Where are the women?

March 08, 2012

International Women’s Day was celebrated around the world this week so it seems appropriate to mention the NSW local government elections that will take place on September 9 and talk about the need for women to stand for and be elected to Council, and to all spheres of government for that matter.

After what will be more than eight years in the role, it will be time for me to step down, so I won’t be standing for re-election this year but unfortunately neither will Judith Turley. It has been a pleasure to work with her and have her support since 2008, and I know her absence will be keenly felt amongst the communities of Palerang with and for whom she has worked.

The way things are sounding there may only be one woman at most after the next election. In this day and age that is not acceptable, and no fun either; I spent four and a quarter years as the only woman on the newly formed Palerang Council so I can vouch for that. It’s a circular situation I guess – it’s no fun, so women don’t stand; women don’t stand, so it’s no fun. Not, of course, that one is there to have fun, but it does help to be able to. continue…

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Enough already

September 30, 2011

Federal Environment Minster Tony Burke’s Sept. 29 announcement that the Dargues Reef gold mine at Major’s Creek near Braidwood will go ahead is hardly surprising. Both the ALP and the Coalition    show their unconditional love and support for the mining industry at every turn, regardless of the impacts or potential impacts mining activities have on our air, land and water.

Why do we need to keep mining gold? According to World Gold Council figures (August) there were 30,700.1 tonnes (officially) held in bank vaults. The main beneficiaries from a proposal like  Dargues Reef are the proponents and shareholders. The Greens are calling for gold to be included in any resources tax, and so it should be. When water supplies may be irrevocably affected, isn’t it time we asked ourselves what is more important – wealth for a few or guaranteed water and food for many? Like coal, gold should be left in the ground. continue…

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The community needs to mobilise

September 09, 2011

Now that the State Government has given approval for the Dargues Reef gold mine at Majors Creek, the community needs to mobilise immediately to decide whether it wants to appeal the decision via the Environmental Defenders’ Office.

The Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) has found in favour of the mine, based on the recommendation from the Planning Department, despite the large number of excellent submissions from the community at the August 23 Braidwood hearing which clearly demonstrated the shortcomings of the proponent’s environmental assessment.

Given that the Minister has left it up to the Department to make the recommendation and the main departmental bureaucrats involved have absolute support for mining, it is easy to see now that the decision was never going to go any other way. It is of great concern that no extra conditions have been imposed as a result of this whole process. continue…

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Video submission to the PAC hearing in Braidwood on the Dargues Reef mine proposal

August 24, 2011

Unfortunately I was away for the hearing, which took place throughout the day on August 23, but was able to record this video (thanks Fred, especially for the great editing!) beforehand. According to my sources, the community conducted itself with great aplomb, presenting some very professional and technically sophisticated submissions which seemed to hold the interest of the commissioners. The proponents had the last word, but it didn’t sound like they were very impressive…

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How much is our future worth?

May 23, 2011

Last Friday I had the enormous privilege of hearing Ingrid Betancourt in conversation with Greens Senator-elect Lee Rhiannon in NSW Parliament House. I first heard Ingrid in April 2001 at the Global Greens conference, a gathering of more than 700 Greens from around the world. Her accounts of politics in Columbia, where she was a Green presidential candidate, were a revelation and inspiration to all who heard her. Ten months later and before the election she was kidnapped by the FARC (Columbian Revolutionary Armed Forces-Peoples’ Army) rebels and remained a hostage in the Columbian jungle for six and a half years.

Ingrid has told the story of her incarceration and the events leading up to it in her book Even silence has an end, but just the short time she had last week was enough to move many of us to tears. She began by saying that there is no hope for Columbia until the people recognise that change has to come from them, and while ever they continue to accept corruption as part of life, it will remain so. Although some of the circumstances in that country are clearly very different to those in Australia, there are some obvious parallels. continue…

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Time to follow in China’s footsteps

April 27, 2011

While watching the item on Julia Gillard’s visit to China on last night’s Lateline, I couldn’t help but feel buoyed by the following matter-of-fact response to Ali Moore’s question:

ALI MOORE: Well, I know in (Julia Gillard’s) speech tonight that she did raise the issue of the proposed carbon tax. Is that carbon tax, the idea or the plan to put a price on carbon, an issue for the Chinese?

STEPHEN MCDONELL: Well the interesting thing with global warming in China is that there’s no debate here, no public debate as to whether or not global warming is happening or that it’s man-made, because the Government just accepts the scientific evidence that both of these things are true. So, you know, you’re not gonna get people here questioning Julia Gillard about this. And the big companies here, the state-owned companies have essentially been told to get on with doing something about this. And so you’ve got the big oil companies here, they’re throwing billions of dollars at renewable energy, huge wind farms, solar energy and this sort of thing, so it’s not seen as such a conflict here in that way.

And I really think that any sort of – people questioning whether or not coal prices might go up, for example, imports, as a result of this is just a little bit at the margins. Essentially, as I said, this is – it’s recognised by the Government that these measures must be taken, and so, I s’pose in that sense, Julia Gillard is amongst friends here.

Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party, are you listening? And Big Business in Australia, and all the other detractors of the carbon tax, not to mention the climate change denialists – are you? continue…

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Greens win another seat in NSW Legislative Council!

April 12, 2011

Jeremy Buckingham has defeated Pauline Hanson for the last spot in the NSW Upper House, after preferences were distributed at 11am when the button was pushed. The Greens now have five seats in the Upper House and one in the Lower House, following the election of Jamie Parker in the electorate of Balmain.

Such a relief! I can go to the studio now without fretting about the final outcome. It has been a suspenseful time, and while there will obviously be people out there who are sympathising with Pauline Hanson, it is a great win for diversity, compassion and progressive thinking, and provides a little more balance in NSW Parliament after such a definitive take-over by the Coalition on March 26.

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The knife edge

April 11, 2011

With 91% of the votes counted and the last seat in the Upper House still to be decided, Pauling Hanson is ahead of The Greens’ Jeremy Buckingham by 6,000 votes. At least we can still find amusement in the animation below, launched in February as part of The Greens NSW campaign.

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Enough of the recriminations; time for some honest analysis

March 28, 2011

Now that the 2011 NSW State Election is over and the last votes are being counted, maybe it’s time for the ALP to start looking at where they went wrong and consider how they can move forward into a new era of doing politics differently.

Instead of that, it seems that this party is blaming The Greens for the failure of some of their members to retain their seats, due to the fact that The Greens did not recommend preferences to them on our how-to-votes (HTVs). Take Monaro for example.

Preference decisions are made by the grassroots membership of The Greens, and require consultation with all the groups involved in the campaign, which in the electorate of Monaro are Braidwood and Queanbeyan-Monaro Greens local groups. continue…

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Two Fires Festival – artist statement

Two Fires 2011 coincides with the 25th anniversary of my move to the Shoalhaven catchment, at Charleys Forest, north-east of Braidwood. For most of that time I have been an activist as well as an artist, with the campaign to stop the Welcome Reef Dam on the Shoalhaven River being the kick-start to my local activist involvement. At about the same time I started my engagement with the processes of local government and in 2004 was elected to the newly amalgamated Eastern Capital Regional Council, which soon after was renamed Palerang. continue…