News from the Secretary May 2008

I will soon be in Zurich. I have friends there with whom I have been discussing the cost of petrol furore here and in the UK. There is no such debate in Zurich for they have an efficient public transport system which reduces use of the private car to a minimum. Australian cities are four decades behind in such developments with the possible exception of Perth. In terms of the future health and wellbeing of humanity, the rise in the price of oil is good news and it should not be beyond the capabilities of government to offer relief to those who cannot pay. On your behalf we will be pursuing the urgent need for more public transport as an important health measure over the coming months. There will be a new poster and submissions will be made to governments.

Letter on Climate Change to all Federal Parliamentarians

In March we wrote the first of our 2008 letters to all parliamentarians.
This letter went to constituency offices, it was personally addressed and sought information on measures being taken to green their offices. The analogy was drawn to the DEA/ACF green clinics and the need to set a personal example and leadership.
Excerpts from the letter are as follows:-

"Australians are looking for leadership and for advice as to what they can do to lower their carbon emissions. While DEA recognizes that many politicians are already doing many of the things we list below, we recommend that you demonstrate leadership by taking personal action on the following. For those who are not, we are happy to supply you with literature or briefings on any of these issues."

"Take a personal position on renewable energy. Make sure your household and your offices are signed up to a clean energy tariff with your electricity supplier."

"Take personal action within your households and constituencies to reduce emissions.
Within your constituency office adopt a Green Clinic policy (www.dea.org.au*) and detail what you are doing in your letter to constituents. Example is very important as doctors recognized when they led the community in not smoking. Examples of appropriate actions are shown on Things to Do on the DEA website www.dea.org.au"
etc, etc

In concluding the letter we say "Write to us and tell us what you personally are doing to address the problem of climate change. Let us know how you are showing leadership within your electorate and please send to us any messages you are using in your newsletters to constituents."

The responses to this letter are very informative, both from the responses but more significantly from the non-responses.

Of approximately 250 letters sent out, there are only 17 responses after two months. A range of issues in past letters have elicited an average of 50 responses.

Three responses were from Green, Democrat or Independent Members or Senators. Each detailed personal and constituency measures that they were taking, even to the extent of reducing the duration of showers!

There were 8 responses from Labor, four of which were from Ministers. Of the eight, three listed some personal measures. The other 5 reiterated government policy.

There were 9 responses from Liberals, one of which was from a Shadow Minister. Of the nine, none listed personal or constituency office measures.

What conclusions can be drawn?

As a student of human nature I think it would be fair to judge that most of the non-responders have not taken personal or constituency measures to address climate change, which is 94% of all members of parliament. If they had taken any measures I feel sure they would have proudly said so. If this is so, we still have much work to do. It is hard to believe that the current petrol debate would produce such a furore if members were committed to reducing green house emissions.

What can you do?

Some members of DEA like to be involved and so here is what you can do. Arrange to visit your local member and indicate that you are coming to discuss climate change measures in his/her constituency. Let me know (mountlofty@ozemail.com.au ) if you are doing this and I will send you a copy of the letter sent to him/her. Take this with you. Read the Green Clinic literature which is applicable to any office, and the personal actions listed on our web site by Bill Castleden. Remember that the reason you are a "visiting" doctor to your member is that this is a health issue.

The Tasmanian pulp mill

Many DEA members who bank with ANZ or have shares, wrote to this bank months ago expressing concern about the reported intent of the bank to fund the pulp mill. They have not received a reply but no doubt they will do so soon as ANZ has declined to finance the mill. Apparently the proponent will look for other funding. There must also be some hope that the change in Premier in Tasmania will herald a change in attitude to the issue of Tasmanian forests and their vital role in mitigating green house emissions. Thank you to all who acted on this.

DEA web site www.dea.org.au

 Our site has a report on the meeting held in Perth on the health aspects of GM foods, organised by the WA committee. I will not re-iterate this report here, please read it on our site. However I will make the point for the need to have effective state committees to promote such important events. Soon we expect to form a Victorian Committee. Some of you may remind me that I have been announcing this for about a year now, but success is near!

The Appeal and Anonymous Payments to DEA

The appeal has now gone out to all members and we would expect to report some outcomes in the next newsletter. To those of you who have not yet responded please let me remind you that the annual membership is a modest $42 which is insufficient to cover our administrative needs. Our policy is to keep the membership fee low so as not to deter members who cannot afford to join. The appeal allows those who can afford to provide their additional help. DEA has reached a limit in the amount of work it can do without more paid administrative and secretarial assistance. We are overburdened. I hope you will respond to our needs.

Members are reminded that they need to add clear identification when making a payment by EFT, as well as emailing the treasurer to alert him of their payment.
In the past month we have had 2 EFT payments made with no identification.
If you recognise any of the payments below as yours please notify the treasurer on treasurer@dea.org.au .

1. 21.4.08 - $42 - ‘DEA Membs’: If you paid your membership on this date and have not received a receipt please check you payment.
2. 24.4.08 - $42 - ‘Bank Of Qld’ – ‘Veerman Jl’– Is this you?

Australia 21 web site  www.australia21.org.au
I recommend this site to you. If you go to the most recent newsletter, May 2008, there is excellent material relevant to health on Energy Options and Greenhouse Emissions and on a National Ecosystems Strategy

Australian Policy Online

This is a site worth knowing about it, we picked it up because they listed Climate Change Health Check 2020
http://www.apo.org.au/linkboard/list.chtml?topic=The%20environment

David Shearman
Hon Secretary