David Risstrom - Thinking Environment
About this site 2011 Current News and Issues 100 Green Achievements David Risstrom's Progressive Internet Links
  2004 Through Green Coloured Glasses 100 More Green Achievements David Risstrom's Homepage

Thinking Environment Homepage

Email David Risstrom

100 Green Achievements

100 More Green Achievements

David's OnLine PhD - The Greens and the Planet's Future

David Risstrom's Articles, Essays and Speeches

David Risstrom's Media Releases

David Risstrom's Progressive Internet Links

Through Green Coloured Glasses 2004

Your Ideas and Priorities

Thinking Environment On Air

Greensforums

David Risstrom's Community Involvement

The Victorian Greens Homepage: Policies

The Australian Greens Charter

Victorian Local Government Elections 2008

Sustainability Game

Dave's Thoughts

Thank You To The Beautiful People

It's Not Easy Being Green


ARCHIVES BELOW

David Risstrom - Victorian Greens No. 1 Senate Candidate

David Risstrom News + Views Oct:-Dec 07: Jul-Sep 07: Apr-Jun 07: Jan-Mar 07

David Risstrom News + Views: Oct-Dec 06: Jul-Sep 06: Apr-Jun 06: Jan-Mar 06

Rosa and Dave's News + Views: Oct-Dec 05: Jul-Sep 05; Apr-Jun 05; Jan-Mar 05

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

Rosa and Dave's News + Views Oct-Dec 03; Jul-Sep 03; Apr-Jun 03; Jan-Mar 03

Rosa and Dave's News + Views 02

Through Green Coloured Glasses 03; 02

David Risstrom's Community Involvement 04-01; 01-99; Pre-99

Did Cr. Risstrom Deliver on His Promises for 01-04?; 99-01?

Victorian Local Government Elections 2008: 2005: 2004

 
 

NEWS AND VIEWS OF ROSA RISSTROM - THE POLICY WATCHDOG

Rosa The Policy Watchdog

[WITH GUEST COMMENTARY BY CR. DAVID RISSTROM]

Rosa, the Greens' Melbourne City Council policy watchdog keeps a watching brief on ideas, issues and policies. If there are issues you think need to be discussed, please contact either Rosa at rosa@davidrisstrom.org or me at: david@davidrisstrom.org. I will email you, and if appropriate, post a response on this website. David last updated this site on 6 May 2005.

Rosa the Policy Watchdog is not well, which is causing David a fair bit of distress. She was out to the world on Saturday, leading David to think she might have been bitten by one of her multi-legged friends in the garden. She has cellulitis, with a very swollen front right paw, meaning walking is very difficult, and typing almost impossible. David will be taking over Rosa's responsibilities in the short term until her wonder drugs bring her up to speed on all four paws. I'll keep you posted: David the Policy Night-Watchman - December 3 2003.


 

31 DECEMBER 2003

HAVE A HAPPY, JUST AND FAIR 2004

Have a happy, just and fair 2004, wherever you are, whoever you are and for whatever good you wish for the world: David Risstrom

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

30 DECEMBER 2003

MY FRIEND AND HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST, DR. ANDREW MCNAUGHTAN - FUNERAL DETAILS

Andrew McNaughtan's funeral will be at 1 pm Friday 2 January 2004, Mary McKillop Chapel, 9 Mount St, North Sydney. Phil Darmody and I will be going to say good bye to a good friend of mine and good friend of justice, human rights and decency.

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

29 DECEMBER 2003

MY FRIEND AND HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST, DR. ANDREW MCNAUGHTAN, HAS DIED IN HIS SLEEP

Andrew McNaughtan, my friend of 15 years and tireless human rights activist, has died in his sleep at the early age of 50.

I first met Andrew in Managua, Nicaragua in 1988. Andrew had travelled to Nicaragua to offer his medical services to the people of Nicaragua during the war between the Sandanistas and US. Government backed Contras. With the Contras habit of raiding villages and smashing doors down as they did, Andrew was instead put to work replacing doors in villages after they had been raided.

Andrew, my friend Phil Darmody and I first met Andrew at El Chapito's in Managua, but later met by accident in Quito, Ecuador. As Andrew tells it, he had been confronted late at night in the streets of Quito by a group of people with a knife, and by luck and some good thinking, made it back to the hotel. When he heard two Aussie voices the next morning, he decided to hitch up with us. Our travels over the next few months involved many moments that have radiated through my life ever since. Some of them included travelling to stay with a tribe in the Amazon (interspersed by much discussion on political economy) with Andrew being absolutely overawed as he handed out by then stale bread to a frenzy of activity; a monkey jumping on Andrew's back with me trying to lever it off using a big knife between the monkey and Andrew's back amidst Andrew's deep voice momentarily converted to high pitched screeches of 'Get if off, get if off!"; being threatened by guerillas including having a gun put to my head and the trigger pulled; by a stroke of luck, grabbing Andrew by the collar as he fell forward off the front of a truck during a 24+ hour trip across the Andes on the top of a truck; watching Andrew, six foot plus in a country of shorter people, almost knocking himself out as he ran cross-legged to the toilet during a particularly bad bout of the trots in the mountains in Peru; being threatened by an armed drunk policeman because we wouldn't share his wickedly strong home-made spirits; treating a donkey for serious saddle blisters in the middle of nowhere on a trek to a lost city in the Andes; arguing about socialism and sharing when Andrew took my 8 cent block of chocolate without asking; drinking a touch too much Ouzo during the Carnivale celebrations in Rio de Janeiro resulting in us ending up in a Rio ghetto and the police moving us into another nearby ghetto so that, as they explained 'if we get killed it wasn't on their territory'; having police trying to smash our fingers with long sticks as we held onto a fence to try to see the Carnivale dancing to the cheers of tens of people watching the 'crazy gringos', and ultimately sneaking into the Carnivale and dancing our way into nirvana through the stadium with the dancers.

After spending three months negotiating with Fretilin in Darwin to meet with Xanana Gusmao in late 1989, I travelled to East Timor. That good fortune led Andrew and my paths to cross again. Andrew was uncomfortable with the injustice and the Australian and US sanctioned Indonesian invasion of East Timor lit a flame of energy in Andrew that lasted for many years. Between living in Sydney, Darwin and East Timor, Andrew worked tirelessly on helping East Timor move towards independence. Andrew effectively devoted his energies full-time to East Timor and gave his Sydney home as a media base for the cause. While I in no way diminish the efforts of the countless East Timorese and other people who gave so much to the cause of East Timorese independence, I strongly believe that without Andrew's tireless work in Australia, the independence of East Timor might not have occurred. History often writes out the individual catalysts of change as a way of avoiding embarrassment for those of us who favour wilful blindness in the face injustice. Andrew and I talked about this, and not long after Australia did its policy backflip on East Timor, it was apparent that this process was writing out the inconvenience of Andrew's and other political activism in the face of nearly 30 years of political opportunism.

Andrew was also instrumental in bringing justice to Jo Gersten, as far as I know, the only person to seek political asylum from the USA. Jo Gersten was a Florida politician who ran fowl of powerful people, and was ultimately charged on very questionable grounds with a number of alleged crimes including trumped-upped charges of murder against Jo. Andrew spent months in the USA at his own expense investigating the claims, that resulted in a US Congressional report strongly hinting at a very serious abuse of governmental power at a very high level.

After Andrew approached me some years ago about standing for the Greens, I encouraged him in his candidacy for the NSW Greens preselection. Andrew did very well, and would have made an excellent Greens Senator if time had been kinder in allowing him to pursue his ambition for a fairer Australia.

With true inattention to hierarchy, many people knew Andrew by his first name. I have reproduced a 2002 article by Andrew, which he signs off using his name as Andrew McNaughtan, but I know his name is referred to his his name as Andrew McNaughten and Andrew McNaughton. I'm sure Andrew, having been called many things by many people, would be more interested in by known for what he did, than what he was called.

I'll really miss you Andrew. I can't believe that you are dead. I keep seeing your wide smile that escapes from you as you say something cheeky in the course of working out how the world might be a little better. I will miss sitting on your balcony on a warm night, and going down to the beach for a swim. Thank you for the simple things that your life's efforts have made more possible for countless people.

Thank you Andrew for being what you are, what you have done, and for all that you hoped for. Others have noticed and all of us have gained: David Risstrom

ABC News Online ran the following story on December 28 2003:

East Timor mourns campaigner's death

Members of the Australian and East Timorese communities say they are shocked to learn of the sudden death of human rights activist Dr Andrew McNaughtan.

The convenor of the Australian-East Timor Association (AETA), Dr McNaughtan is reported to have died in his sleep and was found in his north Sydney home on Christmas Eve.

AETA spokesman Jefferson Lee says Dr McNaughten was devoted to the liberation of East Timor and spearheaded campaigns to highlight human rights abuse throughout the 1990s. "His death has left a huge hole in the solidarity movement for East Timor and other human rights activists in the region and he's going to be sadly missed by many, many hundreds and thousands of people both here in Australia and throughout the region," Mr Lee said.

The Consular of East Timor in Australia Abel Guterres says Dr McNaughten will be remembered as a tireless campaigner for East Timor's freedom. "His work you know of course is the freedom of East Timor and I'm sure that every East Timorese and as well as the East Timor Government will always remember him as a great friend - friend of the people, friend of freedom and a friend of peace," Mr Guterres said.

Greens Senator Bob Brown issued the following Press release:

Dr Andrew McNaughton Dies.

Statement from Australian Greens Senator Bob Brown:Australia has lost the great human rights advocate, Dr Andrew McNaughton. He has died in Sydney aged 50.

Andrew was an outstanding advocate for East Timor's freedom. Throughout the 1990's he repeatedly exposed the hypocrisy of Australia's politicians and elites who were complicit in the Suharto regime's brutality. Andrew was a tireless warrior for justice.

He travelled extensively in East Timor while it was under Indonesian occupation as well as being a regular visitor during the country's transition to self rule. For example, he helped mount a display of photographs of East Timorese torture victims of the Suharto regime which was banned from Parliament House in Canberra by the Howard government.

Andrew continued to fight for justice for East Timor post independence. Recently he sought to bring attention to the unjust deal the Australian Government has imposed on East Timor regarding oil revenues in the Timor Sea. During the debate on the Timor treaty legislation in the Senate last year, Andrew acted as adviser to the Greens Senators.

Andrew became an active and valued member of the Australian Greens.

Dr McNaughton was a truly wonderful Australian, the county has lost one of its heroes.

Further information: Ben Oquist 0419704095.

This is an article I found today when looking for more news about Andrew's untimely death. I think it belies Andrew's strong compass fro the truth and his willingness to pursue his views. It is available as a 43 Kb word download by clicking on the underlined title.

BACKGROUND TO BUSH'S WAR ON IRAQ - An article by Dr. Andrew McNaughtan, 29 October , 2002.

As the US attempts to gain international support for its policy of "regime change" in Iraq, it claims to be motivated by concern about threats to humanity from Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and concerns about the abuses perpetrated by Saddam Hussein against Iraqis and Iraq's neighbours. However, the background to US involvement in the region suggests that these professed concerns don't make much sense. The US motivation for "regime change" makes more sense when it is viewed from the perspective of oil and wider US strategic interests.

Since early last century the oil resources of the Middle East have been viewed as a crucial resource by the developed world. After WW2 the US took a dominant role in the Middle East - motivated largely by these resources which were described by the US State Department as a "stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history". Iraq has massive oil reserves and (with large areas yet unexplored) may well have the largest reserves in the world.

A SORDID HISTORY

The US has frequently viewed the people of the Middle East as pawns in its geopolitical machinations.

In the early 1950s Iran had a democratic government under the leadership of Mohammed Mossadegh. However when he seemed intent on nationalising Iran's oil reserves (and thus threatened US interests) the CIA initiated a coup and a chosen US puppet - the Shah - was imposed on the Iranian people. The Shah lacked legitimacy and sufficient popular support, so the US assisted him to create a vicious secret police - the SAVAK- who maintained control through repression and terror. Eventually this repression could no longer contain popular resentment and in 1979 there was an uprising - which was now led by Islamic fundamentalists implacably opposed to the US. Repressive US policies had turned a democratic country into an implacable enemy of the west.

US policies that were venal, self-serving and short sighted eventually brought about an outcome that was quite antithetical to US interests. Having created an enemy, the US responded by backing a proxy to attack the insubordinate former client. The US did this by supporting neighbouring Iraq to wage a war [the Iran-Iraq war from 1980 to 1988] aimed at the overthrow of the inconvenient Iranian regime. In that sense the history in Iran has parallels with what is now happening in Iraq.

The Kurdish people of northern Iraq were used by Henry Kissinger as pawns of US global strategy in what former US Ambassador Peter Galbraith has called a "cynical double-cross" of the Kurds. Galbraith notes that "in the early 1970s, the Shah of Iran pushed the Kurds [in northern Iraq] to break off autonomy talks with Hussein and resume a rebellion that had begun in 1961. At the Shah's behest, Kissinger agreed to a CIA-run program of covert assistance to the Kurdish guerrillas ... While the Kurds didn't trust the Shah, they were reassured by the American involvement, and in 1974 resumed their rebellion. A year later, Saddam Hussein traded a boundary settlement sought by Iran for an end to Iranian (and US) support for the Kurds. The rebellion promptly collapsed, and tens of thousands of Kurds fled to Iran. Kissinger's cavalier reaction to the ensuing suffering: 'Covert action should not be confused with missionary work'". The Kurds had been betrayed by amoral and expedient policies that, as usual, took no notice of the impact on those involved.

It was not to be the last betrayal of the aspirations of the Kurdish people by the United States.

SADDAM - A FORMER U.S. ALLY

To help deal with the problem that their policies had created in Iran (after the successful revolution there in 1979), the US turned to Saddam Hussein and encouraged the 1980 Iraqi attack on Iran that initiated the 8 year Iran-Iraq war. This assisted the US objective of weakening Iran – now ruled by a government opposed to US interests. The Iran-Iraq war cost the lives of about one million people. Saddam regularly used chemical weapons against the Iranians. According to the Washington Post the CIA provided intelligence to Iraq to help "calibrate" its mustard gas attacks on Iranians and provided data from US satellite photographs to assist Iraqi bombing.

During the 1980s Saddam Hussein was seen as such a useful ally by western governments (particularly the US and UK) that they endorsed the sale of vast amounts of conventional weaponry as well as the technology that enabled Hussein to obtain weapons of mass destruction (WMD) - chemical and biological weapons.

Later, in 1988, Saddam used chemical weapons against his 'own people' - leaving an estimated 4,000 Kurdish people dead at Halabja . None of this concerned the Reagan Administration who subsequently successfully opposed the "Prevention of Genocide Act" designed by the US Congress to cut off military and non-military assistance to Iraq. Until this point, Saddam's activities were largely supported by Washington.

INVASION OF KUWAIT DAMPENS US SUPPORT FOR SADDAM

Saddam's crimes only began to be considered problematic by George Bush Snr's Administration when he invaded Kuwait in 1990 and potentially threatened the Saudi Arabian oil (the world's largest proven reserves).
Suddenly Saddam was portrayed as a monster in our media - and stories of Iraqi troops throwing premature babies out of incubators in Kuwait were fabricated to justify the Gulf War. What was not reported was that Saddam had previously informed the US ambassador of his plans to invade Kuwait and had reason to believe that the US would not interfere. When it became apparent that the US was opposed to his annexation of Kuwait, Saddam attempted to negotiate conditions for an Iraqi withdrawal. However the US would not bargain and initiated the Gulf War. Operation 'Desert Storm' was a rout against a technologically inferior military. The media circus did not mention that many of those who died - blown to bits or buried alive in trenches - were conscripts from areas of Iraq which opposed Saddam. The forces of 'Desert Storm' were largely killing their potential allies - Iraqis who opposed the tyrant Saddam.

After Saddam was driven from Kuwait the Americans again betrayed many of the Iraqi people. According to Dr Mohamad Al Jabiri (former Iraqi Ambassador to the UN) Bush Snr. "asked the Iraqi people to uprise and [said] the Americans and the allies would come and support them. And [the Iraqi people, especially the Kurds in northern Iraq and the Shi'a Muslims of the south] did uprise, taking 14 cities out of 18. What happened then? The US allowed the Iraqi Republican Army to regroup and to collect all their armaments from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, to march against the people and to torture them and to kill them, and nobody actually came to help us."

According to Galbraith, when George Bush Snr asked the Iraqi people to "take matters into their own hands and force Hussein to step aside", the Kurds "assumed he really meant it". A few days after the Gulf War ended, the Kurds staged an uprising that took over the entire north of Iraq. Galbraith continues that "concerned that the rebellion's success might lead to the break-up of Iraq into a Kurdish state in the north and Shiite state in the south, which could destabilise the region, President Bush and his key advisers had already decided to leave the Kurds to their fate. Apparently, it made no difference that this was a rebellion the president had called for, or that the Iraqis were crushing it with military helicopters that General Norman Schwarzkopf, the US commander, had with much swagger promised to destroy."

A US Foreign Relations Committee reported the "snub of Kurdish and other Iraqi leaders was read as a clear indication that the US did not want the popular rebellion to succeed". It said officials indicated they were looking for "a military, not a popular, alternative to Saddam Hussein".

The net impact of US policies on the people of Iran and Iraq has been appalling. Clearly any claim now made by the US to be concerned about the well-being of Iraq's citizens is difficult to take seriously.

It is reasonable to ask why - having labelled Saddam as a threat to peace - did the US choose to leave him in place ? As Thomas Friedman, writing in the New York Times, noted Saddam's dictatorship had served (would continue to serve) US interests. He wrote that Saddam's "iron fist simultaneously held Iraq together and prevented Iranian Islamic fundamentalists from sweeping over the eastern Arab world. It was only when the dictator decided to use his iron fist to dominate Kuwait and Saudi Arabia that he became a threat. But as soon as Mr. Hussein was forced back into his shell, Washington felt he had become useful again for maintaining the regional balance and preventing Iraq from disintegrating".

Illusions that the Gulf War might have been fought to support democracy in Kuwait (difficult to sustain as Kuwait is a feudal monarchy) were dispelled when Bush Snr. himself confirmed "the war wasn't fought about democracy in Kuwait". Clearly the US was not interested in democracy in Iraq either.

Leaving Saddam in power meant continuing sanctions that have caused further severe suffering for the Iraqi people - and the preventable deaths of an estimated 5000 children per month. The sanctions have done nothing to dislodge Saddam. However, leaving Saddam in place with sanctions imposed has also resulted in Iraq's vast oil reserves remaining largely intact.

WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION AND AL-QAEDA

The evidence suggests that the Bush administration was committed to the removal of Saddam long before September 11 - the 'War on Terror' has simply provided the public rationale for pursuing their long-standing objective. According to Peter Harcher writing in the Financial Review "as soon as [Bush] was in the White House in February 2001 he told his staff privately of his 'determination to dig Saddam out of power in Iraq' according to his former speech writer David Frum." Harcher continues that the day after September 11 (when al-Qaeda had already been identified by the CIA as the perpetrator) Rumsfelt asked "why shouldn't we go against Iraq, not just al-Qaeda?" Clearly key people in Bush's administration arrived in office with a predetermined agenda and have simply been looking for excuses to put it into effect.

It is claimed that Saddam's potential arsenal of WMD justifies the proposed war. Yet Iraq is probably less of a threat now than it was before the Gulf War (when Saddam received US support). Former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter states that "since 1998 Iraq has been fundamentally disarmed: 90 –95% of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capability has been verifiably eliminated."

