NEWS AND VIEWS OF MELBOURNE CITY CR. DAVID RISSTROM: VICTORIAN GREENS LEAD SENATE CANDIDATE
WITH COMMENTS BY ROSA RISSTROM: MELBOURNE CITY COUNCIL POLICY WATCHDOG AND CHAIRDOG OF THE SENATE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE
David Risstrom and Rosa, the Greens' Melbourne City Council Policy Watchdog and Chairdog of the Senate Oversight Committee, keep a watching brief on news, ideas, issues and policies. If there are issues you think need to be discussed, please contact David at email@example.com or Rosa at firstname.lastname@example.org. Rosa last updated this site on 8 October 2004.
30 SEPTEMBER 2004
RUSSIA SET TO RATIFY THE KYOTO CLIMATE CHANGE PROTOCOL - THE HEAT IS ON AUSTRALIA!
The BBC have reported that the Russian government is expected to announce on Thursday that the country will ratify the Kyoto Protocol. Russia's ratification will mean 55 countries covering 55% of the Kyoto target will nave ratified, thus bringing it into effect. Australia and the United States will be the stand out countries, keeping their head in the sand when national leadership is desperately needed. It will also mean Australia will miss out on new industry and trading opportunities that will damage our economy. Greens policy is clear that ratifying Kyoto is a minimum,and much more is needed to avert major damage and disruption that climate change will bring.
The full BBC article is available online at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3702640.stmat.
29 SEPTEMBER 2004
GREENS ONLINE, FAMILY FIRST DIRTY WORK AND DOCTORS HUSBANDS
I issued the following media releases today.
GREENS TAKE FAMILY FIRST 'DIRTY WORK' TO AEC
The Greens Victorian number 1 Senate candidate David Risstrom today said he was very disappointed with the action of the Assemblies of God backed Family First Party in launching a dishonest federal advertising campaign against the Greens.
The Greens have lodged a formal complaint with the AEC and will consider further legal action against Family First today
The advertisements make the deceitful claim that the Greens are "giving my kids easy access to marijuana" and wish to legalize heroin and ecstasy. The claims are blatantly untrue, as the Greens have no such policy of legalizing illegal drugs, and none of the party’s drugs policies are aimed at children.
Risstrom said the Greens have no problem with genuine scrutiny of the party’s policies, but do object to blatant fear mongering and dishonesty from the fledging Family First Party.
"This is a new party that's doing the dirty work of the Howard government," said Risstrom
Greens leader Bob Brown also warned that the real agenda behind Family First was to deliver John Howard complete control of the federal Senate. Senator Brown said he was concerned at the prospect of the Coalition controlling the Senate in partnership with the religious Right.
"They (Family First) are being quite cocky about it, saying they have an arrangement with the Prime Minister," he said. "They are really becoming in this election a central part of the Prime Minister's design to turn the Senate into a rubber stamp."
Risstrom said that the Greens are committed to religious diversity, and the real issue here is dishonesty in advertising.
"It is disappointing that a party putting itself forward as being all about traditional values and honesty would enter the fray with a national advertising campaign based on lies."
"They should be called the Family Second party, because their primary interest seems to be more about spreading lies aimed at damaging the Greens," said Risstrom
Greens national campaign coordinator Andrew Burke will today seek a meeting with the AEC to follow up on the complaint. If the AEC fails to act, the Greens will consider a court injunction.
GREENS FIRST POLITICAL PARTY IN AUSTRALIA TO ADVERTISE THROUGH ONLINE MEDIA
The Greens Victorian number 1 Senate candidate David Risstrom today said he was proud to be part of a forward thinking progressive political party, demonstrating by the Greens willingness to advertise online throughout the 2004 federal election.
“This is a great way to ensure the public have the best opportunity possible to read the parties policies by clicking through to our national website,” said Risstrom.
“It is a direct counter attack to the media misrepresentation of the Greens policies that has occurred in some sections of the media,” said Risstrom.
Greens Bennelong candidate Andrew Wilkie was the first Greens candidate to launch an advertising campaign on the Sydney Morning Herald earlier this month. The Victorian Greens have now launched a series of web advertisements running on The Age website election news pages until election day October 9.
Online political advertising has become very popular in the United States where the political potential of the internet has been more fully utilised in the political sphere.
Early traffic reports indicate the advertisements have generated remarkably high click through rates.
TRADITIONAL LIBERAL SEATS GOING MARGINAL
The traditional Liberal seat of Kooyong in inner east Melbourne is looking increasingly marginal as voters flock to the Greens. But in a twist on the 'Doctors Wives' syndrome, Greens number 1 Senate candidate David Risstrom and Greens Kooyong candidate Peter Campbell partners are both female doctors.
David Risstrom, Greens Victorian lead Senate Candidate stated that “the traditional Liberal seat of Kooyong is going marginal and going Green.”
“The people of Kooyong are sick of being taken for granted by both major parties. Safe seats don’t attract much attention or spending - the major parties tend to lavish all their election goodies only on marginal seats.
“Thankfully, Kooyong is now approaching marginal status, largely due to the rapidly growing Green vote.”
In the 2001 Federal Election, Kooyong had the highest Green vote for any conservative held seat in Australia. Previous Greens Kooyong candidate celebrity philosopher Peter Singer scored a massive 28 percent in the seat in 1994.
Issues turning traditional Liberal voters to the Greens in the area include opposition to Howard's stance on the Iraq war, his demonstrated lack of compassion toward refugees, and dishonesty in government.
“Many people are disenchanted with major party politics and are looking for honesty and integrity in government. Peter Campbell, if elected for Kooyong will provide fresh and accountable representation for Kooyong and its constituents”, Mr. Risstrom said.
“This is not just a ‘doctors wives’ phenomenon, it is large and growing proportion across the entire electorate, including students, professional, parents and the elderly. Doctors Husbands also turning against the Liberals. Many voters eagerly await the Greening of Kooyong” Mr. Risstrom said.
26 SEPTEMBER 2004
NO WAY IN NOWINGI
I will be visiting north west Victoria and the proposed site for the Nowingi waste dump this week as part of my visits across city, rural and regional Victoria. I have put significant work into dealing with the causes and amount of waste we produce, rather than allowing the problem to become a larger and more difficult burden for communities, the environment and future generations.
* As Vice President of the International Council for Local Environment Initiatives, I supported ICLEI's international Ecoprocurement program. Click here for more information.
* As Director of the MAPS purchasing scheme, I introduced green purchasing to the organisation. Click here for more information
* I introduced a Green Purchasing scheme across Australia by brining ICLEI and MAPS together to provide green purchasing to a hundreds of million dollar local government purchasing scheme. Click here for more information
* As Director of the Western Regional Waste Management Group, I worked co-operatively to introduce the potential for integrated waste management across metropolitan western Melbourne as a means of greatly increasing the opportunity for recycling.
* While Chair of the Melbourne City Council Environment Committee, the City of Melbourne became the first Waste Wise municipality in Victoria. Click here for more information
* As Melbourne City Councillor, I introduced the goal of Zero Waste For Melbourne. Click here for more information
As a Victorian Australian Conservation Foundation councillor, I will be presenting the following motion that was forwarded from a community member.
That the ACF opposes the location of the proposed Waste Management Facility at Nowingi. An industrial site located between two national parks is oppositional to the values identified through National Parks, and is contrary to the vision of the local community. The ACF believes that the determination to truck chemical waste 500km from its source creates the potential for subsequent environmental damage. The ACF requests of the Victorian State Government that the decision to locate a Waste Management Facility at the Nowingi site be rescinded due to the inappropriateness of the site. The site has never been gazetted as industrial land; the decision if enacted diminishes the environmental values inherent within the area. Further, the decision to locate such an industrial site was not co-created with local communities, who have demonstrated a clear opposition to the location.
That the ACF will work with local action groups, including Mildura Rural City Council to ensure that a more appropriate location for a Waste Management Facility is established."
25 SEPTEMBER 2004
BROTHERHOOD OF ST LAURENCE ASSESSMENT PLACES GREENS AHEAD ON SOCIAL POLICY
This email was received from the Brotherhood of St. Laurence: I would like to draw your attention to the Brotherhood of St Laurence’s evaluation of the four main parties’ social policies. Our research department has assessed the ALP, Democrats, Greens and Liberal/Nationals Coalition policies on a range of issues including education, aged care, employment, Indigenous Australians and affordable housing. Please find the media release attached. This includes a summary of the findings. The policy evaluation is also posted on our social election campaign website www.AdvanceAustraliaFairly.com.au
The Brotherhood issued the following release:
Major parties fail social policy test
The Brotherhood of St Laurence today accused the major political parties a policy failure in addressing social problems in Australia.
Brotherhood Social Policy Coordinator, Dr Steve Ziguras, says an analysis of the policies of the major parties on employment, social security, housing, education, health and Indigenous Australians reveals, at best, a piecemeal approach to important social issues.
“Australia is crying out for social investment to create a more inclusive society but so far this election has ignored this in favour of tax cuts,” Dr Ziguras says.
“If our leaders really had a social vision, they would be talking about tax as a demonstration of our commitment to each other, not as a burden to be reduced.
“An inclusive Australia requires policies that invest in more affordable childcare, in housing for low-income earners, full time jobs, training and work experience for jobless families, better education opportunities and an overhaul of the family payment system to reduce debt.
“But the major parties seem to be getting things back to front – offering tax cuts then spending what’s left over on services.
“This focus on tax cuts also ignores the fact that Australia is one of the lowest taxed countries in the OECD – yet both parties perpetuate the myth that we have high taxes or that they need to be reduced.”
Dr Ziguras says that while the major parties attempted to improve their policies around health and family payments other areas such as employment and Indigenous Australia suffer from a patchy approach lacking direction and funding details.
“The Coalition and the ALP increased the availability of bulk billing but there was no guarantee that doctors fees would not rise. Labor’s housing policy helps low-income earners but lacks enough funding while the Coalition does not address housing affordability at all for this group of Australians.
“Similarly, the ALP has invested more in the public education system and in dental health services but the Coalition has offered little change to its existing approach,” Dr Ziguras says.
A summary of the Brotherhood’s social policy analysis follows. To view the full policy analysis document go to www.advanceaustraliafairly.com.au.
23 SEPTEMBER 2004
SENATE SET TO BECOME THE INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS BATTLEGROUND
Greens Senate candidate John Kaye put out the following release on the need for unionists to vote Green in the Senate as a way of avoiding the pragmatic deal preferencing right wing anti-union parties ahead of the Greens.
Senate set to become the industrial relations battleground
Voters should pay careful attention to the impact the next Senate will have on the future of industrial relations in Australia, according to The Greens.
Greens NSW lead Senate candidate John Kaye said "Unprincipled preference deals by both the ALP and the Democrats could result in the election of minor party senators who are hostile to the union movement.
"Whichever party wins government, the Senate will play a key role in determining the future of Australian workplaces.
"John Howard will use his party's launch tomorrow to promise yet another set of attacks on unions.
"The Senate would then be the only hope to block the dismantling of the hard won gains of the union movement and unions themselves.
"Voters need to look carefully not only at the industrial relations policies of each party, but at their group voting tickets.
"ALP and Democrat voters in NSW need to be aware that those parties are directing their Senate preferences to Liberal for the Forests and Christian Democrat Fred Nile. Neither of these small party candidates could be expected to vote against Howard's next round of reforms.
"The Greens Senate preferences lock out the right wing, anti-union parties.
"The Democrats have already passed many of Howard's reforms through the Senate. Labor, under pressure from the business community, has been steadily backing away from any re-regulation of the labour market.
"Greens Senators will work hard to stop any further damage to the ability of unions to protect workers and will be pressuring Labor to go further down the path of undoing the excesses of the last 8 years," Mr Kaye said.
23 SEPTEMBER 2004
MAJOR PARTIES SLOW TO KICK GOALS FOR OUR FORESTS
Only a day away from the big game, the AFL Grand Final , both major parties appear to be caught in the back pocket fumbling the ball on their way to saving jobs and our forests in Tasmania and around Australia. With a front page Tasmanian Mercury article apparently being required before Tasmanian Premier Paul Lennon would meet to discuss Auspine's $450 million investment boost 900 job forestry package, and logging of our Victorian old growth forests for royalties as little as 11 cents per tonne, it appears our environment remains as an expendable election issue, rather than the frail life support system upon which all else depends. I issued these media releases to mark the day. Go Collingwood … (next year?)!
Howard equivocates on forests
David Risstrom No.1 Greens Candidate for the Senate said today “John Howard has recently made some encouraging statements on protecting iconic Tasmanian native forests such as the Tarkine and the Styx, but it looks like he may be now losing his nerve. If Howard caves in on forests due to union and Gunns Limited pressure it will not only be a national disaster, it will be a national disgrace” Mr. Risstrom said.
“If Howard caves in on forests due to union and Gunns Limited pressure it will not only be a national disaster, it will be a national disgrace” Mr. Risstrom said.
“The tired old mantra of ‘jobs before forests’ is simply not valid any more. Chief operations officer Andrew Jakab, from Sawmiller Auspine, has just announced a $450 million plan to reinvigorate Tasmania's forest industry - but he cannot get a politician to even consider it.
“The fact is that there are enough jobs in the plantation and associated value-adding industries to provide employment for the relatively few people engaged in clear felling and woodchipping of native forests. There is also huge potential for employment in forest-based ecotourism - but not if we chop our forests down” Mr. Risstrom said.
“It will be a sad day for our forests if the CFMEU and Gunns Limited get their way and are allowed to destroy what is left of Tasmania’s iconic native forests that are not protected from the ravages of an industry out of control.
“Polls have clearly shown that over 80% of the public want our iconic native forests protected, and that many will consider this when casting their vote.
“Lets hope that the Government and the Opposition both have the vision to protect Tasmania’s iconic forests and put industry on a sound footing for the future based on our burgeoning plantation resources. This is a win-win solution - we just need the political will to implement it” Mr. Risstrom said.
History in the making, as Greens Take Biggest Shot at Goal
Greens number 1 Senate candidate David Risstrom said today that he is expecting a tip top on-field showing for the national green team that is 'nothing less than history in the making'.
Risstrom said that having spent their time in the Local, District and State Leagues, The Australian Greens have clearly reached critical mass in the National League this election. A series of solid on-field performances and several major league election wins in the Federal Senate and the House of Representatives, have catapulted the Greens to national prominence.
"With the prospect of further wins nationally, the Greens are fast becoming crowd favourites. Approaching the final siren, things are going the Greens' way in their stoush against more seasoned opponents.”
"The Greens most senior player, Senator Bob Brown - the star veteran whose career was launched with scrappy, gutsy performances among the forests and rivers of Tasmania - shows every sign leading the team to greater heights,” said Risstrom.
Brown's wiley and youthful Senate vice-captain, Kerry Nettle, has so far demonstrated ample dexterity with the ball and impressive knowledge of the game. She will continue to draw the attention of the commentators with her courage and tenacity in taking the contest to the bigger players.
David Risstrom, the Victorians' first draft pick, is certainly the newcomer to watch. With a solid training record, a fine political pedigree and some impressive wins the in local government league, Risstrom will bring a more strategic edge to the Greens' game plan. Watch out for this contender for the Norm Smith Best and Fairest medal in the Senate.
"Gemma Pinnell, the true dark horse of the team, has so far been underestimated by opponents, but not in this match. She has opposite number Lindsay Tanner running scared on the left wing, and rightly so. Her previous performance in the State League grand final had her close to winning, but she was pipped just before the final siren. This time, with the crowd behind the Greens underdogs, and with a solid support crew behind her, Pinnell's chances of prevailing over her opponent should not be underestimated.”
“Despite major league sledging from the big players - watch this space. Its green grand final history in the making."
22 SEPTEMBER 2004
BALLARAT GREENS OFFICE SEES THE ARRIVAL OF THE KELLY GANG
Over the last two days I have been visiting Seymour, Broadford and Seymour, talking to local shopkeepers, people in the street, and local newspapers and radio. Following two good sessions on Vic wide ABC regional radio and Ballarat 3BA, we launched the Ballarat Greens campaign office in Sturt St. Ballarat. The Greens candidate for Ballarat, Tony Kelly, is a very fine candidate who will serve the people of Ballarat extremely well.
THE GREENS SENATE CANDIDATES SURGE AHEAD IN THE POLLS
I put out the following media release following the release of the Morgan Poll showing Greens support has surged since the last election.
Victorian Greens number 1 Senate candidate David Risstrom today said he was 'very encouraged' by the national Morgan polls indicating surging support for the party.
Today’s Morgan Poll indicated the Greens Senate support to have jumped 7.1 percentage points to 12 percent points, resulting in a potential gain of four Senate seats, including new Greens Senators in Victoria and Tasmania.
In Victoria, the ALP and Liberal / National Party would each win two seats, with the Greens also winning a seat, resulting in the loss of a Liberal National Party Senator. The remaining seat would either go to the ALP or the Australian Democrats, predicts the Roy Morgan Poll.
Mr. Risstrom says that on these figures, the fifth or sixth senate seat in Victoria is now well within the party’s grasp.
“Despite continued criticism of the party from the Howard government, and widespread media scrutiny of the parties policies, public support for the Greens continues to rise,” said Risstrom.
21 SEPTEMBER 2004
GREENS CONDEMN VICTORIAN GOVERNMENTS 'SECRET' GM CROPS
I issued the following media release on the secret the release of genetically modified corn.
The Victorian Greens Number 1 Senate candidate David Risstrom today expressed disappointment in the Victorian government for conducting GM crop trials in secret in rural Victoria.
Despite the Victorian government pledge to extend the moratorium on GM Canola crops in the state for the next four years, it has been revealed that Bayer Crop Science is currently conducting GM trials in secret locations.
“This is an underhanded move that threatens Victoria's GM free status,” said Mr. Risstrom.
“It would seem the government is trying to hide the reality that these trials are going ahead. The Greens want to ask the Victorian government - why the secrecy?”
Mr. Risstrom has joined the Victorian Local Governance Association and environmental groups in calling for the locations of the trials to be made public.
“The Greens are strongly opposed to the implementation of Genetically Modified Crop development in Australia. Those farmers living close-by to the secret GE crops have a right to know what is going on in their neighbourhood,” he said.
The State Government is exercising a double standard in allowing secret plantings of Genetically Engineered Canola to go ahead during the declared four year moratorium period announced earlier this year, he said.
