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JULY TO SEPTEMBER 2006 NEWS AND VIEWS OF DAVID RISSTROM: 2004 VICTORIAN GREENS No 1 SENATE CANDIDATE

David Risstrom

David Risstrom keeps a watching brief on news, ideas, issues and policies. If there are issues you think need to be discussed, please contact David at david@davidrisstrom.org. David last updated this site on 18 October 2006.


 

29 SEPTEMBER 2006

GREENS CALL FOR FREEDOM ON INFORMATION LAWS OVERHAUL

Greens candidate, Greg Barber, has made a much needed call for Victorian Freedom Of Information laws to live up to their name. Having conducted Freedom of Information cases as a barrister against the State government in VCAT, it is clear that changes in both law and practice are needed before FOI laws live up to their name.

The Greens Call for FOI Laws Overhaul

The state government needs to catch up with the modern world and make Victoria' s Freedom of Information (FOI) laws work say the Greens.

"While publicly listed companies disclose more and more information, the Victorian public sector is stuck in the eighties," said Greg Barber, Northern Metropolitan Upper House candidate and Governance and Accountability spokesperson. " We're calling for the principle of 'habeas data' to be enshrined at the highest possible level in this state."

"The bonus for the Bracks government of Jeff Kennett's outsourcing and privatisation program has been to put many essential services beyond public scrutiny," said Greg Barber. "The growth of Public-Private Partnerships under this government have made access to information even worse."

"Despite Opposition complaints about the FOI failure, Ted Baillieu's suggestions for administrative change won't fix the problems either," said Greg Barber. "This is because the FOI laws themselves need a makeover."

The Greens have a five point plan to change the laws around the release of information:
The 'Cabinet confidentiality' exemption of the FOI Act to be narrowed,
The onus to appeal against the release of information to be on the Department, not the citizen,
Commercial contract and tender confidentiality to be restricted to those instances approved by the Ombudsman, (see details below)*
The Public Accounts and Estimates Committee to include a majority of non-government members, an independent chair - enshrined in law - and the power to release information in the public interest**
Departments to expand their use of information technology to make registers of documents (Section 7 statements) and a range of other 'public interest' information, freely available online.

"The information revolution means Departments hold and manipulate more data than ever before," said Greg Barber. "The focus on 'documents' means the Act is stuck in the era of the word processor. Raw data, on the quality of our environment for example, should be freely accessible without having to apply."

"The Government does not have the right balance between exposure and confidentiality of data," said Greg Barber. "Far more transparency about the working of the state government is possible without damaging it's
essential functioning. The Greens say we need an FOI system that will create a fairer operating environment for business, less litigation and better quality advice to Government."

"More transparency will increase trust in the state government, making governing easier and perhaps encourage less cynicism about politics and politicians," said Greg Barber. "This will make for much healthier politics in Victoria."

For more information and comment, please contact: Greg Barber on (mob) 0433 044 771 or Dave Lane on (mob) 419 156 213

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21 SEPTEMBER 2006

THINK GLOBALLY?

I received the following cartoon from a friend, Faye Adams, Ecologically Sustainable Development Officer at Manningham City Council, but am unsure who the author is. An interesting thought as many move from having sought comfort in downplaying climate change, to realising our actions are having real impact.

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20 SEPTEMBER 2006

POLITICAL DONATIONS AND POLITICAL INFLUENCE SHOULD BE KNOWN BY VOTERS

The Victorian Greens are pursuing increasing public access to information on political donations and influence. Under current rules, greatly weakened in the Federal arena by regressive changes to mask bigger donations, the public has little opportunity to understand who is paying who prior to casting their vote in an election. The Greens believe we deserve better, as described in the media release below from Greg Barber, Upper House candidate and Governance and Accountability spokesperson.

THE GREENS PLAN TO TACKLE SHADOWY POLITICAL DONORS

Lobby groups that disguise their political campaigning and support for big politics must be held accountable for their influence peddling say the Greens.

Greg Barber, Upper House candidate and Governance and Accountability spokesperson, has called for the introduction of a system of 'continuous disclosure' of donations to parties and politicians and for third party campaign spending.

"In the light of the meetings going on between the Exclusive Brethren and some political parties, it is essential that voters are aware of any spending on political campaigns by any groups," said Greg Barber.

"However, we will not know until the end of February in 2008 who has made donations to political parties in the run up to this state election," said Greg Barber. "This is a year and a half away, but it's only then that the Commonwealth electoral returns will published for the current financial year."

"Even then we may not learn that much, because a group, or group of individuals acting together, could donate $10,000 each (under the new Commonwealth disclosure limit) to every state branch of a political party," said Greg Barber. "They could hide hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations this way."

"The Greens want to see more rigorous disclosure obligations associated with Victorian elections and Victorian political parties, their associated entities and third parties," said Greg Barber. "At the moment it is absolutely minimal under Victorian law and most disclosure occurs under Commonwealth law associated with federally registered political parties."

"Our policy is to implement the UK model of continuous disclosure in Victoria," said Greg Barber. "This involves quarterly donation returns by political parties, increasing to weekly during the election itself. Also, third parties who carry out election spending need to register and disclose once they reach a certain threshold of spending."

"The disclosure limit for a donation to a political party registered in a Victorian election should be $1500 as it was under the old rules," said Greg Barber.

For more information and comment please contact Greg Barber on 0433 044 771 (mob) or Dave Lane on 0419 156 213 (mob).

Background:

UK Disclosure Rules: The Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 was introduced to combat perceptions of corruption. Labour was caught up in scandal in 1997 where it banned tobacco advertising in sport but granted an exemption to Formula 1. The head of Formula one had donated 1 million pounds to the party not long before the exemption decision was made. Under the new Act parties report donations of £5,000 and up to the Electoral Commission quarterly, and weekly during elections.

References:

International comparisons of regulations governing political parties and disclosure

Funding and disclosure handbooks associated with the AEC

Relevant sections of the Commonwealth Act

UK electoral commission site - "Donations to candidates" and "Third parties" expenditure:

UK legislation

 

CLIMATE CHANGE AND WATER DICTATE A CHANGE FOR VICTORIA'S POLITICAL LANDSCAPE

Mr Louis Delacretaz, energy spokesperson and candidate for Eastern Victoria Region, appeared as surprised as I was when Victorian liberal leader Ted Baillieu voiced his skepticism that global warming is reducing Victoria's water supply. I find it amazing that our political leaders are so badly informed about issues so important to our future. I completed a first class Science Honours degree in 1995 looking at human adaptation to climate change because I believe it was important to know more about such things if I was to contribute meaningfully to the political debate.

It is so disappointing that a lack of awareness fo these issues has led our rural and coastal communities, and the people, animals and plants they support to such a place of distress and peril because it has been inconvenient to deal with the truth. Let's hope that following the November election, Victoria's Parliament has some informed and experienced voices such as those of Louis Delacretaz, to inform them, as the media release reproduced below demonstrates.

ALL PARTIES MUST SUPPORT A SUSTAINABLE ENERGY STRATEGY FOR VICTORIA SAY THE GREENS

Liberal leader Ted Baillieu is skeptical that global warming is reducing our water supply contrary to CSIRO reports.

Mr Louis Delacretaz, energy spokesperson and candidate for Eastern Victoria Region, said, “The Greens view global warming as a most serious challenge for Victorian communities. Our response to global warming is to encourage the development of effective renewable energy sources and making polluting industries pay the true costs for their contribution to global warming and pollution.”

