Video of conference inside: Speeches verbally translated in English, live. Leaders of several European nationalist parties gathered for the ‘Freedom for Europe’ congress, in Koblenz, on Saturday, January 21. The meeting was the first official appearance of Frauke Petry, chair of the AfD (Alternative for Germany), alongside Front National leader Marine Le Pen. Both were joined by Geert Wilders, founder and leader of the Dutch PVV (Party for Freedom), and Liga Nord leader Matteo Salvini. Dubbed a “European counter-summit”, this first-of-its-kind gathering was organised by the Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF) group from the European Parliament.
This is a story about reclaiming food-rights in the United States by declaring local food sovereignty. This brings up the question of whether it would be possible to do this in Australia and what obstacles we might encounter. Comments welcome to educate readers on this issue. Some of the problems addressed in this article include issues of contravening federal food regulations and they rely on rights that Australians probably do not have.
Sedgwick, Maine, the first town in the US to legalize any kind of food transaction as free and legal in order to keep the right to produce raw milk, organic produce, free-range eggs, and more, is revolutionizing the way America keeps its food rights – including saying no to GMOs. In other words, it is the first town to declare food sovereignty while opposing both state and federal laws.
The town has passed an ordinance (PDF) that protects citizens’ rights to “produce, sell, purchase, and consume any food of their choosing.” The ordinance laughs in the face of FDA regulations and their hodge-podge way of giving food a rubber stamp of approval, especially GMO. Three additional towns in Maine are expected to pass similar ordinances as well.
The move is somewhat similar to a move one England town made, where the citizens transformed their entire town’s landscape into a giant food-producing garden. Both are great examples of moving toward food sovereignty.
It isn’t just a declaration on the whim of a few city council members. There is a warrant added: “It shall be unlawful for any law or regulation adopted by the state or federal government to interfere with the rights recognized by this Ordinance.” This means that federal interference is prohibited in our food supply – at least in Maine. If you can’t get Monsanto out of the government, take the government out of your food. It’s a brilliant way around the convoluted system now in place that almost gave Monsanto the right to be exempt from federal prosecution for its poison food and which tries to hoist it upon the whole Nation without consent.
David Gumpert reports:
What about potential legal liability and state or federal inspections? It’s all up to the seller and buyer to negotiate. “Patrons purchasing food for home consumption may enter into private agreements with those producers or processors of local foods to waive any liability for the consumption of that food. Producers or processors of local foods shall be exempt from licensure and inspection requirements for that food as long as those agreements are in effect.” Imagine that — buyer and seller can agree to cut out the lawyers. That’s almost un-American, isn’t it?
A simple seller and buyer agreement is entered into where federal regulations can be bypassed by the seller agreeing to consume food grown by their neighbors organically in their garden or by the farm up the street with their own hormone-free dairy cows that customers have known for decades. It takes the feds and their dirty Monsanto money right out of the game. It is commercially grown food that is killing us all, after all – not locally grown food.
For those with their heads in a noodle about bypassing federal laws, the citizens of Maine have stated, “We the radicals who concocted this mutinous act of infamy believe that according to the Home Rule provisions of our State Constitution, the citizens of Sedgwick have the right to enact an ordinance that is “local and municipal in character.”
In Maine, citizens can take advantage of local bounty, seasonal organic crops, and the good-old-fashioned way we used to produce food without Big Ag and commercial interference. Rural America is putting the big city budget of Monsanto to shame with this innovative way of taking down the monopolizing food giant. It’s about time ‘radicals’ in every small town across this nation did the same.
Victoria First - Statement of Purposes
- To protect Victoria’s unique, beautiful and endangered birds, plants and animals
- To safeguard Victoria’s way of life, its backyards, its open spaces, its room to move, room to breathe, room to live
- To halt Melbourne’s rapid population growth
- To achieve a reduction in Australia’s migration programs to the levels of the 1980s and 1990s, ie net 70,000 per annum compared with the 190,000 we have now
- To give ordinary residents a genuine say in planning issues in their streets and neighbourhoods
- To stop the decline in housing affordability and job opportunities for our young people
- To improve the affordability and quality of education, skills and training
- To stop increasing traffic congestion
- To stop the increasing cost of essential services such as council rates, electricity, gas, and power, particularly for pensioners
- To take all reasonable steps and support all reasonable community actions which advance the above objectives
This meeting will be Victoria First’s Inaugural Meeting to formally incorporate, adopt rules, appoint office bearers and a committee of management. Victorians welcome. When: Sunday 1st December 10am-12noon
Where: Flemington Community Centre, 25 Mt Alexander Road
This meeting will be Victoria First’s Inaugural Meeting to formally incorporate, adopt rules, appoint office bearers and a committee of management. Victorians welcome.
When: Sunday 1st December 10am-12noon
UPDATED Oct 18 Inside is list of names of people running for local councils in Victoria who are members of groups affiliated with Planning Backlash. The list was compiled by Mary Drost, convenor of Planning Backlash, who says it represents 14 councils and it the total she has so far.
This list of names of people running for council who are members of groups affiliated with Planning Backlash. It has been compiled by Mary Drost, who says that there could be more, but those are the ones she has received to date. Mary Drost is the convenor of Planning Backlash, an umbrella group of people from groups trying to get more democracy about planning in local government. At least some of these candidates will have an awareness of overpopulation. Clifford Hayes is also a candidate for Sustainable Population Party of Australia.
Mary Drost writes, "The number of Planning Backlash friendly candidates has now reached 50 in 20 councils. This list is of those who are members of resident groups concerned about the bad development that we are having forced on us. Party politics do not come into it and we certainly hope that those who do get into council listen to the residents who put them there and not to any party policy."
(The comments below about possum-friendliness are not the views of Planning Backlash but of wildlife friendly readers of candobetter.)
Updated list from 18 October 2012 (twice)
Clifford Hayes - Bayside
Michael Norris - Bayside South Ward
Tony Michael - Boroondara Cotham Ward
Jane Addis - Boroondara Maling Ward
Ian Quick - Boroondara Lynden Ward
Catherine Manning - Cardinia
Lynette Keleher - Casey - River Gum Ward
Craig Walters - Darebin - Cazaly Ward
Don Dunstan - Glen Eira - Rosstown Ward
Cheryl Forge - Glen Eira - Camden Ward
Frankston Penalluriack - Glen Eira - Camden Ward
Trevor Dance - Hume City - Jacksons Creek Ward
Rosemary West - Kingston Central Ward
Trevor Shewan - Kingston
Anthony Searle - Knox Baird Ward
Stephen O’Brien - Manningham Koonung Ward http://coherence.com.au/curlew/elections/
Jennifer Yang - Manningham Koonung Ward
Magdi Khalil - Manningham Koonung Ward
Ed O’Flynn - Manningham Heidi Ward
Paul McLeish - Manningham Mullum Mullum Ward
Dot Haynes - Manningham
Brian Whitefield - Macedon Ranges Shire South Ward
Jackie Watts - Melbourne Carlton Residents
Kevin Chamberlain - Melbourne Nth & West Melb Residents
Michael Kennedy - Melbourne Eastenders
Michele Anderson - Melbourne Docklands
Susan O’Brien - Melbourne Southbank
Chan Cheah - Monash Mulgrave Ward http://vote4chan.wordpress.com/
Des Olin - Monash Mulgrave Ward
Damian Lobo - Monash Glen Waverley Ward
Martin Forster - Moreland South Ward http://www.facebook.com/?ref=tn_tnmn#!/martin.forster.1422
Dr Derham Groves - Moreland South Ward
Leigh Eustace - Mornington Peninsula - Briars Ward
Peter Holloway - Mornington Peninsula - Seawinds Ward
Heidi Duell - Mornington Peninsula - Nepean Ward
Craig Thomson - Mornington Peninsula - Seawinds Ward
Neale Adams - Mornington Peninsula - Red Hill Ward
David Gibb - Mornington Peninsula - Seawinds Ward
Warwick Leeson - Nilumbik - Sugarloaf Ward
Serge Thomann - Port Phillip (Some complaints that he has done nothing for possums in Catani Gardens and they wish that he would - candobetter.net ed.)