“These plantings of up to 20ha in each location pose a significantly higher risk than the previously approved much smaller field trials by the Gene Technology Regulator. The Gene Technology Regulator did require locations to be disclosed. If it is good enough for the pro GE Federal Government to disclose crop locations, then the Bracks Government must disclose these plantings also.”
“The Greens do not see any benefit from the trials going ahead for this State and wishes to see research dollars directed into truly sustainable agriculture such as organic and integrated pest management systems design. We risk damaging our international reputation as "Clean and Green", an image put forward by the "Naturally Victorian" program of the State Government,” said Risstrom.
20 SEPTEMBER 2004
GREENS SUPPORT INFORMATION AND COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT IN RENEWABLE ENERGY
The Greens are strong supporters of community involvement in the development of a renewable energy industry.
Our energy policy, established by consensus as a national policy, is to require all States and Territories to prepare plans for wind farms, with full public consultation, identifying prohibited zones in sensitive areas, permit-controlled zones, and as-of-right areas.
The Greens believe it is important to consult with communities about the development of alternative energy and how best to protect our local environments. By consulting and exchanging information, communities, industry and government can make decisions that take into account each other’s views.
The Greens believe development of a renewable energy supply in Australia is very important. Australians are the highest per capita producers of greenhouse gas in the world. If we do not reduce our contribution to climate change, we will risk significant damage to our environment from more severe weather events, reduced rainfall and coastal damage from rising sea levels.
The Greens recognise the social cost of our fossil fuel based power production, with many workers and families past and present being exposed to toxic pollutants causing health ailments such as asthma and cancers. It would be unfair to workers, present and future, to not use cleaner power generation where it is available.
The Australian Greens are working to develop an energy system that meets the needs of present-day Australians without compromising the needs of future generations or the environment.
The Greens believe we can make the transition to ecologically sustainable energy systems with long term planning, research and development, demand management, increased energy efficiency and conservation, and greater use of ecologically sustainable renewable energy sources such as solar, micro-hydro, biomass, wind and wave power. Demand reduction through waste avoidance is a priority. The profound transitions necessary to deliver large scale uptake of sustainable technologies will require additional mechanisms such as energy efficiency standards, least cost planning, pollution caps and carbon levies.
Given the vested interests involved in the fossil fuel industry, it is important that where wind power is being considered, it is based on good planning principles and has the support of the local community.
The Greens energy policy is available as a 580 Kb pdf download as part of our Care for the Earth policy from the Greens website. You can access the website by clicking here: Greens policy.
ACTU RELEASES EXCELLENT 'TALKING POINT' FLYERS
The ACTU has produced a number of flyers to stimulate workplace discussion on election issues of importance to working people. They are called 'Talking Point Flyers' and can be downloaded at the ACTU Election website by clicking on the title on this page.
GREENS CONDEMN DEMOCRAT AND LABOR SUPPORT RELIGIOUS RIGHT
I issued the following press release today.
The Victorian Greens Number 1 Senate candidate David Risstrom today condemned the decision of the ALP and Democrats to preference to the extreme right Family First Party ahead of other progressive parties including the Greens.
Risstrom remains optimistic about picking up a Senate seat in Victoria given the strong statewide support for the Greens and Risstrom's hard work and proven credibility in the community as a former Melbourne City Councillor.
“This will deal a demoralising blow to those Democrat supporters who had remained loyal to the party despite their poor polling. This will lead to those Democrat voters turning to other parties including the Greens.”
“I expect the deal will see ALP votes go to the Greens, as more people vote 1 Green to secure a strong voice in their Parliament.”
The Greens recognise the Australian tradition is about tolerance and acceptance of all religions and all cultures, said Risstrom.
Family First are a religious right grouping who support 'physical punishment' of children, and oppose de facto and gay marriage, as well as opposing euthanasia and abortion rights. Family First is also subject to an undemocratic party structure, in which 12 board members make all the decisions of the party. (Source: Family First website.)
The real choice is between Liberal / Labor domination or having a Victorian Green voice in our parliament.
Those who support real democracy and fairness need to vote 1 Greens on October 9.
For interview contact: James Norman – 0415 248 768
19 SEPTEMBER 2004
EAST TIMOR SEABED BOUNDARY TALKS MUST DELIVER JUSTICE
Justice for East Timor is an extremely important to the Australian Greens. I travelled to East Timor in 1989 in an attempt to meet Xanana Gusmao. Greens Senator Bob Brown issued the following media release ahead of further negotiations between East Timor and Australia.
Negotiations over a new seabed boundary between East Timor and Australia must be settled soon and fairly, which ever party wins the October 9 election, Greens Senator Bob Brown said today.
The next round of talks between East Timor and Australia start in Canberra tomorrow.
"The justice of East Timor's claim to alter the seabed boundary is reaching across the world," Senator Brown said.
"Australia has no business depriving the poorest nation in our region of the resources it can use to pay for essential services and infrastructure like schools, roads, and hospitals.
"Just last week 37 European Union deputies appealed directly to Prime Minister Howard, calling for a 'rapid and just' solution that would guarantee East Timor's rights over its resources.
18 SEPTEMBER 2004
VICTORIAN GREENS SENATE CANDIDATE SET TO BECOME VICTORIA'S FIRST GREEN SENATOR
I issued the following media release following a press conference with Senator Bob Brown on preferences in Victoria.
For the first time ever the Greens have won crucial Labor Senate preferences in Victoria and nationally, ahead of the Democrats, Coalition, One Nation and other significant minor parties.
In addition to the previously announced agreement between the Greens and Democrats to swap Senate preferences ahead of the major parties, it has become even more likely that the Greens will win a Senate seat in Victoria on October 9.
Following the lodgment of Senate preferences at noon today, David Risstrom and Senator Bob Brown announced the outcome of the first stage of preference discussions between the Greens and other parties at a press conference in Melbourne.
David Risstrom is well placed to contest the last two Senate seats in Victoria against the Australian Labor Party and the Coalition.
As Melbourne City Councillor between 1999 - 2004, Risstrom has a proven record of green achievements in areas including water and energy saving, social housing and triple bottom line governance. “I look forward to representing Victoria in our parliament and to bringing my local government experience to green our parliament.”
In recognition of significant Labor policy improvements - better funding for public education, the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, a fairer deal for East Timor, 1,500 GL in environmental flows for the Murray-Darling and a commitment to ratify the Kyoto Protocol - and Labor support with Senate preferences, the Greens have agreed to direct preferences to the ALP in 30 of the key 56 marginal seats across the country.
“I am also happy to put to rest the lie that there is a preference deal in Victoria with the Liberals.”
“On October 9 voters will be reassured by voting 1 Green that the Greens will become a trusted safety net in the Senate,” said David Risstrom.
The Greens will not be directing preferences to the Liberal Party ahead of Labor, said Risstrom.
GREENS WIN VITAL ALP PREFERENCES FOR SENATE
Greens Senator Bob Brown issued the following media release on Green preferences across Australia.
* Greens win vital ALP preferences for Senate
* ALP wins tranche of Green Reps preferences
* Tasmanian Greens concede no preferences
* Democrats prefer Family First to Greens
The Australian Greens have, for the first time ever, won Labor preferences for the Senate in all states and territories ahead of other prime contenders including the Democrats, Coalition, One Nation and Family First, Greens Senator Bob Brown announced in Melbourne this afternoon.
The Greens will direct preferences to Labor ahead of the Coalition in 30 marginal seats on the mainland (see attached) but none in Tasmania. There are 56 marginal seats requiring a swing of 6.5% or less to change hands.
"This is obviously a major boost to Labor's chances of winning government," Senator Brown said.
"It reflects the extra support Labor is promising for public education and health, the promised withdrawal of Australian troops from Iraq, a fairer deal for the East Timorese over oil and gas royalties, the return of 1500 gigalitres flow to the Murray and the promised ratification of the Kyoto Protocol.
"The Tasmanian Greens have stood strong for their iconic forests and wildlife, reiterating an earlier decision not to preference Labor or the Coalition.
"The suite of undetermined mainland seats will depend on policy announcements by Labor and the Coalition in the next week.
"The Democrats' preferencing of the extreme right Family First is bizarre. It doesn't bear scrutiny. It will demoralise remaining Democrat voters and turn them to other parties including the Greens," Senator Brown said.
17 SEPTEMBER 2004
MELBOURNE CITY COUNCIL CHIEF EXECUTIVE THANKS DAVID RISSTROM FOR HIS CONTRIBUTION
Melbourne City Council Chief Executive David Pitchford published the following message to staff following my resignation as a Councillor.
Cr David Risstrom has tendered his resignation from Melbourne City Council in order to stand for election to the Senate in the forthcoming Federal poll.
The positive contributions Cr Risstrom has made to the City have helped to ensure Melbourne is regarded as a global leader in sustainability.
Cr Risstrom was elected to the Melbourne City Council in 1999 and has chaired a number of Council committees and acted as the City’s representative on a number of boards.
As Chair on the Environment, Sustainability and Indigenous Affairs committee and through his work as Council’s representative on ICLEI (International Cities for Local Environmental Initiatives), Cr Risstrom has contributed toward the City’s Zero Net Emissions by 2020, Total Watermark sustainable water management and Triple Bottom Line reporting policies.
He has also worked to progress indigenous reconciliation and has championed the interests of cyclists by advocating for improved facilities.
I’m sure you will join with me in wishing Cr Risstrom well for the future.
16 SEPTEMBER 2004
ABOLISH THE GST ON PUBLIC TRANSPORT - ZONE 3 FAMILY OF FOUR PAYING $540 GST ON TICKETS A YEAR
Bob Brown and I launched the Greens policy of abolishing the GST on public transport fares. A family of four, with one child in primary or secondary school and one dependent at university who have to travel to the City from zone 3 are paying more than $550 a year on GST alone, even using the cheapest options available!
Based on the following calculations, the GST costs $361.80 for two adults and $191:00 for both students:
The GST on each annual zone 1-2-3 adult tickets is $180:90 (on a $1990:00 ticket)
The GST on twelve monthly zone 1-2-3 concession tickets is $91:20 ($7:60 per ticket on twelve monthly $83:70 concession tickets)
The GST on the primary/secondary student card is $0.72 (on an $8:00 card)
The GST on the tertiary student card is $7.90 (on an $87:00 card).
Bob Brown and I issued the following release to launch our policy at Federation Square, opposite Flinders Street Station, which was well attended by media and should make the news tonight.
Make Public Transport GST-Free - Greens
The Greens would take the GST off all forms of public transport, making tram, train, ferry and bus fares 10% cheaper, Greens Senator Bob Brown and lead Victorian senate candidate David Risstrom said in Melbourne today.
Senator Brown said that federal and state governments should share the $350 million annual cost of removing the GST from public transport, including taxis.
"Improving services and making them more affordable is the key to getting passengers out of their cars and onto public transport.
"If one in every six car journeys is shifted onto public transport, Melbourne will be on track to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20% said Senator Brown.
Greens Senate candidate, David Risstrom said that Melbourne already has one of the largest rail networks and the potential to build the finest public transport system in the world.
"Taking the GST off public transport means passengers will save $2.50 a week in inner Melbourne, increasing to $5.20 a week for zones 1, 2 and 3. On top of that, we'll have less traffic jams, and greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced around Melbourne."
"Victorians win twice from this Greens initiative, with cheaper tickets and no need to build and pay for more freeways", said Mr Risstrom.
15 SEPTEMBER 2004
BOB BROWN TALKS TASSIE FORESTS WITH DAVID RISSTROM
Bob Brown and I will be talking about the Victorian and Tassie Forests tomorrow night at Storey Hall, RMIT, Swanston St, Melbourne. $5.00/$10.00 proceeds to the campaign.
GREENS TO CLOSE TAX LOOPHOLES TO ADDRESS POVERTY
Poverty and inequality are important issues for those missing out in this election. Greens Senator Kerry Nettle put out the following information on Greens policy for a fairer Australia.
The Australian Greens today announced new measures to address poverty, including a $4.7 billion increase in income support payments funded by closing tax loopholes.
Greens Senator Kerry Nettle said the confusing mix of payments, with differences of as much as $75 a fortnight between the aged pension and unemployment allowance, needed to be streamlined and payments lifted to the pension rate.
With almost one in ten Australians living below the poverty line, Senator Nettle said it was imperative that Australia address poverty as a priority.
“The best way for people to move out of poverty is to find work that is fairly paid but unlike the major parties, the Greens recognise that there are many more people who want to work than there are jobs,” Senator Nettle said.
“There are also many people who are unable to work, because of illness or disability, or who lack skills. Others perform valuable unpaid work, such as carers and volunteers. For some, paid work no longer provides a living wage, with 15% of Australians living in poverty citing wages as their main source of household income.
“These people deserve adequate income support, to ensure that they can meet their basic needs and participate fully in the community.
“The Howard government promised several years ago to look at streamlining income support payments but has failed to act. It has been more concerned with delivering tax cuts to high income earners while Labor’s tax package leaves up to 180,000 low income households worse off.
“The Greens are committed to ensuring that every Australia has enough support to meet their basic needs. Investment in public services and a taxation system that share our nation’s wealth more fairly are vital to achieving this goal.”
14 SEPTEMBER 2004
RISSTROM ON THE MOVE FROM GREENING MELBOURNE TO GREENING VICTORIA
I am resigning from Melbourne City Council today and have issued the following media release.
Greens Melbourne City Councillor David Risstrom will today make the move from Greening Melbourne City Council to Greening Victoria, where as the Greens No. 1 Senate Candidate, he is likely to be elected to the Australian Senate in the Federal election.
Cr. Risstrom was elected to Melbourne City Council in 1999 as Victoria’s first Green politician. Over the last five years Cr. Risstrom has been instrumental in progressing the City of Melbourne as a ‘thriving and sustainable city’ by putting into place a range of policy initiatives, over 70 in all, including
A $5 million Sustainable Melbourne Fund to finance environmental sustainability.
Factoring in Economic, Social and Environmental benefits through the introduction of Triple Bottom Line Governance.
$2 million over 2 years for improved bicycle facilities in the City of Melbourne.
Accountability through recording of all votes in Council without the need for a division.
10,000 Bicycle Parking Spaces in the CBD by 2010.
Election by international ballot to the International Council for Local Environment Initiatives (ICLEI) and election as Vice President of ICLEI International.
Car Fleet with average fuel use of 8 litres per 100 km or less.
Commencing discussions on Aboriginal Reconciliation in the City of Melbourne and the wider community on a land use agreement, treaty and indigenous employment.
Establishing and convening the Melbourne-wide Metropolitan Environment Forum, increasing co-operation between Councils on the environment.
Establishing the People's Forums for citizens in the Council Chamber.
Financial and environmental gains through intelligent water conservation measures, including 40% reductions in water use by 2020 under ‘Watermark’.
Increased attention to drug problems as a health issue maintaining harm reduction.
Increasing the proportion of Council decisions made in public by reversing the presumption of ‘closed council meetings’ and use of ‘commercial in confidence’ in tenders.
Increased attention to drug problems as a health issue.
Increasing the proportion of Council decisions made in open council meetings
Stewarding long term sustainable planning though the 50 year ‘Growing Green’.
Setting and achieving the most ambitious Greenhouse Gas reduction targets in Australia: 30% by Council and 20% by community by 2010.
Zero Net Greenhouse Gas Emissions from the City of Melbourne by 2020, which he took to APEC and received endorsement for use across all Asia-Pacific cities.
As well as chairing numerous Council committees, Cr. Risstrom has served as Vice President of ICLEI International, Chair of Melbourne Affordable Housing, Metropolitan Transport Forum and Aboriginal Consultative Group, Director of the Western Regional Waste Management Board and MAPS Purchasing Group, and Convener of the Metropolitan Environment Forum.
Cr. Risstrom will resign from Melbourne City Council Tuesday afternoon to campaign for a Senate seat. Cr. Risstrom’s Green Achievements are online at www.davidrisstrom.org/100GA.
For interview contact: David Risstrom, No. 1 Vic Senate Candidate: 0418 502 713.
10 SEPTEMBER 2004
CO-OPERATION ON CLIMATE CHANGE DESPERATELY NEEDED
I wrote the following letter to the editor in response to an article in Friday's Age about a large number of civic leaders who have written to the Prime Minister urging action on climate change.
As reported in Friday’s Age, the call of senior business executives, church leaders, scientists and environmentalists to co-operate on climate change is very welcome. Just this week, chief of Rio Tinto’s global energy business, Preston Chiaro, identified climate change as a deadly threat to humans and the most serious environmental issue facing the world.
Having completed a science honours degree on climate change, I agree and have become impatient with the lack of realism on action to avoid climate change.
I congratulate those civic leaders calling for climate change action. They have shown significant leadership. It is a sign our political leaders should take heed of.
David Risstrom, No. Victorian Greens Senate Candidate
FARMERS AND GREENS CAN BE PARTNERS IN SUSTAINABLE FARMING
I issued the following media releases today on the potential for farmers and Greens to work together for a good future for sustainable farming.
There is plenty of room for the Greens and farmers to work together to address environmental protection,” Greens Senate Candidate David Risstrom said today.
Commenting on the call in the Financial Review by the National Farmer’s Federation for government support to farmers for environmental protection work, Councillor Risstrom agreed that sustainable farming is in Australia’s national interests.
“The NFF is on the right track in saying that farmers need to be supported in the work that they are doing in conservation and clearing weeds. The Greens policy is that the only way to address the sheer scale of environmental work that is needed is for the government, farming and other industry and the community to work together.”
“The NFF is also right in identifying the need to maintain the priority of services for in rural and regional Australia, Councillor Risstrom added. Greens policy recognises that healthy farming communities are integral to getting decent, sustainable farming practice. The Greens want to see a community driven model of land management and care that builds further on the success of present approaches such as Landcare.”
“Greens also will provide support to rural communities to help them cope with the social consequences of land use change. Part of that support is obviously making sure that governments remember that farms are located in communities that need access to the kinds of services that the rest of Australia enjoys.”
‘Basically, Greens want to foster and encourage sustainability and that means fostering and working with the communities that are involved,” Councillor Risstrom said.
“It also means that we will need to pay serious attention to trade agreements like the FTA and national competition policies that set farmers against each other – to the detriment of their communities and at the expense of the environment.”
