19 June 2007


In response to the call for action by by thousands of people around the world, leaders at the recent G8 meeting have agreed to commence negotiation for a new climate change treaty this year.

AVAAZ is now calling on all those concerned about this issue to maintain pressure on world leaders to ensure the treaty is effective and binding by signing an online petition.

In Australia there are signs that both major political parties are responding to community concerns about the issue, although concerns remain that words and promises will not be followed by effective action. Concerns continue that many politicians see climate change as a political issue to be managed rather than a major threat requiring urgent and major change.

A recent edition of Ozspirit emphasised the far-reaching consequences of climate change when quoting the former Secretary-General of the UN, Kofi Anan:-

"Climate change is not just an environmental issue, as too many people still believe. It is an all encompassing threat. It is a threat to health, since a warmer world is one in which infectious diseases such as malaria and yellow fever will spread further and faster. It could imperil the world's food supply, as rising temperatures and prolonged drought render fertile areas unfit for grazing or crops. It could endanger the very ground on which nearly half the worlds population live -coastal cities such as Lagos or Cape Town, which face inundation from sea levels rising as a result of inciting icecaps and glaciers."


In September 2000 the Millennium Declaration was adopted by 189 nations and signed by 147 heads of state at the UN Millennium summit.

The eight Millennium Development Goals addressed the major development challenges faced by the global community by setting out measurable targets and indicators to be met over the succeeding fifteen years.

For the first time in history nations of the world agreed on a systematic plan to bring about poverty reduction and achieve sustainable development; our generation therefore became the first with the chance to eradicate poverty.

As July 2007 marks the halfway point to achieving those goals it is worth reflecting on progress to date.

A comprehensive analysis and a simplified summary of progress towards the achieving of the goals reveals a picture of mixed success.

Four factors were identified as being needed to addressed together to ensure success in meeting the Goals. These were the establishment of a global system of Fair Trade; cancellation of the unpayable Debt Burden carried by poor countries; Assistance from wealthy nations in the form of Development Aid (the estimated level of aid needed was O.7% of GNP) and the establishment of systems of good governance in developing nations.

Effective ways of ensuring the government can be held accountable to its commitment to the MDG’s can be found at the Make Poverty History website.


Legislation passed by the Federal Government earlier this year effectively means that almost half of a million eligible voters in Australia may not have the opportunity to vote in the next Federal election.

The government has decided that anyone not on the Electoral Roll on the day the election is called will now be ineligible to vote. In previous years there has always been a period between the calling of the election and the closure of the rolls.

Those particularly affected by this decision are young people, who although eligible to vote through having turned 18 years of age, may not yet have got around to registering. In the absence of a fixed date for an election it has always been possible for a government to call an election without warning. This recent legislation ensures that young people in the situation described above will not be entitled to vote once the election is called.

The GetUp campaign to revoke this law has succeeded in obtaining a commitment from the ALP to reverse this law if elected to government. In the meantime the GetUp campaign continues with an online petition at the above website.

Many readers of this bulletin are senior high school students who will be affected by this legislation. All are encouraged to register with the Australian Electoral Commission so that they can fully exercise their right and responsibility as a citizen.


Many Religious Congregations and faith-based organizations rely on financial investments to support their various ministries. Christian Brothers Investment Services (CBIS)was founded in 1981 by the Brothers of the Christian Schools, widely known as the De La Salle Christian Brothers (but known as the Christian Brothers in North America as opposed to the Irish Christian Brothers who were founded by Edmund Rice), to provide trusted socially responsible investment management services exclusively to Catholic organizations.

Earlier this year CBIS along with several other faith-based investors succeeded in sponsoring a resolution calling on the Newmont Mining Corporation, one of the world’s leading mining companies, to produce a report addressing community based opposition to its mining operations around the world.

Specifically the resolution notes the opposition that has been voiced in regard to mining waste disposal practices, the potential for water pollution, development on sacred sites, and community resettlement especially in Peru, Ghana and Indonesia.

The resolution further provides for a global review and evaluation of the company’s policies and practices relating to the issues of concern and a requires a report of the steps taken to reduce such opposition to be made available to shareholders prior to the 2008 annual meeting.

