Sunday, October 31, 2010

No time to relax

The election euphoria has settled into a semi-distant memory, and life has taken on some normalcy once again. Many great things are going to come from this 'balanced' federal parliament, even more so when the new Senate is formed in July next year. Yet, everyday I'm still confronted with increasing evidence that this 'progress' is not enough.

Just in the last week, we've seen the continuing government deals with the fossil fuel industry, our female Premier not willing to change archaic, sexist abortion laws, and the GM lobby stealing food security research funding - I'm starting to realise we've got a long way to go baby!

A couple of weeks ago, I read George Monbiot's piece and got fired up again. He said progressive movements have gone missing when it comes to communicating their values:
So here we are, forming an orderly queue at the slaughterhouse gate. The punishment of the poor for the errors of the rich, the abandonment of universalism, the dismantling of the shelter the state provides: apart from a few small protests, none of this has yet brought us out fighting.
He says we must lead with strong intrinsic values and cease to be embarrassed by them. We must argue for policies on the grounds that they are empathetic and kind; and against others on the grounds that they are selfish and cruel, and we must do so assertively.

These ideas resonate with me profoundly. When I attended the Dreaming Festival in June this year, I attended a hypothetical by the brilliant Grant Sarra called, "To Understand the Present, We Must Understand The Past", where he challenged us 'whities' to announce our values. Disturbingly many couldn't state what their values were. For a long time, Australians have ridden on the wave of 'the lucky country'. We have always bounced back from various challenges due to the abundance of gifts from our natural environment.

However, we must ask ourselves are all Australians really so blessed? Have we shared the luck of some, to benefit the not-so-lucky? Can we ride on this wave for much longer without planning for that luck to eventually run out? What is it that we need to do to make our so-called 'luck' last? What kind of place are we leaving for our children, and what sort of gifts should we be planning to hand on to them? I invite you to read the online book, "More Than Luck: Ideas Australia Needs Now", released by the excellent Centre for Policy Development.

I'm off to assert my empathy and kindness!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Swing is Green in Griffith!

Well, what a day! Great stuff.

Thank you to the people of Griffith for your belief in Greens policies and in the wonderful people who make it such a great political party.

I spent the whole day visiting most of the booths in Griffith with Robert and Elsie in the Greenmobile, handing out little Food Connect bags of fruit and juice. The buzz at the polling booths was palpable, and it was so much fun handing out How-To-Vote cards to people saying, "Vote for me, I'm the one in the picture there!"

With the main message of our campaign being "Vote 1, Larissa in the Senate", Queenslander's now have a voice in the Senate with Larissa Waters gaining 20% of the vote. I've learned so much from Larissa about campaigning and policy communication - she is the ultimate professional and will really serve us well in Canberra.

Here in Griffith, we nearly doubled 2007 numbers with nearly 10,000 votes, or 15.24% of the vote, and a whopping 7.4% swing towards us! The ALP suffered a 9.11% vote against them, so it seems Rudd didn't get that sympathy vote after all.

With the Australian Greens having the balance of power in the Senate from July 2011, we'll be in a powerful position to make legislation better, introduce new ideas to the Parliament and push all our politicians to adopt more constructive and progressive outcomes for Australia.

It's been exhausting, but very exciting, and it's so reassuring to know that you've shared the Greens' positive vision for Australia with your neighbours, your colleagues and your families, and that's what's led to these stunning results. I'd love to know the difference in campaign budgets between the parties, and I can tell you now, the Greens would definitely have got the most bang for their buck - all due to our amazing grass roots support!

I want to thank my wonderful partner, Robert who played house-hubby, campaign adviser, and chief child rearer for five weeks, my ex-hubby for taking care of the boys, thanks also to Gary Kane, Jo Bragg and Gary McMahon (Griffith campaign organisers), Wilf (Griffith campaign manager), Ellen Brogan and her wonderful filming skills for the great YouTube profile, Stewart Shuker and the Green Graffiti gang, the wonderful people who hosted and attended the Eat Your Greens dinner series, all those 180 booth attendants and scrutineers, the wonderful members of South Brisbane Greens branch who held stalls on the weekends, and of course all the brains at state HQ - Sam La Rocca, Dom Jarvis, Karrina Nolan - you all rock, and to my gorgeous circle of mums who I get to hang out with at West End State School - I love you gals, and to my mates on Twitterland and my now 600-odd Facebook buddies - it's been a fun time with the banter and shared links and laughs.

On the second week of this campaign, my mother began her second journey of fighting breast cancer. She's been a strong role model for me over the years, and despite having conservative leanings, she has been nothing but supportive of my wish to go for it with the Greens (and I suspect, has enjoyed learning a bit about the greens too) - so thanks Mum - I'll be with you soon.

Feels good to be part of the great turning in Australian politics - the changes are just on the horizon!

Go well,

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Eat Your Greens

It's something we do every day. I'll be doing it tonight, and so will you, and that is having dinner.