9 SEPTEMBER 2004
GREENS CONDEMN JAKARTA BOMB OUTRAGE
I wrote the following letter to the editor in response to an article in Friday's Age about a large number of civic leaders who have written to the Prime Minister urging action on climate change.
The Jakarta terror attack on the Australian embassy is an horrific indicator of both Jemaah Islamiyah's evil and its continued capability, Greens Senator Bob Brown said today.
"This is a shocking event. Our sympathy goes to the relatives of the Indonesians who have been killed and to the scores of people injured," Senator Brown said.
"The task ahead is to build our relationship with the Indonesian government and people and to cement our common union against terrorism.
"Building cooperation and relations with the nations of our Asia-Pacific neighbourhood is essential in combating the common threat of terrorism," Senator Brown said.
This morning Senator Brown held talks with former Office of National Assessments senior analyst in Canberra Andrew Wilkie and this afternoon he will be briefed by ONA director general, Peter Varghese.
ROSA'S ROLE OUTED IN THE AGE: WOOF
The good works of my four footed friends were outed in Annabel Crabb's Politics column in The Age. I have been doing most of the tapping of the keyboard recently, as the election has made Rosa too busy to get her nails clipped, thus making typing very difficult. If you want to get in touch with Rosa, please email her at email@example.com: David
Woof, click, dribble, woof: Rosa.
8 SEPTEMBER 2004
CLIMATE AND FORESTS MAJOR ISSUES FOR ELECTION AND THE PLANET
I issued the following media releases today on forests and climate change issues.
Rio Tinto Says Climate Change the World’s Most Serious Environmental Issue
The Greens welcome the Rio Tinto view that climate change is a deadly threat to humans and “the most serious environmental issue facing the world.”
Victorian Greens Senate Candidate Cr. David Risstrom said today that comments by the chief of Rio Tinto’s global energy business, Preston Chiaro, reported in Wednesday’s Age are a welcome and honest position.
Councillor Risstrom congratulated Mr. Chiaro for providing the global perspective on long term threats to human security that both of the major parties appear unable or unwilling to grasp.
“Many of Australia’s political leaders seem to see security as something that can be achieved through more miniaturization, more conflict and more escalation when in fact the real security threat will come when climate change begins to bite. That is when we will see dramatic changes to local weather and rainfall patterns in Victoria, increases in the intensity, frequency and damage from storms and storm intensity and damage to buildings as soil moisture changes.”
“The threat to international security will come when overseas countries find that floods and drought reduce the availability of land and food security. The threat to communities will come when they face increasing shortages of water.”
“At the same time that the present Government is running its line on border security it has its head in the sand about where the long term threats are. It needs to consider how it wants to be remembered – as the government of short term expediency or one of long term responsibility.”
“Australian Greens policy is to reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050 and immediately ratify the Kyoto Protocol.”
“The Greens want Australian leaders to take their collective heads out of the sand and acknowledge that what is needed is less not more – less denial about climate change, less greenhouse gas, less reliance on fossil fuels and less stalling on Kyoto.”
For more information, please contact: Simon Lansdown, Media Officer, Telephone: 0415 535 564 or Cr. David Risstrom, No. 1 Vic Senate Candidate: 0418 502 713.
Green Voters Driving Forest Protection Outcomes
Victorian Greens No 1 Senate candidate and Melbourne City Councillor David Risstrom welcomes recent comments by Mark Latham, John Howard, Malcolm Turnbull and Senator Bill Heffernan that Tasmania’s old growth forests must be protected.
“This clearly demonstrates that the large and growing number of people voting for Greens policies on protection of old growth and high conservation value forests are driving political change, and that a vote for the Greens is not wasted”, said Cr Risstrom.
“While these recent comments are a major step forward, the Greens reserve final judgment until both Labor and Coalition forest policies are announced, as both parties have a history of supporting ongoing destruction of our remaining pristine forests” said Cr Risstrom.
“While these recent comments are a major step forward, the Greens reserve final judgment until both Labor and Coalition forest policies are announced, as both parties have a history of supporting ongoing destruction of our remaining pristine forests” said Cr Risstrom.
“Independent polling has shown that over 80 percent of Australians want old growth forests protected and an immediate end to clear-felling. It is encouraging that our political leaders are at last acknowledging this fact".
“In May 2004, the Australian Greens released a comprehensive brief on forests, jobs and the wood products industry in Tasmania, which details how we can protect our forests and provide for alternative regional employment in the plantation-based industries and eco-tourism. We only need the political will to implement these solutions", said Cr Risstrom.
“Environment groups such as The Wilderness Society, the Australian Conservation Foundation and Greenpeace also endorse and support the protection of old growth and high conservation value forests with new National Parks and World Heritage Areas. There is now a loud chorus for major change in forest policy".
“With a close election result predicted, Green votes in marginal seats could determine the outcome. Many Green voters will be looking closely at Labor and Coalition policies on forests, and will be wary of attempts by either party to “greenwash” themselves by offering unsatisfactory compromises".
“In Victoria, we also need to immediately protect our unique old growth forests and stop logging in Melbourne’s water catchments".
"I call on both major parties to provide the protection for our forests that they deserve and the public is demanding, or suffer the consequences at the ballot box” said Cr Risstrom.
7 SEPTEMBER 2004
'DEMOCRACY 4 SALE' WEBSITE LAUNCHED
The Greens have launched their new donations website, www.democracy4sale.org At last, you can find out who is making big donations to the main political parties at the press of a button.
Follow the money trail of over $100,000,000 of donations made to political parties since 1999 (when the Australian Electoral Commission first started recording them electronically).
Until now, this information has only been made public on the Australian Electoral Commission's website as a series of static forms that could not be searched using a database. The public had no way of looking at a company's donations at a single glance, or of knowing what business a company was in.
Now, you can find out how much an individual, company or organisation has donated by just typing in their name and clicking Search.
Greens members have spent thousands of hours researching these companies to find out what industry they belong to. Every donor company has been assigned to an industry category, such as Clubs & Hotels, Property Developers or Media.
You can select an industry category, click Search, and see every donation made by the companies in that industry.
Democracy4sale helps the community to better understand how the major parties are selling off our democracy. It is a valuable resource for anyone who wants to find out who is buying influence with our politicians.
Please pass on this announcement to any groups you are in or people you know who you believe would be interested in www.democracy4sale.org.
6 SEPTEMBER 2004
BROTHERHOOD OF ST LAURENCE: THIS ELECTION VOTE FOR 'SOMEONE ELSE'.
The Brotherhood of St Laurence is entering the 2004 election arena with an Advance Australia Fairly campaign for government policies that include all Australians.
The Brotherhood is opposing the exclusion of millions of Australians from full time jobs, affordable housing, quality aged care and education opportunities.
“Our Advance Australia Fairly campaign is asking Australians to think about someone other than themselves when they go to the polling booth,” Dr Stephen Ziguras, Brotherhood of St Laurence Research and Policy Manager said today.
“’Someone else’ is one of the 880,000 Australians who want a full time job but can’t get one. It’s one of the 1.2 million Australians who can’t afford to rent or buy a home.”
Dr. Ziguras says the gap between rich and poor has grown dramatically with the result that many well-off Australians do not realise that thousands of people are excluded by disadvantage.
“After 20 years of economic restructuring, we must now invest in people and services so that all Australians have an equal chance to realise their potential and enjoy a decent quality of life.”
The Brotherhood’s campaign is taking to the streets to oppose the social exclusion which happens when people or areas suffer from a combination of linked problems such as unemployment, low incomes, poor housing, bad health, family breakdown and high crime environments.
“We are campaigning for policies of social inclusion which mean access to an adequate income, a decent job, affordable housing and health services, quality aged care and better education opportunities.”
The Advance Australia Fairly campaign includes street posters and bumper stickers carrying the slogan ‘This election vote for someone else’ and a website www.AdvanceAustraliaFairly.com (goes live Wednesday 8 September). It also urges a vote for people needing full time work, affordable housing, aged care and educational opportunities.
2 SEPTEMBER 2004
VICTORIAN STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACCORD
A number of years ago I established the Metropolitan Environment Forum with the assistance of Melbourne City Council. Today, largely due to work initiated and followed through by Phil Johnstone, various local government organisations and the State Government signed the Local Government Environment Accord as a foundation for future action. The local government groups that are signatory to the Accord are the Metropolitan Environment Forum, The Municipal Association of Victoria, the Victorian Local Governance Association and the International Council for Local Environment Initiatives.
GREENS MEAN BUSINESS
Greens Senator Bob Brown issued the following media release today.
The Greens are pleased by the Business Council of Australia's prediction of an extra three to five senators after 9 October, Greens Senator Bob Brown said today.
"The Greens' economic policies are coherent and environmentally, socially and fiscally responsible," Senator Brown said.
"The Business Council should look at the Greens' stoic insistence on tough budget measures in Tasmania from 1989-92 to see how sensible we are as managers.
"Business has to understand that this century is about full-cost recovery, including externalities such as waste and pollution - carbon taxes might be new to the Business Council but are commonplace in Europe.
"Our policies to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy will put Australia at the forefront of the fastest growing industries in the world, and decrease our dependence on increasingly expensive oil.
"Australia's tax levels are low by world standards and expenditure on public services, like education, and infrastructure like rail and public transport lags international standards.
"The Greens stand for fair taxes and decent levels of public service, starting with redirecting the government's $14.7 billion tax cuts for high income earners to public health and education, including the abolition of HECS.
"We oppose the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement because it will hit Australian manufacturing for six as well as putting agriculture at risk from weakened quarantine standards.
"The Greens policies are good for business and jobs and I'm glad the Business Council has finally twigged that there is a robust, ethical new force in politics with growing public support.
"The Business Council should lift its ethical approach: the Greens recommend a corporate tax rate of 33%, not 49%; the BCA uses 49% in its report but, in an annotation, recognises the correct figure is 33%," Senator Brown said.
Senator Brown said he hopes to have future talks with the Business Council.
1 SEPTEMBER 2004
BUILDING PATHWAYS ORATION WITH BILL DEANE AND PAT DODSON AT MELBOURNE TOWN HALL
I had the good fortune to attend a public meeting at the Town Hall to hear people talk about things that matter. Former High Court Judge Bill Deane and Aboriginal Statesman Pat Dodson spoke to building pathways. I have recorded a few of the comments made at that meeting to the best of my ability, though I don't guarantee my recording to be word perfect, and represents only a few remarks from longer speeches.
Brian Dawe: There is never a shortage of people telling indigenous people to solve their problems.
Bill Deane: Former High Court Judge
National truth and decency cannot be indefinitely denied.
Unless one is prepared what is bad or evil in the past, one can never properly face or adequately assess its consequences.
At the national level, we seem to have reached a blind alley. We must work together to build new pathways and bridges.
The result of the failure to reach consensus means the overall search for true reconciliation remains unfulfilled at the national level.
An aboriginal baby born today will have a life expectancy of approximately 20 years less. A girl 19 less. A boy approximately 21 years less. The discrepancies in comparable countries, New Zealand and Canada are about one third less.
As Mick Dodson described it, “A certain kind of industrial deafness has developed.”
My personal hope is that there is a National Reconciliation Convention to make the 40th anniversary of the 1967 referendum.
Pat Dodson: First Chairman Council for Reconciliation.
This is what reconciliation offers us: the coming together as one but within the recognition of our reality and individuality.
Simplistically some blame us for our social condition.
The indigenous family in its extended and complex form is central to our feeling of community.
To persistently undermine and undervalue the values held by aboriginal people is to systematically destroy a society and its richness
Society has been well informed about these things, but continue to deny their existence.
The path to reconciliation in the future has to reconcile these sorry facts.
I would not expect aboriginal people to be as welcome to anew process of reconciliation as much as they had been in the past.
Extinguishing bucket loads of native title is demonstrative of people not in sync with their liyan.
The living descendants of land over which native title as been extinguished, consider themselves to be extinguished, because there is a fundamental connection with the land that is what is involved.
We now have the tension between the government policy of empowerment and self-determination.
We are still second class citizens without the full benefits that citizenship should employ.
In many aspects of life in this country, very little has changed for aboriginal people.
Common Fate has a vision of indigenous people being contributors at every level of Australian society.
Many Australians has embraced the dream of a reconciled Australia. We have begun a great march. This is people moment in action. Whatever we do in times to pass, let us be resolute in making reconciliation a reality.
GREENS PLEDGE TO INTRODUCE ENVIRONMENTAL, SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC ASSESSMENT WITH GENUINE PROGRESS INDICATORS TO COMMONWEALTH
I issued the following press release on 31 August ahead of the national accounts being published today.
Greens Senate Candidate for Victoria, Cr. David Risstrom, has pledged to present a bill that requires the economic, social and environmental implications of proposed laws to be identified and genuine progress indicators to be published.
Cr. Risstrom said, “As Melbourne City Councillor, I introduced triple bottom line governance to the City of Melbourne in 1999, which is now operating and leading Australian government practice.
“Triple bottom line governance considers the economic, environmental and social implications of decisions, rather than the ‘single economic bottom line’.
“It is time the Federal Parliament was given the opportunity to understand the real world impact of the legislation before they passed it.
Cr. Risstrom also pledged to seek the adoption of Genuine Progress Indicators to measure the real progress of Australian society, rather than reliance on Gross Domestic Product alone.
“There is strong evidence, as Australia Institute research shows, of a growing disjunct between purely economic measures such as Gross Domestic Product and the reality that Genuine Progress Indicators illustrate.
Making decisions solely on economic criteria may be easier, but risks distorting and leaving public policy out of touch with reality. The Alaskan Exxon Valdez’s oil spill contribution to the USA’s GDP is an excellent example.
“Growth at the expense of the environment is unsustainable. Nor does it extend people’s wellbeing. Our National Accounts figures released today should reflect this”, Cr. Risstrom concluded.
I wrote the following opinion piece on the same issue, with the assistance of Mark Jeanes, ahead of the national accounts being published tomorrow.
WHO IS ACCOUNTING FOR REALITY IN THE NATIONAL ACCOUNTS?
Do the Greens have a secret supporter in Ken Henry, the highly respected Secretary to the Federal Treasury?
In a surprise speech in Sydney last month, Mr Henry lifted the lid on Treasury’s recently developed approach to public policy named the “wellbeing framework”. The audience could have been forgiven for thinking they were in a Greens policy workshop.
The wellbeing framework, he said, now underpins Treasury’s advice on public policy. Treasury’s main objective was “strong, sustainable economic growth and the improved wellbeing of the Australian people”.
At the heart of the wellbeing framework is the notion that economic growth, as measured by GDP, is unable to ensure the wellbeing and happiness of the Australian people.
The Greens have had this as a central tenet of their policy since day one. Mr. Henry’s speech was important because it demonstrated these ideas are mainstream - hardly the stuff of a bunch of radicals.
These ideas are not new and the Greens do not take credit for them. Mr Henry referred to two old Treasury policy extracts from 1964 and1973 entitled “Economic Growth: is it worth having”. It said, “quality of life appears to cover a miscellany of desirable things not recognised in the marketplace”, enjoyment of wilderness, wildlife, clean air and water, recreation, health and education”.
Mr Henry continued: “It seems probable that a concern with the wellbeing of the Australian people has been central to the Treasury’s mission for a very long time." But he admitted, "Yet we do not have a single quantifiable indicator that provides a measure of progress against the wellbeing objective”.
GDP as the sole measure of progress is severely flawed. Greater sophistication is needed.
As Melbourne City Councillor, I introduced triple bottom line governance to the City of Melbourne in 1999, which is now operating and leading Australian government practice.
As Greens Senator for Victoria, I will present a bill that requires the economic, social and environmental implications of proposed laws to be identified.
There is strong evidence, as Australia Institute research shows, of a growing disjunct between GDP and the reality that Genuine Progress Indicators illustrate. Making decisions solely on economic criteria may be easier, but risks distorting and leaving public policy out of touch with reality. The Alaskan Exxon Valdez’s oil spill contribution to GDP is an excellent example. Measures such as the Genuine Progress Indicator and approaches developed by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) should be used to inform government decisions before they are taken.
Successive Governments, including Mr Henry’s current bosses, have failed to implement indicators that could better measure the wellbeing of the Australian community.
Growth at the expense of the environment is unsustainable. Nor does it extend people’s wellbeing. The Greens believe in sustainable growth. Some anti-Green folk peddle the myth we are anti-growth. This is a lie. Like Mr Henry, who is against ‘growthmanship’ the Greens do not believe an increase in GDP should be an end in itself. Our National Accounts figures released today should reflect this.
31 AUGUST 2004
LIBERALS, HERALD SUN FIT UP GREENS
The Victorian Greens have received a document that has an uncanny similarity to the false and silly claims made by John Howard and the Herald Sun about the Greens.
The front page of the document is titled with the Greens logo followed by 'Environmentalists or just radical social engineers. It is further titled 'The Greens Background Paper: A critique of the Greens misguided contribution to Australian politics, their radical policies and some questions dealing with the illogical and inconsistent nature of policies that would change Australia forever. The bottom banner says "Prepared by the Victorian Division of the Liberal Party - August 04".
The document includes a copy of a letter purported to be on Liberal Party letterhead from Julian Sheezel, State Director, which states "Greens policies would be a disaster for Australia - the increases in taxation and regulation would kill economic growth, cost Australians thousands of jobs and destroy our way of life. The policies demonstrate the inability of the Greens to develop a coherent set of ideas that would not bankrupt Australia - both economically and socially. The purpose of this document is to provide Liberal Party Members with an overview of the Greens' policies to assist in combating that party's most radical economic and social views."
A major problem is that many of the claims about in the document are wrong. The Greens policy of treating personal drug use as a health issue is progressive. The current approach of treating personal drug use as a criminal issue has not delivered improvements for individuals or society. Senior members of the policing, legal and medical community agree that a new approach is needed. What the Greens advocate is exploring the options to achieve better outcomes.
Another laughable claim is titled "An Inability to Play A Constructive Role" which includes the statement, "In 2003, votes were called 162 times in the Senate. On these occasions the Greens voted with the Government on only 2.5% of the votes. This compares with the following voting record of the other Senate parties and independents: Labor 51.9% of the time; Len Harris (One Nation) 33.3% of the time; Brian Harradine (Ind) 32.1% of the time; Meg Lees (APA) 31.5% of the time; Shayne Murphy (Ind) 25.3% of the time; Democrats 15.4% of the time."
It is very telling that the Liberal Party's definition of 'a constructive role' appears to solely be to agree with them.
