Letters to the Editor


Preferences I

While voting at the pre-polling booth in Katoomba, I was handed a flyer entitled "How to vote for Your Rights at Work" in the Macquarie electorate. As a strong supporter of the Your Rights at Work campaign, who has letterboxed for it and displayed a YRAW sign on our fence, I was disappointed to see that YRAW was not recommending a vote for the party in Macquarie with the strongest, most unambiguous policy to abolish Howard's attacks on workers' rights.

Instead of stating clearly that the Greens' position is superior to the ALP's — thus deserving a call for "Vote 1 Greens, 2 ALP" — YRAW calls for a first-preference vote for Labor candidate Bob Debus. This is despite Kevin Rudd's industrial laws being rightly labelled "Work Choices Lite" because the ALP remains committed to forms of individual contracts; is against "pattern bargaining", outlawing all workers in a single industry from joining together to fight for the better wages and conditions; refuses to restore the right to strike outside of government-approved periods of negotiation (and even then Labor will not allow legal industrial action unless a lengthy secret ballot is conducted); and Rudd won't immediately abolish Howard's Australian Building and Construction Commission, with its police-state powers to crush building workers' rights to organise.

Rudd has been throwing militant unionists out of the ALP at the behest of big business and the media magnates.

In order to really vote for your rights at work, opponents of Work Choices in Macquarie should have been urged to vote 1 Greens, then 2 ALP, and in the Senate, voted 1 above the line for the Socialist Alliance (which has better industrial polices than the Greens) or the Greens. In both cases, preferences flowed to the ALP before the Coalition.

Terry Townsend

Blackheath, NSW

Preferences II

The Australian Greens have made stupid a mistake by giving their preferences to the Labor Party candidate in Wentworth before Liberal candidate Malcolm Turnbull. Whether the Coalition is returned to government or not, the parliament desperately needs members with Turnbull's approach to the environment. The fact that he has been rolled in cabinet over the Tamar Valley pulp mill and other matters should not be ignored.

The Labor Party's approach to the environment is a disaster waiting to be elected, particularly in view of the latest scientific warnings on global warming.

Col Friel

Alawa, NT

Preferences III

I read your interview with Dr Karl Kruszelnicki in GLW #732 with interest. In the campaign to stop mining from wrecking rivers in NSW, I have met him and also Patrice Newell, who recruited him into the Climate Change Coalition. I recently wrote to both of them to query politely the CCC's allocation of preferences in the Senate.

The party that should be most compatible with them is the Greens, which had a rating of 94% on environmental issues, including climate change of course, from the Australian Conservation Foundation for the November 24 election. Yet, in NSW the CCC put preferences as follows: 1 CCC, 2 Democrats, 3 What Women Want, 4 The Fishing Party, 5 Carers, 6 Independent S. Nero, with Greens coming in at 13-18.

In Queensland, the CCC at least put the top Greens Senate candidate at #4 its list of preferences, but the second and third Greens candidates came in at 23 and 28, while Pauline Hanson was #5 and Family First #7. I don't imagine this will make a jot of difference to the final results, but it does indicate some odd thinking.

I don't really buy Kruszelnicki's comment that politics and preferences have to be dirty. The Greens put the CCC as their second Senate preference in NSW, for example. But then the Greens did do the deal to preference the ALP in the House of Representatives, which I also disapprove of. Yet there was some logic in doing this deal — to get Senator Kerry Nettle re-elected. Understandable, if not admirable, and perhaps may do more good for the planet in the longer run.

In the case of the CCC's preferences, I cannot see any logic whatsoever, except perhaps it has done a deal with the Democrats which wouldn't be too bad. But what about the rest of the CCC's preferences? Have they done a deal with Hanson, for example, or Family First?

I am a Greens member because of their support for the rivers issue, especially Lee Rhiannon. But I am certainly not "rusted on".

Caroline Graham

Douglas Park, NSW

Global warming

The Howard government would like us to think that we are doing something important to head off the looming global warming crisis by replacing incandescent light bulbs with more efficient flourescent bulbs. While such moves are necessary, they are insufficient on their own.

As energy costs are lowered through efficiency measures, people simply consume more or use the savings to buy more luxury goods. For example, the light bulbs and hybrid engine cars may be more efficient, but we end up with many more fittings and lights left running for longer periods, cars covering a lot more mileage, and even increased overseas travel.

In other words, people adjust their consumption patterns to spend about the same in total on goods and services, releasing the same amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as before.

Seing the choices available to us as simply a consumption question, runs the risk of extending conspicuous consumption into new markets for green products for some, while alienating and disadvantaging the poor who have few options available.

We need to tackle the problem from a production and distribution point of view as well. With more democratic control over production and distribution in the economy, we can ensure that sustainable energy and energy-efficient appliances are available to all, while the over-consumption by some in our community is discouraged

David Bastin

Nicholls, ACT


I appreciate the article concerning my 83rd birthday that appeared in GLW #732. The statement that I am supposed to have made, "old soldiers never die", should have been "old soldiers never die, they just fade away". The important part of the statement concerning my political activities between 1980 and 1994 was omitted by the writer.

During this period, together with the late Roy Alchin (who was a life member of the Miscellaneous Workers Union, I prepared and published a peace bulletin that was distributed to trade unions and libraries over Australia. It was also letterboxed in country towns in NSW. I consider the 14 years preparing and distributing the Peace Bulletin an important part of my political activities.

Bernie Rosen

Strathfield, NSW

Taxi drivers

May I ask the powers that be why taxi drivers are not allowed to charge Rate 2 on Sundays and public holidays? This would give them some small incentive to work those days. Train, bus and ferry crews get a little of something extra as do emergency services.

Hotels, motels, restaurants and other tourist venues load up the holiday periods with surcharges all be it employing in the majority, casual staff who do not get the holiday loadings under Howard's Australian Workplace Agreements (20% surcharge or higher at some places I have seen).

Where is the pricing justification in this massive rip-off? Speaking of which, if the Howard government is returned, then even the industries mentioned above in paragraph one will be the next targets to eliminate all forms of holiday loading.

Miranda Divine was all busy cabbie bashing about the Christmas rush (crush), however where is the incentive to cabbies to work those days as compared to the other public transport sectors?

Remember people, taxi drivers are in the majority family people too. They have children that they too would like to spend public holidays with. Most taxi drivers would be lucky to get one week's annual leave especially in rural and country NSW where there never has been any contract of determination of the bailment agreement.

Jimmy West

Blackheath, NSW

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