Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) implications for Morwell

Fullerton Cove Blockade Against CSG

Photo by Lock the Gate Alliance.

Recently, Lone Pine Resources, a Coal Seam Gas exploration company, incorporated in the US state of Delaware began legal proceedings to sue the Quebec Government for losses they incurred because of that Canadian Province’s moratorium on fracking. The moratorium was introduced because of concerns that the fracking process would contaminate aquifers, above-ground water and food and hence be a threat to public health.
This court action was made possible by the North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA, which allows foreign companies from the participating nations to sue governments for damages if they adopt laws or policies that could ‘harm’ their investment, even if the laws or policies are in the public interest. The proposal, called ‘Investor-State Dispute Settlement,’ or ISDS, essentially gives foreign corporations power to sue participating governments over laws affecting essential areas of public interest at local, state and national level.
By 2012, Governments within the NAFTA zone had paid over $700 million in compensation to companies like Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Dow Chemicals and Monsanto, because this international agreement over-rode the sovereign laws of the State in-question.
At the moment, The Federal Government is negotiating a massive free trade agreement between 12 Pacific Rim countries including The US, Japan, Canada, several south east Asian countries and several South American nations. This Pact called the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) will incorporate the exact same provisions as the NAFTA agreement described above. It covers trade in all areas of goods and services including food and pharmaceuticals, financial services, intellectual property rights, copyrighting, IT, labour laws and mining.
This means that CSG explorer, Ignite Energy, (10 % owned by Exxon Mobil), which has extensive CSG exploration leases over much of Gippsland could potentially sue the Victorian Government for losses they incurred because of the fracking moratorium, which has been in place for two years now.
It seems incredible that the Abbott Government should be so eager to sign up for this loss of sovereignty and make it virtually impossible for our various levels of Australian Governments to pass laws that will protect citizens’ health, water and food from contamination from industries such as CSG. Particularly so, in the light of the less than spectacular results from previous Free Trade Agreements.
The ISDS provisions were rejected by the Gillard Government, but Mr Robb and the rest of the Abbott Government are forging ahead in secret. No public consultation. Even the nation’s senators will not be allowed access till after the agreement is signed. If the ISDS proposals are approved, then it will reduce the ability of Australian governments at all levels to pass laws in the best interests of us, the citizens.
A few years ago, those with Tea Party sentiments were decrying the fact that the United Nations was starting to override our sovereign interests. If the TPP is signed off, then it will be corporate America which is determining our laws. These companies are nothing like the UN which was set up for benevolent purposes.
Our best hope is that the Napthine Government pressures the Abbott Government to act in the best interests of Australian citizens. Not the best interests of the multinationals.
Dan Caffrey Greens candidate for Morwell

Rally To Oppose the Trans Pacific Partnership Trade Deal

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The Thin Green Line

Daniel Caffrey enjoyed a rare night out at  Thin Green Line.

Daniel Caffrey enjoyed a rare night out at Thin Green Line.

Watching Australian Story on July 14th on the ABC, elicited a strong reaction from within me. The story was about Sean Willmore, the founder of the Thin Green Line organisation which he set up to aid the rangers and their families fighting the industrial scale poaching in Africa and Asia. This monstrous trade threatens some of the world’s most exotic and emblematic animals such as the African elephant and rhinoceros and the various tiger sub-species in Asia.

Sean started Thin Green Line in response to the terrible costs being paid by the African rangers working to protect elephants and Rhinos that are being slaughtered to provide ivory and rhino horn respectively into Asia. Particularly China. Rhino horn is used as a supposed cure-all and along with tiger penis is reputed to be an aphrodisiac. The prices paid for these black commodities is enough to seduce simple villagers to become poachers and to murder their fellow countrymen who are trying to protect these magnificent animals from extinction.

The problem that Sean saw was that the rangers did not have the equipment to match the poachers, so he arranged for them to get night vision glasses and better firepower. Another major humanitarian issue which Thin Green Line addresses is that the families of the rangers that are killed are left without a bread winner if the ranger is shot and killed or maimed for life. So the organisation provides a welfare fund for families of these victims.
The cost on Sean himself, has taken its toll and he has suffered depression as a result, but he has soldiered on and has enlisted some high profile support from people such as Jane Goodall, who has to be the epitome of a living saint as well as HRH Princes Charles and William.

Another high profile supporter has been Wally de Bakker – Gotye as he is better known. When they mentioned that a benefit concert was to be held, I said to my wife that is one concert come hell or high water we would attend. And so it was that we went to our first concert at the Melbourne Town Hall and were not disappointed.