Greens Senator Bob Brown issued the following media release on this disgraceful episode.
LIBERAL, HERALD SUN FIT UP GREENS
In a dirty tricks start to the Howard government's campaign, the Prime Minister's fake claim of 'kooky' Greens' drugs policy yesterday has been followed up by:
* A Victorian Liberals dossier with false claims on the Greens drugs and other policies; and,
* The Melbourne Herald Sun following suite with a story which is concocted to be anti-Green. The newspaper did not contact Senator Brown about the story but took comments from the pro-Liberal Institute of Public Affairs.
Releasing the Greens across-the-board policy volume today, Greens Senator Bob Brown said the Liberals and Herald Sun claim on Greens drug policy are wrong and deliberately aimed to deceive voters.
Senator Brown challenged the Prime Minister to a debate on all policies including drugs.
The Greens, like a number of senior police and medical experts, back a policy of harm minimisation with drugs. This includes medically-controlled access to drugs because it reduces the damage to both user and wider society.
Senator Brown said the Herald Sun's Gerard McManus had misinformed readers in a way which indicates the Murdoch press has gone beyond critic to concoct false policy in its anti-Green bias.
30 AUGUST 2004
JEWISH BUND MEETING UNEXPECTEDLY LIGHT ON CANDIDATES
I attended by invitation a Jewish Bund meeting on Saturday to present the Greens policies and our view of the world if the Greens were in power. I had expected to be sharing the platform with the member for Melbourne Ports, Michael Danby. Unfortunately Michael chose not to attend the function at the last minute, due to picketing of the meeting by representatives of the Citizens Electoral Council.
I received the following from email today Sol Salbe with the following disclosure: The writer is a member of The Victorian Greens but wrote this in a personal capacity. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the Greens or any other organisation that the writer belongs to. (HaMerkaz HaIsraeli, AJDS etc)
DANBY RUNS AWAY FROM ELECTORAL CONFRONATION
Michael Danby's self confidence has been called into question following his last- minute decision not to attend a debate with a political opponent. Danby, the Federal member for Melbourne Ports was to attend a forum entitled "Who should the Jewish Left vote for?" His debating opponent was David Risstrom, the Greens Senate candidate for Victoria.
The public meeting on Saturday 28 August was organised by the Jewish Labour Union - the Bund. It was publicly advertised in the Australian Jewish News. The advertisement attracted what the organisers called unwelcome guests: about ten members of the Citizens Electoral Council who set up a picket in the front.
The CEC antisemitic cult-like politics are such that they have been removed from public events organised by the Victorian Peace Network and other progressive organisations. It appears as if the Bund members present were unaware of this practice and allowed them in.
Nevertheless, this was deemed a good enough excuse by Danby, who citing the possibility of a violent confrontation informed the organisers that he would not be attending. The politics of the Australian followers of Lyndon LaRouche are objectionable but they do not have a track record of violence. As visiting Yachad activist Zvi Solow remarked "Violence? This place is right next door to a police station!"
A far more likely reason was Danby disinterest in the Jewish Left. Having made Israel the central plank of his platform he wasn't interested in issues such as the environment, tax policy, education, James Hardy and the Timor gap to mention but a few that were discussed.
The Greens candidate took full advantage of the situation and made a point of not pandering to any pre-conceived audience wishes. Whether it was defence spending or Israel, Risstrom emphasised that he wasn't trying to please his audience. [The sole question on Israel came from an ALP member of the audience.]
It would have been interesting to ask Danby about similar issues. (Does he support the unconditional withdrawal from Iraq by Christmas?) But by running away he avoided giving us the answer.
Danby feels that he can take the Left votes for granted. Even if Jewish and non-Jewish supporters of the Left gave the first preference to the Greens their final vote would be parked with Danby. He can thank David Southwick's strategy for that. His attacks on Michael Danby may well prise away some in the community who voted for the incumbent despite his party affiliation. But the Liberals have forced the hand of leftist voters who would balk at voting for Danby.
The present writer has certainly been privy to discussions among Palestinians and their supporters about a campaign directed specifically at Michael Danby. There were many who advocated giving preferences to the Liberals. Southwick's recent performance has just about nullified such moves.
The idea of "Palestinian supporters for Danby" is at this stage far fetched but the incumbent feels that he doesn't have to bother turning up to meeting that he's committed himself to. The Liberal Party on the other hand will make good use of his chickening out. What slogan will do use? No doubt someone is dusting off the old "lacking ticker about his own convictions" right now.
29 AUGUST 2004
OCTOBER 9 FEDERAL ELECTION
John Howard has called the election for October 9 2004. I issued the following release today in response.
Victorian Greens welcome election announcement
The announcement today by the Prime Minister John Howard of an 9 October election is his attempt to avoid scrutiny of the children overboard affair in parliament said Australian Greens Senate candidate for Victoria David Risstrom.
David Risstrom, the No 1 Senate candidate for Victoria, represents the best chance for a Victorian Green to be elected to federal parliament. The Greens support is stronger now and than in any previous election and many political commentators are saying that Cr Risstrom is likely to get elected.
“The Greens welcome the announcement of an October 9 election and will hold the Prime Minister to account over his past actions including the children overboard affair and Iraq”.
“John Howard's call today to dissolve parliament is his attempt to avoid difficult questions in parliament over the next two weeks”.
“He knows the Australian public want him to tell the truth about the children overboard and this is his attempt to avoid that scrutiny”.
“Voters want parliamentarians with integrity and that are honest. This is why Greens support is growing. The Greens offer voters integrity and honesty. People see Senator Bob Brown, Senator Kerry Nettle and Michael Organ in parliament and know they can trust them to keep their word”.
“The Greens represent the only real and effective alternative in Australian federal parliament”, said Cr Risstrom.
In the words of Greens Senator Bob Brown, Greens welcome spring election, as the following media release describes.
"This is a spring election and Australia will turn Green," Greens Senator Bob Brown said in Canberra today.
"We will campaign strongly for better finding of public education and health, a healthier environment and a much more positive foreign affairs face to the world.
"We have winnable senate teams in all states and territories and great candidates for lower house seats across the nation."
Senator Brown said that many voters will find the Prime Minister's refusal to face parliament this week the hallmark of a loser.
"But Mark Latham is offering no comprehensive change or outlook for Australia. By contrast, the Greens will campaign for:
* redirection of the $14.7 billion income tax cuts for the rich to public health, education, housing and transport;
* protecting the Australian parliament's sovereignty by rejecting the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement;
* the withdrawal of Australian troops from Iraq;
* immediate protection of Tasmania's iconic forests and wildlife;
* creation of thousands of new jobs in renewable energy; aiming at 20% of electricity production by 2020.
"In 2004, for the first time, more than one million Australians will vote Green," Senator Brown said.
FEDERAL ELECTION SPECULATION HELPS HOWARD KEEP IN THE NEWS
The unfortunate fact that the Federal election will be held when John Howard considers it to be in his best interests has allowed him to play a game of cat and mouse with the Australian public, and in doing so, keep the news focus on him.
Australia needs fixed term elections that will bring certainty to electoral cycles. The games the Prime Minister is playing are at the expense of making stable government decisions and allows the political party in power to guide the machinery of Government to its own purposes.
Greens policy is for greater certainty through fixed term election that allows the Australian public to know ahead of time how long they can expect their elected representatives to serve them and when it is time to vote them out.
28 AUGUST 2004
GREENS FEAR ELECTION CAMPAIGN DOMINATED BY TAX-CUT ACTION
NSW Greens Senate candidate John Kaye issued the following media release on the shameful use of our taxpayer money to provide tax cuts only to those earning $52,000 or more. It was John Howard who said previously that he would govern 'for all of us'. Perhaps times (and attitudes) have changed?
The major parties will seek to turn the coming election campaign into a tax-cut auction, The Greens warned today.
A Greens conference of 120 delegates from across NSW today rejected John Howard‚s $14.7 billion income tax giveaway to well-off Australians, calling for the money to be spent on improving the nation's public services.
"Labor's tax policy is clearly going to dominate several weeks of the coming election campaign, and that's bad news for Australia's under-funded public services,‰ said Greens NSW Senate candidate John Kaye.
"Both the Coalition and Labor are likely to lock themselves into still more promises of income tax cuts, at the expense of an urgently needed funding boost for public education, health, transport, housing and the environment.
"The Greens believe that improving public services is a more just use of public money than giving income tax cuts to just 11% of wealthiest Australians.
"Better public services not only help the most disadvantaged members of society, who will inevitably miss out on tax cuts, but will also build a more secure future for all Australians and the environment.
"The Howard Government‚s Budget income tax cuts, supported by Labor, went to those earning $52,000 or more. Almost 60% of Australian families were left out.
"The Greens call on all parties to focus this election campaign on building better public services that benefit all Australians, instead of offering yet more wasteful and misdirected income tax cuts," said Mr Kaye.
25 AUGUST 2004
HICKS TRIAL DISGRACEFUL
I did a doorstop interview with Senator Bob Brown in the Treasury Gardens Greens speaking to the press release reproduced below, calling for a fair and democratic trial for Australian citizen David Hicks in Guantanamo Bay.
The Military Commission trying Australian David Hicks in Guantanamo Bay is a disgraceful process lacking domestic or internationally recognised fair process, Greens Senator Bob Brown said in Melbourne today.
"The Military Commission seriously cuts down a defendant's rights and has no appeal to the US or Australian courts. Mr Howard's endorsement is an indicator of how far the Howard government in future might abolish fundamental legal rights," Senator Brown said.
The Greens have consistently put the position that David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib should be repatriated and charged before the Australian courts, a position Senator Brown put to George W. Bush directly in the Australian parliament on 23 October 2003.
"US detainees have been repatriated to the US to face American courts," Senator Brown said.
"Howard has failed to get such repatriation where half a dozen other countries, including Denmark, Spain, France and Britain have succeeded," Senator Brown said.
24 AUGUST 2004
NUCLEAR WASTE DUMP NOT AN OPTION
I issued the following media release today. My Green policy to confirm Melbourne as a 'Nuclear Free Melbourne' was passed by the Council in June 2002.
Reports that the Federal Government is considering a medium-level nuclear waste dump for Victorian sites require three responses:
The government should publish the list of sites it has considered.
The Prime Minister and Opposition Leader should rule out support for a nuclear waste dump in Victoria.
All parties in the upcoming election should commit to extricating Australia from the nuclear waste cycle by banning the import of nuclear waste and ending the export of uranium from Australia.
Victorian Greens Senate Candidate Cr. David Risstrom urged the State Government to seek and make public legal advice on whether the Commonwealth can impose a nuclear dump in Victoria.
“I commit myself to working with whatever community is targeted for a nuclear waste dump in Victoria, and to oppose it in the Senate.
A nuclear waste dump for Victoria is not an option”, concluded Cr. Risstrom.
23 AUGUST 2004
GREENS OPPOSE FREEWAY TUNNEL AND CALL FOR ACTION ON EASTERN TRANSPORT
I issued the following transport related media releases today.
Greens Oppose Freeway Tunnel
The state government should rule out another freeway for inner Melbourne, whether above ground or below, Royal Park said Victorian Greens Senate candidate for Victoria and Melbourne City Councillor David Risstrom.
"The Northern Central Corridor Study demonstrated that improved public transport was the smarter option. Its time to create transport choices. A better public transport system would provide that choice", said Cr Risstrom.
"Local residents near Royal Park have rejected the proposal already and were under the understanding that the issue had been dropped".
"This is just an attempt by the freeway lobby to prepare for a new campaign to increase Melbourne's reliance on cars after the Mitcham-Frankston tollway has been finalised", said Cr Risstrom.
Cr. Risstrom and Senator Bob Brown will announce a major public transport policy tomorrow at Federation Square at 1pm.
Australian Greens call for action on Eastern transport
The federal government should redirect the $425 million held back from the Mitcham-Frankston tollway to public transport improvements in Eastern Melbourne announced David Risstrom Australian Greens Senate candidate for Victoria and Melbourne City Councillor.
And now we have the madness of the tunnel under Royal Park re-emerging to cope 'with all the car traffic coming from the east!!' "It will end in Melbourne being one big car park, circled by freeways."
"It's time for the federal and state governments to end their political point-scoring on Eastern Suburbs transport and find a solution. The Greens have that solution", said Cr Risstrom.
"Auslink has failed to deliver on urgent public transport initiatives", said David Risstrom. "It strongly favours spending on roads over public transport".
"Urgent improvements to public transport are the only way to ease congestion on roads in Melbourne's East", said Councillor Risstrom, who has served on Melbourne City Council since 1999.
The state government's Environmental Effects Statement concluded; ' It would make better economic sense to get two percent of trips in the Scoresby Freeway/Tollway area onto public transport than build the freeway'.
'$445 million could fund all the required improvements in the East, including a heavy rail line to Rowville via Monash University, a tram extension to Knox City, existing rail upgrades, feeder bus routes and cross-town buses such as the Dandenong to Ringwood Smart Bus, also via Knox and Rowville' stated Cr Risstrom.
The Australian Greens announcement comes amidst political wrangling and inaction, as well as a heritage claim from the Bunurong Land Council that Cr Risstrom says 'must be heard and respected'.
22 AUGUST 2004
GREENS STATE CONFERENCE IN FOOTSCRAY THIS WEEKEND
The following is an insight into the Victorian Greens State Conference from Margaret Rasa, a country member.
The Victorian Greens are holding their State Conference this weekend at the Footscray Community Arts Centre. The two day conference is an opportunity for Greens members and party officers to meet and interact to guide the direction of the Greens in Victoria.
With a Federal election likely this year and Victorian local government election set for November, it is an extremely busy time for our rapidly growing party. Electoral support for the Greens has been growing since the party formed in 1992, with current support being as high as 13% primary vote.
The Conference is an example of just what the Greens are about. The discussion is robust, but done in a spirit of intense concern to get the right decision. And, like every year, we manage to find a way of getting decisions that can accommodate the diversity of opinions.
I am always struck by the great depth of skill and experience that exists within the party when I come to these major governance meetings and as speaker after speaker gets up to put a position or to argue a case. This Conference is no exception – we are seeing work on new and complex policy areas side by side with intricate discussion of basic governance and administrative issue. I love the spirit of respect that people have – politics with politeness – that means that new members have the same right to be heard as seasoned campaigner.
This Conference is different though. There is a sense of excitement about the current standing of the party, about the impending campaign and that the Green policy agenda is now on the national agenda.
From David Risstrom: Thank you. We remember Margaret, we remember.
20 AUGUST 2004
CAN NEW COMMUNITIES BE OIL DEPENDENT AND SUSTAINABLE?
With the growing realisation that petrol prices are likely to rise, rather than fall, this week brought renewed focus, an article by Alan Parker 'New Communities Cannot Be Oil Dependent And Sustainable' is worth reviewing. I have formatted Alan's article, taken from a Greenleap email, as a 48 kb word download, and have extracted the introductory paragraphs below.
Judged by the flawed perceptions of overseas organisations, who use rampant consumerism and car dependence as a measure of success, Melbourne and Sydney are regularly ranked as two of the world’s most liveable cities. Meanwhile those who use the more objective measure of a cities ecological footprint know that Australia’s cities are ecologically unsustainable now and are rapidly becoming more so. To be realistic the Commonwealth has been committed to ecologically unsustainable development, since the 1960s, and despite all the rhetoric will fund a lot more unsustainable infrastructure by 2010. The car dependent lifestyles of Australians will become even more unsustainable
To significantly reverse unsustainable trends will take till at least 2014 no matter what is done by Commonwealth and state governments. The Australian transport system faces an oil-shortage crisis, probably within 10 to 20 years.
Oil is a non-renewable resource and is being depleted rapidly by Australia’s and the world’s profligate use of dwindling reserves. Failure to take urgent substantial action to reduce our oil dependence will leave Australia exposed to very serious economic and social risks. This writer wonders why that is so when recent international conferences on oil depletion in Sweden and Paris make it very clear that age of cheap oil is rapidly coming to an end. (Laherrere 2003) (Robinson 2002) When that happens, western cities and sprawling outer suburbs that are the most dependent on the private car will suffer economic deprivation, as the petrol prices increase. (Hardy 2004)
Despite the decline in the average number of people living in households their output of rubbish is increasing and so is energy consumption particularly the consumption of petrol and plastic products made from oil. The new dwellings being built are bigger than they need be, are mostly not well designed or equipped with energy efficient devices. In heat waves these new dwellings increase peak loading on the power stations and drain the dams when hundreds of thousands of air conditioners and water sprinklers get switched on. Most of the homes and household products being built today are not examples of the application of sustainable design principles but of planned obsolescence and some softwood framed homes will end up being prematurely recycled by termites.
Which means that even more oil is needed for the manufacture of replacements and to provide raw materials.
The Discussion Paper produced by the House of Representatives Inquiry into Sustainable Cities states (point 2 page 5) that “A sustainable city would successfully uncouple economic growth from increased energy consumption”. Not so because overall energy consumption is not the critical issue. Australia has a few hundred years supply of coal, 50 years supply of gas, abundant wind, solar and tidal energy resources but that’s not much help if the cheap oil that is weak link in the economic chain that holds the economy together is gone by 2010 or at the latest 2020.
The primary objective of any national strategy to create sustainable cities and the strategic plan for Melbourne must be to "uncouple economic growth from oil consumption and to do that as quickly as possible." If that is not done urban economies will collapse into economic chaos and poverty before sustainable products with long and useful lives can be made using the last of the cheap oil. You cannot build energy efficient homes, build wind farms and make millions of photoelectric roof tiles, produce electric bicycle and many other green products or produce food to eat well without significant reserves of cheap oil.
This must take place before the oil dependent world economy implodes due to huge increases in oil prices.
Alan's article makes good reading. For information on practical steps I have taken at Melbourne City Council on sustainable transport, see the policy links under the title 'Moving Melbourne' on my pages '100 Green Achievements' and '100 More Green Achievements'.
19 AUGUST 2004
GREENS CALL FOR INQUIRY INTO POLICE INACTION
Greens Senator Bob Brown issued the following press release in response to a Supreme Court finding that a number of individuals had intentionally harmed conservationists in the Otways in January 1999. The action was brought following the failure of police to take action on the serious claims made at the time.
