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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 24 May 2011.


20 JUNE 2009



Kiva is the world's first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend directly to unique entrepreneurs around the globe. Kiva's mission is to connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty.

I've had great fun with Kiva since I found out about it recently and wrote about it in this blog. I've reproduced the info about Kiva below, followed by a feature that provides up to date information about loans that you can contribute to. Good luck Kiva-ing.

The people you see on Kiva's site are real individuals in need of funding - not marketing material. When you browse entrepreneurs' profiles on the site, choose someone to lend to, and then make a loan, you are helping a real person make great strides towards economic independence and improve life for themselves, their family, and their community. Throughout the course of the loan (usually 6-12 months), you can receive email journal updates and track repayments. Then, when you get your loan money back, you can relend to someone else in need.

Kiva partners with existing expert microfinance institutions. In doing so, we gain access to outstanding entrepreneurs from impoverished communities world-wide. Our partners are experts in choosing qualified entrepreneurs. That said, they are usually short on funds. Through Kiva, our partners upload their entrepreneur profiles directly to the site so you can lend to them. When you do, not only do you get a unique experience connecting to a specific entrepreneur on the other side of the planet, but our microfinance partners can do more of what they do, more efficiently.

Kiva provides a data-rich, transparent lending platform. We are constantly working to make the system more transparent to show how money flows throughout the entire cycle, and what effect it has on the people and institutions lending it, borrowing it, and managing it along the way. To do this, we are using the power of the internet to facilitate one-to-one connections that were previously prohibitively expensive. Child sponsorship has always been a high overhead business. Kiva creates a similar interpersonal connection at much lower costs due to the instant, inexpensive nature of internet delivery. The individuals featured on our website are real people who need a loan and are waiting for socially-minded individuals like you to lend them money.


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11 JUNE 2009


The following letter to the editor was written in response to the Chaser's 'Make a Realistic Wish Foundation' skit aired recently on the ABC's 'The Chaser program. The nascent issue may well be the risks the ABC is prepared to take in the future, whether through comedy or otherwise, to challenge beliefs we take as self evident. The world was after all once undeniably flat.

The ABC and The Chaser apologised for the 'Make a Realistic Wish Foundation' skit that resulted in a loud public outcry. With an instance of misjudgement having been transformed into a heinous crime, the problem now is that the program will be unduly censored.

The Chaser wouldn't be doing its job if its audience didn't at times find its sketches outrageous. Add to that the pressure under which the program is produced - the need for a constant flow of ideas and content that is current - and there are bound to be some wrong decisions.

Satire and black humour are an essential element of free speech in a democracy. They disturb our complacency and pillory hypocrisy and cant. The line between acceptable satire and offending reasonable community standards is sometimes not obvious until it is crossed. How far is too far? Who is it not acceptable to offend? When is offence real harm?

The Chaser's young producers will have learnt from the community's response to their 'Make a Realistic Wish Foundation' sketch. The proverbial sledge-hammer was not required. The danger now is that the ABC will not take risks in comedy. Bland programming will result and free speech will be jeopardised.

Yours sincerely

David Risstrom
Friends of the ABC (Vic)

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26 MAY 2009


I am sorry we didn't achieve more for indigenous reconciliation once the doors had been opened.

As a Green Councillor on Melbourne City Council and as Chair of the Aboriginal Consultative Committee, I spent two years talking to people and helping to set the scene for moves towards greater reconciliation within the City of Melbourne. I moved the following motion at the 6 August 2002 Environment, Community and Cultural Development Committee meeting, receiving unanimous support:

That the Environment, Community and Cultural Development Committee:
• Notes the City’s existing programs and relationships for and with Melbourne’s indigenous communities, outlined in Attachment 1;
• Approve appropriate and respectful consultation with Indigenous spokespersons and organisations in relation to the development of an Indigenous Employment Strategy;
• Reaffirm the Statement of Commitment to Indigenous Australians by the City of Melbourne;
• Provide a report to the 3 December 2002 meeting of the Environment, Community and Cultural Development Committee on the feasibility of the establishment of an Indigenous Unit within the City of Melbourne, which would report to the Director of City Assets Services and to the Chair of the Aboriginal Consultative Group;
• Commence a 12 month discussion between the City of Melbourne, its constituents, ATSIC and the wider indigenous community on how to advance reconciliation in the City of Melbourne. As a means of achieving broad community involvement, the City of Melbourne commits to initiate discussions on options for:
1. A Negotiating a land use agreement
2. Identifying and acknowledging our pre-European history in the City of Melbourne.
3. Providing current and future staff and councillors with the opportunity to participate in cross-cultural awareness training.
4. Increasing the involvement of indigenous people in the delivery of services for and on behalf of the City of Melbourne.
5. Flying the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flags during important times such as NAIDOC week.
6. A strategy to advance representation by Indigenous councillors.

The history and progress towards achieving Indigenous Reconciliation, as of January 2003, is contained in the attached document titled City of Melbourne Aboriginal Reconciliation Initiatives and Achievements.

Unfortunately, since standing down from Council in August 2004 to stand for the Senate, there have been less opportunities to make a difference. Personally,having wanted to achieve a lot for reconciliation, the loss of opportunity to make such a difference is difficult. In a small way, as the same way it is for many disadvantaged people who face their lack of power frustrates them, this is something I need to learn more about.

In the meantime, good people will do good things and I thank them for that. Good luck with it all. The world needs lots of it.

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22 MAY 2009


I would like to thank all of those wonderful people who have given me great support over the years to do what I have. Having just received the unwanted message that I have not been chosen as the Victorian Greens Senate Candidate, while I am immensely disappointed, I wanted to thank all of those with golden hearts who will make good and great things happen in the future.

