Thursday, 19 January 2012


We Greens in Victoria are now in the process of choosing our lead senate candidate for the next federal election. It is an important step for our party, and for the values we uphold. I am standing for preselection and voting will commence at the end of this month. All Victorian Greens members are entitled to vote.

As you make your decision, please take into account these endorsements from people who know me.

Ben Oquist
Chief of Staff, Australian Greens Leader Bob Brown 

Brian has been one of the great Greens in Australia. Working tirelessly behind the scenes as an adviser and legal expert for years and more recently as a star candidate at the state election. The Greens have been lucky to have his services.

Brian's demonstrated commitment to social justice and the environment through his work as a leading SC has been a great service to Australia. He would make an outstanding Senator for the Greens.

Matthew Wright
Executive Director, Beyond Zero Emissions.

Brian's demonstrated commitment to social justice and the environment through his work as a leading SC has been a great service to Australia. He would make an outstanding Senator for the Greens.

Brian Walters has shown a commitment to seriously addressing dangerous climate change and our energy security problems in Australia.  He demonstrates through his actions that he will work for the community to transition us from our 19th century fossil fuel based economy to a 21st century renewable emergy powered clean tech economy.

I support Brian Walters as he has a clear and unequivocal conviction to address the social justice and environmental problems that an addiction to fossil gas and fossil coal bring with them.

Brian understands and strongly supports the essential transition we need to make to a zero carbon clean energy future including solar and wind energy, and shifting our transport to mass electric transit and electric vehicles.

Pamela Curr
Greens member, former candidate, and asylum seeker advocate

Brian Walters SC is an outstanding candidate for the Senate. His role in environmental and human rights issues has earned him wide-spread respect. Brian’s position as a former President of Liberty Victoria and his role as a leading human rights lawyer along with his reputation for integrity and hard work both inside and outside the party gives the Greens our best chance of adding to the Greens Senate team.

Brian’s legal background in human rights provides the knowledge and expertise needed at a political level to initiate and examine legislation in this crucial area.

As a founding member of the Greens, Brian played an important role in taking the Greens from its minor party origins to the position the Greens now occupy on the political stage. 
I believe that Brian Walters has the reputation, communication skills, energy and ability to convince the people of Victoria of the value of Greens representation.  

Brian’s background and skills will strengthen the Green Senate team at a time when the community are looking to the Greens for political leadership on the things that matter.

Clive Hamilton

Brian Walters is exactly the sort of candidate the Greens need to make the next big leap as a political party. He is determined, savvy and passionate. He would be a candidate who is not only committed to the values of the Greens but has proven his capacity by rising to the top of his profession. Brian has gravitas as well as passion, and is the sort of candidate who would immediately be taken seriously in the politics of Canberra. I would feel proud and confident to welcome him to Canberra as Greens Senator for Victoria.

Michael Schilling 

convenor, Cardinia, Casey Dandenong Greens

My name is Michael Schilling. I am the convener of the Cardinia, Casey Dandenong Greens and am the endorsed Greens candidate for the Federal seat of LaTrobe. I am endorsing Brian Walters for senate pre-selection. I believe Brian is the person who can take the party to the next level by increasing our vote. Brian is a master of communication and has the ability to inspire. This quality, in conjunction with his extensive and diverse knowledge base, puts him in good stead to join Richard in the senate. Brian has the particular ability to reach out to non-Green voters and to inspire them to vote Green, which is critical for the future longevity of the party.

Terry Lane
Broadcaster, writer and former secretary of Free Speech Victoria

BRIAN WALTERS and I first met when he was representing Alan Gray in the infamous Forest Friendly Building Timbers case when the timber industry was threatening to use the Trade Practices Act to bankrupt Alan by having his book banned. We won, thanks in no small part to Brian’s total commitment to the cause. From that point we became collaborators in the organisation Free Speech Victoria. I always admired Brian’s integrity and intellect and I hoped that he would be elected to parliament, either state or federal, where he would be an adornment to the legislature. As a Greens voter it would give me immense pleasure and confidence to vote for him in the next Senate election.