Jane Touzeau - Port Phillip
Peter de Groot - Port Phillip Sandridge Ward
Richard Roberts - Port Phillip Emerald Hill
Catherine Sharples - Port Phillip Albert Park
Ann Birrell - Port Phillip Albert Park
Vanessa Huxley - Port Phillip Carlisle
Mary Gallic - Port Phillip Junction
Matthew Knight - Stonnington
Niall Baird - Whitehorse
Amanda Stone - Yarra Langridge Ward
Today, Wednesday 3 October, Dr Joe Toscano and Dr Jean Ely launched a colourful campaign against a backdrop of Spring flowers outside Melbourne Town Hall. (Video-link below) They made the point that the other 8 candidates campaign as if Melbourne were a business proposition and neglect the 40 per cent of votes that come from non-business people in a uniquely skewed electoral system where some businesses get two or three votes. This vast electorate includes Carlton, North Carlton, Flemington, Kensington, South Melbourne, East Melbourne, Docklands, Parts of South Yarra and West Melbourne. Most public housing is located there but there are many homeless. There are a lot of children but public schools are rare.
Taking the public seriously
Dr Joseph Toscano began the launch by stating that this is a serious campaign for the Lord Mayor Election and the theme is, "Putting Public First."
He said that other candidates talk about running Melbourne as a business, but Melbourne is a community. It is a community of over 200,000 people, with 102,000 on the electoral role. It includes the CBD, Carlton, North Carlton, Flemington, Kensington, South Melbourne, East Melbourne, Docklands, Parts of South Yarra and West Melbourne.
The election should not be about running a business. It should be an election about people, about cities, about how people collectively and individually resolve the problems of having so many people in such a small area - four million in this city.
"We are standing to promote, protect and extend public housing and public schools in the city of Melbourne," said Dr Toscano.
And, "Listening to this election you forget that most of the public housing estates are in the city of Melbourne: North Carlton, Carlton, Flemington, West Melbourne, Kensington. Thousands of people living in public housing."
"So we think that it's fundamental that we look after people through public housing and public schools. What we have seen over the last 30 years is a revolution which has devalued and privatised public housing, public schools and public health."
Ten per cent city revenue to Seed-fund Local Collectives and Cooperatives for secure and satisfying employment
"The second thing is that we are not interested in running the city of Melbourne as a corporate focused city. We want to see the development of an alternative economic system based on cooperatives and collectives, which provide secure, sustainable employment and goods and services for the people of Melbourne. We are not interested in the people having part-time, poorly paid work. We want people to be self-sufficient, to work for themselves, and share the wealth which they create. We would like 10 per cent of the city's revenue to be diverted to provide seed funding to set up collectives and cooperatives, to set up a alternative economic system based on the satisfaction of real, not manufactured, human needs."
Because you do not need billions of dollars to survive, live or prosper. What you need is secure, safe, sustainable employment.
If you go to a bank and say you want to set up a food collective or a carpenters' collective or a plumbers' collective you will find that nothing happens. So 10 per cent of the city's revenue redirected to set up an alternative economic system.
Double rates on multi-million dollar Melbourne properties
Thirdly, some of the richest people and corporations live in the city of Melbourne. Everyone else is talking about reducing rates. We want to double rates for properties worth more than $10m and we want to quarantine the money raised to tackle the perennial problem of homelessness in Melbourne which is swept under the carpet on a year by year basis. We want to use the money to assist the 40 per cent of people who live in the city of Melbourne, who rely on social security benefits to survive.
Monument to honour indigenous people executed in Melbourne
Fourthly, since the last election Dr Ely and myself have been fighting - along with hundreds of other people - for the establishment of a significant monument for Tunnaminnerwait and Maulboyheenner, two indigenous freedom fighters who were executed on the corner of Bowan and Franklin Streets on the 20th of January 1842. Not just as some hsitorical monument, but as a gathering place for indigenous and non-indigenous Australians to learn about the city's unwritten history and to become involved in the struggle to finish the unfinished business that exists between indigenous and non-indigenous Australia. We se this as a tangible way of actually promoting that struggle of kick-starting the stalled reconciliation struggle. We would like to see the whole area with grass, get a monument there, where peple can go and talk and learn about the history.
Re-name City Square "Human Rights Square"
Lastly, want to see City Square renamed "Human Rights Square" to acknowledge the forceful eviction of Occupy Melbourne by police after getting the nod by Premier Baillieu and the Lord Mayor Doyle from that place for peacefully raising the idea that wealth and power should be redistributed.
Obviously we have many other ideas, but these are the five major ones.
Now, why are we standing? Very simply because this statement will be sent to every elector on the Melbourne electoral role, courtesy of the Australian Election Commission, where people can also read the stuff the other candidates put up like, "we want more parking, more or fewer roads ...."
Because we face difficult times, especially young people, because we are moving from a time of relative abundance to scarcity, as Greenhouse increases, human activity increases, as finite resources are used to manufacture goods we do not need to increase company profits and economy is dominated by economically based on the creation of ever more profits irrespective of social and environmental costs, we find that we need radical solutions.
Call to work around the corporate media by using social media
It is very interesting that apart from the local and community media, there is no media here today, despite the fact that we sent over 1000 emails and even some letters.
You are not going to get the government-gelded ABC or the corporate-owned media talking about a public campaign of putting public first. It is unattractive in a corporate dominated world. For us to get any traction we need people here to go to our website at www.anarchistmedia.org, to download the material, send it to your friends, use it for bloggling and in the social media sphere to promote the campaign.
Our statement cannot be beaten. It is a black caviar statement. It is miles ahead of what you will see elsewhere.
Inter-candidate debates ahead
Over the next three weeks I will be debating my colleagues about these issues, but we have two options - we come last out of nine candidates or we come fourth or fifth or third with your assistance on the social media to show people that there is support for ideas, not personalities.
Dr Ely on public housing and public schooling
Dr Ely spoke on the issues of Public Housing and Public Education. She said that there is a lot of homelessness in the electorate, adding that Mayor Doyle had been very quick to take a photo-opportunity with the homeless but that he had actually done nothing about them. She said that Joe and she were determined to give them a voice. She also wanted to encourage people to put more and more pressure on the state government to restore public schools which had been closed under Premier Jeff Kennett. She mentioned that West Melbourne school had been given to the Salvation Army by Jeff Kennett in 1993. "We want it back," she stated. There are children in this city who need government schools."
"That's why we want to campaign to raise rates on properties worth more than 10m," said Dr Toscano.
Dr Ely concluded by saying, "We are the future. We will have to leave the others to wander off into the past. The Fourth Estate is now on the ropes. The Fifth Estate is the Social Media."
Dr Toscano will be debating other candidates (with the exception of the current Lord Mayor, Mr Doyle, who apparently does not debate other candidates) at the Wheeler Centre on 16th of October between 6.15 and 7.30pm.
Melbourne Council's unusual voting system
The City of Melbourne has a very odd voting system where some businesses have two or three votes and it is slanted 60/40 in terms of business votes in relation to residents' votes. It is the only place in Australia where people have multiple voting legally. This system was created was to ensure that somebody from the business community would be Lord Mayor. This is also the only mayoral election where the mayor is elected by the people. In every other city the mayor is appointed by the councillors. The Melbourne system was designed to give the mayor a bit more power than other mayors to promote business interests.
On 16 September 2010 I attended an unusually inspiring political and humanistic movement amid the half-deserted towers of Melbourne's sparsely populated but nature-poor Docklands. (Ed. Some small changes made on 22 Jan 2012 due to mistakes in transcription being picked up by a reader.)
On 16th September 2010 I attended the Free and Open Source Software and Gnu/Linux users' conference. I hadn't had as much fun and political stimulation since an Indymedia day more than a decade previously about making digital movies. The two days had in common their political themes of digital democracy. There was so much to listen to and such great speakers and interactions and I took so many notes that my rendering of and publishing of this article was hopelessly delayed. In the end I concentrated notes from the first talk, on Free and Open Software, by Ben Sturmfels, and have had to give up on the idea of reporting on the equally interesting and stimulating workshops that followed it. Notable among these was one run by Kathy Reid who gave a more prompt report on the Open Day events along with a better account of who was who.
Digital Democracy gives ordinary people global power with local roots
Victorian Free and Open Software (FOSS) and Gnu/Linux Users (Linux Users Victoria - LUV) are in a position to organise politically and all vocal participants on this day (they were a chatty lot) seemed to share an intense social concern and responsibility.
FOSS/LUV et al is a group of people (men mostly) who are keen to reach out and have a lot to offer. Many people would call them 'nerds', and they are endearingly conscious of this, dutifully engaging in group self-consciousness, when they talked about attracting new people.
"How do we get our nerds who dress badly and don't change their shirts or wash to behave in a more socially acceptable way?" " "Can we make rules to say that a person cannot attend a conference two days running in the same shirt?"
Perhaps I am a nerd too, but everyone there struck me as unusually well-socialised, with relatively sophisticated social concerns about preserving community values, freedom etc. and tuned into a bunch of indicators, wondering what they all lead to. And so keen to get involved. JP Sartre would have been very jealous. And, another concern, "How do we attract women to our cause?"