The Liberal Party says nothing about the disastrous impacts of global warming energy sources like coal. As the film, ‘The Inconvenient Truth’, points out there are many practical ways communities can reduce greenhouse gases.

“Political parties like the Liberals should be showing some leadership on this issue not burying their head in the sand,” Louis Delacretaz said. “One important way Governments can provide economically sensible leadership is to support a well-planned carbon tax.”

“Phasing in well planned and administered carbon taxes can be an effective and economically responsible means of moving to a healthier and environmentally sustainable way of life. According to the UN’s International Unit for Climate Change, carbon taxes can be revenue neutral and offset by reducing regressive and more pro-polluting taxes.”

“Carbon taxes can provide the incentive for the energy industry to move to less polluting forms of energy,” said Louis Delacretaz. “More than ever Victoria needs all political parties’ hands on the pump to fight global warming.”

“Unlike the old parties, the Greens approach supports sustainable energy use, effective action against global warming and a secure Victorian economy,” concluded Louis Delacretaz.

For more information and comment, please contact: Louis Delacretaz on (mob) 0407 300 188

Background: Click for more information.

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19 SEPTEMBER 2006

EXCLUSIVE BRETHREN RELIGIOUS GROUP AGAIN SEEKING POLITICAL INFLUENCE

The religious group known as the Exclusive Brethren has increasing become involved in campaigns against progressive politics, particularly the Greens.

A report by Michael Bachelard and Michelle Grattan in The Melbourne Age of 21 September describe the Exclusive Brethren, saying "The closed and strict Exclusive Brethren sect does not allow its members to vote, read newspapers, watch television or listen to radio, but it has run expensive advertising campaigns in Australia and overseas on behalf of conservative politicians and attacking the Greens."

Following is a media release issued by Jill Redwood, Greens Candidate for the Eastern Victoria Upper House Region, on the apparent role of the organisation and/or its members.

THE EXCLUSIVE BRETHREN MOVE IN ON THE VICTORIAN ELECTION

This week's revelation of meetings between the Exclusive Brethren and The Nationals Party leader, Peter Ryan, should ring alarm bells for Gippsland voters say the Greens.

"Voters need to know that material will be letter-boxed and published in the media with the intention of deliberately deceiving voters about the Greens," said Jill Redwood, Greens Candidate for the Eastern Victoria Upper House Region. "The Exclusive Brethren have done this sort of thing before and have been caught out."

"With the Greens running strongly in this election, it looks like the Exclusive Brethren will turn its attention to the Upper House," said Jill Redwood. "This secretive religious sect is now courting The Nationals who are desperate to avoid being sidelined by the voters in November's poll."

"The Exclusive Brethren does not allow its members to vote," said Jill Redwood. "However, at election time it meets with leaders of conservative parties and then puts together a well funded campaign. We can expect to see glowing support for The Nationals and vicious, hysterical attacks on the Greens."

"Voters can expect a dirty tricks campaign from this sect," said Jill Redwood. "If Tasmanian and New Zealand experience is anything to go on, the Exclusive Brethren will avoid putting it's name to the material it produces."

"During an election campaign I think it's important that everyone has the opportunity to present their views," said Jill Redwood. "However, what's also important is that voters know the true source of any campaign advertising, leaflets or brochures."

"The Exclusive Brethren must be open about any involvement in politics and clearly identify its campaign material," said Jill Redwood. "It's disturbing that Peter Ryan is welcoming the attention of this extreme sect. The Nationals must be open about where their support is coming from."

For more information and comment please contact: Jill Redwood on (phone) 5154 0145 or Dave Lane on (mob) 0419 156 213

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13 SEPTEMBER 2006

LOGS AND LOG JAMS

Two issues that most people have an opinion on are transport and logging. Below are two Victorian Green media releases that deal with these issues, with a common theme that the decisions discussed in them do not serve the public interest as well as they should.

GREENS ACCUSE FOREST INDUSTRY OF HYPOCRITICAL LOCK OUT

The Victorian Greens accuse the Forest Industries of hypocrisy in their decision to lock out tourists from the Barmah Forest whilst accusing environment groups of doing the same. New legislation now disallows public access, under threat of prosecution, from significant areas of the Barmah forest and wetlands.

Greens Upper House candidate for Northern Victoria, Jennifer Alden said, “Unlike the Government and forest industries, the Greens have never sought to lock anyone out of our forests. We believe everyone should be able enjoy the forests as they are. However that which destroys the bush such as chainsaws should be restricted from many forests.”

“The State Government has sectioned off 12,000 hectares of the Barmah State Forest, declared as ‘public safety zones’, in which they have the power to evict members of the public,” said Jennifer Alden.

The Greens are calling for the creation of a new Barmah-Millewa national park as part of their commitment to new national parks and River Red Gum Forest Wetlands and also for the areas under conservation management to be increased.

“This part of the state could be established as the largest Red Gum National Park in the world, and be managed jointly with the Yorta Yorta people for all Victorians” said Jennifer Alden.

“The Greens are committed to handing back a Barmah-Millewa National Park to the Yorta Yorta Nation and to pursuing joint management of this and other new River Murray National Parks, along with close involvement of indigenous people in the management of other public lands in the region. This should involve measures to significantly scale back logging and grazing of the Barmah and Gunbower forests, “said Jennifer Alden.

“Our Red Gum Forests are a threatened vegetation type and require sensitive management. Current management is a disgrace with cattle grazing causing the loss of understorey plants and the destruction of old trees with hollows.”

“While we want to guarantee such a rich resource and unique community asset is properly protected, the government does the opposite; ensuring their illegal logging can remain undisturbed,” said Jennifer Alden.

Ms Alden said the issue of biodiversity was left as an afterthought in the DSE’s recently released strategic direction for the region for 2006-07.

“It’s clear the government has no concept of the importance of Victoria’s environment in ecological, social and economic terms,” Jennifer Alden said.

“This move will not only affect those in the Shepparton and Echuca region, but tourists coming in from other areas as well.”

For more information, please contact: Jennifer Alden on (mob) 0427 430 233 or email jenniferalden@vic.greens.org.au

Background: The Department of Sustainability and Environment has been found in breach of its forest code on three recent occasions. Old growth river red gums have been illegally felled, and four hectares of forest removed from outside of specified zones in Barmah by the department.

 

THE GREENS PLAN FOR A 'FAST TRAIN' TO DONCASTER

The Greens candidate for Doncaster District, Chris Gymer, is highlighting the Greens’ policy on transport, supporting long-ignored plans for a new eastern suburbs railway line to Doncaster.

“Doncaster is poorly served by public transport,” Mr Gymer said. “This forces more people than necessary into their cars, adding to traffic problems and pollution.”

“Both major parties, in government and in opposition, over the past twenty years, have ignored public transport and simply built more roads,” Mr Gymer said. “On a local scale, this has simply resulted in moving traffic jams from one place to another. On a global scale, it flies in the face of the need to reduce greenhouse gas pollution and wean ourselves off the petrol economy.”

The Greens say a new rail line along the route of the Eastern Freeway will provide people in Doncaster with better and easier access to the train network, in turn reducing the amount of traffic clogging our roads.

“These are not new ideas,” said Mr Gymer. “Many studies and reports over the last ten years, from the City of Melbourne to the Public Transport Users’ Association, have recommended such a solution.”

The Doncaster rail line would ideally connect with an extension of the route 48 North Balwyn tram along Doncaster Road to Doncaster Shoppingtown.

“The ALP transport plan ignores the Doncaster area completely.” Mr Gymer said. “With the extra traffic from Eastlink and the likely completion of medium density developments in the Doncaster Hill area, Doncaster Road and the freeway will have to absorb increased traffic, and the current users of those roads will know what that will mean.”