On the subject of alleged links between Iraq and al Qaeda (recently floated by the US Administration), Ritter says " there are no facts to back up claimed connections between Iraq and Al Qaeda". He also notes that al Qaeda and the Iraqi government are ideological enemies who would not co-operate. Others have noted that al-Qaeda would probably use WMD against Saddam if they had them (because of the bitter ideological differences between the them) but that if anything might get Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda to co-operate it would be the US attack that is currently being organised. It has been noted that such an attack (undertaken with the clearly articulated intention of eliminating Saddam) is in fact the most likely way to prompt the use of any effective WMD that Saddam Hussein may still have.

So, it is reasonable to ask (if Iraq is not a particular threat in terms of WMD and support for terrorism) - what is the real motivation for the proposed war? The evidence suggests that oil interests are a major consideration in US decision-making.

THE OIL FACTOR

After the Gulf War Saddam acted to thwart US interests by apportioning major oil exploration contracts to Russian and French companies (amongst others). According to the Washington Post "American oil companies have been banished from direct involvement in Iraq since the late 1980s, when relations soured between Washington and Baghdad". Peter Hartcher in the Australian Financial Review notes "the big oil firms from Russia, France and Italy already have deals to explore major new oilfields in Iraq the moment UN sanctions against Baghdad end".

So, if sanctions were to be lifted with Saddam remaining in power, US oil companies would be excluded from the booty, whilst others would cash-in. Conversely, according to the Washington Post, the US led removal of Saddam "could open a bonanza for American oil companies long banished from Iraq, scuttling oil deals between Baghdad and Russia, France and other countries". Representatives of the Iraqi National Congress (INC - the US backed organisation of Iraqi opposition groups) have already made it clear that the ousting of Saddam would benefit US oil companies. Their representatives have stated that all existing oil agreements (with non US companies) will be 'reviewed' and the INC leader (Ahmed Chalabi) has said he favours the creation of a US led consortium to develop Iraq's oil fields noting that "American companies will have a big shot at Iraqi oil".

With rising oil prices and unstable economic conditions, could the US desire to gain access to and profit from Iraqi oil (as well as naturalise a military opponent in a strategically vital area) be the main reason why the US administration has decided that "regime change" in Iraq is now necessary?

Andrew McNaughtan, Sydney, 29 October , 2002.

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

28 DECEMBER 2003

SIEV-X RESPONSIBILITY EXTENDS TO THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT

News of a seven year jail sentence for an alleged people smuggler announced today for was met with self congratulation by Customs and Justice Minister Chris Ellison and by calls from the Opposition Spokesperson that the penalty was not high enough. There is no doubt that culpability lies with people who knowingly exploit others and send them off in the high seas with unseaworthy ships on inherently dangerous journeys, but the Australian Government's actions in limiting the capacity of Australian naval forces to respond to distressed vessels without prior approval from Canberra was a dangerous departure from decency and government responsibility to uphold basic human rights.

Australian Government policy to use refugees as an election issue made the dangerous voyage of the SIEV-X, and probably many other boats approaching Australia's movable shores, more perilous. As documented in David Marr and Marian Wilkinson' 2003 book, 'Dark Victory', the Australian Government's use of Operation Relex was part of a whole of government approach to discourage asylum seekers reaching Australia. In matters that justify a full judicial inquiry, substantial allegations include Australian Government authorised 'disruption' activities involving the sabotage of boats in Indonesia, and the claim that the long standing naval tradition of initiating rescue procedures in response to distress at sea has been being fettered by a need to seek political approval from Canberra is alarming. If true, as strong and well researched evidence put forward in the book suggests, both had, and have, the potential to cost innocent lives.

The expedient political use of refugees by the major parties during the last Federal election was disgusting and disgraceful. To fail to come clean about Australia's inaction and shadowy involvement in the dramatic down grading of Australia's reputation and practical commitment to human rights is both damaging and dangerous, and I believe, potentially criminal.

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

26 DECEMBER 2003

THE FIRST DAY OF KWANZAA

Kwanzaa, a seven-day celebration of African culture, was started in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, a professor at California State University. Celebrated from December 26 through January 1, Kwanzaa, which means "first fruits of the harvest" in the African language Kiswahili, is meant to honour African heritage as well as present day life in America.

Contrary to popular belief, Kwanzaa is not a substitute for Christmas. It is a time for families to join together and pledge their commitment to fully participating in and contributing to American society, and a time to unify black Americans as a people. Kwanzaa culminates in a big feast on the last evening of the holiday, on December 31. Called Karamu, it is celebrated with festive songs, dance, toasts, prayers, and a feast of foods.

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

25 DECEMBER 2003

HAVE A VERY GREEN CHRISTMAS AND PEACEFUL 2004!

Rosa Claus

From Melbourne City Greens Councillor David Risstrom, Dr. Carolynne Marks, Gus, Mia and Rosa Claus.

Click on Rosa's nose for a Christmas message from her northern friends (299 Kb powerpoint download)

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

24 DECEMBER 2003

ROSA GETS AN OK BILL OF HEALTH! YAHOO!!

Rosa has been very crook lately, having to go under the knife last week with a suspected bone cancer. Se was almost unable to walk and was pretty well off with the fairies a few weeks ago. Following a pretty distressing week for the Rosa the Policy Watchdog Fan Club, it appears the news is better than it could have been. It appears she had developed a major infection accompanying a severe arthritic degeneration of her right front paw. Walking and typing are still quite difficult, but her beautiful little heart is still beating. Being a VEQCI member (Victorian Employers of Quality Canines in Industry), Rosa and I have agreed that she is looking at quietly stepping down from her Melbourne City Council Policy Watchdog Role to take up the prestigious position of Chairdog of the Senate Oversight Committee - the Australian one, not the USA version. (Cash donations for Rosa can be cabled directly to her Ivory Coast special account. Woof: Rosa).

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

23 DECEMBER 2003

FALUN DAFA INCLUSION IN MOOMBA 'A VICTORY FOR DECENCY'

FROM CR. RISSTROM: "The decision of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Appeal Tribunal to overturn Melbourne City Council’s attempt to exclude Falun Dafa from Moomba is a victory for decency", Cr. Risstrom said today.

A vote of six to three was taken by Melbourne City Council on 27 February 2003 to ban Falun Dafa from the 2003 Moomba Parade solely on the basis of their political associations.

"I strongly oppose the decision by Melbourne City Council to ban the involvement of Falun Dafa in Moomba as discriminatory and wrong on political, ethical and legal grounds", Cr. Risstrom said

"In my view, a majority of Melbourne City Councillors sought to silence political freedom in a way that, fortunately, is rarely effective. By excluding Falun Dafa from the 2003 Moomba Parade, a majority of Councillors have attempted to suffocate the rights of public participation of Falun Dafa members that are analogous to the claims Falun Dafa or like groups maintain concerning the suppression of those freedoms in China", Cr. Risstrom said.

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

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

"I have maintained the view, now vindicated by the decision in VCAT, that the Council's actions discriminate against Falun Dafa on the basis of their presumed political beliefs and activities. To exclude a community organisation from engaging in, or gaining from, an activity provided by the Council on the basis that they express a political view has many characteristics of an act of discrimination on the basis of political belief alone", Cr. Risstrom said.

"The question to ask ourselves when people's rights are involved is not whether this decision is popular. It is whether it is right", Cr Risstrom said.

"I look forward to Falun Dafa's involvement in many a Moomba to come", Cr Risstrom said.

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

22 DECEMBER 2003

VALE JOHN HALFPENNY

John Halfpenny passed away two days ago. This eulogy by Leigh Hubbard is taken from an e-mail from Trades Hall Council: The Victorian labour movement was saddened and shocked to hear of the sudden death of John Halfpenny on Saturday, 20 December, at his home in Hobart.

The Victorian labour movement was saddened and shocked to hear of the sudden death of John Halfpenny on Saturday, 20 December, at his home in Hobart.

John was a committed and tenacious trade unionist who inspired and led thousands of unionists and the labour movement over 30 years.

John joined the Communist Party in 1952 and was an activist before becoming an organiser with the then Amalgamated Engineering Union in 1969. He became Secretary of the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union in 1972 and led it until 1987, when he became Secretary of the Victorian Trades Hall Council. Sadly, he resigned as Secretary in April 1995 due to ill health.

John will be remembered for his leadership in difficult times while he was Trades Hall Secretary. For several years before his retirement John and the Trades Hall were effectively the opposition in Victoria after the Kennett-led Liberal Party had decimated the ALP in the 1992 election. But John should not be remembered only for his mobilisation of workers and unions against the agenda of the Kennett government. From the 1970's he will be remembered for his leading role in the fight for a 35-hour week which ultimately led to the achievement of a 38-hour week for workers across Australia. He led major strikes in 1976 and 1977 in the underground rail loop and in the Latrobe Valley respectively. He was also very instrumental in industry policy, being a prime mover in the creation of the Industrial Supplies Office (now the Industry Capability Network) which aims to maximise the use of Australian-made products in major projects and manufacturing. John was only recently re-elected to the national board of the ICN despite the efforts of the Howard government to engineer his exit.

John moved to Tasmania several years ago and has continued to be active, both in the Industry Capability Network and in Tasmanian politics. We extend our deepest sympathies to his wife Karen and daughter Lucy, together with the rest of John's family. Within the labour movement there are only a few leaders in each generation of the quality of John Halfpenny. We have been privileged to know him and to work with him. His contribution to the struggle of workers, the development of Victorian industry and social justice will not be forgotten.

The AMWU and the VTHC are currently planning a memorial service which is likely to take place on 27 January 2004 at 1.00 pm in the Trades Hall Council Chamber. Please check with the AMWU (9230 5700) or VTHC (9662 3511) Receptions or the VTHC web site for final details. Messages of condolence to Karen Halfpenny and the family can be sent c/o the VTHC at info@vthc.org.au.

Vale John Halfpenny.

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

20 DECEMBER 2003

RISSTROM SAYS "POINT SAVED? BUT STILL NOT GAME, SET AND MATCH?"

The Greens' lead Senate candidate for Victoria - City of Melbourne Councillor David Risstrom - today congratulated the community campaigners whose persistence and passion seems to have won the day at Pt Nepean.

"The plans of the developer for the 90 hectare heritage precinct were, totally predictable", Cr Risstrom said. "The surprise was their public exposure and the speed with which that produced results."

"On 10 September, the Greens' NSW Senator, Kerry Nettle, put a successful motion in the Australian Senate, condemning the leasing proposal and calling upon the Federal Government to 'gift the land to the State Government as a national park, as recommended by the Victorian National Parks Association and the National Trust'."

"The motion said that the leasing proposal left open 'the possibility that hotels, shops, jetties and sporting arenas could be developed on the land, robbing the general public of the right to access and enjoy the land, and potentially compromising or destroying its nationally-significant heritage and cultural values'".

"It was soon revealed that this was exactly what was proposed. And its exposure left the Howard government with no alternative but to go back to doing what the community had demanded all along."

"It all goes to show that community vigilance, persistence and passion can win the day. However, the vigilance must be maintained until victory is secure."

"I hope to become the first Greens Senator representing Victoria. When I do, helping to ensure ultimate success for the Point Nepean campaign will be high on my list. If something needs saying or doing, Victoria won't need to rely on the Greens Senator from NSW any more"

Further information :David Risstrom - Victorian Greens Lead Senate Candidate. Mobile: 0418 502 713

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

19 DECEMBER 2003

ROSA IS UNDERGOING SURGERY TODAY

Rosa the Policy Watchdog has been crook for a few weeks now with cellulitis and problems with her right front elbow. She is undergoing surgery today at Hugh Wirth's surgery, with a worried two-legged companion hoping the best for her. For those of you wishing to, I will pass on messages to her if you send them to rosa@davidrisstrom.org. Look after yourself Rosa. That's the way: Dave.

REGULATOR LICENCES GENE AND CHEMICAL POLLUTION

This media release was forwarded from Genethics: The Office of Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) today licensed Monsanto's Roundup herbicide tolerant canola for release throughout Australia - anywhere, anytime, on any scale, by anyone, and permanently. The licence does not require further reporting (other than seed sales), monitoring, review or assessment.

"Australia's invaluable reputation for clean green foods and the quality of our environment will be in tatters if state governments allow the licence to be used," says GeneEthics Director, Bob Phelps.

"The licence is a blank cheque for GE canola users to contaminate the environment with foreign genes and toxic chemicals," he says.

"No effective segregation or identity preservation systems exist to protect GE-free food supplies and growers," he says.

"Australia's markets, the environment, animal and human health, and safety are all at risk," he says.

"Key issues such as the increased use of toxic chemicals, GE contamination of GE-free supply chains, and lost market access here and abroad for Australian farmers were ignored," Mr Phelps says

"The OGTR did not comply with the law," he says.

"The OGTR forgave Monsanto's history of law breaking and non-compliance with safety rules which makes the company unfit to hold the licence," he says.

"Monsanto delayed disclosing the impacts of many other chemicals, such as Agent Orange, 2,4D, and PCBs and has been convicted countless times of lawbreaking," he says.

"The OGTR should also have required effective risk management systems and emergency exit strategies to save the day when disaster hits, but the licence requires nothing," he says.

"A new US report at http://wwww.biotech-info.net/technicalpaper6.html shows that after 8 years of growing GE crops, pesticide use on GE crops has hugely increased after falls in the first 3 growing seasons," he says.

"The OGTR handballed this nasty problem to the APVMA which today extended Roundup use to GE canola, without consulting the public at all," he says.

"Older, more toxic chemicals will be used to control Roundup tolerant canola weeds created by seed spills on roadsides, rail lines and parks, since Roundup will not manage them anymore," he says.

"We call on all state and territory governments for new consensus - to stay GE-free for at least another 5 years until solutions are found to all GE's uncertainties," Mr Phelps concludes.

More comment: Bob Phelps 03 9347 4500 (O) 03 9830 1592 (H).

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

17 DECEMBER 2003

WAKE UP CALL ON THE FOOD FRONT

This item was taken from Greenleap on 17 December 2003: It first appeared in the Washington Post on Sunday, December 15, 2003, entitled "Dry, With a Chance of a Grain Shortage."

While Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and President Bush discussed Taiwan, currency rates and North Korea on December 9, a more important and far-reaching development in U.S. - China relations was going on far from the White House.

Under the North China Plain, which produces half of China's wheat and a third of its corn, water tables are falling by 3 to 10 feet per year. Along with rising temperatures and the loss of cropland to non-farm uses, this trend is shrinking the Chinese grain harvest, which has fallen in four of the past five years. To get an idea of the magnitude, the harvest dropped by 66 million tons during that period, an amount that exceeds the total annual grain harvest of Canada, one of the world's leading grain exporters.

Thus far China has covered its growing grain shortfall by drawing down its once-massive stocks. It can do this for perhaps one more year before those stocks are depleted. Then it will have to turn to the world market for major purchases. The odds are that within the next few years the United States will be loading two or three ships per day with grain destined for China. This long line of ships stretching across the Pacific will function like a huge umbilical cord between the two countries.

This isn't only a question of U.S. - China relations, but also one of the relationship between the Earth's 6.3 billion people and its natural resources, especially water. Food production is a water-intensive process. Producing a ton of grain requires a thousand tons of water, which helps explain why 70 percent of all water diverted from rivers or pumped from underground goes for irrigation.

The tripling of world water demand over the past half-century, combined with the advent of diesel and electrically driven pumps, has led to extensive over-pumping of aquifers. As a result, more than half the world's people now live in countries where water tables are falling and wells are going dry. Among these countries are the three that account for half of the world grain harvest: China, India and the United States. In India, water tables are falling in most states, including the Punjab, that nation's breadbasket. In the United States, aquifers are being depleted under the southern Great Plains and throughout the Southwest, including California.

If the world is facing a future of water shortages, then it is also facing a future of food shortages.

To be sure, it is difficult to trace long-term trends in food production, which fluctuates with weather, prices and the spread of farm technology to developing countries. In one of the major economic achievements of the last half-century, China raised its grain output from 90 million tons in 1950 to 392 million tons in 1998. Since then, though, China's production appears to have peaked, dropping by 66 million tons, or 17 percent. (See data at http://www.earth-policy.org/Updates/Update31_data.htm.)

As a result, it seems likely that China will ultimately need to buy 30, 40 or 50 million tons of grain a year, and then it will have to turn to the United States, which accounts for nearly half of the world's grain exports. Imports on this unprecedented scale will create a fascinating geopolitical situation: China, with 1.3 billion consumers and foreign exchange reserves of $384 billion-enough to buy the entire U.S. grain harvest eight times over-will suddenly be competing with American consumers for U.S. grain, in all likelihood driving up food prices. For the first time in their history, the Chinese will be dependent on the outside world for food supplies. And U.S. consumers will realise that, like it or not, they will be sharing their food with Chinese consumers. Managing the flow of grain to satisfy the needs of both countries simultaneously will not be easy because it could come amid a shift from a world of chronic food surpluses to one of food scarcity. Exporters will be tempted to restrict the flow of grain in order to maintain price stability at home, as the United States did 30 years ago when world grain stocks were at record lows and wheat and rice prices doubled. But today the United States has a major stake in a stable China because China is a major trading partner whose large economy is the locomotive of Asia.

The pressure on world food markets may alter the relationship between exporting and importing countries, changing the focus of international trade negotiations from greater access to markets for exporting countries such as the United States to assured access to food supplies for China and the 100 or so countries that already import grain. The prospect of food and water scarcity emerges against a backdrop of concern about global warming. New research by crop ecologists at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines and at the U.S. Department of Agriculture indicates that a 1-degree-Celsius rise in temperature (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) above the optimum during the growing season leads to a 10 percent decline in yields of rice, wheat and corn. With four of the past six years being the warmest on record, grain harvests are suffering. High temperatures lowered harvests last year in India and the United States and scorched crops this year from France to Ukraine.

The new combination of falling water tables and rising temperatures, along with trends such as soil erosion, has led to four consecutive shortfalls in the world grain harvest. This year production fell short of consumption by a record 92 million tons. These shortages have reduced world grain stocks to their lowest levels in 30 years. If we have a shortfall in 2004 that is even half the size of this year's, food prices will be rising worldwide by this time next year. You won't have to read about it in the commodity pages. It will be evident at the supermarket checkout counter. During the fall of 2003, wheat and rice prices rose 10 percent to 30 percent in world markets, and even more in some parts of China. These rises may only be the warning tremors before the earthquake.

We can, however, take measures to improve world food security. We could recognise that population growth and environmental trends threaten economic progress and political stability just as terrorism does. Since the overwhelming majority of the nearly 3 billion people expected to be born during this half-century will be in countries where water tables are already falling and wells are running dry, filling the family planning gap and creating a social environment to foster smaller families is urgent.

The situation with water today is new, but similar to that with land a half-century ago. Coming out of World War II, we looked toward the end of the century and saw enormous projected growth in population but little new land to plough. The result was a concentrated international effort to raise land productivity; boosting the world grain yields from just over one ton per hectare in 1950 to nearly three tons today. We now need a similar global full-court press to raise water productivity, by shifting to more water-efficient crops, improving irrigation and recycling urban water supplies.

