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Public transport

The recent University of Technology finding that in parts of George Street in the CBD the level of benzene — a cancer causing agent in petrol — is 500 per cent higher than the recommended safety standard reinforces the need for public transport to be expanded and upgraded to help keep our city healthy.

The proposal that buildings in future be designed to seal off traffic fumes only deals with effects. We should instead be targeting the causes by sealing Sydney's CBD off from private vehicles.

In Port Jackson, where I am standing as a Social Justice Independent in the coming State election, we are campaigning for a transit station to seal off Victoria Road at the old White Bay power station. Incoming private cars would park here and people would then use improved public transport (frequent, cheap and flexible bus routes, light rail, etc) to get to work, shops and entertainment venues.

The health of Sydney residents cannot be ensured unless we lower pollution in our cities by cutting private vehicles and improving public transport.
Denis Doherty


It seems we have official "terrorists" and unofficial terrorists. Unofficial terrorists are rapists, abductors, house raiding gangs, armed gangs in the streets, evictors, interest jacker-uppers, footloose mercenary soldiers, drug-thugs, legal-liars, drugged truck drivers, toxic waste dumpers, etc. I'm not sure which brand of terrorist I prefer, the one I know is a "terrorist" or the hundred others who terrorise society and have not yet been given a faithful definition of their terrorising activities.
Denis Kevans
Wentworth Falls NSW

Capitalist crash

When are social-concerned people, like supporters of GLW, going to take Professor David Suzuki's advice and challenge their "given truths"? Repeatedly in GLW I read that "greed" is the villain — particularly the "greed of the eighties". Now I read in GLW #167, that the rich get richer, and the poor poorer because of "'private' policies made by managers ... and ... 'public' policies made by elected and appointed officials", etc.

Why not seriously consider that there is an inevitability that the cancer of capitalism will destroy its host as it crashes. Simple science should confirm that it must crash if it is not modified. That is, if anyone is prepared to do the tests without bias?

To avert the final catastrophe it will be necessary to go beyond the mere marshalling of activists. The "tried and true" methods of the past are not enough for the future. Also faction fighting, and stress across all those other divisions that divide society, will get us nowhere. The disillusioned people, in their hundreds of millions, must be drawn into the discussion — and soon! For it is only when "all human beings ... [who] are endowed with reason and conscience" (to use the words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948) have thought about it, and talked about it — given a real public voice, particularly those who might dare to think differently — will there be any real prospect of averting disaster.

Remember also, the time from the present to the final crisis is getting exponentially shorter.
Richard Chiffings
Gosnells WA


A letter was printed in the last issue of the Adelaide University campus paper On Dit. I could not reply, yet I believe the issues it raises are worth airing in a national paper like GLW.

The letter, written by Peter Lord, a member of the International Socialist Organisation (though he declined to mention that in the letter) began with an attack on a rally at Adelaide University that was organised on October 27 by Resistance against upfront fees. The rally was a great success and aimed to protest the direction of the Federal ALP education policy and also highlight the fact that students at Flinders University were on strike for the day.

Lord criticises Resistance for collecting names for a cross campus education group, the aim of which was to further the campaign against fees. He claims that this was merely a "stunt" by the "fake left".

He also invents a lie to support his argument, namely that the Flinders University Student Association approached a Resistance member for a copy of the list and was refused. This did not happen. In fact, I spoke to the Education Officer of Flinders University prior to the rally about collecting names for such a group.

Lord then attempted to throw more mud by rewriting the past. On the Anti-Gulf War campaign he claims, "Nothing was done to constructively organise ... rallies were treated as venues for selling GLW and to beg for money. Token speakers are (sic) provided on occasion but involvement is superficial with recruitment to the sect being the real agenda."

Lord also makes reference to actions organised by the Anti-Racism Alliance in Adelaide, where he states that the DSP and Resistance collected $2000(!).

