Friday, 22 January 2016

Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?' Martin Luther King, Jr.

Here's a powerful speech by Stan Grant, the SBS newsreader. Listening to him gave me a lump in throat and renewed the shame I feel deep in my heart, toward our dominant white culture.

Our white culture- the conquering, western, patriarchal, Australian, capitalist, consumerist, corporate run culture, that even on its best days is only slightly challenged by our democratic processes - is cruel and sexist.

The cruelty and sexism in our culture is almost too much... too insidiously and overwhelmingly evil... to discuss.

Stan Grant legitimately speaks to us about the suffering of his people. He tells us that his success did not come from being an Australian but rather, it came to him despite being an Australian of aboriginal heritage. He had the strength and support to succeed while battling the awful pressures of our white, racist society... but... the fact remains that Stan Grant, no matter his race or societal status, is a man in a man's world. Men dominate. Men rule. Men...especially middle class men and even those with darker skin...have all the power, authority and privilege in our patriarchal culture. 

Women and children are down the ladder and black women are even further down. 

Someone said that South Africa learnt apartheid from Australia.

We need an un-compromised and unrestricted Government, who will change our laws so that all Australian women  receive equal, fair work opportunities and easy access to education and health. The level of domestic violence in Australian society is indicative of the way our culture perceives women. All Australians need to grow in awareness, so that we can change the hearts and minds of our people. Look at the great strides we've made in cultural attitudes toward same sex attraction. And I've been told that attitudes are beginning to change toward all LGBT people. About time Australia!

I believe the first step toward social justice and healing in Australia, is to help as many people as possible become aware of these dysfunctions and attitudes within our culture and then to become self aware, in order to create behavioral changes in our own lives. Are we strong enough to raise these issues with the people in our communities, in work places and with our families? Are we prepared to become examples of a better way of living and to be unafraid to speak up when we experience or become aware of injustice?

 I believe that cultural change will only take place when people finally develop such courage and then it will simply be a matter of critical mass. If we, as a human race, can rise up with one voice, we can create a new world where not only are we all equal but also treated justly and fairly.

As Martin Luther King Jr so famously said ' Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Neither Liberal nor Labor will stop Australia's cruel refugee policy.

Neither major party will stop Australia's cruel refugee policy.

The ALP introduced detention for refugees and continues to support draconian off shore, indefinite detention in sub-standard camps, with brutal over lords.

 The Liberals have simply tweeked the system, making it even more inhumane. Their name belies their actions!

If you genuinely want this dark period in Australian human rights history to end, you will have to vote Green. No other party is willing to stop the grievous harm and trauma being done to so many innocent people, in the name of every single Australian citizen.

 The Greens policy of treating refugees humanely does not mean every person claiming refuge in Australia will be settled here. It would however assure a fair and speedy process of elimination and re-settlement, in Australia or elsewhere. The Greens would and have worked to build networks with New Zealand, Canada and Malaysia to quickly resettle refugees, with medical support, social security, housing, education and re-training for employment.

We would also look at opening Australian run refugee processing centers in Malaysia and Indonesia, in an effort to prevent people from having to get onto leaky boats and make the dangerous journey across the sea to Australia.

The answer is simple: Vote Green.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

You have to make up your mind. Do Greens stop you from chopping down trees or do they actually chop trees down?

It always surprises and disappoints that, despite having the best policies of any party and despite our good record in parliament and in the community, according to comments on social media, a portion of our support base is alarmingly fragile and easily manipulated by lies from either Liberal or Labor.

Don't get me wrong. I welcome collaborative ideas, suggestions and sensible, constructive criticism. But it does seem to me that many are extremely quick to think negatively about and publicly criticise the Greens. In my experience such criticisms are usually either not true or simply misunderstandings or maybe people actually want to believe something negative about the Greens....So I guess that's being prejudiced...isn't it?

Which probably points to the fact that some critics are actually trolls from either side of politics and with trolls what can you do?

Some LABORAL voters want to do the right thing by the environment but don't like the Green's commitment to human rights, the arts, education and health. Unfortunately, to them, social justice is a foreign concept.

AND quite often much of the criticism comes from those who aren't actually joiners or participators  but tentatively vote Green while waiting in the wings for the party to slip matter how minor the concern.

We're kind of damned if we do and damned if we don't. People say all sorts of mixed up things to me. For instance, only recently a family member asked,

'Why do the Greens have to be so left wing? They're so stupid! I mean, who gives a crap about gay marriage? Why don't they just focus on real issues like the environment?'. 

