This is a report on my participation with Politics Week at Caulfield Grammar School, Wheelers Hill Campus.
I was invited to represent the Australian Greens at a Politics Week event at Caulfield Grammar School, Wheelers Hill Campus on 29 November 2005.
The event was organised by the school as an early part of a subject for Year 9 students being provided by the school to improve the student’s knowledge of political processes.
The speakers at this event were:
Paul Kavanagh (Democrats), Kim Wells (Liberal, Scoresby), Noel Maughan (National, Rodney), Peter Campbell (Greens), Maxine Morand (ALP, Mount Waverley).
The speakers introducing themselves to the assembled students and provided some information on their personal background, how/why entered politics and some background on their party’s history and platform, including current issues of priority for the party - on both a National and State level.
Small group sessions were then held, with a speaker allocated to each. These sessions provided a means to further explain and explore current issues and related party policies, and for questions and answers.
I provided my group with an overview of the Greens and our vision for a fair, independent and sustainable Australia and our platform of supporting and promoting the values of peace, democracy, care for the environment and social justice. I stated that we believe this is important for our shared future in terms of both sustainability and social cohesion.
Some current national issues I covered included the anti-terror laws, public education, climate change and industrial relations. Some local and state issues I covered included improving public transport infrastructure and services, equitable funding for public health and education, improving the liveability and sustainability of our cities, channel deepening impacts, water usage, the Gunnamatta outfall, protecting our water catchments from logging
I got each of the students to ask a question. Interestingly, most of the questions were on national issues. Some of the questions were:
“Will the greens legalise drugs?”
I replied that the Greens will not legalise drugs. The Greens support the removal of criminal penalties for drug users, but not for drug traffickers. We support treating drug usage as a health issue, not a criminal issue.
“Van Nguyen lived nearby and would have brought drugs to Australia that may have killed some of my friends – what to you think about his impending execution ”
I replied that Van Nguyen was a convicted drug trafficker and should have been dealt with appropriately by Australian Law – including a jail sentence if warranted – but that his execution was a very excessive penalty that the Greens oppose. In addition, the drugs he was carrying were already confiscated, and he had confessed, repented for his actions and cooperated with police.
“Where the recent hurricanes in America to do with climate change? Is there any proof of this?"
I replied that the overwhelming body of scientific evidence has now confirmed that the greenhouse effect is real and happening, but that it is difficult to prove that any single weather event is due to it. However, there has been an increase in the number and severity of hurricanes. And the artic seas are very late freezing this year which is causing polar bears to starve as they cannot access their hunting grounds on the sea ice. I also stated that the Howard government’s proposal to invest in research on trying to “make coal green” was a very bad decision and a waste of time and money.
Overall, the students were well informed and up to date on current issues. It is interesting that some of the scare tactics used by the Murdoch press, the Liberals, Nationals, Family First and Lindsay Tanner during the 2004 federal election seem to be still current in many people’s minds. I think we need to continue our efforts and focus on countering this smear campaign and shift the focus to our positive views for our future.