Students protest WTO and war

Issue 

BY MEG WHITE-FOX

& DANNY FAIRFAX

SYDNEY — On October 30, 200 students congregated at Sydney University's
Manning Bar to listen to a debate on the question, “Is the World Trade
Organisation a positive step for world development?”. It was part of WTO
Awareness Week.

Michael Darby, Liberal Party candidate for the NSW upper house, touted
the “liberty of the individual” as being the basis of WTO policies and
the free trade system. Defending the policies of the WTO proved too difficult
for other Liberal Party speakers, who could only claim that there were
some “teething problems” for the WTO.

Australian Manufacturing Workers Union national secretary Doug Cameron
outlined the corruption involved in the WTO, the International Monetary
Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. Cameron highlighted the devastation the
free trade system has inflicted on Third World countries, where there has
been a marked increase in poverty.

Pat Ranald, from the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network, explained
how the IMF, World Bank and WTO place corporate rights before human rights
and the environment. She noted that WTO member countries must abide by
1100 conditions that ensure the privatisation and deregulation of basic
services. Ranald advocated a system of fair trade which was open and accountable
and which assisted Third World economies rather than punished them.

Speakers from the floor outlined the links between the coming war on
Iraq and the capitalist economic system enforced by the WTO and other global
financial institutions.

On October 31, 50 people marched to the Sydney University army regiment,
the Australian Defence Force's main presence on campus, where passing motorists
were urged to honk their horns if they were against the war.

At the University of New South Wales on October 30, more than 50 students
voted against a war on Iraq in a mock ballot which was part of a speakout
against the war organised by Resistance and supported by the UNSW Refugee
Action Campaign and the UNSW Centre for Refugee Research.

From Green Left Weekly, November 6, 2002.

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