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Why be ashamed of Australia?
Australians and climate change
Statements from celebrities
Statement by Sir William Deane
Statement by 43 former leaders
Reasons for pride in Australia?
Change Australia
Email politicians about carbon
Some Australians are exemplary
Useful links
Neither of the big political parties will do much about greenhouse/climate change, vote smart.
 

Ashamed to be Australian?
Change Australia!

Fight for a more ethical Australia

Created 2004/11/04, modified 2016/06/13
Contact; email daveclarkecb@yahoo.com

Australia ranks 53rd in the world in population, but sixth in the world in the CO2 produced by its electricity industry; it has 0.3% of the world's population, but produces 1.2% of the world's greenhouse gasses; it is well up among the worst greenhouse polluters on the planet. Australians are producing the greatest amount of greenhouse gasses, per capita, of any OECD country – even more than the people of the USA. This is not just a crime of our government, most individual Australians are similarly culpable.

 

Pride in my region: Mid North South Australia

In 2015 South Australia had about half of Australia's wind power and Mid North had about half of SA's wind power.

In early 2003 SA had no wind power; in 2011 about a quarter of SA's electricity was generated by the wind, and about half of that was generated in my region. By the middle of 2014, with the completion of Snowtown Wind Farm Stage 2, South Australia was aproaching 40% renewable electricity.

Mid North wind turbines – under construction, 2008/05/05
Snowtown turbines

Denmark is the nation with the most wind power per person: about 750 Watts (installed). In mid 2014 South Australia had about 880W of installed wind power per person. Mid North SA, with a population of about 43 000 had about 890 million installed Watts of wind power; that's a huge 20 000 Watts per person.

To me this is a huge reason for pride, especially because I do what I can to support wind power. There are many people who make up lies about wind farms. Most Australians are in favour of wind power, but there are very few who get off their backsides and stand up for the facts; one of which is that wind power is, or can be, a big part of the answer to the climate change problem.

Perhaps the greatest cause for shame is that most Australians don't seem to care much. In 2012 the Federal Labor government was doing little to reduce greenhouse gas production, while the Liberals wanted to do even less. With the despicable Abbott Government, the cause for shame is even greater.

 

Update: mid 2016

Malcolm Turnbull has replaced Tony Abbott as Liberal Prime Minister. In regard to action on climate change, nothing has improved.

Update: mid 2015

Liberal Prime Minister Tony Abbott was doing his best to support the declining coal industry that is one of the main causes of climate change, ocean acidification and of millions deaths each year due to air pollution. He is also doing all he can to destroy Australia's wind power industry.
I am in my sixties. When I was young I never imagined that mankind would knowingly severely damage the biosphere and destroy our present global civilisation; yet that is what is happening. Humanity is behaving as if the future health of the planet is not worth the moderate inconvenience and cost of shifting to sustainability. (It seems that the problem is largely connected to the greed, entrenched short-sightedness and duplicity of those who control the world's large corporations. I believe that more was spent on bailing out the financial institutions during the Global Financial Crisis of 2007-08 than is needed to switch from fossil fuels to sustainable energy.)

On December 18th 2009 Australia was awarded the Fossil-of-the-day award at the Copenhagen climate change conference for pressuring our Pacific neighbours for higher levels of greenhouse gasses than they felt should be aimed for. In early 2010 the Rudd Government was doing next to nothing to reduce Australia's greenhouse gas production rates and in April 2010 PM Rudd put off his proposed carbon trading scheme until at least 2013. Many parliamentarians in the federal Parliamentary Liberal and National parties are so abysmally ignorant that they believe (or at least claim to believe) that humanity has nothing to do with climate change. The excuse for not doing anything is often that we are too small to make a difference; an entirely fallacious argument.

One of the few bright points was when Julia Gillard, during her period as Prime Minister, introduced a carbon tax, which passed through Parliament in November 2011.

The evidence for the seriousness of anthropogenic climate change has been convincing for several decades, is now irrefutable, and the body of evidence is continuously increasing; yet the number of Australians who believe that climate change may not be caused by humanity was around 50% in early 2010 and was also increasing – due to a disinformation campaign run by the big greenhouse polluters. The Australian Greens is the only political party that has a policy that takes climate change as seriously as the problem deserves; less than 10% of Australians vote for the Greens. How stupid are my countrymen?