Landmark case for forest justice
Greens Senator Bob Brown hailed today's Victorian Supreme Court finding that the CFMEU (Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union) and several individuals, including Victorian CFMEU Forestry Secretary Jane Calvert, had intentionally harmed conservationists in the Otways in January 1999.The 13 plaintiffs took legal action after the CFMEU set up a picket line around their camp in the Otways. Justice David Ashley awarded damages of $131 000 for the intentional harm caused to them during five days of intimidation.
"This is a landmark decision for the right of conservationists to camp and to protest peacefully in the forests," Senator Brown said.
"The real question is why the police did not take action in the first place when this matter was brought to their attention, including arresting and charging those involved."This warrants an explanation from the Minister and an independent inquiry.
"This court finding breaks the pattern of violent assaults against peaceful protesters in forests around the country and sends a strong warning to the CFMEU and its leaders that violence will not be tolerated.
"It is now up to the CFMEU to condemn the violence and guarantee that peaceful conservation protests will never again be harassed in such a way," said Senator Brown.
Senator Brown congratulated the 13 plaintiffs and their legal team for their courage, not only during the original confrontation, but for taking the case to court under great pressure when the police failed to uphold the law.
PM MUST EXPLAIN MISLEADING OVER WMDs - BROWN
Greens Senator Bob Brown issued the following media release today.
Prime Minister John Howard must explain the conflict between his public comments and advice he received from the UN weapons inspector Hans Blix about the likelihood that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction, Greens Senator Bob Brown said today.
A report in today's Sydney Morning Herald refers to advice that Mr Blix gave Mr Howard during a private meeting in New York in February and which Mr Howard would not discuss with journalists travelling with him at that time.
"The Prime Minister must explain his misleading of Australians with the view that he didn't know anybody who didn't believe Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when the world expert on the matter had serious doubts and conveyed these to Mr Howard," Senator Brown said.
Meanwhile, Senator Brown said Mr Howard should be invited to appear before the Senate inquiry into the new evidence about the 'children overboard' matter.
18 AUGUST 2004
HIGHER EDUCATION SHOULD BE FREE FOR ALL
I issued the following press release ahead of the National Day of Action tomorrow.
David Risstrom the Australian Greens Senate candidate for Victoria and Melbourne City Councillor today said that the success of Australian Olympians in Athens demonstrates how free education benefits Australia.
"Obviously a public supported sporting education for people who attend the AIS has had great benefits for Australia. We do not expect AIS athletes to pay for their sporting education because we know the investment in a professional sports education system produces world class athletes. Our results at the Olympics demonstrates that."
"University graduates provide the same benefits for Australia as sports people. They should therefore have the same support as people who attend the AIS. A free education. Australia has and continues to benefit greatly from a well educated population."
"Labor and Coalition federal governments have consistently undermined our education system making it more expensive and more difficult for people to access. All Victorian universities except the Victorian College of the Arts have increased their fees since the federal government permitted an increase of 25 percent."
"We should be encouraging people to attend university not discouraging them. Massive HECS debts discourage many people and their families from attending university or further training."
"At one stage Australian university system was, like the AIS is now, recognised as a world leader. Unfortunately, that no longer is the case."
"The Greens call for HECS to be abolished and all current HECS debts be removed. This would cost less than the $4 a week hamburger and milkshake tax cuts the federal government introduced last year", said Cr Risstrom.
"The federal government boasted about Australia's Olympic and sports success and the assistance the government provides to achieve that while at the same time removing support for universities."
17 AUGUST 2004
HOWARD HAS LOST RIGHT TO LEAD THIS GREAT COUNTRY - BROWN
Greens Senator Bob Brown issued the following media release today.
Confirmation by Mike Scrafton of the deliberated deception of the nation in the run to the last election removes John Howard's right to lead Australia, Greens Senator Bob Brown said today.
"This great nation must rely on its Prime Minister to tell the whole truth. In particular, the nation must know that the leader will not promote personal advantage by lying to it to win an election," Senator Brown said.
"John Howard has failed that responsibility and should resign.
"The role of his most trusted lieutenant, the former Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock, in concocting the children overboard fiction is Machiavellian but clearly served Mr Howard's purpose.
"The last election result becomes questionable: had the truth been told on the eve of the election it is quite probable that Mr Howard would have been ousted by former Labor leader Mr Beazley," Senator Brown said.
BULK BILLING RORT PUTS VOTES BEFORE HEALTH
Greens Senator Kerry Nettle issued the following media release yesterday in response to the Governments announcement that it was prepared t provide some assistance to the Medicare system it has in its guns, but largely only in marginal seats. It appears the curative approach is more targetted to the stemming the flow of votes away form the Coalition, rather than dealing with the health of the nation.
Greens Health Spokesperson Senator Kerry Nettle has labelled the Prime Minister's announced increase in bulk-billing incentives for outer urban and regional seats as a "blatant electoral rort" that shows the government is more interested in playing politics than improving public health outcomes.
"Giving an extra $2.50 to doctors to bulk bill people who for the most part are already bulk billed will make a negligible impact on health outcomes for patients," Senator Nettle said.
"The bulk billing rebate needs to rise for all GP consultations, not in an ad hoc fashion as the Howard government is doing.
"But there also needs to be far more focus on payments that target health outcomes, not simply massage bulk billing statistics. A shift in New Zealand towards more sophisticated payment systems has generated financial savings and better patient care.
"The Greens policy calls for an increase in the rebate for GP services for all patients - because Medicare should be a universal scheme - and incentive payments tied to health outcomes."Prime Minister John Howard suggested the government had only just learned that people in outer urban and in regional centres had difficulty finding a doctor let alone one who bulk bills but Health Minister Tony Abbott admitted today that this was not new.
"The only new discovery for the Prime Minister is that voters in marginal seats are turning away from the Liberal-National coalition because it prefers to put political expediency ahead of genuine health reform and the protection of Medicare as a truly universal public health insurance scheme."
16 AUGUST 2004
DAVID RISSTROM WELCOMES KEVIN ANDREWS GREEN RISK ASSESSMENT
I issued the following media release in response to the scare tactics of the Coalition delivered by conservative Liberal MP Kevin Andrews.
Support for the Greens at 11% producing an electoral result putting Labor ahead, has been identified by Coalition front bencher Kevin Andrews as a ‘big risk’ that will effectively result in a ‘Labor-Green coalition running Australia.’
“What Mr. Andrews is really saying is that the progressive politics of the Greens is a risk to the Coalition’s re-election, and more of the same old tired policies of yesteryear.
Victorian Greens Senate Candidate David Risstrom, today acknowledged that Mr. Andrews may see the Greens as a risk:
A risk to the Coalition that the Greens will not remain silent …
while Coalition conservatives try to drag everyone back to the '50s by ramming through legislation to define marriage as only being a choice for a man and a woman.
A risk to the Coalition that the Greens will not remain silent …
while they back the US Free Trade Agreement that will sell out our cheap medicines, sell out our culture, undermine our quarantine, and undermine our sovereignty and our ability to pursue the public good by a massive shift of power from our parliaments to US boardrooms.
A risk to the Coalition that the Greens will not remain silent …
while they squander $14 billion dollars on tax cuts for people earning over $52,000 a year, when that money is needed for services such as health, housing and education.
A risk to the Coalition that the Greens will not remain silent …
when their head in the sand attitude to climate change contributes to more droughts, less water, and more unseasonal and extreme weather events that damage our rural economy.
A risk to the Coalition that the Greens will not remain silent …
if they again mislead the Australian public on issues as important as committing our troops to war.
Kevin Andrews’ identification of the Greens as a big risk is not only a further step back to the future; it is one giant leap back to the farcical.
A bigger risk for Australia will be if the Coalition control both Houses of Parliament, and are exposed to no scrutiny in a sterilised Senate. Who knows where the Coalition’s backward looking time machine will take Australia if that is the case”, concluded David Risstrom.
PM LIED TO 20 MILLION AUSTRALIANS - HE SHOULD RESIGN: BROWN
Greens Senator Bob Brown issued the following media release today.
The revelation by defence adviser Mike Scrafton that he told Prime Minister Howard there was no evidence for his 'children overboard' claims before the 2001 election is damming, Greens Senator Bob Brown.
"Mr Scrafton's claim makes our Prime Minister a deliberate liar: not a liar in the public interest but a man prepared to lie to 20 million Australians to promote his own hold on the job. He should resign," Senator Brown said.
"Politicians are human and so can err. But self-serving deception of the nation on the eve of an election is unforgivable in the nation's leader."
In the run to the 2001 poll, Senator Brown repeatedly queried government statements vilifying asylum seekers arriving by boat, in particular the claims that children had been thrown overboard.
FRIDAY A TERRIBLE DAY FOR AUSTRALIA
This message was forwarded by Andrew Burke, Greens National Campaign Co-ordinator.
Last Friday was terrible day for Australia. In the Senate, the Coalition and the Labor Party combined to gag debate and pass four pieces of legislation that lessen our democracy and make our society less fair.
US Free Trade Agreement
The FTA will lead to more expensive prescription drugs, restrict new environmental regulation and cause the loss of up to 50,000 manufacturing jobs.
Ban on same sex marriage
John Howard's politics of homophobia and hate won the day. A setback for equality and fairness.
Civil liberties eroded
New laws, passed under the guise of 'anti-terrorism', reduce freedom of association and the rights of refugees and asylum seekers.
Voting rights taken away
New legislation removed the right of many prisoners to a vote in federal elections.The Greens stood strongly in the Senate against these changes, and in the wake of this sad day hope emerged with a Sunday Age-Taverner poll showing the Greens surging from 7% to 11%.
The Greens will continue to passionately put forward our policies for a fair, sustainable and independent Australia. With your help we can hold the major parties to account for their actions. Please do support our campaign in whatever way you can. You can volunteer to help or make a donation online at www.greens.org.au/volunteer or www.greens.org.au/donate.
Also at www.greens.org.au you can find out more about the legislation that passed on Friday, and the Greens' positive policies for a progressive alternative.
15 AUGUST 2004
POLLS SHOWS GREENS SURGE
Greens Senator Bob Brown issued the following media release today.
Today's Taverner Poll (Sunday Age) showing the Greens on 11% in NSW and Victoria reflects widespread unhappiness with Labor backing Coalition policies, in particular the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement (FTA), Greens Senator Bob Brown said today.
"Many voters are fed up. Letters to me last week are from older voters saying they will vote Green after a lifetime voting Labor," Senator Brown said.
"Liberal voters too see the commitment to President Bush's Iraq war and the FTA as a loss of sovereignty for Australia.
"The Latham-Howard 'we're the same' approach to the FTA, banning same-sex marriages, logging Tasmania's forests, tax cuts for the rich and the hike in PBS fees - all of which the Greens opposed - is shaking voters out of the old party trees.
"There's a real shift towards the Greens' values and optimism for an Australian alternative," Senator Brown said.
14 AUGUST 2004
'PARLIAMENT RECALL' THREAT A NEW LOAN IN SUBSERVIENCE
Greens Senator Bob Brown issued the following media release today.
The government's threat to recall parliament if the USA does not approve of Australia's enabling legislation for the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is a new low in subservience to the Bush Administration, Greens Senator Bob Brown said today.
"No doubt Latham's Labor will fall into line," Senator Brown said.
"However, it is the US Congress which should be recalled - let them vote on whether or not they want the FTA.
"Maybe they will vote it down so Australia can get back to running its democracy without waiting on America's say so," Senator Brown said.
13 AUGUST 2004
LABOUR SUPPORTS HOWARD'S HOMOPHOBIA
Greens Senator Kerry Nettle issued the following media release today on the appaulling betrayal by the parliamentary arm of the Australian Labour Party.
Greens Senator Kerry Nettle today told the Senate that she was 'saddened and appalled' by the Labor Party decision to support the Prime Minister's homophobic ban on same sex marriage.
"Today's speeches in the Senate confirm the rampant homophobia of the major parties in federal parliament.
"This bill is all about vilifying lesbians and gays for political ends. It's appalling.
"The passage of this bill gives a green light to the bigots and homophobes who would perpetrate acts of violence and hate against lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and intersex people.
"The Labor party could have joined The Greens to oppose this bill but instead support legislated discrimination against the gay community.
"No Labor members have had the guts to stand up for human rights over this issue. They will stand condemned by an electorate that will be shocked by their hypocrisy.
"The Greens will continue to support the gay community to oppose this government sponsored discrimination.
10 AUGUST 2004
GREENS CALL FOR LABOR SUPPORT TO PLUG AUSFTA 'CONSTRUCTIVE AMBIGUITIES'
Greens Senator Bob Brown issued the following media release appealling to the ALP to support amendments that clarify the Australia - US Free Trade agreement. The Greens oppose the FTA but it appears increasingly likely that the ALP will join with the Coalition to support it in the Senate.
Greens Senator Bob Brown is asking Labor to support amendments in the Senate requiring the government to clarify 'constructive ambiguities' in the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA) before it comes into force.
"The AUSFTA is riddled with get-out clauses, deliberately left vague so that both parties can claim what suits their political ends," Senator Brown said today.
"These 'constructive ambiguities' are supposed to be sorted out over time by committees and working groups established under the AUSFTA - dominated by trade interests, operating in secret, with no appeal and no role for parliament.
"The Greens are moving to remove the ambiguities now and confirm the government's stated position on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, environment laws, local content in new media, and quarantine laws.
"International legal practice means the Australian government can table reservations and interpretive declarations unilaterally before the AUSFTA comes into force, without abrogating the agreement.
"Importantly this flexibility remains for 60 days after each country has notified the other that it ready for the agreement to come into force.
"Depending on the timing and result of Australia's election, a Latham Labor government has a window of opportunity to guarantee that the AUSFTA won't undermine the health, environment and culture of Australians.
"It also has this opportunity to ensure parliament has the right to vet interpretations of the AUSFTA."Labor should commit to using this cooling-off period to fix up the AUSFTA," Senator Brown said.
Note. 'Reservations' and 'Interpretative Declarations' are unilateral statements made after initialling or signature but before entry into force of a bilateral (or multilateral) treaty which modify or interpret its provisions. The USA enters 15% of bilateral treaties subject to reservations. Australia entered such a declaration to the Agreement relating to Scientific and Technical Co-operation between Australia and the European Community in February 1994.
WOMEN AND LOCAL GOVERNANCE FORUM: THE IMPACTS OF MUNCIPAL AMALGAMATIONS IN LONDON AND TORONTO
The Director of the Centre for Public Policy, Professor Mark Considine, would like to remind you about tonight's Women and Local Governance evening forum, Tuesday 10th August.
In association with the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning and the Women's Participation in Local Government (WPILG) Coalition, the Centre will be hosting this special forum titled Women and Local Governance: The Impacts of Municipal Amalgamations in London and Toronto tonight at 6:30pm. This presentation will be made by Professor Sylvia Bashevkin from the University of Toronto. Discussants will include Elizabeth Hartnell-Young and Linda Bennett from the Women's Participation in Local Government (WPILG) Coalition. Professor Ruth Fincher, Dean and Professor of Urban Planning will chair this event.
Professor Sylvia Bashevkin is Vice Principal of University College at the University of Toronto. A professor in the Department of Political Science and senior fellow at Massey College, she is a specialist in the fields of women and politics, public policy and comparative politics.
Sylvia Bashevkin is the author of several books including Welfare Hot Buttons: Women, Work and Social Policy Reform (2002); Women on the Defensive: Living Through Conservative Times (1998) and Toeing the Lines: Women and Party Politics in English Canada (1993).
This event will be held in the Public Policy Lecture Theatre, 2nd Floor, 234 Queensberry Street, Carlton. For regular attenders of CPP events, please note the later starting time of 6:30pm. More information about this forum can be found on our website: http://www.public-policy.unimelb.edu.au/bashevkin.html
For more information about this event call 03 8344 9482.
COMMUNITY EMPOWERMENT: A CHANCE TO HAVE YOUR SAY AND LEARN ABOUT WAYS TO REDUCE HOME ELECTRICITY USE
This information was forwarded from Community Power, Australia. More information is available on their website and as one of my 100 Green Achievements Adopt Community Power Green Energy.
Australia’s electricity use is growing fast. Most of Australia’s electricity comes from burning fossil fuels, so greenhouse gas emissions are also on the rise. If we can find ways to reduce our electricity use, we can save money on bills and do something positive for the environment.The Moreland Energy Foundation Ltd (MEFL) and the Institute for Sustainable Futures want to talk to householders about ways to reduce home electricity use. We want to hear YOUR views - come along to one of our workshops to tell us what issues are important to you and to test some ideas about ways that governments and businesses can help Australians to use less electricity.
Workshops are free and tea and coffee will be provided.
When: Tuesday 31 August from 1pm – 3 pm.
Where: BEST Community Development Centre, 28 Victoria Street Ballarat
Metropolitan Afternoon Workshop
When: Wednesday 25th August from 2:30pm – 4:30pm
Where: City of Darebin Council Chambers, 350 High St Preston
Metropolitan Evening Workshop
When: Wednesday 25th August from 7pm – 9pm
Where: Coburg Concert Hall, Urqhart St Coburg.
Bring along a copy of your last electricity and gas bills.
RSVP by calling MEFL on 9381 1722 or email firstname.lastname@example.org (please make clear which workshop you are attending).9 AUGUST 2004
WORLD INDIGENOUS PEOPLES DAY
On the International Day of the World's Indigenous People, Michael Organ has reminded parliament of the shameful position adopted by the Howard government regarding the United Nations Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
"Since 1998 this government has rejected the use of the term "self determination" within the Declaration - a core issue for Indigenous peoples around the world." Michael Organ told the Parliament today."
John Howard's attempts to railroad the Declaration is a further rejection of Indigenous rights and sovereignty in this country and follows on from the recent abolition of ATSIC and the mainstreaming of Indigenous health, education and employment programs."
Australia, the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Japan are seen as the most fierce challengers to the fundamental principles underlying the Declaration. Dootch Kennedy, one of Australia's representatives at last year's Working Group meeting in South Africa, told me only this morning that the Australian proposal would: "....water down the rights of Indigenous Australians and make it more difficult to pursue those rights in the future."
"I call on the Howard Government to cease its attacks on Aboriginal sites such as the tent embassy in Canberra, to acknowledge Indigenous rights and support the passage of the draft Declaration through the United Nations without delay." Michael Organ said.
ACF: ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF FTA UNKNOWN AND UNTESTED
The ACF has refuted Government claims that the Free Trade Agreement poses no harm to the Australian environment. The following media release detailing those concerns is taken from the ACF website.