Software Freedom Day is an annual event in Victoria. Every schoolchild and public servant should attend. Last year it was held at the state library in Swanston Street, Melbourne.
Much of the rest of this article is adapted from a talk by Ben Sturmfels, a free software developer who writes computer programs and gets paid to do it. Sturmfels is based in Melbourne. He spoke about software freedom day activism as well as about what free software is.
What is proprietary software?
The proprietary software business model is based around a software developer, whether they're a company or an individual, producing some software and then licensing it under a restrictive license to the person who gets to use it. Those licenses tend to apply restrictions on what you can do with the software. These might be something like, 'You may only be able to use this in an educational setting' or 'You may only use this for 30 days' or you might even be able to use it as long as you don't say anything against the company that wrote it. There are software programs that have license like that.
Other restrictions they tend to place on software are that you may not actually study the code it contains to see what it's doing. You cannot actually see what it's doing under the surface. You are not supposed to look at what it's doing in your computer. You may have no idea of what it's actually doing, whether it's connecting to the internet, or accessing you files or communicating with somewhere else.
That's a little bit worrying because most computers are connected to the internet all the time and we keep everything of importance in our files.
This is not just a concern with regard to personal computers but also for companies and government data bases in departments, services and utilities, including hospitals and traffic lights.
There is another problem with not being able to see what the software does or to look at its code, and that is that you are usually forbidden to modify the software. If the software has a bug in it or doesn't do what you need it to do, you are not allowed to fix it yourself. You need to take it back to the person who made it and get them to fix it. That's fine, as long as that person is still around and wants to fix it and you can afford to pay what they ask.
It's one of those situations where monopolies tend to occur. So you often find that there is only one company that will fix you proprietary item and, if they won't fix it, or you cannot afford to pay them you have to throw it away.
(Ed.An example of this is proprietary movie-editing software on digital movie cameras. You buy the digital camcorder, struggle with compatibility on your proprietary computer, then, just as you become adept at using it, after days spent editing and reediting a movie, it develops a bug, such as losing the sound. You go on-line with the problem and have to register and buy an upgrade that costs a lot and probably won't work with your next camcorder.)
Another restriction of a lot of proprietary software normally are rules on whether you can share it or not. Normally the restriction goes, "You may not share this piece of software with anyone." Essentially what is being said is, "You can use it on you computer, but you can't give a copy to a friend who might like a copy." And you can't donate it to a school or something like that.
So, those are four restrictions that are normally placed on proprietary software.
Proprietary software is also described as 'non-free' software because you don't have the freedom to do these useful things.
What is Free Software?
Let's now contrast 'proprietary software' with 'free software', where the idea behind it is that you can do all of these things.
You can look at the software to see what it's doing. You can use it to do anything you want. You can modify it to suit your needs and you can also share it with other people.
It's probably important to point out that the expression, 'free software' can be confusing because we use 'free' for a number of things, including 'free of charge'. In this case, Ben explains, we mean 'free' as in 'freedom', 'free as a bird'.
Free Software Background
Richard Stallman began a movement. He worked in MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Artificial Intelligence labs and found he was more and more restricted by the software he used. He had grown up in a software tech culture where sharing was just the way it was. The software didn't come with restrictions on it. Software was just software and if you were a programmer, you could modify it; or you could get someone else to modify it for you if you couldn't do it yourself.
More and more he began to see companies trying on this proprietary business model, trying to restrict what people could do with their software. This was around 1983. He started this project called the GNU project. You may have heard of it. The project was to build a free software operating system. Start from scratch and build it with these free software values built into it - the ability for people to use it for anything - to study or modify it to suit their needs and to share it and to share their modified software.
It took a little while and in 1985 he started a Free Software Foundation as a non-profit group to channel funds into the project and manage its direction.
After a few years they built a whole load of really useful free software, such as compilers and debuggers, terms which may mean little to you if you don't write software. Basically they are little pieces of all the operating system. They built most of the operating system, but they still had one part they needed and that was the kernel that coordinates all the programs your running, that tells them to take things in turn. They found that in the kernel Linux in around 1991.
It's come a long way since then but it's still pretty young in the scheme of things.
The situation we have now is the Gnu system or Gnu/Linux or just as Linux.
Some of the parts in free software are the best that's out there. The fastest, the most reliable, the cheapest often. Often, whilst free software means 'freedom' it's often free of charge as well. It is actually the envy of a lot of software companies now, this free software can be plugged into all kinds of things. For instance your own browser may be free software (e.g. Mozilla) and your on-line telephone. Things like that.
It's all really exciting at the moment. It's really starting to broaden its reach. The other aspect of that though is that, as it becomes more entrenched in the general culture, the values of the system start to be a little more in doubt. Without "Open" days like to day (celebrating the meaning of 'free software'), we tend to somehow lose some of these values.
For instance, some of the problems we see include where free software operating systems originally designed as such, these bugs creep in - the bugs being that they have non-free software elements, including such things as drivers for video cards, and plug-in things for Firefox and things like Adobe flashplayer and things like Skype, the telephony program.
This is kind of unfortunate because you have this free software and then non-free components have been added, actually devaluing the original philosophy of it.
So, that's just about my summary of free software in itself.
I would like to add that it's actually important that we talk about gnu-plus linux o gnu/linux as the name of the operating system, rather than just linux. There are a few reasons for this and some people have different reasons. The thing I think is most important is that the people who write the Linux kernel software don't tend to talk about freedom as an issue. They are actually agnostic to that. If they publicly stated their views, they are not really that concerned about freedom as a general issue.
By adding the word 'gnu' out the front, so GNU+Linux or gnu/Linux, we actually add the philosophy of gnu to this word, when we are spreading it around.
Whilst we are all free to do what we want, please consider using the terms gnu plus linux or gnu slash linux.
Free software Activism
Work on software patents gives one an interest in seeing how these sorts of things happen. One does not tend normally to think about it, but how did the Women's Rights movement happen and how did the Environmental movement happen? These have impacts on what we are trying to do because 'activism' is really just ... it's people wanting to see positive change in the world and actually stepping up and giving it a go. It's interesting to look at some of the techniques people have used to do this and to try to apply that to free software activism.
It is really interesting to see how free software has been promoted in the past and how it has grown because no-one could deny the major success of this system and the free software movement because, from nothing twenty-eight years ago, we now have a fully free operating system, which is just incredible.
The Amazing Richard Stallman
The large corporations take decades to build these sort of things and the community and people stand all over the world and built this operating system. People often criticise the free software movement and people in it such as Richard Stallman, because he is incredibly intelligent and logical, which makes him a fantastic programmer, but people can sometimes find him a little bit abrasive because he's less tolerant of people who don't understand what he's talking about. He doesn't go for the social graces that maybe people are used to often when someone's explaining something that they don't understand. If you've attended one of his talks, people come away feeling really angry and frustrated about this whole thing because it criticised something they in themselves believed and didn't find him to be a ... Well, if you go on line and listen to one of his talks on you-tube, for instance, you may see what I mean. The question time is quite interesting and the short answers for questions. And I think about ... is that the right way to do it? Because you're putting people off who are just interested in learning about the project. And then I think, well, maybe it's not perfect, but it's certainly worked. Like he built this operating system. He's done it in a way that most of these social movements couldn't do. Like most of these social movements are based around changing people first and then changing the world, but, with free software, he's gone and changed the world underneath us all.
He's built this free software operating system. Now the world just has to catch up. That's not to say it's him on his own at all. Certainly not. There are a lot of other people involved.
We are at a point where some of these other movements are really quite interesting. We may be getting to a point where there is an educational phase in free software, because we have this mostly complete free software operating system now.
Ben described how he works as a software developer and in the course of that he does graphics, music and other things. He says that, although free software doesn't do everything and often does some things particularly poorly, it does everything I need. It plays most of the videos I want to watch now. The web and the multimedia sphere has flourished with developments in video formats being released and new browsers coming along. These are really exciting things.
He suggested that We're getting out of "this lock-in with the Adobe flashplayer and things like that," suggesting that Adobe flashplaye was mostly only used for video these days and that hardly anyone would bother using it fo animations now.
He has been using his free operating system every day for all his work and everything else he needs to do on the computer for about five years.
That indicated to him that we have reached a stage where we can use the operating system without much mucking around. He remarked that he had certainly spent quite a lot of his time mucking around with free software in the past, ut he feels now that most of it is so good that these times are now past.
The Ride to School program
Ben talked about the Ride to School Program, which is a group about healthy change for kids, getting them involved in healthy lifestyles, such as walking to school or riding a bike after school, and things like that. He said that this is the kind of the behaviour-change step he felt that the free software community were at.