The Greens will turn this around, with fast, frequent and well-connected public transport. The recently released Greens policy on ‘Planning and Transport’ has practical and detailed solutions for Melbourne’s transport problems. For the Doncaster district, this means:

- A new line along the Eastern Freeway reserve, with stations at Chandler Highway, Bulleen and Doncaster Road.
- Extension of the Route 48 tram, currently terminating oat Balwyn Road, to Doncaster Shoppingtown.
- Ensuring that minimum frequencies of off-peak buses on the urban fringe will be 30 minutes by 2010
- Return Melbourne’s trains and trams back to public ownership

These are long-standing public transport needs for Doncaster and the surrounding region, however the government’s recent 25 year transport barely mentions, let alone commits to, any of these crucial infrastructure projects.

Contact: Chris Gymer on 0416 121 621 or Bill Pemberton on 0428 636 316.

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6 SEPTEMBER 2006

GREEN WEDGES

There is an old adage in the conservation movement that environmental battles may need to be fought one thousand times only but can only ever be lost once.

Below is a media release from former Mayor and local government councillor of some 10 years, Mr. Louis Delacretaz, the Greens Planning spokesperson.

THE LIBERALS PLANNING POLICY IS A RECIPE FOR RAMPANT DEVELOPMENT IN MELOURNE'S GREEN WEDGES

The Victorian Opposition's short sighted policy on subdividing Melbourne's green wedges would spark a development race in the Mornington Peninsular and the Dandenongs. Precious open space would be sacrificed in the process.

"The Liberal Party's plan to turn green wedge land over to housing will urbanise more of the Peninsular and Melbourne's outer east," said Louis Delacretaz, the Greens Planning spokesperson. "This will make the whole of Melbourne less liveable, as open space disappears. It would also drive even more commuters onto already congested roads. "

"Fragmented housing on Melbourne's fringe is very expensive once you cost the lack of services," said Louis Delacretaz. "Then add the impact of the distance to shops, schools and jobs and the Liberal plan just does not add up. We can't afford to allow Melbourne to continue to sprawl."

"The community is crying out for a clearer planning scheme that will actually hold up in a reformed VCAT," said Louis Delacretaz. "The Liberal Party's suggestion that directing VCAT to pay attention to local policies will not make any meaningful difference."

"Also, abolishing the Melbourne 2030 strategy will strip away the only protection that areas like the Mornington Peninsular and western grasslands have," said Louis Delacretaz. "It has been proven over and over again that communities cannot rely on VCAT to support Local Planning Policies."

"Instead, local planning controls must be strong enough to uphold the planning strategies and aspirations of local communities," said Louis Delacretaz. "It's up to the state government to change the rules to make sure this happens."

For more information and comment please contact: Louis Delacretaz on (mob) 0407 300 188 or Dave Lane on (mob) 0419 156 213

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2 SEPTEMBER 2006

GREENS STATE CONFERENCE

I am sitting in the Victorian Greens State Conference, which is the major decision making body of the Victorian Greens. Apart from a number of excellent session on policy issues, the conference heard from Julian Burnside QC on human rights issues, and Dr. Ben Preston of CSIRO on global warming.

With the State election less than three months away, it is very likely that Victorians will be electing their first Green Parliamentarians, in what I believe will be a long tradition of giving Victorians a Green voice in their Parliaments.

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1 SEPTEMBER 2006

WAGES OF SPIN - AN EXCELLENT PLAY

Wages of Spin is an excellent play that parodies the spin used to divert us from the many dilemmas raised by the war on Iraq. It is currently showing at the Arts House North Melbourne, after touring in other states including Queensland and New South Wales. Don't miss it. It is a great play. Tickets $20/$18. Booking and further program details are online at City of Melbourne Arts House.

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29 AUGUST 2006

JOHN CUMMINS

Just minutes ago I received an SMS with news that long time unionist John Cummins has died. John was a well known workers advocate, through his long standing advocacy of Victorian building workers.

Opinionated, and frequently a target of conservative politicians, John's views on worker's rights were unrelenting. A class warrior the kind of which are harder to see these days amidst the tyranny of Work Choices and equivalent anti-working people laws directly targetting building workers, John and others have unashamedly frustrated Victorian developers with his claims for a greater share of the pie for those who build the buildings.

As trivial as it may seem, I remember a day some years ago when John accidentally stood on my foot at Curtin's Bar opposite Trades Hall. I remember his immediate response was to apologise, in a way I was convinced was born of a sense of fairness, rather than blame. I have heard many stories of the help that John has given others without a second thought.

What a great legacy John. Thank you for being a proud trade unionist and someone of whom the trade union can remain proud.

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26 AUGUST 2006

TAMPA DAY RALLY A GREAT SUCCESS

Hundreds of people, and a number of very good dogs approaching the quality and demeanour of one beautiful german shepherd called Rosa gathered on the banks of Melbourne's Yarra River to commemorate something five years ago that should never have happened.

Australia's conservative political leaders joined forces in 2001 to command and endorse that the efforts of Norwegian ship's captain Arne Rinnan in rescuing people at sea not be welcomed, but derisively be drawn into what is now known as the Tampa incident. Despite the age old tradition that mariners should rescue those at sea in distress, an approaching federal election in 2001 led both Liberal and Labor leaders to endorse a xenophobic border protection mantra that flew in the face of decades of a more humane approach to the plight of refugees.

With stories too distressing to hear, let alone survive, refugees and those supporting them, gathered to remember the Tampa incident and to do what they could to remind the people of Australia that it should never be allowed to happen again.

Helping people, rather than using them, may be one way our political leaders can again do what they should be capable of. Leading.

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23 AUGUST 2006

TAMPA DAY RIVER SPECTACLE TO STEER A NEW COURSE IN REFUGEE POLICY - SATURDAY 26 AUGUST

Five years on from the Tampa disaster, there are good signs the government has learnt little from its barbaric approach to people seeking asylum in Australia. The following information on a community event coming this Saturday was forwarded on behalf of the Refugee Action Collective.

Five years after the rescue of 433 refugees by the Norwegian freighter the Tampa, asylum seekers and refugees, prominent and ordinary Australians from all walks of life, musicians, dancers, and other performers will form a human installation‚ on the footbridge over the Yarra River (Melbourne CBD-Southbank) at midday this Saturday 26 August.

The community arts event, organised by Victoria‚s Refugee Action Collective, will call for a new direction in Australia‚s refugee policy based on an immediate end to mandatory detention, and full rights for all refugees.

Amid the colourful riverside procession will be giant sepia banners featuring the faces and stories of refugees and brightly coloured tall flags. On the footbridge the procession will sit down and pause for five minutes to mark the five years since Tampa holding large letters making the words REMEMBER TAMPA. After two minutes of silence the crowd will join together in a song of freedom, led by choirs and drummers, and then move on to a welcome ceremony on the red steps at the south end of the Sandridge Bridge.

In the past, generations of new migrants crossed this bridge on their way from Station Pier. Today, The Travellers‚ a group of sculptures, commemorates these voyages and celebrates the contribution made by refugees and immigrants to Australia. The Sandridge Bridge will be decorated with the words, LET THEM LAND, LET THEM STAY.

Our contemporary travellers will not be vilified and brutalised like the Tampa refugees they symbolise. Instead, they will receive an indigenous welcome before being addressed by prominent refugee advocate, Julian Burnside, QC.