Julian Burnside

I have known Brian Walters for over 25 years. We have worked together in several cases, including defending the Gunns 20 case. We also share a concern for human rights issues. Brian was president of Liberty Victoria immediately before my term as president, and we both continue on the committee. We have shared platforms speaking about human rights issues on many occasions. I have found Brian to be dedicated and courageous in defence of the issues he supports. Brian brings great experience as an advocate, tactical skill, and a commitment to causes that matter for Australia today. I am happy to endorse his bid for the Senate.

Anne O'Rourke
Greens member, Monash lecturer, former Greens State executive 
My experience of Brian, his character and principles, and his fearless advocacy of civil liberties and human rights, comes through our mutual involvement with Liberty Victoria.

Brian is a Senior Counsel, and as President of Liberty, was always on call, speaking on issues ranging from the treatment of refugees, anti-terror legislation, government accountability, and the right to free speech and assembly.  

As Vice-President of Liberty Victoria, I was able to closely observe Brian in a leadership role. He displayed strong leadership skills, marked by good humour, consultation with, and respect for, the other members of the Liberty committee.  Under fire from conservatives, Brian always remained calm and eloquent in his demeanour.  

Brian’s green credentials are as impressive as his human rights achievements.  He is author of ‘Slapping on the Writs’, on the use of litigation to silence community groups.  He co-founded ‘Wild’ magazine and instituted the ‘Wild Environmentalist of the Year’ award.  He successfully defended Bob Brown on charges of obstructing logging in Gippsland in 1997-8 and rafted down the Franklin to join the blockade in 1982-3.

Tim Costello

I have known Brian Walters for most of my life from school days at Carey and then Monash University  Law school to his career as a Barrister. I know Brian to be an extraordinary mind matched by an exemplary character. He has a passionate commitment to both the issues of justice and the environment. For me he is exactly the sort of policy driven politician that this nation needs in Parliament. I  write this not as one who is a member of any political party but as a personal reference. I have written similar references in the past for Liberal and Labor candidates for preselection whom I respect.

Barry Heard
Vietnam veteran and author of Well Done, Those Men and other books

I have known Brian Walters for several years. He is a fine family man and highly respected in his own profession. I supported him in his unsuccessful attempt into State election. His loss was due to the politics, not the quality his candidature.

He will bring many skills and knowledge of the game of politics as a potential candidate. Brian can see through the banter. His work background is perfect for the position. Verbally precise, astute, and clear: politics needs this today. He is a supporter of many good causes, on one of which I have had the privilege to work with him. 

As a man of principle, there is no other field in politics suitable for Brian Walters. He is Green to the core. 

Vanessa Bleyer
Solicitor in the Brown Mountain and other logging cases

My name is Vanessa Bleyer. I started practising as a lawyer 10 years ago, following a number of years working as a law clerk with Brian Walters SC. Brian introduced me to the law relating to protecting native forests. Since then, I became an environmental lawyer, using the law to protect native forest such as Brown Mountain in East Gippsland. Brian’s guidance and support moved me to do this work. I have worked with Brian on cases such as the Gunns 20 case. Brian is a highly skilled, respected and effective lawyer. Our environment will greatly benefit from Brian being in the Senate.

I strongly endorse him and am honoured to do so.

Alan Gray
Editor, Earth Garden magazine

My name is Alan Gray, and I’ve been the editor of ‘Earth Garden’ magazine for the past 25 years. Throughout most of those 25 years I’ve also worked closely on various environmental campaigns with Brian Walters. Without the legal and moral support of someone as committed to Greens values as Brian, it would not have been possible for me — or many other activists — to conduct some of our vital campaign activities. Brian’s support over these years has been immeasurable.  He has the intellect, the skills and the compassion to make a wonderful Greens Senator for Victoria. I am delighted to endorse his candidature, and I urge you to get on board the Brian Walters campaign.  We Greens will be very lucky indeed if we can secure Brian as our Senate candidate.