As it becomes apparent that higher temperatures are shrinking harvests and raising food prices, a powerful new consumer lobby could emerge in support of cutting carbon emissions by moving to a hydrogen-based economy. It is a commentary on the complexity of our time that decisions made in ministries of energy may have a greater effect on future food security than those made in ministries of agriculture.

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

14 DECEMBER 2003

IMAGINE WHAT IT MIGHT BE LIKE …

One principle of fairness explored by a person called John Rawls involves thinking about a situation as if you didn't know who in that situation you might be. A public policy decision to allow some to get very rich while the majority starve is likely to happen if the decision maker isn't sure whether they would be the rich person or the starving one. It is a very useful principle to reflect on, because many of us forget how fortunate our circumstances are, and tend to attribute our good luck to our own efforts, and other people's bad luck as bad management or implicitly deserved.

Pamela Curr, Greens Refugee Spokesperson forwarded this story, which set my imagination flowing.

Imagine you are 29 years old, born and grew up in Kuwait. Your parents are immigrant workers there. You have few rights and no citizenship. Next you are in a detention camp in far flung Australia for 3 years being told when to eat, sleep, come to the office etc. You go to the office when you are called over the loud speaker and you are then seized and taken to Perth. No goodbyes to friends, no collecting your few treasured possessions. Next you are on a plane with two guards on the way to South Africa. There you will be placed in a cell at the airport. No one will be permitted to see you. There alone and frightened you will be wondering what is to happen next. After that you will be sent to Sudan. You have never been there before and don’t know anyone there. Kuwait refused to take you back because you are not a Kuwaiti citizen. But because your parents are born in Sudan, Australia has done a deal and is sending you to the Sudan.

If you were an Australian citizen you would be told not to go to Sudan because “Although peace talks are being undertaken between the Government and the Sudan Peoples' Liberation Movement/Army, Australians are advised to avoid all travel to southern Sudan and the region bordering Eritrea as the situation remains unstable. Australians intending to visit the capital of Sudan, Khartoum, are advised to seek the latest information from the Australian Embassy in Egypt. “ Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) website travel advisory.

You would also be told that “ Permits are required for all travel outside Khartoum, and can be obtained locally. Visitors travelling without permits to areas outside Khartoum have been arrested and detained. Visitors must register with the police authorities within 24 hours of arrival anywhere outside the capital.” DFAT Website. You might be worried about going to the police and telling them that you have just been deported from Australia that is if you made it through the Airport surveillance.

Then you would need to know that “Credit cards are no longer accepted in Sudan for any purpose. Hotel bills must be paid in cash or travellers' cheques (American Express cheques are not accepted). There are no Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs). Travellers should have sufficient US dollars, euros or pounds sterling for the
duration of their stay in Sudan.” DFAT website again. You would have no chance of a safe bed for the night if you had no money because you had just been thrown out of Australia. Unlikely that the kindly DIMIA staff had thought to give you some US dollars to see you right. Imagine how you might feel.

But then you should not be surprised at this treatment because as you saw in the High Court last week, the Judges determined that Australia has the power to send people back to their deaths or to be tortured imprisoned or whatever and that the Australian Government intend to exercise that power. You know that it will do so unless the Australian people may it very clear that they will not tolerate such an abuse of power and that they will not be party to such a denial of human rights.

If you had read Pastor Neimoller, "First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out — because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the communists and I did not speak out — because I was not a communist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out — because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for me —and by then there was no one left to speak out for me", you might be tempted to remind Australians that oppression travels on a continuum until stopped.

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

13 DECEMBER 2003

ARNOTT'S TO BE CONGRATULATED FOR GOING GE FREE

This article was forwarded from Genethics: Australia's favourite biscuit manufacturer announced a GE-free policy today. In a letter forwarded to Greenpeace today, the company has committed to ensuring that GE ingredients do not enter their supply chains. Arnott's commitment states:

"We continue to audit all our suppliers to seek to ensure our products contain ingredients derived from non-genetically modified crops. And we have sought, and will continue to seek, assurances from our suppliers of animal-derived products that they not use feed that contains genetically modified material." - Peter West, General Manager, Arnott's Biscuits, 11-12-03

"This is great news for Australian shoppers", said Greenpeace GE spokesperson, John Hepburn. "The announcement comes just in time for shoppers to enjoy GE-free Tim Tams over the Christmas holidays."

The new policy statement was prompted by concern over public protests by a New Zealand community group (PMEA) who this weekend planned to launch a public campaign against Arnotts. "This commitment from Arnott's shows the power of everyday shoppers and of community action", Mr Hepburn said.

The announcement follows a series of GE-free announcements from smaller food companies who have been added to the Green category of the True Food Guide since its launch in mid September, including: Sweet Williams Soy Chocolate, Lloyd's juices, Sunny Queen organic eggs, Parmalat Pure Organic Milks, Soy Life, and Lee Kum Kee sauces.

"Over the last year we've seen a real shift in the Australian food industry, with many major brands and most of the Dairy industry moving to GE-Free policies. The main problem now is the 'poultry industry', with companies like Inghams using unlabelled GE ingredients in their poultry feed," Mr Hepburn concluded.

The revised policy will move Arnott's into the Orange category of the Greenpeace True Food Guide. The Greenpeace True Food Guide rates companies as Green (GE-free), Orange (commitment made and in transition) or Red (may use GE) depending on company policy. The guide can be viewed at www.truefood.org.au.

SAYING YES TO STATE TERROR

This article by Chris Floyd from Counterpunch, December 12 2003 was forwarded by Pamela Curr.

There is a horrible scandal eating away the heart of the American body politic. Among the many corrupted currents loosed upon the nation by the Bush Regime, this scandal is perhaps the worst, for it abets all the others and breeds new pestilence, new perversions at every turn.

Last month, Maher Arar of Canada detailed his ordeal at the hands of Attorney General John Ashcroft's shadowy security "organs." On his way back home from a family holiday in Tunis, the Syrian-born Arar -16 years a Canadian citizen -was seized at a New York airport. Jailed and interrogated without charges, on unspecified allegations of unspecified connections to unspecified terrorist groups, he was then summarily deported, without a hearing, to Syria. When he told the Homeland Chekists he would be tortured there - his family was marked down as dissidents by Syria's Baathist regime - the Chekists replied that their organ "was not the body that deals with the Geneva Conventions regarding torture." They shackled him and flew him to the American-friendly regime in Jordan; from there he was bundled across the border to Damascus.

But this is not the scandal we were speaking of.

For 10 months and 10 days, Arar was held in a dank cell in Syria: a "grave," he called it, a three-by-six unlighted hole filled with cat and rat piss falling down from the grating overhead. He was beaten over and over, often with electrical cable, for weeks on end, kept awake for days, made to witness and hear even more exquisite tortures applied to other prisoners. He was forced to sign false confessions. Ashcroft's Baathist comrades had a pre-set storyline they wanted filled in: that Arar had gone to Afghanistan, attended terrorist training camps, was plotting mayhem - the usual template. Arar, who had spent years working as a computer consultant for a Boston-based high-tech firm, had done none of those things. Yet he was whipped, broken and tortured into submission.

But this is not the scandal we were speaking of.

Arar's case is not extraordinary. In the past two years, the Bushist organs have "rendered" thousands of detainees, without charges, hearings or the need to produce any evidence whatsoever, into the hands of regimes which the U.S. government itself denounces for the widespread use of torture. Apparatchiks of the organs make no secret of the practice - or of their knowledge that the "rendered" will indeed be beaten, burned, drugged, raped, even killed. "I do it with my eyes open," one renderer told the Washington Post. Detainees - including lifelong American residents - have been snatched from the homes, businesses, schools, from streets and airports, and sent to torture pits like Syria, Morocco, Egypt, Jordan - even the stateless chaos of Somalia, where Ashcroft simply dumped more than 30 Somali-Americans last year, without charges, without evidence, without counsel, and with no visible means of support, as the London Times reports.

But this is not the scandal we were speaking of.

Of course, the American organs needn't rely exclusively on foreigners for torture anymore. Under the enlightened leadership of Ashcroft, Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and other upstanding Christian statesmen, America has now established its own centers for what the organs call "operational flexibility." These include bases in Bagram, Afghanistan and Diego Garcia, the Indian Ocean island that was forcibly depopulated in the 1960s to make way for a U.S. military installation. Here, the CIA runs secret interrogation units that are even more restricted than the American concentration camp on Guantanamo Bay. Detainees - again, held without charges or evidentiary requirements - are "softened up" by beatings at the hands of military police and Special Forces troops before being subjected to "stress and duress" techniques: sleep deprivation (officially condemned as a torture method by the U.S. government), physical and psychological disorientation, withholding of medical treatment, etc. When beatings and "duress" don't work, detainees are then "packaged" - hooded, gagged, bound to stretchers with duct tape - and "rendered" into less dainty hands elsewhere.

But this is not the scandal we were speaking of.

Not content with capture and torture, the organs have been given presidential authority to carry out raids and kill "suspected terrorists" (including Americans) on their own volition - without oversight, without charges, without evidence - anywhere in the world, including on American soil. In addition to this general license to kill, Bush has claimed the power to designate anyone he pleases "an enemy combatant" and have them "rendered" into the hands of the organs or simply killed at his express order - without charges, without evidence, with no judicial or legislative oversight whatsoever. The life of every American citizen - indeed, every person on earth - is now at the disposal of his arbitrary whim. Never in history has an individual claimed such universal power - and had the force to back it up.

But this is not the scandal we were speaking of.

All of the above facts - each of them manifest violations of international law and/or the U.S. Constitution - have been cheerfully attested to, for years now, by the organs' own appartchiks, in the Post, the NY Times, Newsweek, the Guardian, the Economist and other high-profile, mainstream publications. The stories appear - then they disappear. There is no reaction. No outcry in Congress or the courts - the supposed guardians of the people's rights - beyond a few wan calls for more formality in the concentration camp processing or judicial "warrants" for torture. And among the great mass of "the people" itself, there is - nothing. Silence. Inattention. Acquiescence. State terrorism - lawless seizure, filthy torture, official murder - is simply accepted, a part of "normal life," as in Nazi Germany or Stalin's empire, where "decent people" with "nothing to hide" approved and applauded the work of the "organs" in "defending national security."

This is the scandal, this is the nation's festering shame. This acquiescence to state terror will breed - and attract - a thousand evils for every one it supposedly prevents.

Chris Floyd is a columnist for the Moscow Times and a regular contributor to CounterPunch. His CounterPunch piece on Rumsfeld's plan to provoke terrorist attacks came in at Number 4 on Project Censored's final tally of the Most Censored stories of 2002. He can be reached at: cfloyd72@hotmail.com.

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

12 DECEMBER 2003

GOVERNMENT CLIMATE CHANGE REPORT FINDS AUSTRALIA VULNERABLE TO CHANGES IN TEMPERATURE AND PRECIPITATION FOR THE NEXT 50 YEARS

An Australian Government report released on 10 December concludes that Australia is vulnerable to changes in temperature and precipitation projected for the next 50 to 100 years, because it already has extensive arid and semi-arid areas, relatively high rainfall variability from year to year, and existing pressures on water supply in many areas. In addition, vulnerability arises due to high fire risk, Australian ecosystems sensitive to climate change, and invasion by exotic animal and plant species introduced by human activity. Australia also has a high concentration of population in coastal areas, an economy strongly dependent on world commodity prices, tourism dependent on the health of the Great Barrier Reef and other fragile ecosystems, and economically and socially disadvantaged groups of people. Impacts of climate change will be complex and to some degree uncertain, but increased foresight would enable us to optimise the future through planned adaptation and mitigation. Mitigation can reduce the ultimate extent of climate change and its impacts, but is a global problem requiring co-operative global solutions. Adaptation is essential to cope with unavoidable climate changes, and in this country is essentially a task to be performed by Australians for Australians in each local situation.

Further research is necessary to reduce the uncertainties, better establish probabilities, and identify the most cost-effective adaptation and mitigation options and strategies, which in most cases need to be location- and sector-specific.

The Australian Conservation Foundation (which I am a Council member of) produced the following media release in response.

Govt. Predicts Radical Climate Change While Undermining Kyoto

Australia will be gripped by increasing natural disasters, costly droughts and water shortages as temperatures are set to rise by up to 6 degrees by 2070 according to a Government report, to be released today by the Federal Environment Minister (as reported in The Australian). But at the same time, the Minister is representing the Australian Government as it continues to undermine the world's best tool to prevent worsening greenhouse pollution at the international meeting on the Kyoto Protocol in Milan.

"The hypocrisy is staggering. Why is the Australian Government continuing to oppose the Kyoto Protocol when their own data clearly shows that climate change will be devastating for Australia?" said ACF Executive Director, Don Henry.

Climate change will drastically affect farmers as droughts increase in frequency and intensity, according to the 240 page AGO assessment. Tourism operators will also be hit hard as hotter water temperatures kill coral in the Great Barrier Reef and the number of days at over 35 degrees in most capital cities is set to nearly double.

"With another report released yesterday saying greenhouse pollution is likely to treble severe fire events it is clear that it is in Australia's national interest to take urgent action on greenhouse pollution," said Mr Henry.

"Kyoto sets up an international framework capable of delivering the deeper cuts in global greenhouse pollution that even the Government admits must happen this century. In Milan our government is continuing to obstruct the Kyoto Protocol and focusing on distractions like weak bilateral agreements without targets"

"Backing Kyoto and introducing domestic reforms with bold renewable energy and energy efficiency targets so we lose our record as the worst greenhouse polluters per head should be top priority for our Government."

"Failing to do so puts the profits of a few dirty polluters ahead of the lives and livelihoods of Australians and future generations," said Henry.

A 1.3 Mb pdf download of the report An Australian Guide to the Science and Potential Impacts is available by searching its title online.. The Australian Greenhouse Office website housing the report Climate Change Science can be viewed at www.greenhouse.gov.au/science by clicking on the underlined title or URL. A copy of the summary document is provided below.


------------------------------------------------------------------------

Climate change - An Australian Guide to the Science and Potential Impacts, Australian Greenhouse Office, 2003

Summary

This guide sets out the main facts and uncertainties regarding climate change, and helps provide Australians with policy-relevant, but not policy-prescriptive, advice and source material. It is largely based on, and consistent with, the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC TAR) published in 2001. However, this guide has been substantially updated with relevant summaries of the latest international and Australian observations, scientific developments, and studies regarding the impacts of, and adaptation to climate change in Australia.

While much progress in understanding the climate change issue has been made, uncertainties continue to exist about aspects of the climate change science, and regarding societal developments that will affect the extent of future climate change and societal vulnerability. Some impacts of climate change are now inevitable. However, more certainty and understanding is needed to guide decision-makers towards the most effective and cost-efficient means to adapt to climate changes in the near-term (next decade), and to avoid unacceptably large climate changes in the longer term (multi-decades to centuries) through emissions reductions measures.

The high probability of at least some global warming, given the inertia in the climate and socio-economic systems, means that some adaptation will be necessary. This will be most efficient if the location-and activity-specific nature of the likely impacts is taken into account. Considerable uncertainties about location-specific impacts can be further reduced by targeted research, while case by case assessments of adaptation strategies will be needed for many particular sectors and locations.

Any emission reductions will progressively reduce the likelihood of impacts at the high end of the existing large range of emissions scenarios, and thus help to avoid the potentially most damaging climate change possibilities. Thus, in order to establish minimum objectives for emissions reductions, attention needs to be given to the more extreme possibilities to which adaptation may not be possible. These will determine critical greenhouse gas concentration thresholds that must be avoided if the objective of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is to be achieved. Increased research is needed to quantify the probability and global and local consequences of these high impact scenarios.

Climate Change Science: The Global Perspective

The TAR concluded that global warming has taken place over the last century, and there is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities. It is likely that the 1990s was the warmest decade in the last 1000 years, at least in the Northern Hemisphere. Other observations are consistent with this observed warming, including a rise in global average sea level and ocean heat content, and decreases in snow cover and ice extent both in mountain glaciers and Arctic sea ice. Recent evidence suggests that a predicted slowdown in the deep ocean circulation driven by variations in temperature and salinity may also be occurring.

The TAR reported that statistically significant associations between increases in regional temperatures and observed changes in physical and biological systems have been documented in freshwater, terrestrial, and marine environments on most continents. While overall levels of confidence in this conclusion are still debated, surface and satellite-based observations since the TAR support this conclusion.

Projected warmings in the 21st century are dependent on scenarios of future emissions of greenhouse gases and aerosols. Using the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES), global average warming projections range from 1.4 to 5.8 ºC by 2100 relative to 1990. These scenarios were regarded as ‘plausible’ by the IPCC, but not assigned any probabilities. While recent criticism of the technical basis of these scenarios is being considered by the IPCC, it is likely that future projections will lie in roughly the same range, with values near the middle of the range being more probable.

TAR projections of global average sea level rise by 2100 range from 9 to 88 cm, made up about half by thermal expansion of sea water, about one quarter from melting of glaciers, and a small positive contribution from Greenland ice melt and possibly a negative contribution from snow accumulation over Antarctica. However, the contribution from Antarctica is especially uncertain, with recent events on the Antarctic Peninsula raising the possibility of an earlier positive contribution from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS).

The TAR stated that it is likely there will be higher maximum temperatures and heat indices over many land areas, and reduced frequency of low temperatures, including frosts. More intense precipitation events are likely over many mid- to high-latitude land areas. Increased summer continental drying and associated risk of drought are likely in mid-latitudes. Tropical cyclones are projected to become more intense with higher peak winds and rainfall intensities. Other patterns of climate variability, including the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), may vary in intensity and frequency, with some climate models suggesting more El Niño-like average conditions, and others no change.

The TAR chapter on radiative forcing (Houghton et al., 2001, Chapter 6) notes several possibly interacting anthropogenic causes for climate change, including increasing greenhouse gas concentrations, the direct and indirect effects of anthropogenic particulates, and stratospheric ozone depletion. Subsequent papers consider the effects on the atmospheric circulation of these various forcings, noting particularly that while aerosol radiative effects are largely confined to the Northern Hemisphere, effects may propagate into the Southern Hemisphere via atmospheric dynamics. They also find that increasing greenhouse gas concentrations and stratospheric ozone depletion may both be contributing to a strengthening of the polar vortex in both hemispheres, with a polewards movement of the mid-latitude westerly winds, and associated effects on regional climates.

Most coupled ocean-atmosphere models suggest a weakening of the convective overturning of the ocean in the North Atlantic and around Antarctica, which would affect ocean circulation and could have significant regional impacts on climate. Conditions setting up such changes may be initiated in the 21st century, but the effects may not become evident until centuries later. The same may be true for melting of the Greenland ice cap and disintegration of the WAIS, both of which could contribute several metres to mean sea level rise over coming centuries. Conditions may also be set for an eventual acceleration of the increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere due to the terrestrial biomass changing from a sink to a source of carbon dioxide, a slowing down of absorption of carbon dioxide into the oceans, and possible release of large quantities of methane from crystalline structures (hydrates) on the sea floor.
Some studies suggest that uncertainties about future discount rates mean that the cost of delayed but severe impacts merit greater consideration. Moreover, recent studies by several groups of economists suggest the possibility that such ‘catastrophic’ impacts, even if their occurrence is uncertain and some time into the future, may dominate any risk analysis of the impacts of climate change.