Last night, I kicked off the first of many events for the campaign which I've called "Eat Your Greens". A small group of interested voters in my electorate of Griffith offered to host their friends to provide an opportunity to talk 'politics'. Along with religion, politics is a subject that is normally taboo at dinner parties, but we're turning the tables and getting engaged again.

My own journey of living a more environmentally sustainable life came about because of a number of one-on-one conversations with a few key people. It is my strong belief that that the greatest catalyst for change is through dialogue. Imagine if the leaders of the USA and the Taliban actually sat together over some good food and talked about things? OK, I'm probably being slightly hopeful there, but change does happen through talking about things, and in this age of twittering and FBing and texting, an opportunity to meet face to face and have those deep and meaningful conversations are simply priceless.

It might all sound a bit old-fashioned, but that’s kind of the way I like it. As a people-powered party, we don’t have the deep corporate-lined pockets of Labor and the LNP to spread our message through multi-million dollar advertising campaigns. We need to do politics a different way: neighbour-to-neighbour, friend-to-friend.... and over delicious food!

Email me to host your own Eat Your Greens event!

Even if you’d prefer to do a lunch, breakfast or afternoon tea instead – it’s all great. All you need to do is invite between 5 to 15 people to have a conversation, whether at your favourite pub, cafe or inside your home, and I'll be more than happy to come along to talk about the issues that matter to you in the lead up to the election.

  • Tuesday, 27 July - Highgate Hill - Dinner
  • Wednesday, 4 August - Morningside - Afternoon Tea
  • Wednesday, 18 August - Cannon Hill - Afternoon Tea

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Young Voter

It's no surprise to me that we're seeing an old-style, aggressive campaign being run by the ALP & LNP parties, but what I'm concerned about it is how it impacts the young voters out there. The Electoral Roll closed on Monday night, there were still over one million people who missed their chance to vote in the 2010 election. A friend of ours reminded me the other night in his own words, why there is so much disenchantment from young people:
"I think that young people of voting age have just graduated through what Jeremy Griffith's calls 'resignation', or they are still going through the depression that precedes that. Resignation in this context is resigning to life as an adult, blinkered to the anguish and the hatred and the injustice of the world. As young adults they acutely feel the injustice. They ask the hard questions, 'why are we going to a swanky party when people of the world are starving?', 'why do we lock up children and women and men from other countries that we are have invaded when they come for our help?', 'why do I hear you preaching love and support and acceptance, and then I see you doing exactly the opposite?', 'why do you and mum fight so much?', 'why do we trade with china when they oppress one billion of their citizens and kill anyone that protests?', 'why do we allow companies to pay politicians?', 'why do our politicians preach acceptance and trust, then lie and invade?'.
In effect the young can see that the emperor has no clothing, and they do not understand why adults pretend that he does."
It gave me a good dose of reality in a time when so many Candidates take people's votes for granted. So how are the Australian Greens different to the other parties? What is it about our policies that young people can step up and be enthusiastic about?

Firstly, Students. We have seen that too many students are under enormous housing stress and struggle to make ends meet on the current levels of income support. This is why the Greens have a plan to:
  • Increase Youth Allowance to the new rate of Newstart; and
  • Increase the levels of affordable and fair student housing. Here's an article from this week's papers, when Senator Sarah Hanson-Young released our policy.
The Australian Greens also believe that integrity, accountability and openness in politics are vital to a healthy democracy. While there have been some moves to increase scrutiny and set codes of conduct for the activities inherent in the political process, these changes have been predominantly in the form of policy decisions by governments. Recent events demonstrate that voluntary codes of conduct and Government regulation are too easily set aside for the sake of political convenience. The Greens have a legislative package to ensure that key aspects of the political process - independent oversight of the activities of parliamentarians and public servants; the conduct of lobbyists; and spending on government advertising - are enshrined in law and can only be changed with parliamentary approval.

Young people particularly want action when it comes to their future, and there's no bigger issue than climate change. Today, a friend of mine put himself on the line for his and other generations' future by challenging Julia Gillard during her polished Climate policy announcement.
Brad is a young hero, but also a normal young person wanting our so-called 'leaders' to have the courage to take real action on Climate Change. I applaud his bravery, dedication and wisdom in taking direct action in a non-violent way.

The arts, cultural experiences and creative artists are vital to the social wellbeing, economy and cultural life of Australia. The Australian Greens are committed to supporting and promoting Australian artists and their work. Check out our policy released today.

Remember, your vote really does matter.

FICTION: A vote for The Greens is just a vote for Labor

FICTION: If you vote Green, you 'risk' Tony Abbott.