Melanie Sharp
Performer, activist, post-graduate student and mother

Brian is one of the most inspiring public speakers I’ve seen. When he’s spoken at forest fundraisers I’ve organised, we’ve had packed houses, largely due to Brian’s reputation, knowledge of environmental issues, and charismatic delivery. Our audiences were always spellbound. Brian’s dedication to environmental issues over many years, and his personal qualities and legal skills, would make him an exemplary Greens senator.

Paul Collins
Paul Collins, writer and broadcaster and member of the ACT Greens

Brian Walters is precisely the type of man The Greens need to have in the Australian Senate. He is a very long-term and committed member of the party who has already had experience standing for election on behalf of The Greens. He has excellent environmental credentials, is an experienced bush-walker, is one of the founders of the magazine Wild and has had long-term community involvement in a wide range of areas including Liberty Victoria, The Wilderness Society, the Victorian National Parks Association, the Protectors of Public Lands and Free Speech Victoria. He has had a lot of experience in dealing with the media and is very media savvy. 
He is an experienced barrister and senior counsel who has worked on many environmental cases, including acting for Senator Bob Brown in the Goolengook case which led to forestry operations in East Gippsland being found to be illegal with 300 other protestors having their cases dismissed. Brian’s broad experience, maturity, community involvement and above all his long-lasting and passionate concern for the natural world make him an ideal candidate for The Greens in the Senate. I support and endorse him.

Rod Quantock

Brian has a life-long passion for, and commitment to social and environmental issues. He is an experienced advocate and negotiator. Parliament would be a better place with his ^@# on one its plush seats. He also has a very nice suit. (That's very important in politics.)

Nomination Statements

Marcus Ward
I joined the Victorian Greens in 1999. I have been a candidate for the Federal seat of Burke in 2000, the state seat of Macedon in 2002, and the lead Western Victoria candidate in 2006 and 2010. I have also assisted with campaigns for the federal seat of McEwen as well as local council elections.

I wish to nominate Brian Walters for the Victorian Greens lead Senate candidate for the coming federal election.

I first met Brian in 1999 when a logging company was threatening to sue me. Since that time I have worked with Brian on many campaigns. Under pressure he is uniquely cool, careful and decisive. 

Brian is a man of extraordinary capabilities. His professional and person contributions have earned him wide respect. He is a founding member of the Greens. He is past president of Liberty Victoria, past president of Protectors of Public Land.  His profile and wide appeal will draw new support to the Greens.

Brian is an accomplished barrister who has used his professional skills many times to come to the aid of people protesting in support of Greens ideals. He successfully defended Bob Brown after Bob had been arrested for protesting at Goolengook. Brian was also instrumental in having the “Gunns 20” case struck out.

Brian’s 2010 campaign for the state seat of Melbourne clearly demonstrates his electioneering skills and dedication.

I have no doubt Brian will make a very significant contribution for the Greens and for Australia as a candidate and as a federal senator.

Marcus Ward

David Jones

Founding member of the Bendigo Branch in 1996.
Convenor of Bendigo Branch on numerous occasions.
Federal candidate twice.
Local Government candidate three times, successful in 2004,
Mayor City of Greater Bendigo 2006 and 2008.
Lead Upper House candidate Northern Vic Region 2010.
Ex member of State Exec, Council, Regions Council.
Currently co-convenor of Bendigo Branch and member of VCECC.
Imagine you are a member of the Federal Parliamentary team, you expect all new senators to bring media ability, commitment, leadership skills, and a raft of other characteristics. Brian brings all of these things, but crucially he brings the unique ability to enter the Senate with the professional history of being one of Australia’s most respected SCs. This skill set would be of huge value to the Federal Parliamentary team. Brian also brings a long history of working with Bob Brown through his legal representation for and with Bob over a number of years across a wide range of issues and court cases. 

This ability to add great value to the Federal Parliamentary team is what for me singles Brian out from the other excellent and capable candidates. In Victoria we are now faced with the most important decision we have faced. We must be strategic and pragmatic in our choice of our next Senate Candidate and choose someone who adds to the team we have in an unambiguous and powerful way. Brian showed in the 2010 State election that he has the mettle to handle great pressure and stress. We need all of these skills in our next Senator.