There is a great bridge to be built to make our world fairer, and for us to have the foresight to leave it useful for future generations of plants, animals and people. It's a big task, but together we can do it. What role I play in that I am unsure at the moment, but I will continue to do what I can. Thanks to those of you who make that goal doable, fun and worthwhile. I'll see you around.

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21 MAY 2009


On a Thursday afternoon after a very busy couple of weeks, I've found myself sitting down in an outpatients clinic of the Royal Melbourne Hospital to have my eyes tested, and while doing so, to enjoy a first hand look again at how public health operates. I am a strong believer in Medicare and the public provision of health. My understanding is that the public provision of health is an effective and efficient way to help a nation's population remain as healthy as possible. Having experienced the public health system in the United States of America, Mexico, Canada and Australia, while I can't faithfully say that I am convinced that Australians enjoy the best health system in the world, I am confident in saying that for a relatively low proportion of our domestic expenditure, we provide a good system for the majority of citizens. While it may be that if one falls over on their bum in the USA with a very fat wallet in their back pocket that they can expect to receive very good care, my interests also lie in seeing that those of us who cannot afford to pay for such privileges are also treated with dignity.

As a legal member of the Mental Health Review Board I am frequently given the privilege to meet people whose lives have involved navigating many more ups and downs than most of us would ever countenance. Without a solid public health system many of those people would be lost in the system, their illnesses not properly managed and their lives made much more difficult than they need be. The same must apply to the general health system. Investing a little in preventing a greater deterioration in people's health may often prove to save a significant amount of money and also allow for a more humane and gentler society than a strict market based system appears to deliver.

With the introduction of the very significant Federal subsidies for private health insurance, Australia appears to moving away from its world famous Medicare model to wards the US 'user pays' model of health care. For anyone who is aware of former US President George Bush's decision to sign off on the US equivalent of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme in the USA for a much more expensive health system, the perils of providing an almost unlimited funding source for health care is

Ever since the introduction of Medicare by the Whitlam Labour Government, Australians taxpayers have been subject to a hypothecated Medicare Levy compulsorily imposed through the taxation system. The sting in the tail is that with the introduction of the Private Health Insurance Rebate Scheme, Australian taxpayers are now also subsiding those who can afford private health insurance. With an ageing population, increasing life expectancies, and increasing health care costs and expectations, it is argued that the public financing of the private health system is a way of keeping public health costs down.

On its own, this argument may have some merit, but if you take the view, as I do, that money pumped into a more expensive private system is likely to make less money avail abel to fund a more efficient public system.

For those of the Marianne Antoinette school, who observe that the rich and poor are equally entitled to either eat cake or to sleep under bridges, the incentive provided by better health care for people with more money, with the incentive being sustained for poorer people to earn more money. I don;t belong to that school. While I accept the need for motivation is needed for some people to contribute to society, I believe it is easier for rich people to see their gains as due to their own efforts alone and for significant inequality to allow damage to the society as a whole that everyone pays a great deal for. I also do not want to live in a society as vicious as those who let those fall so far that they cannot recover. Social democracies are compacts between their governments and people to mediate the exigencies of the market.

We have already seen many of those free markets advocates who gained greatly during boom times, but now whose fortunes have been tempered by the Global Financial Crisis now eagerly look to the governments they scorned readily seen those as to provide them a safety net they believe wasn't necessary for others. Greed has a consistency in serving the greedy, while absolving the same from providing the assistance they see as earned by themselves.

With my eyes having been checked out as OK, perhaps I can use my dilated pupils to see the world differently, and to be grateful that many people, many Australians believe in a fair go for and and are prepare to contribute to it. I count my selves among them.


Tomorrow, Friday 22 May is the last day for Victorian Green members to lodge their postal ballot for the Victorian Greens Lead Se ante Candidate for the next election. Please get your vote in if you can. The Lead Victorian Greens Senate candidate will have a great opportunity to make a difference to the future of the planet. I would love to be that person, having narrowly missed due to Labour and Democrat intransigence in 2004 electing Steve Fielding for Family First on 1.9% ahead of my vote of 8.9%. That is now old history. Student unionism, cross media ownership and alcopops tax laws are already in the Fielding bin.

With only a day of voting left, for those Greens not having voted so far, more information about what I stand for is available on my website at David Risstrom's 2009 Senate Nomination.

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17 MAY 2009


The people of Fremantle, Western Australia, have elected Adele Carles to the represent them in the Western Australian Parliament. The WA Greens website says this morning:

The Greens (WA) are proud to welcome Adele Carles to the Greens parliamentary team. Adele made history on the evening of Saturday 16 May 2009, becoming the first ever Greens candidate to win a Lower House seat in any State Parliament in Australia.

It is the first time the Greens have ever beaten the ALP on primary votes.

“The people of Fremantle have put the port city on the map, giving the Greens their first seat in the WA Legislative Assembly,” Adele said at the election night party.

“This is a victory for democracy. We have forever shattered the two-party myth in Australia. The voice of the community has finally come through in Fremantle. People have dared to look beyond the old parties which have continually let us down.”

“It has shaken the dominance of the old parties and sends a strong message around the country that people are ready for change. What we have seen tonight makes history, but it is also the shape of the future. Fremantle is going to be Australia’s first truly green city.”

This is a fantastic result for Adele. According to the Western Australian Electoral Commission website, Adele achieved a primary vote of 44.28%, the highest in a field of 11 candidates

Congratulations Adele on achieving what I understand to be the highest Green primary vote in an Australian State or Federal election. The Greens continue to emerge as the legitimate third party in Australian politics, consistently returning results that show there mature and long term approach to politics is being recognised as a real alternative to the conservatism of the Labor, Liberal and National parties around Australia.

