Placeholder for article about the Australian Greens
On Thursday the fifth of November 2015, local, state and federal representatives from The Greens launched their plan for a “Better More Liveable Melbourne” but what impact will this plan have considering Victoria's population is increasing by a hundred thousand a year (especially when most of the growth is in Melbourne)?
Proposed renewable energy public transport
At first glance it appears that it would have a major impact, especially as the aim of the plan is to invest heavily in a wide range of projects including three new railway stations, schools in the Docklands, fifty new trams running on 100% renewable energy, a railway line to Doncaster and an upgrade of the train signalling system.
Of all of the aforementioned proposals, it would not be unreasonable to expect that the signalling upgrade would be one of the more affordable options on the table, yet the current state Labor government has already abandoned plans to enact this legislation, precisely because it is unable to find the funds.
So how are the Greens going to come up with the money for a range of considerably more ambitious proposals? Their answer is “through fixing the unfair tax system such as abolishing subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, making sure that the big banks pay their fair share and by ensuring that property developers contribute part of their profits to pay for community infrastructure.”
Limitations of current paradigm and time
While this sounds reasonable, there is nevertheless no hope whatsoever of this policy framework becoming reality in time to prevent a much worse infrastructure crisis. The policies are so far removed from the current political paradigm (as supported by The Coalition and Labor) that to rely upon change in the short or even the medium term would be grossly unrealistic. We unfortunately do not have the luxury of buying that kind of time.
On top of a growing infrastructure debt, Melbourne will require an additional 355,000 new homes in the next decade alone, just to keep up with demand. The Greens advocate urban consolidation, whereby urban sprawl is replaced with higher density development, normally located within close proximity to established public transport. So far in Melbourne at least, this approach has turned out to be a major exercise in greenwash, mainly because the whole process is directed by free market economics resulting in a situation whereby very few high-density residential developments are even remotely affordable to people on lower incomes. Even fewer units are large enough to house families. A recent study by Bob Birrell and David McCloskey from The Australian Population Research Institute has highlighted the fact that ninety percent of new apartment approvals in Melbourne are no greater than sixty square metres in size, mainly because they are aimed at investors.
Developer resistance to good planning
The Greens would like to substantially increase affordable housing while also ensuring that stronger design standards are put in place. This approach however is likely to meet massive resistance from powerful and influential development interests who would, as a result, be forced to take a significant cut in profits. The decision to also make developers contribute towards infrastructure projects would further entrench this opposition.
Therefore if we are to be serious about saving Melbourne's food bowl (which is now under severe attack from urban sprawl) as well as its diverse inner suburban neighbourhoods, we cannot afford to wait until the Greens become strong enough in number to substantially increase their political influence. Bad planning (as well as being a gross waste of resources) is almost impossible to reverse and poorly envisioned development is happening now at an accelerating pace.
Deceptive not to inform public that population growth massively increases planning problems
The fact that this situation is being massively exacerbated by rapid population growth is another issue that cannot be ignored. Informing society that it is our environmental duty to live in high density developments is deceptive when in reality it is as much about forcing communities to adapt to a population policy aimed primarily at boosting GDP.
Long-proposed Fisherman's Bend development would absorb less than one year's population growth
Our population is now increasing at such a rate that even if all of the Greens' policies were already in place, it would nevertheless be impossible to implement a workable and effective planning strategy that could keep up with this demand. This is because good planning needs to be well considered and should take into account much more than the housing needs of its residents. To take one example, the proposed Fisherman's Bend development has been on the drawing board for a long period, yet upon completion, it will absorb less than one year's worth of Melbourne's current rate of population growth.
Medium density alternative to high density
An alternative strategy (which is promoted by forward thinking planners such as Professor Michael Buxton) is to increase the density of middle suburbs such as Reservoir and Fawkner. They already contain a substantial amount of infrastructure and much of the post-war detached housing stock contained within them does not come anywhere close to the energy efficiency standards that would be required if they were built today. A substantial proportion of this stock could therefore be replaced with dual or triple occupancy developments complete with access to private open space. This would be in contrast to the higher density alternatives that are being championed in the inner suburbs, where space is much more of a premium.
The fact that the Greens have contested local elections on the premise of protecting the village culture of inner suburb areas such as Prahrarn and Westgarth shows that they too realise that there is a limit to the amount of high-density development that is desirable in their own heartlands. A slower rate of population growth is therefore required in order to limit ad-hoc and unsightly apartment blocks in the inner suburbs in favour of a slower, more graceful transition to town house living in the middle suburbs.
Another option is to put greater emphasis on developing regional towns but again population growth would need to be slowed until the appropriate infrastructure and policies are in place to make this happen. Otherwise, any policy relating to population that is not in tandem with infrastructure and affordable housing targets will greatly impact our ability to plan resilient communities. Persuading people to relocate from the metropolitan area would also be a long process because we are ultimately a nation of urban-conurbations, not boundless plains.
For example, forty percent of Australians live either in Melbourne or Sydney compared to only twenty percent of people who live in England's two main cities of London and Birmingham. Therefore our population growth (which translates to a new Sydney less than every 15 years) is far less evenly distributed than in many European countries which are served with a large network of established regional towns.
Grow our population or grow food?
Some would argue that despite our current poor planning models, Australia nevertheless has an obligation to help ease the burden of heavily populated countries. This however becomes counterproductive if people are forced to increase their environmental footprint simply by virtue of moving here. It would be better to focus on protecting our threatened agricultural land from suburban sprawl for the purpose of exporting food to those countries that are most in need. Population policy should after all be primarily focused on doing the most good for people who need the most help.
The Greens would not lose any support (and would stand to gain a lot more) if they were to continue to advocate for a higher refugee intake whilst also initiating a wide ranging consultation process on population to include urban ecologists, planning experts and climate scientists as well as the general public. A major component of that process would be determining what infrastructure goals need to be reached (such as high speed rail) as a prerequisite to population targets being met.
In the meantime the full scale and urgency of Melbourne's housing and infrastructure crisis needs to be acknowledged and acted on accordingly. The 'Plan For A Better, More Liveable Melbourne' is not nearly enough to save Melbourne but it is not too late. We must act quickly to demand that population policy and infrastructure policy are in sync and that there is a full and open enquiry into Melbourne's planning strategy.
Mark Allen is an ex-town planner and environmental activist with a particular interest in population. He runs workshops on Population, Permaculture and Planning across Australia and runs a Facebook group of the same name. He can be contacted at [email protected]
of 60 Minutes on 10 Sep 2013. For a corrupt, brutal dictator, as
he has been depicted by the Western media, he has shown him-
self remarkably willing to face long and probing interviews,
sometimes even with hostile interviewers.
Most unfortunately for the anti-war movement, even some who oppose Australian military intervention in Syria, including Greens member of Parliament Adam Bandt, accept the claim that President Bashar Al-Assad is a brutal dictator guilty of murdering many tens of thousands of his own people. 1
In fact, Bashar Al-Assad was re-elected President on 4 June 2014 by an overwhelming majority of Syrians. See Syria's press conference the United Nations doesn't want you to see with embedded 52:45 minute YouTube video. 2 This report is of a press conference at the United Nations in New York on 19 June 2014. At that press conference five international observers testified that the elections were conducted fairly. Not one of the journalists present took the opportunity to challenge that testimony. Those, who had reported before and since that Bashar al-Assad was a corrupt and hated dictator, was torturing and murdering his own people, was dropping 'barrel bombs' on civilians, was poisoning Syrians with chemical weapons, etc., etc., etc., seem to have lost their voices on that day, or were absent.
According to the report cited in that article from the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, which can hardly be accused of bias towards the Syrian government, 88.7% of the 73.42% of eligible Syrian voters who voted, voted for President Bashar al-Assad. So, of 15,845,575 Syrians eligible to vote, eligible voters 10,319,723 or 65.13% voted for Bashar al-Assad. What other government in the world can claim this much popular support? Certainly not one of those countries, listed below, which support the terrorist invasion of Syria.
The supposed 'civil war', which has been going on for over four years in Syria, is, in fact an invasion by hordes of sociopaths from many corners of the globe, armed and paid for by the United States, France, Britain, Turkey, Jordan, Israel and the dictatorships of Saudi Arabia. Over 220,000 Syrians have died in that conflict so far. The sanctions, imposed on Syria by the Australian government under the fraudulent pretext of the claim that the Syrian government had murdered 108 of its citizens at Houla on 25 May 2012#fnAb3" id="txtAb3"> 3 , has further impeded the efforts of the Syrian government to fight the terrorists, thereby contributing to that horrific death toll. So, Australia, which shamefully participated in sanctions against Iraq from 1990 and two genocidal wars against in 1990 and 2003#fnAb4" id="txtAb4"> 4 , also has the blood of Syrians on its hands.
If Adam Bandt and others, who have spoken out against Tony Abbott's planned war against Syria, took the effort to learn that the Syrian government is supported by the people of Syria and made that known to the broader public, the task of ending the war would be that much easier.
Adam Bandt I'm also distressed to hear reports that government members are advocating for a discriminatory intake of people who are fleeing the brutality of ISIS and the brutality of the Assad regime. When people around the country saw tragic images of Aylan Kurdi, a 3-year old boy whose body had washed up on the shore, they didn't ask what religion he was. People just said we want to help.
#fnAb2" id="fnAb2">2. #txtAb2">↑ The article was republished from http://www.globalresearch.ca/syrias-press-conference-the-united-nations-doesnt-want-you-to-see/5387795 . The 53 minute embedded video is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZnFQd4wBXnk .
#fnAb4" id="fnAb4">4. #txtAb4">↑ According to Former US Attorney-General Ramsey Clark, as many a 3,300,00 Iraqis, including 750,000 children may have died as result. See Former US Attorney General: US (and Australian) sanctions against Iraq are genocidal (13/1/14) | Candobetter.
Contrary to the expectations of many people living outside of New South Wales, on 23 March 2015 the Opposition Labor Party led by Luke Foley lost the state elections to incumbent Liberal Premier Mike Baird. This was in spite of Labor Party's opposition to privatisation and a grass roots trade union and community campaign against privatisation. 1
In part, the Liberal Party's victory was due to Michael Baird being able to convince some voters that his proposed sale of 99 year leases of the state's electricity network to the private sector was somehow different to privatisation. In her speech of 2/6/15 to the NSW Legislative Council (Upper House), Greens member Dr Mehreen Faruqi, shows that for corporations intending to buy the 99 year leases, as well as the consumers and current owners of the NSW electricity network, there is little practical difference. The Youtube of Dr Faruqi's speech is embedded below and the transcript of the speech from the NSW Legislative Council Hansard is also included. 2
Dr Mehdi Frauqi's NSW Legislative Council speech opposed to privatisation (2/6/15)
Dr MEHREEN FARUQI [6.41 p.m.]: On behalf of The Greens I contribute to debate on the Electricity Network Assets (Authorised Transactions) Bill 2015 and the cognate Electricity Retained Interest Corporations Bill 2015. I thank The Greens members and activists; Dr John Kaye, who has led the fight on The Greens' side; and all the hardworking "Stop the Sell Off" campaigners and union members who have been leading a strong campaign against the sell-off of our public electricity network. It is a disgrace that the arrogance of this Government means it is not willing to listen to sense or public opinion on this issue. This legislation will enable the lease of 49 per cent of the State's electricity network. The word "lease" is misleading; it is de facto privatisation. It is telling that the lease is so long–99 years, in fact–that no-one voting on the bill today will be alive to see this asset revert to public hands, if it ever does. The decision made today robs our children and our grandchildren of public assets. It is a very bad strategy to get rid of these assets and forfeit the resulting revenue that would otherwise flow into the State budget to be used to benefit the people of New South Wales.
Not many in this Chamber will be surprised to hear me describe this move for what it is: completely backward policy. Privatisation of public assets and services fails the community and the "public good" test. Public assets must remain in public hands for the good of us all and for the good of our State. These are assets that generations of Australians have paid for. Once they are sold off, they will not be able to be brought back into public ownership. Handing over our electricity assets to private operators will effectively rule out any large-scale move towards compatibility with innovative energy systems–systems that are green, clean and renewable. Dr Kaye wrote in the Guardian this week that the Baird Government ignores the recent "sea change of technology" in the energy distribution area at its peril. The release of Tesla's battery units is a game changer for everyone. The profit model of the corporate owners of the grid leases will simply not be compatible with supporting a shift towards the local trading of electricity. There is an incentive not to make our grid more efficient and more sustainable.
Members in both Houses have described as a sham the inquiry into this issue that has taken place over the past few weeks. It was an investigation with a predetermined outcome, with narrow terms of reference and no real expectation that it would produce anything other than a positive story for the Government. Indeed, why would the Government have agreed to such a process if there was any serious risk of it jeopardising its privatisation agenda? The issue at the heart of this matter is that this is short-term thinking by a Government that sees benefit in flogging off public assets and getting some short-term cash in advance. That leads me to the issue of expenditure. Perhaps just as worthy as criticism of the lease itself is what the Government is putting on the table as potential investments in order to justify the sell-off. I am concerned that much of the proceeds of the sale will go towards projects that are ill suited to the needs of our State. Particularly close to my heart is the expenditure on roads and transport.
The Government intends to spend almost half of the $20 billion raised by the sell-off of poles and wires on transport infrastructure that will not work for Sydney and will not work for New South Wales. It will not work and it is not in the interests of the long-term future of New South Wales because it effectively locks down a future of road congestion and pollution for the State, and locks us all into a privately operated, unintegrated rail network along the way. Like the electricity sell-off itself, these plans are not in the public interest; they are in the private interest. They are in the interest of the Liberals and The Nationals and their mates. A massive $7 billion will be directed to the Sydney Rapid Transit line. This line is possibly the biggest rail con job in the history of the State. Sydney Rapid Transit involves the extension of the private North West Rail Link shuttle through North Sydney and the city and onto the Bankstown line, with entirely single-deck trains, privately operated and separated from the current Sydney Trains network.
It seems very recently that the Government had us all scratching our heads over its plans to rip up the recently opened Epping to Chatswood line for its private metro service and incorporate the line into the North West Rail Link. The Epping to Chatswood line was only opened in 2009–as many in this Chamber would remember–for $2.4 billion, under the previous Labor Government. Despite the bloated price tag and the failed ambition of extending the line all the way to Parramatta, this is a good service. It works for people, especially those in the North Ryde and Macquarie Park industrial areas and students attending Macquarie University. It is well patronised and efficient, but the Government wants to rip it up to make way for the privately operated shuttle.
With Sydney Rapid Transit on the table, thanks to the sell-off, we know that the Government's ambitions do not stop there. It also wants to rip up the Bankstown line completely and put the privately operated network through there too. This will cause unnecessary and painful disruptions for people on many parts of the network. But the "short-term pain for long-term gain" argument does not hold much weight here either. Unfortunately, there is going to be short-term pain for more long-term pain. There is no doubt that we will need a second harbour rail crossing in the future. We need to look at new services and new capacity.#fn3" id="txt3"> 3 This can be achieved in some part through technology, such as automated signalling, and in some part by expanding the current public transport system, not cannibalising it. The single-deck, low-capacity Sydney Rapid Transit is probably the worst way possible of achieving what we want. It puts in train the wholesale privatisation of the rail system in Sydney, from Rouse Hill to Epping, to St Leonards, to the central business district, to Sydenham, to Marrickville, and all the way through to Bankstown. What is worse, the single-deck service does not even make sense capacity-wise for much of that journey.
The DEPUTY-PRESIDENT (The Hon. Trevor Khan): Order! I note that, while wide latitude is extended to members speaking during the second reading debate, Dr Mehreen Faruqi should ensure her comments are within the leave of the long titles of the bills. I have allowed the member to continue for some time, but I now invite her to consider the legislation that is before the House rather than rail lines.
Dr MEHREEN FARUQI: Thank you, Mr Deputy-President. Of the constituents the Government spoke to regarding the sell-off of the poles and wires, I doubt many knew about the second harbour rail crossing being a private line and cannibalising their current train line. Moving on to the wasteful expenditure of the money acquired from the privatisation of poles and wires, $1.1 billion will go to the WestConnex extensions and a new western harbour tunnel, which will spew further traffic into more of Sydney. It is not enough that billions of dollars are being totally wasted on toll roads that are not solving Sydney's transport problems but more money from the sell-off of a public asset will be thrown into producing more congestion in the city and destroying our environment.
In essence, the community loses profits from a public asset and these will be spent on private motorways for the benefit of private companies. The Transurban Group, which owns roads in all the eastern seaboard capital cities, made a profit of $282 million in the last financial year. This is a textbook example of corporate greed–the transfer of wealth from the public to benefit only a few. Fortunately, there is another way. During the 2015 election campaign The Greens outlined our own way of financing $20 billion through a range of measures, including reinstating the vendor duty, restoring marginal poker machine tax rates and maintaining stamp duties on certain business transactions. This money would be invested in schools, hospitals, energy, housing and transport of the twenty-first century. The Greens showed that through smarter spending we can divert $4.5 billion being wasted on the NorthConnex and WestConnex projects to public and active transport that expands access for the people of New South Wales. We do not have to sell the electricity network. We can get the infrastructure that New South Wales wants and needs by keeping its electricity network in public hands. The Greens strongly oppose the legislation.
#fn1" id="fn1">1.#txt1"> ↑ In part, Baird's victory was also due to the whiteanting of Luke Foley's campaign by elements within the Labor Party, including former NSW Labor Premier Bob Carr and former Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating. See
Former premier Bob Carr crashes in on the debate over privatisation of electricity networks (7/3/15) Daily Telegraph, The Debate: should NSW's poles and wires be privatised? (23/3/15) | SMH, Mike Baird's caution on privatisation may affect NSW voters (8/3/15) | AFR.
Bob Carr's undermining of NSW Labor in 2015 is reminiscent of his undermining of Federal Labor Party's election campaign in 2004 as described by former Labor Leader Mark Latham in The Latham Diaries (2005). See also Ex-Labor treasurer downplays NSW privatisation boost (19/5/15) Herald Sun.
#fn3" id="fn3">3.#txt3"> ↑ Dr Faruqi's claim that a second harbour rail crossing may be necessary could be taken as a presumption that Sydney's population will continue for some years to come to increase at its current rate of growth. In fact, if Sydney does not achieve population stability in the near future, no amount of government investment in the second harbour rail crossing or other infrastructure can prevent Sydney from from becoming a miserable urban slum for most of its inhabitants.
If one checks the policies of the Australian Greens Party ('The Greens') on its website the non-environmental conservation ones are shown with a * (see below).
Of The Greens' 44 policies, some 28 are NOT directly about environmental conservation. Many policies are about Left social justice issues such as civil rights. Nothing wrong with caring for people, but what's happening to the commitment to care for the forests - The Greens bread and butter?
The benefit of taking on a broader policy platform is that The Greens have shrugged off the stigma and core criticism of being only a single issue party (an environmentalist ('green') only party. In doing so, The Greens have become more mainstream.
The problem is that the 'green' effort has been diluted toward human issues with Left socialist and civil rights agendas, which means 'The Greens' label has become a misnomer. 'Green' has become 'Pink'. Many of its policies are now human pink.
Many environmental conservation groups seeking active support from The Greens are invariable disappointed by the thin on-ground support. The Greens do not have a mandate on conservation politics. They don't even in many cases have a contributing presence.