David Jones

Wendy Radford

2005-2012 Convenor/Secretary Bendigo Greens
2006 Campaign Assistant, Northern Victorian electorate
2007 Foundation member Country Greens Network
2008-9 Convenor, Country Greens Network
2009-10 Convenor AGV Water Policy Working Group
2008-11 Convenor Central West Regional Council
2009 Greens Local Council Candidate
1986-1992 Foundation Chairperson, Wangaratta Family Planning Clinic
1997-2000 Environment Victoria, Forest Campaigner
2003-2012 Foundation member and Convenor Bushlinks
2004-2012 Community Representative, City of Greater Bendigo Natural Environment Advisory Committee
2004-2012 Convenor/Secretary Bendigo and District Environment Council

I nominate Brian Walters as a Senate candidate because he would represent both country and city Victorians with passionate, principled dedication and an unrivalled knowledge and experience of the law in defending and promoting our biodiversity, environment and human rights.   He has a proven capacity for leadership and an ability to communicate the heart of important Greens issues through the media, as shown in the last election campaign.  He remains unflustered and performs eloquently under pressure. Perhaps most importantly for me, he has a vision of a fair and environmentally sound future that he has worked hard to bring into being over the last 30 or so years: a founding member of the Victorian Greens, 'Wild' magazine, President of Liberty Victoria, defence of Bob Brown and advising him for many years.  He would strengthen our Senate team with his detailed knowledge of legislative practices and depth of understanding of how to get things done.

Wendy Radford

Steve Norwood

I have been a member of the AGV since 2004.
I have been active in both the Bendigo and Castlemaine branches and on the Central West Regional Council.
I am currently the treasurer of the Castlemaine branch. 

I am pleased to nominate Brian Walters SC as a Senate candidate in Victoria to contest the next Federal election. Brian’s commitment to the environment and to social justice issues over a considerable period of time is a matter of public record. Candidates with such a high public profile and reputation of integrity are what the Greens need in order to increase their Federal parliamentary numbers. The results in the seat of Melbourne at the 2010 Victorian State election show that Brian has the prerequisite media skills and profile to be able to potentially achieve a Senate quota despite the collusion of both old major parties to keep Greens out of elected office. The skill set he would take to Canberra would further enhance the already positive effect the Greens have on influencing legislation.

Steve Norwood

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Spying for Big Coal

Martin Ferguson

Today the Age reported that the Federal government has been spying on Green groups, particularly environmental activists peacefully protesting at coal-fired power stations and coal export facilities. Martin Ferguson, the member for Batman and Minister for Resources and Energy, requested the additional surveillance, prompted by lobbying by the coal energy companies.

These companies are largely foreign-owned. Over the next five years, foreign-owned mining companies will ship some $50 billion per annum offshore in dividends.

Not content with their campaign against a tax on their super profits, these vast corporations are now using their influence to have Australian authorities covertly spy on their political opponents - and they have a ready supporter in Martin Ferguson.

This surveillance of community groups is one-sided: it is not directed at companies who break the law. There is no surveillance of board rooms to find out what other plans they might have to use their resources to alter the political debate in Australia. Nor is it being used to detect breaches of environmental laws by these companies. It is directed against the very community which should be sovereign in a democratic system.

You won't be able to find out if your group or your emails have been spied on. This would be exempted from disclosure under s 37 of the Commonwealth Freedom of Information Act. This means that the community will not be able to challenge the use of these covert powers in any specific instance.

The latest news follows revelations in 2008 that police have been infiltrating community groups and spying on them.

Community participation is at the core of democracy. Once we allow our "security" forces to undermine the freedom to participate in public life we are on the slippery slope to a different kind of regime. As Benjamin Franklin put it:
They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
Today we need the voice of the community like never before: the corporations trying to protect their position are jeopardising the future of humanity - and the Earth itself - with their dig it up and burn it approach, and the community is our last best hope.

The chill effect on community participation where government agencies are spying on participants is well known and makes it so much harder to act against the big carbon economy.