The free software community are at the point where their activities are focused on bringing the notion of and availability of free software into the minds of the wide community.
A good start to this was open source and free open source software days like this one, where he was speaking.
He remarked on how interesting it is to see the things that people are making in cyberspace these days, such as 'hackerspaces' and 'Arduino' projects. The rise of such things where you can actually do things yourself, without needing to go and buy it from somewhere and use it for its one purpose then throw it away. You can actually make [cyber]things yourself.
It helps the free software movement for people to understand that they can do that with... their phone ... or they can change their little robot... Their mindset changes. They realise that everything isn't set in stone by proprietary software. With twenty years of proprietary software, they've got into this idea that everything is just as it is sold. No, don't touch it or it won't work anymore. And, make sure you get your virus updates from people who supply virus updates and everything will be okay.
The world really has changed beneath us. Education about free software will take a long time. It may be decades before the general populace understand some of these issues, but it's really about just being persistent and that's what activism is about. It's about having a long term view of these things.
Suggestions about activism.
One of the tricky things about free software we find in Australia is that most of the action that we see on the internet and in the news is in the U.S. and it feels a long way away. You can feel quite disconnected, even lonely, in software.
This was one of the reasons that Ben started a group in Melbourne, Australia to talk about free software. He said that they do some political things from time to time, but often it's just hanging around talking about some of these issues because it's actually nice to talk with another human being about it. Reading about it on the internet and watching videos isn't quite the same.
Open days like this one were where it is really at though, for building a community.
It is important to live according to your own values. There are a lot of people trying to push their values on to other people and it is really important that the audience understand that Ben was not telling them, "You must use a free software operating system for your work." That was a conclusion they needed to come in themself if they wished to, to be comfortable in themself. If that is the conclusion you come to, then you probably should go home and use a free software operating system, despite what your brother o your friend might say. You need to do whatever makes you happy. And that applies to everything - not just free software. You need to be confident in your own opinions to be happy.
Speaking at an event like this is the easy route - preaching to the choir.
But the really hard thing is to go and talk to other people where our views might conflict with theirs, but the good thing about having a whole lot of people is that people respond really well to people who they feel are the same as them and have similar opinions. We can each try to educate the people we mix best with, who are likely to trust our opinion.
You do, however sometimes need to step outside your comfort zone and talk to people who may initially disagree. Free software is actually a mindshift because it's just so heavily drummed into people the way proprietary software is. People use emotive words like "piracy" and "hacker" to make non-proprietary software seem really negative. I'm not saying that copyright infringement is a good thing. You should not infringe copyright.
Ben said that it's often really difficult to talk to close family and friends. Let them love you for who you are if they aren't receptive to your interest in open software.
Comments from the 'audience'
The 'audience' is highly participatory in this talk.
One comments that it is important to go and find a community where you can resonate and strengthen yourself.
Another audience member describes how his aunt and his mother were terrified of computers, having had a bad experience with one where their computer was set up in such a way that it took hours to even open their first program, but, at their request, he installed Linux and they were much happier with their system afterwards.
Another member of the audience asks Ben if he thinks in the long run there will be an innate technical advantage to open source software. He talks about how ten years ago Open Office was a little bit clunky, although it had most of the function present, but of course, now, there seems to be no reason whatsoever for a person to use proprietary software like Microsoft Office. He added that the early Gnu-ey interfaces fo Linux were not always very accessible, but today you can introduce complete novices to Linux and they will find that the work involved is actually less than in the proprietary operating system. It made him think that the speed of improvement in opensource software is faster than the speed of improvement in proprietary software. He said that this led him to hypothesize that there is actually a technical inevitability... that there is something in the way that opensource does things that means that you actually cannot lose in the long run.
Another member of the audience responds by saying that this is probably true in relation to specific versions like mysql. He had read a book which suggested the idea might be true.
Ben introduced the idea that an important kind of activism is to donate you own time to promote a cause. Another thing that could be extremely beneficial was if you had a good job and enough money to do the things you need to do, giving financial support to some sort of activism is often one of the best things you can possibly do. There are a lot of people around helping who lack funds to do these sorts of things.
The Free Software Foundation
Ben gave the example of the Free Software Foundation as worthy of peoples' consideration if they were interested in donating money. He said that those assembled heard about them all the time. They had done so many campaigns that free software movement people were aware of and they were in the news and provided speakers who came round the world to talk to people. People might be surprised to hear that there are only have about ten people in their office - a tiny little non-profit group.
He was telling us this to give us an idea of how much they did without very many financial resources.
"One of the best things, if you so chose, would be to become a member and give some money to them. That would actually be very beneficial. Likewise giving money to any other free software project."
Keep positive because we have this fantastic free software operating system out there and we just need to tell people about it.
More remarks from the audience.
Richard Stillman has made people very aware of the fact that all Linuxes are not equally free.
"A lot of social movements like free software are somewhat of a journey. So people might start dabbling in free software and using maybe Ubuntu or something that's very user-friendly and accessible. That's fine. It's good. But it's also good to have people at the other end, like Richard Stallman, who are pushing towards an entirely free software. We need to recognise the value at both ends of the spectrum."
A response it that Richard Stallman's attitude is admirable. He even refuses to use some websites because they contain non-free code.
"I work for an organisation and he wouldn't do the renewal on the website ... It's interesting particularly because he recognises that it asks your computer to download software and run it off your computer...."
"And he says, 'No, I don't want your free software running on my computer..."
"No, no, actually...I admired that!"
"He's certainly consistent!"
Murmurs of approval.
"It's worthwhile pointing out that that's one activism technique. Polarising the debate and saying, 'This is okay. No, this is not okay. And here is the line...."
"He's a great role model."
"But, the phones I've been convinced by some friends to buy, in my pocket. It's not running free software. What do I do. What rights do I have with that software on this device that I supposedly own?
I recently upgraded from a phone that's seven years old - obviously there were no free software operating phones at that time - to an android phone. But, because I see myself moving along that continuum, I'm now running an operating system that's a whole lot more free than it used to be. I'm not there yet, ut so long as I only move forward, I consider that progress."
Another voice: "There are some areas that have an enormous way to go before satisfying free software. The graphics design area is a blatant example because, as somebody studying graphics design, it's virtually impossible to use things like Gimp, things like Photoshop and Adobe products are set in the course as a compulsory tool and the problem with something like Gimp is the Pantone proprietary colouf scheme is just something you've got to have for professional work and there is progress that some people want to see towards an open colour scheme ..."
"That's a separate issue," says someone else. "I think that's ... I don't consider Richard Stallman an extremist. But I believe he has actually missed a political tool. If you are going to expound a philosophy and you say, okay I'm willing to make a concession and that concession you make is essentially, [to say that] yes, the other side does have a valid point. [...]
"You say in 20 or 30 years down the track there's going to be a shift, but I reckon that if there is going to be a fundamental shift, it's going to catch everyone off-guard..."
"I guess that because there is the software out there that the change is already en route. I mean, we are not trying to play catch-up with building the infrastructure. The infrastructure is already there."
"There does need to be more support available so that people can ring up and ask for help with problems. As slowly the business model grows. Not quite viable yet."
"I really appreciated your point that, unlike other social justice movements, we're in the interesting position that we don't have to anymore convince people to build this stuff. There's already a huge amount of people building this stuff, particularly to improve it. So we can say, 'Here's something really useful and here's why it has been built."
"I think I would like to modify [what you have said] a little bit because I think we still need to convince corporations that it's a good idea... and professionals ..."
"Yes, we are no longer in a position where no-one is doing this..."
"Yes, we are trying to move everyone toward it. There's a whole lot of people already there and so, let's go join those people."
"Another thing is that if someone doesn't want to give money another way you can help is get onto mailing lists and answer peoples' questions..."
"Yes, that's extremely helpful."
"I see a lot of people with proprietary software be surprised that the support with free software is actually better than what's available with proprietary software ... people transitioning from having to call Microsoft and realising the forums for open source are actually providing better support in a lot of cases than paid support."
"It's important that non-technical people go out and tell people about the software as well. Because it's not just about developing the software, it's about people knowing it exists out there, to work from the software and knowing how it fits a particular need."
"I think there is scope to promote free software to other people who are interested in the [same] values, like the Environmental Movement and other Social Justice movements as well, cause in many ways it fits quite nicely with the values that people hold with those movements."
"Often they're going to make that jump quite easily."