The Greens origins in 1972 with the United Tasmanian Group started out supporting the Lake Pedder Action Group (LPAG) in trying to save Tasmania's Lake Pedder from being flooded for hydro-electricity.
Lake Pedder was eventually flooded. The Tasmanian Greens went on to save the Franklin River in Tasmania
and on to bigger and broader causes. Many of the current policies have now nothing to do with environmental conservation and in so doing have diluted their commitment to environmental conservation.
It's no wonder that many traditional Labor voters are now aligned this political party. Conversely, it is no wonder that The Greens' dilution of conservation has created a political vacuum in environmental conservation politics in Australia.
But you be the judge...
(as at Halloween 2010):
* = policy has nothing to do with environmental conservation
Agriculture & Natural Resources
o Genetically Manipulated Organisms
o Natural Resources
o Sustainable Agriculture
Care for People
o Children and Young People*
o Drugs, Substance Abuse and Addiction *
o Immigration and Refugees*
o Indigenous Australians*
o Older People*
o Sexuality and Gender Identity*
o Social Services*
o Sport and Physical Recreation*
Climate Change and Energy
o Climate Change and Energy
o Biological Diversity
o Environmental Principles
o Marine and Coastal Areas
o Water and Inland Aquatic Environments
Human Rights & Democracy
o Community Participation in Government*
o Constitutional Reform and Democracy*
o Global Governance
o Human Rights*
o International Relations*
o Overseas Aid*
o Peace and Security*
Media, Arts & Science
o Media and Communications*
o Science and Technology*
o Corporate Governance*
o Employment and Industrial Relations*
o Global Economics*
o Sustainable Planning and Transport.
[Source: http://greens.org.au/policies ]
I make four summary observations of The Greens as follows:
1. The original environmental conservation effort of The Greens has been steadily diluted and distracted as the Party has (1) sought more mainstream acceptance and (2) invited under its wing those with non-environmental conservation agendas - I have collectively branded these 'pink' - which is intentionally open to interpretation - 'pale Red', 'alternative lifestyle', 'liberal values', 'civil rights activists', but distinguishably human focused, not environmentally focused!
Hence much of The Greens polices are now grouped under 'Care for People', 'Human Rights & Democracy', and 'Media, Arts & Science.'
The Greens are suffering a classic 'quality for quantity compromise' and in seeking mainstream popularism have become a clichéd jack of all trades and master of none. Worse, they risk alienating their original environmental conservation ideological support base.
2. Scores of socialists and humanists disaffected within Australia's dominant Left-wing party - the Australian Labor Party (ALP) have become disillusioned by Labor's gradual Center-Right direction and by its corrosive factional politics. Many have defected to The Greens. In turn they have influence the direction of The Greens and the Greens in their conciliatory habit have modified their policy effort to adopt more and more 'pink' social justice agenda. With this 'accommodation' The Greens core environmental conservation focus is being diluted by increasing 'pink' 'Left-leaning', social justice policies.
3. The core driver of environmental degradation (including pollution, habitat loss, species extinctions) is the exponential human population increase and the unchecked encouraged consumerism per capita. More people in the same area causes more pressure on the environment - simple logic!
Climate change is merely a background broad incremental consequence; it is the consequence, not the driver of the environmental problems!
Brown and his Greens have sided with the population control lobby but only in vague in-principled support. Reason for the token support is that the new pink allegiances and policies adopted by The greens have inherently compromised the ability of The Greens to achieve a consensus on a population control policy that would be effective in reducing its environmental impact.
The Greens are now beholden to its 'pink' policies on social justice, yet have failed to recognise that both social justice problems and environmental problems are compounded by excesses in human population.
4. The genteel, academic and legalese make up of The Greens leadership has shaped a group think culture of idealistic passiveness with any change management specifying a conciliatory approach. A lack of effective principled 'balls' has meant a failure to take the conservation fight to the protagonists - the selfish property developers, property speculators, stock market, the banks, the growth lobby, the big corporate exploiters, the self-sustainable captains of industry and industrialisation.
Is it then any wonder, with The Greens beholden to a 'pink' agenda displacing their environmental conservation core, that conservation groups are disaffected with The Greens and that we are experiencing the emergence of a fresh wave of political groups fill the political void?
* Australian Protectionist Party
* Stable Population Party of Australia
* Australia First Party (NSW) Incorporated of which I acknowledge being an active member.
If The Greens continue down their popularist vote grabbing 'pink' path, it is only a matter of time before the critical mass of environmental conservation disaffection in The Greens realises a need for an alternative genuine 'green' party to emerge. Personally, a political wing of The Wilderness Society has best chance of achieving that. There is logic in this assessment, but that is another article.
How is this for a coherent ideology: We can protect farmland and wildlife habitat by building zoning fences around our cities which are bursting from the mass immigration which we support. But we cannot and should not build a fence around our nation to protect farmland and wildlife habitat from that same immigrant-driven population growth. We should also densify our cities to lower per capita energy costs, but disperse people to populate our hinterlands at the same time. And we must oppose the corporate agenda of lowering barriers to trans-national movement of goods, but support the corporate agenda of promoting the unfettered trans-national movement of cheap labour. Welcome to the world of the Green-Left. Watermelon Globalists who wear a green coat to disguise a misguided and antique vision of a borderless world. A perverse globalism that markets itself as international solidarity.
It is curious that in the immigration debate---whenever such a debate is permitted to occur------the Green-Left Globalists switch horses in mid-stream.
Within the confines of our national borders, they tell us that what is decisive is not how many people we can accommodate, but where they are situated. The classic mantra is "It is not whether we grow, but how we grow". We can double or triple or quadruple our numbers so long as we steer the population to urban centres, and pack them like sardines in a can to lower their per capita energy consumption and keep greenfield acreage untouched, along with ecologically significant nature reserves. Apart from the fallacy of low-energy urban living, and the political improbabilities of wresting land-use decisions from developer-controlled city councils and regional parliaments, this argument is incongruent with their stance on immigration. At that level of discussion, they tell us that it doesn't matter where people live on this planet, it is only their numbers which should be of concern. Moving people around from country to country, or excluding them from doing so does not address the problem. It is like the proverbial futility of moving deck chairs on the Titanic, they argue. Immigration policy, in their imagination, is not a population policy. Besides, building fences won't keep the global population tsunami from sweeping over us, nor will it keep out global warming. In other words, fences inside our borders are a solution to runaway population growth driven by hyper-immigration, but fences aroundour borders are no solution to runaway global population. Confusing, isn't it?
Now get ready to be more confused. Canadian Green Party leader Elizabeth May, who argues for an immigration quota 25% larger than the Harper government's (already rivalling Australia as the highest per capita intake in the world), has pushed the traditional green line that "smart growth" planning can confine our growing population within ecologically benign urban boundaries. But when faced with complaints that our major cities are already strained beyond liveability by incoming migrants--- the great majority from abroad--- she has called for their dispersal to rural localities, despite the fact that people have left these regions for compelling economic reasons. So now we have a Green Party that tells us that we should squeeze tighter in urban centres, and relocate to the empty hinterland at the same time.
The Green message is now clear. Fences work, but they don't work. Cram into the cities, but settle outside of them. And if you don't like our principles---just wait---we will find other ones for you.
If that is not enough contradiction for you, then along comes the climate-obsessed Eco-Marxists. They oppose the free and unfettered passage of goods across national borders because they oppose the corporate agenda. But they support the free and unfettered passage of people across national border because they support the corporate agenda of smashing the indigenous labour force with cheap imported slave labour. Except that they call their globalism "international solidarity" with migrant workers. Native-born workers and native culture are expendable. And their idea of fighting climate change is to shift people from nations with low GHG emissions to nations of very high GHG emissions, and then look for a technological fix. Go figure.
October 09, 2010
The following article takes the Victorian Greens severely to task . We at candobetter.org are very willing to publish a reply from the Greens explaining their failure to move a motion to replace or to vote against VC71.
Labor and Green MPs' condemned on VC 71
This week Protectors of Public Land Victoria and Planning Backlash both condemned Labor and Green members of Parliament for failing to act to remove the infamous Clause 16 of Planning Amendment VC 71.
VC71 clause 16 was to be challenged by the Liberals on 6 October. Greens were approached to support it and many people expected that support to be automatic. The Greens had voted against clause 16 in an earlier form and it had now reappeared without significant changes. Many conservationists and planning activists throughout Melbourne have seen in the Greens some hope of an alternative to population growth and development uber al. They were aghast to realise that the Greens had finished up supporting the Brumby Government's ecologically unsustainable population growth and this crowning horror of Justin Madden's bad development laws.
But there were signs of this earlier. See "Are the Greens a real alternative?".
Mary Drost, of Planning Backlash, wrote that she was "devastated" to have to tell people that, when the partial debate took place on Wednesday night (the 6th):
Greg Barber, Planning Spokesperson for the Greens, talked so long that the time was up and there was no time for a vote, due to Standing Orders of Parliament. Reading his words in Hansard I am still not sure what he was saying. Some are calling it a "Filibuster" (to avoid a vote being taken). Hence it means that VC71 clause 16 was not challenged and remains in force."
"Even worse," Mary continued,
"On Thursday (the 7th) there was a motion that the Upper House return to Parliament next week to vote on deleting the clause from VC71 motion. The Greens voted with Labor against returning to Parliament, saving the Greens the decision whether to vote for deleting Clause 16 of VC71 and upsetting Labor or voting against the motion and upsetting the community. Well we are upset, we feel badly let down. We condemn those members of Parliament - Labor and Green – for allowing Clause 16 of VC71 to remain in force.
So VC71 stays in and is already being used in VCAT to help developers. It is pie in the sky for Greg Barber to say in his lengthy speech that it can still be got rid of in the new parliament.
Of Clause 16, Julianne Bell, of Protectors of Public Land wrote,
"PPL VIC has long campaigned against such high rise urban development along transport routes and also against the extension of the urban growth boundary. The community has not been consulted over VC 71 but it has been imposed on Melburnians by the Brumby Government despite the extraordinary community opposition demonstrated through Melbourne, including several rallies at Parliament. This plan to line public transport routes with multi storey apartments to accommodate the anticipated increase of one and a half million population had its genesis in the blueprint "Transforming Australian Cities" commissioned by the City of Melbourne and the State Government in May 2009. (This plan was said to have been derived from a South American architect who sought to house former shanty town dwellers in high rise/multi storey apartment units along bus routes.)
Atkinson's opening speech to the motion 6 October 2010
Liberal, Bruce Atkinson, despite the party's formal opposition to Clause 16,
summed up his party's spineless endorsement of Labor's laws to mandate land-speculation and profit at the expense of democracy through high density development, in this piffling piece of hairsplitting:
Mr. Bruce Atkinson (Liberal) speaking to the motion in the Upper House on Wednesday last 6 October : "What concerns us about the government's approach in planning amendment VC 71 is not higher density development per se but the fact that this particular provision is indiscriminate. This provision would suggest that higher density development could run along every major railway, every major bus route, every major tramline throughout the metropolitan area and could quite conceivably involve development along these major transport corridors to a level of five, six, eight or nine storeys and for a significant depth, some 400 metres in, from those transport corridors - those bus routes, tramlines or train lines. That is a very significant change to the character of Melbourne and its suburbs."
"We are not opposed to some of the objectives the government had in arriving initially at its Melbourne 2030 policy — a policy that became discredited in the community and needed to be re-badged as Melbourne @ 5 Million. "
Victorian Greens Greg Barber's hollow words
What did Greg Barber talk about for so long that everyone else ran out of time?
Barber canned both Labor and Liberal for their failure to care for the environment or to provide better policies. All very well, but completely hollow words, for the Greens simply failed to supply an alternative to clause 16. And they all went right along and voted against any further review of Clause 16.
Read the full text at the end of this article,  but here is a stirring and clever excerpt which unfortunately led from nowhere to nowhere and round and round and round until all the allocated time was gone:
[Ed. Excerpt reparagraphed for clarity.]
"Ms Mikakos described this proposal by the government as policy neutral, which is a very post-modern Labor way of saying, ‘The document actually does nothing’ — and I
This document, which appears to update and make changes to the highest level decisions and aims of our planning scheme, does nothing.
We all know with the sorts of environmental, social and economic pressures on our city that doing nothing right now is not really an option. In a way, doing nothing is making a decision.
It allows the invisible hand of the market to have its way, and when you intervene it is usually at the ministerial level, site by site, favour by favour.
Let us have a look at this policy-neutral document in front of us.
If we take Ms Mikakos at her word, it is policy neutral in relation to the supply of urban land, but in fact having just voted on an expansion to the urban growth boundary (UGB), which the Greens opposed, this material anticipates the next extension of the urban growth boundary. It is policy neutral in the sense that we will continue to have the oxymoron known as a growth boundary, which really means sprawl-for-ever.
It is policy neutral in relation to planning for growth areas.
When we debated the UGB and the growth areas infrastructure charge the Greens knew the major issue then was the failure of planning for growth areas, not just in the sense of structure planning but in all the matters that go along with a livable community on a greenfield site.
It is policy neutral — that is to say it does nothing in relation to structure planning, a phrase that first popped up when Melbourne 2030 landed on our city like a group of lost aliens and said, ‘Take us to your leader’, or more importantly, ‘We are in charge now’.
Structure planning was meant to indicate that councils would take control of how development was to occur in activity centres. The amendment is policy neutral in relation to open space, which is to say that the government will continue to chip away at it where it is most needed, where it is already underprovided.
Nothing in this will protect open space, particularly when even what we think of as open space turns out not to be zoned for public purposes. Nothing in this suggests that land used as open space and essential to the community must have an appropriate zoning, let alone the kind of zoning that can just be wiped away in an instant at the stroke of a pen by the minister. That is exactly what happened in relation to the Abbotsford convent until we fought the government back.
The document is policy neutral in relation to activity centre hierarchy because we just do not have one. Sure, we have different forms of activity centres listed in a document, but it does not tell us what will then be the fate of each of those activity centres.
The amendment is policy neutral in relation to employment corridors.
When I asked the minister in hearings with the Growth Areas Authority what the idea of the employment corridors was he could not really explain it to me. Mr Guy is not here and I do not want to verbal him, but I had the same conversation with him. What does it mean?
It says: Develop the following employment corridors: Avalon Airport to Werribee, Melton, Melbourne Airport and Donnybrook (Hume-Mitchell). Who will work there and what will they do? Who said that that will be a great place for a set of industries?
Under this same section transport networks are being provided that will allow circumferential in addition to radial movements. That means that you can be a metalworker living in Werribee and working in Warrandyte and every day on the Western Ring Road you can pass another metalworker who does the opposite and you can wave to each other on the freeway.
The amendment is policy neutral in the sense that the government will just keep on building roads and people will just keep on driving on them. The government will not ask us about how we want the city to develop. We will just follow the cars that have an asphalt truck in front of them.
The document is reasonably policy neutral in relation to central Melbourne because there does not seem to be a vision for central Melbourne. Between the two census periods central Melbourne added 25 000 jobs. Some of the CADs (central activities districts) have only about 25 000 jobs each. If in one census period central Melbourne added the equivalent number of jobs of a CAD, why did that happen? Is that what was intended? What will the government do about it?
Why did the government not buy enough trains to get those people to work?
If the government could not make provision for even those sorts of things, what chance does it have with other CADs in other locations across the landscape?
We absolutely know that the amendment is policy neutral in relation to green wedges because the government has done nothing for green wedges, to protect them and their values, since it has been in power. The green wedges have been there forever. As Mr Atkinson said, the city has always been there and the green wedges have always been there. The government has recognised them in policy occasionally. As with the CADs, the test is what the government did and what this document does to protect and enhance the values of the green wedges. The fact is that they are chipped away every year. "
Such reasonable observations. All talk apparently. The Greens offered up no new motion or recommendation. Perhaps they have some explanation - in which case, we want to hear it and publish it.
Three political parties or one big land-corporation?
All three parties seem to have become completely subservient to the developers and their agenda of growing Victoria (and Australia's) population just in order to promote inflation of their assets and demand for their products. There is much evidence to suggest that the ALP is no longer a real political party but more of a land-development corporation (see articles here), but the absolute lack of real opposition from Greens or Liberals to the way that the Labor government promotes its party's own financial agenda makes observers wonder what the pay-offs are.
Most activists realise now that they cannot expect any kind of democratic reform from the Liberal or the Labor party. But many still had illusions about the Greens.
Maybe Victorians need to realise that branding - as in calling a party "Green" doesn't make it green. I mean, do you buy a dishwashing detergent just because it comes in a green bottle and calls itself 'environmental'? or do you look at the ingredients? Do you vote for a politician because they are a member of the "Greens" or do you look at the politician's record on ecological fundamentals - population, development and democracy?
Parties and politicians need to be judged by their actions and inactions. All the parties have politicians who are only ever seen or heard around election time, often in a photograph with the party leader, endorsing some motherhood cliche.
Others, more sophisticated, have developed a technique of trailing enticing isolated soundbites on issues of significance - population, development and democracy - but if you look more closely, you see that their parties have policies not unlike those of the State Labor government. For instance, check out the Greens' policies on Land-use planning. Not a word about avoiding population growth. Tim Murray's comments here about 'The Green Contradiction' are very apt, even though he is talking about Canadian Greens.
Truly, we are in dire need of new independent candidates. More activists should step forward and give it a go - outside the parties. Consider forming alliances of community independents.
Victorians urgently need someone else to vote for besides the Greens, Labor and the Liberals, or we are doomed. Let us hope for an outcome at the very least similar to the Federal election outcome, which gave the public for the first time in many decades, the possibility of real choice over policy directions.
Julianne Bell of Protectors of Public Lands writes:
"We consider that candidates standing in the forthcoming elections should be questioned on this issue and asked if they would consider acting to rescind Planning Amendment Clause 16, VC 71. We understand that the Liberal Party has recently advertised in a local paper that "a Coalition Government is committed to scrapping John Brumby's planning law changes." PPL VIC will circulate details of candidates election forums. Please send me details of any in your area for which you would like publicity."
On Wednesday October 6th, the Coalition moved a motion to remove clause 16 from Amendment VC71 which Madden had signed 2 weeks earlier. This was a rewrite of the old clause 12 that had been sliced off VC67 earlier in the year, and resurrected in VC71 in the form of clause 16:
This will give developers an easy road to high density high rise development along tram train and bus routes and in and around all hundreds of Activity Centres. (see below quote from VC71 clause 16) This will allow indiscriminate development all over Melbourne. This will enable developers to win easily in VCAT, residents and councils would be rendered powerless in opposing high rise on transport routes and around Activity Centres, including even Neighbourhood Centres.