Iraq War

Perhaps the worst single act any national leader can make is to involve his/her country in an unjust and unnecessary war. Prime Minister Howard involved Australia in the Iraq war. Far worse, the Australian people voted him in as our national leader again after he had done this. It is arguable whether there was any more justification for the invasion of Iraq than there was for Nazi Germany's invasion of Czechoslovakia and Poland – the acts that started World War II.

Both of the major Australian political parties seem to me to be morally empty, their interaction with the Australian people revolves around how they can win more votes and get into, or hold onto government. I doubt that the word 'ethics' would mean anything to any of their senior members. They seem to be serving only themselves, the wealthy of this country, the big corporations, and the USA.

Why do Australian governments involve our country in the 'American Way' in international relations: bombing and terrorising to try to achieve short-sighted national aims?

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Why should one be ashamed of being Australian?

 

International relations the US way

Compare to International relations the humane way, below
Fallujah (Iraq) burning during the seige of November 2004
Fallujah burning

Australia's greenhouse emissions

The Climate Change Performance Index: Results 2015
Climate action rating
Image source: German Watch: The Climate Change Performance Index: Results 2015
Note Australia's position; second last of 61 nations.

In the above report, the comment about Australia in the Climate Policy section is:
"Since joining the "very poor" group last year, Australia has lost even more ground and now comes in last together with Canada and Turkey."


For more see Failings of Australian Governments.

A very informative article on the Iraq War of 2003 is given in Wikipedia.

Bombing and terrorising other nations is the American way, it never was the Australian way – until the John Howard government.
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Australians and climate change

 
Dying gums
The photo on the right shows dying gums at Crystal Brook, where I live. Part of the cause could be ascribed to a freak very long drought, but a part (the higher temperatures) is definitely due to climate change. How much must we loose before Australians decide that greenhouse is a serious problem? Of course the drought too is very likely due to greenhouse/climate change.

The photo below shows red stringybark trees in Spring Gully Conservation Park

Dead red stringybark


Considering the local environmental impacts such as those shown in the two photos above and all the publicity that climate change (and ocean acidification) has had, nobody who is reasonably intelligent and reasonably well informed could not know that climate change is a fact, is due to Man's activities. One of the main causes of both is the emissions from motor vehicles.

One way we can all reduce our climate change impact is by minimising our driving and by driving a car that is no bigger than we need.

On 2006/03/18 I took a folding chair down to the main road (Clare to Blyth) in front of my place for an hour and ten minutes to get a record of the traffic going past. I should say that it was a Saturday and the day of a state election – this would have had some effect on the mix of traffic. I have tabled a summary of the traffic below.

Number of occupants
Type of car12 3>3Total
Small car30 003
Medium car105 0015
Large car4623 2172
Large 4WD125 0017
Large car with caravan0 200 2
Large 4WD with caravan0 100 1
Totals71 3621 110

Notes on the table

My estimates of car sizes go something like this: small, <1 tonne; medium, 1-1¼ t; large 1½ t; large 4WD, 2 t.
I did not record large commercial vehicles.
Some of the large 'cars' were utilities (pick up trucks) that had at least a partial load.
There were no pedestrians, bicycles, or motorbikes.
There were no busses (there are four busses a week available to pick up passenges going past my property).
4WD = four-wheel-drive = SUV

All the cars I saw, other than the utilities, could have taken at least four people, some could have taken eight. Apart from one or two of the utes, not one of the total 110 had a full load of passengers; 65% of the cars I saw contained only the driver. Not counting the towing vehicles, about 160 tonnes of vehicles went past carrying about 147 people; if the average weight of an occupant was 70kg that is 160 tonnes of vehicles carrying 10 tonnes of people (a payload ratio of only 0.0625).

If the people I recorded cared about how much greenhouse carbon dioxide they were releasing into the atmosphere why did 72 drive large cars and only three drive small cars? (Few of these people could claim to not know about the greenhouse/climate change problem. It had been well publicised for years. They would also have to know that vehicle emissions increase with vehicle size.) (See Eat half the cake.) Why were there no pedestrians or cyclists? (Clare is 5km away from where I did this survey; I frequently ride a bike, and sometimes walk, into town.)