We look forward to Adele putting the long term interests of the people of Fremantle fair and square in the centre of the political agenda. Well done WA Greens and the people placing trust in them.

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16 MAY 2009


I've just jumped on another train at Flinders St to home after travelling down from Castlemaine with five other Greens following the final Victorian Greens Meet the Candidates meeting. We had another nice meeting, with good people both in the audience and in front, talking about what could be, should be and will be. For those Greens not having voted so far, more information about what I stand for is available on my website at David Risstrom's 2009 Senate Nomination.

I wanted to thank all of those members and others who have taken the time to come to these meetings and have made efforts in the background to keep the wheels of democracy growing in the Greens. The Greens is a good party with a lot of good people. Many of them doing things quietly without any thought that anyone would notice there efforts. While we sometimes miss things, we often do notice but thank you less often than we should. So thank you. Thank you to everyone who does good things on this planet. Many things might best be described as needing maintenance. Things aren't always 'fixable' or 'solvable' but sometimes need occasional attention to make things well. Democracy is one of those beasts. Thanks to all those, who through their efforts make democracy doable and give me hope that a better world is not only possible, but indeed that we are already on the way.


As an Amnesty International member, I received the following disturbing news about developments concerning Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma. These issues are particularly concerning to me. I visited Burma in 2001 as part of an Ethics Fellowship, where I set myself the question "Does all it take for bad things to happen is for good people to do nothing." The answer as applied to this dilemma has resonance to many of the other possibilities for each of us to make a difference in the world.


We thought we’d seen it all.

Last night Burma's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi was arrested on trumped-up charges just two weeks before her house detention was due to expire. Coincidence? Or a cynical pretext by the military junta to put Burma’s leading democratic figure behind bars?

The freedom of the Burmese people now hangs in the balance and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) - made up of the countries neighbouring Burma - are crucially placed to make representations inside the country to prevent this desperate situation from deteriorating further.

Click here to email Dr Surin Pitsuwan, Secretary General of ASEAN to push for the release Aung San Suu Kyi

Aung San Suu Kyi was charged for breaching the conditions of her 19-year house arrest because an uninvited American man - identified as Mr John Yettaw - swam across a lake to her home in Rangoon and stayed there in secrecy for two days. She’s being held responsible for someone turning up at her door when she had no power to stop him. And what's more, why did the military fail to provide enough security to keep her safe from an intruder? The forthcoming trial on Monday smacks of a baseless attempt by the military junta to keep Aung San Suu Kyi in jail.

Please send your email to ASEAN now calling for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi

Prior to her trial Ms Suu Kyi has been taken to the maximum-security Insein prison in Rangoon where a number of other dissidents are held. She has recently been reported to suffer from low blood pressure and dehydration and she is not in a healthy state to fight her cause. It’s up to us to stand in her corner and fight for the freedom of the Burmese people.

Thank you for your efforts at this crucial moment in Burma's history. With an outpouring of support before the trial on Monday we have a unique opportunity to give a voice to the people who need their democratic leader now more than ever.

Claire Mallinson
National Director
Amnesty International Australia

PS. Aung San Suu Kyi represents thousands of political prisoners detained in Burma who also need our help. If you have sent your email already, please forward this email to at least two friends and maximise our impact during the next few days.

Act Now for Aung San Suu Kyi

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15 MAY 2009


The Victorian Greens Senate Preselection Process has its final Meet the Candidates meeting tomorrow at Castlemaine. Hannah is going to look after the ranch while I take the train to Castlemaine to meet the good people of the tinge Green. As my previous posts have evidenced, I've enjoyed the Meet the Candidates and would love to be pre-selected for the final seeing off of Family First Senator Steve Fielding at the next Federal election.

I've also just finished updating my Senate Watch page, which gives details on current Senate enquiries, and a reasonable background on how the Senate Committee system operates. You can see more by clicking on the underlined title David Risstrom's Senate Watch. For those visiting this page for the first time, information on my candidacy is available on my website at David Risstrom's 2009 Senate Nomination.


Environment Victoria and the Total Environment Centre have launched a new campaign for a national e-waste recycling scheme. This message is my re-writing of an email from Fraser Brindley, Production and Consumption Campaigner, Environment Victoria and from the recently launched Reborn website.
REBORN is calling on federal and state environment ministers to give televisions, computers and other old electronics a second life.
There are already over 168 million items of toxic e-waste in Australian landfill. With Australians continuing to buy new electronics, including digital TVs, this number will rise unless the government takes action.
TV and IT industry groups actually support a nation-wide ‘take-back’ and recycling scheme for e-waste. Visit and tell Peter Garrett you support e-waste recycling. With your help, we can stop e-waste going to landfill.

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14 MAY 2009


News is out that the Victorian State Government is planning to defund Reconciliation Victoria. I have taken this announcement from the Reconciliation Victoria website, and have included some information below it forwarded to me by email that will help you to take action.

In a meeting held today between representatives of the Victorian Department of Planning and Community Development (DPCD), Aboriginal Affairs Victoria (AAV) and Reconciliation Victoria Inc. (Rec Vic) the Brumby Government confirmed that it will no longer resource the reconciliation movement in Victoria by de-funding the state peak body, Reconciliation Victoria Inc.

Despite the Brumby Government's public commitment last year to 'closing the gap' in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander disadvantage and health outcomes, the Brumby Government appears to be uncommitted when it comes to the difficult task of addressing cultural misunderstanding in the general population. "If we don't close the gap in our relationships we will never close the gap in health outcomes," says Rec Vic CEO, Frank Hytten.