 Speech by Mr Barber
Hansard: Wednesday, 6 October 2010 COUNCIL PROOF 109 (pp.105-112 includes other speakers)
Mr BARBER (Northern Metropolitan) — It is amazing. It has taken four years and I never thought it would happen, but Ms Mikakos and I agree on something in relation to planning. Ms Mikakos described this proposal by the government as policy neutral, which is a very post-modern Labor way of saying, ‘The document actually does nothing’ — and I
agree. This document, which appears to update and make changes to the highest level decisions and aims of our planning scheme, does nothing. We all know with the sorts of environmental, social and economic pressures on our city that doing nothing right now is not really an option. In a way, doing nothing is making a decision. It allows the invisible hand of the market to have its way, and when you intervene it is usually at the
ministerial level, site by site, favour by favour. Let us have a look at this policy-neutral document in front of us. If we take Ms Mikakos at her word, it is policy neutral in relation to the supply of urban land, but in fact having just voted on an expansion to the urban growth boundary (UGB), which the Greens opposed, this material anticipates the next extension of the urban growth boundary. It is policy neutral in the sense that we will continue to have the oxymoron known as a growth boundary, which really means
sprawl-for-ever. It is policy neutral in relation to planning for growth areas. When we debated the UGB and the growth areas infrastructure charge the Greens knew the
major issue then was the failure of planning for growth areas, not just in the sense of structure planning but in all the matters that go along with a livable community on a greenfield site. It is policy neutral — that is to say it does nothing in relation to structure planning, a phrase that first popped up when Melbourne 2030 landed on our city like a group of lost aliens and said, ‘Take us to your leader’, or more importantly, ‘We are in charge now’. Structure planning was meant to indicate that councils would take control of how development was to occur in activity centres. The amendment is policy neutral in relation to open space, which is to say that the government will continue to chip away at it where it is most needed, where it is already underprovided. Nothing in this will protect open space, particularly when even what we think of as open space turns out not to be zoned for public purposes. Nothing in this suggests that land used as open space and essential to the community must have an appropriate zoning, let alone the kind of zoning that can just be wiped away in an instant at the stroke of a pen by the minister. That is exactly what happened in relation to the Abbotsford convent until we fought the government back. The document is policy neutral in relation to activity centre hierarchy because we just do not have one. Sure, we have different forms of activity centres listed in a document, but it does not tell us what will then be the fate of each of those activity centres. The amendment is policy neutral in relation to employment corridors. When I asked the minister in hearings with the Growth Areas Authority what the idea of the employment corridors was he could not really explain it to me. Mr Guy is not here and I do not want to verbal him, but I had the same conversation with him. What does it mean? It says: Develop the following employment corridors: Avalon Airport to Werribee, Melton, Melbourne Airport and Donnybrook (Hume-Mitchell). Who will work there and what will they do? Who said that that will be a great place for a set of industries? Under this same section transport networks are being provided that will allow circumferential in addition to radial movements. That means that you can be a metalworker living in Werribee and working in Warrandyte and every day on the Western Ring Road you can pass another metalworker who does the opposite and you can wave to each other on the freeway. The amendment is policy neutral in the sense that the government will just keep on building roads and people will just keep on driving on them. The government will not ask us about how we want the city to develop. We will just follow the cars that have an asphalt truck in front of them. The document is reasonably policy neutral in relation to central Melbourne because there does not seem to be a vision for central Melbourne. Between the two census periods central Melbourne added 25 000 jobs. Some of the CADs (central activities districts) have only about 25 000 jobs each. If in one census period central Melbourne added the equivalent number of jobs of a CAD, why did that happen? Is that what was intended? What will the government do about it? Why did the government not buy enough trains to get those people to work? If the government could not make provision for even those sorts of things, what chance does it have with other CADs in other locations across the landscape? We absolutely know that the amendment is policy neutral in relation to green wedges because the government has done nothing for green wedges, to protect them and their values, since it has been in power. The green wedges have been there forever. As Mr Atkinson said, the city has always been there and the green wedges have always been there. The government has recognised them in policy occasionally. As with the CADs, the test is what the government did and what this document does to protect and enhance the values of the green wedges. The fact is that they are chipped away every year. Land values, in farming, the landscape and biodiversity, are in decline in the green wedges. The document is certainly policy neutral in relation to wildfire. That in itself is a minor scandal given that members of this place have spent an awfully long time talking about wildfire and the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission and its recommendations. I go back to what the recommendations in relation to planning are so that we can remind ourselves that they are not being implemented, at least not through this exercise. The bushfires royal commission wanted a number of tasks done. In terms of actual strategic planning, these were the specific recommendations: The state amend the Victoria planning provisions relating to bushfire to ensure that the provisions give priority to the protection of human life, adopt a clear objective of substantially restricting development in the areas of highest bushfire risk — giving due consideration to biodiversity conservation — and provide clear guidance for decision-makers. The amendments should take account of the conclusions reached by the commission and do the following: outline the state’s objectives for managing bushfire risk through land use planning in an amended state planning policy for bushfire, as set out in clause 15.07 of the Victoria planning provisions — It is not there in this effort — allow municipal councils to include a minimum lot size for use of land for a dwelling, both with and without a permit, in a schedule to each of the rural living zone, green wedge zone, green wedge A zone, rural conservation zone, farming zone and rural activity zone amend clause 44.06 of the Victoria planning provisions to provide a comprehensive bushfire-prone overlay provision. The commission then goes on to talk about a number of other changing rules for various decision-makers and referral authorities, including the Country Fire Authority. It suggests some considerable changes being made to those, changes that cannot be seen in the document that is being considered here. It is possible that the government is working on this and it will bring forward another document, but there is no alacrity. There must have been some kind of momentum behind this particular document, which is a complete review, if you like, of the overarching state planning policy framework, but it seems to have overtaken the efforts that we are making in relation to bushfire, which I would have thought were urgent. I spoke about that at length in various responses to the bushfires royal commission, and I have spoken about it in relation to particular planning decisions that have been made since February 2009. I do not really need to speak to it much more but simply point out that the government has failed at that particular hurdle. In relation to the continuing chipping away of productive agricultural land, which is a problem at the urban fringe but also in those leapfrog growth areas such as the Macedon Ranges, again there is nothing in the amendment from the point of view of protecting productive agricultural land, which we can expect to shrink over time under the climate change scenario. Members of the coalition are looking very worried. On a matter of procedure I just want to tell people not to despair because there are two possibilities when we come back here in February. One is that the coalition parties are in government and Mr Guy is the planning minister, in which case they can rewrite this amendment however they want. The second possibility is that we are back here and where we started, at which point this amendment is still a disallowable instrument. The capacity to disallow this or any part of it, including the small part that Mr Guy is going after today, will still be disallowable when we get back here in February, and no doubt in our first sitting week in March, because the clock will not have run out on it. There is plenty of time; there is no shortage of time. I know that some members are looking at the clock. There is no shortage of time, firstly, for the coalition to put out an alternative vision to what is here and, secondly, for Mr Guy to become planning minister, if the planets line up. The worst-case scenario is that if the opposition is fair dinkum about what it is saying tonight, it can come back and make the same motion in February, and it will not have run out of time. It is policy neutral in relation to Aboriginal cultural heritage, but of most concern, I would have thought, to people thinking years down the track is the impact on our rural landscape, which has been under pressure ever since this new form of planning scheme has been in place. Having addressed Ms Mikakos’s issues I now want to pick up on what Mr Atkinson, the mover of the motion, said. He said he is worried that this provision is indiscriminate. Everything in the planning scheme is indiscriminate. ‘Nothing’ means ‘nothing’ under this planning scheme, and that is the way the Liberals, when last in government, designed it. That is the way that Labor, for 11 years, has kept it. It loves it. What we are really debating here is a by-law. There is the Planning and Environment Act, and then there is a by-law to the act, which this thing is. However, what we are told is that it is a wonderful form of law because it is performance-based; it is objective-based. The very things that Mr Atkinson is objecting to today, on behalf of Mr Guy, are in fact objectives; that is all they are. They are objectives to be achieved. We would never vote for an objective-based traffic law. Would we come in here and say, ‘We’re passing this new law and there will be some by-laws worked out later by the minister, but effectively what they will say is that the objective of the traffic law is “Don’t kill people”, and here is a table of preferred maximum speeds’. It would be like these preferred maximum heights that the Liberal-Labor coalition is so keen on when it comes to every other aspect, including the Windsor Hotel, which we could have had a crack at if we had had our chance. Preferred maximum speeds are designed to achieve more objectives. As a driver you can consider the different factors at play. There will be a list. There will be decision guidelines underneath that you have to check off. If someone says you are doing the wrong thing, you go to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, spin the wheel of fortune and argue about whether or not you were speeding. At VCAT you can bring in various kind of road consultants, perhaps physicists, mechanical engineers and so forth to prove that on balance — not as a matter of law, but on balance, when all the different parts of the decision-making guidelines are considered — that you were generally compliant with the preferred maximum speed on the Geelong Road. That is an extremely contrasting example, I have to say, but this is an extremely important issue. We are trying to do some really important things here — maybe not as immediately important as road safety, but important for the entire fate of all the people who live in Melbourne. It is sometimes their physical wellbeing, sometimes their access to buildings, if the question is accessibility and sometimes their ability to afford a house, if the question is affordability, which we can come back to when we debate this motion a bit further. It is very much their direct and daily welfare, but it is also our shared welfare. It is our social, economic and environmental future. It includes things such as biodiversity, which we want to pass on to generations to come and which in a way are not really ours to mess with. We might think we are the Parliament, that we are elected and that people gave us the job to make a lot of decisions, but there are certain decisions that I think should be virtually out of bounds because they are for future generations. We might pride ourselves on being in a liberal democracy, but it was a reasonably democratic liberal democracy that sat down and made the very considered decision to kill all the Tasmanian tigers. Unfortunately today’s Tasmanian Parliament does not get to vote them back into existence. When it comes to matters of biodiversity, environment and the future legacy we leave to our children and grandchildren for many generations to come we have to be extraordinarily careful in the way we exercise that power. Mr Atkinson said he was worried about consultation in relation to the way planning schemes were amended, if I understood him correctly. The mechanisms for consultation and having your say under amendments to the planning scheme I would say are fundamentally the same as they always were under the Kennett government that created this architecture. The bigger question, though — and there is no doubt that Mr Atkinson thinks very deeply about these things — is the proper planning of the city. He said it is the major issue. He said the opposition is not opposed to high density. He said it is not opposed to a number of other things as well. Unfortunately over the four years I have been here I have discovered to my cost that the opposition is not opposed to development assessment committees. It was opposed to them for a while. Then it got scared and decided they were all right. The opposition is not opposed to urban sprawl. It is not opposed to the growth areas infrastructure charge. It is not opposed to raking in the same sorts of donations from developers that the government of the day does, but the opposition thinks the donations are a bit cleaner in its hands simply because it is not the government writing these planning schemes at the moment. However, the opposition is writing them because ever since the Greens have been here we have been bringing these matters up for debate, and the opposition was never opposed to Mr Madden’s intervention on the Yarra River down there at Richmond or down there on the bay — — Mr P. Davis — Yes, we were, actually; some of us were opposed to that. Mr BARBER — No, you may have been opposed, but you did not vote that way, Mr Davis. And you were not opposed to Mr Madden’s intervention down there in Williamstown, despite the fact that the entire community, Joan Kirner, Steve Bracks and the local council were all opposed to that intervention.
The Greens were opposed to it too. The coalition and the Labor Party were not. There is a certain point when you need to be opposed to a few things. It is a good start to say what you are against, what you are not for. If you can go on from that, you can start talking about what you are in favour of. I am in favour of all the things the government lists in its table here. That is what planning is for — it is to allow for changing things we want to change and protecting things we want to protect. Unfortunately Ms Mikakos’s policy-neutral document does not give those sorts of things the protection they need, and therefore I am against it. I am against the lack of protection in Ms Mikakos’s planning scheme, inherited from those guys. Mr Atkinson quite rightly pointed out that in established areas we need infrastructure. He was talking about drains and sewers, but there is a lot more to that when you are running an inner city or even middle suburban municipality. It is very important. That is why the Greens support enhanced developer contribution plans, not just out in the greenfield areas where you have the growth areas infrastructure contribution now but also in established areas where the question of infrastructure provision is a lot harder. The densification builds up very quickly. You cannot simply create new open space. You cannot always shoehorn in community infrastructure such as child-care centres; it is very expensive to do so. What you are really doing is site-by-site development. You are supposed to be giving the money to councils so they can provide something for all of the residents, both established and new, but the trigger is new. If you have ever tried to deal with one of these developer contribution plans, you know it is an absolute nightmare. The way it is structured under the planning scheme and under the Planning and Environment Act makes it not worth doing. It is hopeless. Some councils have looked at doing them. I know the City of Darebin did one and it has barely collected any money from it so far. It probably has not even paid back the cost of going through the exercise, which the government forced it to do.
Business interrupted pursuant to standing orders.
The reasons The Greens remain a marginal alternative party are:
1. They exclude those not ideologically 'green', so alienation keeps them alienated from the mainstream
2. They do not translate their idealistic ideology into pragmatic shovel-ready policy initiatives with dollar values and immediate costed implementation plans; so they remain perceived as a futurist think tank, not regarded as a real-time alternative executive government.
Take the dominant election issue of overpopulation. The Australian Greens have an Immigration and Refugee policy listed under their category 'Care for People'. But they also have a Population policy under their category 'Environment'. This categorisation may seem odd, but the logic is that population is an underlying driver of environmental damage.
I have read The Greens population policy. It logically is grouped into 'principles', 'goals' and 'measures' (or policy initiatives).
The Greens 'population principles' are about factoring the impacts on the environment and society and living standards. They recognise the issue is complex and include issues like women’s rights, unsustainable resource use, inequitable distribution of wealth and power, multiculturalism, international human rights, the shortsightedness of being driven by economic goals, the ageing population and geographical distribution.
The principles and goals are what the Greens are good at.
But getting straight to the 'measures' or policy initiatives for the 2010 election, this is the motherhood waffle, and I quote their 5 vague 'measures':
1. Support, through extensive community consultation, a population policy directed towards ecological sustainability in the context of global social justice.
2. Work to achieve a sustainable relationship between humans and the environment by taking action:
- in Australia, including planning, consultation and a whole of government approach, to improve equity in consumption levels and resource and technology use; and
- globally, to improve social and economic equity and promote programs that empower women.
3. Implement the 1994 United Nations International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action as endorsed by the Australian Government (this is humanitarian immigration and relevant to refugees not population)
4. Ensure that Australian family planning programs, both domestically and overseas, are adequately funded to deliver services in the context of reproductive health programs which increase the power of girls and women to determine their own reproductive lives, and increase the understanding of men of their reproductive responsibilities.
5. Prepare contingency plans for possible large scale humanitarian migration as a result of climate change.
Translated in simple terms, the above 5 measures mean:
1. A population policy so vague as to be anything they want it to mean
2. Make population environmentally sustainable somehow, ensure opportunities are made fair for all, and empower women.
3. Implement an 1994 international obligation on refugee acceptance
4. Improve family planning education to prevent unwanted pregnancies
5. Get ready for massive future refuge intakes.
Don't get me wrong, The Greens have some good ideas and frankly they are more 'forward thinking' than the LibLabs media reactions. But I don't support The Greens per se.
The are too pie in the sky! They come across as intolerant of compromising their environmental mandate with mainstream values of liberalism and work opportunity.
If the Greens come own from their ivory tower, resolve their cultural impasses and get relevant and pragmatic - then they may stand a chance of attracting the mainstream vote.
Until then, green pigs fly!
But the Greens need to learn from past rejection. They need to recognise that evolutionary pace dependent upon protest votes is unsustainable. Laissez Faire Greenness is delaying Green credibility by the mainstream and with recent trends it may be 2050 before Greens get a leg in.
The Greens need to get real, else bring on an alternative Liblab alternative with more than a single policy platform!
The political vacuum across Australia exposed by the LibLab boomer industrial thinking, and abandoned by the Democrats and lost in the rural wilderness by the Nationals, won't wait for no party.
Australian disenfranchisement with politics will not last long. Australia's political landscape is set to change.
Set population at infrastructure, environment capacity through national inquiry
Media release of 14 March 2010
On Monday the Greens will move a motion calling on the Government to establish an independent National Inquiry into Australia's Population to 2050.
“Australia’s population should be determined by the capacity of our environment and our infrastructure,” said Australian Greens Leader Bob Brown.
“Australia cannot support an increase in population to 35 million by 2050.
“Immigration should not be stopped.
"In fact Australia should increase its humanitarian immigration program, but we need to reduce our skilled migration program and balance that reduction by investing in skills training for Australians.
“National population policy is the responsibility of government; it should be responsive to national and global factors.
“Global population is expected to grow from 6.8 billion people now to 9.2 billion by 2050 and Australia should be taking a lead in finding global solutions.
“That should include increasing Australia's overseas aid budget to 0.7% GDP now with more funding for literacy and reproduction health programs for women and girls.”
Media contact: Erin Farley 0438 376 082
Senator Bob Brown | Leader of the Australian Greens
Suite SG-112 Parliament House, Canberra ACT
P: 02 6277 3577 | M: 0438 376 082| F: 02 6277 3185
Editorial comment: If this represents a final departure by the Greens from years of avoidance of this most critical of issues, occasionally interspersed with seemingly tokenistic short-lived pronouncements against population growth, then we welcome it, but we will believe it when we see it.
What you can do: contact your Senators (Qld, NSW, ACT, Vic, Tas, SA, WA, NT) and ask that they support this motion. Please let us know of any responses or lack of. Join, campaign and vote for, a party opposed to population growth (see below). Put pro-growth parties last on your ballot form.
See also: "Greens call for population inquiry" of 14 Mar 10 on ABC news Online, Greens' Senate media page, "Are the Greens a real alternative?" of 9 Mar 10, the Stable Population Party of Australia, the New Australia Party and the Animal Justice Party.
Tasmania's forest industry has rejected a Greens plan to ban logging in high conservation value forests. The Greens says 300 jobs would be lost but more than 700 created through the strategy. Even job creation is not enough to move the die-hard destructive mentality. Both Labor and Liberals support Gunns pulp mill and neither is proposing any new forest reserves.
Trees up to hundreds of years old cannot be replaced overnight, despite how "sustainable" the logging is supposed to be!
Governments fail to see the value of forests when they can't see the trees as anything but resources to plunder, or "manage", for economic benefits and jobs.
Tasmania's forest industry has rejected a Greens plan to ban logging in high conservation value forests. The Greens says 300 jobs would be lost but more than 700 created through the strategy. Even job creation is not enough to move the die-hard destructive mentality. Both Labor and Liberals support Gunns pulp mill and neither is proposing any new forest reserves.
Mr Bartlett signalled that on the hot topic of forestry, Labor wanted to ensure the logging of old-growth forests would continue in the long-term. I believe old-growth will always be part of Tasmania's (forestry) mix.
The manufacture and sale of high value products from special timbers provides employment for more than 2,000 Tasmanians and generates about $70 million for the state each year. The vast majority of wood from these forests (approximately 80%) goes into short lived products such as paper and cardboard which decompose and release carbon very quickly. So, carbon storage in wood products can never make up for the loss of carbon storage in old growth forests.
An alliance of forestry companies in Tasmania has launched an advertising campaign warning of the risks to the economy if all old growth logging is stopped. Forests remain silent inside the consciousness of people who are environmentally illiterate!
Governments fail to see the value of forests when they can't see the trees as anything but resources to plunder, or "manage", for economic benefits and jobs.
Who will publicise the risks to our heritage, our air, water, homeless native wildlife, and additional greenhouse gas emissions when old-growth forests are destroyed? By their very nature, these trees take hundreds of years to replace themselves, yet we, the public, are supposed to be so myopic that the ephemeral financial returns from logging old growth forests should over-ride the value of these ancient sentinels, guarding the wealth of natural ecosystems?
It may appear as if nothing is changing in forests, but countless natural cycles are silently at work every day and night. Old growth forests have a high level of biodiversity, and logging causes disturbances and destruction.
Conserving the nation's forests and woodlands is one the easiest, cheapest and fastest ways that we can start to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve carbon storage.
