Write on: letters to the editor


@letter head = Moral posturing

What a lot of gutless Torquemadas, these pseudo States Rights politicians in their recent bill to prolong the agony and suffering of the dying — all their moral posturing, merely to feed their own eccentric religious dogmas. Now I truly understand the meaning of wholly weak.

Robert Wood
Surry Hills NSW

@letter head = Working for the dole

The communications age has failed again. No one with a public voice has pointed out that working for the dole used to be known as sustenance work in the 1930s.

Referring to the corner of Australia I know about, the south west, men forced off their group settlement blocks because they could not pay the interest, were, after a change of government, given the opportunity to take their families to a camp at Yarloop where the men dug irrigation ditches for their sustenance. This completely destroyed the settlers' solidarity in their struggle against the authority.

Later, single men's camps of sustenance workers were established in group settlement areas to burn up the fallen trees, dig storm water drains into the sea around Busselton, and lay the limestone foundation for the road that ran south from the town. My understanding of the single men sustenance workers was that the life-style turned them into zombies.

I understand that after the 39/45 war the International Labour Organisation outlawed working for sustenance. So are these programs, that are sustenance work by another name, in breach of an ILO convention?

Richard Chiffings
Gosnells WA

@letter head = Education workers

The Green Left Weekly subscription advertisement in issue no 269 asks, When did the mainstream press tell your side of a dispute? Absolutely correct. GLW is the only place that provides a genuine assessment of the facts from the perspective of ordinary workers. GLW provided excellent coverage of the SA education dispute and drew out the lessons of how to succeed in an industrial campaign.

However, the South Australian education dispute was not just teachers. Workers involved in that long running action spent 18 months trying to get the mainstream press to acknowledge that it was a campaign involving all education workers — school services officers, early childhood workers, Aboriginal education workers, administrative officers, social workers, guidance officers, speech pathologists etc. Please don't let GLW slip into the easier formulation of "teachers" when it should be "education workers".

Melanie Sjoberg

@letter head = We could all live better

Can't Ron Guignard (Write On, April 9) imagine most us living differently and yet at a higher standard of living in an ecologically sustainable socialist future? I can. Efficient and comprehensive public transport could end the present car madness, wholesale conversion to renewable energy will radically reduce pollution and reliance on dwindling carbon fuels, and global equity can break the poverty-population growth deadlock.

Socialists don't go around saying that we are going to have to accept a lower standard of living to have a sustainable future because it is not true. We don't preach dedevelopment because that won't take us to a sustainable future.

Sure we couldn't all live like Kerry Packer. But we wouldn't want to.

Peter Boyle

Barbarism in the US

I am a prisoner on death row in the USA. I'm writing to you because I know your publication is concerned over human rights. I'm enclosing a newspaper article from the USA Today which reports on an execution that took place here in Florida on 25th March, 1997. Please print this article or report this story in your publication. Let your readers know how terrible this execution was and how barbaric a country the US is. There have been other "botched executions" here in Florida and other states, but nothing is done and these cruelties continue. If any of your readers would like a pen friend, please give them my address.

Jim Chandler
Union Correctional Institution
PO Box 221
Raiford, Florida 32083

[The article refers to the gruesome episode when fire leapt from the head of a 39-year-old prisoner being electrocuted. Florida's attorney-general was quoted in USA Today saying: "People who wish to commit murder, they better not do it in the state of Florida because we may have a problem with our electric chair".]

PNG mercenaries

I continue to be amazed that the Australian press and associated media choose to ignore the essentials of the PNG/mercenaries situation with regard to the commander of the PNGDF.

Brigadier-General Singirok freely chose his career, which was to be paid, and well paid, to kill, if need be, those who were designated by the PNG government as its enemies.

The mercenaries of Sandline International also were paid, and paid well, to kill, if need be, those who were designated by the PNG government as its enemies.

Singirok and his fellow mercenaries of the PNGDF clearly have been inefficient/ineffective in carrying out the required killings on Bougainville, and so his government chose to employ a more efficient group to implement its policies. This seems to me to be quite reasonable. But the inefficient Singirok thought otherwise.

Unfortunately, I now anticipate a military/police takeover in PNG within the next six years, for they have the guns. I can but hope that something similar does not happen here in Oz, where John Howard has succeeded in removing firearms from the civilian population, leaving power "from the barrel of the gun" in the hands of the defence forces and the police, groups which have ever been characterised by somewhat "fascist" philosophies.

David Horton
South Perth

Urban environment

Under the heading "High life never looked so good" (City News 27-3-97) was a front-page picture showing tenants looking from their new apartment in Admiralty Towers.

No doubt those people will observe beautiful views from their apartment, but what about the general public who will no longer share that view, because that particular building, as well as others are built on the edge of the Brisbane River.

As any genuine conservationist knows, edges of waterways should be lined with nature strips where people can enjoy the pleasant atmosphere of such places and at the same time, observe the scene on the opposite side of the creek or river.

The damage that has already been done should go no further and the Brisbane City Council administrators should be told, in no uncertain manner, that they should stop issuing licences to build such unsuitable places.

It may suit the tenants of those buildings, but will put the rest of the community, who enjoy such pleasant scenery at a disadvantage, such as the blocking from view of the Captain Bradley Park and surrounding foliage under the Storey Bridge, because of the recently constructed buildings on the west side of the Brisbane River.

The environment is not the only issue, there is also the question of the health.

Eddie Kann
Chermside Qld

Wrongful conviction

I am writing to you to ask if all Green Left readers could intervene in the case of a Ms Nicole Gatt from Melbourne, who last year was charged with wilful damage as a result of trying to paint over a Nazi swastika on a wall in the Melbourne suburb of Eltham.

As can be seen from the accompanying extract from the Melbourne Herald Sun, Ms Gatt has already been asked to pay $210 to get all the graffiti removed, and faces a further financial penalty if she is convicted.

Ted Davis
Queanbeyan NSW


Air NZ's double entendre in its current ad campaign selling "The most advanced economy ... seat!" impels a response from an Australasian still able to think critically.

When its corporatised state services collapse in the next great crash will NZ become "the Albania of the South Pacific" ? And will Air NZ then pull down its hoardings ... as it did after Erebus?

Eric Boyle
Earlwood NSW


The RTA has created a tableau on Epping Road at the Lane Cover River which appears to neatly summarise the philosophy of this dictator to governments and a bewildered community.

The usual large yellow machines have done away with most pedestrian access in the vicinity of the Great North Walk and hacked mercilessly into the northern rock face immediately east of the river. In a spot hard against the Epping Road rock face, we see the raw wound that was bushland, the large yellow machine that did the damage and a billboard proudly proclaiming that the RTA is keen to sell what remains of the site for residential redevelopment, thus dumping a few hundred more cars onto Epping and Mowbray Road at the exact spot where current traffic and imminent M2 traffic serve as a spurious excuse for the highly destructive road-widening in progress.

If you can't give it a bitumen overcoat, the next best thing is to flog it off ... and create a shaky case for more road works including the final ruination of Lane Cove, the improbable widening of the Gore Hill Freeway and those exceptionally nasty proposals for the eastern suburbs.

D.D. Michel
North Ryde NSW