Write on

May 5, 1999

East Timor

Australia subsidises the Indonesian army with a yearly donation of $8 million, as well as training their troops in jungle warfare, and heaven knows what else that does not reach the newspapers!

It is a proven fact that the relationship between their army and the ABRI is a very incestuous one, something that is non-existent in western societies.

Considering this: to what extent is Australia financing the slaughter of the East Timorese?

Wouldn't it make much more sense if that $8 million went in constructive peace efforts or just in food relief like rice and sheep? This would diminish the power of the army, relieve the hunger and poverty of the population as we help our farmers, while bypassing corrupt politicians.

Pleas write, phone or fax your local parliamentarian, or Indonesian embassy. Time to save lives is running out.

Josie Leede
South Perth

US aggression

A very flatulent article from Bruce Wilson in London (Sunday Territorian, 25/4/99) hailing Tony Blair as "the new leader of the free world" in place of Bill Clinton ignores but does not alter the fact that all the postwar leaders of Western Europe, including the United Kingdom, have been no more than satraps of the United States presidency, regardless of the persons involved.

The support of the Murdoch press for the aggression against Yugoslavia is simply insurance to obtain a major share of the communications and information media when the real goals of that aggression are achieved.

In a world with finite resources and increasing population and consumption levels the vast natural resources of the old Soviet Union are a glittering prize which the United States is determined to control. Russia is leaderless, with an incompetent government, a demoralised army and a population that no longer has a society worth fighting for.

The Yanks intend to pluck the turkey but first they must surround Russia with Quisling governments. After Yugoslavia, only Romania, Bulgaria and North Korea stand in the way.

Col Friel
Alawa NT


When will the lie stop? The lie that no-one will be worse off under the GST tax package.

The squabbles about modelling assumptions miss the key point. What really matters is that the proposed tax plan erodes government revenue. Over time, less revenue means reduced government spending on welfare, public transport, public schools, public health, legal aid, community services, and so on. The poor, sick and otherwise disadvantaged will bear the brunt of the cuts.

By raiding the budget to the tune of $5 billion of course nearly everyone can be made to look like a winner in the short term. But there are no free lunches. The income tax cuts — which heavily favour higher income earners — will eventually be paid for by providing less services for the battlers.

No losers from the GST package? You'd have to believe in fairies.

Brent Howard
Rydalmere NSW


It's time the heat, pressure and resistance to Westpac Banking Corporation's involvement in the development of the Jabiluka mine is deliberately and methodically increased.

This sleeping-giant supporter of North Limited, Energy Resources of Australia and the Federal Government needs to wake up to the fact that its morally and financially unacceptable behaviour is damaging to the best interests of Australians.

By adopting a closed door policy on explaining their actions and just why they continue to support an unwanted, dirty and dangerous project, the only sane option for the broad left is to grab this ostrich by the neck and pull its head out of the sand!

Superannuation funds of unions, community groups and individuals need to ensure that no links with Westpac are maintained until Westpac severs its links with North Ltd and Energy Resources of Australia. Anyone with a Westpac account of any description would do well to close it on the basis that there are plenty of alternatives for people who do not want their money propping up the developers of Jabiluka uranium mine.

Westpac Banking Corporation has proven by its secretiveness on this issue to be a very sick corporate citizen who deserves a deluge of phone calls, faxes and letters demanding that they openly and honestly express just why they support such an unsustainable position. Egg on their face is all their investment has bought when their damaging actions come under public scrutiny and the Jabiluka project is finally stopped.

Steve Berry


No doubt security during the Sydney Olympics will be adequate to ensure the safety of Sydney's streets, but Australia's reputation for commitment to human rights could be more vulnerable.

Geoffrey Robertson investigated the siphoning of weapons from Israel, through Antigua, to Colombia's murderous Medellin drug cartels. Antigua's military was supplied by the USA.

Antigua is an independent member of the UN and has a presence at the Olympics. According to Robertson, the official who was intermediary and legal front for the cocaine barons' arms was Vere Bird Jnr. Bird conducted negotiations while in Seoul as manager of Antigua's Olympic team. Bird's involvement in 1988 shows that some dubious characters travel with national Olympic squads.

Appeals to a vaguely tolerant Olympic spirit are no longer sufficient. While Australian law enforcers watch for criminal involvement, they might not be charged with ensuring that the event is not manipulated politically.

As host country, Australia has a special responsibility. A commitment to human rights demands careful scrutiny of the squads and personnel applying for entry. While applications to attend should be considered individually, some obvious categories invite closer scrutiny. Membership of the military, police or security forces of some countries is cause for concern. Where extra-judicial killings are commonly reported, Olympic squads could include agents of the state with bloody hands.

Where ethnic minorities are persecuted, their ability to compete is destroyed. Thus some national teams might contain only members of a dominant and repressive ethnic group. South African apartheid era teams were shunned when this was considered necessary, but minorities are endangered still in many countries of Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.

Careful consideration of all applications to visit during the Olympics would send an important message around the world — that Australians are committed to universal human rights.

Tony Smith

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