"Yes. And it is quite an easy jump to make depending on the kind of software that you need to run. Promoting the values as well as the technical stuff. And it also helps to disperse the stereotype of the geeky Linux guy, which I admit I held until I got to know the community better." (Girl linux user speaking)
Editorial comment: We need Open Source Automobile software
Does it exist? Remember when every third male and some females tinkered with their own cars, stripped them down, greased them, replaced parts, tuned them ... all in the back yard? Aside from the fact that backyards are going extinct due to artificially induced population pressure, cars have become so proprietorially automated, that no-one who doesn't have $20,000 of brand-specialised electronic service equipment can fix them. Where we should be maintaining and improving old cars, built to last, we are fast being forced to commute in small automated plastic bubbles with rapid built-in obsolescence that hold us to ransom with their tuning, parts and service because we don't have the right or the equipment to fix them ourselves.
This is an industry and a social situation where opensource software is sorely needed.
Hack Melbourne, an enthusiastic group of hardware hobbyists and/or software programmers in Melbourne, Australia.
"The growth lobbyists will tell us that we can solve our problems by converting to “clean coal” technologies or nuclear power, building more high rise, producing desalinated water at $10 litre (who knows?), installing “smart” electricity meters, piping water from the Northern Victoria to Melbourne, importing more food on more and bigger ships etc." Federal Candidate, Jenny Warfe writes, "I'm looking forward to a different way of 'moving forward.'"
Editor: Headings introduced by candobetter.org editor
Honouring our Provision of Asylum obligations
Firstly, I believe we must honour in word and deed our international obligations to provide asylum (1) for those who seek it, especially in view of our present international military activities. What’s more, the few thousand refugees who gain Australian residency each year make no significant difference to our population growth, so are irrelevant to the following discussion.
Dick Smith’s recent ‘Population Puzzle’ (2) documentary has brought population impacts into the mainstream so now seems like a good time to discuss one of my policies:
Develop a population plan informed by best available relevant science. Migration program should focus on political and climate asylum and reunions. Remove reliance on skilled migration by re-skilling and training Australians.
Neither the ALP or the Libs understand the mathematical realities of growth
As Dick Smith discovered to his amazement – there is no plan and neither major party seems capable of understanding the mathematical realities of growth.
Population growth in most developed countries is declining, but Australia’s growth rate has been rising fast. It’s currently 2% per annum - more than twice the world average and higher than most other developed or developing nation, eg: India’s 1.4% and UK’s 0.4%. At 2% per annum, Australia will almost double its population by 2050. Melbourne is set to double to 8 million in the next 50 years (3). Impacts of our growth rate are being felt in inadequate public transport services whilst tollways and freeways continue to expand; water restrictions; stresses on our coastline, oceans and waterways; loss of productive land to new suburbs; loss of marine and terrestrial biodiversity; destruction of our natural and built heritage for continuing urban expansion – and the accompanying carbon emissions and climate change. Surely the elephant in the room is the world’s inability to deal wisely with our own expansion?
Where's the logical end point to this?
I think every nation on Earth needs a plan based around some concept of carrying capacity. This might be a long way off, but a good start would be to restructure the UN as a real global government, extinguish domination by the USA and its allies, all countries to be represented equally and global defence and armaments expenditure to be significantly re-allocated to humanitarian and environmental restoration activities.
1994 Australian population carrying capacity Inquiry
In 1994 Australia did look at its carrying capacity in the Parliamentary report: Australia's population "carrying capacity”: one nation - two ecologies (4). But – the idea has gone nowhere since - buried it seems under the rise to power of the growth lobby, including the Business and Property Council of Australia – the few faceless entities who benefit from more of everything, and ably assisted by media commentators such as Andrew Bolt and Piers Akerman. The growth lobbyists will tell us that we can solve our problems by converting to “clean coal” technologies or nuclear power, building more high rise, producing desalinated water at $10 litre (who knows?), installing “smart” electricity meters, piping water from the Northern Victoria to Melbourne, importing more food on more and bigger ships etc.
Climate change and paving habitat
Mr. Rudd was right. Responding to climate change is one of the greatest moral challenges of our time, but dealing with that challenge whilst we continue to expand will be all the harder. Until our political leadership has the guts to ignore the ramblings of Andrew Bolt et al we will be stuck in a reactive policy merry-go-round. As our natural heritage disappears it isn’t good enough to fall back on a “19th Century zoo mentality” and list yet another species as critically endangered (what’s the point if we pave over its habitat?) or propose a National Park to save a piece of our land or sea, when what we need to do for the safety of the planet and all who live on it is to reduce the impact we humans are having on the land and oceans.
Psycho-social and economic disconnect from Environment
It’s my view that since the industrial revolution humans have become the only species on Earth whose population numbers, at least in the “First World” are no longer prescribed by the environmental constraints that controlled us for thousands of years and other species for millions of years. Now, especially in the West we have become increasingly disconnected – both physically and psychologically – from the environment which sustains us, allowing us to consider the environment as a resource for our use and exploitation rather than our habitat. But the standards we have constructed in the West and our addiction to growth and its underpinning consumerism have come at huge cost to others on the planet. Poorer nations subsidise our wealth, providing consumer goods made with cheap labour in harsh conditions, and many such country’s lax regulations allow their environments to become degraded and their endemic species to be obliterated.
Capitalism can work well without growth
But, there is another way to organise ourselves. As even capitalism loving Dick Smith says, “capitalism can work wonderfully well without growth”.
We can get along very well in a steady state economy – indeed our quality of life, not just the quality of our possessions – might even increase. There’s quite a bit written about it, and it’s all pretty inspiring. See: http://steadystate.org/
Inhumanity of Growthism and Paying the Ferryman
I reckon if we don’t want to consider our population and growth impacts we aren’t being humane. Already, with 6.5 Billion people on the planet, over 1 billion can’t access clean water. With 9 billion people by 2050 how can we possibly address appalling realities like that? Sometime soon we are going to have to pay the ferryman.
I’m looking forward to a different way of “moving forward”.
(1) And on-shore processing centres
(3) The Age August 5th 2010 http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/make-plans-for-population-to-double-within-50-years-20100804-11fn5.html
Along with Dr. Joe Toscano, environmental activist, Jenny Warfe, has decided to stand as a radical independent for the Federal senate in the forthcoming election. Jenny Warfe is well-known in Melbourne (along with her brother Len Warfe), especially along Port Phillip Bay, for a David and Goliath fight she led for years against the shockingly undemocratic and anti-environmentalist channel deepening in the Port. The group of friendly independents, has decided to give their preferences to The Greens. On the senate ballot paper Dr. Joe Toscano will be the lead candidate and Jenny will appear below him as the second of three radical independent candidates. Joining with Dr. Toscano and third candidate Andrew Sadauskas means that the group will be allocated a box ‘above the line’ on the senate ballot paper. Thus voters can Vote 1 above the line for them without having to number every one of the sixty or so boxes below the line.
Why is Jenny Warfe standing and why as an Independent radical?
Jenny says that she has thought about the use of the term ‘radical’ and has decided that she is comfortable with it since she sincerely believes that we do need radical thinking and radical change in order to respond effectively to the huge environmental, climate and population challenges in the 21st Century. She states that she is also happy to be a running partner with Dr. Joe Toscano whose work she greatly admires. Here is her election information page.
Dr Toscano is well known to candobetter.org through his cheerful anarchist media broadcasts. In these broadcasts he shows a strong understanding of the value of relocalisation, local democracy and public space.
Joe Toscano is a medical practitioner specialising in the care of people with spinal injuries. He often travels to see his patients by train and does not dress or act like a money-driven professional. He is loved and respected for his many years of community activism including civil liberties and Australia’s anti-terrorism legislation, Defend and Extend Medicare and the Friends of OUR ABC campaign. He is a source of information on Australian history and activism and is associated with Eureka Stockade commemorations in Ballarat.
Jenny's decision to stand for the senate was made because of years of frustration about the present parliamentary system and the apparent abandonment of any commitment from state and federal major party MPs to actually represent the majority of their community or to consult their constituents before making decisions on many contentious issues.
"In my area of experience - planning and environmental issues – many MPs have championed or at least condoned appalling destruction of our built and natural heritage. Sadly, it seems running rallies, public meetings, collecting thousands of signatures on petitions, requesting meetings with our elected representatives, letter writing campaigns, and even legal action in the Supreme and Federal Courts will not stop a government determined to wreck the environment and determined not to listen. What else can we do?"
She adds that she finds it disheartening that the marvellous efforts of so many good people in so many exhausting community campaigns have largely been ignored by the current decision makers. Instead, she says, "We have been lumbered with so many projects put up by developers/corporations who usually have no discernable commitment to our environment or way of life."
"Inappropriate, unnecessary and unwanted projects have been given unquestioning and fervent support from so many ill informed and/or compromised politicians. They have ignored what their constituents want in favour of what a handful of corporations or developers want."