Many of the RFA old growth forests protected in Tasmania consist of trees of little use to the timber industry. Despite repeated requests for solid evidence supporting such ‘statistics’ as “90% of the Upper Florentine Valley is reserved from logging,” data and maps supporting such claims have failed to materialise. We do know, however, that most of the ‘protected’ country in the Upper Florentine consists of buttongrass, scrub and high-altitude moorlands, with very few tall-eucalypt forests reserved. Only 22% of Tasmania’s original tall-eucalypt forests have been reserved.
Tasmania is the largest exporter of woodchips in Australia, exporting more than all the other states combined.
This year, ironically, is the UN Year of Biodiversity, and next year is the Year of Forests.
As our population swells, more natural resources such as forests will be considered as assets to plunder for economic benefits! Our natural heritage, and ecosystems, are continually under threat from industry and developments.
We are already world-leaders in wildlife extermination, and Tasmania is famous for the genocide of its indigenous people, destroying Lake Pedder, exterminating the Tasmanian Tiger and for the current threats to the Tasmanian Devil. Logging native forests destroys homes, creates stress and robs wildlife of habitat. We humans are not part of their ecosystems, and removing trees increases fire risks.
Unless we declare all our old-growth forests and remaining native vegetation as part of our national park system, the logging mafia will continue to threaten, bully and dominate our State governments.
(Photo: devastation at the Styx old growth forests - Wikipedia commons)
A recent poll shows the Labor government of Premier David Bartlett is in trouble, with the Greens polling well. Unless there is a late surge in support for David Bartlett's Labor or Will Hodgman's Liberals, one or other of them will be governing in minority after March 20, ending 12 years of ALP majority rule.
People can relocate, retrain and be resourced in other industries. Trees up to hundreds of years old cannot be replaced overnight, despite how "sustainable" the logging is supposed to be!
(photo: Styx logging sign)
Our old-growth forests do not owe us, non-indigenous people of Australia, a livelihood. We owe it to next generations a nation with its natural wealth intact and viable through preservation, and honouring our heritage and non-human species.
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Environmentalists might expect Green MLC Greg Barber, to back another environmentalist, Kelvin Thomson, rather than supply quotes that could make him out unfairly to be racist. Wedge Politics we don't need from Mr Barber MLC who represents the Northern Metropolitan Region of Melbourne in the Legislative Council at State level, which Kelvin Thomson represents in the Lower House at the Federal level. What's going on? Are the Greens for real?
Population and Environment and the Greens
Over the years I have had conversations with people about the riddles in the Greens' strangely contradictory environmental policies and their mysterious priorities. Yet there is something of the hearty gym mistress and the scout master about them that inspires us, Charlie-Brown-like, to trust them again and again at the polls. We think, they must mean well, or that they are better than the rest, or ...
Lassie come home
Recently someone said to me that maybe they are just out there to confuse us. Are they, he suggested, really working with the Libs and Labs and Big Media, as a kind of border collie, to keep us sheep from straying too far from the farm? The dog looks friendly and competent. It's cute. We tend to trust it because it doesn't actually own the farm. But it works for the farmer.
During the past two weeks my uncertainty has been overtaken by a feeling of déjà vu.
Wedge Politics we don't need; Mr Barber plays the race-card
Firstly, I read an article in the [growthist] Melbourne Times (Fairfax media), "Welcome to Australia - Now that's enough," by Bianca Hall, (Wed.3 Feb, 2010, p.4.).
The logic of this article is amazingly contrived and reads like an excuse to cite Greg Barber of the Greens apparently slurring the motives of Kelvin Thomson's 'Population Reform' as racist in a most unfair way:
'Mr Thomson argues net overseas migration should be dramatically cut from 2007-08 rate of 213, 461 to 70,000 migrants. To slow down the birth rate, Mr Thomson would cut family tax benefits to new recipients who had more than two children and redirect the money to education and workplace training.
Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows fertility rates are higher for Australian women born in largely Muslim countries, including Turkey and northern African countries. Almost 30 per cent of people in Mr Thomson' electorate were born in non-English-speaking countries.
State Greens MP Greg Barber said the plan threatened to target Muslim families.
"Whether Kelvin understands it or not his policy selectively targets predominantly Muslim people and punishes them for having that third child," Mr Barber said. "We know what gets birth rates down - the empowerment of women, with contraception, access to education and participation in the workforce."'
Frankly I was gobsmacked and furious. You might expect the developers to try something like this, or the Libs, but a Green? You never know, however, when there is a logical explanation, so I decided to write to Mr Barber himself and ask for it. I sent the following on 24-2-2010:
"#LetterToGregBarber" id="LetterToGregBarber">Dear Greg,
I must congratulate you on your statements in parliament about water reproduced here about bulk water entitlements as well as on your stand against disempowering councils.
I have been a little shocked however to read you as quoted in the article I have reproduced below from the Melbourne Times.
It looks like the worst kind of wedge politics.
1. I would like to know whether you were correctly cited in this article.
2. [name withheld] tells me that you may have been cited out of context - if so, could you explain a little please?
3. This is what the article makes you look as if you are doing, in my opinion:
- trying to knock out ALP competition
- or doing the ALP a favour by playing the race card against someone who is leading the battle for the environment and democracy against overdevelopment, overpopulation, by tagging them with an unfair race-card where the (extremely corrupt and unfair) ALP may not dare to do so itself
- playing to a voting sector which is identifyable as muslim
- stimatising muslims specifically as overly productive of children, uneducated etc
- playing wedge politics
- maybe preparing a seat in the Labor party for yourself
I hope to hear that none of this is true and that you are instead cooperating as much as possible with Mr Thomson, who has shown great courage and leadership.
By the same token, if there is something unfair going on between the two of you and you were reacting, I am sympathetic to an explanation there.
I am trying not to make judgements without full inquiry.
I know how fraught politics and environmental movements are with this kind of thing.
Yours for reform in democracy, environment, population, land use planning and energy policy,
Strange silence from Mr Barber
I never received a reply from Mr Barber, although I spoke to a person at his office several times and exchanged emails with that person, and was led to assume I would at any moment receive a reply. (See #comment-4310">below for a very brief response to another voter.) I made it very clear that I was dead serious in seeking an explanation and also that I was absolutely furious that someone was apparently trying to pull the racist card to shut up Australia's perhaps single most courageous, ethical, effective and environmentally literate politician - an ALP long-stayer who was standing up for democracy, despite his party. I said that I would write an article on the subject and so it was important for him to defend himself.
Save the Bush Rally on 24 February
The same morning I wrote to Mr Barber, I travelled to the Save the Bush Rally which took place on the steps of Melbourne Parliament. It was here that I finally lost patience with the Greens.
Speakers included Sue Pennicuick, Greens MLC, Rosemary West, of the Green Wedges, Colin Long, Greens Upper House Candidate, Damon Anderson, of Coomoora Reserve, and Gillian Collins, of the Pines Flora and Fauna Reserve. (Were all of them prospective candidates?) All made speeches about how development was being pushed through by Mr Brumby's government and how this was threatening bushland and how the Greens would provide more public transport.
Complicit Silence on how Overdevelopment has been politically contrived
No scheduled speaker mentioned why more roads or public transport are necessary. The silence on how their necessity had been politically contrived was absolutely deafening. The Greens' failure to expose how the Government is driving the overpopulation it is using as an excuse to force undemocratic development only protects this gigantic dystopic rort.
Sadly, not one Green said anything to the effect of, "We will expose this dishonesty and try to stop the overpopulation of Melbourne."
I know that Gillian Collins and Rosemary West are fully aware of the population growth corporate connection. Yet only one woman, Mara from Banyule, even mentioned that the bush is threatened by population growth. All the honour of the day for honesty and relevance goes to her. She was not even on the written Agenda. She should have been writing it.
The 'green' silence from the rest of them on the government elephant-in-the-room push for overpopulation seemed nothing short of shameful cowardice or cynical complicity. The population cat is well out of the bag, yet it seems that the Greens, of all parties, want to stuff it back in again - at the peril of our wildlife and democracy.
Why? What have they got to gain by protecting the bad guys?
I was furious that I had travelled from an outer suburb and ruined my day for more profitable pursuits only to hear a line-up of wanna-be-politicians using a captive audience to monger motherhood statements which would mostly sit happily on the billboards of new estates and the websites of corporate water-speculators. Many of those assembled in support of the speakers were battle-scarred environmental fighters who remained quiet while the glorified clichés were trotted out for the television cameras. Some dedicated naturalists and ecologists held banners and filmed the event, all of them waiting for some leadership.
They got nothing.
A trial of patience; an abuse of supporters' time
When Sue Pennicuick self-congratulatingly asked the crowd who they were going to vote for (meaning the Greens), an angry spectator called out, "Kelvin Thomson!" There was a murmur of approval from the long-suffering audience.
Another spectator handed round stickers with "Say No to Melbourne at 5 Million" and someone else was distributing leaflets exposing the identities of organisations that push population growth, which included numerous developers and the Victorian Government with its site, "www.liveinmelbourne.com.au". The audience gratefully accepted the leaflets.
There was no-one else there, apart from the speakers, who wanted to keep the lid on the scandal of the population-growth lobby and the government's role in it. A brilliant opportunity was lost to educate the press on the steps and the pedestrians watching from the other side of Spring Street about why the government is corrupt and how the government pushes population in cahoots with the developers, then makes laws to force Victorians to accommodate the interests of this group. (See the Brumby government's links with the Property Council of Australia and the Live in Victoria Government website to attract immigrants at "Living in a Destruction Zone" and Minister Justin Madden's increasingly barefaced attempts to overturn any democratic restraint on the government's development despotism.)
Political corruption in Australia
I rode home on the same train as one of the wildlife activists. On that train there was also a man who had just published a dictionary of Australian political terms. He was a born and bred ALP member and I asked him if he had ever heard of Labor Resources or Labor Holdings. He hadn't. I told him about them. It seemed to me that a faint glint of horror animated his misty eyes for a moment, but he quickly suppressed it.
"They all do it", he replied, like a long-suffering adult on the antics of teenagers. I half expected him to add, "But they will grow out of it."
Yes, all the parties do it. "It" is the use of holding companies for donations which are then declared as coming from the holding companies rather than from their many corporate donors. This is a problem but it is the amount and the kind of assets that the ALP holds at state and Federal level plus their political power and their demonstrated abuse of it which is frightening even to the Liberal-National Party.
I tried to describe how the scale of the corrupt system was beyond any before and now grotesquely magnified by the ALP's dominance over every parliament in Australia. "They are nothing like the Labor Party is supposed to be anymore," I added.
"Oh, but they're better than the alternative," he intoned, reciting his true believer catechism, with a smug smile.
"It's like a religion," said the onlooking wildlife activist. "They are brainwashed from birth."
Politics as religion
She is right. For many people, politics is the same as a religion. You just don't question the church that you were born to: Labor or Liberal: each is better than the alternative.
Or, if you're a bit rebellious, there is the alternative alternative religion - The Greens.
But it seems to me now that they are all different brands selling the same thing. They are all selling overpopulation to the masses, but each of them is selling a different brand. The Labor Party is selling overpopulation as economic growth. The Liberals would be selling it this way but they cannot out-do the ALP at the moment. The Greens are selling overpopulation as Public Transport and the Socialist Alliance is selling it as bicycles. But they are all trying to sell it to us. Like Mr Madden and Mr Brumby and Mr Rudd, they aren't really interested in democracy and what we, the electorate think. They are all seeking niches within the territory defined by the corporate growth lobby.
Mainstream Media role in our loss of democracy
For many years now the extent of this collusion has been kept safely away from public knowledge by the commercial and the public media in Australia. Indeed it looks to me as if the commercial media - notably the Murdoch media, but including the Fairfax media - have been able to shape the policies and and promote the people who have come to form our useless political parties and the corrupt ideology of material progress.
The structure of print, television and radio media has permitted ownership in a few hands which have dominated public information and allowed the entrenchment of corporate interests over democratic rights. For me it is frankly impossible now to see the difference between the Government and the commercial Property, Banking and Media groups (all interchangeable themselves), especially with Stephen Mayne's uncovering of Labor Party investments cultivated with Wayne Swann and Kevin Rudd working for Wayne Goss whilst in opposition in Queensland. Yes, Mayne's investigations were published in the mainstream, but the mainstream doesn't connect the big dots and it won't effectively publicise any alternative parties or changes to the system which might combat the rot.
The situation is like the one in the 16th century, where the Holy Roman Empire had evolved from the Roman Empire and controlled kings, public ideology and institutions. The situation seemed utterly hopeless until the rise of a new technology - printing.
Who will fight the Evil Empire again?
In the 16th century Martin Luther nailed the 95 theses to the Church door at Wittenburg. Soon copies were printed and spread all over Germany.
Unfortunately, with the discovery of technologies for smelting iron directly with coal, new kinds of institutions arose - those of capitalist corporations. The corporations built towns and re-organised people as anonymous cogs, with loyalty to employers overwhelming loyalty to family and friends, isolated from any true community or personal independence. Gradually the corporations were able to dominate human institutions all over again, under the ideology of 'Progress', (See for instance, "Courier-Mail beats up on public for complaining about cost of 'progress'"), ironically taken from protestant values.
Things may be changing again, however. Today the 'common people' - as long as they can read and write and have access to computers - may be able to take back power from the Dark Towers (to use Tolkien's ever-useful terminology for the rise of corporate control) via a new technology - and that is the Internet.
It seems however that we should not rely on the Greens to challenge the dark commercial hegemony of the overpopulation and development lobby.
If Australians cannot place their faith in the Greens, recently some real dissidents have arrived and posted something new on the church doors of the Internet: Kelvin Thomson - a brave leader in waiting for the Labor Party or for a new party or a man who may lose ALP-preselection for his courage and hence could eventually run for the Senate on Mr Barber's turf; the Stable Population Party, the New Australia Party, and the Animal Justice Party.
I will be happy to be shown to be wrong and anyone who feels misrepresented by this article is very welcome to post an article in reply or to comment. I am happy to publish any response from Greg Barber. I will be more than happy to eat every word of criticism here of Greens and speakers at the rally if only I receive an explanation. Candobetter.org is a free press and we welcome true debate.
See also: Greens support Madden's Bad Law VC 71 in black week for Victoria, Australia of 11 Oct 10, "Tasmanian Greens and the terror of coalitions" of 24 Mar 10 on Online Opinion and related discussion forum.
The monthly council meeting in February 2010 was one of the worst bullying sessions of our only Green councillor, Cr Milne I have so far witnessed. Cr Holdom moved that a limit of 5 questions, 3 minutes each for councillors. This motion arose due to the extreme meticulousness of Cr Milne in researching issues pertaining to environmental protection that some other 'green platform' councillors don't appear to take so seriously, making meetings longer than they wish.
Why the kowtowing to developers? Cr van Lieshout said in a meeting some months ago “We must remember that the developers are our clients.” Cr Milne's relentless pursuit of sustainability in development would impose a financial burden on developers - so said Cr Skinner who pointed out this might aggravate developers.
How quickly the council forgets Cr Milne got the most votes in the history of Tweed elections. Cr Longland would not have even gotten in if not for her preferencial votes. Council should be following her lead, not be treating her in a patronising and disrespectful way. She is the one who is doing the wishes of the majority of Tweed residents.
I thought that one councillor was especially rude to Cr Milne and I could not help thinking of how low that councillor's vote had been in comparison to hers and wondered if he was a tad jealous.
Cr Milne's motion some months ago to request the State government to reclaim Kings Forest and Cobaki Lakes as a nature reserve instead of allowing them to be developed into mini cities would have been the best move for the 450 species there, over 30 of which are endangered. Yet not a single councillor seconded it. As a result our population is set to double with 80,000 more people in the near future. There is barely enough infrastructure (water, hospitals, schools, police, roads, nursing homes etc) to cope with the number of people here now let alone twice as many and with state coffers empty what chance in the forseeable future of such needs being met?
So now Tweed Shire Council has Byrrill Creek Dam as one of four water management options to service the people living at these new developments. This area has the most riparian conservation status, more platypus and is the most pristine creek in the Tweed with koala colonies, 15 endangered species, wildlife corridors and backs onto World Heritage national parks. A dam would destroy this area forever and for what? The average lifespan of a dam is only 50 years and the cost to taxpayers around $58 million.
Why not follow the lead of Singapore (and other countries), one of the most densely populated cities in Asia, who went from buying almost all of their water from Malaysia back in the '70s and in the last 9 years have been using a combination of recycled, storm/rainwater (pumped into reservoirs) and desalinated water. As a result they now produce 60% of their own water and only import 40% of their water and in a year or two will be totally self-sufficient. Wouldn't Tweed council be wiser to consider these options? (See http://www.abc.net.au/rn/rearvision/stories/2010/2813056.htm#t ).
The U.N. declared 2010 as the Year of Biodiversity as species loss every day is between 100-1000 times faster than before. The number one cause of species extinction is habitat loss, especially freshwater ecosystems. There is no requirement on dam owners to account for species at risk after the dam is built. Tragically, many world governments are planning big, destructive dams in biodiversity hotspots.
What kind of future is this for our kids? Clearly Tweed Councillors are not thinking of a sustainable future, just endless growth. That's what happens when you serve developers and not the people.
More examples of the 'Good Old Boy Network' in action:-
SUMMARY OF FEBRUARY 2010 COUNCIL MEETING
(By Cr Katie Milne)
* Councillors voted to restrict debate to three minutes and the number of questions to five.
* They refused to include in the general manager's submission to the rally review any issues on environment, social, indigenous or economic matters.
* They cancelled the workshop for 'Positive Development' which is the latest theory in sustainable urban design (Ed:even though Cr Milne offered to pay the $1,000 fee herself)
* They refused to allow questions about infrastructure costs and traffic issues around Cobaki Lakes and Kings Forest mini cities.
* They did request a review of sustainability and other factors on the above two proposed estates from the state government but this only lasted till the dinner break when a recission motion was lodged.
* This recision motion also prevented the 35 page council report being submitted.
* Mayor Polglase did not declare any conflict of interest in these developments even though the developer of these sites had donated $80,000 to fund the Balance Team Campaign of which he was a part (Ed:during the last sacked council reign).
* Councillors refused to request the council-funded Economic Development Corporation to provide a greater focus on sustainability.
* Councillors refused to fine the developer of Banora Point Caravan Park for numerous works carried out that needed retrospective approvals.
* They also refused to order the developer of Lot 156, Hastings Point to remove fencing that had been reported by residents as a public safety and flood hazard.
* Lastly, they refused to allow questions on the concreting of the natural waterway at Ozone Street, Chinderah.
Originally published on the Queensland Greens web site on 10 Feb 09.
10 February 2010 - The Queensland Greens have today called for federal intervention to address the climate change impacts of the coal epidemic in central Queensland.
"The Greens want a climate trigger to be added to Australia's national environment laws so the federal government can step in to assess the full climate impacts of coal proposals, including Clive Palmer's China First and Gina Hancock's Alpha and Kevin's Corner coal mines in the Galilee Basin," said environmental lawyer and Greens lead Senate candidate for Queensland, Larissa Waters.
Greens candidates Larissa Waters, Jenny Stirling and Jonathon Dykyj are visiting Bowen to hear community opposition to the coal mines, coal rail corridors, coal port expansions and local heavy industry area, and will attend a briefing on Galilee Basin coal projects where mining magnate Clive Palmer is also expected.
