Sunday, December 25, 2005

Pondering over war during Christmas festivities

Photo © Nord-Ouest Production

I saw Joyeux Noël, and excellent european movie, a couple of days ago.

It is one of the best movies I have ever seen. The contrast between soldiers who choose to celebrate Christmas in the trenches of World War 1 and the official response to their actions is heart rending. The movie is inspired by a true story which happened on Christmas Eve in 1914 .

The lunacy of war and those who encourage it is apparent.

I couldn't help thinking about the American, British and Australian soldiers sent to Iraq to solve what George Bush, Tony Blair and John Howard now classify as a "regime change, lack of democracy and terrorism" issues, now that their apalling "mistake" about "weapons of mass destruction" has at least been admitted by George Bush and Tony Blair .

These political leaders should know better than to conduct a war based on ideology and politics; the problems arising from it will haunt future generations like the Berlin Wall did and the partion of Korea still does. The parallels with Vietnam are disturbing too. The Americans will eventually leave Iraq - the question is not if but when, and what will they leave behind.

A monument symbolising peace and to mark the 90th anniversary of the 1914 "fraternisations" is is planned for construction in 2006 in the village of Neuville St Vaast. It is greatly encouraging to see people focussing on and working for peace.

Link to the official movie site

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Family First call for lower petrol prices is irresponsible.

Family First’s call for lower petrol prices demonstrates a lack of regard for the problems of climate change. Global warming is acknowledged as the single biggest problem facing the globe. It is quite clear that low petrol prices only encourage the use of fossil fuels, which is a major contribution to exacerbating global warming.

Petrol prices are rising as oil reserves are being depleted, but the price still does not reflect the true cost of fossil fuels in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. Perhaps Steve Fielding should start looking for family friendly ways to reduce our consumption, instead of adding to the problem.

No family impact statement for the IR legislation; none for the VSU legislation, which passed with Steve Fielding’s pivotal vote after confidential meetings with John Howard and Brendan Neilson; no family impact statement for his call for lower petrol prices.

Now funding for child care and other services at Universities will be reduced.

What is Family First really doing for families? Is Stephen Fielding just playing politics and compromising our future?

No regrets on VSU vote: Steve Fielding

Family First calls for fuel excise cut

Friday, December 16, 2005

Take your own action on greenhouse

Submitted as a Letter to Editor

It is most unfortunate that Senator Campbell chooses to cling to the coal industry-sponsored myth that Australia’s dirty brown coal can somehow be “clean and green” for energy production, and that he is prepared to waste money on futile research on this. It is equally unfortunate that he chooses to belittle viable alternatives such as wind and solar power and focus only on economic growth.

Australia’s lack of engagement with and commitment to the rest of the world on setting targets for emission reductions is an abrogation of our responsibility as global citizens - Senator Campbell’s excuses for Australia refusing to ratify the Kyoto agreement are both feeble and impossible to fathom.

Australia is missing a golden opportunity to become a world leader in manufacturing and exporting renewable energy technology. We have the technology, but no political will to promote and encourage industries to create secure long term jobs in this sector.

With our political leaders bereft of any vision or leadership for creating a roadmap to sustainable energy, it is incumbent on us all to do what we can at a personal level. Some easy actions are buying energy efficient appliances and low power light globes. While solar panels on your roof are more expensive, the greenhouse emission reductions commence immediately.

And you can choose carefully whom you vote for in future elections.

Peter Campbell

My talk at Politics Week at Caulfield Grammar School

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.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Why I have nominated for Greens preselection for Southern Metropolitan

I believe we need Greens in the Victorian Parliament.

I am seeking preselection as The Greens lead candidate for the Victorian Legislative Council seat of Southern Metropolitan. I am very keen to promote the policies of The Greens during the 2006 Victorian State Election, and hopefully in the Legislative Council if I am elected.