After observing this repeating theme so often in recent years, Jenny has decided that
"Whatever the effort put in by so many well informed and dedicated people in the community, a perverted system of governance has allowed awful projects to just roll on and over the top of us."
In Jenny's view, the present parliamentary system has been irrevocably altered by the dismembering of what was largely a frank and fearless public service which had generally served us well for decades.
Knowledge and wisdom in many government departments has been jettisoned and instead we now have a shamble of “political advisers” on short term contracts directing decision making.
Added to the entrenched party machinery and the easy opportunities for influential and vested interest groups to purchase favour for whatever they want, our system of governance has changed dramatically.
Concerned citizens or communities are no longer of any interest to the current crop of decision makers. In 2007 Australians elected a new Federal government in large part because they wanted action on climate change. They are still waiting, and will be for some years to come it seems.
Conversely, Australians weren’t even asked their opinion on whether Mr. Rudd’s proposed super profits mining tax should be abandoned but it was, very swiftly, and just because a few billionaire miners made a fuss.
"In Victoria, the Wonthaggi De-Sal, NS pipeline, Peninsula Link freeway through heritage listed Westerfield property, changes to urban growth boundaries, multi storey developments throughout the suburbs, Port expansion, etc. etc. have all been forced on communities who don’t want them by people who don’t know or care. At best, what community input there is has become a formulaic box ticking exercise by government and developers’ consultants. Necessary for them to show that they have “consulted”, but useless for us."
Jenny observes, in her campaign letter, that,
"For the 3 or 4 years of his/her incumbency a politician has no obligation whatsoever to vote in parliament according to how she/he campaigned and was elected, or how the majority of their constituents might subsequently ask them to vote. Once an MP from either major party has been elected, the faceless lobbyists then swing into action to subvert the decisions that we voters have made. We then wait another 3 or 4 years to vote out the politician who has so bitterly disappointed us. And so it goes on."
In her opinion, at the very least, surely our elected representatives should be required to conduct statistically robust polls in their electorate to guide how they vote on any contentious issues before them in parliament. "With the resources MPs have at their disposal (all paid for by us) this should be a simple task," she explains.
She gives the example of Craig Ingram's electoral survey on a contentious question:
"Last year Independent Victorian MP Craig Ingram surveyed his electorate on the abortion reform debate. His electorate overwhelmingly supported reform so that’s the way he voted. Every other MP proceeded with a “conscience” vote without any obligation whatsoever to consult or inform their electorate. As it stands, for most of the time that is precisely what most of them do - ignore almost everyone that voted for them!
Achieving fundamental change to system a huge task
Achieving fundamental change to our system of governance is a huge task, and I don’t really expect to realise my dream for a better and fairer society on the 21st August 2010. But - I do believe that to achieve change we need to persist, perhaps for a long time and perhaps at first we won’t succeed. However, reform always comes from the minority position and change only happens when a concerned group of people ask for it. If a few brave people in history had not thought that way we would still be engaging in slavery and sending children up chimneys wouldn’t we? As Margaret Meade put it: “Never underestimate the power of a small group of dedicated people to change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”
Hope to kick-start community preparation for a very different future
In standing for election, these radical independents hope to kick start community discussion on a new way to prepare for the very different future we face in the 21st Century. Jenny Warfe is sure many of people will agree that the dominant paradigm is not serving us well at present. For most of the time, debate is steered by the small coterie of influential industry and other corporate groups, ably assisted by a supine media.
"Under these conditions," she says, "Most politicians have become mostly irrelevant to most of us most of the time. But- at election time, there is at least a small window of opportunity to challenge the dominant paradigm, and help set a new course for spaceship Earth."
Each state has 12 senators in Canberra, see: http://www.aph.gov.au/senate/senators/homepages/index.asp?sort=state. At present Victoria has Liberals 6, ALP 5 and Family First 1. That’s a pretty boring mix in my view, capable of maintaining the status quo and not much else.
Election 2010 will elect 6 senators from each state to replace the half whose term expires next year. For Victoria see: http://www.tallyroom.com.au/election-2010/vicsen2010
"Election 2010 is our chance to demonstrate that it’s time for a broader range of views from our 12 senators – and who knows, if political debate became more diverse more people might be encouraged to take an interest in the civic space".
If you want to help what can you do?
Have a look at the attached policy issues which the three candidates have agreed upon. Although you may not agree with all their ideas, perhaps you aren’t happy with much of what the major parties have achieved in the past and are offering for our future either?
If so, take this opportunity to express your dissatisfaction with the status quo and give them your vote. It’s one of the few effective ways left to demonstrate what you really think about our current governance arrangements.
The three candidates will appear something like this, somewhere amongst 60 or so others on the (large white) Senate ballot paper:
If you don’t want to number every box on the large white senate ballot paper and are happy to just Vote 1 for change, just put 1 in the box above the line above the column with our names in it, as shown above.
Remember, if you do vote 1 above the line, your preferences will go to The Greens. If you particularly want to Vote 1 for Jenny, you will need to number ALL the sixty or so boxes below the line in the order you prefer.
So - if you are unhappy with the way things are, please consider using your senate vote to show that you think it’s time for some changes.
You may copy the radical independents' policy statement (see link below), and letterbox it or hand it out before or on Election Day.
You can also help by forwarding this article on to everyone you know in Victoria, and getting that policy statement onto any website you can, and talking about the three radical alternatives on Facebook and Twitter.
Your support may make a real difference to our future.
We've been publicising political alternatives in Australia, notably parties which promise to fight population growth, because we don't believe that the mainstream political parties are taking the adverse impacts of population growth seriously. Another party that wants a sustainable population is The Australia First Party (not to be confused with the New Australia Party). It also wants to abolish multiculturalism. Australia First cops a lot of flack, but it also attracts the people in our society who carry the biggest loads and cop the worst treatment. Here is an article about fronting up to the dole office. Anyone who has had to do this in the past few years will understand the sentiments.
Aussie Senior Citizens
Aussie Senior Citizens are now experiencing the effects of the collapsing Globalist economic system, which has been imposed upon Australians over recent decades by Liberal and Labor politicians dutifully implementing the Big Business agenda.
Seniors who have worked productively over a life time, have contributed to society with family and community activity, put some money aside, have paid taxation of 1/3 plus of income, and were duped into superannuation schemes, are now seeing their savings evaporate as this Globalist ideology crashes.
The wholesale sell out of our Australian manufacturing and productive capacity to foreign interests, and the deregulation of our financial sector, to create a subservient cog in the Global economic order as a “trinket” type raw materials supplier, and an immigrant dumping ground - is the root cause of the crisis likely to now descend upon Australians. [Members of the 3000 Club excepted].
Compulsory superannuation monies, instead of being allocated for Australian owned productive development, have been used to stoke the Stock Exchanges, and for other usage in speculative exploitation. It was all inherently prone to collapse as per the contradictions of capitalism.
A rude awakening is now descending on increasing numbers of Seniors as they are forced to undertake the “Centrelink Run” - coming to grips with a pension system programmed to comply with the IMF/ Internationalist/ Globalist agenda to minimise Social Security payments.
The Centrelink Run
Step I: You front to the local office, and can experience first hand the Liberal/Labor/Green politicians’
immigration/ guest workers/ refugee rackets, but you fall into the queue for you still believe you count for something as a productive citizen, and your years of paying taxation had a purpose. You have your turn for the bureaucrat - and the near 100 question application form to see if the paltry $230 a week is to come your way. A number is allotted to you for the “system”. [No Members of the 3000 Club sighted].
Step 2: You bare your soul in the multitude of questions - any thought of the Aussie tradition that your
affairs are your business soon dissipates. Who are you? Prove it! How much cash have you under the bed? Have you been overseas and how much money did you take? Did you give any money away? What are your bank accounts? Any rooms rented out? Who has your super fund and how much is it? Prove it! What property do you own/got a beach shack/what’s it worth? How much for your house contents? What jewellery have you got? Can you cash in any life assurance?
It starts to dawn on you that this might all be about ensuring you get as little pension entitlement as possible.
But you are enticed by the idea that you might qualify for a health card for medical benefits, and reduced rates and government charges. How good is that!
When finished, you look at your arm to see if by chance a tattoo of the allotted system number has appeared, as you are starting to think that as an Aussie you no longer rate for much.
Step 3: You front before the bureaucrat, forms [and cap] in hand to be scrutinised. You are reminded
again about the Pension Bonus of $30k, available to you if you will slave on in full time work for another five years. [3000 Club Members get that in 10 weeks].
Your getting a bit edgy, aware that all your personal information is now going onto Big Brother’s database and available virtually to any Government department, and who knows who else.