Democratic power requires community participation: it is the very essence of the idea of democracy that all can have a say, that all can seek to lobby, that all can seek to change laws and indeed their representatives.

For Martin Ferguson to be siding with big coal against the future of the planet is not surprising. It is consistent with his dreadful anti-environment record, including recently promoting the sale of uranium to India. And of course he's no stranger to protesters - because they have taken their campaigns right up to him.

Now he's been caught urging the use of covert government power to spy on those who have challenged him - and who have challenged the companies whose interests he has championed.

Spying on community groups is a hallmark of totalitarian regimes. It is an unaccountable use of power which undermines the foundation of democracy itself. Australia should not stand for it.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Ships, Planes and Automobiles

HMS Prince of Wales (left rear) and HMS Repulse (right rear) under Japanese air attack 10 December 1941 as a destroyer desperately manoeuvres in foreground

It is not necessary to change.  Survival is not mandatory. 
~ W. Edwards Deming

A hundred years ago the most dominant nation on Earth was without question Great Britain.

A hundred years ago two American bicycle manufacturers, Orville and Wilbur Wright, had conducted the first powered flight, and this new and eccentric fad – a curiosity, really - was sweeping the world.

In October 1905, exactly a century after their great victory at the Battle of Trafalgar, the British made a momentous decision. At stupendous cost, they laid down the keel for a new ship: His Majesty’s Ship Dreadnought, displacing an unprecedented 18,000 tonnes, carrying ten 12 inch guns, and powered by the new steam turbine engines. She made all other naval fleets obsolete. Just a year and a day after her manufacture commenced, Dreadnought was launched - the first of many ships in the new Dreadnought class.

As the world was beginning to take to the air, Great Britain, in order to protect its international position, engaged in a massive race with Germany to build giant ships – the Dreadnoughts.

The Dreadnought class of ships were so vast that if Germany were to match them, she would have to widen the recently completed Kiel Canal (or, as it was then known, the Kaiser Wilhelm Canal). Britain laid down four of these ships a year, and then five, moving up in 1911 to the Orion class of super dreadnoughts. At the same time, Britain built numerous fast and heavily armed cruisers. Determined to protect her place as the ruler of the waves, and her prestige in the world, Britain did what had worked in the past – built more ships.

The cost of these ships beggars belief. It was by far the largest line item in the British budget, and soaked up about one tenth of the entire government expenditure in the decade leading up to the outbreak of the Great War. Indeed, the dreadnought arms race was a major contributor to the First World War.

Just a generation later, in August 1941, the Prime Minister of Britain, Winston Churchill, met Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the President of the United States, to sign the Atlantic Charter – ensuring American aid for the British war effort.

To do so Churchill chose to travel and meet with Roosevelt on Great Britain’s newest battleship, and one of the largest in the world: the Prince of Wales. At 44,000 tons this was more than twice the size of the largest Dreadnought and seemed invincible. Although the British had built an air force, their largest investment had continued to be in ships.

Shortly afterwards, the British sent the Prince of Wales along with the Repulse to the far east to overawe the Japanese, and to deter them from entering the war. The two ships rendezvoused in Colombo Harbour, in what was then Ceylon.

My father – a private soldier on his way to Singapore – stopped in Colombo harbour at the time, and on his way from the troop ship to the shore, passed close to the side of the Repulse, and could hardly believe a ship could be so huge. He said everyone was supremely confident in the safety of British interests at the sight of that ship – and of course the Prince of Wales was far larger and more modern.

When Japan entered the war (on 8th December Singapore time) Admiral Tom Phillips took the Prince of Wales and the Repulse north from Singapore hoping to disrupt Japanese landings on the Malayan Peninsula. He had no air cover, confident his ships were a match for any aircraft. All historical experience supported his judgment.

At 11 o’clock in the morning on 10th December – just 2 days after hostilities commenced - Japanese aircraft located the Prince of Wales and the Repulse and attacked with bombers and torpedo carrying aircraft. Within 2 hours of the first bombs dropping, the Prince of Wales slipped beneath the waves, taking with her hundreds of crew including Admiral Tom Phillips and Captain Leach.