Mmmmm Please refer to my reference on social justice issues. ( Wish I had a series of placards so, each time someone asks, I could hold up the appropriate information...and save my breath! )

Yet others accuse us of being a single issue party and even of being too right wing. Apparently we're either too right wing, too left wing or too limited or not limited enough with our issues! Someone called us too right wing because we dared to vote for the Liberal's corporate tax transparency Bill and changes to the pension, which would ensure pay increases to the poor while cutting them to the rich. Again refer to my comment on social justice issues.

The recent Senate Voting Reform Bill has got people so muddled that even some Greens supporters are confused. Labor has spun such a clever, sinister web of lies and deceit, that many folk who don't really understand the voting reform, have been led to believe something that is utterly untrue. Well done Labor!

How do I know this? Here is some important information that will help you understand the facts.

Senate Voting Reform has been Greens policy since the formation of our party. Bob Brown and Christine Milne brought the idea to the Party over 20 years ago. Of course we were going to vote for it when the time came!

All three parties wanted Senate Voting Reform which had received bipartisan support for years. Both Liberal and Labor agreed that our voting structure must be changed in order to prevent the kind of rorting of the system we've seen so much of in the past few elections.

Such rorting involves the sudden emergence of fake parties and donkey candidates that exist simply to funnel preference votes to another party or candidate. That's not democratic!

Deadly Serious Party
Headquarters  Australia
Ideology joke party
International affiliation None

Under this system of Senate preferencing... my deaf, wheelchair bound, 96 year old neighbour who is suffering from dementia could be nominated as a candidate by her scheming nephew. I love Mable but she's definitely not a feasible candidate for the Senate...although, when you look around the Senate you do wonder....Anyway.... Her nephew could then coerce her into signing a preference deal so that all those who vote for her would actually be voting for the I'm A Scheming Bastard Who Exploits My Old Sick Aunty Party. It's a way of tricking people to vote for you, by scooping up votes that don't actually belong to you, without them even knowing!

How is this possible? Well, these days, on the Senate voting form there are usually many, many candidates and also many parties. Sometimes you must number the candidate in your order of preference from one to ninety five. A daunting task.

However,  to make it easier for the poor voter before the Voting Reform was passed, there was also the option of voting ABOVE THE LINE. So if I wanted to vote for my sweet neighbour Mabel for the Senate, I could have just put a 1 in the box beside her name, above the line and the preference deal she'd unwittingly made with her charming nephew, would mean that, my vote would actually go to said nephew. Because Mabel might have only 1.5% of the overall vote, all her preferences would then go to her nephew, along with some others that said nephew had made a deal with too.

Sometimes, people like Ricky Muir from the Motoring Enthusiasts Party have been voted in on just 1.5% of the vote because they made a deal to share preferences with the Liberals or Labor or the I'm A Scheming Bastard Party. That's just 1.5% primary vote while some candidates who received many more votes, 15% direct primary vote, missed out due to such preference deals. That's not democratic!

AND it gets worse when you take into consideration the fact that people probably didn't know who the preferences were going to. So they could have been going to a candidate or party whose views were actually the opposite to theirs the I'm A Scheming Bastard Party or the Knock Em Down And Shoot Em Party or The Ban All Wheelchairs Party. So the people who voted for Mabel, who obviously relies on her wheel chair to get around, could have unwittingly also voted to ban all wheelchairs! That's not democratic!

Most often preference deals had nothing at all to do with policies or issues but were simply a means to an end. To get elected! That's not democratic!

However, the Bill the Greens have been working toward for 20 years and have been fine tuning with both Labor and Liberal for at least ten years, has finally been passed and now when a voter votes above the line they must number six boxes in order of preference.

The changes won't mean the demise of so called micro parties but it will mean they'll have to gain a higher number of votes to get into the Senate! Sounds like true democracy to me! Good one Greens!
The next important fact to remember is that this Voting Reform had bipartisan support from Greens, Liberals and Labor until about 2 weeks before the Bill was brought before the Senate...when suddenly Labor decided to dump the idea and to spread the lie that the Greens were making a deal with the Liberals. He he. What a joke....only it wasn't funny because many people believed their lie. This was pure wickedness on behalf of Labor and they've lost all respect from me as a consequence! The tiny glimmer of hope I felt toward Labor has been snuffed out by their unscrupulous political maneuverings.