ACF Campaigns Director John Connor said Environment Minister Ian Campbell was wrong to claim that an environmental impact assessment had been conducted to determine whether the environment would be adversely affected by the US Australia FTA.
"The Centre for International Economics report, with a small environmental chapter, cannot be claimed to represent an environmental assessment of the agreement. The report itself acknowledges this: This review does not attempt to provide a full scale quantitative assessment of the consequences of the Agreement on the environment (p 129 CIE report)," Mr Connor said.
"The CIE report was inadequate in terms of public input and final content. For example it failed to look at impacts of the agreement on water consumption, land disturbance and energy use. It cannot be passed off as meeting the FTA's requirement for a review of the environmental effects of the FTA at the first meeting of the Joint Committee (Art 21.1.7).
"There is little doubt that the US/Australia FTA will have dramatic implications for Australia's law-making processes, and force governments to think twice before introducing important environmental and public health regulations.
"Government initiatives around water, waste management, energy and the management of our national parks will all be scrutinised and subjected to special tests designed to show the least burdensome approach for US investors.
"The NSW, Victorian and ACT Governments have all expressed their concern that any new environment protection initiatives imposed after the FTA has come into effect could result in massive compensation payouts to US companies.
"Earlier this week six large US environment groups said the agreement in its current form threatened to undermine environmental protection in both countries.
"There is an urgent need for new trade legislation that will grant Parliament a greater role and say in the process and ensure that the environmental and social impacts of future trade agreements are assessed prior to signing and implementation," said Mr Connor.
5 AUGUST 2004
US ENVIRONMENT GROUPS URGE USFTA REJECTION
United States environment groups have united in opposition to the Australia- UNited States Free Trade Agreement, urging the Australian Parliament to reject the deal. This media release forwarded from Senator Bob Brown's office details the environmental issues of concern.
'Governments…will be tied in knots'
Australia should heed the overnight warning of six major US environment groups, representing millions of Americans, who say that the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA) threatens to undermine environmental protection in both the US and Australia, Greens Senator Bob Brown said today.
The groups say that environmental provisions in the AUSFTA are 'vague and unenforceable'; that the agreement leaves the door open for foreign investors to challenge governments before ad-hoc international tribunals; and that the ability of government to enforce environmental standards will be impaired.
They say that the agreement could impede attempts to protect the Californian coast from BHP's proposed liquid natural gas terminal and that policies on toxic petrol additives, hazardous waste treatment and transport and open-pit mining have already been challenged under the North American Free Trade Agreement.
"Governments trying to protect the environment will be tied in knots by this agreement, and ultimately at the mercy of secret dispute resolution processes conducted by trade boffins, not environmental experts," Senator Brown said.
"Australia has failed to do an environmental impact assessment of the AUSFTA and the Senate inquiry's final report on the AUSFTA completely ignores environmental issues raised in its interim report, similar to those now highlighted from the US.
"These US groups speak from practical experience of living under a free trade agreement."The US groups are the Centre for International Environmental Law, Defenders of Wildlife, Earthjustice, Friends of the Earth, Sierra Club and Pacific Environment. Their statement is attached.
The groups involved are: Centre for International Environmental Law; Defenders of Wildlife; Earthjustice; Friends of the Earth; Sierra Club; and, Pacific Environment.
The Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA) threatens to undermine environmental protections both within Australia and the United States. Our organizations representing millions of Americans are therefore opposed to the passage of the AUSFTA in its current form. Our concerns regarding specific areas of the agreement are described below.
The environment chapter of the AUSFTA includes provisions that are generally vague and unenforceable. Moreover, we are troubled by the inclusion of the provisions in Article 19.4 of the agreement, which appear to encourage the Parties to use voluntary measures, as opposed to regulatory instruments, to achieve and maintain high levels of environmental protection. While we believe that voluntary measures can serve a valuable purpose, in most cases they are not an adequate substitute for publicly adopted regulatory standards.
We also are deeply concerned that the environment chapter does not include a citizen submission process that would allow citizens to address failures by either government to protect the environment. An effective and strong citizen submission process, with clearly enforceable outcomes, should be included in order to ensure that the environment is adequately protected and that the AUSFTA leads to sustainable development rather than to socially and environmentally harmful economic activities.
The AUSFTA does not include an “investor suit” mechanism that permits foreign investors to directly challenge environmental laws and regulations before international tribunals. We welcome the exclusion of such a mechanism. However, the AUSFTA still explicitly leaves the door open to direct suits by multinational investors before ad-hoc international tribunals. Article 11.16.1 of the agreement permits the executives of the two governments to establish an ad-hoc investor suit process in particular cases, without any approval or oversight by either the U.S. Congress or the Australian parliament. By allowing foreign investors to bypass domestic legal processes, investment suits permitted under this procedure would undermine democratic governance concerning public interest policies.
Moreover, we continue to have significant concerns about the substantive rights provided to foreign investors in the AUSFTA. The agreement provides multinational businesses rights that are similar to those in NAFTA and other agreements. Under NAFTA, both Mexico and Canada have already lost cases involving environmental protections, and the United States faces challenges to public health and environmental standards. These cases have included challenges to policies concerning toxic gasoline additives, hazardous waste treatment, transboundary transport of hazardous waste, open-pit mining mitigation measures, and others.We believe that the rights in these agreements are too broad and grant privileges to multinational investors that go significantly beyond the rights provided under either Australian or U.S. domestic law. The result is that environmental laws and regulations that affect foreign investors will be inappropriately subject to challenge. For example, the AUSFTA includes language requiring that foreign investors be compensated if laws or regulations “indirectly expropriate” their investment interests. The agreement lacks adequate limitations on this provision, making it contrary to long-standing legal principles in Australian and U.S. law that have permitted environmental regulation concerning land use and other policies without a legal requirement to pay compensation.
Trade in Services
Finally, we are also deeply concerned by the provisions in the “trade in services” chapter of the AUSFTA. These rules could impinge on the ability of state, local and federal governments to adopt and enforce environmental standards in environmentally sensitive sectors that are classified as “services” in trade law - including such sectors as oil and gas extraction, transport and storage operations; mining activities; tourism and hotel construction; water supply; forestry activities; and others.For these sectors, the AUSFTA goes beyond World Trade Organization rules by requiring that governments must endeavour to ensure that domestic regulations are not more burdensome than necessary to ensure the quality of the service. In other words, the agreement requires policymakers to choose the regulatory alternative that is least restrictive of service operations, regardless of issues of cost, efficacy, or democratic preference. For example, restrictions on coastal development could be required to be carried out in the manner that is least restrictive of services operations carried out by foreign hotel operators. The AUSFTA also prohibits the use of a number of kinds of quantitative restrictions on service operations, which could include forbidding environmental restrictions on the number of offshore oil wells, mining operations, hotels, and other service operations.
These services provisions, for example, are troubling in light of the recent, highly controversial efforts by the Australian company BHP Billiton to establish a liquid natural gas (LNG) terminal off the California coast. The services chapter could impede regulatory measures to address the environmental risks posed by the terminals.
For all of the reasons outlined above, we believe the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement will undermine efforts to protect the environment and should not be approved.
4 AUGUST 2004
GREENS CONDEMN LABOR BETRAYAL OF GAY AND LESBIAN RIGHTS - ALP INNER SEATS NOW UNDER THREAT
Greens Senator Kerry Nettle issued the following media release on the ALP backflip on same sex marriages.
Greens Senator Kerry Nettle today condemned Labor for their betrayal of gay and lesbian rights by agreeing to pass John Howard's anti-gay marriage bill.
"By agreeing to this legislation Labor are agreeing with the government that gays and lesbians do not deserve the same rights as the rest of the population," Senator Nettle said.
"The Greens are deeply disappointed that the Labor party has not had the courage to take on the homophobic motivations that are at play here."The Labor announcement today confirms their support for official discrimination against lesbian and gay couples.
"The Greens have already received huge support from the lesbian and gay community and expect that support to translate to an increased vote particularly in inner city seats.
"The Labor party should have joined The Greens in opposing the government's move to outlaw same sex marriage but they did not. Instead they promised to have the bill examined by a committee and have now broken that promise.
"The Greens have introduced a Bill in the parliament to outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexuality.
"The impending passage of John Howard's bill to ban same sex marriages is a tragedy for human rights in Australia, and in particular for same sex couples and their children who are denigrated by this parliamentary witch hunt."
3 AUGUST 2004
42 REASONS WHY THE ALP SHOULDN’T BACK IN THE LIBERALS’ FTA
I issued the following media release on the impending endorsement by the ALP of the Australia-USA Free Trade Agreement.
The recommendations of Labor Senators on the Senate Select Committee on the Free Trade Agreement provides 42 reasons not to endorse the FTA, introduced by one statement recommending that ALP Senators agree to it.
Greens No. 1 Senate Candidate David Risstrom has a message for ALP Senators unsure of their position: “The answer is ’42.’ 42 of your own good reasons why not to back in the FTA.”
“The ALP’s capitulation on the Australia-USA Free Trade Deal is a betrayal for Australia and a betrayal for Victoria. The Coalition delivered more to the USA than it did to Australia, and now the ALP is backing it in.”
“Why, in a replay of the last Federal election, is the ALP trying so hard to be Liberal? Didn't the ALP get the message from the public from the Tampa crisis?: Australians want an alternative in the ALP, not a soft version of the Liberals.”
“Many unions, including the AMWU, have already expressed their opposition to this lousy deal. Many workers will be angry when they know more. Voters will be outraged when they feel the impact of the FTA on their medical bills, when Oprah Winfrey replaces Andrew Denton and if a failure in our quarantine puts our agriculture at risk. But unless the ALP develops some back bone and opposes the FTA, it will all be too late.”
“With the strong manufacturing base in Victoria, I would have thought ALP Senator Stephen Conroy would have stood firm in supporting Victorian manufacturing. I hope he does so.”
“The Greens believe this was a bad deal for Australians from the beginning and will block its passage in the Senate. The ALP's capitulation sends a strong message about having other voices in the Senate. We need Senators who will represent Australian interests, not US corporate interests”, concluded Cr. Risstrom.
For more information: David Risstrom: 0418 502 713 - Victorian Greens No. 1 Senate Candidate.
2 AUGUST 2004
LABOR'S CAPITULATION ON HOWARD'S FREE TRADE AGREEMENT WILL OFFEND MILLIONS OF AUSTRALIANS
The Australian Labour Party has signalled its intention to back the sell out of Australians with support for the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement. Bob Brown issued the following media release, with another release from Genethics below detailing how the FTA will sell out our agriculture future.
Labor's capitulation on Howard's FTA will offend millions of Australians
Labor's capitulation to Prime Minister Howard's Free Trade Agreement (FTA) will demoralise and offend millions of Australians, including Labor voters, Greens Senator Bob Brown said today.
"Both the process and outcome is rude and unforgivable," Senator Brown said.
"In today's orchestrated announcement, the Labor big guns have pulled the rug from under tomorrow's Caucus meeting and insulted proper Senate committee process.
"It is fatuous - the Australian public is being taken for granted."Senator Brown said that Labor has found the FTA may:
undermine the pharmaceutical benefits scheme
disadvantage Australian agriculture by not having a 'most favoured nation' clause
'improperly service' cultural protection for Australia's creative arts industry.
"Yet the Cook-Conroy-O'Brien message to voters is that the best way to plug the holes in the FTA is to vote Labor in as guardian. This is self-serving, hollow politics after a sellout to the White House and the big end of town," Senator Brown said.
"The Greens will move serious amendments in the Senate, and will include any of today's Labor measures which Caucus rejects tomorrow.
"However, Labor knows that the FTA has gone through Congress and is essentially unchangeable - they're adopting it lock, stock and barrel," Senator Brown said.
Gene Tech Sell Out in FTA
Australia's national interests and sovereign independence will be gravely damaged if the ALP votes with the Coalition to legalise Howard's and Bush's so-called Free Trade Agreement with the USA. The ALP's prospects of winning the federal election will also be lost among voters who want an end to the government's sycophantic pandering to US interests.
"Many Australian's see merit in free trade, but the US economy is run by corporate interests which flout free trade rules and do not accept a level playing field for their competitors" says GeneEthics Director Bob Phelps.
"For instance, the US government's Farm Bill continues to subsidise US farmers with US$333 billion over the next decade and the FTA would delay more Australian farm exports to the USA into the distant future," he says.
"This bilateral agreement is not free or fair and Australia would continue to be the Deputy Sheriff, up against an economy hundreds of times bigger than our own," he says.
"The WTO's multilateral system offers protections, such as the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Rules and dispute resolution for all parties, but the bilateral proposal does not," he says.
"Genetically engineered (GE) crops and foods would be forced down our throats and onto our farms, ending our hopes of keeping Australia as the world's GE-free food bowl, with free access to world markets," Mr Phelps says.
"The FTA would open the way for the USA to insist on:
* ending our labelling of GE foods (weak as our laws are);
* watering down our quarantine rules that help protect Australia's clean, green, GE-free farms;
* weaker risk assessments of GE crops and foods coming into Australia than those provided under WTO rules;
* ending state bans on the commercial planting of GE canola;
* permanently refusing to sign and ratify the Biosafety Protocol, to help reduce contamination by GE organisms transferred internationally;
* free access for GE and other foods from the USA, even though these are subsidised with US$33 billion pa under the US Farm Bill," he says.
"Most Australians want fair trade and the right to choose local, fresh GE-free foods," he says.
"We call on the ALP to join the Greens, Democrats and independents in saying 'NO' to the FTA when it comes to a vote in our parliament," Mr Phelps concludes.
ADVANCE NOTICE - 2 SEPTEMBER - THE CORPORATION: MELBOURNE FILM FUNDRAISER
Sundance Film Festival winner 'The Corporation' will be showing at The Nova Cinema in Carlton on Thursday 2 September 04. 'The Corporation' is a timely, critical enquiry into the inner working of corporations. Features interviews with Michael Moore, Noam Chomsky and many others. Tickets are $20 for a 6:30 pm start. To book and pay phone Karin on 9718 2803 or email email@example.com. Refreshments are being served in the foyer after the film.
1 AUGUST 2004
BENDIGO UNI GREEN WEEK 2004
Bendigo Uni Green Week 2004 is on from the 2nd to the 5th of August at La Trobe University, Bendigo. Green Week is a week of environmental awareness coordinated by LEAF at La Trobe Uni, Bendigo. The organisers invite you to come along, enjoy the festivities and discover how you can help make this planet sustainable. Details of the week's going on ar online at: Bendigo Uni Green Week 2004.
31 JULY 2004
VIVID GREEN ART AUCTION A GREAT SUCCESS
The Vivid Green Art Auction was held last night at 45 Downstairs in Flinders Lane, Melbourne. Many generous artists donated their art to the Greens for auction, with quite a few buyers both snapping up absolute bargains as well as doing their bit to help the Greens keep alternative political voices alive. Details for the auction can be found online at www.vividart.com.au. Some works of art remain bid at below reserve prices, so please take the time to enquire. You may just help the Greens while filling the void on your loungeroom wall.
30 JULY 2004
FREE TRADE AGREEMENT A THREAT TO ARTISTS AND ENTERTAINERS SAY GREENS
I issued the following media release ahead of a joint press conference with Senator Bob Brown, film maker Adam Elliot and myself at Fortyfive Downstairs, where the Vivid Greens Art Auction was held later in the evening.
The so-called Free Trade Agreement between Australia and the United States is a major threat to the Australian entertainment industry and will 'cancel the show' for Australian artists and entertainers said David Risstrom, Greens Senate candidate for Victoria.
"Under the FTA, the Australian government is signing away its support of our local artists and entertainers", said Mr Risstrom.
"Any financial support to help Australian artists and entertainers would be seen as a subsidy and a barrier to trade under the FTA".
"The Australian government under the FTA will limit its ability to implement new legislation or guarantee local content", said Mr Risstrom.
"The entertainment industry is continually changing and the government needs to retain the ability to adapt to those changes. Canada did in their FTA with the USA".
Mr Risstrom has challenged the government to follow Canada's lead and retain the ability to promote and develop the art and entertainment industries."
The proposed FTA, while denying support to local artists, would allow US artists and even corporations to access financial support from the Australian government", said Mr Risstrom.
The Australian Greens are opposed to the FTA, "we recognise the important contribution that artists and entertainers make to Australian culture and the community and share the concern of many artists and entertainers that the FTA will cancel the show", said Mr Risstrom.
The Greens call for a Fair Trade Agreement not a Free Trade Agreement.
29 JULY 2004
GREENS BALLARAT CANDIDATE TONY KELLY EXPECTING 'FROM LITTLE THINGS BIG THINGS GROW'
I am sitting in the Ballarat - Melbourne train following a good solid couple of weeks campaigning in rural and regional Victoria. Yesterday's full day of campaigning finished with a great dinner at Clementines restaurant in Clunes. It was great spending the day with the Greens candidate for Ballarat Tony Kelly, which included meeting journalists, having lunch with a range of people in Ballarat, doing regional ABC radio and JJJ, time campaigning at Ballarat Uni and meeting many greeting people on the streets and in shopping centres.
Tony Kelly, who is a brother of wonderful singer and songwriter Paul Kelly, is a lovely fellow and will be a great asset to the people of Western Victoria when he is ultimately elected. Winning this election will be a difficult task, but I have little doubt that there will be a few interesting surprises in the upcoming Federal election. There is absolutely no doubt that the Parliament needs more people like Tony Kelly to bring that gentle honesty and decency to our Parliaments. As Tony's brother Paul says 'from little things big things grow'. I certainly expect that while Tony's vote is not high enough at the moment to expect him to win, like Michael Organ in Cunningham in New South Wales, he may pleasantly surprise the pundits and do the people of Ballarat proud.
28 JULY 2004
MCEWEN CAMPAIGNING TAKES US THROUGH THE NORTHEAST
Our ongoing campaigning in rural and regional Victoria has brought us to a number of towns in Central North West Victoria, meeting and greeting people with the Greens Federal candidate for McEwen, Meggs Hannes-Paterson. Beginning at 6:15 at Wallan train station with the air being around 2 degrees Celsius made for very cold feet and hands, but a wonderfully warm reception from the train travelling public. Onto East Kilmore station, the local library, Kilmore, lunch at the community house in Lancefield, meeting local resident representatives at the 6% full Rosalind Reservoir and more time at Gisborne speaking to residents and local traders, a really busy day was woven in with a nice half hour with a couple of young wombats and kangaroos being cared for at Marcus Ward's home as part of his ongoing role in animal rescue work. The evening concluded beautifully with a lovely dinner at Braeside in Mt. Macedon, where more than 20 of us enjoyed a wonderful meal in really homely surroundings.
