On February 23, Australian treasurer Peter Costello belted out this warning to Muslim migrants: "Before becoming an Australian you will be asked to subscribe to certain values. If you have strong objections to those values, don't come to Australia."
But what are those values?
Costello said they included economic opportunity, security, democracy, personal freedom, respect for the physical environment, and strong physical and social infrastructure. Those who did not pass the values test should "stay away".
By "economic opportunity", does Costello mean the opportunity of corporate barons, like the late Kerry Packer, to rip off Australian workers, dodge tax and dictate government policy? Would Packer or any of Australia's corporate barons pass the values test?
By personal freedom, does Costello exclude the cascade of new laws removing our civil rights?
By respect for the physical environment does he exclude the wholesale destruction of remaining native forests and Australia's greenhouse rogue status?
Does Costello's support for physical infrastructure exclude public health, education and welfare, which his government has systematically slashed?
This display of arrogance and hypocrisy from our politicians is unbelievable as it comes out of the mouths of people who defend a global system where the richest fifth consume 45% of all meat and fish, 58% of all energy used and 84% of all paper, has 74% of all telephone lines and owns 87% of all vehicles.
The three richest people in a world that is run according to Costello's "values" have assets that exceed the combined gross domestic product of the 48 least developed countries.
Indeed Costello and Co. get paid big bucks to advocate policy that will widen this gross inequality on a global and national scale!
It is timely to recall that, on his first visit to England in 1930, Mahatma Gandhi was asked: "What do you think of Western civilisation?"
He is said to have replied: "That would be a good idea".
Gandhi's comments cut through imperialist arrogance — as we strive to do in each week in Green Left Weekly.
It is no surprise that Costello's mates, the people with the big bucks, don't finance publications like Green Left Weekly. Ordinary folk like you and me do.
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From Green Left Weekly, March 1, 2006.
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