Time lags in the ocean-atmosphere system mean that climate change, and especially sea level rise, will continue long after stabilisation of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. Time lags in socioeconomic systems, while they can be influenced by human decisions, will in general mean that adaptation to the impacts of climate change, and emissions mitigation strategies will take time to implement and would be more costly if they need to be taken rapidly. The longer adaptation and mitigation measures are delayed, the more rapidly they may have to be undertaken later.

Observed Changes in Australian Climate and Ecosystems

Australian average temperatures have risen by 0.7 ºC over the last century, and the warming trend appears to have emerged from the background of natural climate variability in the second half of the 20th century. Rainfall has increased over the last 50 years over north-western Australia, but decreased in the south west of Western Australia, and in much of south-eastern Australia, especially in winter. The changes are consistent with an observed increase in mean sea level pressure over much of southern Australia in winter. Effects on runoff are potentially serious as evidenced by a 50% drop in water supply to the reservoirs supplying Perth since the 1970s and near-record low water levels in storages in much of south-eastern Australia in 2002–03 due to low rainfall and high temperatures in the south-east since 1996.

Attribution of the rainfall changes is under lively discussion within the scientific community. In the case of the south-west of Western Australia, a combination of natural variability and a trend due to the enhanced greenhouse effect is considered to be the likely cause, although recent papers suggest that stratospheric ozone depletion may also be causing a southward shift of the westerlies and associated rainfall systems. Northern Hemisphere aerosol effects may also have played a part via changes to atmospheric dynamics, but as aerosol lifetimes in the atmosphere are short and precursor sulphur emissions are being curtailed, this effect is probably of diminishing importance. If rainfall decreases are due to anthropogenic effects they may well continue, necessitating “informed adaptation” to a reduced water supply.

It is at least as difficult, with the current state of knowledge, to attribute changes in Australian ecosystems to climate change, as other local causes are possible in many cases. However, a number of observed changes in vegetation, wetlands, terrestrial vertebrates, marine birds and coral reefs are consistent with regional warming trends.

Scenarios for the Australian Region

The Australian region spans the tropics to mid-latitudes and has varied climates and ecosystems, including deserts, rangelands, rainforests, coral reefs and alpine areas. The climate is strongly influenced by the surrounding oceans. The ENSO phenomenon leads to alternations between floods and prolonged droughts, especially in eastern Australia. The region is therefore sensitive to the uncertain but possible change toward a more El Niño-like mean state suggested by the TAR.

Extreme events are a major source of current climate impacts, and changes in extreme events are expected to dominate impacts of climate change. Return periods for heavy rains, floods and storm surges of a given magnitude at particular locations would be reduced by possible increases in intensity of tropical cyclones, mid-latitude storms and heavy rain events. Changes in the location-specific frequency of tropical cyclones could cause either increases or decreases in return periods locally.

Based on the SRES scenarios used by the IPCC, and regional changes in climate simulated by nine climate models, annual average temperatures in Australia are projected to increase by 0.4 to 2.0 °C by 2030, and 1.0 to 6.0 °C by 2070, relative to 1990. There would be associated increases in potential evaporation and heatwaves, and fewer frosts. Warming is expected to be greater inland than near the coast. Projections for changes in annual rainfall suggest changes in the south-west lie in the range of –20% to +5% by 2030, and –60% to +10% by 2070, with changes of –10% to +5% by 2030 and –35% to +10% by 2070 in parts of south-eastern Australia. Projected changes in other parts of northern and eastern Australia show either that there could be an increase or decrease in rainfall at a given locality. When rainfall changes are combined with increases in potential evaporation, a general decrease in available soil moisture is projected across Australia, with droughts likely to become more severe. Most regions would experience an increase in the intensity of heavy rain events.

Before stabilisation of greenhouse gas concentrations at any level greater than the present, the north-south temperature gradient in mid-southern latitudes is expected to increase, strengthening the high-latitude westerlies in the Southern Hemisphere and the associated west to east gradient of rainfall across Tasmania in winter. Following stabilisation of greenhouse gas concentrations, these trends would be reversed. Warming is likely to continue for centuries after stabilisation of greenhouse gas concentrations, but at a slower rate, while sea level would continue to rise almost unabated for many centuries.

The central estimates of the global average warming by 2100 in typical scenarios for the stabilisation of carbon dioxide at concentrations up to 1000 ppm (present concentration is about 370 ppm) lie in the bottom half of the range of warmings for the SRES range of scenarios. Stabilisation at any concentration between 450 and 1000 ppm would thus limit impacts and risks in Australia by 2100, although impacts would still be significant. The higher the stabilised carbon dioxide concentrations, the greater would be the impacts and risks, especially beyond 2100.

Water Supply and Hydrology

Climate variability is a major factor in the Australian economy, principally through the flow-on effects of ENSO-related major droughts on agriculture. Farmers will be increasingly vulnerable if interannual droughts occur more frequently or are more intense in the future. Less secure water supplies would accentuate competition between users and threaten allocations for environmental flows and future economic growth. Adelaide and Perth are the main cities with water supplies that are most vulnerable to climate change. Rising salinity in the Murray River is already of increasing concern for Adelaide. Any increase in flood frequency would adversely affect housing and other aspects of the built environment, such as industry and communication networks in low lying areas.

In some areas, water resources are already stressed and are highly vulnerable, with intense competition for water supply. This is especially so with respect to salinisation and competition for water between agriculture, power generation, urban areas and environmental flows. Increased evaporation and possible decreases of rainfall in many areas would adversely affect water supply, agriculture and the survival and reproduction of key species. Water quality may also be affected due to increased soil erosion following drought, lower flows and higher water temperatures, leading to more eutrophication and algal blooms.

Evidence suggests that the observed warming trend in Australia has already contributed to an increased severity of drought through higher potential evaporation and water demand. While there are many pressing problems regarding water supply, climate change is likely to add to them, making solutions more difficult. An integrated approach is needed to optimise results.

Ecosystems and Conservation

Australia had been isolated from the rest of the world for millions of years until relatively recent human settlement. Some species are found over quite limited ranges of average climate. These two factors leave many of the region's ecosystems vulnerable to climate change and to invasion by exotic animal and plant species introduced by human activity. This vulnerability has been exacerbated by fragmentation of ecosystems through land-use changes.

Warming of 1°C would threaten the survival of species currently living near the upper limit of their temperature range, notably in some Australian alpine regions where some species are already near these limits, as well as in the south-west of Western Australia. Other species that have restricted climatic niches and are unable to migrate because of fragmentation of the landscape, soil differences, or topography could become endangered or extinct. Other ecosystems that are particularly threatened by climate change include coral reefs and freshwater wetlands in the coastal zone and inland.

Australia has one of the greatest concentrations of coral reefs in the world. Rising sea level by itself may not be deleterious. However, the combination of sea level rise with other induced stresses—notably, increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide (which leads to a decrease in calcification rates of corals); increasing sea temperatures, leading to coral bleaching; possibly increased riverine outflow events causing low salinity and high pollution; and damage from tropical cyclones—may place much of this resource at risk.

Projections for coral bleaching suggest that serious bleaching events will become more frequent, decreasing the chance of recovery and leading to increasing death of corals. Major bleaching events in 1997–98 and 2002 may be forerunners, with warming trends combining with El Niño events to produce sea surface temperatures above bleaching thresholds.

Agriculture and Forestry

A significant proportion of exports from Australia are agricultural and forestry products— production of which is sensitive to any changes in climate, water availability, carbon dioxide fertilisation, and pests and diseases. Returns from these commodities could be affected by a projected increase in agricultural production in mid-to-high latitude Northern Hemisphere countries and resulting impacts on commodity prices and world trade. Climate change will be only one factor affecting Australian agriculture, but it may exacerbate an already difficult situation, particularly in regard to the availability of water for irrigation.

Agricultural activities are particularly vulnerable to projected regional reductions in rainfall in the south-west and possibly other parts of southern Australia, and are especially threatened by general warming that will increase potential evaporation and water demand. Drought frequency and severity, and consequent stresses on agriculture, are likely to increase in many agricultural regions of Australia. This would be exacerbated by any tendency toward a more El Niño-like average state. Enhanced plant growth and water use efficiency resulting from carbon dioxide increases may provide initial benefits that offset any negative impacts from climate change, although the balance is expected to become negative with warmings in excess of 2–4 °C and associated rainfall decreases. Thus by the mid to late 21st century net effects on agriculture are likely to be negative.

Fisheries

Australian fisheries are influenced by the extent and location of nutrient upwellings governed by prevailing winds and boundary currents. In addition, ENSO influences recruitment of some fish species and the incidence of toxic algal blooms. There is as yet insufficient knowledge about impacts of climate changes on regional ocean currents and about physical biological linkages to enable confident predictions of changes in fisheries productivity. The increasing importance of marine aquaculture makes this industry of particular concern, as warming coastal waters may adversely affect production, especially of Atlantic salmon, which are near their high temperature limit in southern Tasmania.

Settlements, Industry, and Human Health

About 80% of Australia’s population live within 50 km of the coast. Marked trends to greater population and investment in exposed coastal regions are increasing vulnerability to tropical cyclones and storm surges. Thus, projected increases in tropical cyclone intensity and possible changes in their location-specific frequency, along with sea level rise, would have major impacts—notably, increased storm-surge heights for a given return period. Increased frequency of high-intensity rainfall and fire would increase damages to settlements and infrastructure. The increased risk of exposure to extreme events has strong implications for the insurance industry, with increased premiums possible for clients, insurers and re-insurers, or reduced coverage. This in turn may adversely affect some property values.

Reduced runoff, higher riverine, estuarine and coastal aquifer salinity, and increased algal blooms would exacerbate water supply and water quality problems in some urban areas (notably Perth and Adelaide) and in a number of smaller inland communities. Some small communities with particular dependence on adversely affected agricultural and tourism industries may be threatened.

A greater frequency of extreme events such as floods, fires and high winds may adversely affect the security and continuity of supply of electricity transmission and other communications systems. Higher temperatures will also increase peak demand for electricity for air conditioning, requiring either adaptation to reduce demand or greater installed peak generating capacity.

Tourism would be adversely affected by the death of coral reefs and loss of some freshwater ecosystems, such as Kakadu. The ski industry and dependent communities will need to adapt to reduced natural snow cover.

There is high confidence that projected climate changes will enhance the spread of some disease vectors, thereby increasing the potential for disease outbreaks (e.g. Dengue fever and Ross River virus), despite existing bio-security and health services. Despite the likely spread of the malaria vector, there is unlikely to be increased malaria infection, provided existing bio-security measures are maintained.

Economically and socially disadvantaged groups of people in Australia, especially Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders, are particularly vulnerable to additional stresses on health and living conditions induced by climate change.

External Issues

The impacts of climate change overseas may affect Australia through trade and commodity prices. Adverse effects on developing countries may increase the dislocation of populations in those countries due to economic and environmental problems, raising issues for Australia’s aid program.

Vulnerability

Climate change will add to existing stresses on achievement of sustainable land use and conservation of terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity. These stresses include invasion by exotic animal and plant species; degradation and fragmentation of natural ecosystems through agricultural and urban development; increased fire frequency and intensity; dryland salinisation; removal of forest cover and competition for scarce water resources. Soil erosion from dust storms and water runoff may increase due to more severe droughts, bushfires and loss of vegetative cover, coupled with higher winds and more intense rainfall events. While climate change is just one of many stresses, it may in some cases cause systems to exceed critical management thresholds.

Settlements, industry and infrastructure will be vulnerable to adverse effects of extreme weather events, and particularly to increased heat stress on people and materials. Major exacerbating problems include rapid population and infrastructure growth in vulnerable coastal areas, inappropriate use of water resources, behavioural barriers, economic disincentives and complex institutional arrangements.

Adaptation

Adaptation to climate change, as a means of maximising gains and minimising losses, is important for Australia, but is relatively little explored at the location-specific level and in a cost-benefit framework. Impacts assessments, to be realistic, must include at least some adaptation. Options include improving wateruse efficiency and effective trading mechanisms for water; more appropriate land-use policies; provision of climate information and seasonal forecasts to land users to help them manage for climate variability and change; improved crop cultivars; revised engineering standards and zoning for infrastructure development; and improved bio-security and health services. Such measures often will have other benefits, but they will also have costs and limitations. Systematic exploration of adaptation options, and the need for appropriate foresight where this involves investment, would require more attention to the understanding, interests and motivation of multiple stakeholders.

While Australians are experienced in dealing with climate variability, human-induced climate change is likely to take us outside the range of previous experience, and thus requires new strategies to cope with new situations that cross over previous management thresholds. This will apply especially in relation to the long-term sustainability of industries and resources.

Integrated Assessments

Since climate change is only one of many issues, decision-making needs to consider climate change in conjunction with other issues affecting the same decision strategies. Adaptation to, and mitigation of, climate change are both necessary complementary strategies, so it may be advantageous to consider both in any integrated assessment. Integrated assessments will enable co-benefits and possible clashes of interest to be identified, and the overall least cost and most beneficial strategies to be chosen. This requires wide understanding of natural and human systems, and consultation with stakeholders so that the human element can be included and stakeholders can identify with strategies to be adopted.

Any assessments must take into account uncertainty. This requires that assessments be set in a risk management framework, where risk is seen as the product of the probability of a climatic effect and the consequences of that effect.

Climate change, and our understanding of it, is evolving rapidly in the real world, and on the scientific, technological and policy fronts, so policies and decisions need to be decided on the basis of the best current information, but in the knowledge that they will need to be adjusted with time.

Costing

Comprehensive cross-sectoral estimates of net climate change impact costs for various greenhouse gas emission scenarios, as well as for different societal scenarios, are not yet available. Confidence remains very low in the previously reported estimate in the IPCC TAR for Australia and New Zealand of –1.2 to –3.8% of gross domestic product for an equivalent doubling of carbon dioxide concentrations. This out-of-date estimate did not account for many currently identified effects and adaptations. Costs due to impacts and costs of adaptations will increase with increasing global warming. They will increase even more rapidly as various critical thresholds are reached, such as changes from profit to loss in particular farming enterprises, or riverine and coastal flooding exceeding present planning limits. Potential costs and benefits of climate change need to be balanced against costs and benefits of mitigation in any overall policy response.

A number of overseas studies have emphasised the likely dominance in any realistic global cost benefit analyses of the impacts of extreme events, the existence of critical thresholds, and the possibility of large-scale changes to the climate system that could have disastrous impacts. The latter high-impact but low probability and/or long-delayed impacts may dominate cost-benefit analyses due to their magnitude, and uncertainty about appropriate discount rates, which could be low or even negative if there are economic downturns or disasters.

Conclusion

Australia is vulnerable to changes in temperature and precipitation projected for the next 50 to 100 years, because it already has extensive arid and semi-arid areas, relatively high rainfall variability from year to year, and existing pressures on water supply in many areas. In addition, vulnerability arises due to high fire risk, Australian ecosystems sensitive to climate change, and invasion by exotic animal and plant species introduced by human activity. Australia also has a high concentration of population in coastal areas, an economy strongly dependent on world commodity prices, tourism dependent on the health of the Great Barrier Reef and other fragile ecosystems, and economically and socially disadvantaged groups of people. Impacts of climate change will be complex and to some degree uncertain, but increased foresight would enable us to optimise the future through planned adaptation and mitigation. Mitigation can reduce the ultimate extent of climate change and its impacts, but is a global problem requiring co-operative global solutions. Adaptation is essential to cope with unavoidable climate changes, and in this country is essentially a task to be performed by Australians for Australians in each local situation.

Further research is necessary to reduce the uncertainties, better establish probabilities, and identify the most cost-effective adaptation and mitigation options and strategies, which in most cases need to be location and sector specific.

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

11 DECEMBER 2003

YARRA GREENS ANTI-GIFT-SHOPPING-FROM-NASTY-CORPORATIONS VIRTUAL KIT

Alison Clarke of the Yarra Greens has compiled a great list of ways to give gifts without giving away your ethics.

The Yarra Greens Anti-Gift-Shopping-From-Nasty-Corporations Kit is a compilation of a list of places where you might find gifts of interest. Please note that inclusion in the list does not constitute an endorsement of any kind - buyer beware. If you are ordering over the internet, please check delivery dates.

Alison has included some street addresses, mainly in case you plan to shop in the Melbourne CBD or surrounds, where a DIY walking, cycling or public transport shopping tour is very do-able (love that free city circle tram).
I hope the list helps you find the kind of gifts you are looking for, or inspires you to give well-targeted donations instead. Thanks to Gemma Pinnell and Co. at the NTEU, who updated/researched some information for their own newsletter.

If the list ends up being so useful that you are determined to make a donation to our upcoming campaign in the Federal seat of Melbourne (the original motivation for the kit), cheques can be made out to 'Greens Vic Inc. - Inner Melb Regional Group' and sent to the Yarra Greens, PO Box 2782, Fitzroy Mail Centre, Gore St, Fitzroy 3068. Please feel free to circulate this list to anyone you like, as long as you include the stuff about no guarantees, no endorsement, buyer beware etc.