"The region's communities, the Reef, tourism, agriculture, grazing industries and development of alternative industries are being sacrificed for coal royalties, corporate profits and exports of more carbon pollution to China and Japan," said Ms Waters.
"The proposed coal mines in the Galilee Basin are massive and will turn Queensland into the world's biggest coal exporter right when the latest science is calling for urgent reductions in greenhouse gas emissions," said Ms Waters.
"Premier Bligh is ignoring the revenue and thousands of jobs dependent on a healthy Great Barrier Reef and is failing to drive the creation of thousands of clean energy jobs which could be powering Queensland and protecting the climate," said Ms Waters.
"Hancock's Kevin's Corner and Alpha Coal Mine will forever mark the exact point at which Rudd capitulated to the coal lobby, squandering the mandate he was given to deal with climate change and betraying future generations of Australians" said Jenny Stirling, Greens third Senate candidate.
In addition to coal projects, the state government is dumping the worst polluting industries such as aluminium and nickel refineries with smelters, chlor-alkali plant, ammonium nitrate plant, coke and gas fired power plants right on to Bowen residents in a ‘state development area' which demotes the community's legal rights to oppose the development.
"The federal government needs to step in and conduct an assessment of the cumulative impact of heavy industry and resource extraction on the community and the environment in the region," said Ms Waters.
Candidate for Dawson Jonathon Dykyj said: "We are here to challenge the short-sighted and inappropriate development of this region and to put forward sustainable alternatives which are economically and environmentally sound for this wonderful part of Queensland."
The Greens want to see the region's economy based on clean energy industries and associated manufacturing, sustainable agriculture, tourism, and improved public health, education and services for the aging population and young families.
Larissa Waters - Greens lead Senate candidate for Queensland - larissa.waters [ AT ] qld.greens.org.au
Background on planned Bowen development blitz
- Massive 16,500 ha Bowen State Development Area to house some of the world's worst polluting industries such as aluminium and nickel refineries with smelters, chlor-alkali plant, ammonium nitrate plant, coke and gas fired power plants.
- Abbott Point Port expansion to export 110 Mtpa of coal together with a Multi Cargo Facility will require 580 ha dredging and reclamation in World Heritage Great Barrier Reef waters. Coal exports are projected to increase from the present 25Mtpa export upwards to 230 Mtpa with the Palmer/Hancock coal mines.
- Both of the above sited next to the nationally significant Caley (Keela) Valley Wetlands which meet RAMSAR status and are home to over 20,000 wetland and migratory birds and 200 species.
490km rail corridors will be 100m wide from Galilee Basin (Palmer's China First) to Abbott Point, cutting through the township of Collinsville, stock routes, prime agricultural and grazing lands and ecosystems.
- Land clearing for the mines, railways, pipelines and coal stockpiles will affect thousands of hectares of vegetation and biodiversity habitat.
See also: "Clive Palmer, Queensland Government announce $69 Billion Coal project" in the Sunday Mail of 7 Feb 10.
Following Gunns' complete abandonmment of its case which has tied up 20 Tasmanian anti-logging campaigners and their supporters for up to five years of their lives, Victorian Greens parliamentarian Sue Pennicuik MLC called for the Victorian Government to introduce legislation to prevent corporations from ever again similarly abusing the courts with Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation (SLAPP) suits to harass citizens who organise against their environmentally destructive projects.
"More than five years has passed since Gunns issued their terrible writ against the 20 defendants", Ms Pennicuik said. "Now, on the eve of going to trial, Gunns Ltd has pulled the pin and opted to pay out the remaining four defendants, rather than go to trial".
"It is clear now that there was never any chance of Gunns winning in court, the writ was simply a cynical strategy to tie up the defendants in a protracted legal action to prevent them from speaking out in defence of our native forests", she said. "It has been a mentally and financially exhausting ordeal for the defendants".
"Now is time for all states and territories to adopt anti-SLAPP (strategic litigation against public participation) laws similar to those already in place in the ACT and in US states such as California and Illinois to prevent such an action ever getting that far again", she said.
"Anti-SLAPP laws empower a judge to dismiss a case if he or she considers that the court is being misused for an ulterior non-legal purpose, i.e. to stop protesters from protesting", she said. "Powerful companies should not be able to use our courts to effectively silence community protest or participation in issues that affect their lives".
"I call on the Victorian Attorney-General, Rob Hulls to prepare anti-SLAPP legislation for Victoria to prevent abuse of the court system by corporations in an effort to silence their critics", she concluded.
For more information: Sue Pennicuik 0409 055 875
Adapted from media release originally published as "Gunns case shows we need anti-slapp laws in Victoria" on the Victorian Greens MPs web site, mps.vic.greens.org.au.
See also: "Gunns urged to drop 'Triabunna 13' case" of 3 Feb 10, "Gunns 20 in the dust" in the Hobart Mercury of 30 Jan 10, "Gunns settles with last pulp mill opponents" in the Australian of 30 Jan 10, "Gunns abandons legal chase" on ABC online of 30 Jan 10, "Gunns payout ends case" in the Age of 30 Jan 10.
James Sinnamon, an independent candidate for the seat of Brisbane in the forthcoming 2010 Federal elections asks Senator Bob Brown and members of the Greens Party to pledge to introduce into our Federal Parliament bills for Binding Citizens Initiated Referenda, Swiss-style. This would strongly guarantee against politicians ever again being able to abuse their office in order to enact laws overwhelmingly opposed by the people, in the way Senator Stephen Conroy is now attempting to ram his Chinese-style Mandatory Internet Filtering Laws through the Senate.
See also: "Conroy will be censoring people, not the internet" of 23 Dec 09 on Online Opinion and discussion forum, "Australia's shadowy wisp of a democracy" of 19 Dec 09 on Online Opinion and discussion forum, cir-australia.net, efa.org.au, greens.org.au. See article for links to other articles, on other sites, on Mandatory Internet Filtering. See, on candobetter.org, "Federal Government threatens Internet censorship" of 16 Nov 08, "Stop Internet Censorship!" of 4 Dec 09, "Rudd - just a control freak with his little book or are we witnessing the emergence of the 'Rudd State'?" of 15 Dec 09.
Appendices: Reply from Greens Senator Scott Ludlam, 22 Dec 09 and my further replies.
Originally published 20 Dec 09. Updated with appendix 23 Dec 09.
Dear Senator Bob Brown and all members of the Greens Party,
Australia may be weeks away from having our democracy irreparably and terminally harmed if the Communications Minister Stephen Conroy gets his way and has his Mandatory Internet Filtering legislation passed by the Senate.
This is in spite of the following facts:
- Mandatory Internet Censorship was not put to the electorate in the 2007 elections;
- Opinion polls show consistent overwhelming public opposition to
Mandatory Internet Filtering;
- Senator Conroy has rarely been prepared to defend Internet Filtering in
open public debates and, where he has, he has lost the argument;
Senator Stephen Conroy has obstinately ignored public opinion in order to pursue his goal of imposing on Australian Internet users, a Chinese-style firewall that will give the Government virtually unlimited powers to censor any Internet material it considers a threat.
The ability, that ordinary citizens now have to use the Internet to tell the truth and show up the deceit of the governments and the corporate news media and to organise to rectify Australia's generally woeful current political situation, could well be lost forever.
All that stands in the way of this becoming the reality are the votes of a handful Liberal and National Party Senators.
To their immense credit, the Liberal and National Parties have held the line and prevented this rotten legislation becoming the law until now.
However, can we allow ourselves to forget that many of these are the same people who voted again and again for retrograde legislation such as "Work Choices" and the privatisation of Telstra and for the Iraq War when they were members of the Howard Government? Can we be sure that such political representatives will hold the line indefinitely in the Senate against Mandatory Internet Filtering?
All it needs is for just a few members of the Opposition to change their vote, for this rotten bill to become law. It is not difficult to imagine one or two proclaiming that the imperative of protecting children, as the bill purports to do, as a justification for changing their vote.
And even if the Opposition does hold the line against the Bill, what sort of choice will ordinary voters face at the likely Double Dissolution elections early next year?
The only realistic chance they would have of defeating Mandatory Internet Filtering, would be to embrace, even if only on a two-party-preferred basis, the parties which gave them "Work Choices", the Iraq War, Telstra privatisation and slash-and-burn budgets and which sent Rottweillers and mercenaries into the wharves in an attempt to break the Maritime Union of Australia in 1998.
This is simply not good enough.
If we are to end, once and for all, the kind of elective tyranny that now threatens us with internet censorship, then this country needs a law that gives to any ordinary citizen, if he or she can demonstrate a minimum threshold of public support, the right to initiate a national referendum, the outcome of which is binding upon the national goverment. Such referenda are referred to as Binding Citizens Initiated Referenda (BCIR).
In Switzerland any proposal at the national level supported by a 100,000#main-fn1">1 of its 4,915,533 registered voters, including proposals for the recall of any elected official, can be put to the vote at referenda held every three months.
There is no way that the citizens of Australia would have permitted Keating's deregulation of the finance sector, the privatisation of retirement income, the privatisation of QANTAS, the Commonwealth Bank, the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories, the State Banks and State Insurance companies, the imposition of the National Competition Policy, the forcible amalgamation of local governments, the Bligh Government's fire sale, etc. if BCIR had been law.
And there would be no way today that Senator Conroy could hope to get his Mandatory Internet Filtering bill passed today.
The choice we face at the end 2009 is between the continuation of our current system of elective tyranny which may well turn into a totalitarian police state if Conroy's bill is passed, or giving back, to ordinary citizens, the right to determine the course of their country.
If the Greens chooose to emphatically campaign for BCIR laws, as well as against Mandatory Internet Filtering, in the coming 2010 federal elections, there is every reason to expect that at least a firm majority voters will support those policies enthusiastically and that far more of them, than have in past elections, will vote for Greens candidates. As the case for BCIR laws is so clear and overwhelming, this could well cause either or both of the major parties to also promise to support the implementation of such laws to shore up their own electoral support.
Whether they do or not, neither the Greens nor the Australian electorate could lose as a result.
As an independent candidate, who intends to contest the Federal Lower House seat of Brisbane in the coming Federal Elections, I will be putting to Brisbane voters my proposal for BCIR laws. I intend to make known to Brisbane voters and voters in all other electorates the stance, or lack of stance, as it may turn out to be, of each and every candidate on BCIR's and urge them to use their primary and subsequent voting preferences accordingly.
I hope, as result of your receiving this open letter, you will immediately give the BCIR issue the urgent consideration it deserves and that I will soon be able to inform electors through our web site that every successful Greens candidate has pledged to introduce BCIR legislation into our Federal Parliament at the earliest possible opportunity in 2010.
I also hope that affirmative, even if belated, responses, are similarly sent by the Greens to the group CIR Australia, which, in late 2008, surveyed every Parliamentarian and political party in the country about their intentions towards BCIR's. Only two Greens, Nicholas McKim and Timothy Morris from the Tasmanian House of Assembly, have responded so far to that survey. The responses can be found at www.cir-australia.net/index.php?id=12 and www.cir-australia.net/index.php?id=13.
This open letter has been published on our website at candobetter.org/CitizensInitiatedReferenda I intend to also publish there, with their permission, any responses from the Greens as an organisation or from Senator Bob Brown and other individual members of the Greens as soon as I receive them.
Brisbane Independent for Truth, Democracy,
the Environment and Economic Justice
#main-fn1" id="main-fn1">1. #main-fn1-txt">↑ The 100,000 signatures can be collected in up to a maximum of 18 months. In Australia, this would have been the equivalent to requiring signatures of 277,621 of its 13,646,539 voters registered in 2007. Given Australia's geographic disparity and less than universal access to e-voting a somewhat lower threshold would be justified.
According to the Swiss government web site (24 July 2013 - I am advised: "Document not found! -- The page you were looking for could not be found." - Ed), voters also have the power to rescind legislation carried by their Parliaments:
The people are entitled to pronounce on parliamentary decisions after the event. Federal laws, generally binding decisions of the Confederation and international treaties of indefinite duration are subject to an optional referendum: in this case, a popular ballot is held if 50,000 citizens so request. The signatures must be collected within 100 days of a decree's publication. (www.eda.admin.ch/eda/en/home/reps/ocea/vaus/infoch/chpoli.html , also cited at www.cir-australia.net/index.php?id=24)
Some Further Information
For more on Mandatory Internet Filtering, see: "Federal Government threatens Internet censorship" of 16 Nov 08 on candobetter.org, "Save the Children opposes internet filter" of 9 Jul 09 on ABC Online, "Internet filter plan 'wasting time, money'" of 2 Sep 09 on ABC online, "Stop Internet Censorship!" of 4 Dec 09 on candobetter.org, "Undermining the American People's Right to Privacy: The Secret State's Surveillance Machine" of 11 Dec 09 on Global Research, "Rudd - just a control freak with his little book or are we witnessing the emergence of the 'Rudd State'?" of 15 Dec 09 on candobetter.org, "ISP filter to block worst net nasties" in the Australian of 15 Dec 09, "Green light for internet filter plans" of 15 Dec 09 on ABC Online, "Why the Internet filter is not the solution we wish it was" of 16 Dec 09 by Penny Sharpe, Labor Party member of NSW Legislative Council (and related article, "First Labor politician breaks filter ranks" of 17 Dec 09 on ZDNet), "Filtering coming to Australia in 2010" of 17 Dec 09 on Electronic Frontiers Australia, "Internet filter will not stop child porn peddlers" of 17 Dec 09 in the SMH, "Australian Government approves Internet censorship plan" of 18 Dec 09 on infopackets,"Australia's great barrier" of 19 Dec 09 on Index on Censorship, "Conroy will be censoring people, not the internet" of 23 Dec 09 on Online Opininion and discussion forum.
#ludlam-22dec09" id="ludlam-22dec09">Appendix 1: E-mail from Greens Senator Scott Ludlam - 22 Dec 09
Subject: Re: Internet censorship threat confirms urgent need for Binding
Citizens Initiated Referenda - An Open Letter to the Greens)
Thank you for your email. The Australian Greens are deeply concerned about the Federal Government's announcement that it is proceeding with plans to introduce compulsory internet filtering.
The Government has released the long-overdue test results for mandatory net filtering, alongside a discussion paper seeking feedback on increased accountability and transparency in blacklisting websites (see http://www.minister.dbcde.gov.au/media/media_releases/2009/115).
Despite the release of a discussion paper that tacitly acknowledges the huge concern this proposal has raised and the flaws in the existing blacklisting process, the Government is intent on ploughing ahead.
The pointless nature of this proposal is set out in the report itself, which admits that the filters will be circumvented by people seeking blocked material.
Testing showed that the filters used for the ACMA blacklist only were more easily circumvented than other more complex filters used to cover a wider range and volume of material.
The Government has also indicated the open-ended nature of the filter by acknowledging they will be importing blacklists from overseas to supplement the Australian list. As many people have said, this is the thin end of the wedge. The policy is simply misguided.
The 'discussion paper' only asks for input on one aspect of the policy, with the rest apparently locked in. I encourage people to communicate the full range of their concerns to the Government rather than being deterred by what looks like a done deal.
Unless the Government changes tack, the Greens will be moving significant amendments to this legislation if it is introduced to the Senate.
If you would like to voice your opposition, email Minister Conroy via minister[AT]dbcde.gov.au
22 December 2009
Phone (08) 9335 7477
Fax: (08) 9335 7499
Local call (WA country callers): 1300 733 450
#sinnamon-23dec09" id="sinnamon-23dec09">Appendix 2: My reply to Greens Senator Scott Ludlam - 23 Dec 09
Editorial note: Please also see Appendix 3 immediately below this e-mail for subsequent e-mail that I sent after I belatedly noticed in the above e-mail that the Greens apparently intend to amend this legislation instead of trying to defeat it outright. This is of great concern to me, so I quickly sent a further e-mail. I received an "Out of Office reply" response which told me that no-one would be able to attend to that e-mail until 19 January. I resent the e-mail to an alternative suggested e-mail address.
Subject: Re: Internet censorship threat confirms urgent need for Binding
Citizens Initiated Referenda - An Open Letter to the Greens)
Dear Senator Scott Ludlam
On Tue, 22 Dec 2009, you wrote:
> Thank you for your email. ...
And thank you for yours. I have published it at http://candobetter.org/node/1725 .
I trust that you will approve.
> ... The Australian Greens are deeply concerned about
> the Federal Government's announcement that it is proceeding with plans to
> introduce compulsory internet filtering.
Of course, I appreciate the great work that you and the Greens have done in opposing this rotten legislation. I apologise if I did not make that clear.
However, that is not the main point of my letter.
My point is that the defeat of the legislation may still hang on a knife edge.
If not, why is Conroy proceeding as if the laws will be passed? And why are the newspaper reports implying that it will be passed?
Perhaps it is just bravado on Conroy's part, but can we afford to assume that it is not just that? Can we afford to assume that he knows something that the Greens and the rest of the community are unaware?
We can't afford to gamble the whole future of our democracy on the whim of a number elected Senators, who are largely beyond the control of those whom they purport to represent for up to six years.
Australians need a stronger guarantee against ruthless and unconscionable politicians abusing the power they have been given in the way that appears to be happening now and which has happened on almost countless other occasions in the past three decades.
The only guarantee against further such abuses is Binding Citizens Initiated Referenda.
I believe this must be urgently considered then adopted by the Greens.
If this occurs, Australians will immediately grasp the necessity of BCIR's and this could only be to the advantage of the Greens as well as the Australian public.
As a first step, could you consider introducing, by whatever means, legislation into the Senate that would force Conroy to put his Mandatory Internet Filtering to a referendum?
Even if it were to be defeated, at least the undemocratic means by which Conroy is attempting to have his bill passed will be too obvious for anyone to deny.
> The Government has released the long-overdue test results for mandatory net
> filtering, alongside a discussion paper seeking feedback on increased
> accountability and transparency in blacklisting websites (see
Thank you. I haven't had a chance to check that.
> Despite the release of a discussion paper that tacitly acknowledges the
> huge concern this proposal has raised and the flaws in the existing
> the Australian list. As many people have said, this is the thin end of the
> wedge. The policy is simply misguided.
I agree with all this, but I think the main objection must be that these laws
are a mortal threat to democracy.
> The 'discussion paper' only asks for input on one aspect of the policy,
> If you would like to voice your opposition, email Minister Conroy via
I may choose to do this, but I am sure we both know that Senator Conroy is not interested in my views on this, nor in the views of the overwhelming majority of the public.
> Senator Ludlam
> 22 December 2009
Appendix 3: My further reply to Greens Senator Scott Ludlam- 23 Dec 09
Editorial note: See above at start of #sinnamon-23dec09">Appendix 2 for explanation about this e-mail.
Subject: Do Greens no longer expect Mandatory Internet Filtering to be defeated by Senate?
(Subject was: Re: Internet censorship threat confirms urgent need for Binding
Citizens Initiated Referenda - An Open Letter to the Greens)
Dear Senator Scott Ludlam,
Before I sent my last e-mail, I hadn't fully comprehended the meaning of the words:
> Unless the Government changes tack, the Greens will be moving significant
> amendments to this legislation if it is introduced to the Senate.
A few months ago, I gained the understanding was that the Greens were confident that a majority of the Senate was committed to defeating the bill.
Does this mean that the Greens no longer believe this to be the case and therefore the Greens accept that Mandatory Internet filtering will become law and are now only hoping to limit some of the worst excesses of the legislation with amendments?
