly how much new money is being promised in yesterday's transport statement.

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17 MAY 2006


As aired on last night's ABC 7:30 Report, Australian Greens Senator Christine Milne has referred allegations to Australia's Federal Police that Woodside Petroleum may have improperly paid an amount of $100 million to the Government and Mauritania as part of a negotiation to secure access to that country's abundant natural resource. The following media release was forwarded by Greens Senator Christine Milne.

Woodside's activities referred to Australian Federal Police

Australian Greens Senator Christine Milne today confirmed that she had asked the Australian Federal Police (AFP) to investigate Woodside's activities in Mauritania.

"I have asked the AFP, through the Minister for Justice, Senator Chris Ellison, to investigate whether certain activities by Woodside in Mauritania breach Australian law," Senator Milne said in Hobart.

"The activities relate to amendments to oil Production Sharing Contracts negotiated between Woodside and the former energy minister of Mauritania, and the settlement of a subsequent dispute about those amendments between Woodside and the new government of Mauritania. This includes a US$100 million payment."

The relevant facts which led Senator Milne to seek the investigation appear below.

Woodside negotiated four amendments to its Production Sharing Contracts with the former Minister for energy and petroleum, Zaydane Ould Hmaidah.

Following a military coup in August last year, the former minister was arrested and charged with "crimes against the country's vital economic interests".

The new Head of State pronounced in a speech to the nation that the amendments were illegal and unacceptable. He said that the amendments were signed "outside the legal framework of normal practice, to the great detriment of our country". The Mauritanian government argued that the amendments reduced Mauritania's income from the partnership by up to US$200 million per year, and that they posed serious threats to the country's marine biodiversity.

Woodside argued that the amendments were legal and binding.

The new government threatened to take the dispute to the Paris-based International Tribunal of Chamber of Commerce. Before that process was undertaken, Woodside and the Mauritanian government reached a settlement which included the payment of US$100 million by Woodside to the government, and the cancellation of the four amendments.

The former energy minister was released from custody and granted amnesty.

Contact: Katrina Willis: 03 6234 4566 or 0437 587 562

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16 MAY 2006


I received the following message about a Sustainable Hone and Business Show.

Don't miss the Sustainable Home and Business Show on Saturday 27 May. This is an absolute ‘must see’ event presenting a unique opportunity to learn more about sustainability. It will showcase a broad range of practical and innovative products, services, and technologies while providing direct access to experts who can advise on how to make your home or business more sustainable.

Wander through the many displays covering topics such as green gardening, water recycling, energy conservation, building design, solar power, composting, fuel efficient cars and much much more! Listen to the many expert speakers on the day, presenting on practical ways in which you can improve the environmental performance of your home or business.

It happens Saturday 27 May, 10am – 5pm at the City of Whittlesea Council Offices on Ferres Boulevard, South Morang (Melway Map 183 A10). Free entry! For more information click on the link below!

The day doesn’t have to end here! Finish off your day at the Focus on Sustainability Dinner. The dinner features keynote speaker Don Henry, Executive Director of the Australian Conservation Foundation. Don Henry is a leader in the environmental movement and recently headed the Australian Business Roundtable on Climate Change. The focus of the evening will be on emerging environmental issues, and how they will effect business in the future. Tickets are $60 per person and include a two course meal and beverages. This important event will start at 7pm at the Council Offices.

Bookings are essential for the dinner. Book in now as places are limited! To book or for more information call the Sustainability Planning Unit on 9217 2195 or email

How to get there: Public transport - Catch the Epping line train to Epping station and Dysons trainlink bus 571 to the corner of Civic Drive and McDonalds Road (5 minute walk). By car - Easily accessible via the Ring Road, Plenty Road or High Street (refer to Melway Map 183 A10). See you there!

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14 MAY 2006


The Bayside Glen Eira Branch invite you to a fundraising dinner with Kerry Nettle, 7 pm Friday 26 May at the Bentleigh Bowling Club!

Meet NSW Greens Senator Kerry Nettle, enjoy an excellent three course dinner, and raise funds for the Victorian state election campaign at the same time!

Senator Nettle will speak on the theme of "Refugees and the Greens". Peter Job, Vic Greens Spokesperson on Refugees, veteran refugee advocate and Greens candidate will also speak briefly, and there will be an open forum on refugee matters.

The dinner will also be a chance to meeting Southern Metropolitan lead upper house candidate Sue Pennicuik.

Only $40 employed, $30 unemployed! An absolute bargain for a three course meal! Drinks at 1970s prices! Vegetarians catered for!

7.00 pm, Friday 26 May Bentleigh Bowling Club, 1 Higgins Rd, Bentleigh. Melways Ref. 77 F2

RSVP Bill Clair, Convenor Bayside Glen Eira Branch at email

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11 MAY 2006


Australian Greens Senator Christine Milne gave the Greens Budget Reply on Thursday 11 May 2006. Imagine what would be possible for Australia if the investments in the future were made as proposed by the Greens. The following text is from Senator Milne's Senate speech commencing 8:27 pm Thursday 11 May 2006. An 88 kb pdf copy of the text is also available by clicking on the underlined title: Senator Milne's Australian Greens 2006 Budget Reply

Senator Milne's Australian Greens 2006 Budget Reply

The budget reflects the soul of a nation. It is the economic tool that gives effect to the vision and values that a government has for its people. On Tuesday night, Australians heard that the vision and values of the Howard government over 10 years in office had delivered rivers of gold and manna from heaven. They heard that the vision and values had turned Australia into a debt-free country, awash with cash—some $178 billion in extra revenue since 2002—and that the same vision and values, business as usual, would see the good times roll on into the future. It was a live-for-today package, a reaffirmation of the Howard government philosophy that the richer you are, the more you are valued and rewarded.

The budget message was that the Howard government had perfected the Midas touch, and people were prompted to rejoice and be glad to spend, spend, spend—for the vision and values of Prime Minister Howard and his Treasurer, the Hon. Peter Costello, would guarantee that the only direction for the Australian economy was up, and, on that assumption, the tax revenue base could be permanently narrowed. In the next four years, $45 billion will be forgone in tax cuts, as if there were no national imperatives to fund nor any global responsibilities, as if an ecological deficit did not exist, as if the nation’s health and education systems were already world class and as if the $2.6 billion required to address Indigenous health and housing were not a priority.

The nation got the message, and the partying and the backslapping began. The media was euphoric and most commentators gushed. Few political and economic analysts could find any fault with the formula or the outcome, so much so that the Treasurer felt sorry for the opposition for, seemingly, it had nowhere to go. And from the response of the opposition, I have to say, it appears to have felt sorry for itself, by repeating the refrain ‘we was robbed’. What were they robbed of? The opportunity to say and deliver the same things themselves, because the Beazley opposition supports the tax cuts.

The Howard government’s vision and values expressed through its budget have made me realise that we have actually become two nations in Australia: one that is fixated on the present and cannot see what the problem is and the other that can see the problem and the huge risks for our children, grandchildren and future generations. The Howard government’s budget is a budget for those who cannot see what the problem is. It is predicated on the assumption that it is the Howard government’s own policies and business as usual economics that have delivered and will continue to deliver prosperities to Australians into the future. Its fundamental flaw is that in its supreme confidence that the surplus is of its own making, the Howard government has lost sight of the fact that the global economy and ongoing economic growth depend on the natural environment and its resources. The Howard government does not seem to understand that without the environment there is no economy.