A performance by the Shaking the Tree choir will follow and then a performance piece by well known Melbourne author Arnold Zable and musician Kavisha Mazzella. Members of the public are encouraged to participate or just watch from the south bank of the Yarra, if they prefer.

Just a few of the individuals and organisations supporting this year's TAMPA commemoration: A Just Australia, Actors For Refugees, Asylum Seekers Resource Centre, Lyn Allison, Democrats leader, Julian Burnside QC, Sharon Burrow, ACTU President, John Butler, Tahir Cambis, Bishop Hilton Deakin, Dr June Factor, Fitzroy Learning Network, Free West Papua, Friends of the Earth, Alice Garner, Max Gillies, Hazara Association, Peter Job, Greens Victoria, Father Peter Nordon, Robin Laurie, Anne Phelan, Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre Inc., Researchers for Asylum Seekers, Brian Walters, SC, Liberty Victoria, Assoc. Prof. Spencer Zifcak, New Matilda Human Rights Campaign.

A full media release, with quotes from our supporters, will be distributed on Friday. For more information/interviews, contact:Tim Petterson (0438 399 973); Emma Larking (8344 9468 business hours)

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20 AUGUST 2006

CH2 - WORLD LEADING GREEN COUNCIL HOUSE LAUNCHED IN MELBOURNE

One of the world's greenest buildings was formally launched today. Known as CH2, an acronym for Melbourne City Council's Council House, the new green building built as a model for construction in the future. When compared to the former building used for housing the Council's staff, CH2 is expected use reduce electricity consumption by 85%, gas consumption by 87%, produce 13% of the emissions, and reduce mains supply ware use by 72%.

As he only Green Councillor on Melbourne City COuncil between 1999 and 2004, I argued strongly for making this building green. Having put up proposals for 5 star energy rating in 1999, which the COuncil did not support, but were subsequently used and adopted by the State Government, this building is a fantastic demonstration of what is possible and what should be done. I originally proposed that the City of Melbourne sponsor a strong greenhouse and energy saving project with Melbourne's residents. Given the strong business bias of the administration and my elected colleagues, the impetus for this evolved into the the Commercial Building Partnership which is described on this site under the Green Achievements called Greening Commercial Developments.

Further details on this amazing building are available online at Council House 2. The following information detailing some of CH2 advanced features is taken from that website:

Council House 2 (CH2) is a visionary new building with the potential to change forever the way Australia – indeed the world – approaches ecologically sustainable design.

On Friday, 1 April 2005, the Green Building Council of Australia awarded Council House 2 six Green Stars which represents world leadership in office building design.

The CH2 project is the first in Australia to achieve the six Green Star certified rating, where the minimum rating is one star and maximum is six. This achievement is also significant as the design for the project started prior to the launch of the Green Star Rating System and Green Star – Office Design.

The Green Star rating system separately evaluates the environmental design and performance of Australian buildings based on a number of criteria, including energy and water efficiency, quality of indoor environments and resource conservation.

CH2 has sustainable technologies incorporated into every conceivable part of its 10 storys. A water-mining plant in the basement, phase-change materials for cooling, automatic night-purge windows, wavy concrete ceilings, a faćade of louvres (powered by photovoltaic cells) that track the sun – even the pot plant holders have involved a whole new way of thinking.

Although most of the principles adopted in the building are not new – using thermal mass for cooling, using plants to filter the light – never before in Australia have they been used in such a comprehensive, interrelated fashion in an office building.

CH2 will add enormous vibrancy to Little Collins Street, with new shops, cafes and pedestrian connections. As it does so, it will strive for a new standard in how buildings can deliver financial, social and environmental rewards.

More information on initiatives I pursued to green Melbourne can be found on this website at:

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17 AUGUST 2006

HOW DO WE HOLD THE LINE? LAW, ACTIVISM AND DISSENT

I attended a very interesting forum tonight titled 'How Do We Hold The Line? Law, Activism and Dissent' on the role of the law amidst recent trends for long standing human rights to be discarded in favour of increased powers to respond to terrorist threats.

The forum speakers, Greens Senator Bob Brown and Liberty Victoria President, Brian Walters, and moderator, Pauline Spencer of the Federation of Community Legal Centres, provided many examples of democratically elected Parliaments producing laws that defeated the very liberties those laws were intended to defend.

Bob Brown referred to a picture on the Berlin State Parliament that had a profound impact on him. He described the picture as showing the judges not prepared to administer Nazi rule being sentenced to execution by judges who were. The picture illustrated how complex the ideals of liberty and security from a weave of principles that underpin our democracy.

Brian Walters detailed some more recent thinking on the rule of law and whether it should and how it may protect individual rights in circumstances where the two may come ito conflict. Detailing some of the provision of the new Commonwealth National Security Information Act, Brian illustrated how legislatures can either intentionally or inadvertently undermine the freedoms their sponsors profess to protect.

The forum was well worth attending, and raised issues many of us would benefit from reflecting on if we are to maintain the quality of democracy I believe the majority of present day Australians assumed was an inalienable part of their political heritage.

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5 AUGUST 2006

THE ETHICS OF CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE

I met Cairon O'Reilly while visiting Camp Sovereignty in the Domain during the 2006 Commonwealth Games. Cairon is one of a group of five Catholic peace activists known as the Pit Stop Ploughshares who were on trial in in Dublin's Four Courts for causing $2.5 million damage to a US navy war plane at Shannon air base in February 2003. At the time Ireland was being used as a staging point for the war on Iraq.

Following a number of mistrials in the past, a jury of their Irish piers recently acquitted the Pit Stop Ploughshares, including Australian born Cairon O'Reilly.

Radio National broadcast a discussion on the issue under the title Talkback: The ethics and limits of civil disobedience. With guests Cairon O'Reilly, Professor Kevin Clements of the Australian Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies and Philip Matthews from the School of Philosophy, Notre Dame University, Perth. A link to this very interesting story can be found on the ABC Radio National website at: http://www.abc.net.au/sundaynights/stories/s1701156.htm

More information is the issue is available online at the website Peace on Trial.

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4 AUGUST 2006

VICTORIAN LOCAL GOVERNMENT ASSOCIATION - ACTIVISM AND ADVOCACY

I had the good fortune to be a guest of the Victorian Local Governance Association to join Boroondara City Council CEO Peter Johnstone to talk on 'Activism and Advocacy'. Speaking to a largely local government audience, it was great to see so many local government advocates for good governance attending the meeting in a warm room in the 60L Green Building on an otherwise cold evening.

My view was that while elected officials had choices to be passengers, administrators and activists, being an activist was the most worthwhile and engaging approach for a Councillor to engage in. It was great to see Bendigo Green Councillors, Mayor David Jones and Cr. Julie Rivendell at the meeting. along with many other great advocates for active local representation.

With 15 minutes to speak, I chose to emphasise the need for activists to be involved in government, without trying to emphasise what I had done. In response to an email today from a participant following up from the evening, I have decided to put a couple of links to the list of Green Achievements that I am very keen for others to use and adapt to their community. Links to both of them are listed below, with explanations available my clicking on the underlined titles on the pages they refer to.

PEAK OIL AND ITS EFFECT ON FOOD SECURITY CONFERENCE - 4 SEPTEMBER 2006

The Garden of Eden is hosting what promises to be an excellent conference on the links between peak oil and food security at Northcote Town Hall on 4 September 2006. A have extracted the following information from material forwarded to me.