Alison Clarke on behalf of the Yarra Greens
__________________________________________________________________

YARRA GREENS ANTI-GIFT-SHOPPING-FROM-NASTY-CORPORATIONS VIRTUAL KIT

• ABC shops, www.abcshop.com.au to shop online or for shop locations (the CBD one is upstairs on the corner of Elizabeth and Bourke). Bananas, footy franks, Kath and Kim magnets, things that wiggle, etc. Support your dear old Auntie.
• Alternative Technology Assoc., www.ata.org.au, 8 Lee St East Brunswick (at CERES). Products to help you make your home a planet-saving experience.
• Amnesty International, www.amnesty.org.au/shop, 14 Risley St, Richmond, Ph: 9427 7055. Supporting political prisoners everywhere, Amnesty stocks bodycare, gourmet foods, ideas for the kitchen, dining and outdoor living, cards, educational toys, games and T-shirts.
• Animal Liberation Victoria Shop, http://www.alv.org.au/shop.asp, enquiries@alv.org.au, 394 Russell Street, Melbourne 3000 (near Trades Hall) Ph 9639 3993.
• APHEDA - Union Aid Abroad, www.apheda.org.au/merchandise.htm. The ACTU’s humanitarian aid agency has a range of T-shirts, caps, cups, cards, tea towels and pens.
• Asthma Victoria, http://www.asthma.org.au/about-products.htm, 9 Flemington Road, North Melbourne, Ph 1800 645 130. Lapel pins, Christmas cards and asthma-friendly bedding.
• Australia Tibet Council, www.atc.org.au/merchandise. Campaigning for the rights of the Tibetan people, the ATC sells a range of books, clothing, postcards, stickers, flags and mugs.
• Australian Conservation Foundation, www.acfonline.org.au, 60L Green Building, 60 Leicester St Carlton. Diaries, calendars and donation envelopes (you donate to them on someone else’s behalf).
• Australian Geographic Society, www.australiangeographic.com, for locations or to shop online. Educational toys and kits, books, CDs, videos, household items, lifestyle goods, camping and bushwalking products etc.
• The Cancer Council, www.shop.cancervic.org.au, shop@cancervic.org.au, 1 Rathdowne St Carlton 3053 or Shop B101, Chadstone Shopping Centre. Sells beach/pool/sun gear, sunglasses (including very funny baby banz), hats, cards, wrapping paper etc.
• CERES, www.ceres.org.au, 8 Lee Street, East Brunswick. Nursery specialises in permaculture and bushfoods, Saturday market 9 am - 1 pm sells all sorts of good stuff.
• Choose Cruelty Free, http://www.choosecrueltyfree.org.au/, PO Box 12005, A'Beckett Street, Melbourne 3000, Ph 9328 1377, has a list of products (hair, skin etc.) produced without cruelty to animals.
• Ecotourism Australia, www.ecotourism.org.au, allows you to search for eco-friendly tours and accommodation.
• Eden Seeds and books, www.edenseeds.com.au, MS 905 Lower Beechmont Qld 4211, has mail-order gardening books and non-hybrid open pollinated seeds with no chemical treatment or genetic engineering.
• Enviromower, www.enviromower.com.au, info@enviromower.com.au, 555-557 Gilbert Rd Preston 3072, 180 468 476, sells the Eco-500 cordless electric battery rechargeable lawnmower - Greens members get a discount ($580 instead of $649 was the figure I was quoted).
• Environmental Education in Early Childhood, http://home.vicnet.net.au/~eeec/, PO Box 814 Moonee Ponds 3039 or contact Tracey Young, Child Care Studies Department, Swinburne Uni, Prahran, tryoung@swin.edu.au, Ph: 9214 6854 (W) or 9587 4369 (H). Quality toys and books for tiny tots.
• Fairwear's website reports that only four companies are accredited to use the No Sweatshop label, two of which make uniforms for NSW school kids and the army, leaving two for ordinary shoppers to support: Qualitops make T-shirts and similar clothing: http://www.qualitops.com.au/homepage.htm, 466 Smith St Collingwood 3066, Ph 9417 7288. Hunter Gatherer is a brand of the Brotherhood of St Lawrence, with shops at 274 Brunswick St, Fitzroy and 82a Acland St, St Kilda.
• Friends of the Earth's shop is at 312 Smith St, Collingwood, and sells books, clothing, candles, incense, soap and stacks of other possible gifts.
• Going Solar, www.goingsolar.com.au, retail@goingsolar.com.au, The Green Building, 60 Leicester St Carlton 3053, Ph (03) 9348 1000, sells and promotes renewable energy and sustainable living products, from soap to subscriptions to solar panels.
• Green Hemp Australia, www.greenhemp.com, greenhemp@bigpond.com, Box 107 St Andrews Vic 3761, Ph (03) 9710 1644, has hemp skin and hair care products, clothing and accessories.
• Greens Tarkine campaign Christmas cards featuring views of the Tarkine, 100% recycled paper cost $5.00 for a pack of 6. Free delivery in the Melb. Metro area, add postage for regional areas. Order on 96021141 or email geoffwarren@tpg.com.au.
• http://www.care2.com/channels/solutions/home/342 is a US website with '25 great, consumer-less gift ideas'.
• The Mirabel Foundation, www.mirabelfoundation.com, helps the kids of illicit drug users, and is selling a cookbook ‘Rock Chefs for Mirabel.’
• New International Bookshop, www.nibs.org.au, Trades Hall, Victoria St Carlton (corner of Lygon St), stocks a wide range of books for people who would like to see a fairer society.
• Organic grocery stores by the dozen are listed in the Yellow Pages, and sell jams, chutneys etc. which make delicious gifts that are good for the planet.
• Oxfam/Community Aid Abroad, www.oxfamtrading.org.au/online, 338 Chapel St Prahran (Ph 9529 4633), Shop 5 & 6 Camberwell Arcade, 600/606 Burke Rd Camberwell (Ph 9882 9599), Shop 45, Walk Arcade, Bourke St Mall Melbourne (Ph 9650 6060), sells fair-trade handcrafts, books, calendars, wine, world music CDs etc.
• Recycled Recreation, www.recycled-recreation.com.au, smithstreet@recycled-recreation.com.au or blackburn@recycled-recreation.com.au, 110 Smith St Collingwood 3066 (Ph 9416 4066) or 99 Whitehorse Rd Blackburn 3130 (Ph 9894 4755), sells recycled adventure gear.
• The Royal Children's Hospital shop is in the hospital foyer on Flemington Rd, and sells a large range of toys and other stuff. Other hospitals also often have shops or stalls in the foyer.
• The RSPCA, http://www.rspcavic.org/shop_rspca/shop_retail.htm, rspca@vicrspca.aust.com, has an online shop that currently seems to be out of action, but the physical one seems to be (website not 100% clear on this) at the corner of Middleborough Rd and Burwood Highway, Burwood East 9224 2288.
• TEAR Australia, www.tear.org.au, usefulgift@tear.org.au, 1/4 Solwood Lane (PO Box 164) Blackburn 3130, Ph 1800 244 986, has the 'arguably the world's most useful gift catalogue' which lets you donate things like seedlings, mosquito nets, literacy classes, toilets and doctors to poor communities on behalf of friends or family members (they get cards telling them about the donation). Signatory to the ACFOA Code of Conduct.
• The Tithing Tree, www.thetithingtree.org.au, is website set up by Melbourne volunteers, with links to dozens of organisations you can send donations, in lieu of buying gifts, and ideas about how to make your brother feel glad you've bought him a half-share in a goat for a family in Bhutan this Christmas.
• The Wilderness Society, www.wildshop.com.au, ‘Wild online’ stocks toys, body products, food, books, clothing, homewares, music, garden products, candles, calendars and diaries. TWS Melbourne is in Ross House, 247 Flinders Lane, Ph 1800 030 641.
• The Yarra City Council sells East Timorese coffee, with proceeds to the Friends of Bacau. Ph 9205 5555 or visit the Richmond or Collingwood Town Halls/Leisure Centres, or Fitzroy Pool.
•The Yarra Greens are selling a great-value organic wine - 2001 Temple Bruer Cabernet Sauvignon Malbec Petit Verdot. $120 per dozen. Contact Alison Clarke on 9489 7573 or aalisonclarke@rocketmail.com for more information, or to place your order.

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

10 DECEMBER 2003

BURMA FORUM A SUCCESS ON INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS DAY

I had the privilege to attend a Burma Human Rights Forum at RMIT University, with keynote speaker Dr. Myint cho MPU-Burma (Members of parliament Union) and panels sessions on human rights abuses in Burma, May 30 Black Friday, political prisoners, forced labor, migrant worker issues, Thai-Burma border situation, women abuse, child abuse, use of child soldier, and child labor in Burma. For more information please contact Amnesty International Australia on 94277055 or the Action Group for Human Rights in Burma (AGHRB) on 85026604 or 0422880914.

MAJOR FOREST AND ENVIRONMENT DECISIONS DRIVEN BY CITIES

The Tasmanian Tarkine forests protest in Melbourne's Treasury Gardens is a good reminder that many of the decisions affecting our environment are made in the major cities of the world. Government and business decisions on paper and energy derived from old growth forests have a great impact on the choices available to all of us, and ultimately whether we are prepared to trash our ancient forests for short term interests. Victorian forests are sold off for as minuscule an amount as 9 cents per tonne, with the cost to public taxpayers to administer the system and to try to limit some of the environment vandalism caused being far in excess of the income produced.

Victoria urgently needs to get out of publicly subsidised old growth forest logging. As Melbourne City Council recently confirmed through a decision I drove in moving from 60% recycled paper content to 100% post-consumer waste office paper, government organisations and private companies have a great opportunity to create market opportunities by informing themselves about the issues involved and thinking about what they might do. In many cases, the decisions save money and are simply a matter of being aware of choices available to them.

A good start is the Lawyers for Forests' Forest Friendly Eco-Kit. The kit is an excellent and easy to read guide to saving paper and energy, and therefore money. The kit details some easy, cheap and effective ways for your firm to reduce the impact it . It is available as a pdf download (833 Kb) by clicking on the underlined title, or by going to the Lawyers for Forests website.

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

7 DECEMBER 2003

BLOW TO NSW GOVERNMENT'S COUNCIL AMALGAMATION PLANS

This is an extract from a 5 December 2003 media release forwarded from Sylvia Hale, Greens MLC and Local Government Spokesperson: Following uproar amongst councils, frenzied lobbying and protest in the streets, the Government today was forced to withdraw its controversial Local Government Bill.

"This is a major setback to the Premier's program of forced amalgamations and a huge victory for the right of residents to decide their local representation" said Sylvia Hale, Greens MLC and Local Government Spokesperson.

"The Premier wanted this Bill so that he could force through amalgamations before next year's local government elections. Now the whole Government timetable of forced amalgamations is in trouble." Ms Hale congratulated the Councils, Shires, residents and workers who united against this proposal on extremely short notice. "The response to this legislation has been overwhelming. It is a testament to the passion and commitment people feel towards their Shires and local Councils."

"The Bill would have cut out community input on fundamental questions of local government structure, with the Minister describing these democratic safeguards as wasteful and time-consuming."

"Quite simply, if the Government had brought this legislation to Parliament it would have been defeated. Instead they backed off altogether."

"This backdown was meant to be a face-saving option to avoid defeat on the floor of the house, but the Premier can't hide that this is a major failure."

"Local Government has a few months respite, but this Bill could be back next year. The Premier will keep doggedly pursuing his agenda of forced amalgamations, mega councils and the end of community participation in local government."

"The Greens will continue to be part of the overwhelming community response in support of a local government system that ensures the voices of residents can be heard.".

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

6 DECEMBER 2003

VICTORIAN GREENS ANNOUNCE DAVID RISSTROM AND RICHARD DI NATALE AS LEAD VICTORIAN SENATE CANDIDATES

The Victorian Greens announced today that their David Risstrom and Richard Di Natale will be their first and second candidates in the upcoming Federal election. Given the strong and growing support for the Greens, this means the people of Victoria could be voting for their first Green Senator in an ordinary election, and their first two Green Senators in the event of a double dissolution: Rosa.

INTERNATIONAL CALL FOR A NEW NOBEL PRIZE ON SUSTAINABILITY IN STOCKHOLM

More than one million of citizens, and organisations from over one hundred countries support the call for a Nobel Prize on Sustainability. On Friday the 5th of December, 5 days before the annual Nobel Prize Ceremony, the international initiative will be presented in Stockholm. Nobel Peace Price Winner Dalai Lama is already supporting the idea.

The initiators of the campaign believe that a Nobel Prize for sustainable development could become a tremendous encouragement for all those who devote themselves to creating a sustainable society. Sustainable leadership are urgently needed at a time in which pollution, climate change and scarcity of clean water are the order of the day. The initiators believe that the Sustainable Prize can be used to stimulate companies and world leaders to actively support innovative, sustainable technologies and international treaties.

The call for a Nobel Prize on Sustainability is already supported by numerous organisations and individuals, including 1989 Nobel Peace Price winner Dalai Lama -the political and spiritual leader of the Tibetan people. The plea is also reiterated by the World Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Earth Charter Initiative. The petition is furthermore signed by individuals like Dr Bedrich Moldan, former president of the Committee on Sustainable Development (CSD) of the United Nations, Dr. Lester R. Brown, founder of the Worldwatch Institute and companies like Body Shop International.

The international initiative stems from the Dutch parliamentarian Boris van der Ham, British Euro-MP Chris Davies and former UN-Youth Representative Ingrid Aaldijk. Coming weekend (December 5, 6 and 7), in the prologue of the Nobel Prize ceremonies, Van der Ham and Aaldijk will be in Stockholm. On the 5th of December, at 15:00 hours, there will be a special press-meeting at the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Stockholm, Götgatan 16A. At this event the progress and future plans of the Sustainable Prize initiative will be presented.

For more information you can visit: www.sustainable-prize.net.

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

5 DECEMBER 2003

SENATE FAILS TO SUPPORT GREENS IMPROVEMENTS FOR TCF OUTWORKERS

This is an extract from a media release forwarded by Greens Senator Kerry Nettle: Australian Greens Senator Kerry Nettle said today that the Senate had let down thousands of Victorian textile, clothing and footwear (TCF) outworkers by failing to support Greens proposals to immediately improve their conditions.

"TCF outworkers are among the most exploited workers in Australia. They endure appalling working conditions, pay rates as low as $3 an hour, very long working hours and some have difficulty claiming payment for work undertaken," Senator Nettle said.

"These circumstances are not new and yet the federal and Victorian governments failed to address the matter in an agreement in which the state government referred its industrial relations powers to the federal government.

"The federal legislation maintains the legal fiction between TCF outworkers who are employees and those who are contractors, a distinction used by unscrupulous employers to deny thousands of outworkers decent rights and pay.

"The Howard government prefers to maintain the legal fiction on the grounds that guaranteeing legal entitlements for all outworkers would remove the choice that some have to accept lesser pay and conditions.

"This is nonsense and a disregard for the circumstances of some of Australia's most vulnerable workers, mostly migrant women from non-English speaking backgrounds.

"The Greens' amendments would have guaranteed the same rights for all TCF outworkers but the Senate failed to support this measure.

"In seeking to put the responsibility for addressing this issue back to Victoria, the federal government has done precisely the opposite of what it claimed to be pursuing with the bill - creating a unitary industrial relations system."

The Greens amendments were moved to the Workplace Relations Amendment (Improved Protection for Victorian Workers) Bill 2003.

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

4 DECEMBER 2003

MICHAEL ORGAN SEES TONY ABBOTT'S CONFLICT MORE CLEARLY THAN SOME

This is an extract from a media release forwarded by Greens MP Michael Organ: Health Minister Tony Abbott has a major conflict of interest between his role as Leader of the House and his involvement in the prosecution of Pauline Hanson, Cunningham MP Michael Organ said today.

"When I asked the Speaker of the House what action he intended to take in relation to a request from the Queensland Legislative Assembly to establish an inquiry into the possible involvement of members of the Commonwealth parliament in the Hanson/Ettridge prosecution, Tony Abbott couldn't take cover quickly enough", Mr. Organ said.

"The Speaker told me he wouldn't take any action unless instructed to by the House, prompting an interjection from the Shadow Minister for Heritage Daryl Melham suggesting that Abbott, as the Leader of the House, might give that instruction."

"Abbott's response reveals the extent of his conflict of interest. Waving his hands in the air he called out 'No, I have no instructions - no instructions whatsoever!'"

"Abbott is the man behind the $100,000 slush fund set up to assist with the original prosecution of Pauline Hanson by disgruntled Queensland One Nation Party members."

"Now he's refusing to give instructions for the Federal parliament to hold an inquiry into his role in the affair."

"This is a scandalous situation, and the Prime Minister needs to step in to ensure that justice is served", Mr. Organ said.

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

3 DECEMBER 2003

VICTORIAN SENATE PRESELECTION VOTE WILL BE COUNTED TODAY

Voting by members for the Victorian Senate preselection process concluded yesterday, Tuesday 2 December, with votes set to be counted today after midday. Thank you to everyone who has supported me in my bid to be preselected for the Victorian Greens Senate ticket, and thank you to those of you who made other choices who did so in the best interests of the party and our community. There are a number of good candidates and the outcome is difficult to predict. I'll try to post the outcome as soon as all candidates have been notified and I have recovered for whatever decision the party has made. Cheers: David

SENATE SAYS TRADE AGREEMENT SHOULD HAVE ENVIRONMENTAL CLEARANCE

This is an extract from a media release forwarded by Greens Senator Bob Brown: The proposed US-Australia Free Trade Agreement should get environmental clearance before it gets support from the Senate, Greens Senator Bob Brown said today. The Senate today passed a Greens motion calling for an environmental assessment of any proposed Agreement with the support from Labor and the Democrats.

"US and Australian trade negotiators are on notice that the environmental ramifications of any agreement will be scrutinised before it can be signed off," Senator Brown said.
"Some of the biggest environment groups in the US wrote to Australian Trade Minister Vaile on 26 November expressing concern that the Agreement would undermine environmental protection in both countries and pointing out that the US is already doing an environmental assessment.
"The Senate has reinforced their concern and pointed especially to the potential for the Agreement to give coal and electricity companies power to stop governments from acting against global warming.
"Prime Minister Howard should follow the US lead and commission an environmental assessment of the Agreement without delay", said Senator Brown.

Motion passed by the Senate, 2 December 2003: That the Senate, noting that the Australia-United States free trade agreement is in the final stages of negotiation, calls on the Government to:
(a) carry out an environmental impact assessment of the agreement prior to its signing and ratification; and
(b) ensure that the agreement does not inhibit Australia's ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including by giving United States coal and electricity companies the right to challenge or seek compensation from Australian governments which act to ameliorate global warming.

LATHAM LABOR JOINS HOWARD TO TRAMPLE DEMOCRACY

This is an extract from a media release forwarded by Greens Senator Bob Brown: Labor has joined the Government to ram through its new ASIO legislation. The bill threatens people who make public ASIO's detention of citizens, even if is illegal, with 5 years in jail Greens Senator Bob Brown said today. The Greens' proposal to send the legislation to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Committee was voted down by Labor and the Coalition this afternoon.

"Latham Labor has capitulated to John Howard at the first hurdle," Senator Brown said.

"Any legislation subject to controversy should at least go before a Senate committee. To deny such a serious bill any scrutiny is to trample our democracy. This legislation has been criticised by the Australian Council for Civil Liberties, Amnesty International and Liberty Victoria. Academics have said it breaches international law and erodes domestic law and rights. For the ALP to a have voted down a simple move by the Greens to seek expert advice on this bill is unconscionable," Senator Brown said.

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

2 DECEMBER 2003

AWE ART EXHIBITION AT FAD GALLERY

The Wilderness Society will launch Awe, a photographic exhibition on Thursday 4th December at FAD Gallery at 6 pm - 14 Corrs Lane, Melbourne (Melways 1B L7). With drinks on arrival at 6 pm courtesy of Terra Felix wines, giveaways, prints for sale, raffles and music from the Jaq Gawler Trio on the ground floor, the opening will be followed by The Wilderness Society Christmas celebration, featuring the music of singer Terra Nebulous and DJ Disco Frotage, from 9 pm over all 3 floors.

Awe features the work of two of Australia's outstanding wilderness photographers, Ern Mainka and Mark Humphries. Mark Humphries is an acclaimed wilderness photographer who specialises in large format photography, spending months in the wilderness in order to capture Australia's most beautiful landscapes. Ern Mainka is twice winner of the Landscape Photographer of the year award from the Australian Institute of Professional Photographers. Ern's recent works have seen a shift from his primary focus of nature photography to include atmospheric and weather photography. Awe exhibition runs from 29th Nov - 9th Dec

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

1 DECEMBER 2003

GREENS MOVE FOR REAL PARLIAMENTARY REFORM BEGINS AT HOME IN THE HOUSE

This is an extract from a media release forwarded by Greens MP Michael Organ: Cunningham MP Michael Organ will move for the establishment of a Royal Commission into proportional representation for House of Representatives elections this afternoon.

"My Private Member's Bill, besides being a clear application of Australian Greens policy, is timely because it responds to the government's latest attempt at weakening the powers of the Senate and of diminishing the true democratic nature of our democracy", Mr. Organ said. "At present we have a voting system where, more often than not, the party holding government does not hold an electoral majority or, worse still, the party gaining an electoral majority does not win government."

"Yet Prime Ministers happily claim a so-called mandate to do all manner of things on behalf of the Australian people, including invading other countries, destroying Medicare, privatising education, indefinitely detaining children and adults in the middle of the desert in immigration detention centres, accepting the legitimacy of America's show trials for Australian nationals detained unlawfully in Guantanamo Bay, and pushing through anti-democratic legislation which attacks workers, unions and our basic civil rights as was seen with the recent ASIO legislation." "This Royal Commission into Proportional Representation is needed to give the people of Australia a truly representative voice in this Parliament."