What is different in 2006 is that the capacity of the earth and its ecosystems to sustain economic growth is in doubt if ‘business as usual’ use and exploitation of resources such as fossil fuels continues. Whereas previously individual civilisation or regions have collapsed because of unsustainable use of water, soils, forests or fisheries, the difference now is that the whole globe is at risk. As leading environmental thinker Lester Brown has said:

In our preoccupation with quarterly earnings reports and year-to-year economic growth, we have lost sight of how large the human enterprise has become relative to the earth’s resources.

Take China, for example—

China has overtaken the United States in the consumption of most basic resources. Among the leading commodities in the food sector (grain and meat), in the energy sector (oil and coal), and in the industrial sector (steel), China now leads the United States in the consumption of all except oil.

What if China reaches the U.S. resource consumption level per person? If China’s economy continues to expand at 8 percent per year, its income per person will reach the current U.S. level in 2031.

If we further assume that Chinese resource consumption per person in 2031 will be the same as that in the United States today, then the country’s projected population of 1.45 billion will consume an amount of grain equal to two thirds of the current world grain harvest ... and it would use 99 million barrels of oil per day - well above current world production of 84 million barrels.

The western economic model ... is not going to work for China.

... in an increasingly integrated world economy, where all countries are competing for the same oil, grain and steel and mineral resources, the existing economic model will not work for industrial countries either.

Lester Brown concludes:

The days of the fossil-fuel-based, automobile-centered, throwaway economy are numbered.

This has greater ramifications for Australia than it has for most other countries in the OECD because it is not the Howard government’s vision that has delivered metaphoric rivers of gold but, rather, real truckloads and shipholds of minerals powered by fossil fuels. Total mineral exports from Australia doubled in value between 2000 and 2006.

Australia is awash with cash because of a minerals boom which has delivered corporate profits to the Treasury. Between 2002 and 2007 company tax collections will have doubled to $57 billion. But instead of recognising that these profits are completely unsustainable and using the cash to invest in nation-building through the development of a highly educated nation and a more sophisticated low-carbon economy significantly less dependent on extraction of natural resources and fossil fuels, the Howard government has pursued policies that have narrowed and weakened the economy to the point where we have virtually no manufacturing industry and only a weak tertiary sector left. In 1990 manufacturing contributed 13.4 per cent of GDP and it now contributes 10.9 per cent. We have regressed under the Howard government to riding on the sheep’s back. As Doug Cameron, from the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, has said: ‘A farm, a quarry, and a nice place to visit.’

When the Howard government came to power, the current account deficit was three per cent of gross domestic product and now it is six per cent. Then, the Treasurer could not stop talking about it. Now, it is as unmentionable as climate change. Australia’s economy is on shaky ground and is vulnerable to a global loss of confidence in financing these deficits. If that happens there will be upward pressure on interest rates. This is hardly a situation in which Treasurer Costello should be boasting about being a good economic manager and throwing money around. The economy is structurally weak. The Howard government has exposed Australia to perilous economic risks.

What happens when the boom ends or when the rest of the world decides not to use our coal because of global warming or our uranium because nuclear power is shown to be too expensive, too dangerous and too slow? What happens when we need to import 70 per cent of our oil and we have already exported the bulk of our liquid natural gas? Will we feel so confident then of the decision to decrease the tax revenue base when oil imports alone add an extra $30 billion to the already shameful trade deficit and therefore to our current account deficit as well?

What happens when salinity continues to render farmland infertile and rivers too saline to use? What happens when climate change causes dislocation to traditional agriculture, and the benefits of the $500 million injection into the Murray-Darling river system are negated by reduced rainfall and higher evaporation rates? Who will pay for the damage from the increased frequency and intensity of the floods, fires and storms that climate change is bringing? Whilst the Howard government budget provides for $394 million in national security spending, it fails to recognise the greatest risk to Australia, to Australian people, to Australian families—and that is climate change.

In the budget papers one risk that is identified is the possible need for greater expenditure on drought relief, although the analysis concludes that this is unlikely to occur and that agricultural production forecasts are similar to previous years. Does no-one in the government listen to the CSIRO climate scientists—or have they now all been replaced by coal and petroleum industry spokespeople? In this budget 170 CSIRO jobs have been cut; so much for the clever or innovative country. Does the Prime Minister expect, when he dons the Akubra hat and visits drought affected and storm damaged areas, to be taken seriously when he expresses surprise that these events have occurred?

The Australian Greens believe that it is both prudent and equitable to develop a climate change disaster fund to provide certainty to individuals and communities. As the threat of climate change increases, so too should the amount allocated to this fund increase. The federal government does not publish an annual assessment of the costs of natural disasters, but government figures averaged over decades and adjusted for inflation put the average cost of natural disasters at around $13.7 billion per decade to date. The climate change disaster relief fund should be funded by taxes on activities that will increase the likelihood of climate change related disasters, as such an approach ensures that the incidence of the tax will have a double dividend of decreasing reliance on harmful activities. While a carbon tax would be the most effective mechanism for achieving such an objective, the reintroduction of fuel excise indexation or the introduction of the planned increase in the heavy vehicle road user charge would easily fund such a scheme.

It is hard to estimate just how far Australia has fallen behind the rest of the world. I doubt there is any other country in the OECD which does not identify climate change and oil depletion as high risks to their economy. I cannot imagine one of those OECD countries which has a budget and puts out budget papers which identify the risks to its economy not mentioning climate change. In fact, the Australian risk assessment is that there is a greater risk of space objects falling out of the sky; it does not mention climate change.

The Kyoto protocol must be ratified and Australia must join the world at the table for the post-2012 dialogue, with serious intent to invest in mitigation and adaptation by the adoption of a new post-Kyoto multilateral treaty. Voluntary approaches such as the Asia-Pacific Partnership do not work, and the failure of voluntary action is exactly why the Kyoto protocol was negotiated in the first place. It would therefore appear prudent for the Commonwealth government to invest around $1.5 billion per year in order to provide appropriate resources to mitigate the financial, if not the personal, costs of natural disasters.

Australia has no strategy to deal with oil depletion or to oil-proof the nation. The expectation is that, given enough tax breaks, the explorers will simply go out and find more oil. The assumption is that there is plentiful, cheap, easily accessible oil to be found, that the market will set the price and that, when it gets too high, alternatives will be found. But even the federal government’s experts, Geoscience Australia, say that by 2012 there is a 90 per cent chance Australia will be producing less than half of its oil requirement. In contrast, the Swedish government in its budget announced a strategy to make Sweden oil free by 2020. All over the world nations have introduced regulation for energy efficiency. The Greens want an energy efficiency target. Instead of providing accelerated depreciation across the board, the Greens believe that accelerated depreciation should be restricted to those companies which implement energy efficiency measures identified in the energy efficiency audit mandated by the government.