Considering the questions of 'What would a sustainable local food system look like?' and 'How do we work together to create self-reliant local communities?' this conference will benefit local and state government staff in the areas of environment, health and planning, business & development industry professionals, community organisations involved in food security projects, interested community members and activists, university staff and students involved in Food Security projects and research, and food producers, wholesalers and retailers

While the historic peaking and decline in world oil supply is becoming more widely discussed in the media, it is a bad news story to rival climate change. Richard Heinberg and David Holmgren will distill the key understandings behind the avalanche of confusing information. They will engender an understanding of Peak Oil as the upheaval which allows us to take the steps forward to healthy, sustainable and equitable eating for all.

The one day event will focus on the opportunity that Peak Oil presents to re-localise our economies & food systems. Keynote speakers Richard Heinberg and David Holmgren will open the conference, followed by presentations of a number of innovative urban food projects that directly address food security, the environment and community wellbeing. Richard Heinberg, from California is author of The Party’s Over and Powerdown, two best selling and influential books about peak oil and the potential solutions. A leading environmental educator, he is constantly in demand as a public speaker in the USA and around the world. His presentations are featured in the 2003 documentary film about peak oil The End of Suburbia. His forthcoming book The Depletion Protocol shows the national and international dimension of adaptive response to energy descent. David Holmgren is best known as the co-originator (with Bill Mollison) of the Permaculture concept (1978). His reputation as one of Australia’s leading environmental thinkers has been confirmed with the publication of Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability (2002) that provides deeper insights into the principles behind permaculture strategies and techniques for living within nature’s limits in the energy descent future. Whether you are already involved in local food projects and community renewal or are just getting started, this conference will inspire and empower you.

Cost with refreshments and vegetarian lunch included: individuals & community organisations: $60; business & government: $95; students: $50. For further details, or questions,please contact Garden of Eden: phone (03) 9696 8013 or mail@gardenofedenproject.net.au.

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3 AUGUST 2006

THE GREENS PLEDGE TO TACKLE PROBLEM GAMBLING IN THE WESTERN SUBURBS

The following media release was issued by the Victorian Greens West Metropolitan Upper House candidate Colleen Hartland.

The Greens pledge to tackle problem gambling in the Western suburbs

"Pokies in the Western suburbs are among the most aggressive, voracious machines in the world," Colleen Hartland, candidate for West Metropolitan Upper House region. "And there are too many of them. Brimbank alone has more than seven machines per thousand adult residents."

"The social costs of gambling are enormous," said Colleen Hartland. "Tens of thousands of Victorians have a gambling problem and for each of these, at least five more people are adversely affected."

Brimbank, which forms parts of Derrimut, Kororoit and Keilor districts, hosts the fourth highest amount of gaming machines in metropolitan Melbourne, with 953 machines in 15 venues. In the 2004-05 financial year Brimbank ranked second behind Monash with more than $110 million spent in gaming venues – more than $96 million has already been spent this year.

"When in state parliament after the November 25 election, the Greens will work to cut the number of pokies in Victoria by two thirds," said Colleen Hartland. "We'll roll back the number of electronic gaming machines to 10,000 after 2012, when current contracts expire. We will also remove all poker machines from ‘convenience gambling’ locations and locate them only in ‘destination gambling’ precincts."

"Poverty, homelessness, depression, suicide, relationship breakdown, fraud and violence are all consequences of problem gambling," said Colleen Hartland. "We must immediately tackle the gambling problem because it won't go away."

"The Greens have now taken the lead and set the goal. We will work to not only reduce pokie numbers but also take other measures, like reducing the maximum credit balance, to reduce the harm," said Colleen Hartland.

For more information, please contact: Colleen Hartland on (mob) 0400 043 881or Dave Lane on (mob) 0419 156 213

Background: The Greens' gambling policy can be found at http://www.vic.greens.org.au/about-the-greens/policy/GamblingPledge

Other Greens Victorian Gambling Reform pledges include:

  • Implementation of Statewide Local Government Area (LGA) based caps, whereby no LGA can have more than 120% of the state average density of poker machines,
  • Maintenance of per-venue caps on machines in convenience gambling locations (until those venues are phased out),
  • Removal of ATMs from all gambling venues, except in country towns with no other accessible ATM and ensure EFTPOS facilities at venues do not permit cash withdrawals,
  • Removal of banknote acceptors from machines, to return them to coin-only operation,
  • Capping winnings payable by machines at $100, and winnings payable by a cashier at $250,
  • Additional winnings are to be payable only by cheque (as they are in Qld and NT),
  • Reduction of the maximum credit balance (i.e., how much can be inserted into a machine) from $9,949 to $200,
  • Banning of free food and drink in gambling venues,
  • Appointment of a genuinely independent statutory gambling regulator charged with minimizing the social and economic costs of gambling, and protecting consumer and the public interest,
  • Publishing the minutes of the Responsible Gambling Ministerial Advisory Council on the website, with a link to the most recent minutes on the home page.

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2 AUGUST 2006

ACF 2006 CONSITUTIONAL CHANGE 'NO CASE'

Members of the Australian Conservation Council are currently being invited to vote in a ballot about proposed changes to the Foundations Constitution and organisational arrangements. The primary impetus for the changes are a potential conflict between the governing legislation for the ACF, which has its legal status registered in the Australian Capital Territory, though other governance and machinery changes are included in the proposals.

As a member of the ACF Council, I had doubts about a number of the proposed changes, particularly the substitution of the postal ballot system for a more managerial style imposed by statute for general meetings and proxies. A 'No Case' argument has been developed and forwarded to members, in addition to the yes case put forward for the proposals.

Largely built on the work of others, I have reproduced an ACF 2006 Constitutional Change 'No Case' that has been posted on the Port Philip Conservation Council Inc. website, and included links on this site that will remain for the duration of the period until the issues are resolved by the membership.

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31 JULY 2006

CLEAN GREEN - NOT TOXIC WASTE

The following media release was issued by the Victorian Greens Northern Victoria Upper House candidate Jennifer Alden.

Clean Green - not toxic waste - is the way to secure the region's future say the Greens

The Hattah-Nowingi toxic waste dump is an insult to country Victorians. That's because it flies in the face of a sustainable future for the north-west of the state say the Greens.

Jennifer Alden, the Greens Agriculture spokesperson and Upper House candidate for Northern Victoria, says the state government needs to acknowledge the strength of country Victoria’s opposition to the toxic waste dump and find another solution for the state’s hazardous waste.

Speaking in Mildura, Jennifer Alden reaffirmed the Greens total opposition to the state government's plan for the toxic waste facility.

"The future of agriculture in this region lies with innovation, job creation and building our clean, green image," said Ms Alden. "This will benefit producers and build consumer confidence. So we don't need a toxic waste dump to torpedo this formula for a sustainable future."

"The plan for a toxic waste facility at Nowingi is just another example of the Melbourne mind-set of the state government," said Jennifer Alden." It’s an 'out of sight and out of mind' solution in a non-Labor electorate, a long way from the city."

"However, the success of last week’s 'Rock the Tox' concert in Melbourne has brought new support for the enormous community opposition to the toxic waste facility," said Jennifer Alden. "The eyes of metropolitan Melbourne are now focused on this part of the state".

"Victoria's waste disposal problem needs to be tackled at source," said Jennifer Alden. "The Greens in parliament after November 25 will work to ensure industry takes a 'cradle to grave' responsibility for waste. In the meantime, we will work to convince the state government it must respect community opinion and cancel its plans for the toxic waste dump at Nowingi."

The Greens Victorian agriculture policy will be released in a few weeks.

