Step 3: Pressure the Government

Pro-ukrainian protesters protest against the war in Ukraine

As a country, we cannot continue to fuel the underlying drivers of war: inequality, concentration of power, corruption and radicalism. Though, that is exactly what we are allowing to happen when we let our government’s deliberately ignore the reality of their decisions.

Our government. The one we elect. The one who represents us. Who is meant to have our interests at heart.

It seems ludicrous that the Australian government can criticise the Russian government’s use of power when Australia has been supporting its industries, businesses and banks for decades. As mentioned in ‘Defund the War Machine’, Australia’s own sovereign controlled Future Fund has had over $200M invested in Russian securities.

Even before the war, companies like Rio Tinto and Origin energy setting up joint ventures with Russian oligarchs was clearly morally questionable [Source]. This is despite the fact that the owners of the companies behind these joint-ventures were already under US sanctions for their support for the annexation of Crimea in 2014.

At the time of writing, neither of these individuals are sanctioned by the Australian Government.

Food for thought: Is ‘able to annex territory’ really a qualification you want in a business partner?

We’ve known this has been a problem for a while.

Australian companies, and our government, have been helping Russia, a country with a similar sized economy to Australia but with more than 5 times the population, concentrate economic and military power in fewer, and more aggressive, hands.

Though, when natural gas companies like Santos and Woodside, who have enough political influence to be the sponsors of the Australian government at the UN COP26 Climate Talks [Source], are expected to profit from the European energy crisis created by the war in Ukraine [SOURCE] there is no wonder why this conflict of interest is leading to an interest in conflict.

Santos on display at COP26 despite being a massive contributor to global emissions

The shorter the War in Ukraine, the better it is for all involved. Part of that is stopping the escalation of conflict that would be certain were Russia to conquer Ukraine.

Australia contributing support is important not only militarily, but symbolically, encouraging other countries to do the same

The Solution

If war and supporting corrupt leaders is normal and profitable, then part of the solution has to be making it abnormal and unprofitable. And our voice can have a massive impact in helping the government to do that.

Our government can do this by:

  • Committing personnel, supplies and logistical support to Ukraine and its allies, with particularly emphasis on stopping the occupation of Kyiv, shortening the length of the war by expelling Russian military out of Ukrainian territory, and reducing the loss of human (particularly civilian) life through increased medical and evacuation capability. This peace keeping force should work closely with diplomatic and media outlets to reduce the occurrence and increase the visibility of atrocities committed by all parties involved in the conflict.
  • Enforcing widespread sanctions across the Russian Duma and Oligarchy, specifically including a review of Australia’s financial and resourcing sectors to identify and stop the flow of profits and materials to Putin, the Duma, and other state-affiliated entities. This review should be done immediately, focussing on organisation with known business dealings and investments with Russian Persons of Interest. The government should mandate organisations committing to supporting investigations and subsequent-mandates, including:
  • Forcing organisations to update their constitutions and risk management frameworks to eliminate business dealings with regimes and individuals actively involved in military occupations.
  • Banning organisations whose profits flow to organisations with military occupations from making political donations, receiving government grants and tax incentives, or applying for any federal, state, or local operating licenses.
  • Creating a public register of organisations and individuals who have business dealings with Russian Persons and Entities of Interests, to encourage further public and independent scrutiny of these relationships.
  • Support redirection of the proceeds from exiting business ventures in Russia to the resistance effort, such as waiving capital gains tax where proceeds are directed to pre-approved humanitarian efforts in the affected region.
  • Stream-lining the acceptance of Ukrainian and other affected refugees (including those from Russia) either temporarily or permanently resettling to Australia, including the release of all Asylum Seekers who are currently being held in mandatory detention. Priority processing should be given to those with families already in Australia, with a focus on getting as many people out of Ukraine and into a safe place in the Australian community as quickly as possible.
  • Advocating political pressure on NATO to guarantee military, humanitarian and diplomatic support to Ukraine, including working with the US, UK and other allies to create specific requests and support to reduce the loss of life.

There are many symbolic, financial, and diplomatic tools available to the Australian government, and the above few are just a small selection of ways they can influence.

Ultimately, it is about them taking action in as many ways possible to help those who need it most, as we would hope other countries would, were we the ones being invaded.

ACTION: Write to YOUR MP

If you’ve never done this before, it can sound intimidating, but it’s actually very easy. Put your postcode into this website, and it will give you the contact details of the senators in your area. You can also find out how to address them here

ACTION: create social media content and tag politicians

Create social content, and tag them in it. Almost all have Facebook, most have Twitter, and many of the more progressive types are also on Instagram. Politicians are constantly trying to work out which issues they should be outspoken on. The louder you are, the louder they can be.

ACTION: SPEAK TO POLITICIANS IN PERSON

Whilst you may not believe it, politicians spend significant time talking to the people from their community.

You can email or call their office to have a meeting with them to discuss the situation in Ukraine and your specific council’s, state’s, or national representative’s response to it (I’ve spoken to Tanya Plibersek, Anthony Albenese’s strategic advisors, and many others simply by asking).

If you mention the community groups or organisations that you are a part of in your request, it may help to get time with them.

You can also attend events where they may be presenting, and talk to them as part of the ‘Question and Answer’ session at the end. You can typically find events they will be speaking at either by googling the MP’s name, or by checking out their Facebook page.

Next Steps

1. Support Ukrainians

2. Defund the War Machine

3. Pressure Government to ACT

4. REad and spread the truth

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