You have the power to decide for yourself who you vote for and in what order you preference candidates. Those How-To-Vote cards that you get at the gates of polling booths are just a guide. So if you really want to exercise your right to a decent democracy, tell those politicians through the power of your pen stroke on election day.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Grass Roots Democracy

Well, it's on! Our Prime Minister has set the date for the 2010 Election, and for me, that means the start of an exciting journey along the campaign trail. Reflecting on the days ahead, I keep coming back to one of the things that attracted me to The Australian Greens in the first place. It is their belief in Grassroots participatory democracy.
Real progress comes when enough people believe it is possible to make a difference and decide to do something about it. All Greens members and supporters are driven by the desire to work towards a better Australia. In contrast to the two major parties, which are run by executives in head office, the Greens involve members in key decisions and our campaigns are powered by thousands of ordinary people volunteering their time, skills and support.
In our day to day struggle to make ends meet, when do we ever stop to think about whether we are actually involved in the decisions our country's leaders make? We all have this implicit trust that their decisions are for the benefit of everyone, not what's popular, or worse, for the benefit of an elite few. Raj Patel, in his latest book, 'The Value of Nothing' explores this concept and asserts that with governments these days being co-opted by corporations, it's now time for citizens to reclaim 'the commons'.

Traditionally, the Commons were described as a sort of 'right' to access for day to day survival of every human being. That is, access to water, food, fuel, and medicinal plants - the poorest people's life support system. But it was also more, it was a process of freedom as well, " which people fought for the right to shape the terms on which they could share the commons."

Unfortunately, the Commons have been 'enclosed' by the rich, multinational corporations, and now is the moment for dispossessed groups and disempowered citizens to reinvent the Commons.

So, today I did my bit to reclaim the Commons, by participating in a local permablitz day. Participatory democracy is one such process, as demonstrated beautifully today by thirty strangers getting together in a neighbour's yard and creating a permaculture food garden. This is hardly an act of radical protest. Rather, a fun, educational, heart-warming step forward to create individual bonds and the collective strength to become resilient, and determine our own future.

What does gardening have to do with participatory democracy? Nothing, really. Not at first glance, anyway. But if you ask those strangers how they felt at the end of the day, the overwhelming response was one of connectedness, self-organising without red tape, and no need to listen to 'populist' politics in determining what they planted, where they planted it, and who was going to eat it! Essentially, it's an act of establishing food sovereignty for our community, and this sets the basis for change, wider change where the idea of "a right to have rights" is being used to reshape our urban space, and reclaim the terrain on which Kurilpa lives.

Through these participatory processes The Greens and in particular, the Transition Town movement are at the cutting edge of creating new ways to value the world without owning it.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Greenlight Weekend!

There must be something going on with the planets, because it wasn't just Canberra experiencing all the action. Brisbane dished up a taste of its own!

Thursday night saw us attending the premier screening of the much anticipated and Academy Award nominated documentary, Food, Inc.
How much do we really know about the food we buy at our local supermarkets and serve to our families? You are what you eat. It is a simple expression that bears scary implications. The film explores how modern developments in food production pose grave risks to our health and environment. There are stories of heartbreak and outrage, but the film carefully channels these emotions towards opportunities for activism. Worth the watch, and don't plan on eating out afterwards - it kind of kills your appetite.

Saturday night saw the official launch of my election campaign for the Greens. Senator Sarah Hanson-Young gave Larissa Waters, our lead Senate candidate, and I the green light to get out there and spread the word that the Australian Greens are the only credible alternative in the seat of Griffith. The last week showed us that politics as usual cannot allow any leader to wrestle with the great moral challenges of our time. Fundamental changes are required, and the Green movement is one which is reflecting the mood and sensibilities of the Australian people, and more importantly our precious planet.
It was a fantastic night of inspirational speeches by Sarah and Larissa, and I felt very honoured that Andrew Bartlett came along in support as well. Great acts by local bands, Yellow Bird and Peter B and the Homeless Souls, and stage performance by Phoebe Manning as "Eustace, looking for love" got the crowd into the swing of things. Over 100 guests were treated to some beautifully prepared dishes, with locally grown produce donated by Food Connect.

The success of the night should be credited to Jo Bragg and her team of volunteers from the South Brisbane Greens, who organised some fantastic raffle prizes from local businesses, and signed up lots of campaign volunteers. I'd also like to acknowledge the support of my family, my beautiful friends at West End State School, my campaign manager, Wilf, and my beloved Robert, and our daughter Elsie - all endless sources of inspiration, encouragement and love.

Sunday started early with Food Connect hosting breakfast for around 100 local farmers, community leaders, and delegates from the global peasant movement, La Via Campesina. We brought everyone together for a whole day of riveting talks and discussions about the way of the family farmer and how it is being threatened by the global industrial food system.

Thursday's viewing of Food, Inc. fired us up for this day, and after listening to our wonderful guests from Indonesia, Timor Leste, South Korea and Japan, we finished with robust plans and a commitment to join the global movement. Today the delegation is off to a couple of South East Queensland farms to see first hand the threat of coal mining on our most fertile food growing areas.