In an open letter to the State Government dated 24th April, high profile local Aboriginal filmmaker and musician Richard Frankland said, "We cannot let Reconciliation Victoria disappear, we do not need to see the back of it, we need it, not just Indigenous Australians, but all Australians. We need a vehicle to carry our voice into every loungeroom in Australia, we need a vehicle that carries out voice into the streets, we need to be reminded of not only where we have come from, but where we can go together."

In the face of much community support for Reconciliation Victoria, including receiving letters from Indigenous leaders, community, church and local reconciliation groups, the Brumby Government announced today its refusal to fund Reconciliation Victoria beyond its current funding period, due to expire on 30 June 2009.

Reconciliation Victoria, has been funded by the State Government for the last 7 years to the meagre tune of only $200,000 per annum, and has worked tirelessly to promote an inclusive Australia and one which encourages and educates non-Indigenous Australians to value the rich and vibrant living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Due to today's announcement, the Council of Reconciliation Victoria will be forced to close the organisation's office at the end of June.

Reconciliation in Victoria is needed! Acting Aboriginal Co-Chair of Reconciliation Victoria, Vicki Clark, asks the Government to explain, without a body like Reconciliation Victoria, "Who is going to continue this unfinished business?"

Media comment: Frank Hytten, Reconciliation Victoria CEO, 0432 345 652

Below is an Opinion Piece written to The Age newspaper, which was forwarded to me by email. The authors are Mikael Gorton, Chairperson, Equal opportunity and Human Rights Commission and Jill Gallagher, CEO, Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations.

Fading away – Reconciliation in Victoria

The Victorian Government has committed to ‘Closing the Gap’; the current 17 year life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, and also has a number of commendable policies directed at addressing the needs expressed by Indigenous people, some of which are being acted upon and others are in the process of translation to action.

However, there appears to be a policy and program vacuum in regard to addressing the attitudes and misunderstandings apparent in the wider community in regard to Indigenous people. This includes the fact that Reconciliation Victoria is again facing great uncertainty in regard to its meagre funding for 2009-10.

Reconciliation can perhaps best be defined by creating an image of what a reconciled community would look like. I would argue that this image has two parts.

Firstly, we will be able to claim that reconciliation has occurred when Aboriginal people live in an environment in which they can participate equally in all aspects of society and the ‘gap’ across all social and economic indicators are closed. To achieve this, the wider community, led by governments, need to work in partnership with Aboriginal people to improve access, equity and the delivery of services to Aboriginal people. Reconciliation Victoria sees this goal as crucial to its work. Reconciliation Victoria can assist to ensure that reconciliation solutions are Aboriginal driven and locally informed.

Secondly, we will have achieved reconciliation when Aboriginal people feel safe; and that their history and culture is understood and respected. In addition, fundamental to reconciliation, is that the wider community understand, acknowledge and deal with the deeply and culturally imbedded racism that affects the daily lives of Aboriginal people in Victoria. To achieve this, work will have to be done across non-Indigenous communities, with local government, non-government organisations, faith, ‘ethnic’, community and service groups, with schools and community and businesses. Reconciliation Victoria informs, engages and activates non-Indigenous people to think, understand and participate in actions that can lead to reconciliation.

A 2007 report by the Australian Medical Association found evidence of inherent discrimination in our health system, at least partly because the medical attention Indigenous people receive is culturally intolerant and unwelcoming. Professor Fran Baum recently reported on a three-year study conducted by Flinders University in South Australia, In Our Own Backyard, that found that discrimination based on race commonly led to health problems, including depression. She said that the finding “suggests that the life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians can't be closed unless racism is tackled”. She added that “only seven per cent of the people surveyed said they didn't experience racism regularly”. Another recent report, The Impact of Racism on Indigenous Health in Australia and Aotearoa: Towards a Research Agenda by the Cooperative Research Centre for Aboriginal Health argues that that a significant underlying cause of disadvantage and poor health in Aboriginal communities results from prevalence of racism and cultural misunderstanding in the general community.

Access to housing, employment, education, fair treatment by authorities, basic social and recreational services, and even going about ones daily business, like shopping or using public transport, can become unpleasant and even frightening. Race is a critical aspect of exclusion, magnetization and the creation of an under-class status for Indigenous people. In turn, this status becomes a clear social determinant of physical and mental well-being. Clearly there is a need to educate and inform non-Aboriginal Victorians – over 98% of the population – to increase their capability to respond to Aboriginal needs in order to create a safe environment.

Reconciliation Victoria plays a crucial role in working with Indigenous groups and people to better understand what is needed, and then develop policy and program ideas for government and others. The organisation works to promote such policy and programs in the mainstream community. This supports government efforts to close the gap on Aboriginal life expectancy and remove significant barriers to good health and well-being. Reconciliation Victoria has numerous program ideas for tackling racism and celebrating Aboriginal culture, and can make a significant contribution to sound policy development.

The issues for Reconciliation arise from 220 years of history. They will take more than a quick fix to resolve. Reconciliation should be a specific part of the work of the State Government and adequately, securely and recurrently funded as a ‘whole of government’ response. An organisation needs to be properly funded to cover this vast terrain, and must be funded adequately and securely, to enable organisations to build connections and networks, knowledge and expertise, develop and test projects and educational tools that work and can be replicated elsewhere.

Ultimately, this vision of Reconciliation can only be said to be achieved when a significant majority of Indigenous people living in Victoria feel safe, experience equality, respect and full participation in the life of our shared community. Until then, we need to keep working on both the social and material needs of the people who remain a part of the oldest living culture on this planet.