"The "winner takes all" system which the major parties have enjoyed to date is outmoded, redundant, and in fact disappearing as voters turn to minor parties and independents", Mr. Organ said.

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

30 NOVEMBER 2003

GENETIC ENGINEERING PUBLIC MEETING AND SEMINAR 9 DECEMBER 2003

Professor Phil Bereano of the University of Seattle Washington USA, will talk and lead a lively discussion on "Using the Codex (Ant Food Standards) and the Biosafety Protocol to stall the international corporate GE push"
Where: The Organic Wholefoods Studio 452 Lygon St, East Brunswick (Not Carlton) Victoria 3057 Tel: 9384 0288 (if lost)
When: 11:30 am to 1 pm, Tuesday December 9, 2003
Wow: From 1 pm, join Phil for a Delicious Organic Lunch in the Wholefoods Cafe, available at very affordable prices. Please RSVP to 9347 4500 if you want lunch.

Phil Bereano, Professor of Technical Communication and Adjunct Professor of Women Studies and American Ethnic Studies, has been a member of the University of Washington faculty since 1975. He taught previously at Cornell University where he earned two degrees, a Bachelor of Chemical Engineering and a Master of Regional Planning. He holds a law degree from Columbia Law School.

Phil participated in negotiating the UN's Cartagena Biosafety Protocol which recently came into force. He is in Australia to attend the Codex discussions in Brisbane on the Traceability of GE food products.

Phil is a recognised expert on the ethical and social considerations of genetic engineering (having begun working on these issues in 1977) and an outspoken defender of civil liberties with respect to information technologies and computer databases (including bio-informatics, a branch of gene technology). He is a member of the National Board of the American Civil Liberties Union and chairs its Committee on Databases and Civil Liberties. He is a founding member of the Council for Responsible Genetics, the Washington Biotechnology Action Council, the 49th Parallel Biotechnology Consortium (US, Canada, Colombia, UK, Sth Africa & Australia), and Moving Images (an award-wining non-profit video production company); he was a founder of ACT/UP Seattle. Phil is also a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and in 1994 received the University of Washington's Outstanding Public Service Award.

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

28 NOVEMBER 2003

DAREBIN FESTIVAL THIS SUNDAY

The Darebin Festival High Street Party and Parade is on this Sunday. The Darebin Festival is a celebration of our colourful community "Celebrating Harmony in Living". It is free and promises to be an exciting and varied day. There will be stages with entertainment, free children's activities, stalls, a market and the Parade at noon. 10 am - 4 pm High Street,
Northcote Free Event For more information call 9525 6932 or visit the Darebin Festival website.

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

27 NOVEMBER 2003

VICTORIAN GREENS' MEET THE SENATE CANDIDATES MEETINGS NOW COMPLETE.

The Victorian Greens are in the process of preselecting their Senate candidates for the next Federal Election. I am a candidate with my application detailed at David Risstrom's Senate Preselection Nomination.

An exhaustive process of nomination, written application, interview, public meeting of all 14 candidates, short listing of 6 candidates, meet the candidates meetings in Balwyn, Sale, Daylesford, Geelong, North Melbourne, Eltham, St. Kilda, and Kallista has been a great opportunity for Greens members to get together and celebrate being part of a growing political strength in Australia. I have enjoyed being involved, wish the candidates well and look forward to Victoria electing their first Green Senator.

ASBESTOS COMMEMORATION SERVICE IN CITY SQUARE

This is an extract from a release from the Victorian Trades Hall: Unionists, asbestos support organisation representatives and bereaved family members will gather at Melbourne's city square tomorrow (28 November) for an asbestos awareness day commemoration service. Asbestos Awareness week is being held to highlight the serious health and safety and political issues at stake and to honour those who have died from asbestos related disease.

The commemoration coincides with the recent allegations that James Hardie Industries is attempting to avoid paying an estimated $800 million to future claimants suffering from asbestos related illnesses. VTHC secretary Leigh Hubbard said the federal government should act to ensure that companies and insurers with asbestos disease related liabilities don't "abrogate their responsibilities".

"We call on the Federal Health, Workplace Relations Ministers and the Attorney General to work co-operatively with each other and the States to enact legislation that will prevent companies like James Hardie Industries bailing out on victims." Mr Hubbard said occupational health and safety representatives and employers should be the focus of a state government Asbestos Regulations enforcement and information campaign.

Martin Kingham, CFMEU state secretary said the government should be vigilant and even more stringent when issuing asbestos removal licences. "It is not enough to pay lip service to the importance of this issue. Australian workers and people in the community are still being unnecessarily exposed to this deadly material."

Tony Evans lost his wife in 2002 to an asbestos related disease after she was exposed to the substance in her workplace. "Nobody should ever suffer a horrible disease at work while trying to earn a living," Mr Evans said.

Laurie O'Shea lost his wife to mesothelioma after she washed his asbestos contaminated work clothes for many years. In a televised statement before she died, Ms O'Shea described washing her husband's overalls: "Very, very dusty, so I just had to keep hitting them until the dust sort of subsided enough to be able to wash them successfully."

Nicole Watt lost her 46 year old aunty to mesothelioma last year. "When my aunty was very young the Department of Housing did some renovations on the house she lived in and she cleaned up after the work. That is how she was exposed to asbestos. She was just a child and wouldn't have known any better."

Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia Counsellor, Nikki Diver, said sufferers and their families required extensive community support. "This is an issue for the whole community. Whether it be legal, medical or emotional support that those affected need we have to work together to provide the best holistic care."

Current statistics estimate that there are nationally 8000 mesothelioma sufferers, 25,000 lung cancer with asbestos exposure and 33,000 asbestosis sufferers. The death toll from asbestos won't peak for at least another 15 years

Details of event: 1 pm Friday 28 November, Melbourne City Square cnr Swanston and Collins Streets.
* 4200 Black balloons are to be released and one minute silence observed to commemorate the estimated 4200 people who die in Australia each year from asbestos related diseases.

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

26 NOVEMBER 2003

AUSTRALIA - US FREE TRADE AGREEMENT WEB LISTINGS NOW AVAILABLE

Australia's government is currently involved in closed door negotiations with the United States to strike an Australian - US Free Trade Agreement that has the real likelihood of crippling many of the community, social, environmental and economic security gains made in Australia. While the issue may seem technical and distant, the consequences are extensive and personal. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement, which the US - Australia agreement may follow, a private United States company is currently suing the Canadian Postal Service based on the claim it is an unfair monopoly. What is the future of Australia Post, Telstra, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme under the threatened Australia - US Free Trade Agreement?

I have begun a separate listing of relevant websites and links under the heading Australia - US Free Trade Agreement on Cr. Risstrom's Useful Internet Sites. There is also another listing on the same page for 'Fair Trade and Ethical Investment.

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

25 NOVEMBER 2003

GOVERNMENT'S DOUBLE STANDARD ON PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE

This is an extract from a media release forwarded by Greens MP Michael Organ:The Howard government's double standard on presumption of innocence has been graphically demonstrated by Foreign Minister Alexander Downer today.

"The presumption of innocence is an important part of universal human rights law", Cunningham MP Michael Organ told parliament this afternoon."The Foreign Minister told the ABC's AM program this morning that an Australian man from Adelaide seized by British forces at Uum Qasr in Iraq over the weekend was entitled to that presumption."

"The Minister's precise words were 'Well, for a start he's innocent until proven guilty', and I couldn't agree more."

"The government's failure to grant the same presumption of innocence to David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib is blatant hypocrisy."

"If the Adelaide man was unfortunately in the wrong place at the wrong time, as Minister Downer asserts, then why doesn't he accept that Messrs. Hicks and Habib, seized respectively in Afghanistan before the US military action, and in Pakistan, were similarly in the wrong place at the wrong time", Mr. Organ said.

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

23 NOVEMBER 2003

TRANSPORT NOT TRAFFIC RALLY

This is an extract from a media release from Victorian Greens Transport Spokesperson Alison Clarke:Inner-city Greens and others will today be marching for "Transport Not Traffic".

Participants will blow train whistles, wear Connies' uniforms, carry colourful train carriages and an old 'East Doncaster' train destination roll, and deliver a red letter to Premier Bracks' door. They will call for the Scoresby Tollway/Freeway to be scrapped, and for the money to be spent on better public transport, including rail lines to East Doncaster, Monash/Rowville and the airport.

"The road lobby - Big Oil, Car Manufacturing, Construction and Freight, plus VicRoads and the RACV - has a vested interest in keeping us all stuck in our cars. It sold the Scoresby freeway proposal to outer eastern councils and the community as the solution to traffic congestion" said Greens Transport Spokesperson Alison Clarke.

"However, OECD research clearly shows that building new urban roads only makes people drive more. The Scoresby is only a short-term solution. It would soon fill up with cars, just like all our older freeways".

"The price would be the Dandenong Creek Valley and Seaford Wetlands, 18.5% more greenhouse gas, no money left over for public transport, and traffic, traffic, traffic. No rest in sight for Mum's Taxi. No affordable independent transport for teenagers, or the one in three adults who don't drive" she continued.

"People tend to think that building freeways is good for the economy, but the Scoresby's Environmental Effects Statement shows that shifting 2% of trips onto public transport would make better economic sense than building the freeway".

"Good public transport - fast, frequent, safe, connected, affordable, round-the-clock and easy to use - entices people out of their cars. They meet their neighbours, have a chat, read a few novels, relax and forget about traffic and parking hassles. At the same time they free up road space for those who do need to drive".

Last year Mr Bracks promised 20% of motorised trips on public transport by 2020, up from the current 9%. This breaks down to just over 0.6% of car trips transferring to public transport each year. "The real target is 11.5% by next State election, and the Greens will be holding him to that", said Ms Clarke.

"In the 2003/4 State budget, there is $349.2 million for new Melbourne roads and $13.6 million for new public transport, so at present we consider the 20/2020 target unadulterated spin".

"Mr Bracks needs to stand up to the road lobby, scrap the Scoresby, and reverse his transport spending priorities. We want a city that's like the great European and Canadian cities that are serious about public transport, walking and cycling, not a concrete-and-cars nightmare like Los Angeles or Detroit".

"In WA an ALP government is now cancelling freeways and spending $1.4 billion on rail. If they can do it, we can too".

Contact: Alison Clarke, Victorian Greens Transport Spokesperson, 0402 075 306.

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

21 NOVEMBER 2003

GUANTANAMO BAY - HOWARD'S WATERLOO

This is an extract from a media release forwarded by Greens MP Michael Organ: The Howard government's mealy-mouthed subservience to the United States has been exposed by British Prime Minister Tony Blair's persistence, Cunningham MP Michael Organ said today.

"While our government washes its hands of Australians David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib, Mr. Blair has apparently won agreement from US President George Bush that nine British nationals detained in Camp X-Ray at Cuba's Guantanamo Bay can be returned to the UK for trial", Mr. Organ said this afternoon.

"The Greens have been pressing the government to exert pressure on the United States to return our illegally held citizens to their homeland for months now to no avail."

"Today's news that U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has told BBC television that Washington expected to resolve the issue 'in the near future' with the Blair government shows just how influential the 'Man of Steel', as George W Bush dubbed him, is."

"It must now be obvious to all Australians that 'Man of Steel' isn't Texan for 'fair dinkum'; what it really means is pompous, ineffectual windbag prepared to sell out his own citizens for a barbecue at a Texas ranch", Mr. Organ said.

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

20 NOVEMBER 2003

'YARRA DEMANDS BETTER PUBLIC TRANSPORT' FORUM A GREAT SUCCESS

Yarra City Council's Public Transport Community Forum last night was a great success. About 150 people joined together to pool ideas on how to improve public transport in Yarra and greater Melbourne. The forum was really encouraging for me, as it showed how many people care about public transport and their willingness to get together and do something about it. The train whistles and cardboard trains were great fun! It was great to hear Prof. Peter Newman's view that a dedicated public transport link along the Eastern Freeway is the best option to promote s shift from cars to public transport, and that a heavy rail is the most effective option of those available.

For those able to, please try to join in the rally this Sunday's Transport Rally. The Victorian Greens have organised a Transport Rally for 2 pm Sunday 23 November 2003. A downloadable and printable copy of the flyer (202 Kb) is available by clicking on the underlined title. The march will be from Fitzroy Town Hall (cnr Moor & Napier Sts) along Napier St, over Victoria Pde, along Lansdowne then Albert Sts, through the Parliament Gardens to the steps of State Parliament, and is expected to finish by 4 pm. For more information please contact: TransportNotTraffic@yahoo.com.au.

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

17 NOVEMBER 2003

PLANNING MELBOURNE'S GROWTH AND EVOLUTION - MELBOURNE CONVERSATION 17 NOVEMBER 2003

You are invited to Monday night's Melbourne Conversation 'Planning Melbourne's Growth and Evolution: Who is it working for and who's making the decisions?' Monday 17 November 2003 - 6.00 to 7.30 pm (entry from 5.45 pm) BMW Edge Federation Square Corner Swanston and Flinders Street. Free entry- Unreserved Seating

Melbourne's built environment is changing rapidly and more people are demanding a voice. Councils and resident groups jockey with developers, consultants and lawyers. Who should have the final say and who are the winners and losers? Join a frank public discussion on the planning of Melbourne's built environment. Speakers:
• Royce Millar (MC) - Journalist, The Age
• Barbara Norman - Program Director, Environment and Planning RMIT University
• Hon Justice Stuart Morris - President, Victorian Civil Administrative Tribunal
• John Gaffney - Executive Director, Housing Industry Association
• Nigel Kirby - President, Save Our Suburbs.

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

16 NOVEMBER 2003

GREENS 23 NOVEMBER TRANSPORT RALLY GET TO GET THINGS MOVING

The Victorian Greens have organised a Transport Rally for 2 pm Sunday 23 November 2003. A downloadable and printable copy of the flyer (202 Kb) is available by clicking on the underlined title. The march will be from Fitzroy Town Hall (cnr Moor & Napier Sts) along Napier St, over Victoria Pde, along Lansdowne then Albert Sts, through the Parliament Gardens to the steps of State Parliament, and is expected to finish by 4 pm. For more information please contact: TransportNotTraffic@yahoo.com.au.

This March says No to:
• The Scoresby Tollway/Freeway, which would bring 26,000 extra cars into the city, and damage the Dandenong Creek Valley and the Seaford Wetlands
• The 2003/4 State budget’s $349 million for new roads but only $13 million for new Melbourne public transport
• Turning local shopping strips into traffic sewers, with clearways, median closures and other changes to assist through traffic
• Keeping teenagers, people with disabilities and anyone else who can’t drive stuck at home or dependent on others for transport
• Fragmented transport planning – roads and public transport done separately
• Tax incentives for driving

And Yes to:
• Rail to East Doncaster
• Rail to Monash/Rowville
• Rail to the Airport
• Extending public transport to new outer suburbs
• A unified public transport network, with buses on comprehensible routes, feeding trams and trains
• All public transport running every 10-15 minutes, at least 5 am-1 am, and 20-30 minutes late at night
• Tram conductors, and staff on all railway stations
• Removing dangerous level crossings
• Combining VicRoads and Dept of Infrastructure transport functions and budgets.

BRIAN WALTER'S NEW BOOK - SLAPPING ON THE WRITS

‘Slapping on the Writs’ is a smart and scary collection of examples of the law being used to crush community groups. Drawing on cases undertaken by Free Speech Victoria, Brian Walters SC astounds and dismays, while arguing a powerful case for reform of our libel and defamation laws.

You are invited to the launch of this slim but fulfilling book at 6.30 pm, Tuesday 18 November. Bimbo de Luxe (nee the Punters' Club Hotel) 376 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy,
Drinks (you pay) and fingerfood. Please RSVP to: Peter Browne, 9214 8886 (pbrowne@netspace.net.au).
Slapping on the Writs: Defamation, Developers and Community Activism by Brian Walters SC (UNSW Press, 96 pp, $16.95).

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

15 NOVEMBER 2003

THE ATHENS CALL FOR GREENING EVENTS ENDORSED BY 2003 ICLEI WORLD CONGRESS

One of the exciting developments emerging from the 2003 ICLEI World Congress was an initiative called the Athens Call for Greening Events, which was adopted following negotiations between ICLEI and a coalition of 21 local Greek Councils known as OTA 21 hosting the World Congress.

Greening events involves making a commitment to reducing the environmental impact of an event. This idea was pursued in the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games and was monitored and advanced by the Green Games Watch program. It is my intention to approach organisations such as the AFL and MCC, and other major sporting bodies to see if advances can be made in greening the events they manage. Further information is available on this website under 100 More Achievements at Greening Events.

THE ATHENS CALL FOR GREENING EVENTS - Sustainable Principles for local hosts organising international events.

Cities, towns and metropolitan governments often act as local hosts for international events, such as the Olympic Games, World Exhibitions or United Nations Conferences. These events can have a significant impact on the local community, environment and economy. Host communities wish to make economic gains while avoiding negative impacts, and at the same time use these events as conveyors of the sustainability message.

"Greening events" has become the vision for efforts to save resources,avoid damage to the local and global environment, to take ecological, social and economical aspects into account for future-oriented city development, and to offer sustainable development options to the local people and economy.

On the occasion of the ICLEI World Congress 2003 in Athens, held on invitation of the Coalition 21, and one year prior to the Olympic Games 2004 in Athens, we launch an initiative for action towards "Greening Events", therefore named the "Athens Call for Greening Events":

• We, the cities, towns and metropolitan governments, aim at using our role as hosts, to foster protection of the environment, save resources and care for our social values and cultural heritage during the preparation and implementation of events.

• As hosts, our vision is to prepare and organise events in such a way that as few natural resources as possible are used, and areas within our cities that may have been polluted, degraded or destroyed will be rehabilitated; minimal environmental damage will be caused; and limited negative impacts on local inhabitants will occur. At the same time, a "green event" should offer inhabitants an opportunity to improve their living conditions and enable both participants and inhabitants to practise a sustainable lifestyle.

• We aim at improving our knowledge on how to better manage large international events through local model projects, such as waste management, sustainable procurement, reduction of solid waste and atmospheric pollution, preservation of biodiversity, addressing security, and the prevention of disasters and environmental degradation.

• We commit ourselves to implement city planning and city development caused by or related to the occurrence of large events in a sustainable way, and to encourage and facilitate citizens' participation in all steps of this process.

• We encourage ICLEI to make special efforts towards greening events organised within the responsibility of ICLEI, to report on results and to include a climate legacy project in future conferences.

• We envisage defining a set of minimum standards for environmental protection and social development as the basis for future agreements between host cities and events organisers.

• We aim at carrying out an international project to collect and document the activities towards greening events of the cities with accumulated experiences and innovative approaches. We support efforts to compile an action oriented handbook and a training module for host cities. United Nations agencies such as UNEP, UN-HABITAT and UNDP, as well as foundations and donors, are asked to support such a project with advice and financial resources.

• We call upon UN agencies to act as forerunners in greening events, following the good example of the World Summit on Sustainable Development 2002 in Johannesburg. We request UN agencies to make greening standards mandatory for all their international events in the future and to ensure a special responsibility within UNDESA.

• We encourage host cities all over the world to start an exchange of information on "greening events" and to strengthen their respective co-operation.