In Europe, governments have invested heavily in public transport, renewable energy and alternative fuels. They have moved freight off the roads and onto rail. They have recognised that oil-proofing a nation improves the resilience of its economy and its quality of life by reducing private vehicle use, improving air quality and reducing traffic congestion and greenhouse gases. As a first step, they have provided incentives for making car fleets fuel efficient. In this country Western Australia has taken the lead in a similar initiative to improve the fuel efficiency of its car fleet, and the Commonwealth would do well to do exactly the same with its own government fleet.

While Australia panders to the whim of the automobile industry by setting toothless voluntary fuel efficiency targets, California and nine other US states are fighting the Bush administration for the right to impose tighter mandatory vehicle emission limits. Even China has adopted a mandatory fuel efficiency target of 6.8 litres per 100 kilometres. It is a similar target to Australia’s, except that the Chinese are serious about actually achieving it. It is hard to believe that Treasurer Costello has granted a subsidy—that is, corporate welfare—to Ford of $52 million, without tying it to fuel efficient design. I cannot imagine any other OECD country that would give a handout to a motor vehicle company for design specifications and not tie it to fuel efficiency. The Howard government clearly does not recognise energy security as a risk to this country’s economic wellbeing.

Other nations have recognised that urbanisation requires national oversight. Whereas public transport is a state issue in Australia, oil depletion and choked and congested cities are a national concern because they impact on the productivity of cities and on the quality of life of those who live there. A government with vision for the future would have instigated a COAG process and a financial strategy for the oil proofing of Australian cities and would have invested heavily in public transport. In the 1970s, 12 per cent of Australia’s passenger kilometres were carried by public transport and today it is less than eight per cent. We need to exempt public transport and low-emission vehicles from the GST. But, no, nation building for the Howard government consists of road building, with the oil price approaching $100 a barrel. It is a brilliant strategy!
AusLink is set to receive $13 billion over five years, but new road funding in this week’s budget has been allocated at nearly 10 times the amount for rail. Until we invest more in rail than we do in road, we cannot hope to shift the freight task from our crumbling roads and on to fast tracks linking our major cities. The decision not to proceed with the planned increase in the heavy vehicle road user charge is a slap in the face for transport reform.

If Australians had been asked whether they would prefer to permanently reduce their energy and petrol costs by being assisted to upgrade to a more fuel efficient vehicle, to put a solar hot water system on their roof or to access faster and better public transport or, alternatively, to have tax cuts to enable them to pay higher petrol and energy costs, the government would have found that the community would prefer government intervention to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy to head off higher costs rather than just being assisted to meet them if future budgets allow for it. At the moment, Australia has the third cheapest petrol in the OECD and our electricity is 40 per cent cheaper than the OECD average cost, yet energy affordability is up there with housing affordability as a major issue in our community. How much worse will it become?

Whilst reducing fuel excise on alternative fuels is essential, cutting fuel excise on conventional fuels is not the answer, because in a world experiencing peak oil it is economically unsustainable and it lulls people into thinking that they do not need to make changes to their vehicle standards or use. Being strategic and proactive provides national energy security, whereas reacting to short-term market forces leaves the nation insecure and exposed to the vagaries of the global market.

The same applies to other fossil fuels. It is reckless and irresponsible not to plan for adaptation to climate change, because we know that the costs of acting now are far less than the costs will be if we do not. In that regard, how can we argue that we have a surplus when we have failed to assess the financial risks and costs of climate change? This is not just about the Great Barrier Reef. This is about the liveability of country towns. It is about health; it is estimated that 10,000 people will die from heat exhaustion because of increased temperatures. It is about dislocation in agriculture. It is about just about every aspect of our lives.

Whilst the Howard government is relying on coal and pinning our future on unproven carbon capture and storage technology, other nations are moving rapidly to invest in renewable energy technology and products. One day Australia will price carbon. The cost of disposing of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere has been subsidised by the community for too long. This subsidy must end. Whilst the switch towards taxing atmospheric pollution is a complex area of policy, what is simple is the need to send a signal to the market. The longer we delay sending the signal the longer plans for coal-fired power stations will continue to be advanced.

The Greens propose that the government introduce an emissions trading scheme and/or a carbon tax as a matter of urgency to send a clear signal to the market, to shift the financial risk from the government to the market, to minimise transition costs and to fund emerging renewable energy industries. This is good business. Australia is blessed with fantastic solar and wind energy. We could lead the world in photovoltaics, but to do so we need to invest in the commercialisation of existing technologies and R&D for improved technologies. We need to provide incentives for the roll-out of those technologies, including reform of electricity tariffs through guaranteed prices for renewable energy and, in the short term, an extension of the photovoltaic rebate scheme.

Germany has created 150,000 jobs by introducing legislation to drive the solar industry. Over 19 US states have introduced renewable energy targets to attract those industries, whilst in Australia the government has effectively strangled the renewable energy industry by refusing to extend the mandatory renewable energy targets. We have an Australian solar energy billionaire who made his money by investing in China. There is no capacity for him to do the same in Australia, and those jobs are being created in China. Just today, Roaring Forties announced that it will not proceed with its Heemskirk wind farm, blaming the government’s failure to expand MRET. Not dealing with climate change is costing Australia jobs and innovation.

As to uranium, a leadership role for Australia in global non-proliferation, global security and antiterrorism would be to see us decide to leave it in the ground. Apart from the danger of weapons and waste, the nuclear fuel cycle is dangerous, expensive and replete with un-costed externalities that the taxpayer will have to pay for. The budget papers themselves reveal that taxpayers already have to pay $7 million to clean up the Kakadu World Heritage area of abandoned uranium mines. Who will pay for the clean up if the current uranium mining speculation ever leads to new mines opening? As well, the budget statement of risks makes it clear that there is no way to cost the decommissioning of the Lucas Heights reactor. What does that say about the government’s assertion that nuclear power may become financially viable in Australia?

Rather than seeing Australia’s coal and uranium reserves as a competitive advantage, Australia needs to see them as a competitive disadvantage, because focusing on coal and uranium is blinding the government and the nation to risk and to the cause and consequences of climate change, and it is preventing investment in the innovative industries that will power this country. Dependence on natural resources will leave the nation vulnerable to resource depletion, new foreign sources and technological changes that reduce and eliminate resource needs. That is according to Michael Porter, a quite well-known economist.

Australia is being held back, jobs growth is being restricted and the nation’s ability to build a sophisticated economy, manufacturing base and tertiary sector is being constrained by the Howard government’s short-termism, intellectual laziness and indebtedness to the resource sector for its political support. To effectively capitalise on the opportunities inherent in the transition to a low-carbon economy which is knowledge, skills and service based, a massive injection of funds into education, research and training is needed.

Our children are our future, and if you had an eye to the future you would not reduce education spending as a proportion of government outlays, as has occurred in this budget. Would most Australians choose a tax cut if they realised that their children would have to borrow as much for their university fees as they had to borrow for their first home? The tax cuts could make tertiary education free again. In the Howard government’s values system, this is a lesser priority than increasing the ability to consume for people who are earning over $100,000.