This is another reason that I am ashamed to be Australian. On the other hand, I have no reason to believe that Australians are more selfish than are non Australians. Probably most people would behave in the same way if placed in the same situation. Perhaps I should say that I am ashamed to be a member of the human race?

The majority of Australians are well-intentioned, but they fail to look at the bigger picture, they don't see themselves as citizens of the world, with the responsibilities that go with that citizenship. In this way they are no different to those who have large families (often for religious reasons) in our overpopulated world, when they could choose family planning.

Can Tony Abbott be blamed for his irresponsible stand on greenhouse emissions when the common people are unwilling to modify their behaviours?

Of course this is not the only evidence that Australians give a very low priority to the environment. A low percentage of Australians vote for political parties that are strong on environment, and the major parties have found that they will get more votes by promising tax cuts or pay rises rather than by promising to do more for the environment.


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Statements from celebrities

In late November 2004 I started a campaign asking celebrities for short statements on how they felt about the Australian Government's stance on greenhouse and its unquestioning support for the belligerent policies of the US Bush Government.
The Australian government has taken the wrong side on climate change and the wrong side in George Bush's "war on terror". As far as both social and environmental justice are concerned, it has become part of the problem.
Received from George Monbiot, 2004/12/02
George Monbiot is a UK journalist and author who writes on many issues of international concern.
On the day that the invasion of Iraq began I said on air, on the ABC, that I was ashamed to be an Australian. Nothing that has happened since has made me feel any better about being a citizen of a nation that acts as a satrapy of the US. Australia now follows the US slavishly on all matters, from war to the environment. Australia joins the US in refusing to outlaw torture. It joins the US in supporting the Israeli 'security' fence. It goes wherever the US orders it to go. And now, with the infamous free trade agreement, the nation signs away its last vestige of independence and autonomy. I am deeply ashamed.
Terry Lane, received 2004/12/18.
Terry is a journalist and well known in Australia for his weekly radio session, 'In the National Interest'.
A concern about ourselves must start with a caring about children and young people and ensuring that we do not damage for the future the land and the seas that are so much part of our Australian identity.
Dr. John Yu, Australian of the Year, 1996; received 2005/02/21

So few responses was disappointing. The response from one person, who was a researcher attached to a university, indicated a fear that making a statement might prejudice the chances of further research grants from the government. Another person rang me and expressed equally grave concern to mine, but I did not hear from this person again.

It seems to me that there is a fear of speaking out against the government because of possible consequences.

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A statement by Sir William Deane, former Governor General

From an article by Duncan Macfarlane in The Australian, 2003/05/30

In a wide-ranging address at the University of Queensland, Sir William said the nation would "surely lose its way" if future leaders ran the country as badly as the present (Howard) Government.

He said untruth was evident in the children overboard affair when the federal Government falsely claimed in the lead-up to the November 2001 election that asylum-seekers had thrown their children into the water from their boats.

He spoke of "the denial of the fundamental responsibility of a democratic government to seek to safeguard the human rights of all its citizens, including the unpopular and the alleged wrongdoer in the case of two Australians indefinitely caged without legal charge or process at Guantanamo Bay jail."

Alluding to the federal Government's refusal to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, Sir William said young Australians must "make good our failure as a nation to do enough to help safeguard the world environment for future generations".

He said the Government must do more to reduce income inequality. "There is the challenge to face up to the completely unacceptable yet growing gap between the haves and the have-nots in this the land of the so-called fair go for all," Sir William said. "The plight of the disadvanataged, even in affluent Australia, is an overwhelming problem which no one of us who has a voice to speak, or the means to help, can in conscience ignore."






Reasons for pride in Australia?