• We call upon all the towns, cities and metropolitan governments that have either hosted, or are preparing to host an international event, to collaborate with us in the creation of a new global co-operation on Greening Events", that will continuously expand while being enriched by the experiences of its new partners. Through this global network, technical expertise and international best practices will be disseminated. We ask ICLEI to facilitate this co-operation and exchange. We wish to organise in the near future an international forum, as an essential step towards implementation of this new global initiative.

We, the Cities, Towns and Metropolitan Areas offer our co-operation to develop and implement these standards jointly with the UN and other event organisers. We invite further cities to join the Green Events Network and the envisaged international forum.

Athens, 7 November 2003

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

14 NOVEMBER 2003

MELBOURNE 2030 PLANNING FOR SUSTAINABLE GROWTH: WILL IT DELIVER? HOW SUSTAINABLE IS IT: FORUM SATURDAY 15 NOVEMBER 2003

SOS, RMIT, VLGA and PIA are holding a forum titled "Melbourne 2030 Planning For Sustainable Growth: Will It Deliver? How Sustainable Is It?" from 10 – 4 pm this Saturday 15 November at Casey Plaza Theatre, Bowen Street, RMIT, Melbourne, with Terry Laidler as MC.

I am chairing the ‘Transport and Environmental Aspects of M2030’ panel scheduled for 2:30 to 3:45 pm, with Paul Mees, Peter Daly, Bernadette George and Ray Kinnear (DOI) as panellists.

Other speakers include Prof. Ian Lowe, Mary Delahunty, Ted Baillieu, Michael Buxton, Peter Gaffney, Bill Russell, Michelle Quigley, Julian Hill, Jim Gardner, Phil Storer, Cathy Wilkinson and Derek Wilson.

There is no charge for attending but registration is requested for catering purposes. Ph 9347 2233, fax 9347 9933 or e-mail vlga@vlga.org.au

I hope to see you there. Cheers: David Risstrom.

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

13 NOVEMBER 2003

PUBLIC TRANSPORT - YARRA DEMANDS BETTER - PUBLIC FORUM 19 NOVEMBER 2003

Yarra City Council is hosting a public forum 'Public Transport - Yarra Demands Better' at Richmond Town Hall, 333 Bridge Road Richmond, 19 November 6.30 to 9 pm. Please come along if you want to get behind public transport (rather than a line of cars!)

Peter Newman and Rod Quantock will be speaking, spraining and probably checking tickets! A 33 Kb download is available for more details by clicking here: Public Transport - Yarra Demands Better.

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

12 NOVEMBER 2003

ENTER THE MEATRIX AND NEVER DROOL OVER A SAVELOY AGAIN!

Enter this amazing website The Meatrix. Meet you meat maker, take the red pill and hopefully never look back! Thanks to Liz Conor for forwarding the link.

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

11 NOVEMBER 2003

VICTORIAN TRADES HALL COUNCIL LAUNCHES DRAFT OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY CHARTER

A draft Charter that defines the role, rights and activities of union health and safety representatives has been developed by the Victorian Trades Hall Council OHS unit and affiliated unions. VTHC OHS unit spokesperson Renata Musolino said the Charter would demand that employers and WorkSafe Victoria recognise the legitimate role of OHS representatives.

"The main purpose of the Charter will be the validation of union health and safety reps. It will recognise the vital role that thousands of men and women across Victoria play in ensuring that hundreds of thousands of workers enjoy the right to a safe work environment. It will also insist that employers and WorkSafe treat reps with the respect and dignity they deserve." An estimated 1400 health and safety representatives endorsed the Charter proposal at last week's annual VTHC OHS reps conference in Melbourne. UK Health and Safety authority Rory O'Neil said the 2003 VTHC Conference was "the biggest safety reps event on earth."

Health and safety representatives are encouraged to comment on the Draft Charter, which is now available online. Please provide comments via the online forum by 30 November 2003. The Charter will be launched early in 2004. The VTHC will also use the feedback generated by this forum to inform their submission to the Bracks Government's review of the OHS Act. This article can be found on the Web at: http://vthc.org.au/media/general_news/20031107_charter.html.

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

8 NOVEMBER 2003

ICLEI INTERNATIONAL 2003 WORLD CONGRESS COMMITS TO 'GREENING EVENTS'.

The World Council of the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives committed itself to a Greening Events Declaration developed with the Coalition of 21 Greek Cities in the lead up to the 2003 World Congress in Athens. The aim is to engage in a process of greening major events such as Olympic and Commonwealth Games, conferences and major sporting events such as local football and cricket matches. When time allows, I will reproduce a full copy of the 'Athens Call for Greening Events' on my website, and provide updates as more progress emerges.

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

7 NOVEMBER 2003

DAVID ELECTED AS VICE PRESIDENT ICLEI INTERNATIONAL

Amos Masondo, Executive Mayor of Johannesburg, South Africa, was elected President, and David Risstrom as Vice President and Asia Pacific Regional Chair by the Executive Committee of ICLEI International at the ICLEI 2003 World Congress in Athens, Greece. David is serving his second term on ICLEI International, following his election as one of three Asia-Pacific representatives on the Executive Committee of the International Council for Local Environment Initiatives.

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

6 NOVEMBER 2003

GREENS AIM TO DISALLOW THREE THOUSAND ISLANDS PLAN

The Greens will use the recall of the Senate on Friday to move disallowance of the Government's regulations putting three thousand Australian islands outside the reach of immigration laws.
Speaking in Launceston today, Greens Senator Bob Brown said that the Senate recall should be charged to the Liberal's election campaign.

'Labor has agreed to an extravagant, costly recall to serve the Government's political purposes. Both organisation to be banned have been in operation for a long time. The Government has not briefed the Greens on any emergency factors to justify the recall.'

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

5 NOVEMBER 2003

FREE PUBLIC LECTURE 20 NOVEMBER - WALKING: MEASURING THE BENEFITS

The University of Melbourne Faculty of Architecture Building & Planning is hosting a free public lecture 'Walking: Measuring the Benefits' by Dr Rodney Tolley, Reader in Geography and Director of The Centre for Alternative & Sustainable Transport (CAST), Staffordshire University UK. Thursday 20 November, 6.15 pm - 7.30 pm, Sisalkraft Theatre, Ground Floor, Architecture & Planning Building, The University of Melbourne.

We 'know' that walking is good for us. There is a growing realisation across governments that by encouraging walking a myriad of topical epidemics can be addressed, including cardio vascular heart disease; obesity; sedentary lifestyles; traffic congestion and air pollution; social exclusion; community alienation; and death and injury in crashes. But how can we measure these benefits and produce evidence in a form which will convince decision-makers that encouraging walking is good 'value for money'? This presentation will review the latest research and bring up to date our understanding of the economic and other benefits of more people walking more often.

Rodney Tolley has been a researcher, consultant and writer in the field of walking and cycling since the early 1980s. He has edited three editions of The Greening of Urban Transport: Planning for Walking and Cycling in Western Cities, which has been described as the 'bible' of green mode planning. In 1997, he founded CAST, the first research centre in the world wholly focused on non-motorised modes. CAST has quickly established a reputation as a leader in research, training and consultancy in walking and cycling issues.

Rodney served as specialist technical advisor to the UK Government Inquiry into walking in 2001 and provides a consultancy service to a number of clients in the UK and overseas including several cities in Australia.
Rodney has convened and chaired the National Walking Conference in Britain since 1997. He is the Director of Walk21 - a global partnership of walking experts focussed on conference organisation and consultancy - which has organised the first three international walking conferences. He chaired the Programme Committee for Walk21-3, the third international walking conference held in Spain in May 2002 and will do so again for Walk21-4 in Portland, USA in 2003.

Rodney is joint co-ordinator of the Local Authorities Walking Group, a professional association for British Local Authority Officers with responsibility for walking. Rodney is in the process of creating APIED, the Accessible Pedestrian Information Exchange and Digest, a Europe-wide partnership of walking research interests. Through these activities he has a unique oversight of developing practice in walking in the UK, Europe and across the world.

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

4 NOVEMBER 2003

ICLEI 2003 WORLD CONGRESS UPDATE

The 2003 ICLEI World Congress was officially opened in Athens with many members of the local political community, including the Ministers for Environment and Health, Hellas, the Lady Mayor of Athens, UNEP Executive Director Klaus Tõpfer, and President of the Central Union of Hellenic Local Authorities. The Congress has been established with the very generous assistance of a coalition of 21 local authorities in Greece. I would sincerely like to thank these people and their communities for giving a high priority to sustainable development within their region and through the hosting of the ICLEI World Congress, globally.

CONTRIBUTION TO THE CARDOSO PANEL CONSULTATION WITH LOCAL GOVERNMENTS

I had the good fortune to contribute to the United Nations Secretary-General’s High Level Panel on Civil Society (Cardoso Panel) consultation with local government leaders. I have provided my personal invitation as a 120 Kb PDF download, which describes the background and rationale for the panel. Some of the background material is reproduced below.

In September 2002, the UN Secretary-General highlighted the engagement of civil society as an aspect of the UN Reform process and announced that he would “assemble a group of eminent persons representing a variety of perspectives and experiences to review past and current practices and recommend improvements for the future in order to make the interaction between civil society and the United Nations more meaningful.”The 12 members of the Cardoso Panel (named after its Chair, Mr. Fernando Enrique Cardoso, former President of Brazil) have agreed on a Work Program that emphasises an open, transparent and consultative process, and it is as part of this process that three members of the Panel will travel to the ICLEI World Congress in Athens to hear the views of local government on interaction with the UN.

My contributions stressed the need for the United Nations to focus on its capacity to highlight the global common needs and goods, to consider its role as one moving towards a united peoples and united planet. I also stressed my view that the UN has a strong role to play in facilitating security through co-operation, as a time when many national and religious differences are being focussed on as a cause of conflict rather than strength.

As many others did, I also highlighted the strength on local governments and the typically intimate and direct relationship they share with their constituents as a willing conduit for the UN to hear more of the needs of civil society. I I made the suggestion that the consider further engaging local communities in the UN Global Compact and that the UN adopt my policy 1% for Humanity, as a means of individuals contributing to the global common good, and in doing so, compulsorily requiring their governments to contribute to their donation through the tax deduction available to them through their national tax systems.

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

3 NOVEMBER 2003

LOCAL ACTION 21 - INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL FOR LOCAL ENVIRONMENTAL INITIATIVES 2003 WORLD CONGRESS 4-7 NOVEMBER

As Executive Committee and Management Committee member of the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) I am attending the 2003 ICLEI World Congress in Athens from 3-7 November 2003. The theme of the World Congress is Local Action 21, an ICLEI motto that evolved during the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development to describe the history of action emerging from the Local Agenda 21 programs ICLEI helped establish at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. Details of the extensive work of ICLEI is available at the ICLEI International website and the ICLEI Australia-New Zealand website.

Kritos Neophytos, President of the Coalition21, describes the work of Coalition 21, which is hosting the 2003 ICLEI World Congress in Athens.

The Coalition21 was established in 1999 by twenty-one local authorities of the northern and eastern sections of Athens Prefecture with the objective of promoting the principles and goals of sustainable development. Towards these goals, the 21 municipalities and communities representing more than one million inhabitants have adopted the main principles of Local Agenda 21 and the Habitat Agenda and are committed to ensuring that, from now on, their political proposals will be formed based on these principles. This commitment, which includes the use of democratic citizens' participation processes for future planning, results in sustainable development being incorporated into the environmental, developmental, social and financial sectors of Athenian society.

Due to the participation of such a great number of Greek municipalities, the ICLEI World Congress 2003 presents for the Coalition an outstanding opportunity to spearhead sustainable development in Greece by strengthening international networking and developing strategic alliances. In addition, the Congress will highlight the international presence of Athens as a modern metropolitan city that, to this day, respects citizens and the environment according to ancient Athenian democratic principles.

It will be an honour and great pleasure to receive you in Athens next November and we look forward to working with you towards a better future for our citizens in a sustainable and peaceful world.

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

30 OCTOBER 2003

BARNETT HOUSING ORATION TONIGHT

Acting Professor Alison McClelland from the School of Social Work and Social Policy, Latrobe University will be addressing the topic: A Common Purpose: Ethical, Practical and Transformative Directions for Public and Housing Policy in Australia.

More information about this event is available at http://www.public-policy.unimelb.edu.au/events/barnett_oration.html. Information about the venue and parking can be found at http://www.public-policy.unimelb.edu.au/events/Venue_Information.html.

Join us at 5:30 pm for light refreshments in the foyer before the 6 pm lecture. There is no cost involved and no need to RSVP. I will also take this opportunity to advise that on Tuesday the 11th of November, we will be joined by Marcel Lauziere, President, Canadian Council on Social Development who will be addressing a forum in the Centre at 5:30 pm. Again, there is no cost involved and no need to RSVP. More information can be found at: http://www.public-policy.unimelb.edu.au/events/Lauziere.htm.

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

23 OCTOBER 2003

GEORGE BUSH PRESIDENTIAL SPEECH

Listening to today’s special sitting of Parliament, it was disturbing to me that fighting and war appeared so strong a focus of Australia’s and America’s elected leaders, when so much might be gained by the mending of bridges and the ability to consider the world through others eyes: David.

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

22 OCTOBER 2003

MELBOURNE ENVIRONMENTAL INDICATORS BULLETIN No. 6 RELEASED

The 6th edition of the Melbourne Environmental Indicators Bulletin was released yesterday. A pdf copy (1.21 Mb) of the complete report is available for download from the Melbourne City Council website at www.melbourne.vic.gov.au) . Individuals chapters are available for separate download by clicking on the underlined chapter headings below, in the information taken from the Melbourne City Council website describing the report.

The Environmental Indicators Bulletin provides a snapshot of how Melbourne is fairing in a wide range of environmental measures . The Environmental Indicators Bulletin is produced by the City of Melbourne and the Australian Institute of Urban Studies, with contributions from other metropolitan councils. The Bulletin aims to make it easy to make environmentally-friendly lifestyle choices. Key themes for Bulletin 6 are air quality, biodiversity, green buildings, community environmental issues, litter and transport. Highlights of each chapter are listed below:

Air Quality (244 kb)

* Overall Melbourne's air quality is improving. This is largely due to the phasing in of cleaner motor vehicles, controls on industrial emissions and backyard incineration and the adoption of cleaner technology in the industry.
* Emissions from the growing number of private motor vehicles continue to pollute the air.
* Five of the six common pollutants (CO, NOx, SO2, lead and ozone, particles) identified by the EPA Victoria are within the acceptable limits. Of these, ozone and airborne particles are of most concern in Melbourne.

Biodiversity (543 kb)

* Thirty-two percent of Melbourne's original vegetation remains today. Most of this is forest in the outer water catchment areas.
* In Melbourne the condition of streams has declined over this century, which is reflected by a decrease in the diversity of stream macroinvertebrates.
* Melbourne has over 470 community groups actively involved with councils and state and federal governments to restore remnant vegetation and protect threatened species.

Green Buildings (260 kb)

* Although there are already some exciting initiatives in the greening of residential and commercial buildings in Victoria,significant potential exists to promote green building design and practices to consumers and the building industry through the use of 'green' rating tools and local planning provisions. City of Melbourne is leading the way in sustainable building design:
* CH2 building incorporates revolutionary technology that will set a new standard internationally in sustainable office development. Plans for the building have recently been awarded a six-star rating – world leader status – by the Green Building Council
* Installation of photovoltaic panels at Queen Victorian Market , is believed to be the largest grid-connected solar photovoltaic installation in the Southern Hemisphere and the world’s only solar panel installation of its size constructed on a heritage building

Council Priorities and Community Concerns (272 kb)

* Melbourne councils are active in environmental management programs and strategies at the local level.
* Generally local communities indicated that councils are performing adequately in advocacy and in public engagement in decision-making.

Litter (253 kb)

* Cigarette butts remain the most littered item.
* In 2002-03 Victorian councils and shires spent a total of $42 million on litter collection and prevention programs.
* Successful litter prevention practices require education and awareness raising as well as appropriate enforcement programs and provision of litter management infrastructure.

Transport (279 kb)

* Between 1996 and 2001, the use of cars for travel to work increased in the middle and outer areas of Melbourne. In the inner area, this rate decreased and the use of public transport increased. Overall car use remains as the dominant mode of travel to work, ranging from 70% in the inner to 90% in the outer area.
* Between 1997 and 2003, the number of cyclists has generally increased on inner city roads, especially on those in and out of the CBD, where the number has doubled. However, cycling as a mode of travel for travel to work decreased in middle and outer suburbs.
* The Victorian State Government has set out strategic directions for a sustainable transport future, and introduced initiatives to encourage sustainable transport
* Individuals must take responsibility for, and ownership of, behavioural changes to use more sustainable transport modes. Pedestrian and cycling infrastructure and the public transport system need to be upgraded. Excessive car use needs to be discouraged.

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

16 OCTOBER 2003

ILO TO EXAMINE GOVERNMENT'S UNIVERSITY REFORM AGENDA

This information is taken from an e-mail forwarded from Trades Hall: Unions taking part in [the Thursday 16 October 2003] national strike at higher education institutions have referred the Federal Governments university workplace relations requirements to the International Labour Organisation (ILO). Seven trade unions covering university staff throughout Australia will take part in national strike action on Thursday to pursue bargaining claims and to protest the Federal Government's proposal to tie $404 million in education funding to hard-line industrial reform. "The Federal Government is forcing universities to take away the rights of university staff to collectively bargain and have freedom of association," said ACTU President Sharan Burrow.

The unions have referred the matter to the ILO's Committee of Experts as a breach of Article 4 of ILO Convention 98 on freedom of association and the right to bargain collectively. This requires the Australian Government to promote collective bargaining with unions as the legitimate representatives of employees.

National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) President Dr Carolyn Allport said institutions and unions had a right to continue enterprise bargaining without unwarranted intervention by the Federal Government. "This action is against all international standards of the institutional autonomy for universities and will involve significant compliance costs for institutions," she said. "Stripping back standards on redundancy, termination and workplace consultation will do nothing to improve the quality of education provided by our universities and is inconsistent with the principles of academic freedom and collegial decision-making," said Dr Allport.

Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) Federal Secretary David Carey said the requirements, on top of declining amounts of funding, would make it increasingly difficult for universities to operate. "The Federal Government's requirements also do nothing to address the concerns Australian families have that they are finding it increasingly difficult to be able to afford to send their children to university," said Mr Carey.

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

15 OCTOBER 2003

NORTHERN CENTRAL CITY CORRIDOR PUBLIC MEETING

The Northern Central City Corridor Public Meeting at Collingwood Town Hall was very well attended, with somewhere over 300 people and a dog [Yours truly] in attendance. The meeting overwhelmingly endorsed the following motion from the floor.

This meeting calls on Yarra and Melbourne City Councils to:
1· Oppose all moves to turn local shopping strips and communities into thoroughfares for through traffic.
2· Tell the State Government that the best way to increase local walking and cycling is by reducing and slowing down traffic.
3· Lead a public campaign for quality, European-style public transport across Melbourne, to give more people a viable alternative to driving.
4. Lead a public campaign against the construction of new freeways; eg, the Mitcham-Frankston tollway, which would bring at least 26,000 additional cars into Hoddle St/Alexandra Pde.
5. Seek additional State funding for traffic reduction works on local roads currently used by large amounts of through traffic (not travelling to or from the affected municipality).
6. Ask the State Government to integrate road and public transport planning. These now happen in separate organisations and have separate budgets. The Government's own Infrastructure Planning Council recommended combining them last year: (Recommendation 26):
That that State Government adopts a holistic approach to transport infrastructure planning and delivery that:
• combines within a single organisation, the transport and logistic functions of the Department of Infrastructure and VicRoads;
• Consolidates funding into a single budget from which all transport infrastructure expenditure will be allocated; and,
• Integrates transport planning with the overall strategic direction for Victoria developed elsewhere by government.