It was a dirty ploy to sell a lie because Labor suddenly realized that if the Senate Voting Reform that had been their own policy for years was actually passed, then they might not win the election. Says something about preference deals doesn't it?

Of course the Greens have done NO DEAL with the Liberals and will preference the Liberals nowhere at all in the coming federal election. BUT GUESS WHO HAS ACTUALLY MADE A PREFERENCE DEAL WITH THE LIBERALS? You guessed it. The Labor Party themselves who  have hurled accusations at the Greens for the last 2 months and convinced so may that the Greens had sold out to the Liberals....have actually done exactly that!

What does that preference look like? On Labor HTV cards there'll be a one beside the Labor candidate and a two beside the Liberal candidate. How weird is that? 

But that's not all. Labor is very good at rewriting history to suit their own needs. Hell, Liberal and Labor are masters of the rewrite! 

The weird accusation that's regularly thrown at the Greens is that it's the Greens fault that we have no price on carbon today. YES, REALLY! Can you believe that? That the Greens who worked their butts off negotiating a price on carbon back in 2011, are accused of preventing a  price on carbon.

The curly logic that's applied to this argument is along the lines of: If the Greens had agreed to Kevin Rudd's CPRS (which would have locked in lower targets than we have now...for ten years or more) we would, today, have a price on carbon. How does that make any sense at all? They're saying that the Greens should have voted for ridiculously low carbon reduction targets...even lower than the present time....and somehow that would have assured us of success. Another ridiculous joke from Labor!

I suspect another problem for we Greens is that we pick up some tentative support from single issue campaigners such as anti-GM, animal rights, gay marriage, violence against women, child sex abuse, forests, refugee rights, indigenous rights, sustainable population and so on. It astounds me that people can be completely devoted to one important cause, while not giving a hoot about anything else. They can't understand why the Greens have comprehensive policies and actions in all areas of concern including renewable energy, economics, health, transport and education.

Gold Walkley award winner, Joanne McCarthy, who was instrumental in raising the issue of the child abuse scandal in the Church, recently wrote a disappointing article concerning people who ruin the 'ambience' in cafes by asking if the coffee is organic and fair trade. Is she a single issue journalist I wonder?

I'm always surprised and perplexed when I see yet another single interest party raise it's head; like The Sex Party, Hunters and Shooters Party and Car Enthusiasts Party. Australia must have more parties than any other country in the world.

 And then there are the branch off onto the twig parties ( Twig Parties is a good name for them ) like The Labour Coalition Party, the Nationals Bob Katter Party, the Liberals Clive Palmer Party and the Nick Bloody Xenothon Party among others. I can't wait for the Dancing On One Leg Camera Enthusiasts Party or the Curly Haired Crossed Eyed Tree Climbers Party. No, seriously, that's a thing! (No it's not but you believed me for a second, didn't you?)

The Greens are accused of being a single issue party yet we have comprehensive policies covering most issues. ( I only say most because someone, somewhere will point out something at sometime....)

We're charged with contradictory things like cutting trees down while stopping them from being cut down. Some blame us for bush fires because we're against burn offs, which of course is not true and we're not! Crazy baby! When will they realize that the Greens aren't actually in Government so can't be blamed for any legislation that causes a tree to be chopped down or otherwise...though it would be very unlikely for the Greens to vote for such an action unless it was a very bad weed variety of tree. Nevertheless, people find a way to blame the bloody Greenies.

Apparently we're spooky, new age, born again crystal worshiping, Godless heathens. I've been Catholic all my life and know some Greens candidates like Canberra's Lin Hatfield Dodd, who are actually elders in their churches.

I guess, just like all the other parties, some of the criticism is true some of the time and in those instances, if the criticism falls within our four philosophical pillars of Social Justice, Peace and Non-Violence, Sustainable Environment and Grassroots Democracy, then the Greens are more than willing to re-group and re-think an issue.

I have however, found that most of the criticism is utterly unfounded...and that includes a few things I myself have taken issue with. If I do the research, get the facts and discuss it with someone, the issue is usually resolved.

Sometimes, with some of the social media criticisms, there is a fair amount of prejudice and ego involved. Well, more than a 'fair' amount. They make bullying statements and then accuse us of bullying if we dare to defend ourselves. 