 

International relations the humane way

Compare to International relations the US way, above
My-Thuan Bridge, otherwise known as the Friendship Bridge; over a branch of the Mekong delta in Vietnam. This project was partly funded by Australian aid.
My Thuan Bridge
Photo thanks to "Travel to Vietnam"
I don't want to be entirely negative. There are points about which one can take pride in being Australian...
  • Australia is one of the most secular nations on Earth. Fewer residents of Australia swallow the destructive religion delusion than in the great majority of countries (unfortunately, in early 2010, both our Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition were among the deluded; this continued with PM Abbott in 2014).
  • Australia has freedom of speech, although the Howard and Abbott governments have shamefully reduced that.
  • Australia has a working democracy (while apathetic and unthinking voters don't help.)
  • Australians are as well educated and informed as most peoples.
  • Australia's involvement in bringing peace to East Timor is something that all Australians should be proud of. Unlike the situation in Iraq, the East Timorese wanted us, the UN was in favour or our intervention, and even the Indonesian government did not object to our presence. (Of course this followed Australia's ignoring the illegal invasion of East Timor by Indonesia for the previous 25 years.)
  • Australia's participation in helping the Solomon Islands sort out their recent problems was commendable. Note that this differed to Iraq in that we were invited and our involvement saved lives.
  • Of 19 countries listed on the 'Index of Bribe-Payers' (BPI), Australia is second. Ie. Australians are the second least likely to offer bribes. Sweden comes first, China has the worst record. (Source: Global Corruption Report 2001) (This picture may have changed a bit since the AWB $300m Iraq bribery scandle.)
  • The photo on the right is of My-Thuan Bridge which was built in Vietnam with assistance from Australia. Projects such as this are a greatly preferable way of interacting with other countries than is bombing them.
  • The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) are credits to Australia. In spite of cut-backs in funding and periodic attacks from government they still provide news and information free from control by government and business. A very few large media companies have gained control of the greatest part of main-stream media and present biased and/or lowest-common-denomiator coverage, but there seems to be an increasing number of alternative sources of news and stories about what is going on in the world around us. While government is not entirely in favour of it, and has reduced press freedom, there continues to be a substantially free 'press' in Australia.
  • Perhaps the greatest reason for pride in being Australian would be because of the number of Australians who selflessly volunteer their time to help others who may be less well off or to improve their communities. (Compare this altruism to the greed of the corporate bosses.)
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Change Australia

What can you do to help change Australia for the better; so that you will not have to be ashamed of your country?

 

What can you do?

Refer to main text for more details

  • Write letters to newspapers;
  • Write to, or telephone, or visit your federal parliamentary representative;
  • Join a political party and do your little bit to change it for the better;
  • Only vote for people you respect;
  • Stand for parliament yourself;
  • Write an Internet page about your local member of parliament;
One of the more unorthodox acts that I have resorted to was to post a book on personal ethics to my local MP. It was probably ignored, but who knows?

Collective noun for backbenchers?

The short ABC TV satire show Clarke and Dawe asked the question:
"What is the collective noun for backbenchers?"
The answer was:
"Invertebrates"
Quite right, they are creatures without backbones.
It's worth working on our politicians. The independents and those in the minor parties have consciences. I fear that those in the big parties have mostly got their conciences under control, but they might have a heart in there somewhere, there's always hope, remember Darth Varda! See the example letter below.

I believe a big part of the problem is that Australians (and Americans) don't, or can't, put themselves in the position of the people who we are oppressing. If we can make Australians see the situation from, for example, an Iraqi's point of view, that is a step toward fixing the problem.

Express your opinion, you can write to newspapers. Most people will either understand your feelings and simpathise with you, or will totally miss your point, but there may be a few who will start to think about it because of your letter.

My role-models are the students of one of the Melbourne universities, I think it was Monash. When they first started protesting against the Vietnam war back in the nineteen sixties I thought that they were close to being traitors. I gradually came around to their opinion. Someone has to be first, even if others think that person is a nut at the beginning.

Whatever you do, don't vote for one political candidate because you think that he/she is not quite so bad as the main party alternative. And party loyalty is a big part of the reason that we, and the USA, have the terrible governments that we are lumbered with. Look into all the candidates. Learn what the parties stand for. Perhaps join a political party, you can work to improve them from the inside. Find a candidate who you can respect. Vote smart. If all else fails, nominate as a candidate yourself (I have done so), or even start your own party.

Perhaps organising a few friends to put together some placards and demonstrate in front of your local MP's office might be more your style? The main thing is to do something! Apathy is as much the enemy as are bad politicians.

An example letter that you might like to modify and send to your local member if he/she is Liberal or National Party

This is a slightly edited copy of a letter that I sent to my local MP and about 10 local newspapers on 2004/11/18. You can probably improve on it or think of other ways to prick someone's conscience. Be polite and not insulting; this can be difficult when you feel disgusted.