In addition to putting further education beyond the reach of most Australians, the government has provided no extra funding for university research. We need that public interest research. We cannot rely on industry partnerships to deliver the science we need to address climate change and the public interest dimensions of the ethical dilemmas posed by the biotech and nanotech revolutions. The wealth of the country should be seen in its people and in its ability to capture creativity and innovation in adapting to changing global circumstances. In this context, we have to fund the arts.

Adaptation to changing global circumstances needs to be reflected in building a coherent society in which there is not a massive gap between the rich and the poor, in which women are given equal opportunity to participate and in which no child is kept behind razor wire. Conflict and antisocial behaviour occur when some in the community are left without hope, worthwhile work or provision for their old age while others benefit from tax cuts and superannuation advantages. What an opportunity we have missed to adequately fund primary health care from early childhood right through to old age! What an opportunity we have missed to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor, and to provide support for people with disabilities and for carers!

The government may claim that the budget is in surplus, but what does that say about its values if the nation is deep in deficit, if its children are not properly cared for and if its Indigenous communities are forced to live in Third World conditions? If we cannot address Aboriginal disadvantage in an economic boom time, when can we address it?

Unlike the Howard government, the Greens’ vision for Australia and the values we hold mean we would not squander the surplus on a spending spree. We do not support the tax cuts or superannuation windfall for high-income earners. We would spend the $45 billion instead on fostering equity and high standards of education and public health and on accelerating the transition from a narrow resource based economy to a low-carbon economy with a strong innovative new industry and employment base. We would oil-proof the country and invest in energy security and adaptation to climate change. We would offer the leadership that Australia needs in the 21st century. Just as Tony Blair identified climate change and making poverty history as the themes of Britain’s leadership of the European Union and the G8 so, too, Australia should adopt climate change, renewable energy and energy efficiency as key themes for APEC in 2007. This would truly provide genuine leadership for the region.

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9 MAY 2006


The release of the 2006 Federal budget this evening appears on my first analysis to be one with a 2007 election strongly in mind. By highlighting tax cuts that deal with the latent problem of bracket creep, while keeping a low focus on the continuing GST revenue stream, the Federal Government is promoting its smaller government model as a benefit to all, while ensuring those most electorally significant to it are given their rewards.

One reality is that one of the achievements of the economically conservative years of the Liberal and Labor government is the transfer of public debt into private debt. As many people seem to notice but not analyse, is that the reduce security of private debt means it is more expensive than public debt. A good example many motorists are now realising is that privately owned toll roads exact significant amounts of your hard earned cash to use them. Governments like them because the cost of building infrastructure is not seen as their debt.

The question of how much tax should be exacted to supply services is one that politicians have moulded into as many forms as play dough in a kindergarten. Australia is increasingly following the USA model, with the longer term results of an Australian economy not enjoying a worldwide resources boom yet to be seen.

With the Federal Treasurer metaphorically bringing home the electoral bacon, I thought it was time to see what the world was from a vegetable's point of view. At least their GST free!

Veggie pictures coming soon!

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7 MAY 2006


Green Garage Sales are about putting greens ideas into action and saving people money. One of the tenets of environmental sustainability is 'reducing, reusing and recycling'. The idea of Green Garage Sales is to encourage people all over Victoria to hold garage sales that allow all those useful but unused items in your house or garage to be sold or exchanged with someone who will use them. Green Garage Sales have been held on or near each World Environment Day since 2004

The Moreland Greens are currently preparing for a Green Garage sale for Moreland in Melbourne's northern suburbs on Saturday 3 June 2006. I will provide more details for this and other Green Garage sales as I become aware.

More details on Green Garage Sales and how they evolved can be found on this site by clicking on the title Green Garage Sales.

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5 MAY 2006


The following media release on recent events in East Timor Democratic Republic of Timor Leste sent from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation was forwarded by the Australia East Timor Association, of which I am a financial member.

Update on the Situation

The Commission of Investigation established to find the truth of the allegations made by ex-FDTL members and to get to the root of the causes of their discontent with the army has started working.

The Government representative in the Commission, Senior Minister and Minister of State Administration, Dr. Ana Pessoa, has appointed the district administrators to help reach the ex-FDTL members, the so-called petitioners.

Each district administrator, with a local representative of PNTL and the local representative of the Ministry of Labour and Community Reinsertion, will make its best efforts to identify each of the ‘petitioners’ – either directly or through their families – in order to register them to enable the payment of a subsidy until such a time as the Commission completes its investigation.

This process will also serve to help each of the ex-FDTL members to be re-integrated into the civilian life, with the Government making its best endeavours to find them appropriate jobs.

Their identification and registration will be also useful in determining if any died or was injured during the violence and rampage of Friday, April 28. This information will be duly passed on to the Comissčo de Verificaćčo de Dados sobre Mortos e Feridos (Committee for the Verification of Details about Dead and Injured).

This Committee is made up of Antoninho Bianco, Minister for the Presidency of the Council of Ministers; Arsénio Bano, Minister for Labour and Community Reinsertion, secretary-general Eugénio Soares and Aida Mota; from the Ministry for the Interior, PNTL Commander Paulo Martins, and Justino Jesus; from the Health Ministry, Fernando Bonaparte; the Administrator of the Dili District, Ruben Carvalho; and representing the Red Cross of Timor-Leste, Isabel Guterres (president) and Luís Freitas.

Dra. Ana Pessoa got the Commission of Investigation process under way during her regular consultation with district administrators, this time in Ainaro.

Meanwhile, although for the last few days no incidents related to the events of April 28 were registered, unfounded, alarmist rumours have continued to circulate causing a feeling of fear among the population. This, unfortunately, despite attempts by the Presidency, the Government and the law and order authorities, has led to a significant exodus from Dili.

During a joint media conference this morning at Palácio das Cinzas, following their regular meeting, both HE President Xanana and Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, appealed once again for calm, asking the population to return home. The Prime Minister himself acknowledged that the only problem that exists at the moment is how to stop the alarmist rumours.

Police (PNTL) has been instructed to coordinate with local authorities in each suburb in order that the ‘abandoned’ homes be protected.

As well, at the meeting between Prime Minister Alkatiri with President Xanana, also attended by Interior Minister Rogério Lobato and Defence Minister Roque Rodrigues, it was decided to order FDTL members, who since Friday have patrolled areas of Dili to return to their barracks. They also ordered that PNTL members carrying automatic firearms also withdraw from patrol.

This decision was taken as it is believed that the presence of armed soldiers in the streets may be a contributing factor in the fear being felt by the public in general. It is hoped this will ease the concerns and reassure the population that all is under control.

Chris Santos
Assessor de Imprensa/Media Advisor
Cabinet Office of the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation

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29 APRIL 2006


Bob Brown, the openly gay Green Senator for Tasmania, last night showed himself to be one of the stage's great straight men. As one of the drawcards in the Comedy Festival gig 'Mr. Brown and I', Bob joined a musically inclined cast including the lovely Dolly, musically talented Totally Gourdgeous' and the Kazakhstan Cowgirls, performing to a full house at Melbourne's Gasworks Theatre.

The night was great fun, with many occasions when it was very difficult to know if Bob was acting the straight man or Bob was being Bob. I thoroughly recommend securing a ticket to see how Dolly does her deeds to win the heart of Mr. Brown. You may even learn a thing or two else well, not the least that Greens are like all of us. They love to have a laugh, including at themselves.


