Write on: Letters to the editor


Write on: Letters to the editor


A reality check is useful in deciding who to believe as to the outcomes of having more of our species competing for a share of this planet's scarce resources.

Well-meaning people such as Francesca Davis ("Blaming the wrong people", GLW #329) fail to point out that in the next five years, Australia will grow by another 1 million people. Natural population increase of over 120,000 per year added to net immigration means we are growing by 200,000 each year.

Francesca lives in a mind set of "somehow we will muddle through" and that more people is an inherently good thing and should be encouraged, whether by large family size or high immigration rates.

The difficulty of changing human consumption and lifestyle patterns is cartooned by the charade of watching a "plant a tree campaign" by governments and, at the same time, in order to feed, house and economically support our growing population, thousands of hectares of remnant ecosystems are being destroyed each year.

Another "reality check" is that with all the publicity the "Greenhouse Gas" problem has received, emissions per person is actually increasing, while local and world fish stocks are collapsing.

All you well-intentioned people owe it to your planet to apply the reality check so that population growth in Australia does not continue to reap the bitter harvest of pollution, poverty and eco-system collapse.

Transferring the wealth spent on supporting population growth to research and development in emerging technologies, education and appropriate "Australia as good world neighbour" foreign investment, will have a major "good" impact, both domestically and globally.

Ralph Bennett
Queenscliff NSW

Frogs and the future

If you care to have a glance at what's happening behind what's happening, you'll wonder if this Howard election isn't really when the human race decides whether it's going to survive or not. After all, isn't it about global warming, the final extinguishment of the world's oldest living indigenous culture, the release of uranium into the atmosphere, the death of politics, the pulping of culture by the corporate media machine, the drowning of some of us in fat while the world starves, the end of frogs as we know them.

Heavens, what a tall order for one little election.

In the meantime, I have been living in this valley for about a nanosecond of its history, for 20 years. When I moved here, in winter and in summer, there were green tree-frogs living in my bathroom, and big old pythons, hunting them. Somewhere over the past three years, I guess the last of the pythons ate the last of the frogs. Now that's recent, for eco-crash.

Maybe, if we wanted to, we could stop the process and save something.

Actually, I would like Pauline Hanson's policy on the survival of pythons and green tree-frogs, just for the record.

Kathy Stavrou
Nimbin NSW

Angry voter

I have been a keen subscriber of Green Left Weekly for some time now, and after reading and analysing the views of your paper, it has finally dawned on me, even though I have always considered myself a swinging voter, I am actually a socialist.

I feel very angry about the way our own government has been deliberately misleading us for so long on so many different issues, including the Jabiluka-ERA disgrace and the continuing support of the Suharto-Habibie regime, and also, the useless new tax schemes being devised by the weak and gutless politicians from all the big political parties. All that is happening in this country of ours is wrong, unfair and blatantly corrupt, and needs to be changed.

On October 3, I want to vote for the Democratic Socialist Party, however, I live in Wantirna, where, I believe, there is no candidate for the DSP.

My dilemma is, if I am unable to vote for the only party I have any real belief in, and refuse to give a vote to someone I simply cannot trust, I will vote invalid. Am I wasting my vote?

I am 38 years old. I am not confused. What I am is depressed, and worried about what the future holds for my three children.

Murray Claringbold
Wantira Vic


I went to the NOWSA conference for women students in June. On the second day I stood up and declared that I didn't support limiting attendance to women only. My words were ripped apart. I was told numerous times by other conference attendees that I was ignorant.

Exhausted and dispirited, I didn't attend the last day of the conference where, I later found out through Green Left Weekly, the women-only policy had been passed, effectively excluding over half the student population from hearing incredible speakers and accessing information on a broad range of topics.

This is information everyone needs to hear to get educated about social issues which are often represented by misinformation and lies.

Here's my point. The issues addressed by the left are much too important to be twisted by bickering and infighting. And the issues must get exposure to the broadest range of participants possible.

Let's stop being little islands of political minorities and start being humans together.