I've just come home from the Box Hill Meet the Candidates meeting for the Victorian Greens Senate Preselection process. The meeting was very well attended with the Box Hill Library Meeting Room holding somewhere near 50 members. The evening was well run and people seemed to leave with a sense that the Greens have a very good future, both through the strength of the candidates putting themselves forward and the members attending and questioning them.

The next and final meet the candidates meeting is due to be held in Castlemaine at midday on Saturday 16 May, where another opportunity for Country Greens to meet the candidates has been made possible by the efforts of a regional Greens branch.

For those Greens who have not already voted, votes must be in to the Returning Officer by Friday 22 May, where it is expected the votes will be counted on that day or soon after. For those Green members who have not yet voted, please make sure you do so.

Information on my candidacy is available on my website at David Risstrom's 2009 Senate Nomination.

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13 MAY 2009


The Federal Budget has been well analysed, leaving me with the question of was it an exercise of budgeting or investment?

My view is that the government decision to directly stimulate spending by issuing the $900 stimulus packages ahead of the budget was misplaced. Doing so is likely to boost demand and assist the retail sector, but in doing so, largely through the purchase of more foreign manufactured commodities will result in the majority of the expenditure providing a short term blip in activity, a net increase in imports of manufactured goods and a longer term deterioration in our balance of trade.

Putting much greater emphasis on infrastructure, education and public health would not necessarily create rapid economic activity seen to be a goal of the current government, but they would with little doubt create the foundations for a stronger and more productive community and infrastructure to support its activity.

As President of the Friends of the ABC (Victoria) it was good to see that the ABC did receive some of the allocations which Australians were promised, though it is clear that not nearly as much was hoped for those wanting the ABC to support Australian culture through ABC drama and local news and current affairs.

When more time allows I will make a more comprehensive analysis of the budget and what it means for Australia's long term sustainable future.

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12 MAY 2009


The Friends of the ABC held a film fundraiser at the lovely Sun Theatre in Yarraville last night, showing the Aussie drama 'My Year Without Sex.' THe film was great fun and well worth seeing. Another great film from Sarah Watts, who was responsible for 'Look Both Ways', 'My Year Without Sex' was a cheekily humourous look at what I suspect is much more everyday life than the soap and jewellery commercials could ever countenance with honesty.

It is so much fun to be sitting in a cinema seeing local scenes, local understandings and people being people. And only one car crash in a film.

Go see 'My Year Without Sex' and see what you think. If tonight's Budget announcements support the ABC in the way it once was, perhaps we'll see more Australian drama, rather than feeling that slow seep into the torpor of being more at home in Hollywood or London. Like Peter Allen, I look forward to calling Australia home.

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11 MAY 2009


The Sun Theatre in Ballarat Street Yarra vile is warming up its projectionist lens for tonights Friends of the ABC film fundraiser showing of the Aussie drama 'My Year Without Sex.' Entry is by donation with the film set to kick off at 6:30 tonight, Monday May 11.

Quotes I have lifted from the films own website include

"Defiantly celebratory" from 'The Age', "Funny and Heart-Wrenching" from Michaela Boland of the Australian Financial Review, and "Sarah Watts has delivered the goods wonderfully and in more ways than one… refreshing, funny and irresistible… delightful, warm… a crisp, witty script… a sharp, fresh and clever take which hasn't been done as well since the Castle" from Stan James in the Adelaide Advertiser.

Please feel free to come along. Entry is not limited to Friends of the ABC members, as we will certainly be keen to invite you to join and give you quick insight into how important we see a healthy ABC is for all of us. I will be giving a short 5 minute speel just before the beginning of the film to that effect, and if time allows between now and then, I may even include a joke or two, perhaps even one possibly funny.

A You Tube intro can be found here: My Year Without Sex.

As of writing at 1pm today, there are still some seats left, so if you are interested in coming tonight click on the following link, Friends of The ABC FIlm Fundraiser My Year Without Sex

The details are: Film : My Year Without Sex - Friends of the ABC
Date and Time : Monday, May 11, 2009 at 6:30 PM
Venue : Sun Theatre
Address : 8 Ballarat Street Yarraville VIC 3013

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10 MAY 2009


I'm sitting in Yarra Bend Park after a short stop at the Town Hall Hotel, Errol St, Nth Melbourne following today's Greens 'Meet the Senate Candidates' meeting. As for all events so far, today's meeting was fun. Candidates were given the choice of four scenarios and approximately one hour to prepare a speech. I choose to go the a meeting fo the Swan Hill Climate Action Group, who in the scenario were working towards getting a large solar energy array for the Swan Hill region. Other scenarios dealt with issues of defence spending and changes to copyright for Australian art and writing. The presentation session was also followed up by a question and answer opportunity where participants could put ad hoc questions to candidates.

The final two meet the candidate sessions will be Thursday night in Box Hill and Saturday at Castlemaine. It is great that the Greens ask all members in the electorate to vote on who is there candidate and it is also good to see that the competition for and caliber of candidate appears to be very good.

For those Green members who have not yet voted, please make sure you do so, as your voice is important. More information on my candidacy is available on my website at David Risstrom's 2009 Senate Nomination.

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9 MAY 2009


The Federal Government's failure to deliver real measures to avoid dangerous climate change are spine chilling. As a Green Councillor on Melbourne City Council, I introduced and got on track for achieving 20% reductions in 2000 levels by 2010 by the community and 30% reductions for council operations. The Federal Government, elected on promises to take the threat of dangerous climate seriously, are now undermining many of the things needed to make that possible. And further today, yet more news of a further Antarctic ice shelf on the brink of breaking away from the main ice body where it will increasingly melt and contribute to dangerous international sea rise.

