Residents in the area covered by the [Sydney] South Western Area Health Service have had little, if any, say in the provision or delivery of their health care in the past.
If they are not happy with the service provided there has been no obvious avenue to take and no guarantee of a satisfactory answer or the rectifying of problems.
The formation of the South Western Area Health Service Community Consultative Committee is to redress the imbalance that consumers have had in the past. We can be contacted by phoning (02) 608 2410 or by writing to Box 207, Miller 2168.
Those who wish to become actively involved in the committee are most welcome and we will endeavour to deal with any complaints or suggestions for health care improvement that anyone likes to give us.
It is imperative that there be community participation in the planning and development of our area health service.
The "Charter of Health Rights" launched by Brian Howe last November recommends:
- legislation for health administration covering the rights of consumers;
- legislation for health administration ensuring consumer consultation and participation;
We in the community must take our place in deciding what health care we want and what we should be getting.
National green party
As a member of the Green Alliance and North Shore Greens in Sydney, I'm particularly interested in possible developments toward some sort of national green party.
Although I don't know the details of how the meeting on May 18/19 was called and who will be attending, I am sure that the results will be positive only if they are reached with true consensus of the participants. Whatever form of structure is agreed upon, or even if the decision is to postpone the building of a national organisation until the time is judged to be "right", we have to agree with each other from the start.
It would be foolish to proceed with any plans which don't have the support of nearly everyone at the "May meeting" and the membership of groups which they represent. Once a decision is reached at this meeting, it should go back to all the groups for full discussion and comment. From that point on, the process must be driven from the bottom up to ensure that whatever develops is truly what the movement wants, and doesn't just belong to those people who have started the discussions.
The job of building a successful, truly grassroots-democratic green is large and complex, and we must be prepared for a slow and frustrating time in order to get it right from the start. it's not worth rushing things now because of perceived electoral urgency.
Crows Nest NSW
Debra Wirth in her column on paid housework (April 24) makes the mistake of under-rating the requirements for healthy nurturing of children and denigrating those who choose this as their central role in life. The successful rearing of children is, after all, not only more difficult than most professions but also a greater contribution to the welfare of society in general.
It would be nice to think that most men could play an equal role in this but the same evidence used by feminists to demonstrate the prevalence of male aggression against and repression of women clearly also demonstrates the scarcity of men with the required psychological soundness.
That the concept of nurturing as a particularly feminine role is the product of patriarchy is not supported by an examination of matriarchal societies past and present.
The principal quality necessary to adequately nurture children is selflessness, an increasingly rare quality in our society. For this reason I believe that those, whether male or female, who believe that their own rights should take precedence over the rights of a child, should leave the production and rearing of children to others. Considering the degree to which Australia as well as the rest of the world is over-populated this would seem particularly important.
M.C. Hanemann's letter (April 24) calling attention to the powers of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank was timely.
According to Federal Trade Minister Dr Neal Blewett, the Asian Development Bank, part of the World Bank, should help borrower nations achieve better and faster economic reforms.
"The bank", he said, "can encourage privatisation and private-sector involvement in development. It can help to explore the scope for private sector involvement in the provision of infrastructure and social services."
Dr Blewett thus revealed just who is to benefit from ADB "reform". As for private sector interest in social services, this is one of the areas invariably subject to IMF-WB advice for cost reduction to assist in interest payment.
In his Capital, Vol III, Marx said " ... credit offers to the individual capitalist ... absolute command of the capital of others ... Both success and failure lead now simultaneously to a centralisation of capital and this to an expropriation on the most enormous scale ... credit gives to those few more and more the character of pure adventurers."
Australia's interest in the early history of achievements of when it was justifiably called the People's Bank, would be appropriate in these times of stern comment and questioning of the behavior of current financial institutions.
President, Retired Union Members Association of SA
[Edited for length.]
Third World and greenhouse
The article in GLW #9 by Andrew Garton on the work of Agarwal and Narain, which argues that the "Third World is not to blame" for the Greenhouse Effect, rather eggs the pudding. In their effort to validly argue that attention should not be directed away from the developed countries' major contribution to global warming through CO2 and CFCs, Agarwal and Narain reach questionable conclusions.
The concept of a country's net accumulation of Greenhouse gases after that country's gross gaseous product is absorbed by natural sinks is an important development but they maintain that the size of a country's sink is equivalent to its share of world population.
This is a shaky assumption. The major natural sinks for CO2 are trees and oceans, and for methane air, not the number of people. The level of atmospheric methane is mostly controlled by the amount of hydroxyl (OH) in the troposphere. Carbon monoxide competes with methane for the attentions of OH and the huge amounts of CO pumped out of the West's car exhausts frees up more CH4 to do its Greenhouse business.