I believe it is vitally important that all Victorians have the opportunity to vote for The Greens and have their views properly represented in parliament. I also believe that both major parties are failing to deliver on many environmental and social justice issues at State level, which makes it even more important for The Greens to be in parliament to work for better outcomes in these areas, and to make sure that all the values embodied in the Greens charter are represented in the way Victoria is governed.

These values - supporting and promoting peace, democracy, care for the environment and social justice – are important for our shared future in terms of both sustainability and social cohesion.

Some important local issues for both Southern Metropolitan and Victoria that I am actively campaigning on and supporting include:

  • Investing in and improving public transport infrastructure and services, including cycle paths. The Brack's government's huge spending on freeways will encourage more motor vehicle transport which will contribute to more congestion and greenhouse gas emmissions in our cities. I have am leading an reinvigorated proposal to develop the Eastern Rail Trail bicycle path along the Box Hill railway line. I believe that commuter quality bicycle paths should be constructed along all of Melbourne's railway easements.

  • Equitable funding for our public health and education systems so that quality health and education services are available to everyone. In particular, more funding is needed for childcare to support families and parents with young children.

  • Improving the liveability and sustainability of our cities, including urban development and planning challenges such as Kew Cottages. The Bracks government has mismanaged plans for both Kew Cottages and Camberwell Railway station. We need genuine and effective community consultation to ensure that Melbourne 2030-related and other urban development initiatives benefit everyone, not just developers.

  • Channel deepening impacts - the Brack's goverment has not got the business case sorted out for this ill-considered project. The environmental impacts and degradation are considerable. Pandering to the interests of business lobby groups at the expense of our local environment is just not on.

  • Water usage and conservation and ensuring adequate environmental flows to keep our rivers and streams healthy. Mellbourne's appetite for water is impacting regional areas such as Gippsland - large quantities of water are diverted from the Thompson River catchment to Melbourne - which affects the health of the Gippsland lakes.

  • The Gunnamatta outfall - we need to stop the pollution and recycle the waste water - not just doing annual "reviews" of this issue that achieve nothing. We are swimming in our own effluent at Gunnamatta.

  • Protecting our water catchments and old growth forests from logging. The Brack's government continues to allow logging in domestic regional and metropolitan water catchments which impact

  • Reducing greenhouse emissions by shifting to renewable energy. The Bracks government recent extension of the life of the coal burning and greenhouse gas polluting Hazelwood power station is both disingenuous and negligent, as the greenhouse effect is now well and truly upon us. There is no point pretending that brown coal can be green-washed.

  • Supporting the adoption of guidelines for the Victorian Native Vegetation Management Framework and provision of funding for public acquisition over time of a visionary conservation reserve network for greater Melbourne

The Greens will be campaigning on these issues and more during the 2006 Victorian State election, and if elected, for the term of government. Your vote can make a difference. Every Greens primary vote counts, and elected Greens will ensure your issues and priorities are championed in the Victorian Parliament.

More information on my nomination.

What the polls and analysts say

Antony Green Analysis: The Draft Victorian Legislative Council Boundaries.
July, 8, 2005. Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)

Greens Gain Two Seats in Victorian Legislative Council, Under Proposed Changes
Finding No. 3877 - July 21, 2005, Roy Morgan Research] Morgan Poll

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Breach of Petro Georgiou's backbencher agreement highlights need for real change

TO: Petro Georgiou, MP
CC: Amanda Vanstone and John Howard

Dear Petro,

The recent breach of the agreement you and other Coalition backbenchers obtained from Prime Minister Howard and Immigration Minister Vanstone on changes to immigration procedures highlights the need for real change rather than backroom deals.

The centrepiece of your immigration deal made earlier this year was that the detention of children would only occur as a last resort. However, the government has kept the infant children recently arrived from Indonesia in immigration detention.

This is a clear breach of your agreement, and shows why the Government needs to make legislative changes to prevent children from being detained.

Backroom deals have simply not stopped the detention of children, which puts Australia in breach of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The Migration Act should be amended to forbid the detention of children.