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Issue 

Wik

When I heard our esteemed Attorney General in an ABC interview (March 22) criticise the findings of the United Nations Committee on Discrimination that the Wik amendments were discriminatory and therefore breaking international law, it was like hearing a re-run of a tape.

Exactly the same words were used by a Coalition official to discredit the finding of the UN Commission on World Heritage that the Jabiluka mine did indeed pose a threat to the cultural and environmental values of Kakadu National Park: expressions like "biased", "flawed"; references to inadequate time spent on the case and the failure to understand the Australian government's democratic (sic) processes; suggestions that "certain" committee members had made up their minds before they arrived; etc. And the tone was the same: reasonable but aggrieved, with a hint of surprised disappointment at the findings.

How could he be surprised when the government's own legal advice warned that the amendments contravened the UN convention on discrimination?

Furthermore, the implication that these findings can be attributed to the bias of particular committee members is an insult to the integrity of the UN, thereby setting a dangerous precedent and undermining the viability of its function as the one body in the world arena to control the excesses of individual countries.

This implication also ignores the overwhelming opposition to the Wik amendments within Australia. Echoes again of Jabiluka! Senator Nick Bolkus, at the Jabiluka rally on Palm Sunday, compared this wording to the wording of Ian Smith to justify ignoring the UN's condemnation of acts of his racist regime in Rhodesia.

Dr Nona Harvey
Beverley Park NSW
[Abridged.]

GLW sellers

I looked with pride and admiration at the young girl selling the Green Left Weekly at the Central Market at lunchtime on Friday (April 30). I was having a meal a few yards away when a man rushed at the girl, seized her papers and tore them in half, screaming at her to stop selling lies.

Although she was shocked by his vicious attack she instantly held high a copy of the paper and called out, "This is National Action trying to stop us legally selling our paper". It prompted several people to immediately buy a paper.

He had just left a nearby bar and returned there to watch. Someone called the police and when I expressed my disgust at the choice by National Action of an 18-year-old girl to abuse and intimidate, they obviously considered that this was typical.

Whilst we have absolute contempt for the attacker who, like his mates, has more brawn than brains, we need to protect our highly intelligent girls who can't match the brawn of fascist thugs.

Norman Taylor
Adelaide

Politicians

Once again this murderous federal government has given the green light to a mining company to mine more yellow cake in South Australia.

These scum politicians have never worked down in these sick mines and been radiated. All they are concerned about is this filthy thing called money.

Underneath the "White House" in the USA there is a complete nuclear-proof shelter and you know who it was built for — not for the likes of you and I, but for the scum leader and his staff and families. I have heard that a similar shelter has been built underneath the new parliament house.

This is all the pollies think of us, the real people, who put them where they are.

Norm Reg Turner-Davidson
Goonellabah NSW
[Abridged.]

Women's rooms

On April 31, whilst at the University of Western Sydney at Milperra to attend a lecture, I saw a huge sign up outside the Students Union office. "WE DEMAND A WOMEN'S ROOM". I thought: that's a great idea. Women with and without children will have somewhere to go for some privacy so they can sit and do nothing, read a book and talk privately.

I approached the counter to sign a petition and asked whether fathers at the Uni who had children would be able to use the facility. I was informed that it was for women only. I decided to ask more questions.

I spoke to someone from the students' union and was informed that the argument for the room was that 75% of the University's students were female. Also, that Sydney and NSW Universities both have exclusive women's rooms.

I suggested that we needed a room for parents with children to have some privacy for feeding, changing and just to get some peace. I was informed that the room was for women only and that men could go to the students' bar if they wanted privacy.

I was a bit surprised about the tyranny of the majority type thinking. I tried to think about it in terms of some type of affirmative action.

There are plenty of places I can go if I need privacy (library, outdoors, etc.). However, I reckon there are lots of students who bring children with them who do need a room. I think their needs would be a bit more important.

In an ideal situation all groups would have a room. This situation is far from ideal.

Michael Kennedy
Bringelly NSW
[Abridged.]

GST and women

Margaret Allum wrote in last issue's "ain't I a woman" that the effect of the Democrats' proposal to have the dreaded GST on prepared foods and not fresh foods such as fruit, vegetables, milk will be felt hardest by women who will be forced by economic considerations to forgo packaged foods and thus be chopping away at food preparation after a hard day's work.

Unfortunately, this happens already if one is concerned about the quality of food that is contained within these packaged, convenience foods. As well as being angry that it is women who do 70% of the unpaid work around the home and that the Democrats' proposal will mean more hard work for women, we should also be concerned about what we are eating and very angry about genetically modified products, for example, making their way into our foods.

Although I also long for some magic meal to appear before me, I question our acceptance of these inferior products, that is packaged prepared meals, masquerading as food. There must be a better way.

Helen Lobato
Melbourne