The Greening of Politics – speech by Greens Leader Senator Bob Brown | Asia Pacific Greens

The Greening of Politics – speech by Greens Leader Senator Bob Brown

On October 22, 2009 four Green Party Taiwan representatives (Ying Hsuan Li, Karl Haby, Yi Show Chen and Keli Yen) attended the Green New Deal Conference in Melbourne, Australia with a mission to meet members of Australia’s Green political scene and share ideas together regarding the localization of the Global Green New Deal into the Asia Pacific region in general and Taiwan in particular.

The two-day conference began with a keynote speech by Senator Bob Brown on the topic of “the greening of politics”.  Following are highlights drawn from his speech:

  • Let’s not be the generation that saved banks and not the earth.
  • Melbourne is the only place in Australia where the Greens have a marginal seat in the Parliament.  All in all the Greens have 27 representatives in the Australian Parliament, 16 of whom are women, and over 100 Greens in local government offices.
  • Remember, if we destroy the planet, we destroy ourselves; a human community of 6.8 billion people.
  • I am confident as humans we DO have the intellect to nourish this planet which sustains us.  We are capable of turning around our lifestyle of bad habits that harm this planet and evolve into a collective and individual lifestyle that nourishes the wellbeing of this precious earth. The challenge is to fix our behavior. 
  • Australia is the biggest exporter of coal on the planet.
  • By 2050 50% of the artic will be corrosively acidic.
  • Over the past 30 years the Green Party has been vilified and laughted at,  but as a party we are willing to confront each of these contentious these issues.
  • As Ralph Nadar once said, "Information is the currency of Democracy", continual social education through forthright and accessible exchange of information.
  • The role of a democratic society is to put free capitalism under the reigns of management.  The power of democracy is that it awards people with the power of choice.  That is why it is extremely important to provide a nation with the options to political governance.
  • Currently both of Australia’s major political parties, Labor and Liberal, are inextricably attached to growth. The Green Party offers a different model.  We are living in an ecological imbalance where it is increasingly evident that growth is not sustainable. Let us consider a life of "prosperity without growth" as is titled Tim Jackson's recent novel.
  • I like this idea so much that I'm tempted to rename the Greens to "The Prosperity Party" because prosperity means wellbeing.  We simply cannot continue this growth model as it exists today.  Faced with unsustainability, we as a political society are faced with a choice between The Greens versus the destruction of our planet.
  • Scientists report hair-raising predictions and data that the health of this planet is ineluctably worsening.
  • The human population must live within the finite parameters of the earth’s resources.  The Green Party is leading the way in the search for a new economic paradigm.  The Green New Deal conference is about finding the way.  We have the ability to turn this disasterous trend around.  I am heartened to see the younger generation becoming increasingly enthusiastic about finding alternatives to “growth”.
  • The Green party is the front line of changing the facility of our society; such as a recent policy proposal by The Greens to decongest our cities by adding more public transportation. The plan allows for the decongestion to be paid in tax by the city dwellers themselves.  These are epoch-changing times.. people must change their old habits in lew of a greater consciousness and awareness and action.  We only have a few years to turn around the threat of climate change; and next year 2010 is the year of biodiversity. 
  • Question from a young woman in the audience: “as someone planning to soon become a mother, what about engaging, uniting and organizing the power of mothers?

Quotes cited at the conference:

  •  “The real wealth of a nation is its people.  And the purpose of development is to create an enabling environment for people to enjoy long, healthy, and creative lives.  This simple but powerful truth is too often forgotten in the pursuit of material and financial wealth” – Mahbub Ul Haq, 1990

  • “Prosperity consists in our ability to flourish as human beings – within the ecological limits of a finite planet.  The challenge for our society is to create the conditions under which this is possible.  It is the most urgent task of our times.”  - Professor Tim Jackson, UK Sustainable Development Commission, 2009.

  • “GDP does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play.  It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials.  It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country: it measures everything, in short, except  that which makes life worthwhile.”  - Robert Kennedy, 1962

  • “The great Error of our Nature is not to know where to stop; not to be satisfied with any reasonable Acquirement; not to compound with our  Condition; but to lose all we have gained by an insatiable Pursuit after more.”  - Edmund Burke, 1757

  • “The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization.  We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths.  The measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit.”  - President F.D. Roosevelt, inaugural speech, 1933
  • “Climate change is a greater threat to humanity than international terrorism.”  - Hans Blix, 2002

  • “At the heart of this assessment is a stark warning.  Human activity is putting such strain on the natural functions of Earth that the ability of the planet’s ecosystems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted.”  - Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005

  • “ Damaged economies, refugees, political instability and the loss of life are typically the results of war.  But they will also be the results of unchecked climate change.”  - Stavros Dimas, European Commissioner for the Environment, 2007

  • “To truly transform our economy, protect our security, and save our planet from the ravages of climate change, we need to ultimately make clean, renewable energy the profitable kind of energy.  We know the country that harnesses the power of clean renewable energy will lead the 21st century.” – President Obama, February 2009
Australian Greens