"I did not wish to take a cabin passage, but rather to go before the mast and on the deck of the world, for there I could best see the moonlight amid the mountains. I do not wish to go below now." Henry David Thoreau (1817 - 1862)
Greens Senator Christine Milne addressed the National Press Club today (see #speech">speech below). In her presentation, which was titled - 'The New Culture Wars' - she explained why the Greens do not support the Government's proposed CPRS legislation.
"A failure to agree is better than an agreement to fail," she said.
The Greens are calling for a 350 ppm reduction in carbon emissions and carbon neutrality by 2050.
Senator Milne acknowledged community anger and feelings of powerlessness in the face of taxpayer dollars being handed to polluters rather than the community.
Interestingly, the Senator also referred to a bilateral agreement between China and the U.S. on renewable energy
The following journalists asked questions:
Simon Grose - 'Science Media'
Peter Williams - 'The West Australian'
Cathy Alexander - AAP
Deborah Nesbitt - Thompson Reuters
Bernard Keane - 'Crikey!'
Sophie Morris - 'Australian Financial Review'
Ask yourself why no News Ltd. or ABC journalists asked her any questions.
Christine Milne #speech" id="speech">speech to the National Press Club - June 17, 2009
Check against delivery
Thank you for your warm welcome. I begin by acknowledging the Ngunnawal people, the traditional owners of the land.
Gandhi once said, "The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world's problems."
We have reached a point in human history where 'what we do' on this planet imperils our survival. Now is the moment to re-imagine and reconsider 'what we are capable of doing'.
As Kofi Annan said recently, "The world is at a crossroads. [The Copenhagen] negotiators [must] come to the most ambitious agreement ever negotiated or continue to accept mass starvation, mass sickness and mass migration on an ever growing scale. Weak leadership," he said, "is failing humanity."
So what is stopping us from achieving what we are capable of, of reaching 'the most ambitious agreement ever negotiated'?
ABARE, the Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics, last year unwittingly provided me with the answer! They had sought a meeting on their latest modelling of the economic costs of climate action. I asked them what atmospheric carbon concentrations they were assuming in their models and was astonished to hear that they had modelled nothing lower than 575 parts per million - a level that every projection tells us would trigger catastrophic climate change.
When I suggested that it might be appropriate to run their models using scenarios that have some hope of constraining global warming to merely dangerous levels, even down as low as 350 ppm to deliver a safe climate, my astonishment was matched by theirs.
"But, Senator," came the reply, "that would be a different world!"
This is a cultural problem. It is not a lack of climate science that holds back action. It is how we respond to the challenge that the science poses, and that is deeply cultural. It is the values that we bring to bear, what we think is good for us, our religious underpinnings, our view of power and opportunity, of what is possible in the world and Australia's place in it. All these value judgements stop us from embracing change.
Machiavelli understood human nature when in the 15th Century, he said
"It ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. This coolness arises partly from fear of the opponents, who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them."
In Australia, the dominant economic, social and therefore Labor and Coalition view, is that resource extraction underpins wealth, power and influence - always has and always will. Regardless of the physical capacity of the Earth to sustain it, regardless of the collapse of the Murray Darling or the climate impact of burning more coal or logging more forests, nothing will stand in the way of that extraction continuing. All policies to address climate change are seen through that cultural lens.
That is why we did not have a Green New Deal in Australia linking climate policies with economic stimulus and it is why we engage in special pleading in international climate negotiations.
It is why, when people hear the climate science telling us that, if we do not act swiftly and decisively, the world we hand on to our children will be a very different, much poorer world, so many jump through hoops to deny it, to explain it away, or to pretend that we can compromise with the laws of physics and chemistry to suit own imperatives. It is no wonder, as Ian Dunlop observed recently, "climate policy and climate science are like ships passing in the night."
The truth is the climate nightmare is real and happening now. We are destroying the Great Barrier Reef, Kakadu and the snow caps. We are eroding our beaches, and our coastal cities will face managed retreat due to sea level rise. We are drying our food bowl, the Murray Darling, beyond repair, jeopardising rural communities and our food security.
Many of our Asia Pacific neighbours are struggling with rising seas and extreme weather which threatens a refugee crisis beyond anything we've ever seen.
The Himalayan glaciers, which feed all the major rivers of Asia - the Ganges and Brahmaputra, the Mekong, the Yellow and Yangtze - are melting away. Once they are gone, a third of the world's people face a parched, hungry and, most likely, violent future.
Red Cross figures reveal that last year 242,662 people died because of climate related heat waves, fires and other extreme weather events and spreading tropical diseases, with at least 800 in Australia. According to Nature, 15%-37% of all species on Earth will be committed to extinction by 2050.
If the Arctic melt already underway triggers the melting of the permafrost, belching billions of tonnes of methane into the atmosphere, all bets are off as far as warming is concerned. Our planet will head into a runaway heating cycle, leading to widespread inundation, agricultural collapse, loss of drinking water for a third of the global population, and all the geopolitical and security implications that follow, particularly with nuclear armed giants sitting at the epicentre.
What is more alarming is that our governments, while claiming to take responsible action, are effectively planning to let this happen. The Rudd Government soothes critics by talking about a global target of 450 ppm CO2e while putting forward a plan that is actually consistent with 550 ppm or even higher. They also fail to say that 450 ppm would, according to the conservative and already out-of-date IPCC estimates, give us a 50-90% chance of exceeding 2 degrees warming, risking triggering the nightmare scenario I just outlined.
50 to 90%.
Would you put your son or daughter on an aeroplane if you knew that it had a 50-90% chance of crashing? If not, why would you take that risk with the whole planet?
CSIRO scientist James Risbey who came before our recent Senate Inquiry into Climate Policy told us that:
"a safer target would be something that would be closer to 350 parts per million, because that would reduce the risk of exceeding two degrees Celsius to more moderate levels."
Dr Risbey is not a radical or an extremist. He echoes the work of great names in climate science like NASA's James Hansen and Potsdam's John Schellnhuber, who, together with 50 nations, are all calling for targeting 350 ppm.
No Australian Parliamentarian can say they were not warned.
But, as the global ecosystem impacts of climate change become clearer, policy makers are focussing more narrowly on the politics of national sovereignty. Our governance systems are not up to the challenge. Global warming has become just another issue to be managed in news bulletins. Meeting after meeting, document after document are mistaken for action. But no systemic action is being taken.
The fact is we cannot keep a safe climate and keep burning coal, oil and gas, and logging our forests. One or the other must go.
That we may be undone by the refusal, for what ever reason, to believe that another world is possible was demonstrated again this week, with Minister Wong saying: "going further is not possible without causing economic disruption - if it is possible at all." Minister Wong, do you really want "running up the white flag" to be your legacy?
A self interested failure of imagination, courage and leadership characterises the political and business establishment in this country.
So, it is the job of those who are currently lukewarm defenders of the future, to get over fear or timidity and to move to red hot advocacy; to get behind the community and the Greens in changing the culture, in selling the dream.
Does anyone in this room not use a mobile phone? How many of you email or update facebook with your phone?
Twenty years ago, when I first ran for Parliament in Tasmania, I was the only candidate to have a mobile phone and it took up half my car!
It was only in the second half of the 1990s that mobiles and email really took hold, with Australian early adopters leading the charge. Our lives have been utterly reshaped by these technologies. Ten years from infancy to such ubiquity that we can scarcely remember what it was like before they ruled our lives!
In 1961 as an eight year old girl, I remember sitting by the wireless on a dairy farm in north west Tasmania, listening to President Kennedy promise that, within a decade, America would put a man on the moon and bring him home safely.
"I believe we possess all the resources and talents necessary. But the facts of the matter are that we have never made the national decisions or marshalled the national resources required for such leadership. We have never specified long-range goals on an urgent time schedule, or managed our resources and our time so as to ensure their fulfilment.
"But in a very real sense, it will not be one man going to the moon - if we make this judgment affirmatively, it will be an entire nation. For all of us must work to put him there."
Kennedy didn't promise to get halfway to the moon, let alone 5 to 25% of the way there. He didn't promise to put a man on the moon if the economic modelling looked okay.
Instead he captured the imagination, and drove the creativity and innovative spirit of not only his own country, but of a whole generation who came to believe that anything is possible. And, sure enough, I remember as a 16 year old at boarding school in Hobart watching Neil Armstrong step onto the moon. The belief that anything was possible was a gift to my generation.
Committing to delivering a safe climate means embracing the massive challenge of moving to zero emissions fast, frees you up to unleash human creativity in a wave unlike anything we've seen. Just as in 1989 we could not imagine the world of the iPhone and Blackberry, in the next 20 years we can and will create something that now seems impossible.
But, if we fail to do what it takes, we will find out the hard way what that different world will be. Whether by deliberately refusing to act or, equally culpably, by recklessly setting our sights too low, we will shut the door on opportunity and make only one future possible.
Which brings me to the CPRS.
While the Greens have been advocating real solutions to climate change, the Government, since its election, has been standing in the way. Whether it is forests, a feed-in tariff or targets, we have simply been told to sign up to their plan which we know sets its sights so low as to actively lock out the option of success. The Greens cannot and will not support a scheme that is environmentally ineffective and economically inefficient.
Supporting the CPRS would mean Australia would have the same greenhouse gas emissions in 2013 as today making deep cuts by 2020 much more difficult and expensive than it needs to be. Rejecting the CPRS gives us hope that real solutions could be implemented in that time bringing down emissions far faster and cheaper.
A failure to agree this year is a better outcome than an agreement to fail.
But isn't it better than nothing? I say no.
Incrementalism is worse than useless in the face of the climate crisis. Just as you can't be a little bit pregnant, you can't stop climate change by doing 5% of what is necessary. Or even 25%. If we trigger tipping points, the heating process will gather its own momentum and there will be nothing we can do to stop it. Doing too little to avoid those tipping points is functionally equivalent to doing nothing.
The reason the scheme must not pass in its current form is, ironically, exactly the reason the Government uses to say it must be passed - because it will send a signal to Australian industry, the Australian community and the global community that cannot be ignored. Yes, it will send a signal, but the signal will be wrong.
The CPRS says to the rest of the world that, regardless of how much the world must do to save the climate, Australia will do as little as we think we can get away with. It is a completely unacceptable and irresponsible signal.
Which countries does Australia say should do more so that we can do less?
The UN climate change secretariat revealed on June 6th that the pledges made by rich countries total between 16-24% below 1990. This falls well short of what is needed to avoid catastrophic climate change.
A bold global agreement needs a pooling of national sovereignty - all countries of the world acting in our common interest, not in their short term, election informed, national interest as the Howard Government did in Kyoto and the Rudd Government has delivered for Copenhagen.
A bold agreement needs money on the table and an agreement to reform global governance institutions to oversee enforcement and compliance, rather than domestic legislation that gives a Minister the wriggle room to decide whether target commitments have been triggered.
If Australia goes to Copenhagen legislatively constrained from agreeing to a target higher than the 25% minimum that the world requires from rich, high-polluting countries, the only possible impact will be to lower the level of ambition from other developed countries, giving succour to other recalcitrants like Canada, Japan and Russia. This in turn makes it less likely that China, India and other large developing nations will sign up to a deal
The CPRS may well have provided Japan with the cover it needed to announce its 8% target in Bonn. Chinese negotiators have slammed Australia's targets and conditions as obnoxious. They say that, unless countries like Australia and Japan offer targets in the order of 40% by 2020, they will not accept any kind of binding targets.
Follow the CPRS scenario to its logical conclusion and the chances of agreement in Copenhagen look very grim indeed with Australia's 25% conditional in the flying pig category.
The world needs a circuit-breaker - some nation to finally offer what the science requires, not another craven compromise.
Furthermore, the Greens cannot accept a scheme which is clearly geared towards protecting the status quo, sandbagging the old resource based economy when we need transformation.
Business needs long-term investment horizons in order to make multi-billion dollar investments. The CPRS will provide such an investment horizon, but it will be the wrong one. Evidence provided to the Senate Climate Policy Committee by experts from the London Carbon Exchange, the Productivity Commission's recent report and comments from Sir Nicholas Stern all conclude that, if the CPRS is passed in its current form, Australian industry and investors will be sent a very strong signal that will drive inappropriate and misguided investments. This signal will give business the confidence to invest in 'low pollution' infrastructure such as gas power stations and slightly less dirty coal rather than renewables. Yesterday's announcement expanding Eraring coal fired power station is a case in point.
When, in a few years, we come to our senses and decide to target a safe climate, these assets will be stranded, dropped as sunk costs and replaced with zero emissions alternatives bought overseas. That would be a very stupid and expensive mistake.
Professor Garnaut correctly warned that opening the floodgates to rent-seekers is economically unjustifiable. Handing out $16 billion in corporate polluter welfare is a grossly unacceptable transfer of wealth from the community to the polluters.
Some 50% of the scheme's revenue - or foregone revenue, thanks to free permits - is earmarked for shielding polluters from the scheme's impact, and most of the rest will shield householders from the impact through the short-sighted mechanism of cash handouts or fuel subsidies instead of the long-sighted approach of rolling out energy efficiency upgrades and public transport to reduce costs and pollution. A mere 3% of the scheme's revenue will actually directly help anyone reduce emissions let alone invest in the technologies that provide solutions and would revitalise manufacturing here in Australia.
Finally, there is the disempowering signal the CPRS would send to the Australian community.
People are angry because they understand that every dollar handed over to the polluters is a dollar less to spend on community solutions. By putting a floor under pollution levels, ensuring that Australia's emissions cannot fall below that level no matter how hard some of us try, the scheme has been attacked for undermining voluntary efforts to reduce emissions, making them helpful only in reducing the price pressure on polluters.
The root cause of that problem, and the only solution, is the target itself. The 5% target sends a signal to give up in despair, disempowering the whole of Australia, from householders to State Governments. And if the Government aims so low but still manages to convince a majority of Australians that it is doing something worthwhile, it takes the pressure off everyone to actually do what needs to be done.
The Government's plan locks in the nightmare. The Greens' plan would inspire the dream.
First we need a global target that can deliver a safe climate. We must preserve the functioning of the planet's ecological systems, its biodiversity, without which we cannot survive.
To stabilise at 350 ppm in any safe timeframe, Bill Hare of the Potsdam Institute has calculated that the whole world economy must be carbon neutral by 2050. That is undeniably a massive task. Prime Minister Rudd and Minister Wong say it can't be done. But, as the ecologist Paul Hawken said recently:
"Forget that this task of planet saving is not possible in the time required. Don't be put off by people who know what is not possible. Do what needs to be done, and check to see if it was possible after you are done."
Last week I visited the Newcastle CSIRO Energy Centre and the University. I saw technologies ready to be scaled up and commercialised - technology that will see solar hot water systems powering air conditioners and solar thermal towers able to power the whole of Australia from an area as small as 50 kilometres by 50 kilometres. Technologies that will see solar energy delivered in flexible fabrics like curtains and awnings. I saw technologies that can capture energy from the vibrations of bridges and cars, not to mention capturing energy from walking to charge mobile phones. I saw work on new community scale wind turbines, the intelligent grid and devices that can automatically manage household energy demand, saving huge amounts of energy and dollars.
We humans are capable of amazing things when we set our minds to it. Setting a zero emissions safe climate target would inspire the community and unleash a wave of creativity, of innovative job creation that is right now champing at the bit. Just as JFK's belief that we can do anything was his gift to my generation, this would be our gift to generations living now.
The political, social and economic make over required is so transformative that it the creates the opportunity to go green fields; to identify what we don't like about our lives and, in moving to the zero carbon future, fix those things.
This is the silver lining in the storm clouds of the climate crisis.
By rethinking what is important to us and the way we live our lives, we will reshape the spaces we live in and the way we are governed to build a happier, healthier, safer community.
We can overcome our time poverty, our social isolation and loneliness, our unhealthy sedentary lifestyles, our disconnection from nature, our sensory overload. We can face the anxiety in the back of our minds that we are the first generation to hand on to our children a planet in worse repair than we have enjoyed.
Our wealth has not brought us happiness and governments are now analysing scientifically demonstrated ways to improve well-being in everyday life and the policy interventions that would enable them. They are exactly the interventions that need to be made to address climate change and peak oil. Last year, the New Economics Foundation conducted a study for the UK Government, identifying "five ways to well-being": connect, be active, take notice, keep learning and give.
By re-designing our cities around people instead of cars, with green spaces, cycleways and pedestrian paths, with rapid transit linking urban villages, we will reinvigorate communities, reconnect to each other and be more active in our daily lives.
By taking jobs to communities rather than the other way around, we can increase work flexibility. Instead of being stuck in traffic for hours, we can spend more time with our family and friends and in our communities building supportive and lasting relationships.
By growing some of our own food in community gardens, by supporting seasonal locally grown food and by relocalising services from health to education we can build community resilience, health and well being.
By making our homes and offices more energy efficient and making ourselves more aware of the energy we use, we connect, take notice and learn.
By setting ourselves the massive task of reaching carbon neutrality as fast as possible, we all give - to each other locally to globally in the spirit of climate justice and the Millennium goals, and to the generations that will follow us. As the NEF said, we are "hard wired to enjoy helping one another"!
The Greens have concrete proposals to make this transformative vision a reality: a new politics for a new century, reengaging the community and restoring trust through transparency, equity and participation in decision making from the local to the global.
Our policies start and end with a whole of government, systemic approach that uses every tool at the government's disposal in a mutually reinforcing cycle, rather than an internally inconsistent and counterproductive one. For example, with the recent stimulus package, the Greens negotiated a $300 million Local Green Jobs package which has been widely praised for creating jobs while protecting the environment and heritage and revitalising communities. This has been so successful that we will be pressing the Government to make it part of the Budget every year.
While putting a price on carbon is a critical part of reducing emissions, it is far from the only tool in the toolbox. If it is to be a useful tool, it has to be well designed. A Greens-designed emissions trading scheme would lock in serious emissions targets and cap the use of overseas CDM permits. It would auction all permits and recycle the revenue into driving emissions reductions through energy efficiency, an intelligent electricity grid, research, development and commercialisation of renewables, and rolling out public transport infrastructure. By implementing the polluter pays principle, we would raise the resources to build that vision in Australia.
Importantly, we would also use some of the revenue for the urgent task of training and redeploying the million-strong workforce we will need to make our vision a reality. Far from climate action being a jobs destroyer, the lack of trained workers is actually our biggest obstacle - after the lack of political will. People who work currently in the sunset industries have skills that we need urgently in the sunrise industries, and the Greens would make sure that those communities transitioning from the old, polluting economy become the first to gain. Newcastle is a case in point. The Hunter can transform from carbon pollution hub to the powerhouse of a carbon neutral Australia.
Contrary to the naysayers, the labour market actually has an extraordinary capacity to handle structural change. For example, in the decade to November 2007, employment in rural industries dropped by almost 100,000, employment in manufacturing dropped by almost 50,000, and employment in wholesale trade dropped by 35,000. Yet, over this period, the unemployment rate fell from 8 and a half percent to 4%. Similarly, over a million workers employed in February 2005 were no longer with the same employer a year later, and over half of these changed industry.
The Government must conduct a full jobs audit of Australia -matching the skills of workers whose jobs are at risk with the skills we so desperately need, and filling any gaps with targeted job creation, education and training initiatives.
In addition to the multi-billion dollar direct investment program we could afford if we auctioned all permits, the Greens have an array of specific programs which can and should start immediately, cutting emissions straight away, regardless of whether or not we can agree on emissions trading this year.