As anyone involved in the Gulf War actions around the country would know, Resistance and DSP members worked tirelessly to help build those demonstrations — that is why our speakers did get on the platform!

Of course we did sell GLW. Isn't getting alternative information out to people a crucial part of building any campaign?

Lord's incredible claims regarding the anti-racism demonstrations sound like an invention of the Murdoch gutter press. DSP and Resistance members were integrally involved in organising those highly successful demonstrations. Yes, we sold badges and GLW on the day — but no donations were collected. Who knows where Lord's figure of $2000 came from!

In fact, minutes of Anti-Racism Alliance meetings would show that Lord himself was responsible for organising the collection of donations at the demonstration — which essentially did not happen!

Are Lord's incredible claims merely sour grapes, or is it that he only supports an anti-racist campaign that can be run as a front for the ISO?
Adam Hanieh
[Edited for length.]

Unions and ALP

In Roger Clarke's contribution to the debate on relating to the ALP (GLW 168), he opposes the position of the DSP, and many workers, that unions should disaffiliate from the ALP.

He states that affiliation gives unions a voice in the ALP, but whose voice is it? As Clarke, himself points out, this is generally exercised by officials — whose interests do they represent? The imposition of the Accord and more recent enterprise bargaining policies demonstrate that priority goes into what will keep the ALP in government regardless of the social dislocation at the base. Perhaps there are even a few sincere officials trying to hold the fort at ALP conference. The real question to ask is whether this is the most useful strategy?

In attempting to defend the Rape Crisis Centre in South Australia from Labor Party attack, we built an effective rally outside the ALP conference, we petitioned and lobbied. We involved trade union officials, as well as rank and file members, along with community groups and service users. The lesson from that experience is that independence from mainstream political parties is essential.

Workers are often not aware that their funds are being diverted into the coffers of the party that is (currently federally) implementing anti-worker policies. The most political manner in which to have this debate is to raise the question of affiliation at branch and council meetings and in the pages of the union journals.

How can workers have an effective influence on ALP policy? Certainly democratising the unions and making officials more accountable will be a big step forward. It is only through building genuine campaigns that involve workers in struggle across "agencies", departments or workplaces (ie encouraging solidarity) that will help develop that democratic base.
Melanie Sjoberg

'Gracious help'

A recent corporate press article I read claims "Indonesia is quick to show how much money it has invested in improving East Timor's infrastructure, and how it has helped a people woefully neglected under 300 years of Portuguese rule". (NT News, 21.11.94)

The so-called investment of money and infrastructure in East Timor has largely been for the purposes of a: consolidating the Suharto regime's illegitimate occupation/annexation and b: facilitating the incorporation of compliant Indonesian (and international) business interests for the exploitation of East Timor's land resources and people, of which all gain or opportunity above the menial, overwhelmingly benefits the approved business elite or trans-migrant Indonesian nationals.

In the 20 years of unchallenged outlaw occupation and control of the small nation (Saddam, eat your heart out), the gracious "help" which has been bestowed on the East Timorese by the indefensible and brutal jackboot rule of dictator Suharto and his regime of elite military/business cronies has resulted in: the disenfranchisement of their rightful sovereignty, independence, resources and culture; the death of about one third of the original pre-invasion population of more than 700,000 and in turning their small country, in effect, into a concentration camp where their freedom of movement or association is heavily scrutinised and regulated, where they have been forbidden to even speak Portuguese or Tetum and where they have been most viciously suppressed from expressing any plea to the outside world!

Whatever neglects the 300 years of Portuguese colonial rule may well be guilty of, there are a few much weightier and serious words which some of us employ to define the type of woes inflicted throughout the 20-year long international crime perpetrated against the rightful nation of East Timor with the principal collaborators and apologists being the Australian government (read: Australian people) from the leadership of Whitlam through to Keating and Co!

Shame Australia! Shame!

Shame U.N.! Shame!
P.M. McVean
Australians for a free East Timor, Darwin
[Edited for length.]