Mar(k): Travel, Hiking, and "Doing Good"

musings on our life of travel and volunteering

Archive for the ‘Renewable Energy’ Category

WA Senate (Re) Election – and why I am glad we live in a democracy

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This coming Saturday, Western Australians will once again be heading to the polls to elect six senators to represent us in the Upper House of Parliament  (the Senate).  We have to go to the polls “again”, because in the previous election (held in September 2013), there were 1370 ballot papers that went “missing”.   This was a case of “every vote counts”, as the preferential voting system that Australia has resulted in two candidates who were declared winners being later found to have been defeated by two OTHER candidates, after a ballot re-count based on preferences.

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So!  Here we are.  A few days to go, and it still could be anybody’s game.  This is the first election that I have been actively (that is to say, politically) involved in for over twenty years.  And the reason is this:  Australians have now elected a new Government (that is, Abbott’s Liberal government, who have a majority in the House of Representatives).  So if the Libs were to gain control of the Senate, it means that they could push through their legislation without serious challenge.   And I don’t like that.  In fact, I wouldn’t like that, regardless of WHAT party was in power.   I think the checks and balances that an Upper and Lower House provide is crucial to the functioning of a strong democracy.   So I am campaigning.  Actively.  For things I believe in, and that I normally don’t get too vocal about.   For policies and views that affect the disadvantaged.   Like asylum seekers.  Like the working poor.   Like Indigenous Australians.   Like animals, who don’t have a voice, but about whose welfare I care deeply.   And for the democratic process.

I am proud to be a citizen in a country where you CAN hold beliefs that are different than the government in power, and not go to jail for it.   And I think it is important to be an activist for things that you believe in.  So I think it is important that we elect, in this particular election, Scott Ludlam into the Senate.   He is a Greens candidate.    And I know that a lot of right wing people in WA don’t have a lot of time for the Greens.   But the reality is that it is good for democracy, and good for the political process, to have contrasting views in both the Upper and Lower Houses.  And Labor isn’t going to provide that.  They are simply too closely aligned with too many of the policies of the Abbott Government.

But hey, if you aren’t decided yet on how you are going to vote, why not check out this Get-Up Guide to the WA Senate By-Election, to see what policies are important to you, and where the various political parties stand on those issues.   Regardless of who you vote for, it is not going to change who is in government.  But a Senate that has a strong minor party voice WILL improve the outcomes on important issues.   And that can only be a good thing.   And if you want to do something to help make our fantastic country even better, consider becoming a Get Up Member.  This will give you a voice, outside of any one political party, to stand for the things you believe in.  You can have your say for the things that Get Up works on in 2014 by taking their survey here.

But now back to the election.  Regardless of how you vote, get out there and vote! (aside from the fact that you are required to by law!  LOL).  It is important for our democratic process, and I don’t know about you, but I always do get a warm and fuzzy feeling when I walk out of the ballot station, knowing I have done my bit for the democratic process.

Sharing Ideas @ TEDxPerth

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During breaks, the conversations continued out in the courtyard where Q&A sessions were held

During breaks, the conversations continued out in the courtyard where Q&A sessions were held

Hopefully some of our readers already know all about the wonderful TED initiative.   These Ideas Worth Spreading have been going on since 1984, and over 1500 videos are available here free to charge to peruse.  They cover a wide range of topics, emanating from the original TED nucleus of Technology, Entertainment and Design.  This past weekend Mar(k) had the opportunity to attend the TEDxPerth talks, which were truly inspiring!

TEDx encouraged us to meet new people, and the people I met at the coffee breaks and over lunch, and even sitting next to me in sessions were interesting and amazingly diverse.   Here is a sample:

  • Brodie, who runs Spacecubed, an innovative place where people can collaborate on ideas.
  • Two women (Renae and her boss – the Marketing Manager) for the Art Gallery of WA
  • Martin, a lawyer who immigrated from Hong Kong as a child, and is also the Secretary of the Chung Wah Association in Perth.  His long association with this great organisation goes back to his childhood, when he remembered teaching some of the older Chinese folks English.
  • A student who has her masters in Anthropology but is now going back to get her masters in Law.
  • A lady who was passionate about sustainable living, growing broad beans and raising chooks in suburban Perth.

The speakers were all first rate, and inspiring.

From musical performances to talks about complementary therapy for cancer patients, sustainable communities, and dealing with refugees in a humane way – it was a great day out.

No Pain, No Gain…. nothing new there….

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OMG.  We find it staggering that there is still a debate raging within Australia as to the merits (or not) of putting a price on carbon.  The NIMBY’s are out in force (Not in My Low Polluting Green Friendly Carbon Neutral Backyard, thank you very much!!!).  How staggering is it that people *say* they are supportive of reducing their carbon footprint, but can’t make that (hardly monumental) leap to actually DO something!  

It’s true people – a carbon tax WILL hurt… and it SHOULD hurt!   We were the ones that got ourselves into this mess to start with…. so we should be the ones paying the price!   Now, of course this means business should pay more than we every day folks.  Fair enough.  But we all have to shoulder the burden. 

Trying to make a difference without any inconvenience is just a pipe dream.  If we want genuine change, we have to MAKE IT HAPPEN.  Sitting back and pointing the finger at everyone else is just lame.  The time is now!  The future of our planet deserves every last one of us to make a commitment.  And it is time for governments to start taking a longer term view on effective policy, rather than just blowing with the political (warming) winds of the day. 

Come on, Julia Gillard!  DO SOMETHING!   Yes, it’ll hurt us all a little bit now – but it certainly beats an alternative where there is no future to contemplate!

Written by Mar(k)

April 29, 2011 at 7:12 pm

Solar Panel People have HOT technology!

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We recently attended an information evening about installing solar panels on our home.  This is something we are interested in doing, and by the looks of the attendance that night, we’re not the only ones!

Anyhow, the idea proposed was a good one – basically bulk buying by communities, to lower the cost of the units, when many people buy at once.  It also makes sense for the installers to then be able to install a number of solar panels in a similar neighbourhood (and thereby reduce their carbon footprint as well!)   So everyone wins.

We were amazed the other day when we got a call from the solar folks…  the lady giving the quote over the phone said she was “looking at our house” and did we live next door to a house with a blue tiles roof?   Mark was amazed – and he went outside, and confirmed that indeed, the house next door had a blue tiled roof!   She proceeded to discuss our requirements over the phone, and indicated that we perhaps didn’t have enough north facing roof space (optimal placement for solar panels), but perhaps we could do it with some west-facing panels. 

All of this, of course – occurred with her using Google Earth!  Gone is the time delay of getting a humanoid out to your property to have a look – when it can all be done online!   Yet another innovation of technology – and the use of the computer to reduce time spent – in a way that we simply could not have imagined a few years ago!

If anyone is interested in getting more information about solar panels, about the Solar Credit Scheme that operates in Australia, or the Renewable Energy Buy Back Scheme, you can click here!

Written by Mar(k)

February 11, 2011 at 5:31 pm