The Editor, Dear Sir/Madam;

Open letter to [politician's name], Federal Parliamentary member for [name of electorate].

The prestigious journal, The Lancet, has published a study concluding that 100 000 Iraqi civilians have died from the hostilities since the beginning of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. I don't know how many politicians in the UK and USA voted for the war, but for the sake of an estimate I will suppose that there were 200 in the UK and 300 in the USA. There must have been about 85 Liberal members of the Australian House of Representatives, including you, who went along with the invasion. We can therefore lay the responsibility for the 100 000 dead Iraqi civilians on about 585 politicians. Your share, then, is 100 000/585=171 innocent dead people.

Do you feel that you are responsible for the deaths of these 171 Iraqi civilians? If not, can you please explain why you should not be considered responsible?

The Weapons of Mass Destruction that were the main justification for the war have not been found.

The war was illegal according to the UN. Ie. Iraq posed no immediate threat to Australia, the USA, or the UK; and the UN Security Council did not approve of the invasion.

There was never any credible evidence that Iraq was connected with terrorist groups.

Any unbiased observer would have to conclude that the war has increased hatred and mistrust for the Coalition, and therefore it would have increased the threat of terrorism against Australia and Australians.

The USA has sold off Billions of dollars worth of Iraqi assets to pay for 'reconstruction'; a reconstruction that would not have been needed but for the invasion.

Finally, Iraq seems as far from being a peaceful democratic nation now as it was before the invasion. (As the latest example, Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) has just announced that it is pulling out of Iraq because their people are now at too much risk.)

Do you believe that the war was morally justified?

Yours faithfully...



Don't forget to give your name and address, newspapers cannot print letters if they don't have the name and address of the sender. You can ask that they do not print your name and address, but that might make it less likely that they will print your letter.

The Lancet article which refers to the 100 000 deaths among Iraqi civilians mentioned above can be read on The Lancet Internet site. You will have to register to read it, but this is a simple matter.





Produce an Internet page about your local politician

You could write an Internet page on which you could record the letters that you have sent to your local Federal Member of Parliament and his/her answers.

You could improve on my example. Contact me at the email address at the top of this page if you would like me to help.

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Email politicians about carbon; tell them coal has no future

I'm sure politicians are told all the time that they should be taking more action on greenhouse emissions. I believe that a different aproach is needed to get the message across. There are many reasons to believe that the coal industry has no economic future; we need to get this message to our politicians.

I suggest emailing them something like this:

Subject line: Economic future

Hello [first name]

I wish to make several simple points that are, I think you will agree, important to all Australians:

1. Coal has no future, economically or environmentally (evidence supporting this statement via link given below)

2. The Pope's recent encyclical has shown yet again that the world demands action on CC

3. Renewable energy is the future

4. Australia will be left behind if we cling to the dying coal industry

I'm sure you would prefer to be seen as someone who can see the way the world is going rather than as someone who clings to the polluting ways of the past.

There are many reasons to believe that the coal industry is in terminal decline at http://ramblingsdc.net/EndOfCoal.html
A list of politician's names can be found on Wikipedia.

Their email addresses all have the form: first_name.last_name.mp@aph.gov.au; for example: kevin.andrews.mp@aph.gov.au

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Some Australians are exemplary

Some Australians do care deeply about climate change and ethics in and outside of government. I suspect that they are usually unwilling to talk about what they do to reduce their greenhouse impact because they don't want to be seen as bragging.

Australian Greens Senators Bob Brown and Kerry Nettle were the only parliamentarians with the courage to stand up and criticise President Gorge W. Bush during his 23 October 2003 address to the joint sitting of both houses of the Australian Parliament.

On a much more local scale, Lorraine Saunders of Crystal Brook made a speach (see the box below) accepting the Crystal Brook Citizen of the Year Award.

I knew that Lorraine prefers to walk or ride a bicycle rather than drive whenever she can. I didn't know, nor did she mention in her speach, that she and her husband, Geoff, have 30 solar photovoltaic panels (1920 Watts) on their roof and have solar water heating. They are committed to minimising their environmental footprint. I thought that there were only two people who had any solar photovoltaic panels in my small town, but now I wonder how many others I do not know about. How many people buy 'green electricity' in Crystal Brook? I would love to know.