The acceptance of the resolution is seen as a major breakthrough towards ensuring the social responsibility in the activities of mining companies and demonstrates that it is possible to actively work for social justice in many different ways at many different levels.

5 June 2007


About two dozen people accepted the invitation to be part of the Seeds of Change group that joined the 'Long Walk to the Dreamtime at the G' to show their support for Reconciliation and to demand justice for indigenous Australians. (see photos below)

Although the Prime Minister again refused to say ‘Sorry’ on behalf of the nation for the dispossession and mistreatment of our indigenous population over the past 220 years, there were some encouraging developments announced in the recently completed Reconciliation Week.

The Opposition Australian Labor Party pledged that when in government it would offer the long awaited apology and to provide additional funding to helpClose the Gap in health and life expectancy between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians.

Readers of this bulletin who joined with 40,000 other Australians to sign the Get Up online petition can also feel a sense of satisfaction that their efforts have helped bring about this welcome change.

Your support for the campaign to place pressure on the government to match these commitments is encouraged.

The Long Walk to the Dreamtime at the G

The Long Walk to the Dreamtime at the G


The decision of the Australian Tax Office to remove the charitable status for Aid Watch is a direct attack on freedom and democracy according to its Chair, James Goodman.

The new ATO decision states that charities cannot engage in 'any activity designed to change Australian Government laws, policies or decisions'. Neither can charities engage in 'propogating or promoting a particular point of view’, according to the ATO ruling.

Aid Watch is the only independent watchdog of the Aid program of the Australian Government and has recently been critical of the level and targeting of Australia’s overseas aid program.

Aid Watch monitors and seeks to improve the impacts of aid on the planet and its people. "As a charity we have a responsibility to contribute to public debate on these issues. This is central to our charitable purpose. The ATO Ruling threatens our very existence and sends an ominous message to all charities – question Government policy and you will lose your charitable status," said Mr. Goodman.

Concerns about the Government’s intentions have previously been expressed by organizations such as the St Vincent de Paul Society which in an earlier submission to the Board of Taxation Consultation on the Definition of a Charity argued that "In a democracy, the activity of speaking up in the interests of the marginalized should be encouraged rather than punished. It is an activity that is clearly for the common good"


At the same time as Australian delegates participating in an international conference in Lima, Peru, last week sought to weaken a proposed treaty banning the use of cluster bombs, a Parliamentary subcommittee approved the future use of the weapons by the Australian Defence Forces.

Significantly the world’s leading manufacturers of cluster bombs, China, Russia, and the United States, did not attend the Lima conference, and oppose the ban proposed by mainly poor nations.

Delegates representing some 70 countries pointed out that the victims of cluster bombs are often children who pick up unexploded munitions years after the fighting has ended.

At the same time the trial of four people who in in December 2005 attempted to conduct a citizens’ inspection of the secret US base at Pine Gap commenced in Alice Springs. The four are members of 'Christians Against All Terrorism', an organisation which promotes non-violent resistance to war, and they are facing seven years imprisonment for their non-violent political protest.

The activities conducted at Pine Gap have long been the subject of controversy and are so shrouded in secrecy that even Australian Parliamentarians, let alone members of the public, are not permitted to know the nature of those activities.

Updates about the progress of the trial can be found at Pine Gap 6 Supporters website.


A ground swell of interest amongst the students at St Peter's College, Auckland facilitated by the presence of the Edmund Rice Justice office has struck a loud clear note for freedom this week.

Two students from the Edmund Rice Student Leadership Portfolio, Tom Buhr and Robert Lee, got the chance to explain to Auckland's Central Leader Newspaper, the motivation behind a massive banner in support for Fairtrade raised beside Auckland's most intensely utilised stretch of Motorway. The students took advantage of St Peter's prime advertising space and produced a sign with the words 'Students support Fair Trade'. Many student signatures were boldly etched into the design of the banner.

The boys received clearance from the school's principal Kieran Fouhy to voice their support for ethical consumption, hand-in-hand with the national Fair-trade Fortnight campaign. They see choosing Fair-trade products as a powerful statement towards the kind of world we wish to live in.

Samples of Fair-trade products were given to the College staff to use and a temporary Fair-trade 'shop' was set up in the staffroom.

Fair Trade

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