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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 01 Hansard (Tuesday, 2 May 1995) . . Page.. 87 ..


within the political system. As a parent, I also feel a real sense of responsibility to work to ensure a good quality of life for all our children now and in the future. I was one of the founding members of the ACT Greens and ran as a Senate candidate in the 1992 Federal election. For such a young party, we have had remarkable success. There are now 11 Green parliamentarians around Australia. While we may be inexperienced in some areas, we do bring to politics a long-term vision and an optimistic and informed approach.

The increasing desire of the community to be consulted about the decisions that affect their lives reflects the growing disillusionment with the direction on which our society is heading. At a time when the pace of change has increased exponentially, we have chosen to take our hands off the steering wheel and leave the determination of our direction to market forces. In prosperous nations around the world, where apparently many good economic decisions have been made, why is it that we feel such a deep sense of sadness at what has been lost - dead lakes, deforested landscapes, polluted rivers and marine habitats, degraded soils, toxic contamination? Why is it that the gap between the rich and poor has widened, that alienation is more common than a sense of belonging? Something about those so-called good economic decisions was and is wrong. Clearly, measurable economic activity is not the only thing that matters. A good environment, a sense of community and fairness, and social cohesion are of equal importance.

Mr Speaker, it is up to the elected representatives to provide real open and participatory processes so that we can all decide what direction our society will take. One of the democratic processes we are lucky to have in Canberra is the Hare-Clark system, which allows a greater diversity of opinions and values to be represented in the Assembly. However, electoral systems are only one aspect of allowing community input. In the ACT there is great potential to have more effective participation at the grassroots level, but this will require a shift in political and bureaucratic attitudes.

Open and participatory government, care for people and the environment, and a peaceful society are the basic principles of Green philosophy. These basic principles are all linked. While social justice, or caring for people, is a claimed principle of all political parties, what the Greens bring to this concept is the interrelatedness of all issues. For example, policy decisions about matters that affect health are made by many people and institutions outside the health field as it is now defined. These include environmental managers, urban planners, transport planners, educational institutions, artists, media, financial organisations, agricultural workers, international and defence policy makers, industrial planners and so on. Intersectoral planning is obviously essential, not just for the social benefits but for reasons of economic efficiency as well.

The Green view of social justice also involves a recognition that there is an underlying responsibility to intergenerational equity and global equity. There are obvious connections between social justice and peace - another Green principle. Peace is not only about preventing war at a regional or global level. It is about tackling issues such as domestic violence and child abuse, and promoting skills to deal with conflict in our lives.


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