The night, last Friday was full of emotion, technical glitches, laughter and sheer brilliant entertainment enjoyed by a diverse audience from business and professional people to students and labourers, all willing to pay the $80 + entry charge to help the cause. The most moving spot was when Sean spoke and said that so far this year 53 rangers have lost their lives across the world due to poachers and that just in the last week another three had been killed in India. Sean stood on stage and spoke from his heart and there wasn’t a person in the hall who wasn’t moved. The gentleman in front of me spontaneously stood as Sean asked for a minute’s silence to respect the fallen rangers. His younger partner tried to get him to sit down and grabbed at his belt, but he remained standing. After the minutes silence a lone bagpiper walked on stage and at the she too got up and stood in silence with her man. A case of solidarity personified.

As for the music from Gotye, Tex Perkins with his 1980’s style Gary Ayres hair, Tin Pan Orange, Nicky Bomba and the Melbourne Ska orchestra and others, we certainly weren’t disappointed. The final part of the show when all the musos came together for what was really a giant jam session was brilliant with Wally’s silky smooth, tone perfect voice raising the roof with his own hits as well as old 70’s songs and Tex and Nicky doing their stuff with such charisma and good fun.

The feeling did not leave me on the train home and sustained me for the rest of the weekend as I went door-knocking and meeting some wonderful people in Calignee and in Morwell, where Rodney gave me a hand.

The message from the efforts of Sean and those supporting him was that where there is injustice in the world, goodness will rise up to meet it. Some may not agree, but that it is how I see the Greens and that’s what keeps me trying harder and harder to cut through in our efforts to make a better world for ourselves and especially for our children.

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What’s wrong with being Green?

It's hard being Green, Green wisdom, Be Green,

Is there a Green Lantern that stands for social justice, peace, participatory democracy and ecological wisdom. Photo credit: J.Lynn Sunderland

Recently at one of our campaign meetings, the opportunity for a photo presented itself to the group. Two of the participants – both in their twenties declined to be in it if the photo was to be put into the public domain, such as on facebook. They explained that they were just moving to the area and were looking for jobs in the Gippsland region. They were afraid that if an online search was conducted by prospective employers, then this might count against them in their job applications.

It struck me that in our democratic pluralist society that there was something wrong with people in this situation being afraid to express their political allegiances openly. I was wondering if this was always the case and I must say that I can’t remember this attitude being prevalent when I was their age – that being in the 1970’s and early 80’s. People were generally proud to fly the flag for either Liberal, Labor or the Democrats.

Go Green, Greens, Victorian Greens, Be Green,

Go Green in 2014

Today many Greens supporters seem to think that they will be chastised, ridiculed or ostracised for coming out about their heart-felt allegiances. About five or six years ago, I “outed” myself as a greenie, or at least a Green at heart (I only became a member in April this year). I must admit that my frequent letters to the editor did provoke some odd reactions at times, and some people were eager to try to perform a political exorcism on me to get me to see the error of my ways.

What this “examination” did for me though was to confirm the righteousness of my decision. Having a farming background and then completing a Science degree and becoming a Maths/Science/Technology teacher, told me that Climate Change was the key political issue and will be in every election for now on for the next century. (Providing civilisation lasts that long. But that will depend on how we collectively respond to the problem.)

This time I'm Voting Green

I think the main reason for this “shame” of being Green is due to the mainstream media trying to keep the political status quo and that disruptive new-comers like the Greens are going to shift power balances established over generations and interrupt the cosy arrangements for people like Rupert Murdoch who thinks of himself as the de facto President of Australia. We only need to look at how his newspapers – especially The Australian treat news involving the Greens and which is still not acknowledging human induced climate change, or the way that Sydney’s Daily Telegraph treated the Rudd Government in the lead up to the last election – complete with Hogan’s Hero’s caricatures of the leading players on the front page.

Somehow, Murdoch has made people feel guilty for being Green and letting certifiable lunatics like Barnaby Joyce have a free run with comments about $100 legs of lamb because of the carbon tax. But the truth is, we should feel proud to be green. If it weren’t for green activists, Bjelke Petersen would have drilled for oil in the Great Barrier Reef, the Gordon River in Tasmania would have been dammed, there would be few National Parks and many more plant and animal extinctions. All of these actions have resulted in great economic gain for people involved in Tourism in QLD, Tasmania and elsewhere. These activists fought to preserve what was precious and irreplaceable and today are seen as visionary and indeed as patriots as they have protected the integrity of the landscape.

Today, the only large political party which attempts to carry on this visionary tradition of being stewards of the environment are the Greens. We see it in the Gippsland region when we back the farmers and rural dwellers in their fight against the CSG invasion. We see it when we say no to the planned 13 billion tonne allocation of brown coal expansion in the Latrobe Valley. We see it when we contrast our planning and support for public transport based on transparent business models, as opposed to the secrecy and backroom deals of the Napthine Government.

The Greens are the only Party that is proposing real solutions for climate change? I am increasingly heartened as I talk to people when door-knocking, when growing numbers of people also “get it”. They know about scientifically based policies and transparency of decision-making by government. All they want is for a Party to articulate it and offer a better vision. The Greens can be that Party.