This account of methane sinks leads in the same direction as that of Agarwal and Narain's but does so on sounder scientific lines. Agarwal and Narain, however, go further by claiming that rice paddies and cattle pose no Greenhouse problem at all. This is simply wrong. Methane-producing bacteria in the intestines of cattle or the mud of rice paddies fume off 200-250 tonnes a year of the gas, which is increasing at a faster rate than all other Greenhouse gases, has 27 times the warming capacity of CO2, and already contributes 16% of Greenhouse warming. This is predicted to double as Third World population grows. Methane is a problem, not as grave or as urgent as CO or CFCs, but one that should not be ignored or explained away.
[Edited for length.]
In reply to the article by Ian Bolas (April 24), I feel that it is he that is confused and self deluded.
Anyone who supports violence obviously could not see a middle ground. Though I would suggest non-violence is not the middle ground but actually the only position opposed to the murder, ecocide and destruction of war. How can anyone support Iraqi imperialism but object to US imperialism. The murder and ecocide of imperialism is exactly the same no matter what the name of the country which commits it. Or is it that anti-Americanism make people so blind as not to see that.
Only people who support violence could jump to the conclusion that sanctions are a way to slowly starve people to death. It shows how simplistic, narrow minded and dangerous their arguments ake the use of the cessation of other human beings lives suit their own agendas. I know that the sanctions imposed against Iraq included food and medical supplies but if Mr Bolas did an indepth article on the issue he would have found that we "hypocritical moralist pacifists" were in support of sanctions of everything except for food and medical supplies.
I feel Mr Bolas totally misunderstands what pacifism is, that is if he has ever made an attempt to understand anything except for his own violently androcentric, jingoistic and "true socialist" rhetoric.
I am angry. How could Green Left print such an anti Green article? Or is the only correct position for such a socialist in the antiwar [movement] to adopt unequivocal support for murder and ecocide?
Australia is following the same disastrous road as the US by refusing to at least decriminalise illicit drugs and by giving decreasing importance to social programmes. Of course under a conservative government this "survival of the fittest" attitude will become official policy together with the destruction of Australia's few remaining wilderness areas. It looks that either way this country will be stuffed.
The media, in depicting the current disaster in Bangladesh, has once again fallen into the tempting trap of portraying Third World people as passive, dependent victims with their hands out, who have neither the will nor the ability to be self-sufficient.
In fact, these people are courageous and determined — qualities we have seen time and time again during our forty years of field experience.
I spent a month in Bangladesh shortly after the disastrous 1988 floods. I was astonished at how quickly and effectively the women, men and children — with minimal outside help — had repaired their country and resumed their struggle for self sufficiency. They are, or should be, a source of inspiration to us rather than objects of our misplaced pity.
Bangladeshis certainly need our help at this time, but they also deserve our respect.
Community Aid Abroad
Pornography and censorship
Last week Tracy Sorensen argued that censorship of pornographic images of women interferes with freedom of speech. She suggests that we should campaign against pornography but not ask that it be censored.
I find this a naive position for a socialist to take. Ms Sorensen I am sure is not opposed to the NSW racial vilification laws which make it illegal to incite racial hatred by word or publication. Nor is she opposed to legislation which protects workers from exploitation. Placing controls on the pornography industry does not interfere with freedom of speech. Just as it is illegal to incite racial hatred, so too should it be illegal to degrade and objectify women. And just as we made it illegal for children to work in coal mines we must make it illegal for women to be depicted screwing dogs and to be shown bleeding and bound in glossy magazines.
This is not freedom of speech. This is exploitation. And unlike Ms Sorenson I do not wish to enter into a "debate" with the pornography industry. Pornographers are misogynists and criminals and should be dealt with accordingly. They should have their power to exploit women for enormous profit taken away from them.
Surry Hills NSW
I cannot protest strongly enough the use of the term "skinhead" in the article on right-wing violence in Germany (GL May 8) and the way in which punks were painted as "political opposites". There are punks and skinheads on both sides of the political fence (in fact, us non- or anti-racist skinheads refer to right-wing skinheads as "boneheads" for obvious reasons), and many of us have been persecuted by boneheads for standing up for what we believe in. I dare say that proper skinheads would have been among the mourners at Jorge Gomondai's funeral.
I would urge your contributors to become aware of where and how original skinhead culture developed and of the strong anti-racist sentiment amongst the majority of skinheads around today in Australia, Germany, and many other fun places upon our Earth.
Your publication prides itself on presenting the truth of matters that are subject to misleading bias in the mainstream press, yet this example of incorrect minority-labelling indicates to meGL is responsible for oversimplification and misinformation as is the mass media in this country. So there.
Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice