by Patrick J. ByrneNews Weekly
2002 NCC National Conference - Building the Movement
, February 23, 2002
"Building the Movement in 2002" was the theme set at the 2002 National Conference of the National Civic Council, held at Melbourne University on February 2-3.
NCC National President, Peter Westmore
, told the Conference that over the past three years there has been a generational change among the officers of the Movement:
"We did not know if this could be done following the passing of the Movement’s founder and long-time President B.A. Santamaria, but it has been achieved in all states. We are now in a position where we must build the Movement to take on an array of major economic, political and cultural challenges, that ultimately threaten economic sovereignty of the nation and the stability of Australian families."
The conference attracted over 120 delegates and observers from across Australia.
Peter Westmore also briefed the conference on the international issues facing Australia, particularly following the terrorist attack on the US last September, the instability of a range of nations in our region of the world, and the potential economic isolation of Australia as the world shifts towards three major trading blocs.
Continuing this theme, Colin Teese
, former Deputy Secretary of the Department of Trade, told the conference that Australia could not hope to gain anything substantial from World Trade Organisation talks on agriculture, and that Australia now relied on importing what we once produced in manufacturing.
"The reality is stark," he said. "Either we find closer, comfortable accommodation with the US across the political and economic fronts, or we adjust to changing circumstances and are accepted into the councils of Asia as a credible partner."
As the latter was our most likely prospect, "the present imbalances in the pattern of our trade will have to be corrected. And that could only be at the expense of Europe and North America."Mark McGovern
, a regional development expert from the Queensland University of Technology, told the conference that he believed that the way forward for Australia would be the development of regions. This required the assistance of Federal and State governments, but successful regional development comes from detailed local knowledge and initiative.Pat Byrne
, NCC Vice-President told the conference that it was important now to sell the NCC’s policy platform an issue at a time. He said that during the last Federal election campaign, the NCC had backed the campaign to establish a new Development Bank - vital for the future of many businesses, for the development of new enterprises and for regional development. The issue gained widespread support and it was vital to continue this campaign in 2002.
Also he said that it was vital to win the debates on the detrimental effect of the foreign debt on Australia, the demise of the all important domestic market for agriculture, the need for major infrastructure works and for an industry development policy to rebuild manufacturing industry.Dr Nick Tonti-Filippini
highlighted the move to have by June joint common legislation between the Federal and State governments on the issue of human cloning and embryo experimentation.
He said that due to the attitude of many in the scientific community, a major campaign will be needed if a ban on destructive embryo experimentation is to be achieved.
NSW NCC President, Damien Tudehope
, presented a paper based on American research about the corporate media exploitation of the American youth market, worth about $US150 billion annually.
He said that 20 years ago there were 50 major media groups in the US, now there is five. These media conglomerates are carrying huge debts and are prepared to produce the most debasing teen-oriented media junk to exploit the youth market.
He said this is also affecting Australia, is leading to a terrifying coarsening of the youth culture that has to be exposed seriously challenged.
The conference also dealt with a number of major issues facing the family:
- a growing class of low paid men who do not have the financial ability to hold a family together, and the consequent rapid rise in female, single parent families;
- important new studies, by British researcher Catherine Hakim, showing that while most women want more family assistance to give them more freedom to spend more time as homemakers, government policy in most countries is still focused only on providing more childcare, on the false assumption that all women have paid work as their primary focus;
- the need to resist the ongoing pressure to liberalise drug laws; and
- the need to have a major government sponsored inquiry into the status of marriage, given that there has been no major review of the late Justice Lionel Murphy’s Family Law Act since its introduction over a quarter of a century ago.