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.