For more information and comment, please contact: Jennifer Alden on (mob) 0427 430 233, email: jenniferalden@vic.greens.org.au or Dave Lane on (mob) 0419 156 213

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28 JULY 2006

SUNDAY 30 JULY IS PLANET ARK NATIONAL TREE DAY

Planet Ark's National Tree Day  - Australia's biggest community tree planting event, is on again this Sunday 30 July. Sponsored by Toyota and AMP Foundation, this years National Tree Day will see the planting of the ten millionth tree - a truly tremendous effort. Head down to your local tree-planting site and do your part for the environment by getting your hands dirty.

To locate your nearest site or for more information on how you can get involved, call the National Tree Day Hotline on 1300 88 5000 or visit www.planetark.com/treeday 

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27 JULY 2006

MAJOR MORI'S APPEAL TO AUSTRALIAN CITIZENS FOR JUSTICE FOR OWN OF OUR OWN

The Australian web-based community campaigning group Get Up recently forwarded a message from Major Michael Mori, the US military lawyer assigned to represent the Australian citizen David Hicks' currently held in Guantanamo Bay for alleged involved in terrorist related activities.

Reproduced below is an extract from the email forwarded by Get Up. Below that is the online message from Major Mori taken from the Get Up blog site. The original article can be seen on the blog page dated Tuesday 25 July 2006. You can also visit the Get Up Champignon repatriate Australian David Hicks by clicking on this underlined title.

Get Up Champignon repatriate Australian David Hicks

Dear friends,

Standing up for the basic right to a fair trial is what GetUp's campaign to repatriate Australian David Hicks is all about. The tide is turning and tens of thousands of us are making waves: nearly 40,000 people have signed the letter of demand so far.  

With this support, we've been busy ramping up the pressure on the Australian Government, and we wanted to share how the actions of so many GetUp members are being noticed around the world.  

On Thursday, GetUp published full-page advertisements in major national and metropolitan newspapers calling on the Government to take action. We then assembled a press conference with a diverse alliance of community leaders to voice why they believe David Hicks should be brought home. These events received widespread local, national and international media coverage.

At the press conference, Catholic Bishop Kevin Manning said: "When Australia fails to act to guarantee the human rights of one of its citizens, then we are all diminished."

But the politicians still don't get it. In response to our campaign, Attorney-General Philip Ruddock issued his same tired and discredited response: that David Hicks cannot be tried in Australia. So we asked David Hicks' US military lawyer, Major Michael Mori, to post a blog on GetUp's website outlining why he believes his client has been abandoned by the Australian Government (read and respond to him here).  

Allowing politicians to do away with our most basic rights is dangerous and unacceptable.  If you haven't already, please add your name to this important call now and share it with others. There's also a note you can use at the bottom of this email if you like.

Thank you for being part of this,

The GetUp team

PS: Next month, the Sydney Opera House will host the world premier of Honour Bound, a performance that chillingly represents life inside Guantanamo Bay. It will tour other capital cities in Australia and likely the globe - inviting citizens everywhere to question how we uphold justice in the face of terrorism.

Guest Blog by Major Michael Mori - Military Lawyer for David Hicks*

Unfortunately, politics have replaced justice in the case of David Hicks.

David has been detained for four and a half years without trial, and has been in isolation for the past four months. He sits in a concrete room for 23 hours a day. He is allowed one book per week and one hour outside his cell for exercise in what best could be described as a large dog kennel, and to shower.

I will visit him shortly to see if there is any improvement in his living conditions since the recent announcement that part of the Geneva Conventions will apply to David. We have tried in the past to get David working on his high school certificate which is something that David has put his heart into. The conditions that he is kept in make this difficult to accomplish.

The four and half year delay, so far, in bringing David to trial is due to the fact that David did not violate any international law so the US had to make up charges and an unfair system that would rubber stamp the charges without question. Had the US used a real court system like the courts-martial, we could have had a trial within the first year. But of course, David would have been acquitted which would not have served the political agendas in the US and Australia.

All David has wanted is a fair trial and Australia did nothing to obtain that for him since a fair trial would have proven David's innocence.

The Australian government keeps saying we can not prosecute David in Australia. That is simply because David has not violated any law, Australian or international - not that the laws don't exist. If the charges against David in the commission system were valid international law crimes, Australia could charge him with these offenses. But the charges made up against David by the commission system are not real. Every time the Australian government says "we can not charge Hicks", they are in fact saying "David Hicks has not violated any law". But the Australian government tries to use this as a reason to abandon him. It should be reason to stand up for him and bring him home to his family.

The recent ruling by the US Supreme Court finding military commissions illegal vindicates everything the legal experts in Australia have been saying for the past four years. It highlights the fact that the Australian government must have blindly followed the US Department of Defense without receiving any internal advice on the legality of the commission and chose to ignore advice that the commissions were illegal such as Lex Lasry's report for the Law Council of Australia in 2004.

There have been discussions and hearings in the US Congress on establishing a new military commission. Again it would only apply to non-U.S. citizens and may very well be a duplicate of the unfair commission system. Unfortunately, I do not expect any "new" system that maybe set up to try David to be any fairer or to be completed in the near future. It may take another year before David sees the inside of a courtroom. This will be five and half years from the start of David's detention in Guantanamo.

Clearly, a case of justice delayed is justice denied.

I'd like to thank GetUp members for your attention to David's case.

Major Michael Mori

* Major Michael Mori is a major in the United States Marine Corps, and was appointed by the United States Government as the defense lawyer for David Hicks in the Military Commission process.

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26 JULY 2006

CHRIS MARDON ON VICTORIA'S GREENHOUSE FUTURE

Chris Mardon, Greens member and former CSIRO scientist, has a very good understanding of the science and politics of global warming. I have reproduced an email Chris forwarded me in reply to a Melbourne 'The Age' Opinion piece of July 25 by Tim Colebatch titled 'Policy on climate change is mostly hot air'. For copyright reasons I have linked Tim Colebatch's article rather than reproduced it. It is available online by clicking on the blue/underlined title. Chris Mardon's comments are reproduced by permission below.

Chris Mardon on Victorian Government Climate Change Inaction

The article pasted below appeared in yesterday’s Age [ 'The Age' Opinion piece of July 25 by Tim Colebatch titled Policy on climate change is mostly hot air]. Some of you may have seen it, but I thought I would send it anyway because it talks about government responses to climate change. In particular, I would like to make a couple of points about it because it does touch on some important issues. The recent announcement of the Victorian Government about its renewable energy target is most misleading because it suggests that the government is doing something to reduce greenhouse emissions, whereas the truth is that this boost for the wind energy industry will do nothing of the kind.
 
On the contrary, other government plans for smelters, power stations and oil from coal will ensure that emissions rise even more rapidly than the normal growth in electricity consumption would lead you to expect. Also, by delaying the target date and cutting the scheme off soon after that (2020), the government’s support for renewable energy is not as generous as it seems. However, the environmental NGOs have been completely sucked in by this scheme and they applaud it, even though the government lacks any comprehensive strategy to reduce emissions. Bracks’ slogan is “Growing Victoria Together”, and he does not care what kind of growth it is as long as it satisfies the financial markets.
 
The fact is that consumers will pay the cost of this scheme while the government is pouring much larger amounts of taxpayer’s money into the development of brown coal. Despite that, the economic incentives for the use of these new technologies (clean coal and geosequestration) are not really there. The HRL and Monash Energy projects are going ahead because they are supported by federal and state subsidies. Will taxpayers have to continue supporting such projects in future with more handouts, or will energy markets provide the incentive? Just as nuclear power is unlikely to develop without subsidies, emissions trading or a carbon levy, these coal technologies will not develop on their own merits either.
 