The Repulse had already gone down 40 minutes earlier. They were the first capital ships ever sunk by aircraft in the open sea. My father was in Singapore when news came of the sinking. Morale plummeted immediately.

Six months later, in May 1942, the new super powers of the United States and Japan fought the Battle of the Coral Sea, in which for the first time in history the opposing ships in a naval battle never sighted each other, and never fired directly at each other, but fought entirely with their aircraft – sinking between them eight ships including two aircraft carriers.

In times of change, the temptation to hold on to old ways – to live in denial – is very strong. More than that, those who have become powerful through that old paradigm will fight to keep their privilege  even if it is not good for the nation or the world as a whole.

The British were uncomfortable with air power and even automobiles, because it was ships and trains on which they had built their greatness.

Ever noticed how British aircraft – and the pilots’ uniforms which go with them – are so closely modelled on naval traditions, complete with the gold piping on the sleeves? The interior of early British aircraft copied ships, just as British cars were all too often upholstered like the interior of trains.

In all her pomp and power, Britain retained its fixation on the old ways she knew and which had made her great, and spent vast sums of money on technologies for ships which were already becoming out of date.

It was the loss of the Prince of Wales and Repulse in blue tropical waters off Malaya in 1941, and the loss of so many lives with them – as well as the inevitable loss of Singapore once those ships were gone – that showed Britain and the world that a new age had come – and had already passed Britain by.

A hundred years from now, the most powerful and prosperous nation on Earth will not be a nation which does things the way they’ve been done for the past hundred years.

After the First World War, the Treaty of Versailles shrank the German armed forces to 100,000 men, without tanks or aircraft. The Germans – reduced to field exercises with cardboard cut out tanks mounted on bicycles – rethought the theory of warfare from the ground up.

In 1940, they faced a numerically superior French army – augmented still further by the British Expeditionary Force. The Allies were well-armed, well-trained, well-supplied. They were perfectly prepared - to fight the last war. Instead of the endless trenches, they had the Maginot line. When the Germans attacked, the Allies rushed north to meet what they were sure was an updated version of the 1914 Schlieffen Plan attack through Belgium.

And fell straight into a trap.

The Germans had revolutionised armoured warfare. They took just hours to break through the Maginot line at Sedan, in the south.

And then – contrary to the Allies’ expectations – they did not stop to laboriously consolidate ground they had won, but in just ten days sliced straight through the Allied lines of communications, through battlefields where their fathers had fought and died for four years - all the way across France to the English Channel, dividing the French army in half and only narrowly preventing the British army from escape.

The very success of the Allies two decades earlier sowed the seeds for their dramatic defeat in 1940, and it took years of hard fighting for them to learn this new kind of war for themselves.

Past success can inhibit future innovation.

In the 1930s Tasmania harnessed hydro power in the State, and was able to achieve some real success by way of industrialisation of the island State.

The initial success made this the unquestioned model for future action. There were a couple of modest initial projects, and then more dams were built.

And yet more dams.

Finally, in spite of the declaration of a national park around Lake Pedder, in spite of its remoteness from areas of industry, in spite of the great cost of engineering works in so remote a location, and in spite of negligible power to be generated by a dam, it became known that this area, and the Gordon River, would be flooded.

Spurred by early benefits, the plan was to make Tasmania – so far from the major population centres of the world – the Ruhr of the south. As now seems obvious with hindsight, it was daft. Vast sums of public money were spent to build dams, in increasingly remote places and with less and less power generation.

With the plan to flood Lake Pedder, in which a priceless jewel was drowned to create a mere 27 megawatts of power (the difference from the scheme which would not flood the lake) it became clear that the dam building program was out of control, bankrupting Tasmania financially and destroying the very assets that made people love their State.

That dam went ahead, but massive opposition to the next project – the Franklin Dam – meant that in 1983 that dam was finally stopped, and with it, the power of the HEC in Tasmania.