David Glanz and Philip Sutton, co-authors of the great book 'Climate Code Red' have both gone public on their concern over the Federal Government's stance and some of the responses to it.

David Glanz authored an excellent blog piece on the Climate Code Red Blob on the implications of the government's failure. titled "Has Kevin Rudd taken "a significant step forward on climate change"? The article, which can be seen be clicking on the highlighted title, begins by saying,

"Kevin Rudd's announced changes to the proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme has again split the climate movement, and this time it's very serious, with three large, rusted-on-to-Labor groups running cover for an appalling policy that won't guarantee a reduction in Australian emissions for decades."

Philip Sutton has written an open letter on the very, very soft stance the Australian Conservation Foundation has appeared to have taken to the Federal announcement that they will further delay the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme and further give assistance to polluting industries to clean up their act. I have reproduced the letter in the form it was forwarded to me by email via fellow Greens member Janet Rice.

Open letter to ACF

As someone active on the climate issue and as a long standing member of ACF and a past ACF Councillor I was dismayed when I heard that ACF had endorsed the Federal Government's revised but still fatally flawed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. But dismay turned to outrage when I heard that this fateful commitment was made by ACF's Director without consultation with either the organisation's Board or Council. 

The Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme proposed by the Federal Government is incapable of dealing effectively with the massive and urgent threat to humanity and all life on the planet posed by climate change. The CPRS blocks effective action for the next 10 years or more - the very years in which we should be engaging in a 'wartime' mobilisation of the economy to end our use of fossil fuels and to create the capacity to take billions of tonnes of excess carbon dioxide back out of the air. And not only will the CPRS not solve the problem it is meant to address but the public will be forced to pay many, many millions of dollars to 'compensate' the major polluters. On top of that the CPRS provides no effective leadership in the context of the Copenhagen negotiations - having a derisory 5% target for unilateral action and a heavily qualified 25% upper limit on reductions - is not a leadership position once the science of climate change is taken into account. 

For ACF to support this disastrous policy shows that its administration has frankly lost the plot. It has failed its prime purpose - to stand up for the environment. It has failed in its duty of care. 

Unless ACF takes immediate action to reverse its misguided policy I feel compelled to resign as an ACF member and I would encourage others to do the same. 


Philip Sutton, ACF member for 36 years, Councillor 1973-1976, author of Climate Code Red: The case for emergency action.

The Australian voting public was very clear that they waned our government to effect necessary action to avoid dangerous climate change. The increasingly lack of resolve of the General Government leads one to conclude that the Government has again been captured by the interests of polluting industries, many of whom have a long standing history of only acting in the communities interests when required to do so. We elected governments to take those measures. We should let them know when they fail to do so.

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5 MAY 2009


I have just come from listening to a great breakfast talk by Stephen Mayne, publisher of Stephen, now Cr. Stephen Mayne of Manningham City Council, is a great speaker and advocate for minority shareholder interests. Self described as Australia's leading shareholder activist, Stephen has an imbued irreverence for authority that many imagined the Liberal Party once stood for.

Stephen's talk, one of a number of great talks organised by my barrister's clerk, Clerk Green, gave a great deal of meat to the vegetarian bones of Australia's true budgetary position. According to Stephen, Australia needs to 'take a haircut', having lived for a good deal of its recent history on the benefits of a minerals and natural resources bounty we inherited. Stephen also concluded that although Australia's profligate banking cartel has been gouging Australian consumers for far too long, there were benefits in having four of the world's eight AAA rated banks amongst our local fold. Stephen also further speculated that the USA economy was unlikely to collapse under its huge current debt, mainly because of the vast private and corporate wealth supporting and ultimately underwriting it into the future.

I ad wanted to ask Stephen a question along the lines of whether the twentieth century German social theorist Max Weber was correct in his conclusion that modern societies would become so drawn into the gaze of profit and loss accounting that it would lose sight of the other real world factors that ultimately drove the economy and the world. Time didn't allow the question to be asked, so it is something I will have to take up with Stephen some other time. No doubt though. A very good talk by Stephen Mayne that even justified the 6:30 am start to hear it.



I thought I would pass on some advice I received recently from Gabrielle on dealing with stress. It looks lovely!

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4 MAY 2009


I congratulate the Victorian State Government for deciding to adopt a free bike scheme for the City of Melbourne. I tried to get the same or similar scheme adopted in 2004 prior to the end of my term as a Green Councillor. I have taken some of the details from my web page Bike Borrowing Outfit For the City that I promoted the idea on at the time. The idea was initially prompted by fellow Green and keen cyclist Peter Campbell, and further encouraged by discussions I had in 2003 with the Copenhagen Executive Mayor and Environment Mayor, who were very encouraging about the success of bike borrowing in their City, and the potential to bring it to Melbourne.



This is an idea based on the very successful bicycle borrowing scheme in Copenhagen, Denmark and a program running in Zug, Switzerland. The idea is similar to that operating for shopping trolleys at shopping centres. People can come to the city, put a coin into a slot at one of the many bike bays around the city in order to unlock and bike and helmet, use the bike within the city boundaries for an unlimited time, and when they return the bike to any bike bay, they will receive a coin back. The bikes that are borrowed would most likely be heavy duty, durable bikes which are a good form of inner city transport, but less of a target for theft than more expensive bikes may be. Distinctive colouring and advertising could be used to identify the bikes and to contribute to the running costs of the scheme.

The bikes could be fitted with carrying bags that would allow people to do their shopping in and around the city. They could then take another form of transport to wherever they wish to go out of the city.