The Greens want to see renewable energy providing 40% of our electricity by 2020, driven by a stronger Renewable Energy Target, supplemented by a gross national feed-in tariff that would pay a premium rate for all renewable energy - bold, but achievable on current global growth trajectories for many renewable energy technologies
Farming renewable energy would no longer be a dream but a reality for those farmers desperate to supplement their income and stay on the farm. Every home and business could become a mini power station.
Our Energy Efficiency Access and Savings Initiative is the boldest policy yet for retrofitting all 8 million existing homes across Australia. We are developing new legislation to drive commercial building efficiency, and at the industrial scale, we will again move to require the largest energy users to not only audit their energy use but to implement the findings of those audits. We would introduce new standards for appliances and buildings and vehicles to maximise energy efficiency, and support them with government procurement.
An aggressive energy efficiency rollout together with the RET, would mean we could begin retiring coal fired power plants, something that leading Australian climate scientists recently called for in an open letter to Australian coal generators.
Around the world there is a deep and rising concern about biodiversity loss and the need to give species their best chance of survival by habitat protection and restoration. The Greens would protect the carbon stores in our magnificent forests and native vegetation, creating thousands of jobs in environmental stewardship in regional communities, including remote indigenous communities. This would also improve water supplies and increase the well being that comes from being able to enjoy the wonder of nature. Feel Blue, Touch Green.
I know this will not be easy.
But I also know that, in the face of vested interests, we have the strongest possible allies - the people!
Politically, the Greens are at a turning point in Australia and globally. The Global Greens are the only international political force united around strengthening local communities and building global citizenship. Our representation is steadily growing, with big swings in recent European elections taking us from 35 MEPs to 46 in a Parliament shrunk by 49 seats. In Australia, we are the third political force, with 26 State and Federal MPs - half of them women - and over 100 local government representatives, numbers that are steadily increasing.
Outside politics, the groundswell is even faster. In kitchens, classrooms, offices, factories, farms, campuses and communities a powerful people's movement is burgeoning.
Addressing the Climate Summit here in Canberra in January was inspiring - seeing some 500 people from 140 communities across Australia come together to demand that our democratic institutions respond to the climate crisis. Their work continued with rallies in capital cities last weekend.
More recently, I became an ambassador for the one million women campaign to inspire women across Australia to reduce their emissions. Not since the women's movement in the 1960s and '70s has the call gone out to women of all ages and all backgrounds to unite around one cause. The Baby Boomers are retiring and radicalising again, ready to take up where they left off! Another driver for new politics.
In just a few weeks, the wonderful young people from the Australian Youth Climate Coalition will be holding their Powershift conference, bringing together more than 1500 to engage in skills-sharing and inspiring discussions before returning to their communities to drive change. That they can do it is indisputable. Remember that the average age of those working on the Moon Mission was 26. They were the space generation. Old Parties and Old Polluters beware, here comes the solar generation with a power shift in Canberra.
Philanthropists are opening their purse strings ever wider. Institutional investors are waiting in the wings. Scientists and technologists are beavering away across the country, coming up with brilliant ideas most of which are yet to be tested because government and industry have not pressed the Go button.
We are standing at an extraordinary moment in history. We must choose the dream or face the nightmare? Hope and fear are powerful emotions, one shrinks the space for action the other amplifies it.
If we try, we may still fail. But if we do not try, we cannot possibly succeed.
The Greens intend to try. The community is with us. We intend to make the difference between what we humans do now and what we are capable of doing.
As Thoreau said:
"I did not wish to take a cabin passage, but rather to go before the mast and on the deck of the world, for there I could best see the moonlight amid the mountains. I do not wish to go below now."
Senator Christine Milne | Australian Greens Deputy Leader and Climate Change Spokesperson
Suite SG-112 Parliament House, Canberra ACT | P: 02 6277 3588 | M: 0437 587 562
Ms Pennicuik, Greens member of Victorian Parliament, has drawn attention to discrepancies between figures apparently given the Auditor-General by the Port of Melbourne Corporation and figures obtained from them by the Supplementary EES statement process and the hearings and the Standing Committee on Finance and Public Administration.
If it is true that 96% of ships were able to use the Port of Melbourne with no problems, does this discrepancy mean that the Auditor General will have to review his report and the validity of the PoMC's business case, quality of information and practice?
Dredging has cost Victorians enormously already financially, socially and environmentally. Confidence is not high in the PoMC. It is to be hoped that Ms Pennicuick will follow this matter up urgently. Any member of the public wishing to find out more could put questions to Ms Pennicuik to ask in Parliament.
Ms Pennicuick (Greens) (Southern Metropolitan)
"I am speaking today on the Auditor-General's report on the channel-deepening project. This project has been the subject of much public interest since it was first announced in 2002. That interest continues as, unfortunately, dredging is under way. It is a mega-project with a scale of dredging way above anything seen before in Port Phillip Bay -- or pretty well anywhere else in the world. "
"I have read through the Auditor-General's report on the channel-deepening project (CDP), and he concludes that after a very poor start the Port of Melbourne Corporation had developed an effective channel-deepening project. On page 2 of his report he says that the CDP included: "
" a robust business case, complying with better practice guidelines and providing government with the type and quality of information it needed to endorse the project "
" an environmental management plan that addressed the requirements of the environmental assessment process and was endorsed by ministers under the state and commonwealth environmental legislation "
" contracting arrangements, where the corporation followed sound processes in determining how works should be procured and the contractual terms. "
"The Auditor-General concluded that all of these were in order. "
"I am pleased that the Victorian Auditor-General's Office chose to audit the channel-deepening project, because due to public and community concern about the scale and risks of the project it certainly needed independent analysis, which has been sadly lacking hitherto. This report is a valuable contribution to the ongoing debate about the pros and cons of channel deepening, which, it must be remembered, is still happening. It is not a finished project, a point the Auditor-General himself acknowledges. It is still continuing, and he has not in fact audited a completed project. "
Was Channel Deepening needed or will it ever be needed?
"The Auditor-General's report is, perhaps, unable to answer some of the fundamental questions about channel deepening. The first question is: is it, was it or will it ever be needed? The second question is: will it provide any benefits to either exporters or importers or to the people of Victoria? These questions cannot be and are not answered by this report. "
"The fundamental question regarding the channel-deepening project has always been the need for it and the extent to which ships are actually depth constrained in the port of Melbourne. "
Wide range of figures has been quoted by PoMC
"Over the last few years the Port of Melbourne Corporation has quoted figures ranging from 25 per cent to 38 per cent of ships being unable to enter the bay fully loaded, but during the supplementary environment effects statement process and the hearings, and in the Report on Port Phillip Bay: Channel Deepening by the Standing Committee on Finance and Public Administration released last September, the port admitted that the true figure is around 4 per cent of ships that cannot come into the bay or leave it fully loaded. That means 96 per cent of ships are able to come in and out of the bay fully loaded. "
"The Auditor General's report states that 50 per cent of ships are unable to come into the bay fully loaded. I asked the Auditor-General at his briefing yesterday where he obtained that figure from; he replied that he had obtained it from the port. Elsewhere in this report it states -- in fact, it recommends -- that the Port of Melbourne Corporation start to collect figures on this. "
PoMC does not collect data on number of depth constrained ships entering/leaving Port Phillip Bay
"In fact it does not collect data on what ships are able to come in and out of the bay and are depth constrained. That was an assertion by the port, and it is unfortunate that that figure was used in this report. "
"The Auditor-General then went on to say that in order to measure the benefits the port should start collecting figures on what ships it feels has made use of the benefits of the project. "
Costs of shipping in Port Phillip Bay rising due to 'Channel-deepening levy'
"The other benefits of the project, as they were raised in the briefing, are to be measured by reduced costs to exporters and importers. Certainly information that has come to us is that costs to exporters are rising, because they are paying a $60 channel-deepening levy, whether they need it or not. Many exporters have said throughout the lead-up to this project that they did not need or want the project, and they did not want to be paying for it. They are now paying for it. "
"It will be interesting to see whether, through the life of the project, that measure -- the reduced costs to exporters and importers, when they are in fact rising -- ever comes to be seen. "
Mr IAN COHEN [5.13 p.m.]: Rally Australia is promoting a car rally to be held in northern New South Wales this September and every other year until 2017. The rally will run through the Tweed and Kyogle shires of northern New South Wales. This event is yet to have its development application approved by Tweed Shire Council and Kyogle Council. The councils are awaiting the environmental assessment. This does not seem to deter the organisers, who are promoting it regardless. Repco Rally Australia General Manager, Gary Upson, told the media that organisers were continuing with planning "on the assumption that approval would be given". Given the area through which the rally is planned to travel and the negative environmental impact it may have, I am surprised at his assumption. The confidence with which this rally is being promoted by its organisers as a done deal should ring alarm bells.
The General Manager of Tweed Shire Council, Mike Rayner, is a member of the board of Rally Australia, yet Tweed council does not seem to see this as a conflict of interest, even when the development application for the rally is still to be approved, despite ratepayers' disapproval. Mike Rayner's role with the Repco Rally appears to be a significant non-pecuniary interest and Tweed Shire Council's own code of conduct should preclude his involvement in the rally. Tweed Shire Council has only recently been through the Daly inquiry, resulting in the sacking of its councillors who were seen to be acting in the interests of property developers. In the wake of the Daly inquiry, the people of the Tweed shire are trying to rebuild confidence in their local council, and the role of Mike Rayner is seriously undermining this. In the interests of transparency and propriety, Mike Rayner should be asked to step down from his position on the rally board.
The proposed rally track route has been recognised as an official designated area under the National Landscapes Scheme and named Australia's Green Cauldron. It is an internationally renowned biodiversity hot spotone of only three in Australia and one of 17 in the world. It is a totally inappropriate place for a high-speed car race. How could anyone believe it is a good idea to hold a car rally through heavily forested tracks and dirt roads, including a national park where horse riding is not even permitted? I am receiving a lot of information from local people about the rally going through the habitats of threatened or protected species. Some 100 vulnerable species of wildlife and 23 endangered species in the Tweed area will be placed at greater risk as a result of the rally, which would coincide with the breeding season of many species.
The level of disruption this event is likely to cause is not acceptable. Jack Bayliss Park on the foreshore at Marine Parade, Kingscliff, is due to be upgraded to become a service pit for the competing rally cars. Sections of the park will be fenced off and the grass removed to allow installation of a temporary gravel surface. This upgrade, due to cost approximately $265,000, is being funded by money provided by a Federal Government grant for community infrastructure. This is hardly a venture for the community, given the real infrastructure needs of regional New South Wales. What will happen to this park after the event? Will it be despoiled every two years for the rally?
We are not allowed to know how much money Events New South Wales is contributing to this eventit is held to be commercial in confidencebut the destruction of Jack Bayliss Park is being done using Federal funds. Rally Australia Pty Ltd is a public company with shareholders. Why does it require taxpayers' money to bolster its activities, especially when they involve despoiling the beautiful Far North Coast? If this event is going to make money for the area, as its organisers keep trumpeting, why does it need public funding? I doubt the claims by organisers that the rally will boost the local economy. Mark McGowan, the former Western Australia Minister for Tourism, withdrew Western Australia's support for the Repco rally. In Parliament he said: $6 million for one single event that returns $1.60 for every dollar invested by the State, when the average return is about $8 for every dollar invested by the State, is not a good return on investment.
When this man was interviewed on ABC television he clearly indicated that there were better ways to invest taxpayers' money. He felt that the returns were insufficient. At the time he also commented on the environmental degradation that such a rally would cause in Western Australia. In this case the environment is much more sensitive. The Green Cauldron, as this Government has called it, is a significant area. Environmentally, the rally will be a potential disaster. Another significant issue that arises with this event is copycat driving. There is a proven correlation between interest in motor racing and the risky driving behaviours of young male drivers. I would be interested to know how much the New South Wales Government's "Speeding. No one thinks big of you" campaign is costing. Surely it is counterproductive to have Events New South Wales funding an event that so glaringly contradicts the messages of the anti-speeding campaign.
A horde of cars careering through native habitats and quiet residential areas for the profit of Repco Rally is out of keeping with these times of austerity. New South Wales is making a mistake in supporting the Repco Rally. The people of the North Coast do not want it, and it should not go ahead. I am reminded that a terrible car accident involving young people occurred just around the corner from where I live at Broken Head, not that far from the proposed rally route. The roads in far northern New South Wales could perhaps cope with professional drivers participating in a rally but not with copycat driving by young people. Such an event would result in deaths on these roads. I ask the Government to reconsider any support for this event.
Who: Greens NSW MP John Kaye Organised by: Power to the People
What: Public Meeting
When: 2pm, Saturday April 18
Where: Tom Mann Theatre, 136 Chalmers St, Surry Hills
A public meeting will be held on Saturday to discuss Premier Nathan Rees' expanding privatisation agenda for NSW. The government's privatisation plans for NSW prisons, ferries, electricity and the sale of other public assets are on the agenda for the meeting.
Greens NSW MP John Kaye who is one of five speakers who will address the meeting said, "The people of NSW have already spoken about electricity privatisation. They want their utilities to remain in public ownership.
"There is very little difference between what Michael Costa was proposing in 2008 and Joe Tripodi's plan today.
"Both will result in the private sector controlling the generators and retailers and deciding the working conditions for employees of the electricity industry," Dr Kaye said.
For more information: John Kaye 0407 195 455
Event Organiser: Colin Drane 0419 698396
Greens member of the NSW Parliament
phone: (02) 9230 2668
fax: (02) 9230 2586
mobile: 0407 195 455
email: john.kaye [ AT ] parliament.nsw.gov.au
No New Runway, Night Curfew Now
Media release from Dr Andrew Jeremijenko, Greens cadidate for Clayfield, March 2009
The Brisbane Airport has released its 2009 Preliminary Draft Master Plan, and the public only has until the 30th March to comment on it. This plan proposes the construction of a new parallel runway and the continuation of 24 hour operations.
The new runway would cause multiple problems including increased noise pollution, learning problems for children, increased risk of plane crashes from bird strikes, which could result in an environmental disaster for the Moreton bay and Boondall Wetlands. Brisbane Airport had the highest number of bird strikes in 2008 and they are building the new runway on the edge of where all those birds are coming from.
It is important that people make submissions opposing this new parallel runway and calling for a night curfew. The Canberra Airport Master plan was rejected in November 2008, due to community concern, and they are now considering a curfew. Submissions may be made to info [AT] bacmajorprojects.com.au. (It is interesting that now Kevin Rudd has moved to Canberra the feds rejected their new parallel runway.)
The Greens are the only political party saying no to the proposed new runway. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, fought the new parallel runway for over a decade and promised that if elected he would impose a night curfew, but has now walked away from this commitment.
Greens candidate for Clayfield, Andrew Jeremijenko is the only Clayfield candidate that opposes the new parallel runway. He is a doctor and a specialist in environmental medicine and states it would cause adverse impacts on human health and amenity.
The Greens will impose a night curfew now and require changes to minimise noise pollution and to protect the Boondall Wetlands, the internationally protected bird sanctuary.
The ALP should reject the master plan and immediately impose additional conditions to minimise environmental harm, employing the same powers it used last year to effectively stop the controversial Gunns Pulp Mill.
What you can do: Urgently send to info [AT] bacmajorprojects.com.au a submission advising of your objection to the new runway by Monday 30 March.
#BirdShooting">Wildlife body attacks airport bird shooting
By Michael McKenna, Source: QNP
Brisbane Airport has admitted that pelicans are shot to prevent crashes.
THE Federal Airports Corporation (FAC) was under attack by conservationists yesterday after officers shot several pelicans which had wandered close to the tarmac at Brisbane airport.
The pelicans were shot by FAC safety officers as part of "standard practice'' to keep native birdlife out of the flight-path of departing aircraft.
Airport workers, who witnessed the incident, said they were sickened to watch the safety officer fire on the flock of pelicans as they waded in water on the airfield.
At least two pelicans were killed and one other wounded in the exercise which the FAC described as the "last alternative'' in a bird harassment program.
FAC manager of airport services Cam Spencer said it was a choice between wildlife and the safety of hundreds of people.
Several methods of managing the bird problem were used, including shooting blanks and deterring nesting, before the final solution was employed, he said.
"The current season has seen large flocks of birds, particularly herons, roosting in the airport,'' he said.
"We are attempting to tackle this problem and have involved specialists from Griffith University to devise strategies to remove the danger.
"A major hazard to safety in airports throughout the world is the possibility that a bird will be ingested by an aircrafts engine, particularly during takeoff.''
The Queensland Wildlife Preservation Society said they were "appalled'' by the killings and recommended an investigation into alternative approaches.
Deputy president Ted Fensom said other airports employed tamer methods to deal with the problem, including the introduction of trained Peregrine falcons which were released sporadically to scare off wildlife.
"This seems to be an appalling approach to management, why they had to shoot them remains to be seen,'' he said.
Table 17 below is taken from the web and I have given the link which shows Brisbane had the highest total bird strike number last year at 90.
Birdstrikes at major aerodromes, 2000 to 30 September 2008, source www.atsb.gov.au/publications/2008/pdf/AviationStats.pdf
Standing for Green Jobs, renewable energy technologies, preventative health, sustainable livelihood and culture. Check out the Queensland Greens Green Jobs, Energy and Sustainable Water Policies here.
When YOU choose to vote Greens 1 (and then make your informed choice between the other two parties) you get.
- to send a message to the old parties - make your policies lean
toward Social equity, financial justice and show real leadership on
Climate Change NOW
- The knowledge that you are sustaining Glass House into your childrens future.
- A strong, passionate, caring voice with no attachment to
lobbyists or those interested in private gain at the expense of the
In Glass House I am committed to
- Improving public transport, having a More affordable Go!Card to reward use of public transport. I will work with the government to bring about a strategy of free public transport for under 21s and seniors to encourage our young people out of car dependent habits.
- No matter who is in 'power' I will stand tall for a complete halt to good farmland being drowned, concreted or mined. Local food is low carbon, healthy, fresh and provides local jobs.
- Stopping the Traveston Dam to preserve Mary Valley farmland and the river's unique ecology.
- Encouraging and supporting local food markets and market gardens, ensuring fairer prices for farmers.
- Providing solar panels to the aged, to schools and to nursing homes, combining care for the most vulnerable with reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It also creates green jobs.
- Greatly increasing funding and staffing levels in schools and healthcare facilities, focusing on preventative initiatives.
- Involving indigenous Elders to resolve the issue of stolen wages so that reconciliation can proceed and working to bring Aboriginal health in line with that enjoyed by all.
- Supporting the residents of Glasshouse Mountains in their opposition to low flying aircraft and I deplore the state government initiatives to establish a new airport and helicopter training school close to residential areas.
- Implementing an affordable housing strategy and looking at creative ways of housing our young people without costing the earth.
- Being available to the electorate to listen to your concerns by holding regular 'mobile office' days around the electorate. I have a website www.glasshousegreens.com and will be readily contactable by phone or email to glass.house [ AT ] qld.greens.org.au.
And about me personally:
I am an industrial design engineer (designing phones, security sensors, an ammonia printer and shower components in my time), trained at the National College of Art & Design in Dublin. I emigrated from Ireland 20 years ago to pursue my career in Sydney. I have also worked as office manager and fundraising coordinator for Oxfam and as an aged carer here on the Sunshine Coast.
