Write on: Letters to the editor

May 21, 1997

Hong Kong

I find Marc Finnane's letter in GLW #273 odd. The orderly return to China of the Hong Kong territory, at the expiry of Britain's 99-year lease, is not remotely comparable with the chaotic and ignominious evacuation of the US forces from Saigon in 1975, after the final failure of its monstrous invasion of Indo-China.

Graham Haig
New Town Tasmania

Free enterprise

Brian Quinn, director of Coles Myer, took $4,000,000 and got a sentence of four years. Solomon Lew, director and investor in Coles Myer and tag financial operator with Nick-O-Teen Greiner, took $17,000,000 (the Yannon transaction) and got a severe private reprimand.

Denis Kevans
Wentworth Falls NSW


We have come to the end of the era dominated by Labor and Liberals. Their unbiased support for the free market economics, big business, population and economic growth, have doomed them to the dustbin of history.

Not that that will worry them. The sixth wave of fauna extinction on the evolution of the world (mass extinction) is now taking place. Human life will end up the same way as dinosaurs in the Mesozoic Jurassic era. Humankind is destroying itself with population growth, affluence and the business way. Labor and Liberal just help its destruction.

Assumpta Howard
Fairy Meadow NSW

Migrant bashing

Astrid Herlihy's views on immigration (Write on, GLW #274), may be motivated by a concern for the environment and Aboriginal rights, but that in no way excuses her migrant bashing.

To argue that Australia's natural environment is being decimated "so the royalties can be used to support another flood of migrants" is migrant bashing. In fact, the enormous profits made by (largely Australian) capitalists from the destruction of our wetlands, forests, etc. go into the pockets of those capitalists.

Virtually none of it makes it into either the pockets of migrants or government coffers from where it might (but largely isn't) spent on services, facilities and infrastructure and used by migrants. Indeed, the majority of non-Anglo migrants are equally as grossly exploited by big business as the environment.

To argue that migrants are continuing the process of invading and "disenfranchising" Australia's Aborigines is more blatant migrant bashing. While the original invasion of Australia was carried out by British capitalism by choice and in the interests of private profit, a large proportion of people who migrate or hope to migrate to Australia today do not do so by choice (they are fleeing grinding poverty, war, political persecution, etc.), let alone in order to forcibly dispossess indigenous Australians.

Accusing migrants of continuing the British invasion and disenfranchising "by stealth" is outrageous in light of the real attacks currently being made on ATSIC, native title and black rights by Australian governments and their capitalist bosses. It plays right into the hands of the Howard-Hanson racist offensive.

As more and more Aboriginal and migrant activists are arguing, only with unity between Aborigines, migrants (Asian-Australians in particular) and all others who are exploited and dispossessed by Australian capitalism can we hope to stop these attacks. Without such unity, Aborigines, migrants and the environment will all continue to lose.

Lisa Macdonald
Summer Hill NSW

Environment and BHP

A couple of environmentalists came up to me at the May 8 education rally after I had moved the motion in solidarity with the BHP workers' struggle to keep the Newcastle steelworks open. They disagreed that progressives should support the union campaign because of BHP's pollution.

It is an undeniable fact that BHP pollutes regularly, disgracefully and — almost certainly — illegally. However, this is not a reason not to campaign to keep the steelworks open.

BHP has polluted Newcastle for the best part of 100 years. They have freely taken subsidies and government support and they have exploited their work force all of that time. Now, because their profit margin isn't high enough, they're going to pollute somewhere else.

The essence of a progressive strategy should be to push to assert control by the community and the work force over management decisions. Ultimately, we cannot shy away from the demand that BHP should be nationalised under workers' control. In this way, we can make sure that the decisions that get made are in our interests and that if mistakes are made we can correct them.

We should support the workers' struggle to keep the steelworks open because that campaign cuts against the ability of BHP to make decisions solely on the basis of profit. Lending our support to an industrial campaign now is the best way to push for environmental clean-up as well as defending workers' conditions.

Alex Bainbridge

Occupation obsession

On May 8, students at the Uni of Qld rallied as part of the national day of action against the federal governments attacks on education. The rally was organised by the Education Action Group, a campus based activist network. The EAG had decided to invite a number of speakers to the rally following which a motion would be put to the rally to march to the administration building for an open platform.

During the rally, members of the International Socialist Organisation unsuccessfully attempted to cut the platform short, claiming that the most important thing was an occupation of the administration building. They even threatened to pull the plug on the amplification to prevent speakers from being heard. They claimed that the rally must occupy if it was to make an impact.

This demonstrated a lack of understanding of the role of the role of occupations. An occupation is not an end in itself. Occupations are only one tactic, and a very useful one, in building a broader campaign. To win in this campaign we must build a mass campaign incorporating large numbers of students, as well as staff and other sectors effected by the cutbacks. To elevate occupations above all other tactics is damaging as it neglects the other essential elements.

Kathy Newnam

Three Cs

Lenin's three Cs — clarity, clarity and clarity — should be an essential part of socialism and we should utilise conciseness, consistency and clarity in all of our articles and letters to the editor. Enough of the endless debates akin to Left Wing Communism. Some of the letters to the editor are middle-class twaddle and I would prefer to interpret the paw print of Vaska the Cat, while I sip from the glass of water that has been touched by many lips. Please, please, please — no more intellectual high brow writing styles. The masses are out there waiting for us.

Mark Mannion

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