Thursday, November 29, 2012

Regreening Australia

Australia21 will host a roundtable in February 2013 on the benefits and feasibility of a large national program to ‘regreen Australia’ through massive reforestation and revegetation.

The project will re-examine the issues raised in a 1989 CSIRO report - Regreening Australia: The environmental, economic and social benefits of reforestation  by Australia21 director Richard Eckersley - in the light of advances in knowledge about both the problems and the solutions. Key among these is the growing understanding of the impacts of climate change on Australian environments and the importance of land use and land cover in addressing climate change.

Initial feedback on the proposal from a range of scientific and policy experts has been positive. There was general agreement that, while there has been a substantial increase in funding for relevant environmental activities since 1989, these efforts still lack the necessary scale, integration and prioritisation to address the environmental challenges Australia faces. Participants in the roundtable will examine the following central question: ‘What are the benefits of large-scale reforestation and revegetation, and how can they best be achieved?’ 

Subsidiary questions include:
-   What is already being done, and is it enough?
-   What have we learned from past reforestation/revegetation programs?
-   What remains to be learned?
-   What are the best processes and mechanisms for assessing risks and achieving benefits?
-   Who are the key partners/stakeholders and what are their roles?
-   Are priorities at local, regional and national scales agreed and compatible?
-   What are the next steps?

A two-page summary of the 1989 report which provides background is available here.

Enough funding to kick start the project has been provided by Richard Eckersley, through a bequest from the estate of the late Jan Lee Martin, and the Natural Resources Conservation League of Victoria. Australia21 is seeking more funding to ensure the best possible outcome. If you would like to comment on this project or you would like to know more please contact us at Donations to support Regreening Australia can be made on line

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Report: The risks from global change

Australia21 today released its report of a high level conversation about the risks facing Australia from global change. Held in Canberra in early November, participants comprised a group of 14 experts from diverse disciplines and Jorgen Randers, author of "2052" and Paul Gilding, author of "The Great Disruption".

Download the report from here.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Vivienne Moxham-Hall: online licit drugs

Letter to the editor of The Sydney Morning Herald from Australia21 Youth Adviser Vivienne Moxham-Hall, published today:

Drug paradox
Nothing is more ironic than ''legal'' drugs being sold online in Australia that can cause potential neurological damage and our own country banning drugs such as heroin and cannabis that have proven medical advantages (''Dangerous new drugs sold on web 'silk road' '', November 19). Another failure of Australia's so-called ''war on drugs''.

Vivienne Moxham-Hall Balmain

See today’s SMH letters column here.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide

Australia21’s latest discussion paper, How should Australia regulate voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide? (co-authors Professors Ben White and Lindy Willmott from the Health Law Research Centre in the Faculty of Law at Queensland University of Technology) was released at midday on Thursday 15 November.

Initial media coverage included

-  Eleanor Hall interviewing Lindy Willmot and others on ABC Radio National’s The World Today – transcript at Why is euthanasia illegal in Australia?

-  Let’s talk about death – RN Drive presenter Claudette Werden talks to Ben White

-  Starting the debate on voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide – Ben White and Lindy Willmot in a joint piece published in The Conversation, Thursday 15 November.

The discussion paper can be downloaded from our website at

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Discussion paper: Voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide

Media Release 14 November 2012

How should Australia regulate voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide?

Voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide are illegal in all Australian states and territories so friends and family members continue to be prosecuted for assisting their loved ones who request their help to die.

Australia21 will release a discussion paper tomorrow as background to a high level roundtable discussion to be held in January on the topic "How should Australia regulate voluntary euthanasia (VE) and assisted suicide (AS)?”

The authors of the paper are Professor Ben White and Professor Lindy Willmott from the Health Law Research Centre in the Faculty of Law at QUT.

The Chair of Australia21, Mr. Paul Barratt AO said today

"Australia 21 is again promoting dialogue on an issue which stirs strong emotions and on which politicians find themselves in a quandary. On the one hand it would seem that many Australians are keen to see a change in the legal framework surrounding euthanasia and assisted suicide, while on the other hand, efforts to have the issue properly considered by parliamentary committee (often introduced by the minor political parties or cross benchers) have been thwarted by intense lobbying by special interest groups.”

The discussion paper presents dispassionately and without taking sides on the issue, the main arguments in favour of and against legalisation of VE and AS. It summarises international experience on this matter as well as previous efforts in Australia to have the issue debated in state and federal parliaments.

The Roundtable planned for January 2013 will bring together people from both sides of the debate about VE and AS to consider the discussion paper and its key question: “How should Australia regulate voluntary euthanasia (VE) and assisted suicide (AS)?"

NB The … report is embargoed until midday Thursday 15th November when it will be able to be accessed on the Australia21 website

Professor Ben White 07 3138 4066; 0468 682 119
Professor Lindy Willmott 07 3138 5205; 0419 706 214
Professor Bob Douglas AO Roundtable Convenor 0409 233138