Join Daniel by voting Green in November.

My hope is that after this coming election, the notion that the Greens are somehow just a bunch of tree-hugging subversives will be discarded by the populace and that despite Mr Murdoch’s best efforts to mis-represent the truth, the Greens will be seen as a party with integrity and truth on its side.

I will also hope that no one should be afraid of having a job application knocked back because they are a Greens supporter. As for me, I am more than ever proud to wear my Greens tee-shirt and grow the brand and talk to people about where we want to be in 10 years time and how the Greens are the only ones thinking about this. Now is the time for everyone to get on board and give it our absolutely best shot in the lead up to Nov 29th. Let’s make ourselves proud.

Daniel Caffrey, Greens, Vote Green

Join Daniel Caffrey for Morwell when Victoria Votes on the 29th of November 2014

We found Dan is in good company. All over the world people are voting Green:




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Put a Scientist In Spring Street

It would be great to see a fellow scientist for better public health elected to Spring St. The Greens have a great group of candidates for the Victorian State election 2014.

Forensics, Fossils and Fruitbats

Tim_Read_profileLast year I wrote about how proud I was to have a scientist doing ground-breaking work as my local Greens candidate. It wasn’t, however, very likely that Dr Tim Read was going to win Wills, a seat that stretches to places where the party is in single figures. Now Tim is running for Brunswick, and there is a real chance he could win, so it’s time to expand on why I think he is a truly great candidate.

I should say upfront that the most important thing for me is a candidate whose values I share. I would have a lot of difficulty voting for a bad Greens candidate, but I’d vote for a mediocre one over a more impressive figure from another party. However, that is not a problem I will have to face this time.

Having met Tim as my local doctor I consider his talent for listening to people’s…

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The ‘sun tax’ debate

sun tax, simply energy, gdf suerz,

Simply energy please don’t tax the sun


As reported in the LV Express (17/7/14) the statement’s from Russell Northe’s Department of Energy supporting Simply Energy’s surcharge on households with solar panels is just another example of the Napthine Government trying to restrict the competition to coal fired generators by cheaper renewable energy alternatives. Coming on top of their restrictions on wind farm developments and failure to follow through with their 2010 election promise to build solar power stations in northern Victoria and have 5% of our electricity from solar, it is plain to see that they are just doing the coal-fired generators’ bidding.

The coal fired generators have an ailing business model and are asking the Government to prevent fair competition from the solar industry hurting their profitability any further.

Solar power puts in energy to the grid during the peak times of the day and dampens the wholesale price of electricity to all the generators at their most profitable time. What the Government fails to realise is that the householders have paid for their own solar equipment and the new meter and the costs of hooking up to the grid themselves. We didn’t expect to be slugged for doing our bit for the environment. The distribution network is designed to cater for a two way flow of electrons and does not need upgrades to handle these new suppliers, so it is hard to see what these supposed costs are, other than just to go into the coffers of GDF Suez. The Government should be acting in the best interests of the citizens, not multi-national power companies .

Just for the record, the Greens policy is to have a 1:1 feed-in tariff so that power companies pay you what they charge for electricity that you export to the grid. We will also encourage schemes that have no upfront costs to install solar and you pay it back through your power bills and that legislation is passed to ensure that power companies cannot refuse anyone who wants to go solar.

In the meantime, I would encourage any of the 3825 residents of Latrobe City that already have solar panels and are also with Simply Energy, that they move to another supplier. With battery storage almost at competitive prices now, moves like this from Simply Energy will just encourage people to go off-grid completely.

Dan Caffrey Greens candidate for Morwell

If you want to do something further about this ‘sun tax’ you can sign the Greens solar savers petition

solar spill, energy, nice day, panels,

A huge solar energy spill, is called a ‘nice day’.

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We’re concerned about health cuts

The Victorian Greens believe in health care for all.












The recent announcement from Mental Health and Community Services Minister Mary Wooldridge in The Latrobe Valley Express newspaper (14/7) of job losses from the Latrobe Community Health Services should be of concern to all in the Latrobe Valley. At a time when the “ice epidemic” is reeking havoc across rural Victoria, there will be up to seven jobs lost from a staff of 23 who treat about 1900 clients a year for drug and alcohol related health issues. Most of these people already suffer from low socio-economic disadvantage and with fewer workers to help these people, one can imagine what the consequences for them and the community. At the same time, the Napthine Government recently announced that they would soon advertise for about 750 new correctional service officers to staff the State’s growing prison population. It has also been reported that up to half of the prisoners in this State have moderate to severe mental health problems. It seems that this Government is anticipating this and that its policies of cutting back ancillary health care services and the opportunities provided by the TAFE system is going to produce more crime. Together with the simplistic cut-back of parole, which may see serious offenders released straight back into the community without having a monitoring period attached to their release conditions, it is no wonder that more prisons are going to be needed. One must ask: Is this the mark of a caring, humane society? The Greens say it definitely is not. A Greens Government would put more money and effort into drug and alcohol education and preventative strategies as well as into the counselling and treatment of people with substance abuse problems. We don’t believe substance abuse is effectively dealt in a criminal context as it is more akin to a health problem. The very people who are being sacked, are the ones who are best equipped to assist in harm minimisation and preventing this from developing into criminal actions. This is a devastating blow to the Latrobe Valley’s health sector.
Dan Caffrey Greens candidate for Morwell