Meanwhile, beyond the stage door, as some of you may have seen in today's Australian newspaper, Australian Immigration Minister Senator Amanda Vanstone has written an acerbic opinion piece on the plight of the West Papuans in West Papua and those seeking asylum in Australia. A media release replying to the outrageous claims made by Amanda Vanstone are referred to in the following media release issued today by Senator Brown.

Vanstone's vicious tirade

Immigration Minister Vanstone's tirade against West Papuans (Weekend Australian today) is ignorant and inexcusable, Greens Leader Bob Brown said today.

"Minister Vanstone's inverted logic is that calling themselves Papuans is racist, even though Jakarta has renamed the province Papua.

"Her taunt that Papuans are racist because they want separation from Indonesia leads inevitably to the absurdity of labelling the East Timorese Tibetans or Taiwanese as racist too.

"The Minister's claim that the Papuans cause is toxic would mean that the cry for freedom itself is toxic.

"The troubling fact is that Amanda Vanstone's view is itself deeply racist," Senator Brown said.

Senator Brown called on Senator Vanstone to explain why the Indigenous West Papuan population of 1.2 million had grown so little since 1969 while Papua New Guinea's population had grown fourfold to more than 5 million.

Senator Brown said that it must be assumed that Prime Minister Howard had vetted Senator Vanstone's essay before it was printed in the Weekend Australian.

"The Government is reacting to last week's news poll showing 77% of Australians backed an act of free choice for West Papuans, while only 5% (including the Howard Cabinet) opposed such a democratic outcome," Senator Brown said.

Further information: Prue Cameron 0408 473 379

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28 APRIL 2006


We so often here conservative politicians talk about values. Then, often in the same breath they say their values are more important than other people's values, or worse, as in the myriad of scandals such as AWB, misleading Australians over our need to declare war on Iraq, children overboard, the SEIV X sinking or exclusion of Australian territory from the migration zone, that many politicians fail to practice what they preach.

The following media release of Greens Senator Bob Brown encapsulates this. The Howard Government often trumpets values, while acting as if their slippery exercise of their values is either the only or the superior view. Taxi drivers can say a lot in a few words, as Bob's release shows.

Where can I buy a book about Australian values?: Taxi driver to Senator

Australian Greens Leader Bob Brown has written to Prime Minister Howard asking him to release his list of 'Australian values'.

Senator Brown said the test is to separate Australian values from the universal values of human goodness and decency.

"The Howard government should make it clear that it is not peddling xenophobia," Senator Brown said.

"Today my Melbourne taxi driver asked where he could buy a book of Australian values. He is a Christian from an African country. It is a good question - one for the Prime Minister to answer," Senator Brown said.

Further information: Ebony Bennett 0409 164 603

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25 APRIL 2006


After decades of climate change denial, and decades of wasted opportunities for energy efficiencies, production changes and increased global security, many of the previous climate change deniers are now saying, "Gee, you were right, but the problem is now so urgent that we have to go nuclear."

In moving from the fossil fuelled frying pan into nuclear fission, we as a species are again moving to a high risk activities with potential deleterious effects that last long beyond all of our short life times. For many, whose ethics gravitate around the immediate and familiar, both in who they care about and what will happen in the future, the longer range concerns about nuclear waste or the impacts of a nuclear accident are matters that technological optimism will solve, or perhaps don't require our concern.

Melbourne Herald Sun journalist and unwitting supporter of the increased literacy of the fish it is occasionally used to wrap, sometime ago penned an indignant column aimed at me, claiming that people like me have exaggerated the tragic effects of the Chernobyl nuclear accident.

I had made the claims in Melbourne's Sunday Age that a person who had been appointed to head the public relations activities of CSIRO, as a former Tobacco Institute senior executive and board member of the then human induced climate change denying Institute of Public Affairs, was wholly unsuited to promote the evidence based transition that Australia's preeminent public scientific authority represented.

Andrew Bolt's column did not focus on the irony of the appointment of a former senior tobacco industry advocate and director of an organisation denying the extent of climate change to Australia's CSIRO, whose climate change work is world renown for its quality and integrity and desperately needed in the world's driest inhabited continent, by many accounts already strongly under the influence of dramatic climate change induced droughts and storms. Instead, Andrew's claims were of guilt by association, in asserting that people like me exaggerate the damage caused by the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

Having been previously labelled by Andrew Bolt as a 'dopey intellectual' over my views on drug harm minimisation and the need to trial a supervised injecting facility, and as an 'ecofascist' for proposing that Australian trees were more suited to the City of Melbourne's Australian landscape than exotic trees, Andrew's new interpretation of the facts about Chernobyl were less of a surprise than they could have been.

Despite having earned a first class honours degree in science looking at human adaptation to climate change, a law degree encompassing study of international and environmental regulation, and an arts degree majoring in the politics and social theory of social change, and having sponsored Australia's most ambitious local government greenhouse gas reduction targets while a Green Councillor at the City of Melbourne, Andrew's most recent claim was that I was the wrong person to be making the point.

Whoever be proven right, debates over the safety and suitability of nuclear power will continue for some time. The consequences of failing to properly respond to climate change and of any further nuclear accidents or incidents will last for much, much longer.

The following media release related to this debate, embargoed until midday Wed 26 April 2006, is from Greens Senator Christine Milne.

Chernobyl anniversary reminder of dangers of nuclear power: Greens

PM should work to ensure new casing for reactor

The 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear power accident is a reminder of how dangerous nuclear power is and why we need to take a precautionary approach, Australian Greens energy spokesperson Senator Christine Milne said today.

"The Chernobyl accident on 26 April 1986 was the worst nuclear power accident in global history," Senator Milne said.

"Millions of people are living with the legacy, while the ageing sarcophagus encasing the reactor threatens to collapse and send another plume of radioactive dust across Europe.

"The 20th anniversary of the disaster should prompt reconsideration by all those in the Howard government and Labor Opposition advocating the export of Australian uranium for nuclear power as a solution to climate change.

"Former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev said recently that the Chernobyl accident 'opened my eyes like nothing else: it showed the horrible consequences of nuclear power, even when it is used for non-military purposes'.

"It is foolish to think that accidents such as Chernobyl cannot happen again regardless of the technologies employed. Given China's record of deaths in coal mining accidents, poor industrial health and safety standards and cover-ups of major pollution spills, why would Australians believe that such an accident could not happen there?

"Nuclear power remains dangerous. It is no solution to climate change, which needs fast, safe and sustainable responses. These are to be found through a combination of reducing energy demand, improving energy efficiency, co-generation and investment in and rapid deployment of renewable energy.

"The Howard government should mark the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster by abandoning its push for nuclear power and instead work for sustainable responses to climate change. It should also pledge to work with the global community to secure a new sarcophagus for the reactor, to prevent another nuclear accident."

More information: Katrina Willis 0437 587 562 or 03 6234 4566

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19 APRIL 2006


The Moorabbin factory fire and confusion that followed was a timely reminder of how important disaster planning can be in averting harm, rather than dealing with it once it has called. The fires that devastated Coode Island and the plumes of dangerous smoke that fell over Melbourne some years ago demonstrated the absolute necessity for making plans ahead of a disaster so that people at risk can take action as soon as possible.