The bike borrowing scheme could also operate in some areas where the bikes are borrowed from a person who maintains the bikes. This would allow higher quality bikes to provided for those who wish to use them. In Switzerland, this approach is used and is based in an old converted bus, where people are asked to leave an ID win order to secure the return of the more expensive bicycles. Maintenance of the bikes in Switzerland is done by homeless and underprivileged people, which provides a variety of benefits to themselves and the scheme. Locks may also be provided with the more expensive bikes, which would be returned with the bikes.

A bike borrowing scheme in the City would be a great way to increase mobility around the city without increasing congestion.

In 2004 I visited Copenhagen and stayed for a few days with the person who helped to introduce free bikes into Copenhagen. I also spoke with J. C. Decaux in Paris about bringing a free bike scheme to Melbourne and following that approach, J. C. Decal put a proposal to the City of Melbourne for consideration. The Copenhagen scheme is being offered to the City of Melbourne free fo charge by having advertising placed on the bicycles, while the J. C. Decaux approach is for more expensive bikes that are released from lockable racks by the use of an issued credit card. Today, the Victorian State Government has just announced a $5 million bike scheme for the Central Activities District, which appears to be the final actioning of the idea I put forward more than five years ago while a Councillor at the City of Melbourne.

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3 MAY 2009


Having just returned from a Sunday morning screening of the new Australian film Samson and Delilah, my emotions remain a little at sea. A great film I think best seen without expectations, Samson and Delilah takes on a journey of two young aboriginal people living in Central Australia. It is a well made film with a lot of confronting observations that I hope will help us all think of things we can do personally to make life fairer for more people.

Peter Campbell, a friend and one of the other Victorian Green Senate Pre-Selection Candidates discussed the new movement called Transition Towns in one of his answers to a question about Peak Oil and Climate Change. I thought I would provide some background for Transition Towns, which is a new movement with similarities to Sustainability Street, offering a great deal of promise for a needed transition to communities heading towards a future of fossil fuel scarcity. Have a look at the Transition Towns website and see if the ideas there interest you.

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2 MAY 2009


Today at the Old Geelong Courthouse Cafe was the first of the Victorian Green Meet the Candidates Meetings, where Greens members and the public could meet Senate Preselection Candidates. The Greens party has a tradition of keeping its reselections processes open and accountable to both members and the community as a way of making sure the party remains. honest to its principles.

It was great for me to be back talking to members as a potential candidate again and to be discussing and applying issues of ethics to practical scenarios. I made a decision to limit my public interaction with the party while I was active as President fo the Friends of the ABC (Victoria), while has over recent time s meant I have missed many of the activities that I would otherwise been involved in.

With a number of Meet The Candidate meeting in the next few weeks, as I have always sought to do, I will try to keep visitors to this site up to date with what is occurring. The next scheduled Meet the Candidate meeting is set for midday next Saturday in Tooradin, where we will have the chance to meet members from the eastern branches of the Greens. I am looking forward to a very busy time. Please visit my David Risstrom's Senate Nomination page by clicking on the underline text if you want to know more about me and what I stand for.

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28 APRIL 2009


I've recently updated my David Risstrom Senate Watch page, providing a lot of extra information on current enquiries. Having maintained the page for a number of years, my long term aim is to provide good links between individuals, community groups and current Senate inquiries they are involved in. Please have a look at My Senate Watch page and give me some feedback on what you think and whether it is useful.

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27 APRIL 2009


Hannah, my friend Sue and I ventured down to Brighton beach on Sunday afternoon amidst a fantastic Melbourne storm. The sea was lashing against the coast in the sort of scenes usually preserved for the 6 pm news. It was fantastic to be amongst so much water and to see the sea so alive. My plans for a leisurely swim now tucked neatly away in my speedos, Hannah and I braved some of the lapping surf as all good boys and their canine companions must do. Thanks to the generosity of some good camera wielding people on the beach, Bianca and Silvia Voigt, I have included a couple of snaps of quieter parts of our adventure.

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26 APRIL 2009


Listening to Peter Singer on a recently podcast Late Night Live with Philip Adams led me to a new micro-finance website called which I wanted to tell you about. Kiva allows you to loan small amounts of money to people online who then pay it back according to an agreed payment plan. I decided to loan some money via Kiva after signing the pledge on the Life You Can Save webpage, which I described below.

Seven years ago I developed a policy called 1% For Humanity. The idea was stimulated by Peter Singer's book,One World: The Ethics of Globalisation, authored by Peter Singer, published by Text Media, Melbourne, Australia, but is something I had had in mind for a while before reading Peter's book. As a Melbourne City Councillor, the idea then was that the citizens of the City of Melbourne and beyond donate 1% of their taxable income to an organisation of their choice that assists developing countries. You can see the details by clicking on the hot linked title above.



By its own description, Kiva is the world's first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend directly to unique entrepreneurs around the globe. Kiva's mission is to connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty. I've cut and paste the following information off the webpage so that you can see how it operates.


The people you see on Kiva's site are real individuals in need of funding - not marketing material. When you browse entrepreneurs' profiles on the site, choose someone to lend to, and then make a loan, you are helping a real person make great strides towards economic independence and improve life for themselves, their family, and their community. Throughout the course of the loan (usually 6-12 months), you can receive email journal updates and track repayments. Then, when you get your loan money back, you can relend to someone else in need.

Kiva partners with existing expert microfinance institutions. In doing so, we gain access to outstanding entrepreneurs from impoverished communities world-wide. Our partners are experts in choosing qualified entrepreneurs. That said, they are usually short on funds. Through Kiva, our partners upload their entrepreneur profiles directly to the site so you can lend to them. When you do, not only do you get a unique experience connecting to a specific entrepreneur on the other side of the planet, but our microfinance partners can do more of what they do, more efficiently.

