Students protest WTO and war



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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