You are informed that on your details, that after 45 years of work and paying taxes, your in for a part pension - $85 a week, as is your spouse - yes, a pension of $170 a week between you for the good life. And, you must also report in each month on any extra income you may generate so your pension would be reduced. [Still no 3000 Club Members sighted].
The penny finally drops that in the Australia of today Aussie seniors count for nothing!
What can be done.
As a group of citizens, the reality is that Seniors are past “use by date” to the Liberal/Labor politicians who have inflicted the Globalist agenda upon Australia.
Protesting Pensioners can “bare their bras” for the systems’ media, or petition these same politicians, but it is pointless. Genuine Seniors may find this difficult to accept, but it is this very same political ilk down the decades who have restricted, and devalued pension entitlements to the current poverty line level, and who continue to parrot that a liveable pension cannot be afforded. [But not for 3000 Club Members].
Petitioning Globalist politicians that have overseen our productive enterprises and natural wealth taken by foreigners, connived for near zero tax for multinational corporations, and other schemes of tax avoidance, squandered untold $billions on alien immigration and anti Australian multiculturalism, AND, stealing the 7% taxation surcharge [passed by referendum in 1947] to fund all Aussies a pension, is a total waste of Seniors time.
The facts are that “Regime Change” - a change of attitude, psychology, economic and cultural direction through the complete and utter rejection of the present traitor political caste and their Big Business masters, is essential to now attain social justice for Aussie Seniors.
The Australia First Core Policy of Citizens Initiated Referenda [CIR] and Parliamentary Recall can ensure this change - CIR remakes the political landscape - no ifs - no buts, for the citizen is again in charge of our society and values, not vested interest politicians.
The Australia First Party program is for all Aussie seniors at retirement age to have a liveable pension, related to the average wage, and secured on supply of appropriate identity to the relevant government administration. Nothing else is needed!
Australia First will take back our productive and natural wealth; we want Aussie control, direction, and ownership of our Australian economy, free of all Globalist dictates, and with equitable payment of taxation to provide pension funding. And, no Globalist political parrots like the 3000 Club Members.
If you don't fight, you lose. Join the Australia First Party for the change for a livable pension.
The 3000 Club
Members on this easy street ride include Malcolm Fraser, Bob Hawke, Meg Lees, Jeff Kennett, John Howard, Gareth Evans, Tim Fisher, Joan Kirner, John Cain, Alexander Downer, Steve Bracks, Paul Keating, Nick Greiner, etc, etc, all feeding off the taxpayer with their $3000 a week pensions. You won’t see this lot on the Centrelink run!
Australia First Policy Page
Australia First has some good policies for those who wish to stop population growth and globalisation. It was founded by West Australian, Graeme Campbell, years ago, after he was drummed out of the ALP for speaking out against high immigration (at a time when immigration was perhaps less than one quarter of what it is now).
Membership Application for Australia First
I wish to become a member of the Australia First Party and the Australia First Party [NSW] Incorporated, and agree to abide by the Constitution and Rules. Seniors Membership $10. Donations gratefully accepted.
Signed Date Email
Reply post to Australia First Party P O Box 223 Croydon 3136. Telephone: 0408 554542
Voting for other than Australia First is now largely just a waste of time
Michael Lardelli, on Governance Committee of SPGN
Michael Lardelli, who is a senior lecturer in Genetics at the University of Adelaide, helped form the new Australian party, Stop Population Growth Now, and is on its governance committee.
Lardelli explains his motives for supporting this new party this way:
"My background is in activism over resource limitations, particularly oil. I have been interested in that since 2004. However, anyone who studies resource limits and becomes interested in broader sustainability issues eventually realises that the core issue in all these areas is population size. Increasing population size eradicates any savings made by individuals who may be trying to reduce their environmental impact, e.g. CO2 emissions."
Food security for Australia in doubt
"The thing that particularly worries me is food, since there is a lower limit on how much food one person needs and so a person can only reduce their food consumption so far.
The green revolution was, and is, only possible through the use of large inputs of oil so a declining trend in oil production - which began in 2008 - threatens our food security.
I recently looked at Australia's food production statistics and it is clear that if we double our population size we will not be able to feed ourselves in a drought year."
Australia already a net importer of vital foodstuffs
"We are already net importers of fruit and veg! Put that together with the declines in food production that will be forced upon us by declining oil production, phosphate production and even climate change and any increase in Australia's population begins to look like national suicide."
A father's duty to his children
"I have two young children and my duty as a parent is to maximize their chances of survival - that is why I was happy to help form SPGN (Stop Population Growth Now) when I was asked".
What is the Stop Population Growth Party on about?
Stop Population Growth Now, describes itself as "a body of Australians seeking to reduce Australia’s population growth to zero as a matter of urgency."
They say, "Government policy is adding almost another million to Australia’s population every three years. This is damaging the quality of life of all Australians and greatly reducing the prospects for our children.
This highest ever growth rate is a direct result of government policy.
Recent polls show that a majority of Australians do not support this government caused, rapid population growth. Most Australians believe that our population growth should be stopped while we work out how Australia can cope with changing climate, diminishing supplies of water and most non-renewable resources, city congestion, loss of arable land to city expansion and loss of Australia’s unique flora and fauna."
Their next statement, that Australians have no-one to vote for in the Federal Election later this year, needs updating, because the Stable Population Party of Australia is now well-established.
But, as SPGN says on its website, "Labor and the Coalition favour rapid population growth. The Greens are ambivalent on the issue."
Stop Population Growth Now, like the Stable Population Party of Australia, has announced its intention to run Senate candidates in every state, with this "single objective – to bring population growth down as rapidly as possible, by giving you the voter the right to vote on this most important issue."
Is two too many Population Parties for Australia?
Is it a good thing to have more than one party specifically canvassing votes against more population growth in Australia? Won't this dilute peoples' efforts?
I don't think so. I think it will raise the profile of the issue at the polling booths. If both parties are successful in getting candidates appointed, the variety should contribute to more sophisticated evolution of the related policies after the election.
It will also give a 'heads-up' to the Greens and other parties on this issue which affects every other policy in Australia.
Indeed, we could have more small population-focused-parties. Each could approach the population and environment field from a different angle, which may be what they intend to do. Business in New South Wales, for instance, and Oil Depletion in South Australia. Really, there are so many angles which can be commented on.
Other Australian political parties with small population policies
Note, however that the New Australia Party also exists - and is the only one in favour of a small population attempting to raise its profile at the moment in Victoria. Unlike both single-issue population parties, it provides the public with the ability to interact on-line to form and modify its policies. It deserves more support than it is getting.
We should also not forget that the Australia First Party has a small population policy as well, and, despite its embattled history, an appeal to the some of the most disenfranchised working class and rural sector, with quite effective dissemination via long-distance truckdrivers. I will shortly be writing about this party's policies related to population.
And the Animal Justice Party is no single issue party either. Its policies run deep and will soon be on-line, including the population policy. The Animal Justice Party's performance might just surprise the public, which has been accustomed by the mainstream press to the idea that 'most people' don't care much about how we treat farm animals and wildlife. In fact, from feedback I have received, it appears that nothing could be further than the truth.
The alert reader may see, as I do, the potential for a number of large groups in Australia which have been sidelined up until now although they actually carry the costs of population growth without the profits, to express themselves through these new parties.
It will be very interesting to see if all these new parties manage to get their quota of 500 people and, with these people and alternative media help, are able to keep their issues in the minds of the greater public and seriously contest the elections. A few years ago, with the stranglehold that the growth lobby has on our media and government, and hence the national and state elections, the potential for any alternative party not secretly backed by business or the other big parties, to get up, would have been much less.
An Environmental Sociologist's opinion
A great deal of political analysis and newsy comment could still be made on what drives these parties, what might split them, and about the people in them, but let's keep things simple for the moment.
My personal investment is to help them all to succeed because I agree with Michael Lardelli that Australia cannot continue to support its current population as fossil fuels decline, let alone grow its population. It is therefore imperative to aim to stop population growth as soon as possible, but also to reduce our intake of fuels and vital resources. In my opinion this can only be done by involving the greater public in the industrial issue of drastically reducing work and output, whilst sharing available paid work. If population growth slows, prices for land and every other thing will drop, making it eminently possible for any Australian to survive - perhaps better than they do now - on smaller incomes and less paid work. For more on this see Sheila Newman, (Ed.) The Final Energy Crisis, 2nd Edition, Pluto Press, UK, 2008 in the articles, "101 Views of Hubbert's Peak" and "France and Australia After Oil".
The Animal Justice Party (AJP) is close to the target number of members to be able to register with the Australian Electoral Commission. This is an indication of the importance the community gives to animal welfare. The party is now calling for more members so that it can begin to make an impact. By the way, isn't that a beautiful logo!
