A transformative vision for Australia

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(Image via @GreenpeaceCA.)

Could Canada's bold new Leap Manifesto, founded on the principles of caring for the planet and one another, change Australia? Alfred van Amelsvoort outlines his transformative vision based on the Canadian model.

“It’s a sad and stupid thing to have to proclaim yourself a revolutionary just to be a decent man.” ~ David Harris

TODAY, MORE fear is being created than ever before. Fear is the key to increased control and loss of freedom. Without creating more fear and new enemies, there can be no justification for increasing defence purchases, the stealing of freedoms, creating stricter laws and increasing surveillance.

Manufactured fear is the key to almost everything happening around us at this time. George Orwell wrote,

‘If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever.’

He barely hinted at anything as bleak as the current situation.

We have free choice. Plainly seeing what’s right in front of our noses, no matter how well sold or disguised, remains our responsibility. That mature, well-educated, Australian people would relinquish this right and capability is disturbing.

Consider illegal invasions and occupations of foreign lands, pointless wars costing millions of innocent lives, poisoned food, air and water, demolished resources, manipulated economies run by elitist bankers who nonchalantly lend money with exorbitant conditions for “interest”, corporate profiteering at any cost, medical systems built on sickness rather than health, mainstream media mind mush and so on.

Australia's Indigenous people are as downtrodden today as they have always been, since the arrival of the first fleet. Security guards expel Aboriginal people from shopping malls in Alice Springs. If you drive the short distance from the suburban barbeques of Cromwell Terrace to Whitegate camp, you’ll see tin shacks have no reliable power and water. This is apartheid, or what Henry Reynolds calls, 'the whispering in our hearts'. How is that possible?

Do people really believe it will all iron itself out because the power-mad maniacs in charge assure us that it will? They tell us what we want to hear. The bottom line is compliance and acceptance in return for security and protection from the current bogeyman.

An audacious and radical plan to overhaul the Canadian economy, ‘The Leap Manifesto’, authored by some of the world's most respected thinkers, including Naomi Klein and David Suzuki, has gained support from 2015 election frontrunner, the New Democratic Party. Could such a plan – proclaimed by the Guardian UK's  Martin Lukacs as 'a compelling and positive vision for the climate and economy' – also change Australia? I’m sure it could, and I set out my transformative vision for Australia based, in no small part, on the Canadian document.

A transformative vision for Australia

We call on those seeking political office in Australia to seize this opportunity and embrace the need for a transformation of our society. Our manifesto as follows:

Rights for Indigenous peoples

Let us acknowledge the shocking treatment of Australia towards its Indigenous people. This begins by respecting the original caretakers of this land. We can reset our relationship, by implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This is our duty to those harmed in the past, to those suffering needlessly in the present, and all who have a right to a bright and safe future.

Renewable energy infrastructure

We live in a country that is ideally placed to embrace renewable energy. There is no excuse for new infrastructure projects that lock the nation into increased extraction of coal, iron ore, and so on, decades into the future.

We call for an end to all trade deals that interfere with our attempts to rebuild our manufacturing industries and local economies.

The law of infrastructure projects must be: if you don't want it in your backyard, then it doesn’t belong in anyone’s backyard. That applies equally to fracking projects underway and planned for New South Wales, Queensland, and other states and increased coal and iron ore shipping off our precious coastal reef waters.

The drop in coal and iron ore prices has temporarily relieved the pressure to dig these up as rapidly as technologies allow. This pause in expansion should not be viewed as a crisis, but a gift.

Energy efficient homes

We want a program to build energy efficient homes, and retro-fit existing housing.

Accessible non-polluting public transit

Let us develop high-speed rail powered by renewables, and affordable public transport to unite everyone in our country — in place of more cars and trucks on already congested, polluted and costly roads.

Sustainable agriculture

Moving to a more localised and ecologically-based agricultural system would reduce reliance on fossil fuels, capture carbon in the soil, and absorb shocks in the global supply  — as well as produce healthier, affordable food for everyone.


Inclusive migration policy

We must welcome people seeking safety from persecution and end the current inhumane asylum seeker policy that keeps vulnerable desperate people in remote foreign lands.

Expansion of carbon neutral occupations

Let us expand the sectors of our economy that are carbon neutral: care giving, teaching, social work, the arts and public-interest media.

Accessible childcare

Let us introduce a national childcare program.

Independent foreign policy

Australia should adopt independence in foreign policy, unafraid to express its views to the world, and not follow other nations into wars of no direct interest to Australia or its security. Bring to an end the current strategic dependence on the United States and establish instead a truly independent Australia.

Financial viability

The money we need to pay for this transformation is available — we just need the right policies to access it. These include: financial transaction taxes, increased resource royalties and taxes, higher income taxes on corporations and the wealthy, a progressive carbon tax and cuts to military spending. All are based on the “polluter pays” principle and hold promise. 

Such a manifesto involves courage, and acting in a responsible manner. We have to imagine our world with vision — not in anger or out of fear, but with awareness and love for our fellow man. That’s the only choice.

I do not claim any expertise in directing Australia’s transformation. I am, however, an enthusiastic amateur aware of the long over-due need for change.

Also see Alfred van Amelsvoort's article 'Canada's Leap Manifesto: Will this change everything?' in IA.  Find out more about Alfred's views here.

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