Colebatch makes the very good point that if the technologies prove to work, but they cost more, what happens then? Even ABARE warns that unless there is a charge for carbon emissions, there is no incentive to invest in them. All this pussyfooting around is about how to charge domestic consumers for the cost of carbon emissions without affecting energy-intensive export industries. This is a real case of the tail wagging the dog because the industries concerned are large emitters, but they are not large employers and are of dubious net economic benefit to the country. It is just that the power of the Mining and Energy lobbies is so great that it is able to prevent any serious action on global warming, here or elsewhere. That is why proposals for a state-based emissions trading scheme have fallen over.
 
Global emissions are out of control, and Victoria is no different. Victoria’s emissions are growing at about 1.4 million tonnes per year, and half of that is coming from power stations. Transport emissions are growing at a steady 0.4 million tonnes per year. The state government’s 2002 Victorian Greenhouse Strategy and its active support of wind energy have made no noticeable impact on the growth of emissions, and they are not likely to unless the government does the following:

  1. Change the regulation of the electricity industry to remove inbuilt incentives for growth
  2. Change electricity tariffs to remove subsidies and reduce peak demands
  3. Introduce a mechanism to charge for carbon emissions
  4. Make existing power stations more efficient or replace them with low emission technology  (gas or renewable energy)
  5. No new coal-fired power stations or coal conversion plants
  6. No new smelters or other energy-intensive industries.
  7. Extend the 5-star system to commercial buildings and to major renovations of existing buildings
  8. Finance improvements to the thermal performance of rental properties
  9. Mandate the replacement of old hot water systems with solar HWS
  10. Change patterns of urban development to reduce dependence on cars and improve access to public transport
  11. Stop building freeways and improve rail infrastructure to facilitate greater use of rail freight
  12. Improve agricultural practices and not expand the dairy industry (methane from ruminants is a major source of emissions)

Victorian Greens policies are aimed at achieving these goals, but the major parties are entirely focussed on economic growth at the expense of the climate and the environment. Hypocritical statements about the benefits of renewable energy in the context of growing emissions from fossil fuels will just not do. Equally, there are many other things that we can do to reduce emissions in addition to expanding the use of renewable energy. A policy that only concentrates on that will just not work in the context of rising emissions from fossil fuels.
 
Regards, Chris Mardon

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24 JULY 2006

ETHICS AND THE NATIONAL INTEREST

The Vincent Fairfax Fellowship Symposium 2006 titled 'In The National Interest' was held over the 3 days from Friday 21 July to Sunday 23 July in Melbourne.

A number of very interesting speakers were invited to contribute their ideas, including:

  • Dean Mighell, State Secretary of the Electrical Trades Union on 'Changes in the Australian Workplace'
  • Matt Finnis, General Manager AFL Players Association on 'Drugs in Sport'
  • Dr. Rhonda Galbally, CEO of Our Community on 'Community Leadership'
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology Professor Michael Bennett on 'RU 486, The Debate Continues'
  • Bill Shorten, Australian Workers Union National Secretary on 'Political Leadership'; and,
  • Ben Worsley, ABC News TV Melbourne State Political Reporter on 'Ethics in Journalism'

As a participant and Vincent Fairfax Ethics Fellowship participant, I found the event very interesting and well worth attending. Operating under Chatham House rules, presenters are given the opportunity to discuss issues with participants without any of those discussions being attributed to a particular person.

One of the aims of the Ethics Fellowship is to allow people who may have the chance to influence pubic life in Australia to think more about ethics and to contribute to its advancement wherever they can. For those interested in taking part in a fellowship program in the future, more details are available on the St James Ethics Centre at www.ethics.org.au/leadership.htm or by direct email enquiry to leadership@ethics.org.au

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20 JULY 2006

GREENHOUSE TARGETS MISSING FROM THE VICTORIAN ENVIRONMENT PAPER

The following media release was issued by the Victorian Greens Eastern Victoria Upper House Region candidate Louis Delacretaz.

Greenhouse emission reduction goals go missing from the Victorian Environment paper say the Greens

The Victorian Environment paper contains plenty of promise, but reveals no real strategy to reduce emissions.

One hundred and fifty things to be done, $200 million to be spent - the State government's Environment statement (Our Environment, Our Future) sounds impressive. However, just how far will it really go to build a sustainable economy, a truly green community and a secure future for our children and grandchildren? The answer is less than certain.

"While the renewable energy targets look good, there's an immediate need to set real targets for greenhouse gas reductions," said Louis Delacretaz, the Greens energy spokesperson and lead candidate for the Eastern Victoria Upper House Region. "It's unclear how the statement will deliver on this."

"While setting a 10 per cent renewable energy target by 2016, the Victorian government continues to increase power generation from fossil fuels, including dirty brown coal," said Louis Delacretaz. "Breathing more life into Hazelwood, one of the world's dirtiest power station's just doesn't make sense, if we are really serious about tackling climate change."

"The focus should be on energy efficiency to reduce the demand for power," said Louis Delacretaz. "It's also absurd to exempt Alcoa from the cost of not meeting renewable energy targets when it consumes between 18 and 25 per cent of Victoria's electricity."

"Victorians were looking forward to an environment strategy in this statement," said Louis Delacretaz. "However, what's been served up is mainly a rehash of current programs and old, undelivered promises."

"Take the Victorian Sustainability Fund, for example. The Government's environment statement announces the grant recipients for round two of this fund, but this money was allocated years ago," said Louis Delacretaz. "There's nothing new here."

"The statement is also short on mid term timelines and spending commitments," said Louis Delacretaz. "It is good to see Government recognising the importance of biodiversity. However, why wait until 2008
for the production of a white paper on the issue, when we already know much about the problem and see an increasing number of animal species threatened with extinction?"

For more information and comment, please contact: Louis Delacretaz on (mob) 0407 300 188 or Dave Lane on (mob) 0419 156 213

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17 JULY 2006

MINIMISE THE HARM

The following media release was issued by Colleen Hartland, the Victorian Greens drugs policy spokesperson.

Minimise the harm - The Greens Drugs Policy released

The Australian Greens Victoria released the Victorian drugs policy this morning, the eighth policy release of the Greens state election campaign.

"All drugs - legal or illegal - have potential for harm," said Colleen Hartland, the Greens drugs policy spokesperson. "Our drugs policy aims to minimize that harm, save lives and effectively deal with the problems associated with drug use."

"Current approaches are not working," said Colleen Hartland. "So, its time to step back from the emotional debate and work to implement programs that will effectively tackle the problems associated with legal and illegal drugs."

"Tobacco and alcohol are the drugs that cause greatest harm and the most number of deaths," said Colleen Hartland. "Our policy focuses on ways to reduce their consumption and discourage their use."

"Illicit drug use also costs us dearly," said Colleen Hartland. "The Greens approach is to save lives and improve the health of illicit drug users. We really do need to do act now to reduce the deaths, disease, crime and corruption resulting from drug use."

Key elements of the Greens Victorian drugs policy include:
- Banning all advertising and all sponsorship of tobacco products.
- Ensure that alcohol advertising is not targeted at young people.
- Banning donations from the tobacco and alcohol industry to political parties.
- Establishing a Victorian Drugs Policy Research Institute to undertake research trials and evaluate drug policy.
- Evaluate treatment programs for heroin dependent users, including medically supervised injection spaces (based on the NSW model) and medically prescribed heroin for treatment resistant users (based on international models such as the Swiss model).
- Increasing the availability of needle and syringe exchange programs, including in all Victorian prisons.
- Replacing criminal penalties for personal drug use with a system of civil remedies
- Increasing funding for drug detoxification and drug withdrawal programs.