Colleen Hartland, a strong public advocate during the Coode Island debacle, is now standing as a Greens candidate in the west for the upcoming State election. The following media release was forwarded by Colleen Hartland.

Another large industrial fire but where are the community alert and tracking programs ask the Greens

"The factory fire in Moorabbin was one of Melbourne's biggest fires in a decade. However, no system was in place to alert people in the area quickly ," said Colleen Hartland, Greens spokesperson on the urban environment and state election candidate. "This is because the State Government has not set up Community Alert programs."

In 2001, ten years after the city's most dangerous industrial fire at Coode Island, the State Government funded a Community Alert trial for three hundred households in the Footscray area. Another has been trialled across this summer for communities threatened by bushfires.

"The state government is yet to learn the lessons of the Coode Island fire," said Colleen Hartland. "With houses, schools, an aged care facility and workplaces very close to the fire, there should have been a 'phone based community alert system ready to swing into action."

"However, there's nothing like that in the south east or anywhere else in Melbourne. Yesterday, people had to rely on, often conflicting, advice from talk back radio," aid Colleen Hartland.

While initial reports indicate the smoke from the fire was not toxic, it can take quite some time to fully assess smoke samples.

"We also need a register to track people exposed to potentially toxic substances by fires, spills or other accidents," aid Colleen Hartland. "This was another lesson of the Coode Island fire, yet nearly fifteen years later, we are still waiting for State Government action on a register and a Community Alert system across Melbourne and Victoria."

For more information and interviews please contact: Colleen Hartland, Greens spokesperson on the urban environment, on 0400 043 881

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18 APRIL 2006


The weakening of Australia's cross media ownership rules will mean less voices voicing greater conformity. As a Victorian Senator, I would have fought hard to maintain a healthy diverse media, which I am convinced is essential to the health of our democracy. Whether or not those voices hold my view, I believe government power is one of holding the public good in trust, not of promoting your political friends over other legitimate voices.

The online petition site Get Up is hosting a campaign to maintain media diversity, in which you can compose and send a message to the Federal politician of your choice. I sent the following message to Victorian Liberal Senator Judith Troeth, in an appeal to the values I believed her party once held as a central tenet.

Dear Judith,

I am emailing to ask you not to support the proposed changes to media laws.  They will reduce media diversity and likely lead to a media sector pursuing conformity to the government of the day, rather than the independent voices needed by us all and valued by the Liberal Party for so much of its history.

David Risstrom

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13 APRIL 2006


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12 APRIL 2006


2006 is the 150th anniversary of the Eight Hour Day in Victoria. Action taken by stonemasons on 21 April 1856 led to the establishment and maintenance of the Eight Hour Day, recognised internationally as a world first. While seemingly forgotten by the current conservative regime in Government now, the 8 hour day grew as a symbol of the rights fo workers to organise in a democratic society.

The idea was that a worker could except to work eight hours, sleep 8 hours and have 8 hours available to live life. A website Eight Hour Day gives details on what's happening in Melbourne around the celebrations.

Congratulations to all those who believe in a fight for a decent days work for a decent day's pay. Let's hope this temporary return to dominance of the master and servant relationship passes without too much damage to the social fabric that has made Australia great.

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10 APRIL 2006


The following media release on Melbourne's Camp Sovereignty was forwarded by Greens Senator Rachel Siewert. For many of the indigenous issues I pursued while at Melbourne City Council, please go to the Indigenous People links at the 100 Green Achievements and 100 More Green Achievements

Camp Sovereignty is there for a reason

Comments by John Howard that the Indigenous Camp Sovereignty in Melbourne should be demolished provides the perfect illustration of why it should stay, said Senator Rachel Siewert this morning.

"The Prime Minister is determined to ignore Indigenous demands for recognition on their own land, but that doesn't mean the rest of the country has to," Senator Siewert said.

"The City of Melbourne and Victorian Police have shown appropriate respect by choosing to negotiate with elders representing the tent embassy. The camp is a focal point for Indigenous activists who are demanding an end to Genocide, Sovereignty to be recognised and a Treaty to be made (the G.S.T)."

"Why does that make John Howard so uncomfortable? Perhaps it is because on his watch Indigenous health, education and housing indicators are languishing at fourth world levels, and he abolished the only representative voice Indigenous Australians had."

"John Howard describes Camp Sovereignty as 'the unacceptable face of reconciliation. With this single statement we can understand why the reconciliation process has stalled in Australia."

"At all times the Black GST representatives have conducted themselves with dignity and determination to rise above the kind of official neglect and hostility shown so openly by Prime Minister Howard," Senator Siewert said.

"I hope the camp is allowed to stay, as a visible reminder of 200 years of unfinished business."

For more information or comment call Chris Twomey on 0407 725 025

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6 APRIL 2006


The following media release on the Hattah Nowingi Toxic Dump was released today. While Federal Senate candidate I campaigned against the Nowingi dump and visited the site and met with the local council and other advocates to lend my support.

The Greens say the Hattah-Nowingi toxic waste dump is a hazardous solution for Victoria's hazardous waste problem

Jennifer Alden, the Greens Upper House candidate for Victoria's Northern Region says the Bracks Government needs to acknowledge the strength of opposition to the proposed Hattah-Nowingi toxic waste dump and find another solution to the storage of the state's hazardous waste.

"It's a bad idea. If the dump goes ahead, we will have trucks carrying extremely dangerous material along 500 kms of highway through central and north west Victoria," said Jennifer Alden. "The Calder is already a truck hazard. Add 10 loads of hazardous waste a day to it and we'll set off a time bomb for all road users and people living in towns along the highway."

"This is just another example of the Bracks Melbourne mind-set at work. The government sees a toxic waste dump at Hattah-Nowingi as an 'out of sight and out of mind' solution. It's in a non-Labor electorate, a long way from the city," said Jennifer Alden.

There are a number of other good reasons why the area is not the place to dump toxic waste:
- it's close to a prime agricultural area, where over 95% of Australia’s dried grapes are produced,
- the location forms part of an important wildlife corridor between the Hattah Kulkyne National Park and the Murray Sunset National Park,
- it will make management of threatened bird species like the Mallee fowl, Mallee Emu-wren and Black-eared Miner more difficult,
- the Hattah-Nowingi site is rated as being of the highest ecological value.

"The National Party proposal for a gasification plant to deal with toxic waste would create even more problems" said Jennifer Alden " This is old technology that produces air and water pollution, plus heavy metal and other residues. Too much water would be required and the possibility of dioxin emissions - the most poisonous cancer-causing toxin - remains."

"This waste disposal problem needs to be tackled at source. We must put in place requirements for industry to work towards clean production and take a cradle to grave responsibly for waste. In the meantime, the Bracks government must agree to genuine consultation with communities in Victoria's north and north west, " said Jennifer Alden .

