Write on

Issue 

Thank you

Back in December, the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Center imposed a letter writing ban that prohibited all of Georgia's prisoners from writing letters to our contacts, friends and supporters overseas. On February 23, 1995, that ban was lifted. We ought not be surprised that the GDCC officials would never admit it openly, but we know that it was your individual letters to people like the governor of the state of Georgia and prison administrators that lifted the ban.

The lesson to be learned is that we must not quietly stand by in the face of bureaucratic terror; and that individually and collectively we can make the bureaucrats yield to the will of the people: A lot of you went beyond lip service and we are all grateful and the better for it.

So then, for many, I gladly thank each one of you for the stream of letters that you sent to the governor, prison officials and myself wherein your vigorous objections carried the day; and special thanks go to Mrs Stephanie M. Wilkinson, Amnesty International and the Green Left Weekly newspaper.

Thank you so much!
Brandon Astor Jones
Jackson, Georgia, USA

Cutting your own throat

At the recent Sydney meeting of the "Bush Bugarup — PNG forest tour", Sydney Rainforest Action Group told Green Left Weekly and Socialist Worker sellers to leave (at least one SRAG member disagreed with the decision).

Comments such as "We don't want you peddling your stuff at our meeting" display a political censorship more typical of those whose aim it is to maintain the status quo rather than change it.

The comment "peddling your stuff" is particularly inaccurate. Green Left Weekly, in the very same issue that was not allowed to be sold, carried a half-page article on the Brisbane Bush Bugarup meeting and the campaign in general.

As well, GLW in Sydney placed leaflets inside GLW promoting the meeting in question to all subscribers as well as helping to obtain equipment for SRAG for the meeting in Sydney.

Perhaps the comment should have been, "We don't want you peddling our stuff at our meeting".

I appreciate Green Left Weekly because it carries the broadest range of campaigns and debates among the greens and the left, information and discussion that would be sorely missed if not for GLW. As well it attracts activists for all campaigns and issues found in its pages.

Unfortunately such incidents of censoring supportive press do not enhance the reputation or building of SRAG. Worse, it restricts building support for the very campaign which SRAG aims to promote, a campaign which Green Left Weekly has supported and I expect will continue to do.
Chris Spindler
Sydney

Proportional representation

If Mr Keating is so impressed with Germany, why doesn't he introduce proportional representation in the lower house in Australia, so that the greens and the reds can also get into parliament as they do in Germany?
Max Watts
Sydney

Woodchipping

I found Dave Riley's column (GLW 1/3/95) rather puzzling.

He seems to be suggesting that environment groups have not been at the forefront of the campaign to save native forests from woodchipping, whereas I have observed just the opposite. In the very same issue of Green Left, in fact, I read reports of highly successful anti-woodchipping rallies organised by the major environment groups in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney. The Sydney rally, which drew over 10,000 people was put together by the organisers in less than three weeks. I attended it myself, and have to say it was the best rally I've been to in my three years of activism — it ran smoothly, had a great line-up of speakers, and drew a broad spectrum of people who put on an enthusiastic march for the forests around parliament house.

At every turn in this whole woodchipping debacle, I've seen conservation groups organising public meetings, blockades and rallies, and providing the real facts of the situation to the public at every opportunity.

So, Dave, whatever are you going on about?

Surely it's when the pressure is on that it is most important for those of us involved in social change to be supportive of each other, not pointlessly critical.
Sharyn Lock
Enmore NSW

Saving our turtles

I recently returned from a trip to the turtle rookery at Mon Repos near Bundaberg, Qld, and was saddened by the rapid decline in the numbers of female turtles coming to nest there. Both private research and National Park figures show that the population of Loggerhead turtles, the main species which breeds there, has decreased fifty percent over the past ten years. Unfortunately a number of factors including pollution and the deliberate killing of turtles for profit outside Australian territorial waters have contributed to this fall, but the main reason appears to be death by drowning in prawn trawling nets.

In the United States, the compulsory fitting of Turtle Exclusion Devices or TEDs to trawl nets, has been a great help in saving turtles' lives. The device, which consists of a wooden trapdoor placed near the end of the trawl net, gives heavy animals such as turtles, dolphins and dugongs a way of escape. The cost of attaching one of these life saving devices to a trawl net is $750-$1000, which is surely a small price to keep one of the oldest and most inoffensive creatures on this planet from extinction.

Researchers at Mon Repos admit privately that the Loggerhead turtles' only chance of survival is if the Queensland state government makes the fitting of TEDs compulsory for all trawlers operating in Queensland waters. Unfortunately this would cause a stir between the departments of Environment and Heritage and Primary Industries, so nothing is being done to rectify the situation.
John McCann
Mt Gravatt Qld

Unions and forests

Congratulations on your excellent coverage of the forest issue. As a union official who has been involved in environmental activities, I have taken an interest in this issue.

It is important for the planet that we take a responsible attitude to forests for survival of the human race.

Sadly, the loggers who protested outside Parliament House, Canberra, do not understand this important piece of basic science.

The same people also don't understand the present industrial and political situation and this lack of understanding will do the wider union movement a great deal of harm.

Young people do not get fired up about political issues generally, but they are concerned about the environment. I have seen this phenomenon develop during 13 years of teaching and nine years of union organising in the education sector. When young people see unionists behaving in a threatening manner and pushing demands that will have a long term harmful effect on the planet, they will stay away from the union movement in their droves. It is sad to say that the loggers are being dinosaurs in terms of the future of the environment and the union movement. Indeed, they are being dinosaurs in terms of their own jobs. There won't be any more forests to chop after the last one is felled.

I was also disappointed that Martin Ferguson did not display greater leadership during the dispute. There are many unionists who have worked hard on environment issues who must have been devastated to see the loggers seemingly being their only representatives on the electronic media.

Many unionists I know are wondering if the ACTU leader lives in a time warp. He seems to have forgotten the green and black bans movement instigated by the Builders Labourers' Federation in Sydney during the 70s.

At present the CFMEU in South Australia is playing a very positive role in supporting the Ngarrindjeri people in their struggle to stop the building of the bridge at Kumarangk (Hindmarsh Island).

Martin Ferguson should have been encouraging the loggers to support plantation forestry and state and federal governments to provide more jobs in this type of forestry as well as getting behind the recycling industry.

If we want the planet to survive and the union movement to flourish, we have to get behind environmentally aware youth and show them that we are not dinosaurs.
Andy Alcock
Forestville SA
[Edited for length.]