And speaking of egos, a number of older gents (and sometimes younger ones too) have theories, quite often of the conspiracy variety, about a particular concern and then proceed to manipulate, connive, write, phone and weasel in order to get the Greens ( me and my comrades) to become their minions. (Code for bug eyed, crazy, egocentric, old, grumpy git wants Greens to work for him.) AND when the Greens (me) politely decline, suddenly, we are the devil in disguise and very much a part of THE conspiracy of whatever particular, old git theory he's fixating upon.

I take umbrage with the more patronising critics who say things like,  'I'm so glad the Greens are in parliament. You fight for good things but I could never vote for you because you've never been in Government.'

Yeah, so let's fix that and vote the Greens right smack bang into Government ASAP! Then you can vote for us for ETERNITY!

Is that what they're saying? That no matter what someone believes, no matter what's going on in the world ( refugee crisis, climate change, economic crisis ) and no matter how incompetent and power grabbing the Government proves to be, we should always keep voting them in (either Liberal or Labor) just because they've actually been in Government? Isn't that absurd? So no matter how good the Greens are and how qualified we are to run the country, we should never be voted in because we've never been in Government! How are we supposed to get experience if we aren't given the chance? And if we fail, then vote us out again! ( WE WON'T FAIL. )

Anyway, finishing now before I die of frustration!

Vote Green everyone. At the next Federal election, for the sake of this and future generations, turn Canberra GREEN!

Friday, 8 January 2016

Why the type of coffee you drink is crucial to fighting climate change and child labour.

Joanne McCarthy's article 'Enough Poppycock' in The Warrnambool Standard weekender Sat 2nd Jan 2016, lacks ethical insight. Does she seriously believe that by asking if the coffee is organic, the customer victimises the cafe proprietor, spoils the ambience and ruins everyone's day? Joanne is a Gold Walkley recipient, so by rights she should know better!

Here are some facts about the non-organic, non-fair trade coffee she chooses to imbibe amid the 'scent of sunscreen and coconut oil'.

Non-organic, sun coffee is responsible for the demise of great swathes of the world's rain forests and is therefore a huge contributor to climate change.

Shade grown, organic coffee ensures the preservation of (threatened) biodiversity within the rain forest and the survival of the forest itself, while either keeping the ecosystem pesticide and poison free or restoring a healthy balance.

Coffee farmers in South America and Africa receive 7-10% of its retail price. When prices fall below costs, farmers struggle to feed their families or educate their children.

Child labour is common in the global coffee industry.

 Organic, fair trade coffee means a better life for all those people now and into the future by ensuring: adult only employment, fair wages and safe working conditions. It also helps to curb climate change.

Joanne McCarthy is either ignorant of the facts or her sense of justice doesn't extend beyond the victims of sexual abuse. If so, she should stick to the subject she understands or become better informed.

Every person should be asking important questions about their coffee. We should demand that all cafes do the right thing because our choices have real consequences.

I know it's an uphill battle as we have to face ignorance and a prejudicial backlash against so called Greenies (anyone who cares about fair trade/organic food...I wear the title proudly) and the fact that organic/fair trade is often more expensive than unsustainable chemical laden/exploitation food. Wouldn't it be great if all coffee/food that's grown with toxic chemicals, with unsustainable farming practices and with cheap labour and poor working conditions, were labelled 'Exploitation, chemical laden, unsustainable food' with pictures of children slaving and people wearing protective clothing. Imagine that! How many people would still buy it do you think?

Until the countries of the world unite to legislate for change in the way we grow, harvest and transport food, it will continue to be expensive. It would be fantastic if all countries legislated to ban any coffee that is not fair trade or organic or at least to make all the ecologically friendly and fair trade products we want to buy, much cheaper than those that are bad for us and bad for the Earth and all it's species. 

Unfortunately even the takeaway coffee cups are fraught with problems. Every time you use a non-biodegradable, single use plastic coffee cup and lid, you're doing yourself and the Earth damage. Yes, all coffee cups that are not biodegradable have a thin plastic coating both inside and out and the lids are just plain bad plastic. Read more about this serious issue in my previous blog.

There is a better choice of takeaway coffee cup but it is a tiny bit more expensive for the retailer. Hardly anything...and many of the best cafes are using them now. Of course it's much better to take your own re-usable cup or sit down, smell the roses and drink it from an old fashioned china cup. Yum!

Bon apetite!
Lisa Owen