Success can be a millstone around our necks. It can reinforce behaviour that worked in the past but will not work in the future. Sometimes our very success blinds us to the future we want.

History shows us again and again that it is very hard to prevail against comfort. And yet today, that is just what we need to do.

If you’d asked the British in 1905 whether there wasn’t a better way to spend all that money going into the dreadnought program, they would have said – “Look at the position our naval strength has given us. How can you suggest this is not the best thing for us to do?”

If you had said to them “Air power is the way of the future: instead of spending all this money on huge ships, why not become a world leader in aircraft?” they might have answered: “We’ll believe you when you can show one of these glorified box kites made of sticks and wire covered in doped linen can sink one of our ships.”

But when air power did do that, it was all too late.

In cases I have appeared in involving house fires, firemen have given evidence of an extraordinary phenomenon when some people are caught in a burning house. Frequently, when someone is deadlocked in their house and can’t get out, the fireman breaking in finds that person reacting to their impending doom in a strange way – by doing something very mundane and normal. So a woman caught in her burning house will take the broom and carefully sweep the kitchen floor.

Confronted by the unexpected, confronted by failure, too often our reaction is to try harder at the things that have worked before, rather than trying something different. All too often that means just digging a deeper hole for ourselves.

Edwards Deming took the Japanese industrial system – in ruins following the Second World War – and revived it into one of the most innovative production systems on Earth. One of the many useful things he said was: “It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.”

Right now, the planet is in meltdown. Financially, and environmentally.

Financially, we are looking for the confidence we have lost. We want more confidence in our markets. But in fact overconfidence – misplaced confidence – has got the markets where they are now.

By all means let us have confidence – but confidence not for its own sake, but built on a sure foundation. In order to have a sure foundation, some facts should be squarely faced.

There is no escaping the change which is coming at us now.

We have just had Arctic sea ice retreat to its historic minimum, and gushing methane from thawed tundra is bubbling up through the Arctic Sea.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology, Victoria’s average temperature is now 1 degree warmer than it was in 1950, and almost 2 degrees warmer than in 1900 – that’s equivalent to moving the whole State 400 kilometres closer to the equator. With each degree of temperature rise, we lose about 15% of stream flow.

Our climate is changing – and Victoria’s faster than the world average.

This is happening as a direct result of the burning of fossil fuels, and logging our forests which are vast carbon stores.

We have done comfortably from exporting coal, but that coal is now causing terrible changes in our world.

Our lifestyle is the envy of the world, but it is costing us the Earth.

A move to a carbon-neutral economy is inevitable, and we can either do it on our terms, or have it forced on us.

There are many statements that parade as wisdom in relation to this issue, but amount to no more than a desire to hang onto a past that is finished, such as these three:
“Coal will inevitably be our main source of power for decades to come”
As if we have no choice in the matter.
“Coal is too cheap to replace”
Just like asbestos?

Or this actual quote from John McCain during the 2008 presidential election campaign:
“Now, I believe — and you know, and you do, too — that we need to control emissions. But I’m not going to let our coal industry go bankrupt. I’m not going to tell — I’m not going to let coal workers lose their jobs. And I’m not going to let energy prices increase any more for our families.”
In other words – I’m not going to have any change, any uncomfortable reality. This is the modern equivalent of King Canute trying to hold back the tide.

And that's nothing compared with the current crop of Republican candidates. 

Australia should now aim to be a global beacon for carbon-free living. Moves to hang onto the old ways, like giving the coal industry hundreds of millions of dollars for the smoke and mirrors of carbon capture, are just part of the old paradigm.

Hanging on to the past too strongly condemns us to becoming victims of the future and the change the future will bring. I do not suggest we forget the past or devalue our past. Being true to ourselves means remembering our past – who we are – while at the same time being open to change.

That rich openness to the world as it should be means being vulnerable and at times uncomfortable – both as people and organisations. But from that vulnerability springs the greatest creativity.

Confronted by the great challenges of our time, our approach to the future can achieve not merely change, but inner transformation – in a way that greatly enriches not just our future – but all our lives.   

Happy new year.