Observations on My Role in Commenting on the New Albury Anti-Carbon Tax Group

BY BEN HABIB. Last Saturday I provided comment in an article in the Border Mail—‘Doug takes up fight on carbon tax’—about a new group called Border Says NO to Carbon Tax being established by local trucking operator Doug McMillan. No-one wants to see hard working local businessmen like Doug McMillan lose their livelihoods. If people with climate-related expertise can work cooperatively with local businesses and other impacted members of the community, we can constructively adapt to the many challenges posed by climate change instead of further fracturing the community for the sake of argument. However for the cooperative approach to work, everyone has to begin from a position of informed empowerment.

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ALP Leadership Contest, Factional Divisions and the Spectre of International Crises

BY BEN HABIB. The current Gillard-Rudd confrontation highlights the problems that Australia’s 20th century political parties face in dealing with 21st century policy problems. The Gillard-Rudd rivalry is a story of ambition, bitterness and betrayal. Yet there is a broader dimension to the ALP leadership crisis that is more complicated.

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What is Australia Day really about?

BY BEN HABIB. What is Australia Day all about? Like many people, I am increasingly disturbed that our national holiday is becoming more of a drunken orgy for flag-waving rednecks than an opportunity for Australians to appreciate our national story in all its complexity. In raising a number of questions about Australia Day, I challenge you to think more deeply about the Australian national story and what it means to be an Australian.

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Interview with Dr Penny Egan-Vine — Murray Valley Sanctuary Refugee Group

In this edition of the Politics Albury-Wodonga podcast we’re joined by Dr Penny Egan-Vine, chairperson of the Murray Valley Sanctuary Refugee Group, in conversation with Renae Schilg from La Trobe University Albury-Wodonga. Penny and Renae discuss the activities of the MVSRG, along with the challenges faced by refugee families settling in regional areas and the assistance local residents can provide in helping new migrants settle into the local community.

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Initial Analysis of the Gillard government’s ‘Clean Energy Future’ Proposal

BY BEN HABIB. On Sunday 10th July, 2011, the Gillard government announced the details of its long-awaited carbon tax—the Clean Energy Future scheme. The hype surrounding the announcement was justified; for a number of reasons, this was one of the most important public policy announcements since Federation. I have a cautiously favourable view of the scheme, based on clear scientific evidence about the seriousness of the climate change threat and expert analysis indicating that a market-based carbon price is the cheapest and easiest way to achieve comprehensive nation-wide greenhouse gas emission reduction.

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The Media as a Venue for Political Contest

BY BEN HABIB. The media is usually the main public forum for political discourse. At its best, the media provides a venue for all sides of a debate to make their case, yet this does not always occur. At its worst, the media is openly biased toward one side of a debate, or narrows the focus of a debate to the exclusion of other mitigating factors, or even disseminates outright untruths. In short, the media is a venue for the contest of power and ideas. In short, the media is a venue for the contest of power and ideas.

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Event Review: When QandA Came to Albury-Wodonga

BY BEN HABIB, with MARTIN DICKENS, LISA TUCK, LEA MACLAUGHLIN, KRYSTLE BROWN, JESSICA LOVE & ALICIA PETERS. Like everyone else in attendance, I was caught up in the excitement of being part of the spectacle of a live television broadcast. Over 700 people attended the show, the largest ever audience for Q&A. While prepping the audience before the show, Tony Jones described Q&A as an “open democracy experiment” that was “rare in the world”. Or was it?

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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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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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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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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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