For more information, please contact: Jennifer Alden (mob) 0427 430 233 or Dave Lane (mob) 0419 156 213

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5 APRIL 2006


As a signatory to the Public Interest Lawyers’ Statement in Support of Public Participation Law Reform I thought it worthwhile to provide a copy of the statement for you to read here. While the legal profession remains notoriously conservative and respectful of the legislative process, in my view there is a steadily growing concern within the profession that long standing conventions and presumptions of fairness are under considerable attack.

Public Interest Lawyers’ Statement in Support of Public Participation Law Reform

As senior lawyers practising, advising and writing in the area of the law of public interest debate, we call on all Australian governments to implement law reform to protect the community’s right and ability to participate in public debate and political activity without fear of litigation.

The increasing phenomenon of litigation against community participation in public issues by comment or action has the serious effect of intimidating the community, chilling public debate and silencing voices which should be heard in a democratic society. In addition these lawsuits against public participation create enormous stress and financial burden for the people and groups who are sued and clog our court systems with arguments which belong in political rather than legal arenas.

Free speech and robust public debate, together with the ability to participate in community and political activity without fear of litigation, are fundamental rights in a democratic society. The increasing and widespread use of defamation law, trade practices laws and economic torts laws against public participation must be wound back. It is no coincidence that societies where these rights of public participation are curtailed have historically been burdened with corruption, inefficiency and often disastrous decision making.

Legislation specifically to protect the community’s right to public debate and participation has been introduced in 25 jurisdictions in the United States. We call on Australian governments to introduce similar laws and work together to achieve national or uniform legislation in Australia.

Statement Sponsors

Julian Burnside QC (Melbourne) Professor Rob Fowler (Uni SA)
Brian Walters SC (Melbourne) Stephen Keim SC (Brisbane)
Associate Professor Spencer Zifcak (La Trobe - Melbourne) Richard Coleman, Solicitor, John Fairfax Publications Pty Ltd (Sydney)
Professor Hilary Charlesworth (ANU - Canberra) Bruce Donald AM (Sydney)
Paul Heywood-Smith QC (Adelaide)  

Supporting Signatories
We, the undersigned barristers, solicitors and legal academics and practitioners, similarly call on all Australian governments to implement law reform to protect the community’s right and ability to participate in public debate and political activity without fear of litigation.

Donald K. Anton, Senior Lecturer, Australian National University Anne Gooley, Solicitor, Melbourne
Peter Applegarth SC, Brisbane Rebecca Gristwood, Solicitor, Adelaide
(Adjunct) Professor Peter Bailey, Australian National University Professor Neil Gunningham, Australian National University
Robin Banks, CEO, Public Interest Advocacy Centre, Sydney Frances Hall, Solicitor, Melbourne
Judith Bannister, Lecturer, Flinders University Associate Professor Elizabeth Handsley, Flinders University
Benedict Bartl, Solicitor, Hobart Kris Hanna MP, Lawyer, Adelaide
Professor Gerry Bates, Australian National University Claire Harris, Barrister, Melbourne
Paul Batley, Solicitor, Coffs Harbour Dr Matt Harvey, Lecturer, Monash University
Adam Beeson, Lawyer, Hobart Dr Mary Heath, Flinders University
Eliza Bergin, Solicitor, Melbourne Megan Hender, Solicitor, Adelaide
Charles Berger, Legal Adviser, Australian Conservation Foundation Vivien Holmes, Lecturer, Australian National University
Warwick Biggs, Barrister, Sydney Yvette Holt, Solicitor, Sydney
Hayley Blackman, Solicitor, Cairns John Howie, Solicitor, Melbourne
Vanessa Bleyer, Solicitor, Melbourne Karen Hussey, Postdoctoral Fellow, Australian National University, Canberra
Professor Ben Boer, Sydney University Jane Hutchinson, Lawyer, Hobart
Professor Stephen Bottomley, Australian National University James Johnson, Barrister, Sydney
Josh Bornstein, Solicitor, Melbourne Associate Professor John Keeler, Adelaide University
Megan Bowman, Lecturer, Victoria University Simon Kenny, Lawyer, Alice Springs
Nick Brodribb, Legal Practitioner, Melbourne Associate Professor Andrew Kenyon, Melbourne University
Jim Brooks, Solicitor, Cairns Duncan Kerr SC MP, Hobart
Roland Browne, Lawyer, Hobart Peter Koutsoukis, Solicitor, Melbourne
Holly Carcich, Solicitor, Adelaide Professor Ainslie Lamb AM, University of Wollongong
Kerry Clark, Solicitor, Adelaide Simon Langsford, Solicitor, Adelaide
Pepe Clarke, Programs Director, Environmental Defender's Office, Sydney Joanne Lee, Legal Practitioner, Canberra
Richard Coates, Solicitor, Adelaide Tony Lewis, Barrister, Melbourne
Andrew Collett, Barrister, Adelaide Martin Lockett, Solicitor, Melbourne
Kerry Colmer, Solicitor, Adelaide Sasha Lowes, Legal Practitioner, Adelaide
Associate Professor Damien Considine, University of Wollongong Laurence W Maher, Barrister, Melbourne
Andrew Crockett, Senior Lecturer, Monash University Andrew Martin, Barrister, Sydney
Liz Curran, Lecturer, La Trobe University Sharon Mascher, Senior Lecturer, University of Western Australia
Lisa De Ferrari, Barrister, Melbourne George Masterman QC (retired), Sydney
Associate Professor Andrea Durbach, University of NSW Chris McGrath, Barrister, Brisbane
Joan Dwyer OAM, Lawyer, Melbourne Simon McGregor, Barrister, Melbourne
John Dwyer QC (Retired) Melbourne Anne McNaughton, Lecturer, Australian National University
Kellie Edwards, Barrister, Sydney Danielle Milani, Solicitor/Corporate Counsel, Brisbane
Associate Professor Adrian Evans, Monash University Simon R Molesworth AM QC, Melbourne
Jonathon Evans, Barrister, Melbourne Klaus Mueller, Barrister, Melbourne
Tracy Fantin, Barrister, Cairns Bernard Murphy, Solicitor, Melbourne
Dr Thomas Faunce, Senior Lecturer, Australian National University Michael Neal, Lawyer, Cairns
Jess Feehely, Solicitor, Hobart Emeritus Professor Garth Nettheim AO,The University of NSW
Tony FitzGerald, Lawyer, Hobart Nicholas Niarchos AM, Barrister, Adelaide
Martin Flynn, Senior Lecturer, University of WA Anne Noone, Senior Lecturer, La Trobe University
Juliet Forsyth, Barrister, Melbourne Chris Norton, Barrister, Sydney
Joana Fuller, Barrister, Adelaide Lisa Ogle, Environmental Legal Consultant, Sydney
Nick Galloway, Solicitor, Melbourne Adjunct Professor Nick O’Neill, University of NSW
Alex Gardner, Senior Lecturer, University of WA Glenn Osboldstone, Lawyer, Melbourne
Rebecca Gilsenan, Solicitor, Sydney Yoriko Otomo, postgraduate, University of Melbourne
Stephanie Goldring, Solicitor, Melbourne Manuel A Palma, Solicitor, Southport Qld
Professor Andrew Goldsmith, Flinders University Claire Parfitt, Solicitor, Sydney
Emma Golledge, Solicitor, Sydney Associate Professor Dr Christine Parker, University of Melbourne
Anne Gooley, Solicitor, Melbourne Mark Parnell, Solicitor, Adelaide
Rebecca Gristwood, Solicitor, Adelaide Matt Patterson, Solicitor, Cairns
Professor Neil Gunningham, Australian National University Megan Philpot, Solicitor, Adelaide
Frances Hall, Solicitor, Melbourne Dr James Prest, Solicitor, Canberra, Lecturer, Australian National University
Associate Professor Elizabeth Handsley, Flinders University Mark Rankin, Flinders University
Kris Hanna MP, Lawyer, Adelaide Moira Rayner, Barrister, Melbourne
Claire Harris, Barrister, Melbourne Sarah Rey, Solicitor, Melbourne
Dr Matt Harvey, Lecturer, Monash University David Risstrom, Barrister, Melbourne
Dr Mary Heath, Flinders University Andrea Ross, Solicitor, Sydney
Megan Hender, Solicitor, Adelaide Professor Kim Rubenstein, Australian National University
Vivien Holmes, Lecturer, Australian National University Kirsty Ruddock, Solicitor, Cairns
Yvette Holt, Solicitor, Sydney Liberty Sanger, Solicitor, Reservoir
John Howie, Solicitor, Melbourne Elicia Savvas, Solicitor, Adelaide
Karen Hussey, Postdoctoral Fellow, Australian National University, Canberra Eileen Scott, Legal Consultant, Melbourne
Jane Hutchinson, Lawyer, Hobart Kate Seear, Solicitor, Melbourne
James Johnson, Barrister, Sydney Jeff Smith, CEO Environmental Defender’s Office, Sydney
Associate Professor John Keeler, Adelaide University
Greg Smith, Solicitor, Darwin
Simon Kenny, Lawyer, Alice Springs Rolf K Sorensen, Barrister, Melbourne
Associate Professor Andrew Kenyon, Melbourne University Tim Stanley, Barrister, Adelaide
Duncan Kerr SC MP, Hobart Joan Staples, Visiting Fellow, University of NSW
Peter Koutsoukis, Solicitor, Melbourne Tracey Stevens, Barrister, Alice Springs
Professor Ainslie Lamb AM, University of Wollongong Priya Subramaniam, Solicitor, Adelaide
Simon Langsford, Solicitor, Adelaide Gary Sullivan, Solicitor, Melbourne
Joanne Lee, Legal Practitioner, Canberra Tracey Summerfield, Lecturer, University of Western Australia
Tony Lewis, Barrister, Melbourne Jacquie Svenson, Solicitor, Sydney
Associate Professor Adrian Evans, Monash University Felicity Tepper, Solicitor, Canberra
Jonathon Evans, Barrister, Melbourne Matthew Townsend, Barrister, Melbourne
Tracy Fantin, Barrister, Cairns Ross Tzannes AM, Solicitor, Sydney
Dr Thomas Faunce, Senior Lecturer, Australian National University David Vedig, Solicitor, Adelaide
Jess Feehely, Solicitor, Hobart Meg Vedig, Solicitor, Adelaide
Tony FitzGerald, Lawyer, Hobart John Voyage, Solicitor, Melbourne
Martin Flynn, Senior Lecturer, University of WA Dr Ana Filipa Vrdoljak, Senior Lecturer, University of Western Australia
Juliet Forsyth, Barrister, Melbourne Judith Walker, Solicitor, Sydney
Joana Fuller, Barrister, Adelaide Joseph Wearing, Solicitor, Adelaide
Nick Galloway, Solicitor, Melbourne Andrew Weinmann, Solicitor, Melbourne
Alex Gardner, Senior Lecturer, University of WA Bob Whyburn, Solicitor, Sydney
Rebecca Gilsenan, Solicitor, Sydney Professor John Williams, Adelaide University
Stephanie Goldring, Solicitor, Melbourne Matthew Zagor, Lecturer, Australian National University
Professor Andrew Goldsmith, Flinders University Maria Zotti, Solicitor, Adelaide
Emma Golledge, Solicitor, Sydney  