Dear Animal Supporter
Much of the cruelty inflicted on animals in this country results from government policy decisions, ignorance, and inertia. The interests of animals have not been represented in the Australian electoral system and as a result governments have not given due regard to their plight.
Over recent months, a small but widely representative group of compassionate animal advocates has been working to establish a political party to represent the interests of animals in the Australian Parliamentary system. During this time, a Charter, Constitution and Party logo have been established and a wide range of policy papers is currently being prepared, covering such areas as: vivisection, intensive farming, live animal exports, animals used for sport and entertainment, wildlife, kangaroos, domestic animals, animals and the law, marine animals, population and settlement, and others.
These policy papers will be on the Animal Justice Party web site in a few weeks from now.
To be registered as a political party with the Australian Electoral Commission the AJP will need 500 members. Simply through word of mouth and our website we have almost reached this target, but we will need many more members if we are to be the significant force that all animals need.
We therefore invite you to visit the infant (but soon to be upgraded) AJP website www.animaljusticeparty.org, read the key documents and download and complete a Party membership form.
Yours faithfully Animal Justice Party Steering Committee
20 April 2010
Photo by Brett Clifton of a new wild male kangaroo come to the neighborhood
The article about SPPA in today's Australian (20 April 2010) is an indication of the profile public dissatisfaction is giving the population issue. The Australian is a self-admittedly big population advocate, and so it is interesting to see how the new party, Stable Population Party of Australia, has been reported.
Predictable but unacceptable slurring
The online version is quite acceptable, but a printed edition this morning uses the headline 'New party slams immigrants'. See, Stephen Lunn, "New Party slams immigrants," (April 20, 2010).
William Bourke says that this in no way represents either the article or his lengthy discussion with Stephen Lunn yesterday.
It looks like that Mr Murdoch's editors are trying to paint him in a certain way.
The Australian got the Party's name completely wrong
The Australian did not get the name of his party correct either. The name of the party is not the 'Sustainable Population Party', but the Stable Population Party of Australia. The newspaper apparently cleared this up later in the online edition, but all those people who only read print media will not be able to find the party which they may desperately wish to find. And a lot of people who otherwise might join may not because of the way the Australian has represented the party.
The article itself covers the basic facts about the party, notably the population stabilising policy of balancing emigration with immigration. It also quotes William's factual statement that "population growth might be a single issue, but it cuts across national policy agendas from health, housing and education to water, climate change..." but over-emphasises the fact that it also cuts across immigration.
Why can't the Australian be more positive about what the people want?
In fact the article could be saying so many positive things, such as how the Stable Population Party, by trying to stabilise our population at as low a level as possible, offers hope of an amnesty on starving out and breaking indigenous animal populations, of mortgage martyrdom, of anxiety about old age and rising costs, of a consolidation of community and democracy, and ultimately, as the baby boomers begin to die off in 20 or 30 years, of green space and freedom becoming available to Australia's growing population of cage-reared children, sedated and bloated with fast food.
The Australian is - unfortunately for Australians - interested in marketing Australian property to the world, through its property dot com, realestate.com.au, so positive reporting here would conflict with their business policy.
Dick Smith, FOKE, and Stable Population Party of Australia in Sydney last week
The Party leader encountered a very positive reception at a venue last week.
On the night of the 15th of April 2010, population campaigner Dick Smith spoke to the Friends of Ku-ring-gai Environment (FOKE) group where they had gathered at an environmental event on Sydney's North Shore.
FOKE's main concern is inappropriate development in their suburbs (high rise etc).
The event was packed with 170 seated attendees and a similar number standing.
Dick spoke well and introduced William Bourke of Stable Population Party of Australia to the crowd near the end.
Mainstream media were in attendance including 60 Minutes (who had been with Dick Smith all day), SBS TV, and North Shore Times (News Ltd).
William Bourke was interviewed by SBS TV and around 50 people came up to him after the event for a chat. Most of them departed after getting a SPPA membership form.
Looks like Dick Smith is leading the democratic population policy campaign and helping Australia find political alternatives to the growth lobby.
Makes a good counterpoint to Murdoch's mammoth Australia campaign.
Wayne Swann obfuscates
According to recent reports Wayne Swan ..."can't bring (him)self to agree with those who think we can solve all our problems by putting a freeze on national
population growth”. No Wayne, we certainly can't solve all our problems by reducing runaway population growth, but it sure would go a long way toward easing house prices, shortening hospital queues, preserving the environment and cutting our carbon footprints.
Who is this ‘We’?
A great many Australians these days would really like to know who exactly Mr Swan is referring to when he talks about "we" solving “our” problems. Is it the "working families" struggling in the outer suburbs to pay off hefty mortgages on second-rate housing stock on the fringes of our cities - or is it the vested corporate interests at the big end of town which possess an insatiable appetite for more growth, more markets and more people? Whose problems are you trying to solve Mr Swan?
Political addiction to population growth
The gap between the policies of the Liberal/Labor (Liboral?) party elites - that are politically addicted to massive population growth and mass-immigration - and the wishes of the electorate has never been greater. It’s a bipartisan problem. Tony Abbott has been whipping up mass hysteria about boat people lately, trying to make it an election issue. He's going to "close the borders" screamed the Herald Sun last week. But on the broader topic of mass-immigration, like the P.M. and Wayne Swan, Mr Abbot has also nailed his colours to the mast as a "big Australia" man whose "instinct" is to bring in "as many people as possible".
Who benefits and who loses by population growth?
Cheerleaders for the growthist lobby in the media have been doing their level best to scare the bejesus out of the public by raving on about retiring baby boomers and even raising the prospect of an armed invasion should we dare to consider putting the brakes on. The problem is no-one seems to have any real insight into where all this growth is heading for our country as well as the thorny question of who benefits and who loses from it? Who gets the profits and who gets to pay? How does the average citizen benefit when GDP per capita declines through massive population growth? Exactly what are the long-term implications for the environment and the famed liveability of our cities of this new "mega-trend"?
Rudd like a deer caught in headlights on population numbers
Despite the creation of a new population ministry, Labor has not had a great deal to say on these questions so far other than "growth is good". Mr Rudd hasn't even had an opinion this year. He appeared like a deer caught in the headlights recently when Kerry O’Brien confronted him on the 7:30 report - which is a bit strange considering that he "made no apology" last year for his support for “a big Australia”.
These questions are being ignored by our leaders other than a very vague undertaking to perhaps grow somewhat “differently" than before - presumably by stacking people 50 stories up in ugly high rises or transforming our urban areas into Los Angeles-style megalopolises with double-decker freeways and ghettoes of haves (those who bought houses before the great population explosion) and the less-fortunate have-nots that didn’t.
Some commentators in the media are suggesting that Rudd has "gone cold" on a big Australia this year. But what is far more likely is that he is simply being a very clever politician – like his predecessor John Howard - and is saying nothing publicly. Behind closed doors, however, he and his minions are champing at the bit to raise the volume as high as they can get way with without provoking too great a backlash from so-called working families whose marginal seats Labor took back from “Howard’s battlers” at the last election.
To keep population growth ticking along at 2.1% per annum and maintaining a docile and electorate Rudd will try to do what politicians do best - bombard us with a mountain of meaningless words on things like the "programmatic specificity" of his new population ministry - but without of course actually doing anything.
One thing is certain, if the present growth trajectory is going to be maintained by Canberra indefinitely, the volume of complaints rising from the public is going to grow incredibly loud. When it takes the average person more than a lifetime to pay off a mortgage on an average house and when commuters have to spend half their lives stuck on clogged freeways or dysfunctional public transport systems, the politicians that continue to push growthist polices are going to eventually pay a heavy price at the ballot box.
Stable Population Party of Australia - a new alternative
Let's hope the newly formed Stable Population Party of Australia can capture many of the votes of the people that are most badly impacted by our government’s mad growth-at–all-costs agenda. We desperately need to lobby and apply pressure on our elected leaders to change their current policies. This is going to require constant media campaigns to get the public's attention as well as a small army of committed activists to get the message out.
Growth Lobby vs The People
The public needs to be made aware that there is an alternative to growth for growth's sake and that there is an alternative to the "Liboral Party” and their bipartisan and undemocratic policies which are failing to maintain a sustainable population. Make no mistake; the growth lobby is a formidable opponent with enormous financial resources on its side as well as the backing of both major parties and large sectors of the media. Only a very vigorous and determined grass-roots campaign the likes of which we haven’t seen before in Australia is going to have any chance at success at slowing down this juggernaut.
7 April title was changed to better reflect newsworthy content