With Oxfam I learned of the connections between poverty in developing countries, over-consumption in the West and global environmental degradation.
Since moving to Maleny 10 years ago I have been an administrator in my partners bush revegetation and seed business and a professional musician. I love camping, reading and painting.
In my 45 years I have been involved in many environmental education projects and campaigns, including one of the first Greenhouse Education campaigns to tour the NT.
Development, jobs and growth need not cost us our environment. There is neither economy nor comfort without a sound environment. Political will is the missing ingredient.
My commitment is to a healthy environment for the future, social equity, community building and peace. In the Qld Parliament I will work constructively with the elected government AND YOU to meet these goals on your behalf.
I see that poor old Wilson Tuckey is ('No fuel, no fire' policy must be enforced: Wilson Tuckey, Farm Weekly, 11/02/2009)frothing at the mouth again over trees.
He just cannot see the point of them. Perhaps desperate for company, he's got the attention of the media with the usual dog-whistles. And the media take advantage of this desperate old pollie; they are always on the hunt for conflict, especially if they can hang it onto a raw bona fide tragedy.
Of course, our media wouldn't want to look at the big picture, would they, or that just might mean they would have to stop barracking for growth, suburbs on newly cleared bushland, continuous population growth and a thimble-full of very expensive water per person on the driest continent in the world (apart from Antarctica).
What causes forest-fires? Apart from record heat-waves, interference with forests causes them.
Sustainable forestry in Victoria
When stone-age people learned how to use fire, they probably nearly set the world on fire and permanently altered climate. So the Australian aborigines were probably not unique in what they are thought to have done with their 'fire-stick farming', assisting a drying of the continent which was perhaps already in train. (Ref. Mary White, After the Greening, the Browning of Gondwanaland, Kangaroo Press 1994; Peter Andrews, Australia on the Brink, and Tim Flannery, The Future Eaters) Some people think that the Australian Aborigines greatly reduced Australia's carrying capacity by getting rid of the earlier, wetter forests, and promoting eucalypts and acacias.
But the Aborigines had nothing on Europeans. In the early years, the only voluntary visitors to these shores were natural scientists and artists. Then along came the gold-rush, erasing entire forests for building, heating and cooking materials. The gold-rush permanently impoverished many areas in Victoria, botanically and zoologically and altering their rainfall and hydrology. Today, in such places, still pitted with old mines, thin trees struggle, there is virtually no topsoil, and massive evaporation.
European Australians have been interfering with forests by logging for years.
In a country that was already dry, we have proceeded like a race of termites. Those lovely little wooden houses in Brisbane stand where a great big forest once stood. Same story everywhere you find those cute little wooden houses. At first they have ornate wooden lace decorating them. Then they become plainer and smaller. You know that the forests ran out when the houses are made of brick. You go to a wilderness area to admire the trees, but they are only a tenth of the size of the giants that Europeans took down and exported back to England. The fig trees in Cairns are bigger than the trees in the Daintree.
We hear all about sustainable logging; just a little bit here, just a little bit there...
It all exposes the land to the sunlight and begins the drying.
Even in a huge forest like this
The areas which succumbed to bush-fires in Victoria this year have been logged on and off for years.
And plantations are full of inflammable pines.
Apart from being wrong, blaming the 'greens' (some amorphous group designated the Enemy) overlooks just a few other factors.
Some inconvenient factors
The heat - global warming - exacerbated by land-clearing
The government forced population-growth that has overshot a water-supply which would have seen us through at 17m or less.
Result: a lot of dry, shadeless gardens - no defense against fire
The building of suburbs next to forests
The reduction of water to natural landscapes, for diversion to human industry
The reduction of water from suburbs, for diversion to industry.
The hydrological cycle - note the role of trees in causing rain and keeping water in the soil
We have to moisten our soils and our forests to mitigate the drying and to cool areas locally. Clearing land increases heat and fire risk. Houses can be rebuilt under the earth or they will need to be moved away from forests and the government must stop importing people to increase the size of this population, the size of which is already causing unsustainable demand on water which has now probably claimed lives.
Here is what logging does to forests:
Every year, accidental understory fires damage a large percentage of Amazon forest. This is the phenomenon we have called 'cryptic deforestation' (Nepstad 1999). These escaped fires travel slowly (10-20 meters an hour) and only reach a few inches in height, but they can be quite destructive to understory vegetation and kill many larger trees. Once a forest has burned, increased leaf shedding, an abundance of branches and other coarse fuel enhance its fuel load, and an open canopy ensures the fuel will be dry enough to burn. Since settlement is typically a one-way process, the ignition source - humans - is there to stay, and successive burns tend to be more intense and destructive.
Cryptic deforestation due to forest fires and logging may affect as much forest area as deforestation in most years — and even more during periods of prolonged drought. For instance, during El Niño years, up to 25,000 km2 of Brazilian forests may be affected by fire."
Clearing forests a cause of malaria; withholding DDT is a red herring
Oh, and in case you thought that not using DDT caused mosquito epidemics, consider this:
Mosquito epidemics can be caused by clearing forests. Preferred oviposition sites for anopheles are small temporary pools in full sunlight Many mosquitos need to be exposed to sunlight to harden their wings. These conditions were not so often possible when they lived in pools in rich forests, below tall trees and understory, which blocked out the light. Malaria epidemics, through history, occurred with the clearing of forests. And so did soil depletion and the transformation of green and pleasant places into hot deserts.
References for Malaria:
Robert S. Desowitz, New Guinea Tapeworms and Jewish Grandmothers,W.W. Norton and company, New York, London and Richard Carter and Kamini N. Mendis, “Evolutionary and Historical Aspects of the Burden of Malaria,” Clinical Microbiology Reviews, October 2002, p. 564-594, Vol. 15, No. 4, 0893-8512/02/$04.00+0, DOI: 10.1128/CMR.15.4.564-594.2002, American Society for Microbiology, http://malaria.wellcome.ac.uk/doc_WTD023991.html. (For further information, the authors are linked to the following: University of Edinburgh, Division of Biological Sciences, ICAPB, Ashworth Laboratories, Edinburgh EH9 3JT, United Kingdom,1 Roll Back Malaria Project, World Health Organization, Geneva 27, Switzerland.)
See also www.tulane.edu/~wiser/malaria/Malaria-VectorBiology.ppt
 References for Forests and soil loss: John Perlin, A forest journeyThe Countryman Press, Woodstock, Vermont, 2005 and David Montgomery, Dirt, the Erosion of Civilisations, University of California Press, 1997.
Greater glider, illustration by John Gould
We have received this information from a media release dated today, Wed 28th January 2009, on the occasion of a media conference with Senator Bob Brown on the Environment, East Gippsland, held at Treasury Gardens, outside 4 Treasury Place, Melbourne.
Call for immediate halt to logging
Environment East Gippsland has called for an immediate halt to logging at Brown Mountain, following the discovery of endangered species in the controversial area on the Australia Day weekend. They have obtained legal advice that the area should be set aside from logging.
The discovery of threatened species in the controversial area of Brown Mountain in East Gippsland will now have to be confirmed by Government biologists this week. Under threat of arrest, volunteers carried out wildlife surveys in the old growth forests.
Both professional and amateur surveyors discovered the presence of the threatened Orbost Spiny Crayfish, the endangered Sooty and Powerful owls and a large population of Greater Gliders.
“The place is literally teaming with endangered species.” said Jill Redwood from Environment East Gippsland.
“The government and logging industry knows it is one of the most diverse and wildlife rich sites remaining unprotected, but refused to identify these animals before they started cutting down their habitat. We had to prove it.”
“Our legal advice is that the Minister has the power to halt logging while confirmation surveys are carried out. However, we have had no assurances from government that logging will cease meanwhile - destroying giant old owl and glider nesting trees every day that it continues.”
“The great tragedy with the crayfish is that VicForests have already bulldozed very close to its rainforest creek edge destroying much of the buffer zone needed to protect it’s habitat.”
Government should cease arresting environmentalists and halt logging
“Before more threatened forest wildlife is destroyed the government must cease logging and cease arresting people for trying to protect these critical habitats.”
For comment: Jill Redwood – 5154 0145
See also: "Bob Brown: Threatened animal find must stop Brown Mountain logging, "Sue Pennicuik: Heartbreak at Brown Mountain", "Sue Pennicuik: Logging on Brown Mountain is state sanctioned vandalism", "Brown Mountain Rape".
Media Release by Senator Scott Ludlam, Wednesday 3 Dec 08
The Australian Greens say the Government must take a majority equity stake in the National Broadband Network to ensure it's operated in the public interest, as controversy regarding Telstra's bid continues.
"Telstra has carefully cherry-picked from the government's project objectives throughout the bidding process. It wants the $4.7 billion dollars as a low interest loan, it will only cover 80 to 90% of the government's promised 98% of the population and it wants regulations governing competition watered down further," said the Greens Communications Spokesperson, Senator Scott Ludlam.
"The progressive privatisation process mutated Telstra from a public utility into an aggressive, litigious and self-interested private corporation. If we needed another case study as to why you shouldn't privatise essential services, here it is."
The Senator made the comments as he tabled a minority report on the Government's Broadband Bill in the Senate.
"The Government must hold its ground. If the Government caves into Telstra's demands it risks delivering an expensive lemon to the Australian people, with limited or non-existent regional coverage, and with the interests of Telstra's shareholders continuing to take precedence over the public interest."
For more information or media enquiries please call Robert Simms on 0417 174 302 or visit Senator Scott Ludlam's Web site at scott-ludlam.greensmps.org.au.
#SeeAlso" id="SeeAlso">See also:
"Telstra questions broadband commitment" in the Age of 30 Nov 08,"Conroy defends Telstra's NBN bid" in PC World of 28 Nov 08, "Telstra slams Whirlpool and 'dead tree journalists' over unfair NBN coverage" in IT Wire of 2 Dec 08, "Telstra: We're the only ones to cost broadband proposal" on the ABC on 30 Nov 08, "Telstra spruiks itself in NBN letter" in ZD Net on 3 Dec 08, "Telstra's pitch in the mail" in the Herald Sun of 3 Dec 08.
"$5bn more needed on broadband: Telstra" in the Australian IT Section of 4 Dec 08
"TELSTRA today said it would need the Rudd Labor Government to commit at least $10 billion to build the national broadband network in order to comply with the terms of its tender. ..."
"Telstra's new NBN conversation tool degenerates rapidly" in IT News of 2 Dec 08
"Telstra have added a new mini-site to nowwearetalking to 'encourage a conversation' on the NBN -- let's hope it's a bit more insightful than the first post, which blasts Aussie journalists, Singtel Optus and basically anyone within reach.
"The NBN landing page is designed to be a one-stop-shop to provide information about the National Broadband Network, according to David Quilty, managing director of public policy and communications for Telstra. ...
"Telstra call centres in crisis" in the Australian IT Section of 2 Dec 08
"THE customer and billing software at the heart of Telstra's billion-dollar transformation is a recycled version of a system at Italy's largest telco, built several years ago by systems integrator Accenture."
"Telstra is losing call-centre staff fed up with what they describe as a culture of bullying brought on by the new system.
"The budget for the telco's much-touted transformation program, which focuses on a new platform based on Oracle's Siebel customer relationship management (CRM) software, has blown out to more than $2 billion and suffered months of delays. ..."
"Telstra users left holding exposed lines" in the Sydney Morning Herald Technology Section of 9 Dec 08
"THOUSANDS of Telstra customers are putting up with crude, temporary phone connections with cables held together by tape and plastic bags and strung along fences, across lawns and through trees. In many cases the unsightly - even dangerous - cables are left in place for months and even years, despite repeated pleas to finish the job by burying them. ..."
"Telstra cuts widow off from world" in the Toowoomba Chronicle of 30 Nov 08
"ALL Telstra had to do was take two initials off Mavis Evans's phone bill.
"Instead, it disconnected the Toowoomba widow's landline for three days.
"So distraught at being confronted with the loss of her deceased husband every time she opened her mail, Mrs Evans applied to have his initials deleted.
"'Unbeknownst to me, this means they close the account in both names and reopen the new one,' she said.
"'In the meantime, they disconnect your phone. That, to me, is ridiculous.'
"A loyal customer for 40 years, she and her Pittsworth-based daughter Jan Kruger made about 10 calls to Telstra during the first two days of disconnection alone...."
The following was adapted from Green's MLC Lee Rhiannon's media release "World Youth Day cost blowout: independent review needed" of 26 Nov 08 - JS
Those who have accepted the necessity of the current fire sale of NSW government assets included in the recent "slash and burn" budget, which is taking that state into recession, may be amazed to learn of the staggering cost blow-out of the World Youth Day celebrations held in Sydney from Tuesday 15 to Sunday 20 July 2008.
The NSW Auditor-General's report released on 26 November reported that the cost to NSW taxpayers increased from an initial estimate of AU$20million (all amounts in Australian dollars) to its final cost of over $120 million. In addition, the Federal Government contributed $20.5 million bringing the total cost to Australian taxpayers to over $140 million. As some costs incurred by NSW Government agencies may be unobtainable, the full cost to taxpayers may never be known. For its part, the Catholic Church contributed only $10 million to meeting the costs of the event.
The Sydney Morning Herald of 27 reports that the Department of State and Regional Development claimed that NSW had gained $152 million, but had yet to substantiate that claim.
On top of this, the NSW Government plans to throw tens of millions more taxpayer dollars at a planned #V8supercars">V8 supercar races to be held at Olympic Park. The Minister for State Development having given in principle support for NSW to incur losses of up to $86million over three years.
As consquence of the World Youth Day Fiasco Greens MP Lee Rhiannon says the NSW Auditor-General, not the government, should conduct an independent performance audit of World Youth Day because the government cannot be trusted to provide an impartial, comprehensive evaluation of the event.
The Auditor General today recommended that the government undertake a cost benefit review of its involvement in World Youth Day.
"It is not in the public interest to let the government conduct a post-event review of World Youth Day, as recommended by the Auditor-General today," Ms Rhiannon said.
"The history of this government suggests an internal post-event review would be shabby and unhelpful. A thorough review into all aspects of World Youth Day 2008 by an independent body like the Auditor General is required.
"In June this year I met with the Auditor-General to ask him to conduct a performance review to delve into the effectiveness, efficiency and economy of agencies involved in organising the event.
"The Auditor-General has powers to conduct a performance audit and investigate allegations of serious and substantial waste of public money.
"There are many aspects of World Youth Day 2008 that deserve to be put under the microscope, not just why the final cost was six times the original budget estimate.
"The Auditor-General could analyse whether the additional APEC like police powers given were excessive or appropriate, and uncover the full story behind the decision to use Randwick racecourse for the papal mass and the resulting compensation deal.
"Mr Achterstraat's office could also examine the continued failure of the government to publicly release key reports and papers detailing predicted costs and benefits, despite repeated demands before the event was held.
"The Rees government is keen to put Sydney back on the events circuit. The flawed decision to bring V8 supercar racing to Olympic Park is a prime example.
"A proper independent evaluation of World Youth Day by the Auditor General is important to learn lessons for the future of this state," Ms Rhiannon said.
See also: NSW Electricity Privatisation, "Youth day ran $100m over budget" in SMH of 27 Nov 08 and more subdued reporting in "World Youth Day bill $100m over budget" of 26 Nov 08 in Rupert Murdoch's Australian newspaper which lavishly promoted the event at the time, NSW Auditor-General's World Youth Day Report (pdf, 45K).
#V8supercars" id="V8supercars">Appendix: Community will Carry the Cost of V8s at Olympic Park
Greens Media Release of 26 Sep 08
New laws to ban compensation claims by local businesses adversely affected by V8 car racing at Olympic Park in addition to a $35 million injection of public funds shows that the community, not the organisers, will pay the costs of the Supercar event.
This legislation is reported to remove the right of local business operators to seek compensation for disruptions to their business caused by the event. It is also reported to circumvent environmental and planning legislation to stop legal challenges to the event.
“This government has a track record of arbitrarily removing citizens’ rights and throwing around government money to support private sector events. It does not have a track record of ensuring the public gets any return on that public investment,” said Ms Hale.
“Legislation to remove the rights of Olympic Park leaseholders is unacceptable. Leases were signed on the understanding that business owners had a suitable environment to operate their businesses. The government is taking that environment away to benefit another commercial enterprise.”
“If the government is going to renege on the promises it made in the leases, the V8 promoters should pay compensation.
“Similarly any attempt to remove the rights of local residents to take legal action in response to the months of disruption and the environmental damage that will be caused by holding the V8 event at Olympic Park is also unacceptable.”
“Today’s Auditor-General’s report into the $100 million blow out in public funding for World Youth Day shows just how inept this government is when it uses public funds to promote private events.”
“The V8 event at Olympic Park will have many negative impacts on local residents and businesses. The event should be moved to the existing motor racing precinct at Eastern Creek where the negative impact will be significantly less,” said Ms Hale.
See also: NSW Electricity Privatisation, "Why the V8 Supercars will be taxpayer-injected" in SMH of 29 Sep 08, "O'Farrell vows to restore free travel" on the ABC on 13 Nov 08, "Say no to v8 supercar racing at Olympic Park" on Lee Rhiannon's website, Parliamantary debate of V8 Supercar Races at Sydney Olympic Park of 24 Nov 08.
Too many unanswered questions on net censorship
The Australian Greens have warned there are too many unanswered questions about the government's internet filtering plan, as the government calls for Internet Service Providers to participate in its trial.
"We still don't know how this filter would sift through the billions of websites on the internet in search of the 'unwanted' material referred to in question time today by Minister Conroy," said the Greens Communications Spokesperson, Senator Scott Ludlam.
Last month at Senate Estimates, Senator Ludlam queried the focus of the filter and in particular, whether similar schemes have been implemented overseas. The Senator queried the issue again today to establish why the Government had compared Australia's proposed mandatory system with a number of other countries where net filtering is not mandatory. Again the Minister failed to answer the question directly.
"Unfortunately, the Minister did not respond to my question. He still hasn't explained why the proposed mandatory filter is being compared to optional filters operating overseas. It's like comparing apples to oranges. It doesn't advance the debate in any way."
"The internet has not traditionally been the focus of censorship in democratic countries, and the online community has been tenacious in its pursuit of straight answers from the Minister. I'll be doing what I can to get those answers on the record so we know what we're dealing with," concluded Senator Ludlam.
For more information or media enquiries please call Robert Simms on 0417 174 302
Media Adviser to
Senator Scott Ludlam
Australian Greens Senator for Western Australia
Sitting weeks: Tel: 02 6277 3467 | Fax: 02 6277 5821
S1.36, Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600
Non-Sitting weeks: Tel: 02 6277 3566 | Fax: 02 6277 3185
SG111, Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600
Mobile: 0417 174 302
See also: "Filtering out the fury: how government tried to gag web censor critics" in the SMH of 24 Oct 08, #more-217">"Filtering Pilot and ACMA Blacklist - Not just 'illegal' material" on Electronic Frontiers Australia on 15 Nov 08, "Net censorship plan backlash" in the Age of 11 Nov 08, YouTube broadcast of Senator Scott Ludlum questioning Communications Minister Senator Stephen Conroy about the planned censorship, "Winning the war against Internet censorship" by David Jackmanson on Online Opinion of 17 Nov 08, Online Opinion Forum "What's happening about the internet censor?" of 13 Nov 08, "Australia Joins China In Censoring The Internet" on TechCrunch of 30 Dec 07, www.scottludlam.org.au