Letters to the editor

March 26, 2011
Cartoon: Carlos Latuff.

Greetings from prison in Zimbabwe

On behalf of the Medical Professional and Allied Workers Union of Zimbabwe, a trade Union that organizes workers in the private Medical sector in Zimbabwe, I wish to express our heartfelt appreciation of the camaraderie you extended to Zimbabwean Comrades who were coldheartedly incarcerated and charged with treason by the ZANU PF regime for merely watching heroic actions by our brothers and sisters in the North part of Africa that dealt with tyrants. We are humbled by your determination to see Zimbabwean working class free.

Needless to mention how your solidarity messages condemning our arrests were important in increasing the political cost on ZANU PF for keeping us detained. You indeed fought for our freedom.
I was part of the arrested group though we were released earlier than the other six. We had spent seventeen days in prison. Our General Secretary and one other executive member were part of the arrested group. We cherish a continued relationship based on solidarity and camaraderie as you have already shown us. Victory is near.

They will beat us, kill us, detain us but certainly they will not survive revulsion as a result of intrinsic contradictions on productive forces and relations of production in this system of capitalism. Workers will always stand up and revolt, we won't stand by while rampant corruption and crass materialism disable both government and private sector. We will shout at the top of our voices when we detect abuse of power and political intolerance”. Egypt and Tunisia are certainly lessons for the poor and an opener to another Russia 1917.

Our spirits are high. Workers of the world Unite. It’s our time


Mike Sambo (General Secretary)

Bahrain and Yemen Repression

Wherever we live, we all share common bonds, desires and needs. People want the same basic things the world over, enough food, water, shelter, warmth, to have a meaningful livelihood and to live in peace and liberty.

When such fundamental rights are denied to people it should affect all of humanity. The suffering and injustice in other parts of the world ought to distress and involve us. Eventually it will have an effect on our society, community and country as well. We are all interconnected and what happens to other people in distant places matters.

We Australians have obligation to join in the condemnation of and protest at the atrocities occurring in the region. I have been deeply touched by the tragic events happening in the Middle East and wish to add my voice to those calling for the international community to act to help the peoples being abused.

We can all play a part in resolving the problems of the world; they can’t be merely left to the politicians and leaders to solve. Many people have had enough of living in poverty with corrupt and brutal rulers and deserve a better life. We can make a real difference to other peoples lives when we act and speak out and offer our support and compassion.

I hope that fellow Australians will urge our government to urgently call on the despotic regimes in Bahrain and Yemen to at once stop the massive repression and mass killings that are taking place in those countries. And Australia should also be demanding the immediate withdrawal of Saudi troops from Bahrain.

The Australian government has very good relations with these authoritarian governments and is well positioned to pressure them to respect the human and other rights of their peoples.

Steven Katsineris,
Hurstbridge, Vic

Australian racism

Thirty-eight years ago, in my last year of primary school, I hoped that the 21st century would find Australians of Anglo-Celtic origin less harsh in their sentiments towards those of non-Anglo-Celtic origin.

I was born and bred in this country. However, as a child with swarthy skin, many people treated me very differently. I was treated as a foreigner even though I am Australian.

I was often referred to as a wog, a black bastard, an “Abo” because of the colour of my skin. Racism cut to the bone and I just hoped that what my father said was true, "Time will bring people together, and your children will not endure what we have [endured].”

Last year I attended a "Protect our Borders" forum sponsored by the Liberal Party in Rockingham. There were about 100 locals there. The chap behind me said out loud to me and my then ten-year-old daughter, "You wogs can f-off, get in the boat with them and we'll tow you out..."

It is depressing to know that little has changed in 38 years. The inter-generational prejudices and biases are passed on, our politicians refuse to eliminate discrimination and rather they contribute to it.

I've more than a half a dozen tertiary qualifications however it dawned on me the other day how deeply I have been affected by racism: half my qualifications, my two Masters and my PhD are research into our racial layers and the pursuit of remedies.

You would think that during the last four decades we may have unfolded an equitable human rights language instead it appears evident the great weapon of mass destruction, racism continues pretty much unabated. It is sad to see many non-Anglo-Celtic Australians buy into the racist hysteria just so they fit in with the majority of Australians.

Yes, we are a very racist country — look at what we've done to our Aboriginal brothers and sisters. Yes, we are a very unwelcoming lot — look at how we treat desperate asylum seekers and how few refugees we allow in.

There is much to be ashamed about being Australian at this time. Now, no one should tell me to 'leave', remember please I was born Australian and I will die Australian, dark skin and all.

Gerry Georgatos
Bridgetown, WA

Gas not cleaner than coal

It is important to put an accurate price on everything including highly subsidized carbon burning that attracts a legislated $12 billion per year Australian subsidy.

However, pro-coal, pro-gas Labor's disastrous carbon tax/emissions trading scheme is designed, on their own explicit admission, to assist a transition from coal burning to gas burning in Australia while at the same time increasing Australia’s world-leading coal and liquid natural gas (LNG) exports — it is accordingly a recipe for entrenched climate change inaction.

Methane (CH4) leaks at a rate of about 3.3% (latest US EPA data) and is 105 times as bad as carbon dioxide (CO2) as a greenhouse gas (GHG) on a 20-year time scale when aerosol impacts are considered according to Dr Drew Shindell and colleagues, (NASA’s prestigious Goddard Institute for Space Studies and published in the prestigious US scientific journal Science).

Thus burning natural gas (mainly methane) for power can be dirtier greenhouse gas-wise than burning coal. Pro-gas Labor and pro-Labor environmentalists are utterly incorrect when they routinely claim that gas is clean energy or cleaner than coal.

Dr Gideon Polya,
Melbourne, Vic, Abridged

Scrapping Part 3a, Barry O'Farrell is not for real

NSW Liberal leader Barry O'Farrell and Shadow Planning Minster Brad Hazzard make a big deal about how they are totally against Labor's Part 3a amendment to the Environmental Planning & Assessment Act.

Mr Hazzard often claims that under the current system he is powerless to stop projects like Harry Triguboff's Meriton development at Warriewood, or the controversial proposal for a State Significant redevelopment of Frenchs Forest, incorporating a level five hospital.

However the Liberals are "Barry come lately" in their opposition to Part 3a. The only two parties that consistently opposed it's introduction at the time, were the Greens (Sylvia Hale, Ian Cohen, Lee Rhianon) and the Australian Democrats' (Dr Arthur Chesterfield Evans).

The Hansard of the bill's second reading in the Legislative Council (upper house) can be read here http://tinyurl.com/4bevcgk

When the bill was read for a third and final time, a deal had been struck between the government and members of the conservative cross bench. Therefore the Liberal’s previous support was no longer required to counter the Greens & Australian Democrat's opposition to Part 3a.

The Liberals are promising an 18 month inquiry that will likely draw up, as Shane Withington so aptly dubbed it, "Part 3b". I too suspect Barry O'Farrell is not for real.

Tony Backhouse
Narraweena, NSW

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