Write on


Censorship and discussion

Ian Murrell (letters GLW 9 & 10) seems more interested in censoring, rather than discussing, issues.

Ian seems to think that any views he does not agree with are not green and therefore not worthy of publication. The "left" Ian refers to is green. There can be no grassroots democracy if that "left" is excluded. In refining its ideas, the movement must consider all points of view.

The green movement can only gain from discussion between people coming from different perspectives. Grassroots democracy relies on the free flow of ideas. It is based on the premise that each one of us can make up our own minds. Grassroots democracy relies on the participation and involvement of everyone and requires that people have access to information.

Bob Brown's Denison Greens use a form of modified consensus. They resort to a vote on some occasions. The formula that consensus decision-making equals grassroots democracy equals green politics is opinion, not fact.

Of course causes, and participants in non-violent action, should be supported. But violence is the result of a certain social situation. People are not equally responsible for their violence. The violence of a poor peasant defending their land is not the same as that of a rich landowner trying to take it away from them.

The dialogue in the green movement should continue. All of us will encounter ideas we do not agree with. The best way to deal with that is with discussion. Green Left Weekly can help with that.
Maurice Sibelle
New Farm QLD

Toxic waste in PNG

During November I toured Oro province for three weeks, doing awareness work about the proposed toxic waste incinerator at Dobudiru, 20 km outside of Girua Airport. I did this as a volunteer with the Melanesian Environment Foundation. I visited 3 vocational schools, 12 community schools, 3 high schools, Popondetta Agriculture College and 5 villages, showing videos and talking to many people about protection of the environment.

Most of the people whom I talked with were really critical of the proposed project, and they said if the national and provincial governments approved the plant, then there will be protest marches at both the provincial and national level.

If the industrialised countries think it is safe to dump their waste on to our ground, why don't they (the USA) dump their waste in their own back yard instead of sneaking off to Pacific Island countries?

The Minister for the Environment and Conservation should know Papua New Guinea has signed several international treaties which prohibit this kind of dumping. Mr Waim has come to turning point by wanting to make the South Pacific paradise into a dumping ground, and I think he should step down from his present Ministry.

It is a bad testimonial to other Pacific island countries who have already thrown out similar proposals. Do we care less for our nation than do the people of the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, the Philippines or Tonga? Ministers and other men in key positions, please keep the South Pacific free of toxic waste and nuclear testing. Don't bring murder into our beds.
Steven Ainu
Community Education Officer
Melanesian Environment Foundation
Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

Republican Party

Apropos the "rush to a national green party" at a proposed elite meeting in Sydney on May 18-19 (GL No. 9); while political beginnings are inevitable, did this jump-start have to conflict with the long-advertised 5th Annual Convention of the Republican Party of Australia, which also has a green platform, scheduled for those dates in Brisbane?

I suggest all environmentalists think of a fundamental power behind raw capitalism (an obscenely wealthy "defender of the faith" monarchy) and that as many as possible of you attend our first Queensland Convention — for the price of a donation at the door — and enjoy and learn from our excellent speakers and company.

Fair go, say I.
Stan Stokes

Glaring mistakes

Glaring mistakes in Mr David Ball's letter "Greens: Beware of the Democrats" (Age letter April 13, reprinted in GL April 24) require correction.

Mr Ball's claim that no extra seats were gained by the Democrats in the Senate last year doesn't add up. In my book, going from having seven senators to eight is an increase. Continuity of Democrat representation in the Senate is assured as five of the eight have six year terms. In addition there were some seven House of Representative seats where we came within five percent of winning. Janine Haines' valiant effort in Kingston was one of them.

Greens contemplating the merger proposal will no doubt also know our vote doubled to 1.1 million. The fact that Mr Ball didn't like Norm Sanders' media style is less an indication of the Democrats' performance and more a reflection of Mr Ball's own style.

Age readers were not told by Mr Ball that at the Democrats' State Council on 17th March his appointment to the Candidate Endorsement Committee was withdrawn and he immediately resigned from the party. It is likely that fact has more bearing on his view of the Democrats than all the inaccurate assertions made in his letter.
Hans Paas
State Leader
Williamstown Vic