Kiva provides a data-rich, transparent lending platform. We are constantly working to make the system more transparent to show how money flows throughout the entire cycle, and what effect it has on the people and institutions lending it, borrowing it, and managing it along the way. To do this, we are using the power of the internet to facilitate one-to-one connections that were previously prohibitively expensive. Child sponsorship has always been a high overhead business. Kiva creates a similar interpersonal connection at much lower costs due to the instant, inexpensive nature of internet delivery. The individuals featured on our website are real people who need a loan and are waiting for socially-minded individuals like you to lend them money.

Having received my $900 tax bonus, seemed to be a good way of sharing some of the benefit amongst those who have shown the initiative to help themselves but who may not have had the good luck to be borne into a rich society as Australians have. I've loaned money to four projects run by women in Uganda, Tanzania, Bolivia and Peru. I will be looking for more projects in the future, and would love to see an Australian indigenous opportunity I could fund. I'll keep you posted on how things are going, but in the meantime, please visit Kiva and see what you think of it yourself. Like me, you might even find yourself getting a great deal of joy out of loaning some money through Kiva to those who really need it.



While you are in the mood, can I suggest you also consider visiting the website The Life You Can Save. The idea is simple, as this extract describes:

If we could easily save the life of a child, we would. For example, if we saw a child in danger of drowning in a shallow pond, and all we had to do to save the child was wade into the pond, and pull him out, we would do so. The fact that we would get wet, or ruin a good pair of shoes, doesn’t really count when it comes to saving a child’s life.

UNICEF, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, estimates that about 27,000 children die every day from preventable, poverty-related causes. Yet at the same time almost a billion people live very comfortable lives, with money to spare for many things that are not at all necessary. (You are not sure if you are in that category? When did you last spend money on something to drink, when drinkable water was available for nothing? If the answer is “within the past week” then you are spending money on luxuries while children die from malnutrition or diseases that we know how to prevent or cure.)

The Life You Can Save – both the book and this website – seek to change this. If everyone who can afford to contribute to reducing extreme poverty were to give a modest proportion of their income to effective organizations fighting extreme poverty, the problem could be solved. It wouldn’t take a huge sacrifice.

But first we need to change the culture of giving.

Research has shown that people are more likely to give if they know that others are giving. So we need to be upfront about our giving. The Life You Can Save - the book – asks readers to come to this website to pledge that they will meet a standard set out in the last chapter – the standard you can find on the pledge page on this website. Will you take the pledge, and thereby encourage others to do the same?

By visiting The Life You Can Save website, understanding and thinking about the ideas it suggests, signing the pledge and doing something about it (like loaning money through or trying the ideas I suggest in 1% For Humanity, or making your own calls on how best you can help, you can be part of a better world.

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22 APRIL 2009


Federal Communications Minister Senator Stephen Conroy issued a media release today announcing the Government's commitment to establishing a dedicated digital ABC television channel. Understood to be one on nine initiatives promoted by the 2020 Summit held in 2008, the announcement is great news for a young Australia. A copy of the release is below.


Digital children's channel for ABC

The Rudd Government today announced a commitment to establish a dedicated ABC children's digital television channel.

"The ABC has always played a strong role in Australia's national identity and I expect the new children's channel will provide significant cultural and social benefits for Australian children," the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy said.

"This new digital channel will offer high-quality educational, commercial-free viewing options for Australian families."

The Rudd Government's commitment to a digital ABC children's channel forms part of its response to the Australia 2020 Summit announced by the Prime Minister today.

The new channel will be the only dedicated children's channel available free to Australian homes and will operate in addition to, rather than replace, the ABC's existing children's programming on ABC1 and ABC2.

The channel will be delivered digitally, providing Australian families with more great new television content and a further reason to switch to digital.

"A new digital channel specialising in children's content is a great example of the benefits of getting ready for digital television," Senator Conroy said.

"The ABC Children's Channel will broadcast child-appropriate content for 15 hours per day and will be complemented by a variety of interactive elements and online content."

While there is no detail about money being allocated to the commitment, I welcome the decision the Government has made. Australian children deserve to have access to a commercial free high quality television channel.

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18 APRIL 2009


I am nominating for pre-selection to be the Victorian Greens Lead Senate Candidate for the next federal election. As Victoria's first elected Green I believe it is important that elected Greens keep contact with members and the community we serve. With your support and that of the more than a quarter of a million Victorians voters who supported me in the 2004 federal election, once elected, I pledge to continue to work for and with you to give Victorians the Green voice needed to deal with the democratic, social and environmental challenges we face.

For the past five years I have created and maintained David Risstrom's Senate Watch, which provides information on current Senate enquiries and where available, details to help you understand the issues behind the enquiry.

More details on my nomination are available on David Risstrom's Senate Nomination page by clicking in the underlined title.

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17 APRIL 2009


After having my computer equipment and my back up systems stolen, I have experience an even longer period of senescence than I anticipated. I apologise to those of you who had been loyal visitors to Dave's News and Views in the past.

Rosa the immediate past Melbourne City Council Watchdog and Char dog of the Senate Oversight Committee is now resting in the backyard. With her death as difficult as it was, a further three years have passed before the moisture of her black cold nose has entered the internet. While I have to check her availability with her secretary, I am anticipating Hannah the Hound will be assisting me.

I'll aim to keep my usual range of news and views on current affairs and human endeavours up to date as much as is manageable. Your contributions are welcome at any time by emailing me at David Risstrom. I'll endeavour to respond as soon as possible.

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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.