We will be officially launching Meggs Hannes-Paterson's campaign for McEwen at the St. Andrews market at 11:30 am next Saturday July 31. Weather permitting, we will have a band, people and lots of fun to officially kick off Meggs campaign, though I must say, from the reception that Meggs received in the time I have already spent campaigning with her makes it clear that half the town already know her and know she is standing anyway!! Her reputation goes so far as to have the sitting Liberal member Fran Bailey visit the Lancefield Farmers market that Meggs has helped establish, despite the rain bucketing down. Good luck Meggs, and good luck to the people of McEwen. You've got a good one in your Greens candidate and future Member for McEwen Meggs Hannes-Paterson.
26 JULY 2004
WEEEKLY TIMES OPINION PIECE - GREENS MAKE SUSTAINABILITY AN ELECTION ISSUE
This opinion piece was published in The Weekly Times today in response to the series of articles catalysed by the Victorian Farmers Federation attack on the Greens as supposedly having what they see as an undue influence on policy.
Greens make sustainability an election issue
The Victorian Farmers Federation attack on Green policies is confirmation that the Greens have made sustainability an election issue.The Greens believe sustainability should be as central to this election as it is to our future. The ability to sustain our environment, to maintain employment, to stop families and their farms being driven into the ground, to secure adequate water supplies, to maintain the integrity of our quarantine, decent farm gate prices for produce, dealing realistically with the climate change induced drought, and supporting struggling community, medical and telephone services in rural and regional areas are all central to a safe, stable and secure future.
It was not the Greens who made the decisions that concern most regional Victorians. The Greens did not decide to introduce the USA-Australia Free Trade Agreement, to deregulate the dairy industry, to place a toxic waste dump in Nowingi or to sell Telstra. These and many other decisions that have divided rural communities were made by Labor or Coalition governments and strongly opposed by the Greens. Why then has Paul Weller not stood up to Labor or the Coalition for Victorian farmers and rural Victorian communities?
More recently, Victorian Farmers Federation president Paul Weller attacked the Greens as a threat to farmers’ lifestyles, while endorsing an irresponsible $14 billion dollar tax cut give away reserved for people earning over $52,000 a year. How many people in rural and regional Victoria earn that sort of money?
There is little doubt that the Greens’ political influence is growing. Many Australians respect the fact that the Greens stand up for what we believe in and offer an optimistic future.
The Greens believe in an equitable and sustainable future for all Australians. We do not believe, like those who pursue a free market driven agenda, that for someone to benefit it has to be at the expense of others. We are constantly sold the mantra by the VFF and the major parties that an anything-goes free market approach will benefit us all. While it may benefit some, especially multinational conglomerations, many others, like the family farm, are often sacrificed. The deregulation of the dairy industry is an example. The ones who benefited most are the large supermarket chains.
As farmers have recognised for many years, Australia needs a sustainable future. We need to acknowledge that our environment is a fragile and limited resource. We need to think about the heritage we leave our children and take action to secure it. The Greens believe that a sustainable future is possible but needs the will and courage of our leaders.Many rural Victorians, like the Greens, are planning for a sustainable future. The challenge for the Victorian Farmers Federation is to have the courage to recognise what the future requires and make the choice of long-term sustainable future for all Victorians.
25 JULY 2004
ENVIRONMENT MINISTER SENATOR IAN CAMPBELL'S AVERSION TO GREEN BAGS
It is obvious that the new Environment Minister Senator Ian Campbell has some problems with the colour green being seen to often as associated with progress on environment issues. During an interview on ABC Insiders that broached a number of issues, when asked about implementing a policy to ban plastic bags, which the Greens led with and Labor has since followed, Senator Campbell skirted around the issue, to then release what I call his 'rainbow plastic bag policy.' Senator Ian McDonald, being interviewed by Barrie Cassidy, is reported on the ABC 'Insiders' website of 25 August 2004 as saying:
Senator Ian Campbell: One of the things I've already done this week, Barrie, is I'm working with retailers to bring on a new series of bags. We want some blue bags, for example, people like these green bags, I want a new initiative to link the importance of the damage plastic bags can do to our rivers and oceans to send a strong message by saying that this is a very important measure for the world's oceans and Australia's beaches.
Barrie Cassidy: What message does a blue bag send?
Senator Ian Campbell: The Blue bag will be the same as a green bag, Barrie, but it's going to be blue. We want a series of different colours, we want to keep the initiative going and keep re-invigorating it every few months with different coloured bags.
Barrie Cassidy: I'm sorry, I missed the point - what's the significance of changing from green to blue?
Senator Ian Campbell: Well, you can basically have your choice of colours. Some people like green, some like white. Some of the supermarkets I visited yesterday had calico bags. The colour's not important but I want to link the colour of the bags to environmental outcomes. And one of the things I'm working with retailers on is brining in a new blue bag which will link the reduction in plastic bags to cleaner oceans and cleaner rivers in Australia.
Barrie Cassidy: OK, Minister, were out of time. Thanks for your time this morning.
Barrie, I think you are right. We are out of time. In light of the Coalition’s unwillingness to regulate on plastic bags, and to consider voluntary measures achieving somewhere near a 4% recycling rate as a success, time has indeed run out.It is not hard to imagine that what is really driving this silly suggestion is the fear that people associating the colour Green with a party that actually stands for something is annoying the Coalition. If that is the case, I have no sympathy whatsoever. Below is an exert from a previous webpage on the appaulling approach of the Coalition when David Kemp was Environment Minister.
AUSTRALIA'S ENVIRONMENT LEFT CARRYING THE [PLASTIC] BAG
The Federal Government has squandered another opportunity to prove it means what it sometime says when it comes to the future of Australia's environment. David Kemp has endorsed a five year stay on introducing a national 25 cents plastic bags levy. Below is a press release from Greens Senator Bob Brown received 1 August 2003:
Kemp's Plastic Bag Meltdown 'Pathetic'- Brown
Environment Minister David Kemp's agreement to a five-year stay on introducing a national 25 cents plastic bags levy is pathetic. The phase-out formula will penalise the progressive retailers: there will be no level playing field.
"It leaves the nation, once again, way behind the world's best green practice," Greens Senator Bob Brown said today. "Ireland can do it. Germany can. Denmark can. Coles Bay can. But the Howard government can't. It has caved in to the big retailers. "Prime Minister Howard says that the environment is a priority. Well, this is a bad omen. If he cannot show the leadership to bring in a levy on plastic bags, which has 80% popular support in the polls, people can have little faith that he will make any breakthroughs on harder issues like global warming, logging of Tasmania's forests or the impending loss of millions of hectares of Australia's farmlands to erosion and salinity," Senator Brown said.
Details of my initiative to reduce plastic bag use in Melbourne are at: Bagging Melbourne (in a nice way!)24 JULY 2004
THE AUSTRALIAN GREENS (VIC) CONTEMPORARY ART AUCTION
The VIVID Art Auction on 30 July is Green fundraising event that will have the work of some of Australia's best artists available for auction. Details for the auction can be found online at www.vividart.com.au.
You can come check out the artwork ahead of the night and help celebrate the opening of the VIVID Art Auction, a major fundraising activity for the Australian Greens (Victoria). Meet the artists and supporters who have donated their time and artworks at the VIVID Launch Party: 6.00pm - 9.00pm Wednesday 28 July 2004 Fortyfive downstairs 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne. Cost: $10 includes 2 glasses of Swords finest wine, cheese, and the groovy tunes of DJ Rob Cattanach of Club SouSoul.
For further details about the event and the auction, logon to www.vividart.com.au
23 JULY 2004
NOW YOU CAN WATCH 'FREE THE REFUGEES'!!
The Greens have been speaking out for the rights of asylum seekers for many years. No one has been a stronger voice on this vital issue than Bob Brown.Now Bob has teamed up with Merlin Luck of Big Brother fame to record a 30-second mini-movie "Free the Refugees". Since making his famous 'Free the Refugees' protest when exiting the Big Brother house, Merlin has become a strong campaigner for compassionate and humanitarian politics."
Free the Refugees" is a positive and vibrant piece, intended to communicate a political message to a young audience.
You can watch "Free the Refugees" by going to: www.greens.org.au/multimedia.
The Greens will be campaigning hard on the rights of asylum seekers throughout this election campaign. Australia desperately needs to leave behind the fear and scapegoating of the Howard era, and enter into a new era of compassion and respect for international law.
To read our Immigration and Refugees Policy go to: www.greens.org.au/policies/society/immigrationandrefugees.
To volunteer to help our campaign and stand up for asylum seekers, go to: www.greens.org.au/volunteer.
22 JULY 2004
HELP FOR COUNCILS TO TAKE NATIONAL ACTION ON BICYCLE TRANSPORT
A recent Victorian Local Governance Association newsletter included some interesting information on the ability of Councils to use existing Federal funding to improve bicycle facilities. Having secured $1.2 million dollars for bicycle facilities in this years Melbourne City Council budget, and $2 million over two years, I am looking forward to local communities joining with Federal funding to make real move towards providing bicycle trips as a realistic transport choice. The Australian Greens policy is to increase the proportion of bicycle trips to 20% of trips by 2010. Thanks you to the VLGA for their permission to reproduce this article from their June 04 Newsletter.
Bike-paths to Recovery?
It's a busy time of year for Councils as they work through the budget process.
The insatiable nature of roads means there will be long lists of capital works and maintenance projects to prioritise. When the Road Management Bill currently going through State Parliament is enacted, Councils will also need to budget for additional costs that come with the new legislation. These include developing a road management plan and taking on the maintenance and liability for the roadside areas of arterial roads in built-up areas.
Where does sustainable transport get a look-in?Councils with a commitment to sustainable and active transport will be wanting to develop those modes and put in the supporting infrastructure. The good work underway in community education and behaviour change programs (TravelSMART, Sustainability Street, Walking School Bus, Ride to Work Day) also needs high standard walking and cycling networks connecting to key destinations. Asking the community to change travel behaviour in the broader interests of public and environmental health is difficult when there are rudimentary facilities to support the change, and little sign of government commitment to investing in improvements.
Good news: the terms of the Roads to Recovery funding do allow for expenditure on bike lanes and some pedestrian facilities. The guidelines (see Transport Programmes at www.dotars.gov.au) state: Under the Act payments under the Programme can only be used 'on the construction, upgrade or maintenance of roads'. In addition to the normal meaning, 'roads' can include:
traffic signs and control equipment
street lighting equipment
bridges or tunnels, including pedestrian bridges or tunnels
So some of the $250 million that has been allocated to Victorian local governments under this program since 2001 could have been spent on bicycle lanes and at least some pedestrian facilities. In fact the City of Gosnells in West Australia spent the entire Federal Roads to Recovery allocation on a Path Network Improvement Program which has meant that the City's seventeen-year program for a shared use bicycle and footpath network will be completed within three years.
Victorian local governments could consider redirecting Roads to Recovery funding to sustainable transport facilities. While this might possibly be considered irresponsible, think of it like this: Every 1.2 cyclists (allowing for car occupancy) represents one less car trip on the road, freeing road space for other legitimate uses and reducing road wear and congestion. Therefore it could be argued that road space can be best managed by investing in alternative transport facilities such as bike paths to reduce over-use, damage and congestion.
This doesn't help local governments trying to upgrade public transport infrastructure and services. In fact it has been made quite clear that urban public transport is quarantined from Roads to Recovery funding, both under the current program and the new Auslink format.
The terms of the Roads to Recovery program are very clear that states and local governments must retain their own road funding programs. The federal funding is to augment, not replace, current local funding regimes.
As public transport is being yet again starved of funds, a suggestion has been made to tie the federal roads grants to state public transport investment. Not the integrated transport funding that we would all like to see, but an opportunity for the federal government to exert some influence and be assured that public transport expenditure is happening, while the longer debate over the role of federal government in urban public transport takes place.
Australia is the only federated developed country without federal funding for urban public transport.
21 JULY 2004
ROSA'S "LETTER FROM ALEMANIA"
I had an unusual experience this morning while doing some work on my website. It appears those good people at the Northcote Leader have taken an interest in my website wanderings. A nice young man with a camera came to my house to take some pictures that may be on next week's copy of the Northcote Leader. I can't see what the fuss is about. It must be for a multicultural piece on German speaking Australians. We'll wait and see. Cheers: Rosa.
GREENS EMPLOYMENT PLAN WILL BOOST JOBS
The Australian Greens today released a national employment plan to boost jobs while protecting the country’s environment.
Greens Senator Bob Brown and Greens Member for Cunningham Michael Organ released the employment policy in Wollongong, a city that both Labor and Coalition federal governments have failed on jobs growth.
“Labor and the Liberals have relied on exploiting our natural resources at unsustainable rates, promoting higher consumption of material goods, and deregulating the labour market that has led to more insecure work and low wages,” Senator Brown said.
“This approach has failed to deliver paid work to all those who want it, and it is threatening the future of the environment. In the Illawarra, unemployment is almost double the national rate, while almost one in three young people are jobless.
“The Greens are committed to eradicating poverty by addressing its causes, the most significant of which is unemployment. We will work to achieve full employment in ways that protect Australia’s environment.
“We are already committed to abolishing the Higher Education Contribution Scheme as an important measure to boost education and training, and to better funding for TAFE.
We also propose:
A standard 35 hour working week and capping overtime, by offering incentives to employers.
A government employment guarantee for all long-term unemployed adults and unemployed youth.
Financial assistance for small business development, including home-based business, for example through business incubators“These policies can be funded through reversing the Howard government’s corporate tax rate cut, a measure that will generate around $3.94 billion this financial year.”More information: Katrina Willis 0419 704 095
VICTORIAN GREENS FAHRENHEIT 911 SPECIAL SCREENING A SELL OUT!
Last night's special screening of Fahrenheit 911 was a great success with the night being a sell out. We tried to book a second cinema to cope with the demand, but were unable to. The film is a must see for anyone with an interest in United States politics and what John Howard's close association with George Bush might mean for Australia. 20 JULY 2004
VICTORIAN GREENS MAKE FAHRENHEIT 911 JOHN HOWARD'S CELSIUS 488
I issued the following media release ahead of the Greens special showing of Fahrenheit 911 at the George Cinema, St. Kilda.
“A special showing of Michael Moore’s ‘Fahrenheit 911’ at The George Cinema, Fitzroy Street, St. Kilda tonight will see more than 200 avid viewers hoping that the USA focussed Fahrenheit 911 will become an Australian Celsius 488”, said Greens Senate candidate Cr. David Risstrom.
Fahrenheit 911 converted to Australian metric is the equivalent of 488° Celsius. “It is quite likely that the Howard Government’s alignment with the fate of United States President George W. Bush will see the heat rise on the government in Australia”, David Risstrom said.
“The Australian people are sick of being lied to, of being led to war on false pretences, and tired of being told more of the same is good for them. And that is by George Bush. When they realise that John Howard is doing his bidding at our expense, they will get even angrier, and the political heat is sure to rise”, Cr. Risstrom said.
Many in the Greens are optimistic that the Australian public have grown tired of the cynical and divisive conservative politics of the major parties that have shipped us to war on a blanket of lies, seen public education and health undermined, tax cuts paid for by all given to the rich and a free trade agreement that freely gives away Australian interests to a willing America.
The Greens are encouraging as many people as want to take a night off and join them in an evening of fun, frivolity and disbelief that these people take themselves so seriously that they think we are safer with their fingers on the bomb triggers”, concluded David Risstrom.
The Greens are hosting a series of Fahrenheit 911 film showings in the coming weeks. Tickets for tonight’s program are available by calling Amanda on 0407 343 069. For more information on future showings after tonight’s showing, contact the Victorian Greens on 9602 1141.
13 JULY 2004
GREENS: VFF BETTER TO TARGET SOLUTIONS RATHER THAN ATTACK THE MESSENGERS
I issued the following media release in response to the Victorian Farmers Federation's attack on the Greens. I welcome the VFF recognition of the Greens as having major party influence and look forward to working with the Victorian community to begin taking sustainability seriously, rather than simply have it pop up on political agendas when elections come around.
“The Greens have made sustainability an election issue. Nothing will make us back down from that”, said Victorian Greens Senate Candidate Cr. David Risstrom.
“We believe rural Australia should have a strong long-term future based on sustainable farming, strong regional communities backed by decent services and an investment in local people.”
“The VFF have consistently backed anything-goes free market policies that have sold farmers and their families out for a song.”
“If rural Victorians want more of the policies that have seen their communities lose services, farm gate prices fall, families and their farms driven into the ground, environmental damage impact productivity and more head in the sand policies on climate change that will make droughts even worse and put our quarantine at risk, their choices are clear.”
“The irresponsible policies of the past have left a legacy that will need billions of dollars to repair damaged land and rivers, and now they want to blame the Greens for identifying the issues they have avoided for years.”
“If they want a long-term future for rural Victoria, the VFF need to work together to find solutions, rather than attack the messenger.”
“As farmers know, economic and environmental sustainability are absolutely linked.”
“Unfortunately, the VFF’s attack on the Greens appears to be more in alignment with Collins St. than the average farmer.”
“If the Victorian Farmers Federation keep this nonsense up they will be known as ‘Victorian in name and Victorian in nature’”, said Cr. Risstrom.
11 JULY 2004
HUMAN RIGHTS MEETING AT COBURG TOWN HALL
I am amongst a large group of people and media at the Coburg Town Hall for a Human Rights Forum. I have recorded some of the comments made at the forum and reproduced a media release on the event below. The ever irrepressible Rod Quantock, MC for the event, described Philip Ruddock as "the man with the cryogenic charm."
Terry Hicks, father of imprisoned Australia David Hicks spoke about the apparently very shaky case made against him by the United States. Listening to Terry Hicks, it is clear that there are many unsatisfactory aspects to the prosecution of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. What particularly appalls me is the flaccid approach of the Australian Government in upholding the rights of Australian citizens who have not as yet been found guilty of the offences alleged against him.