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

14 OCTOBER 2003

VICTORIA'S FIRST COMMISSIONER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT ANNOUNCED

The Minister for Environment, John Thwaites, today announced the appointment of Dr Ian McPhail as Victoria's first Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability.

Hopefully not reflective of the future operation of this role, I found myself as the only local government sector person in the small crowd of DSE bureaucrats assembled on the lawns Parliament House for this announcement. Dr McPhail takes up his appointment as Victoria's Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability on 26 November 2003. One of the roles of the Commissioner is to encourage the adoption of environmentally sustainable practices by state and local government and the development of a State of Environment report.

Dr McPhail has considerable experience in senior roles in State and Commonwealth agencies across Australia. He is currently Deputy Director General of the Queensland Environmental Protection Agency in Australia. He came to the EPA after 4Þ years as Chair of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. As Chair of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Dr McPhail was also Head of the Environment Australia Portfolio Marine Group. In this role, Dr McPhail led the development of Australia's Ocean Policy, which resulted in the creation of the National Oceans Office.

In 2002, Dr McPhail was appointed a member in the Order of Australia for service to conservation and the environment, particularly through development of Government policies and programmes, and to the reform of national parks and wildlife administration in Australia. Dr McPhail has the unique experience of being sequentially a Commissioner of the Murray Darling Basin Commission for three governments - South Australia, the Commonwealth and then Queensland.

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

12 OCTOBER 2003

GREENS HISTORIC UNION CONFIRMED

The Greens (WA) have joined the Australian Greens, making it a truly national party.

"After an 80% 'yes' vote in a referendum of Western Australian party members, and today's vote by the Australian Greens to accept the WA party, there was jubilation at the Greens' National Conference in Canberra," WA upper house MP Giz Watson said.

"The Greens (WA) are delighted to join forces with the Australian Greens bringing 13 years of experience in Australian and state parliaments," Ms Watson said.

"This is a fresh page of history in Australia's most dynamic new political party," Greens Senator Bob Brown said today.

"The Australian Greens is now truly national and heading into next years' federal election with excellent Senate prospects in every state including WA.

"They say in politics that disunity is death, but we Greens are on a wave of new life. We are now fully geared up to give voters a great alternative to the often look-alike big parties

"The new combined Australian Greens membership is more than 7000," Senator Brown said.

ENERGY ACTION GROUP 'WATER, MARKETS AND SUSTAINABILITY PUBLIC MEETING 28 OCTOBER 2003

The Energy Action Group is hosting a free public seminar “Water, Markets and Sustainability” with speakers Tim Fisher – Water Campaigner - Australian Conservation Foundation; Ian Porter – Head of Sustainability Department of Sustainability and Environment; and, Simon Price – Victorian Farmers Federation. Questions and discussion are welcomed.

28th October 2003 7:00 pm New Ballroom, Trades Hall, Carlton South entry by Victoria St. Carlton, Victoria. Please RSVP to eag1@vicnet.net.au or by mobile on 0417362709.

ENERGY ACTION GROUP DISCUSSION PAPER 'SECOND CLASS CUSTOMERS: PREPAYMENT METERS, THE FUEL POOR AND DISCRIMINATION

Andrea Sharam of the Energy Action Group has authored another excellent publication titled 'Second Class Customers: Prepayment Meters, the Fuel Poor and Discrimination' It is available as a 467 Kb pdf download from this site by clicking on the underlined title or from a VicNet site by clicking on http://home.vicnet.net.au/~eag1/ppmfinal.pdf. The paper argues against the introduction of prepayment utilities meters. The Executive Summary states:

Utilities have a profound impact on the welfare of households not just because they deliver essential services, but because the delivery itself can be highly regressive. Pre-payment Meters (PPM) are primarily a credit management tool promoted by utilities to recover debt on the one hand and prevent the future accumulation of debt on the other. The termination of the credit relationship in favour of pre-payment effectively removes the role of the utility from the disconnection process. The act of disconnection is for all intents and purposes privatised. This enables utilities to avoid public reporting of disconnection rates (as they relate to inability to pay) and allows them to abrogate social responsibilities. PPMs do not address inability to pay, and are often the most expensive payment option. This reduction in affordability exacerbates rather than limits the impact of fuel poverty. Fuel poverty itself remains largely unaddressed in Australia for reasons that are perplexing, as many opportunities exist to eradicate it with benefits to customers, utilities and governments. Sadly, in an era in which the market is supposed to empower the customer, poorer vulnerable users of gas and electricity are being relegated to expensive and discriminatory residual markets such as that created by PPMs.

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

11 OCTOBER 2003

NOBEL PEACE PRIZE AWARDED TO FEARLESS IRANIAN LAWYER SHIRIN EBADI

The following was sent to me by e-mail from Pamela Curr and attributed to Reuters.

Iranian lawyer Shirin Ebadi has won the Nobel Peace Prize for her work defending human rights, in an award aimed at spurring democratic reform across the Muslim world.

The Norwegian Nobel committee is praising Ms Ebadi, one of Iran's first woman judges before the 1979 revolution forced her to step down in favour of men, for seeking to improve the rights of women and children. Ms Ebadi won from a record field of 165 candidates, including Pope John Paul and former Czech President Vaclav Havel.

The committee calls her "a sound professional, a courageous person" who has "never heeded threats to her own safety". "We hope that the prize will be an inspiration for all those who struggle for human rights and democracy in her country, in the Muslim world, and in all countries where the fight for human rights needs inspiration and support," the committee said.
Ms Ebadi says she is shocked by the win. "It's very good for me, very good for human rights in Iran, good for democracy in Iran and especially children's rights in Iran," said the 56-year-old lawyer.

The Nobel prize is worth $US1.32 million and will be handed out in Oslo on December 10. Ms Ebadi is only the 11th woman to win since the prize was set up in 1901. Reaction in Iran reflects the split between President Mohammad Khatami's reformist Government and powerful hardliners. "This prize carries the message that Europe intends to put further pressure on human rights issues in Iran as a political move to achieve its particular objectives," Amir Mohebian, an editor of the hardline Resalat newspaper, said. But Vice-President Mohammad Ali Abtahi, a leading reformist figure, says the announcement is "very good news for every Iranian" and a sign of the active role played by Iranian women in politics. Democracy struggle Nobel watchers say the five-member committee, which includes three women, probably Ms Ebadi as a way of promoting change in a nation once branded part of an "axis of evil" by US President George W Bush with pre-war Iraq and North Korea.

By contrast, a prize to the ailing Pope or to Mr Havel could have been seen as too backward-looking when Alfred Nobel, the Swedish founder of the awards, once said he wanted to inspire the future work of "dreamers". Analysts say the committee has sought to promote moderates in the Muslim world since the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States to avoid stirring conflicts between Christians and Muslims after US-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"She sees no conflict between Islam and fundamental human rights," the committee said. "Her principal arena is the struggle for basic human rights, and no society deserves to be labelled civilised unless the rights of women and children are respected. "In an era of violence, she has consistently supported non-violence."

Many researchers say the Pope's opposition to birth control, premarital sex, homosexuality and female priests seemed intolerant to many people, especially women, despite a 25-year-reign devoted to peace and reconciliation. Former Polish president and 1983 peace laureate Lech Walesa slammed the committee for passing over the Polish Pope. "I have nothing against this lady, but if there is anyone alive who deserves this year's Nobel Peace Prize it is the Holy Father," he told the all-news TVN 24 channel.

No Iranian has previously won the prize. Former US President Jimmy Carter won in 2002, and the United Nations and secretary-general Kofi Annan won in 2001. The last women to win the prize were Jody Williams, the co-ordinator of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines in 1997, Guatemalan human rights leader Rigoberta Menchu in 1992 and Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in 1991.

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

9 OCTOBER 2003

SPRING CLEAN FOR MELBOURNE RESIDENTS

If you are a City of Melbourne resident, you can take advantage of the free spring clean collection during November. Get into the spirit by taking advantage of the garden and hard waste collection on your Spring Clean Day.

Spring clean your garden: (please note the limit is two cubic metres per household) bundles of vines, creepers, weeds, branches and prunings, leaves and lawn clippings, flowers and tree trunks (no more than 20 cm diameter).

Spring clean your home or student house: (please note the limit is one cubic metre per household): white goods (fridges with the door removed, dishwashers, washing machines) and other electrical goods (hot water service, televisions), furniture and mattresses.

How do I participate? Check the dates below to see the Spring Clean Day in your area. Book your free collection no later than 12 noon on the day before your spring clean day: phone CityWide on 1300 136 234 to arrange where to leave the materials. Place the rubbish neatly outside the front of your home on your booked collection day. Spring Clean is a small step towards Melbourne City Council's strategy for Zero Waste by 2010.

Collection times:
Saturday 8 November: Carlton 3053, Melbourne 3000, Parkville 3052
Saturday 15 November: Kensington 3031, North Melbourne 3051, West Melbourne 3003
Saturday 22 November: East Melbourne 3002, Port Melbourne 3207, Southbank 3006, South Yarra 3141
Please note: car parts, building materials, chemical or hazardous waste cannot be collected - for these items, contact EcoRecycle on 1800 35 32 33 or visit www.ecorecycle.vic.gov.au

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

8 OCTOBER 2003

RIDE TO WORK DAY

Wednesday 8 October 2003 is ride to work day. Free breakfast on at Federation Square between 6:30 and 9:00 am. See you there! In time to celebrate of Ride to Work Day, the Council has accepted my proposal that a target of 10,000 bike parking spaces be provided in the CBD by 2010. Fantastic. For more details see the webpage 10,000 Bicycle Parks in the CBD by 2010.

FOREST FRIENDLY ECO-KIT

Lawyers for Forests' Forest Friendly Eco-Kit is an excellent guide to saving paper, and therefore money, which details some easy, cheap and effective ways for your firm to reduce the impact it . It is available as a pdf download (833 Kb) by clicking on the underlined title, or by going to the Lawyers for Forests website. The following description of Lawyers For Forests below is taken from their website.

Lawyers for Forests is an association of legal professionals working to promote the conservation and better management of Australia’s remaining native forests.
Lawyers for Forests believes that the industrial scale woodchipping and clear felling of our native forests is a matter of serious public concern, and we intend to be active on a number of levels to promote awareness of the issue and advocate change.

We believe we can do this by:
* increasing scrutiny of laws and policies which affect native forests;
* demanding accountability from our leaders in business and government; and
* providing proactive legal support to other groups campaigning for change.

Our Statement of Purposes sets out our aims:
* to promote the conservation and better management of Australia’s native forests;
* to increase the accountability of government and business for their forest management policies;
* to stimulate and encourage public interest in the value and importance of protecting native forests and related environmental issues; and
* to provide pro bono legal advice and undertake law reform and policy development activities to further our objects and purposes.

If you have a law degree and would like to assist us, we encourage you to become a member of Lawyers for Forests.

SENATE CENSURES PRIME MINISTER OVER IRAQ

The Senate has backed the Greens motion to censure the Prime Minister over misleading Australia in the reasons for invading Iraq.

"This is only the second time in his 7 Þ years in office that the Prime Minister has been censured by either house of parliament," Senator Brown said. "It is only the fourth censure of a Prime Minster in over 30 years.

The motion, with amendment by Labor, read as follows: That the Senate, notes:

(a)(i) that no evidence has been produced to date by the Prime Minister to justify his claims that as at March this year Iraq possessed stockpiles of completed biological chemical weapons that justified going to war, and
(a)(ii) that the Prime Minister failed to adequately inform the Australian public on intelligence agency warnings that a war with Iraq would increase the likelihood of terrorist activity; and
(b) censures the Prime Minister for misleading the Australian Parliament and the Australian people in his justification for taking this country to war with Iraq.

"The Prime Minister was involved in an unprecedented deceit of this nation, in the most serious matter of sending Australia's defence forces to invade another country.

"Equally, now knowing his reasons were wrong, the PM says of his misjudgement, 'I don't retreat from that one iota'.

"It is appropriate for the Senate to invoke its strongest sanction: to censure the Prime Minister," Senator Brown said.

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

7 OCTOBER 2003

AN INVITATION TO CONTRIBUTE TO OUR SUSTAINABILITY GAME

I am putting out an invitation to all readers to provide a sustainability question and answer for a board game a group of us are developing as part of a Victorian Sustainability Leadership Program called ‘Going Further’. We are asking for a reply by 14 October 2003.

The objective of the game is to raise awareness and change the way people do things.

The sustainability board game will be for 12- 14 year olds (Australian year 7 to 8 students) that we are targeting for use in schools.

We would really value your input by contributing one or more sustainability focussed questions and an answer to the question that game participants could be asked. Questions must be a maximum of 40 words long. Answers must be a maximum of 10 words long. We also invite you to use a further 20 words to expand on the answer and/or to describe where more information can be found.

One of the issues our group is exploring is ‘How should responsibility for achieving sustainability be shared between government, business, the community and individuals?’ so you may choose to incorporate that into how or what question you frame.

To accompany your question and answer, we also invite you to provide a brief description of who you are, with a view to printing your description on the back of the question card. Please provide up to 40 words describing yourself and why sustainability is important to you. You may choose to not provide a description, by providing a question and answer only. That is entirely your choice.

Please note that your question, answer and description may be made public if it is incorporated into the game, and that we are confirming that no commercial rights arise from volunteering a question, answer and your description. We also confirm we need to reserve the right to edit material provided to us, but will endeavour not to do so.

Please reply by return e-mail to david@davidrisstrom.org. Time constraints mean we cannot guarantee we reply to your e-mail.

Here is a summary you might want to cut and paste into your reply e-mail

Sustainability Question: A maximum of 40 words.

Your answer to the question: A maximum of 10 words.

More information and/or where to find it: A maximum of 20 words.

Your description: A maximum of 40 words.

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

6 OCTOBER 2003

PUT CHILDREN FIRST CAMPAIGN LAUNCHED

Denton watchers will have seen the launch of a campaign called 'Put Children First' . I thought it was worth promoting, and have included a description from Fiona Stanley taken from the Put Children First website.

You'd think that with the prosperity and technology that we have in Australia in the 21st century that our nation's children would be the healthiest and happiest that they've ever been.

But something's going terribly wrong. In the past 30 years, nearly every major indicator that we use to measure child health and well-being has actually got worse or stayed the same. Very little has improved.

The causes of this are complex and the solutions will take a big commitment from us all. But the bottom line is quite straight forward.

We, as individuals and as a nation, need to put children first.

This website has been launched to coincide with our new campaign to 'put children first'. We hope to quickly develop this into a site full of information to assist families, government, business - in fact anyone who wants to make a difference - to improve the health and well-being of our children. We look forward to your feedback and hope that you will keep track of our updates.

As Australian of the Year, I think this is the most important issue facing our country. Investing in our children is an investment in all our futures.

All the best, Professor Fiona Stanley AC.

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

5 OCTOBER 2003

GOODBYE JO

Jo Perone, a former transport activist who I worked with at the City of Melbourne has unexpectedly died.

Jo, I will miss you and I am sorry to see you go. Travel well mate. David.

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

3 OCTOBER 2003

GREENS WILL CAMPAIGN TO REFORM THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AS HOWARD ATTACKS THE SENATE

As John Howard goes about desperately looking for his own WMD's, Ways to Manipulate Democracy, in his attempts to reduce parliamentary scrutiny by the Senate, the Greens Will Campaign to Reform House of Representatives. The information below was taken from Bob Brown's website. Senator Brown's discussion paper Greater Democracy for the House of Representatives is available as a 45 Kb word download.

With Prime Minister Howard’s proposal to disempower the Senate set to be released next week, Greens Senators Bob Brown and Kerry Nettle have released a paper summarising the case for modernising and democratising the House of Representatives through proportional representation.

The single best reform in the interest of Australian voters is having the members of the House of Representatives elected by proportional representation, Senator Brown said.

This should be by statewide electorates – as provided for in the Constitution - returning the same number of members as the states currently have in electorates.

The 20% + of Australians who vote for smaller parties and independents would see their vote translate democratically into 30 of the 150 seats in the House. Compare that outcome with the 2001 election in which 5.8 million Australians had a failed vote in the sense that their candidate and party of choice was not elected.

The change would see government and opposition much more responsive to the voters. The undemocratic single member electorate system means more than half the voters of Australia wake up on the Sunday after an election to find the person they voted AGAINST is representing them. Proportional representation puts modern democracy into the House, Senator Brown said.

Proportional representation in various forms has been adopted in continental Europe, Ireland, New Zealand, the new assemblies in Scotland and Wales and for the European Parliament (including for British voters). It is also used in Tasmania, the ACT and many local government elections, Senator Nettle said.

It was a founding fathers’ option and strongly advocated by ‘Founding Mother’ Catherine Helen Spence and is catered for in the Australian Constitution. It requires only an act of parliament, and not a referendum, for its implementation.

The Greens will campaign strongly for reform of the House and defence of the Senate as Mr Howard and Labor campaign against the Senate, Senator Nettle said.

The government has set up a webpage dealing with the proposed changes to the Senate, which can be found at: http://www.pmc.gov.au/docs/constitutionalchange.cfm

The PM's discussion paper is attached. It is also available from:http://www.pmc.gov.au/pdfs/ResolvingDeadlocks.pdf

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

2 OCTOBER 2003

DAVID RISSTROM RE-ELECTED TO AUSTRALIAN CONSERVATION FOUNDATION COUNCIL

Thank you to those of you who voted in the recent ACF election. Following a postal ballot of ACF members, the following people were elected by State to the 35 strong ACF Council.

• ACT: Caroline Le Couteur*, Warren Nicholls
• New South Wales: Penelope Figgis*, Phil McManus*, John Sinclair, Ross Tzannes*, Colleen Watts*
• Queensland: Jonathan Grassby, David Haigh*, Elaine Harding, Lyn Wallace*, Felicity Wishart*
• South Australia: John Coulter, Simon Divecha*, Robert Fowler, Melissa Nursey-Bray*, Katherine Wells*
• Tasmania: Douglas Brown*, Helen Gee*, Anna Hopkins, Karyl Michaels*, Carol Williams*
• Victoria: Georgie Beach, Peter Christoff*, Sandy Cornell, Geoff Mosley*, David Risstrom*
• Western Australia: Irina Cattalini, Nahrel Dallywater*, Andrew Higham*, Angas Hopkins*, Jeff Richardson*

An * indicates that candidate has been re-elected.

The full results can be found on the ACT website by clicking on the underline title 2003 ACF Council Election Results

The material I posted on this site for my re-election can be found at David Risstrom's ACF Council nomination. Please feel free to contact me at david@davidrisstrom.org if you have ideas you would like me to pursue with the ACF.

Return To The Top Of The Page


 

1 OCTOBER 2003

WE DID BUT SEE HERR ROSA PASSING BY

My propensity to open my muzzle more often than banks close their branches has meant Rosa's Rave has had to move to new pages each three months. This page provides my news and views from October 1 2003 to January 31 2004. The pervious edition of current news and views are available by clicking here: News and views July - September 2003 in the guise of Rosa's Rave 2003: Rosa.

 
Return To The Top Of This Page

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.