Revolutions in the Middle East — Presentation by Dr Luca Anceschi

Watchers of international affairs cannot help but be mesmerised by the rebellions that have unfolded across the Middle East in 2011. In this instalment of the podcast, we are fortunate to be joined by Dr Luca Anceschi from La Trobe University in Melbourne. On Monday 11th April, Luca made a presentation at the LTU Albury-Wodonga campus entitled Revolutions in the Middle East, for second and third year Bachelor of Arts students taking the subject International Relations of the Middle East.

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The Evolution of Liberal-Democracy, Part II — The Industrial Revoltion, Capitalism and the Grand Compromise

BY BEN HABIB. The upheaval of the industrial revolution moulded liberalism and democracy into the liberal-democratic political system, embodied in the parliamentary system of checks and balances, that we know today. Parliament, as an expression of the liberal-democratic compromise, acts as a safety valve, incorporating dissenting views within the governing system so that people need not resort to revolution to maximise their welfare or mediate competing interests via the barrel of a gun.

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The Evolution of Liberal-Democracy, Part I — Absolutism, Feudalism and the Road to Revolution

BY BEN HABIB. The popular uprisings presently aflame across the Middle East give one pause to consider the hardiness and stability of Australia’s political system.
The relative stability of our political system belies the fact that its ideological roots stem from a grand compromise, a centuries-long project by European, American and Australian political elites to manage the politics of socio-economic inequality and avoid the extremes of revolutionary social unrest. This is the project of liberal democracy.

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Interview with Heather Bruer from the Australian Youth Climate Coalition

Our guest on the podcast today, Heather Bruer from the Australian Youth Climate Coaltion (AYCC), is a 21 year old Economics student at the University of Adelaide and is currently co-director of the AYCC in South Australia. In December 2010 Heather was part of the Australian Youth Delegation to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Council of Parties 16 (COP16) climate talks in Cancún, Mexico. In the podcast, Heather talks about her experiences at COP16 in Cancún, the reasons she became a climate activist and the moral imperative for young people to engage with the politics of climate change, as well as her thoughts on the current carbon pricing debate in Australia.

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The Carbon Pricing Debate — A Battle for Australia’s Soul

BY BEN HABIB. In the past fortnight, Australian political discourse has been dominated by the debate over the pricing of carbon. The Prime Minister’s announcement of a draft carbon pricing policy with the Greens and the independent members has sparked off a vicious volley of hyperbole from those who would object to carbon pricing. The electorate has vacillated somewhere between cautious and hostile on the policy announcement. The ALP has not helped its cause with four years in government characterised by inaction, hot air and spin. We sit now poised at the beginning of a debate over a great systemic reform that will shape our nation for years to come. In many ways, this debate is a battle for Australia’s soul.

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Making Climate Change Happen, Part IV — The Power of Being the Change You Want to See in the World

BY BEN HABIB. Mohandas “Mahatma” Ghandi once famously exhorted his countrymen to “be the change you want to see in the world”. That is precisely the purpose of taking personal responsibility for one’s own response to the climate change threat. When we practice what we preach, we give moral authority to our message, we send an economic signal to the market, and we send a political signal to our elected representatives that is more powerful than our vote. A critical mass of people making integrated, climate-conscious lifestyle and political choices, can demonstrate a constituency for change to governments, the business community, and the broader society.

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Making Climate Action Happen, Part III — Scrutinising Our Underlying Beliefs

BY BEN HABIB. Anyone who has tried to change any aspect of their behaviour will know that to create lasting change, knowledge is not enough. All the positive intent in the world is not enough. How do we go about altering environmentally unsustainable lifestyle patterns? Where do we start? It begins with identifying, scrutinising and altering the multi-layered beliefs systems that underlie our behaviours. Without addressing these underlying beliefs, any gains we make will be fleeting.