Earlier this year on 20 May, while attending a Law Society's Law Week Dinner, I asked the Federal Attorney General Philip Ruddock the following question: "What action will the Australian Government take if the allegations concerning irregular treatment and interrogation of the Australian citizen David Hicks are found to be true?" I felt certain I was amongst a large number of people who were unconvinced by the Minister's answer. Paraphrasing his reply would not do it justice, as I did not record it, but the thrust of his answer was that the war on terror justified the curtailment of civil liberties for people we knew to be guilty, and who under domestic law, had not committed a crime that would justify their repatriation, trial and detention. So much for the presumption of innocence and the right to a fair trial. What a disgrace!
One of the lawyers helping to represent David Hicks also spoke at the Moreland Human Rights forum on the very serious weaknesses and inconsistencies in the allegations being relied upon to profess David Hicks' guilt. He also spoke of the Australian Government's lies about removal of Mamdouh Habib to Egypt, some of the evidence supporting the claims that he was tortured by the terrible torture detainees were exposed to, and the terrible treatment that other prisoners faced and continue to face while in detention. Perhaps the best description of this whole disgraceful episode is "This rot has got to stop" Greens Senator Bob Brown and I did a media doorstop last Thursday on these aspects of Mamdouh Habib's detention that the Australian Government, consistent with previous form acquired during the Tampa and Children Overboard affairs, is not coming clean on.
Maha Habib, wife of Mamdouh Habib, thanked everyone for attending the forum. Maha was obviously upset, and thanked everyone for their support, saying "Having you here, really made me realise I am not alone." Mandouh's son also spoke about Mandouh's background and what he had given to his son in doing the best for his family.
Tom Uren, former Labor MP from 1958 to 1990, spoke to comrades and friends about being overwhelmed by the enormous issues that confront us. Tom, a prisoner of war during the second world war for three years, spoke of the disgraceful inaction of the Australian Government in failing to secure a constitutional and just trial. As Tom said, in describing the move away from what was once a Labor supported white Australia policy, "What we need in this country is, we need tolerance, patience and understanding.
"Tom Uren highlighted the ridiculous charade being maintained by the United States Government in detaining alleged terrorists under the title of 'enemy combatants' rather than as 'prisoners of war', which would give them some protection under the Geneva Convention pending their fair trial. Fortunately, as Tom Uren identified, even the conservative Supreme Court of the United States of America has recognised the fabric of lies used seek retribution for a terrible attack on innocent Americans, to create a false premise for invading Iraq and now to detain people on spurious grounds.
• Julian Burnside QC, spoke to the Hobbesian social contract founding democratic government, in which people trade some of their autonomy in trade for a Government protecting their citizens. "The American Government and increasingly the Australian Government have abandoned the rule of law."
"It is only in a fair trial that justice can be seen." "You might wonder how our government has come to betray the rights of two of our citizens."
"Our government has no taste for human rights." Julian described the Australian Government's argument last year in the High Court that it was legal to detention an innocent person for the rest of his life. In speaking of the actions of the Australian Government, Julian Burnside said, "Mr. Howard and his Minister's are not only liars, they are hypocrites." As Julian said, "They say they (the Australian Government) will protect us from terrorism, but who will protect us from the Australian Government."
The following media release was put out by Moreland Council to publicise the event. I had initially been scheduled to speak at the event, but for reasons not known to me, and probably related to the large number of speakers, was not able to.
A local government and a community faith group are protesting the incarceration of David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib by the United States at a human rights forum on Sunday 11 July.
The Human Rights Forum, organised by Moreland City Council and the Moreland Interfaith Gathering, is being held at 12 noon, Sunday 11 July, at the Coburg Town Hall, 90 Bell Street, Coburg and will be followed by a friendly football match.
Moreland Councillor Stephen Roach said the forum was an opportunity for people to hear from members of the Habib and Hicks families about the human rights issues associated with the detention of David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
Keynote speakers include Tom Uren, Julian Burnside QC, Terry Hicks, father of David Hicks and Maha Habib, wife of Mamdouh Habib, who will provide an insight into the issues of David’s and Mamdouh’s detention.
“These two men are Australian citizens who have been held in prison for over two years, until recently without any charges and without access to proper legal process. Not only has it affected their families but it should worry all Australians that their sovereign rights can be infringed like this,” Cr Roach said.
Moreland City Council is a strong defender of the rights of refugees in Australia, having this year called on the Federal Government to release all children from detention and having offered asylum seekers living in Moreland free access to leisure centres.
Reverend Bill Beagley, a representative of the Moreland Interfaith Gathering, said Moreland was a place of great diversity where a group such as the Interfaith helps to increase harmony between people of different cultures and religions.
“Offences against human rights, such as this, diminish all people of all cultures and religions,” Rev Beagley said.
Cr Roach also encouraged people to watch a friendly football game at the Coburg City Oval following the meeting. “The Moreland Football Club will form one of the teams playing to promote human rights,” he said.
10 JULY 2004
ENVIRONMENTAL JOBS NETWORK GOES ONTO PLUCK TELEVISION!!
IEJN is coming to a TV screen near you! I am a mentor for the Environment Jobs Network. This latest development is great news and a real boost for the people who have built EJN to what it is. The message below was forwarded to all EJN subscribers on 9 July.
The Environmental Jobs Network (EJN), in conjunction PLUCK (an initiative of RMITV) are bringing eight weekly half-hour episodes of EnviroPLUCK to Channel 31 (Melbourne and Adelaide), starting Monday July 12th at 5:30pm.
The show aims to deliver practical advice for those wishing to work in the environmental sector, and to promote the benefits to industry and business of employing those with sound environmental education backgrounds.
We will be interviewing people in the field, those high up in environmental organisations around the country, and giving students and recent graduates tips to get your foot in the door. Each show has a different theme - from an overview of environmental careers, to episodes on graduate programs, working with local government, environment protection authorities, natural resource management, private companies, non-profits, volunteering, working and studying overseas and much more!
The organisations featuring on the series include: the City of Melbourne, RMIT University, Parks Victoria, Going Solar, Department of Sustainability and Environment, SARDI Aquatic Sciences Earthwatch, Australian Conservation Foundation, Environment Victoria, Whitehorse Council, Latrobe University, Monash University, The Age, Vox Bandicoot, Melbourne Zoo, GHD, Earth Systems, Toyota, Environment Protection Authority Victoria, Sustainable Energy Authority Victoria, the Environmental Jobs Network and more.
So if you have ever wanted to know what it is like to work for these organisations and how to get your foot in the door then stay tuned!
Go to http://www.environmentaljobs.com.au/enviropluck.php or check out our homepage for all the latest information.
9 JULY 2004
GREENS SUPPORT NAIDOC WEEK
I issued the following media release after taking part in some of the celebrations of NAIDOC week in Melbourne.
Greens support NAIDOC week
Today at a march for NAIDOC Week, Cr David Risstrom, the Australian Greens Senate candidate for Victoria, said that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should continue to stand up for their rights to be treated with respect and to fight for self-determination.
Indigenous and non-Indigenous people marched together to celebrate indigenous Australian achievements and to continue to fight for indigenous rights and recognition."Indigenous people often face major hurdles but no matter what gets put in front of them they continue to struggle for true recognition and respect for their culture and history", said Cr Risstrom.
"As the original owners of this land Indigenous people have particular rights. Non-indigenous Australians should recognise that and give due acknowledgement."
"I'm amazed at what indigenous people achieve under often very difficult circumstances. When you see them in action or meet them or attend an event like this one you understand that it is just not in their nature to give in."
"Indigenous people understand what they are entitled to and what they want and no matter what obstacles Labor or Liberal put in front of them they are determined to get over them."
"The Greens support indigenous Australians call for self-determination and their right to be respected and recognised", said Cr Risstrom.
Cr Risstrom initiated Melbourne City Council's commitment to discussions on a treaty, land use agreement and indigenous recognition.
8 JULY 2004
NOTICE OF MOTION TO REGULATE MOTORISED BILLBOARDS IN THE CBD
I put the following notice of motion to the Melbourne City Council Planning and Development Committee on Thursday evening.
NOTICE OF MOTION: CR RISSTROM REGULATING MOBILE NOTICE BOARDS IN THE CITY
That the Planning and Development Committee recommend that Council either prohibit or regulate transit in the Central Business District of motorised vehicles and trailers whose primary purpose is mobile advertising and for which no other purpose is apparent. Moved: Cr Risstrom
Background [Provided by Cr Risstrom]
1. The City of Melbourne is facing increased traffic pressure. The use of mobile advertising either on dedicated vehicles or dedicated trailers is contributing to increased traffic without any apparent legitimate transport need being fulfilled.
2. This form of advertising contributes to traffic congestion, increased air pollution, wastes fuel, appears to be an effective way of circumventing local advertising requirements and can be visually intrusive. They appear to provide no transport function other than to use the road system for parading mobile billboards.
3. It is reasonable to expect that the use of these vehicles will increase in the Central Business District if local or state authorities fail to take action. It is also reasonable to expect greater opposition to their regulation if the practice becomes more established in Melbourne.
Unfortunately, despite having circulated the motion some two weeks ago, the committee was not able to consider their position until they got further advice from the administration. A report will be provided to the August Planning Committee, with hopefully a decision then.My notice of motion created a sup rising amount of interest, with newspaper, radio and television covering the issue during the week. let's hope we can create some good news when my notice of motion returns to Committee in August.
WE DIDN'T 'BUT SEE HIM PASSING BY' - ELECTION DATE SPECULATION SETS WITH THE SUN
With John Howard proving to be a no-show at Yarralumla, psephologists across Australia are turning their abacuses to the potential election dates. This message from Greens National Campaign Co-ordinator Andrew Burke, arrived late on Sunday afternoon.
The election has not been called today. But it will come soon. The Greens are ready to mount a strong challenge in the Senate around the country and in every Lower House seat whenever John Howard does call the election.We are better prepared and better organised than ever before, and ready to launch our biggest campaign ever. We are ready to take on both major parties with our vital policies for public services before tax cuts, to protect Tasmania's ancient forests and to free refugees from detention.
The Greens are poised to win new Senate seats in every state and the ACT. In the Lower House, Michael Organ is campaigning to retain his seat of Cunningham, Andrew Wilkie is taking on the Prime Minister in Bennelong and in the inner-city seats of Sydney and Melbourne the Green vote is soaring. Every seat across Australia will see a local Green taking it up to the major parties.
But we cannot do it without your help. Without the massive corporate donations that flow to the major parties, we rely on our supporters to generously give their support. Please do visit www.greens.org.au where you can volunteer or donate online:
Volunteer now to help the Greens
Donate to the Australian Greens Election Campaign
With your support, the Greens will be well placed to make our voice heard, whenever the election is called.
7 JULY 2004
HABIB TORTURE 'AN OUTRAGE ON AUSTRALIA - BROWN
The following media release was issued by Bob Brown following revelations concerning the torture of Australian citizen Mamdouh Habib.
The confirmed torture of Australian Mamdouh Habib by Egyptian secret police, before his transfer to Guantanamo Bay, is an outrage on Australia, Greens Senator Bob Brown said today.
"This is the most disgusting torture, illegal and abhorrent to an Australian citizen," Senator Brown said.
"The Australian government has a serious call to answer about its failure to prevent Habib's transfer from Pakistan to Egypt - on the face of it, a deliberate, US-backed move, to have him tortured before transfer to US authority where the torture is illegal.
"The Prime Minister, John Howard, and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer, must clear the air by telling Australians what role the government took in these terrible events," Senator Brown said.
3 JULY 2004
"DINNER AT DAVE'S" COURTESY OF EBRAHIM SAMMAKI
Ebrahim Sammaki, a wonderful cook of Iranian cuisine who honed his skills cooking for hundreds at Woomera and Baxter detention centres, cooked up a storm at the Darebin Greens "Dinner at Dave's" function last night at my home in Northcote. Somewhere between 30 and 40 people (and a very lovely dog according to Rosa) stood, sat and squeezed into a great night of Iranian food and good company. Thanks to Ebrahim and to the [green] army of workers who made the night possible. It was a great success and a lovely way to finish my birthday
TRISH THE DONKEY JOINS CAROLYNNE AND DAVID'S FAMILY
Carolynne and I began our sponsor of Trish, a lovely young donkey who lives at the Donkey Shelter at Diamond Creek yesterday. Sponsorship is $50 a year and helps to keep a donkey in good health and helps to keep the shelter going. As far as I know, the Victorian Donkey Shelter is the only one in Australia, providing a great service is housing donkeys who have fallen on hard times or need special care. I'll provide more details of the shelter on this site when I have them. Next time I visit, I will get a picture of Trish to put on this site. 2 JULY 2004
OPENING OF VICTORIAN COLLEGE OF THE ARTS NEW HUB, AND STATE LIBRARY AND THE AGE 150 YEARS OF CARTOONING EXHIBITION
I am sitting in the lounge on the third floor of the Victorian College of the Arts Hub following the official opening by Federal Arts Minister Rod Kemp, Victorian Premier Steve Bracks, Sue Nattrass, Andrea Hull, Joy Murphy and a cast of many more. I also had the opportunity to be at the State Library launch last night of the fantastic exhibition on a 150 years of cartooning.The Arts have always been central to what life is about to me. Not necessarily high art that requires validation through fame or association, but art that talks. From whoever you are. From whoever we are. I worked for the Australian National Gallery during the Surrealism exhibition. Just to what amongst and absorb such exquisite examples of art navigating convention was a home to me. Street art is important to me. Indigenous art from people telling their stories. Art that I don't agree with , or even like. Cartooning is a great example. Simplicity thin enough to slip through conservative censorship. Funny. Laconic. Enviably simple and direct. Australian. What a great place to be. What a privilege to be among such great art.
CRIKEY'S GUIDE TO THE FEDERAL ELECTION
Thanks to Stephen Mayne of Crikey, who has given me permission to publish an article that came across my virtual desk. With John Howard's discretion keeping psephologists on the edge of their electoral chairs, this guide from Crikey may just help soothe their worried brows.
Your cut out 'n' keep Crikey election timetable planner
Election dates, election dates, election dates. With all the speculation going on, we thought it was only fair to provide some sort of guide to the momentous day. There is a minimum 33 days required between calling an election and polling day itself. That means that for an election for the House of Representatives and half the Senate to be held on August 7 - the earliest feasible date for a non double dissolution poll - the Prime Minister would have to visit the GG by July 5.The last possible date for calling an election is February 11 next year and, as a DD must be called at least six months before the expiry of Parliament, August 11 becomes the deadline for a double dissolution poll.The Prime Minister has kindly said that the AFL and National Rugby League Grand Finals won't be overshadowed by an election. That rules out September 25 and October 3.Then there's the issue of school holidays. It's generally considered hard to hold a poll with kids round the house, for some reason. Tasmanian has school holidays from September 6 to 22, Victorian and Queensland school holidays begin on September 18 and in the West the little blighters don't return until October 17.
This leaves us with the following plausible starting dates for the rest of this year:
July 12 for August 14
July 19 for August 21
July 26 for August 28
August 2 for September 4 - Parliament is due to resume sitting after the winter break on August 3
August 9 for September 11 (somehow we don't think even John Howard would call a September 11 poll)
September 13 for October 16
September 20 for October 23
September 27 for October 30
October 4 for November 6
October 11 for November 13
October 18 for November 20
October 25 for November 27
November 1 for December 4
November 8 for December 11
The inside word from the Greens office is that John Howard won't be calling the election for 7 August on Sunday, but that still leaves a Monday announcement open. As Jack Thompson knew all so well, Sunday sometimes is too far away.
1 JULY 2004
THOSE WHO FAIL TO LEARN FROM THEIR MISTAKES ARE DESTINED TO REPEAT THEM!
David and Rosa's news and views has grown to such an extent that I must create a new page every three months. This page provides my news and views from 1 July to 30 September 2004. The previous edition of current news and views are available by clicking: NEWS AND VIEWS APRIL - JUNE 2004
DEMOCRATS GIVE MIXED SUPPORT FOR LOUSY INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS LAWS
Sitting in bed late last Friday night and early Saturday morning, I had the displeasure to hear what could be the final sitting of Parliament. The level of debate was not good and the legislation being pushed through on the run was similarly substandard. Trades Hall issued a media release detailing the industrial relations changes and their impact. I have reproduced their release below.
Whilst not implementing the legislation coming out of the Cole Royal Commission into the building industry, the Democrats have supported a number of anti-union laws in the Senate last week, including giving the Building Industry Taskforce coercive powers.
The Democrats announced last week they would not support the Howard Government's anti-worker Building Industry Legislation, which came as a relief to many construction workers. They have, however, done a deal with the government which saw a number of regressive amendments to the Workplace Relations Act go through the Senate late on Friday night. These include giving the Building Industry Taskforce, a police style watchdog set up for the building industry alone, the right to force people to provide information, produce documents and answer questions relevant to a Taskforce investigation. Anyone refusing to cooperate with the Taskforce faces fines or up to six months jail.
It is curious that the taskforce has been given these new powers given the recent allegations that they have misused the ones they already had. Only two weeks ago, in the Senate committee hearings examining the Cole legislation, allegations surfaced that the taskforce officers had offered an apprentice a bribe in exchange for information and, in a separate incident, had secretly taped witnesses.In response to the last allegation, Nigel Hadgekiss, the head of the Taskforce, said he did not believe it was an offence to secretly tape conversations in Western Australia. ALP Senator Peter Cook has referred the issue to WA police. Other amendments passed by the Senate with Democrat support include the tripling of penalties under the Workplace Relations Act. Penalties will rise from the current maximum of $10,000 for unions and $2,000 for individuals to $30,000 and $6,000. Officials will be disqualified from holding office in a union if they are convicted of a criminal offence and receive a suspended sentence and the law now protects employees of unions who blow the whistle on their organisation.
In other sound decisions made by the Howard government this week, as a reward for their good work in the field of industrial relations, the head of the Office of Employment Advocate, Jonathan Hamberger, and DEWR deputy secretary John Lloyd have been appointed to the so-called independent umpire, the Australian Industrial Relations Commission. The OEA is the chief agency responsible for promoting individual contracts known as AWAs at the expense of collective bargaining and prior to heading it, Hamberger was an adviser to former IR minister Peter Reith. Similarly, John Lloyd has played a pivotal role in the Cole Royal Commission as well as previously helping dismantle Victoria's state industrial relations system as head of Jeff Kennett's employee relations department.
A scan of the current sitting members of the 'independent umpire' reveals that only two out of seventeen have a union background and only one is a woman.