If a quarter of Australian parliamentarians had the ethical standards of Bob Brown and Kerry Nettle, if ten times as many Australians were as responsible as the Saunders, this country would be a far better place.

Lorraine Saunders acceptance speach as Crystal Brook Citizen of the Year, January 2007

I would like to express my gratitude to the person or people who nominated me and the group who chose that nomination to be worthy of recognition. I would also like to sincerely thank all the people who have rung, dropped notes or stopped me in the street to offer congratulations. It has been very flattering and appreciated greatly.

In most things that I do or am involved in, I really do feel as though my time, efforts and contributions are valued by those involved (or by the parents of those involved) so recognition by the wider community really is not something I was looking for. I get fabulous cards from my little Day Care people with interesting pictures and a lot of effort put into the writing. I get lovely gifts at the end of the hockey season, presented by ever-more skilful little players and Guides and leaders have always acknowledged my contribution of time and energy.

What I am saying is, I have my rewards for what I do and the bottom line is that I don't do anything I don't enjoy. (You should see my house sometimes!!)

I feel as though I have contributed to this community over the last 30 years and this community has contributed to my life and that of my family in ways that could never be expressed in words.

When we first came here, Geoff joined the Apex club and one of the earliest functions we attended was a progressive tea. In an attempt to get my bearings, I asked someone who lived over the fence from the home we were at. The response came "Oh, they're not local. They are..." Out of curiosity I asked how long they had been here. "Twenty-five years" was the reply.

I thought to myself "How can you ever belong if you're not local after all that time".

Hopefully our children are considered locals and I like to think of myself as a Brookie, because I do care about this community as a whole and the people as individuals.

When I was first told that I was to be given this recognition I was quite excited, and thought "Wow! A soap box in a park, a microphone and a captive audience!"

Then I thought that perhaps it would not be appropriate to get on my "soapbox" on Australia Day.

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Then I had a rethink and decided it was the absolutely perfect time to attempt to make an impact for Australia, so that's what I intend doeing now.

There are lots of things I would like to see happen here because most people really have a genuine concern for what is going on, for each other and such a pride in their town, state and country. I would like to think that on Australia Day we could all be aware of the need for our country to try and rectify some of the damage we have created over the last 200 years.

It would be great if many people here took up the challenge to grow and plant trees. "Trees For Life" are always looking for growers and with the planting of hundreds of trees each year, a tiny amount of vegetation may be able to be replaced for all the thousands of acres of clearing done in our state.

We could all recycle so, so much more than we do at present. Most of us probably take our cans and bottles in to Pirie for the 5c deposit, but at the same depot you can take all your tuna tins, dog cans, spaghetti and baked bean tins. You don't get any money for doing this but the metal is recycled and not put into landfill. All plastic milk containers can be taken there also.

I would like to see a plastic collection depot here in the Brook for things like milk containers, yoghurt pots, icecream and margarine containers, so that these could be taken to the plastic recyclers in Pirie in bulk.

It seems hard to understand why the Gladstone Senior Citizens are the only ones in this area concerned enough about the tones of paper going into landfill, to provide a paper collection service. These elderly chaps did do a pick-up in the Brook for a while but are no longer doing this. Why isn't this an option for our community?

Gayle has just shifted to Naracoorte and Pete to Esperance and their communities have recycle bins for every household for the collection of glass, paper, plastic and metal. In New Zealand 47% of all councils have a Zero Waste policy aiming at reusing, recycling or eliminating the production of waste material. We could do better than we do at present.

In Australia, we have the highest ratio of greenhouse gas production per head of population of any developed nation. This is not a statistic to be proud of. As individuals, we could all reduce the amount of power we use and the petrol we put into or cars - we could get out the push bikes, walking shoes, turn off lights, air conditioners, computers, T.V.s. We could take passengers in our cars if we know of others going to the same place or event as ourselves.

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I am curious to know why the Clements Gap wind farm project seems to have lost momentum. This would be a fabulous asset to the health of the planet, which experts are tipping will have a temperature rise of 2-3 degrees within 50 years if we continue with our current level of polluting. If this becomes a reality it will mean tropical conditions could move down as far as Sydney, which is about the same latitude as us, altering habitat, weather conditions, health and lifestyle.