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Making Climate Action Happen—Part II, The Behavioural Change Process

BY BEN HABIB. As anyone knows who has tried to stick to a diet or given smoking, people cannot transform unhealthy behaviours without changing their underlying beliefs. If you crave that smoko break or can’t resist a Big Mac, you’re probably not well placed to reform these behaviours in the long term. Behavioural change takes place in five distinct stages—pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance—which people progress through in a cyclical rather than linear fashion. As you read on, have a think about which stage you find yourself at in relation to your personal response to climate change.

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Making Climate Action Happen—Part I, The Plague of Manufactured Consciousness

BY BEN HABIB. Climate change is an existential threat to human civilisation, a threat which we ourselves are contributing to as individuals and as members of various social collectives. The damage we are doing is a product of destructive behaviours that are underpinned by ideas and assumptions that are not our own, which originate as the propaganda of our economic systems.

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Wodonga & Albury Toward Climate Health — An Interview with Lizette Salmon

Lizette Salmon from Wodonga & Albury Towards Climate Health (WATCH). WATCH is an apolitical community group which advocates for sustainable climate solutions through engagement with political leaders and the local community. It promotes activities and events in the local community to meet, discuss, establish informed views and take appropriate action on climate change.

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Tension in Korea — The Artillery Exchange at Yeonpyeong

BY BEN HABIB. The exchange of shell fire overnight between North and South Korea is symptomatic of the tense new dynamic on the Korean peninsula, stemming from the North’s muscular new stance as a nuclear weapons power. This comes only months after the sinking of the South Korean corvette Cheonan, another serious provocation widely blamed on Pyongyang.

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2010 Victorian Election — Benambra Candidates Forum

BY BEN HABIB. This event represented an exiting first for Wodonga, with the Border Mail, ABC Goulburn Murray and La Trobe University Albury-Wodonga joining forces to host a candidates forum for the Victorian state seat of Benambra, in the lead-up to Saturday’s state election. The discussion covered a lot of ground, on the back of some excellent questions from the audience and the panel.

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Interview with Bruce Pennay — The Role of the Border Region in Our National Story

On this podcast, Our Voice: Politics Albury-Wodonga is privileged to talk local history with Professor Bruce Pennay OAM. Bruce Pennay is an Adjunct Professor in the School of Environmental Sciences at Charles Sturt University, Thurgoona Campus. In a fascinating discussion, Bruce takes us back in time to examine some key periods of local history with great significance to the story of Australia: the gold rush, federation, and the post-World War II migrant influx—in which we touch on the border region’s rich migrant history, antagonistic water politics dating back to the 19th century, and much more.

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Getting to Know the Neighbourhood — Understanding East Asia

BY BEN HABIB. During the past week, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has been in Vietnam representing Australia at the East Asia Summit in Hanoi, Vietnam. East Asia—comprising China, Japan, South Korea, North Korea, Russia, Taiwan and the United States as a vested external player—is a complex strategic environment characterised by ongoing rivalry and historic animosity. It is a region vital to Australia’s economic and security interests. Because of these broad economic and security interests, it is important that we in Australia come to a better understanding of the dynamics of international politics in the East Asian region.

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Questioning the Sustainability of ‘Perpetual’ Economic Growth

Part of living lightly involves acknowledging that some of our ideas that have served us well in the past are no longer appropriate for the times we are moving into. One of these sacred cows is the concept of perpetual economic growth. On a finite planet, bound by the laws of physics, chemistry and biology, perpetual economic growth is impossible without the severest of consequences human societies and the ecosystems that support them. We need to be honest about our current predicament, educate ourselves about possible alternatives, and work together to build the foundation for a post-growth economy.

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Transitions Towns and the Post-Carbon Future of Albury-Wodonga — An Interview with Ian Longfield

In this edition of the Our Voice: Politics Albury-Wodonga podcast we’re joined by Ian Longfield from Transition Towns Albury-Wodonga. Ian has campaigned on peak oil issues since 2007 after becoming aware of the problems of energy descent during a 2005 land planning seminar. It was through his professional involvement in property development and agency that he became increasingly concerned at our unsustainable pattern of urban development, incompatible with a future dominated by peak oil and climate change. Our interview discussion ranges from geopolitics to individual action and everywhere in between, so buckle up and enjoy this engrossing conversation.

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