Mikaela Kerswell


This is in reply to Brendan Doyle's very apt suggestion (GLW #329) that opposition to Hanson be elevated to opposition to the political system of which she is not a cause but a symptom.

One possible response if Hanson gets the balance of power in the Senate will be to bring together the non-governmental organisations who currently waste much of their time petitioning parliamentarians and get them to set up a counter-Senate, functioning according to the principles of direct democracy, which will seek a mandate not from an election based on universal suffrage but from a referendum to have legislative powers transferred for five years from the House of Representatives to the counter-Senate, with the existing Senate being abolished.

The House of Representatives would then have merely an advisory function unless it could win back legislative powers from the counter-Senate at the next five-yearly constitutional referendum.

This is a simple idea. Why not take it seriously?

Wayne Hall

Health care

I am concerned that people who will cast their vote in a few weeks are unaware of the axe hanging over Medicare. I therefore make the following points which I hope might assist in an appraisal of some of the issues:

1. Health care is the right for all, not a privilege. Proper preventative and social medicine can only be provided when the patient's financial status is ignored and health care is provided according to need.

2. Attempts to create two-tier or even three-tier levels of health care are creating crises in delivery and serious health consequences.

3. Medicare is the universal health care funder for all Australians. It is not a medical safety net for the poor. It provides the financial backing for good medicine: early consultation without money worries, referrals to appropriate specialist advice and ongoing care for those with persistent, chronic problems.

4. Medicare has inbuilt, computerised safeguards to prevent abuse by medical practitioners.

5. Public hospital treatment in Australia is of excellent standard, even given the financial famine imposed by the national government.

6. The removal of money from public hospitals to support the dead cat of private health insurance is a national scandal.

7. The invasion of multi-billion dollar health care entrepreneurs into the hospital and health care system is a matter of grave concern.

8. All sick Australians, both rich and poor, are entitled to the best of medical and hospital care.

9. Australians are taxed by levy, according to their income, to provide Medicare. The levy must be preserved because it proves to the accountants that, as a proportion of GNP or GDP, Medicare lowers costs and is unequalled internationally in that regard.

10. The provision of public money to private health insurance, and to medical specialists, while austerity and mean-spiritedness is applied to the federal-state Medicare Agreement is contrary to the public interest.

Cliff Baxter
Newtown NSW [Abridged.]

Left differences

I refer to your report on the verbal brawl between some comrades at the August 28 student rally in Melbourne.

Brawls happen in politics because people are passionate about their beliefs. This is a human failing. We shouldn't be too surprised when it happens and we shouldn't read too much into it. In fact, how we deal with this sort of incident is probably more important that the incident itself, in terms of the future direction of the campaign. Because without a united front, the campaign will inevitably be diminished.

As a non-affiliated campaigner who knows some of the people involved, it's a pity the whole thing couldn't have been resolved in a democratic way by allowing the students, or their elected delegates, to decide whether or not to take strike action.

I'm surprised that some of the people involved were so immature that they went running off to your newspaper with the story. As if that is going to advance the cause or undo the damage that has been done. More likely, it will be filed away in the public's mind as another example of "left-wing intolerance" and yet another reason not to support you.

Most people do not differentiate between one Left faction and another. The Left is viewed as a monolithic "mass" and you are judged on your ability to work together, tolerate different viewpoints and not dob in or publicly denounce your mates, even when they "lose it" and do (or say) something stupid.

Until now, the anti-racism campaign has been characterised by an unprecedented display of public unity by the Left. This is crucial if you want the public to take you seriously. Those involved in previous campaigns know the Left is riddled with factions, but in the interests of advancing common goals, we don't advertise that fact.

I've got no doubt there was plenty of childish stupidity on both sides in the row, but the most stupid thing of all is that your newspaper would allow itself to be diverted from the real issues by this sort of side-show, thereby playing into the hands of the real enemies.

Steve Shepherd
Carlton Vic
[Editor's note: GLW maintains that debate about the tactics, strategies and structures of progressive organisations, conducted in political terms, is a legitimate and important part of the information and discussion role that this paper serves for the left.]