The announcement that uranium will be sold to newly developing countries really concerns me because of the amount of radioactive waste that will need to be catered for. I can see a lot of pressure being put on Australia to take back the rubbish it is encouraging other people to create and I feel sure that we will end up with nuclear waste dumps in our state, containing material which will remain radio-active for up to 200 000 years. Not something to look forward to, but something that WE are allowing to happen and which will impact on generation of people because of our, and our government's obsession with money.

A quote from Benjamin Hoff pits it in a nutshell, "The natural world is alright, voters across the country seem to be saying, as long as its preservation doesn't interfere with the process of destroying it to earn money".

So many people are quietly concerned about pollution and climate change but don't really do anything because they don't know where to start or think that they can't make any difference. My nephew was a civil engineer in NSW, now in Tasmania and one interesting discussion over the Christmas break illustrates just what can be achieved by individuals working together.

One particular council he knew of was going to renovate or expand its water treatment set-up to cope with growing demands. Before they committed to any major works, each household was issued with a strainer for the kitchen sink. The use of these simple, inexpensive devices cut the solids going into the waste water so dramatically that no alteration was needed to their treatment plants.

I would like to think that the members of this beautiful little community could really be leaders in living more lightly on the planet, and could set an example for other communities to follow. There are many very passionate, dedicated people in Crystal Brook who could help make a difference in the world by setting programmes in motion that will make a very serious impact on our current poor performance.

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Working with little people every day is a huge honour, privilege and responsibility for me because I know that I am able to influence what they learn and how they approach life. One example of this was shown in the results of a hockey survey we did a year or two ago. One question asked was why your child chose to play hockey and the response from 5 or 6 parents was "because Lorraine brainwashed them at Day Care".

That's not entirely true, but they were certainly exposed to and were familiar with the equipment and concept. It is my hope that environmentally and community-wise, the children that I have contact with will develop a passion for improving the place in which they live; will have an appreciation of the magnificence of the natural world and a respect and wonder for the amazing plants and animals which inhabit it.

You have chosen me as Citizen of the Year for 2007 because of the contribution you deem I have made in the past. I would like to think that I have more to offer this community in the years to come as there are many things we can all do to make this area, our country and the world a better, safer, less polluted place for our grandchildren and great grandchildren.

I would just like to finish with this little treasure. I was given some time ago, a card by some year 1 or 2 boys who were doing computing practice and on it they wrote "Dear Lorraine you are great. But you could be better". How humbling, but true of us all.

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Statement by 43 former leaders

STATEMENT FOR THE MEDIA BY A CONCERNED GROUP OF FORMER SERVICE CHIEFS AND AUSTRALIAN DIPLOMATS

TIME FOR HONEST, CONSIDERED AND BALANCED FOREIGN AND SECURITY POLICIES

August 8th, 2004
We believe that a reelected Howard Government or an elected Latham Government must give priority to truth in Government.

This is fundamental to effective parliamentary democracy. Australians must be able to believe they are being told the truth by our leaders, especially in situations as grave as committing our forces to war.

We are concerned that Australia was committed to join the invasion of Iraq on the basis of false assumptions and the deception of the Australian people.

Saddam's dictatorial administration has ended, but removing him was not the reason given to the Australian people for going to war. The Prime Minister said in March 2003 that our policy was "the disarmament of Iraq, not the removal of Saddam Hussein". He added a few days before the invasion that if Saddam got rid of his weapons of mass destruction he could remain in power.

It is a matter for regret that the action to combat terrorism after 11 September 2001, launched in Afghanistan, and widely supported, was diverted to the widely opposed invasion of Iraq. The outcome has been destructive, especially for Iraq. The international system has been subjected to enormous stress that still continues.

It is of concern to us that the international prestige of the United States and its Presidency has fallen precipitously over the last two years. Because of our Government's unquestioning support for the Bush Administration's policy, Australia has also been adversely affected. Terrorist activity, instead of being contained, has increased. Australia has not become safer by invading and occupying Iraq and now has a higher profile as a terrorist target.