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Is repealing the carbon tax the saviour for household budgets?

carbon price, ETS, Clean Energy act, save money, low incomes,

It’s helping. The Clean Energy Act is saving energy and money for people on low incomes. Let’s keep the ETS we already have.

Just as the sun appears to be about to set on the carbon tax, it might be apt to review what its abolition will achieve. Tony Abbott has said that Australian households will be $550 a year better off.  Electricity prices have doubled since 2009, but analysis from the Australian Government itself, shows that only about 9% of the is price rise was due to the carbon tax and at most a further 4% was due to other initiatives such as the Renewable Energy Target, which thanks to the intervention of Al Gore is still intact – at least for another 2 years. The generators get less than 20%, and the retailing of electricity about 20%. The vast majority – well over 50% of the price we pay is for the cost of poles and wires, which were built on borrowed money and heavily over catered for in a classic case of mismanagement colloquially called “gold-plating”. Even after the carbon tax is gone, consumers will still be paying for this investment due to locked in contracts with the network operators like SP-Ausnet.

Since the introduction of the carbon tax in 2012, carbon emissions have dropped by more than 10% in the electricity sector alone, thus achieving the job it was meant to do. It did this by putting a price on carbon of about $23 a tonne of carbon dioxide emitted. Consumers did not directly pay this, but the generators charged more to cover their costs. As the wind farms, being carbon emissions free, did not have to pay this charge they were mostly able to undercut the coal-fired generators by what was known as the merit order effect, as the system of buying electricity is done by an auction system where the cheapest provider is chosen. This competition kept the wholesale price lower than it would otherwise have been. Despite this retail prices did rise, but as stated before, mainly for other reasons. Consumers responded by installing insulation, using energy saving devices and becoming energy efficient. Many installed solar panels, which then fed excess electricity back into the grid and so reduced demand from the big generators and further kept wholesale electricity prices lower.

Despite the price rises, most people accept the fact that this is simply the cost of paying for pollution. The money raised went to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, which then loaned money at commercial interest rates to developers of renewable energy technologies, such as wind and solar farms, wave energy and co-generation schemes and large scale energy efficiency projects. Over time, as more and more of our electricity was going to come from renewable sources, less and less money would be collected by the carbon tax as the fossil fuel generators would ease out of production and eventually in a few decades time, our economy would be 100% renewable and carbon free. Our electricity would also be much cheaper as there is no fuel that has to be burnt and the maintenance costs are generally much lower. We would have had a less centralised electricity grid, which was more robust as electrons would be put into the grid from smaller units in diverse locations, thus eliminating the prospects of catastrophic failures. Distribution costs for electricity would also be lower because the need for very high voltage infrastructure is reduced.

Now with no carbon tax, there is no financial incentive for the big coal fired generators to limit their emissions. In fact, with The Abbott Government’ s Direct Action Policy, it is the coal fired generators with their limited ability to reduce their emissions that bizarrely stand to get paid by the Federal Government for emissions reductions and wind farms and other zero emissions technologies get nothing. With these irrational incentives, it may be possible that we see new coal fired power stations get built, despite the obvious imperatives of acting to fight climate change and being out of step with the rest of the world. Taxpayers will now be paying the big polluters to keep on polluting and it is hard to see how on earth our emissions will drop in this scenario.

So I am still left wondering how much better off I will be with no carbon tax. Because I have solar panels and my electricity bill does not exceed $550 a year by a lot, I may be $2 a week better off, and only if the savings are passed on. This is money, which I would gladly contribute to lessening carbon emissions in a cost effective way. With no carbon price, there is only Direct Action, designed to keep our emissions at about the same level for the foreseeable future. The only households, which will be better off are those, which have never worried about trying to reduce their electricity bills.  And of course, the coal-fired generators will be laughing all the way to their foreign bank accounts in France and Hong Kong. And we taxpayers still have to pay for other methods of fighting climate change.  I am sure the voters in the last election did not vote in the Abbott Government to mismanage our economy like this and it appears that it is now reaping its own rewards with its popularity deservedly at very low levels.

Dan Caffrey Greens candidate for Morwell

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