"This is a very difficult policy area," said Colleen Hartland. "Unfortunately, more lives will be lost and significant damage to individuals and communities will continue unless we do more."

"We urgently need to see the drugs problem as a health problem - and act accordingly," said Colleen Hartland.

For more information and comment, please contact: Colleen Hartland on (mob) 0400 043 881 or Dave Lane on (mob) 0419 156 213

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15 JULY 2006

WHO CAN AFFORD TO FINANCE A NEW DIGITAL TELEVISION CHANNEL? - LETTER TO THE EDITOR

I wrote the following letter to the editor in letter in response to the Federal Cabinet changes to Australian media ownership rules. A 20 Kb word version of the letter can be downloaded by clicking on the title: Who Can Afford To Finance A New Digital Television Channel? - Letter to the Editor.

Who can afford to finance a new digital television channel?

As uncertain and perplexing as the government’s new media ownership proposals are, a vital consideration is who of the ‘new entrants to the media market’ can afford to finance a digital channel?

Two likely content contenders are a dedicated shopping channel and a religious channel.  If US experience is a guide, both will in their own way, be marketing channels.  One marketing goods, the other religion.  While both are absolutely legitimate broadcasters, it is very likely neither will contribute much to the independent journalism and open public debate essential to a healthy democracy.

If the new proprietors are spiritually minded, their views will almost certainly be conservative: the form of new age conservatism that sees the virtue of individual wealth and the plight of those less fortunate as being founded in their failure to succeed. ‘Yet to succeed’ for those who sometimes describe the working poor and unemployed as aspirational.

Accordingly, Hillsong and cashed-up commercial allies of Family First are much more likely contenders for TV style evangelism than the Jesuits or Sisters of Mercy.

Cabinet have reportedly approved these changes.  How much wobble there is in the rubber stamp of the current Parliament is yet to be seen.  Conservative forces may well again have reaped a significant gain from their relatively small investment in electoral politics.

As many were saying before the 2004 election, handing control of the Senate to the government was akin to handing over the remote control to our media. TV guide highlights now include Backpocket Blitz – Your Work Choices to sign or be sacked, ‘The Uncollectors’ - How to Privatise Anything That Moves, Nuclear Families, Big Brother John and of course, the Stock Market Report.

As the saying goes, ‘watch this [digital] space’.  You may have less choice than you thought.

David Risstrom

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14 JULY 2006

SEE YOU LATER LISA

I went to a farewell service for the lovely Lisa Bellair, a young bubbly indigenous women who never seemed far from, but invariably behind, a camera. Lisa died recently, for reasons I don't know. Today really upset me. It's difficult when you don't have a dog to talk to. Thinking about how effervescent Lisa was and the fact she is not here anymore is saddening. I think it was Lisa that took a great picture of Richard Franklin standing with Rosa the beautiful german shepherd a few years ago when I was at Trades Hall to give a speech. I was doing an opening at Bunjilaka at the Melbourne Museum, and without previously knowing, there I find a wonderful picture of Richard and Rosa. I think the picture now hangs in Richard's lounge room, which is a great joy.

Lisa also helped start and continue to crank 3CR's 'Not another Koorie Show', which I had the great joy to be a guest on a couple fo times. Lisa had been cajoling me to come on again, whenever I could. Silly me, I let it slip too long, and I'm sorry for that. Lisa was a good poet. If you google her name you'll find some of the work she has done.

For me, life ends with death, and we do what good we do while on this planet. Others spoke beautifully of a future spiritual life for Lisa, and I wish for Lisa's sake, I am wrong and they are right.

Lisa deserves everything we can give her. What a wonderful woman. What a devastating loss. Thanks Lisa for being beautiful and for being Lisa. I hope I see you later sometime: David

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12 JULY 2006

PUBLIC TRANSPORT - NOT MORE BITUMEN - IS THE ANSWER TO TRAFFIC GRIDLOCK AND RISING PETROL PRICES

The following media release was issued by Bill Pemberton, the Greens Transport and Planning Integration spokesperson and lead Eastern Metropolitan Region candidate.

Public Transport - not more bitumen - is the answer to traffic gridlock and rising petrol prices say the Greens

Fast, frequent, well-connected public transport. That's the promise of the Victorian Greens Planning and Transport policy, released today by Bill Pemberton, the Greens Transport and Planning Integration spokesperson, and lead candidate for the Eastern Metropolitan Region.

Public Transport is a key state election policy for the Greens.

"Victoria can have a world class public transport system if we stop building tollways," said Bill Pemberton. "Rising petrol prices are making Victorians poorer, but 60 per cent of Melbournians can't leave the car at home, because there is no reliable, safe or convenient public transport in their neighbourhood."

However, transport is just one piece in the Victorian planning jigsaw; and it's one of the pieces missing from "Melbourne 2030" and planning strategies for regional Victoria. Others include a healthy environment, robust economy and empowered communities.

"To build an effective, integrated planning strategy for Victoria we need to shift the state mindset away from roads spending," said Bill Pemberton. "This requires a significant shift in government and departmental thinking. That's why we want VicRoads abolished, a minister with responsibility for "Planning and Transport" appointed and an integrated planning authority established."

"We urgently need the Government to focus on all Victorians' planning, development and transport needs - not just the interests of the roads lobby," said Bill Pemberton.

Melbourne’s privatised public transport experiment is a failure.

”The Greens will let train and tram contracts lapse when they expire in 2008 and establish a public agency to oversee the operation of Victoria's trams, trains and buses,” said Bill Pemberton. "The current system is a mess because private ownership hasn't worked - even its architect, former premier Jeff Kennett, says so.”

The Greens Transport and Planning Policy: Key Features

Fixing the system
- Bring land use planning, transport planning and infrastructure planning into a single, integrated department and return trains and trams to public ownership.
- Provide greater planning autonomy to local governments and reform appeal rights to VCAT.

More public transport, more often
- A public agency to overseas the operation of Victoria's trams, trains and buses,.
- A new rail line to Doncaster.
- A new rail line to Monash University / Rowville.
- Rail line extensions to East Cranbourne, Mernda, Aurora North and Wyndham Vale.
- New train stations at Lynbrook, Pakenham Lakes, Campbellfield, Coolaroo, Patullos Road, Point Cook and Derrimut Road.
- Duplication of single track sections of existing Metropolitan train lines and electrification of the Melton line.
- Trains and trams running no more than 10 minutes apart, with more frequent services in places
and at times of high demand.
- Buses running more frequently, earlier in the morning, later at night and on weekends.
- A more equitable fare system and significantly reduced rural fares.
- Increased staffing on trains and at all stations, particularly on Friday and Saturday nights.

Local planning for local people
- Review the Melbourne 2030 declaration of activity centres, maintain Melbourne’s Urban Growth Boundaries and introduce compulsory standards to Rescode.
- Ensure ministerial planning scheme amendments and planning permits are subject to the same public process as those created by local governments.
- Reform the energy rating system so that it better measures the overall energy performance of the building.

For more information and comment please contact: Bill Pemberton on (mob) 0428 636 316 or Dave Lane on (mob) 0419 156 213

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1 JULY 2006

PAST NEWS AND VIEWS

This page provides my news and views from July 1 to Sep 30 2006. The previous edition of current news and views are available by clicking here: David Risstrom's News and Views: Apr-Jun 2006: David.

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Cool Green Tip Of The Week -

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

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