We do not wish to see Australia's alliance with the United States endangered. We understand that it can never be an alliance of complete equals because of the disparity in power, but to suggest that an ally is not free to choose if or when it will go to war is to misread the ANZUS Treaty. Within that context, Australian governments should seek to ensure that it is a genuine partnership and not just a rubber stamp for policies decided in Washington. Australian leaders must produce more carefully balanced policies and present them in more sophisticated ways. These should apply to our alliance with the United States, our engagement with the neighbouring nations of Asia and the South West Pacific, and our role in multilateral diplomacy, especially at the United Nations.

Above all, it is wrong and dangerous for our elected representatives to mislead the Australian people. If we cannot trust the word of our Government, Australia cannot expect it to be trusted by others. Without that trust, the democratic structure of our society will be undermined and with it our standing and influence in the world.




The list of those who have agreed to the text follows:

Military

Admiral Alan Beaumont AC, former Chief of Defence Force;
General Peter Gration AC, former Chief of Defence Force;
Admiral Mike Hudson AC, former Chief of the Navy;
Vice Admiral Sir Richard Peek, former Chief of the Navy;
Air Marshal Ray Funnell AC, former Chief of the Airforce;
Air Vice Marshal Brendan O'Loughlin AO former head of Australian Defence Staff, Washington;
Major General Alan Stretton AO, former Director General National Disaster Organisation;

Departmental Heads and Diplomatic Representatives

Paul Barratt, AO, former Secretary Dep. Defence and Deputy Secretary DFAT;
Dr John Burton, former Secretary of Dep. External Affairs and HC to Ceylon;
Dr Stuart Harris AO, former Secretary of Dep. Foreign Affairs and Trade;
John Menadue AO, former Secretary of Prime Ministers Department and former Ambassador to Japan;
Alan Renouf, former Secretary Dept. Foreign Affairs, Ambassador to France, Ambassador to US;
Richard Woolcott, AC, former Secretary of Dept. Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ambassador to the United Nations, Indonesia and The Philippines;
Dennis Argall, former Ambassador to China;
Robin Ashwin, former Ambassador to Egypt, Soviet Union and Germany;
Jeff Benson, former Ambassador to Denmark and Iceland;
Geoff Bentley, former Ambassador to Russia and Consul General HongKong;
John Bowan, former Ambassador to Germany;
Alison Broinowski, former Charge d'Affaires to Jordan;
Richard Broinowski, former Ambassador to Mexico, Korea and Vietnam;
John Brook, former Ambassador to Vietnam and Algiers;
Ross Cottrill, Executive Director Australian Institute of International Affairs;
Peter Curtis, former Ambassador to France, CG New York and High Com. India;
Rawdon Dalrymple, AO, former Ambassador to United States, Japan, Indonesia and Israel;
Malcolm Dan, former Ambassador to Argentina and Chile;
Stephen Fitzgerald AO, former Ambassador to China;
Geoff Forrester, former Deputy Secretary Department Foreign Affairs and Trade;
Robert Furlonger, former Director General ONA and Head of JIO and Ambassador to Indonesia;
Ross Garnaut, AO, former Ambassador to China;
Ian Haig AM, former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and UAE;
Robert Hamilton, former Ambassador to Mexico, El Salvador and Cuba;
Cavan Hogue, former H.C. to Malaysia, Ambassador to Thailand, and United Nations (Security Council);
Roger Holdich, former Director General of Intelligence and Ambassador to Korea;
Gordon Jockel, former Chairman of the National Intelligence Committee and Ambassador to Thailand and Indonesia;
Tony Kevin, former Ambassador to Cambodia and Poland;
Peter Lloyd, AM, former Ambassador to Iraq;
Alf Parsons, AO former High Commissioner to United Kingdom, High Commissioner to Singapore, Malaysia;
Ted Pocock AM , former High Commissioner to Pakistan, Ambassador to France and Morocco, the Soviet Union, Korea and the EU;
Peter Rogers, former Ambassador to Israel;
Rory Steele, former Ambassador to Iraq;
H. Neil Truscott AM, former Ambassador to Iraq;
Ron Walker, former Special Disarmament Adviser, Ambassador to the UN, Geneva, Ambassador to Austria and Chairman of the Board of Governors IAEA;
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