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4 APRIL 2006


The following media release confirms the election of South Australian Green Mark Parnell. Congratulations Mark! As a former solicitor at the South Australian Environment Defenders Office, Mark will bring a power of talent and experience to the South Australian Parliament.

The Australian Greens are celebrating an historic success in the March 18 South Australian election, electing their first MP since the party was established in the state.

A founding member of the SA Greens, Mark Parnell was elected to the Legislative Council today, confirmed by the State Electoral Office in their official announcement of the results this morning.

"On March 18th, more South Australians voted Green than ever before," Mr Parnell explained. "Our common-sense policies on health, education, and the environment make sense to people, and they’ve honoured us with this seat in the Parliament."

"I’m determined to bring our policies into law while I’m in the Parliament," Mark continued, "and I’m proud to have the whole party behind me."

But the Greens aren’t resting on their laurels.

"Our real work is only just beginning. We’ll be continuously working to make South Australia a Greener state." Mr Parnell concluded.

The Greens are now represented in six parliaments across the country making them a truly national force in Australian politics.

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2 APRIL 2006


Below is a media release ahead of the Free West Papua rally at the State Library in the City of Melbourne.

Free West Papua Rally in Melbourne today

Meeting at 12pm this Sunday at the State Library, Free West Papua Campaigners will be calling for ‘an end to the war on our door step’ with a protest march against the human rights abuses committed by the Indonesia Military, followed by a celebration of West Papuan culture and music at the Treasury Gardens.  

Addressing the rally will be Anglican minister Peter Woods who witnessed and photographed a violent clash between anti-Freeport mine protesters and police in Abepura outside the Cendrawasih University in West Papua on March 16.  

The Reverend Peter Woods will retell how Indonesia security forces embarked on retaliatory attacks, bashing and killing a number of local Papuans and of the cover-up that followed.  

"There were wounded people, including children. Children had been shot,” Mr Woods said.

 Greens Senator Bob Brown, who will also be addressing the rally said West Papua, one of Australia's nearest neighbouring countries, was in turmoil because of the brutality of the Indonesian military and the continued attempts to destroy their culture.  

"West Papua deserves its day in the sun. It should have a legal act of self-determination, the same as East Timor, and of course the Australian government has to take refugees when there's such a bloody crackdown as is occurring under the Indonesian military at the moment," Senator Brown said.

Senator Brown believes the Australian government should be lobbying in the United Nations for a fair, transparent and secure process to implement a true act of self-determination.

"The West Papuans are not part of Indonesia, never were, never wanted to be, and never should be," Senator Brown said.

The organisers of the rally are encouraging Melbournians to come out in large numbers to take a stand against the bloody violence being unleashed by the ‘greatest merchant of terror in our region’ - the Indonesian military.  

For more information, contact Nick Chesterfield on 0409 268 978, by email on  or on the web at

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1 APRIL 2006


April 1 is a dangerous date to try to say something seriously. So I won't.

This page provides my news and views from April 1 to June 30 2006. The previous edition of current news and views are available by clicking here: Rosa's and Dave's News and Views: Jan-Mar 2006.

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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.