Capitalism is leading us to total disaster

[From Change the System, Not the Climate (Resistance Books: Sydney, 2007); an edited version appeared in Green Left Weekly #693, December 6, 2006]

The fundamental problem facing humanity today is catastrophic climate change brought on by runaway greenhouse gas emissions. The relatively narrow band of climatic conditions within which we can function has been destabilised. As average temperatures rise extreme weather events are increasing (cyclones, floods, heat waves and droughts) and ocean levels look like rising dramatically, potentially making refugees of hundreds of millions of people. The very survival of the human race has now been called into question.

Victoria grapples with drought

[Green Left Weekly, #690, November 11, 2006]

Like a large part of the continent, Victoria is in the grip of an unprecedented drought. Across the state, dams are rapidly emptying and river flows are at record lows, cities and towns face drastic restrictions and farmers confront an uncertain future. The water crisis gives the question of global warming and catastrophic climate change a new immediacy and is a major issue in the November 25 state election.

Make public transport free — for everybody

[Green Left Weekly, #689, November 3, 2006]

Public transport issues continue to feature prominently in the November 25 state election as both major parties trawl for votes. First, Victorian Liberal leader Ted Ballieu pledged to make public transport free for all primary, secondary and full-time tertiary students in the state (at an estimated cost of $285 million). A few days later he promised to abolish metropolitan transport Zone 3, a move which would give significant savings to commuters travelling in to the city from the outer suburbs. And only hours after that, Labor Premier Steve Bracks promised to do the same and, furthermore, to reduce V/Line (country) fares by up to 20%.

Sixtieth birthday remarks

[Remarks made at a dinner in Melbourne to celebrate my 60th birthday, August 2006]

The card Andrea gave me for my birthday said that now I'm 60 I should make lists and offered one for today — first, check my zipper; two, make a wish; three, blow out candles; four, eat cake; and five, wipe my face. Well, I checked my zipper before I got up and I'll practice the rest later. But I did want to write down what I wanted to say tonight so it comes out right.

The Age campaigns for free public transport

[Green Left Weekly, #668, May 15, 2006]

For the past two months Melbourne's Age newspaper, owned by the Fairfax media group, has been energetically campaigning for free public transport in the city. Former Victorian Liberal premier Jeff Kennett — who privatised public transport in 1999 — revealed in an interview that he argued within his cabinet for a simple universal gold-coin fare system. He said his biggest regret in public life was that he failed to stick to his guns in the face of bureaucratic opposition. Kennett's cabinet colleague Robert Maclellan canvassed the idea of making public transport completely free until leading officials talked him out of it.

Crime and punishment II

[Green Left Weekly, #665, April 26, 2006]

Every society deals with crime and punishment in its own special way. Modern capitalism, for all the ludicrous claims of its media hacks and propagandists, is a class-divided society based on the exploitation and oppression of the many by the very few. It ceaselessly generates crime at all levels.

'Renewal' ALP-style

[Green Left Weekly, #659, March 8, 2006]

The ALP is undergoing a process of "renewal" as a clutch of ambitious right-wing trade union officials seek preselection against Victorian sitting federal MPs.