Democrat puts peace on the political agenda

While John Lennon called on the world to give peace a chance, NSW MLC Arthur Chesterfield-Evans (pictured) is urging Australians to give peace a government ministry.

For Dr Chesterfield-Evans, the leader of the Australian Democrats in NSW, setting up a government ministry or department of peace is not that far-fetched and worth lobbying for.

The need to establish a Ministry of Peace at all levels of government will be the focus of Dr Chesterfield-Evans address at a forum in Lismore next Wednesday, December 6, hosted by Southern Cross Universitys Centre for Peace and Social Justice.

Peace is not just anti-war its a way of thinking and a way of educating people, Dr Chesterfield-Evans said. We talk about wars, but not long periods of peace. In history we talk about a great war and then another great war, but not the peace in between.

The 56-year-old MP said his background as a GP and surgeon, during which time he watched people die from preventative health problems such as smoking related diseases, led him to lobby for preventative social policy, and thus the Ministry for Peace.

When I entered parliament in 1998, I found that social policies all covered the acute end. So in areas such as crime, they dont ask what makes a person a criminal, he said. Whichever way you look at it, whether its health, road accidents, crime or childcare, theres a lack of preventative social policy.

Dr Chesterfield-Evans says the Iraq war is a glaring example.

It was a stupid, belligerent policy to go to war which will ferment hatred in the Middle East for at least 50 years, he said. It will take about three or four generations there to get over the hatred and with the amount of money spent on that war, what could we have done if we had that amount, or half or even a quarter? Lets spend it on making things happier what a crushing success that would be. Lets be systematic and put the peace perspective on a national and international level.

Dr Chesterfield-Evans said a Ministry of Peace would advocate the implementation of peace-active policies, both here and overseas, so conflict was a last resort.

If you said 30 years ago we need a Department of Environment people would have thought that was silly. Now we couldnt imagine not having one, he said. We want a situation where everyone will think what is the peaceful solution?

The public forum will be held next Wednesday at Caddies Coffee Shop in Carrington Street at 7pm. Everyone is welcome.

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