Write on: letters to the editor

December 1, 1999

Bridge to nowhere

This is a call for united action to save our environment. The Ngarrindjeri nation is calling on all fair-minded people to support their fight to stop the Hindmarsh island bridge. The Bridge to Nowhere has begun.

Builder Built Environs has employed a private security firm to protect its plant and equipment. Mainly non-union labour will be used. The Ngarrindjeri and their supporters are keeping a close watch — already two people have been arrested and charged, and an Aboriginal flag and banners have been torn down by council workers. Numerous other acts of intimidation and disrespect have been shown.

A pile-driver has been positioned to drive piles deep into the Murray River bed — part of the Ngarrindjeri nation's sacred country. If we all believe in protecting our beautiful country — land, sea and waters — we must put our word and thought into action.

A non-violent code of conduct is being discussed. If we don't succeed in this millennium in a non-violent way, the next generation might do it another way by taking up arms.

I call on all trade unionists Australia-wide, especially the earthworkers in the construction industry, to put pressure on the federal executive of the CFMEU, the federal secretary John Maitland, and the construction secretary John Sutton to publicly support the Ngarrindjeri. Native Title and Justice for Aboriginal people is union business. The ACTU should walk the talk as well.

It is tragic and disgusting that lawmakers and politicians refuse to admit that the genocidal practices of the last 211 years are still in use moving into the new millennium. We must show our children, our ancestors and future generations that we care for Mother Earth.

Unite with the Ngarrindjeri, Unite with the Environment, Think Globally, Act Locally

Davie Thomason
CFMEU member
Port Adelaide SA Bodgy reading

"It is laughable to categorise the majority of the working class as supporters of reaction because they wouldn't accept a bodgy republic", writes Col Friel (Write on, November 24).

Indeed, it would be, which is why GLW wrote no such thing in the editorial to which Friel objects. What it did say was that republicans who advocated a "no" vote fell into the reactionary trap set for them by John Howard, of regarding a bodgy republic as bodgier than a bodgy monarchy.

Richard Ingram

Gold medal

Marcus Larsen argues against Nick Fredman's "pure liberalism" for supporting Australian intervention in East Timor (GLW #386) — and gives us a gold medal performance in pure dogmatism. What a nice world you must live in, Marcus, untouched by nasty, germy things like facts and real life.

Yes, it would have been better, in early September when the Indonesian military was unleashing scorched earth, for the Timorese to have risen up as one and driven the TNI into the sea. Even better if they had done so alongside the Indonesian masses, finishing what they started in May 1998 by overthrowing the entire military apparatus and instituting socialism. But unfortunately, in the real world, neither was on the cards at the time: those in East Timor were too terrorised, those in Indonesia not yet up to it.

I guess it would even have been better for Marcus to have formed his "Communist Party of Great Britain" into a mighty militia and marched to liberate East Timor himself. But, alas, I don't think a platoon and a half could have done it, not even one which has memorised its r-r-revolutionary slogans as well as Marcus has.

But given the facts: yes, Marcus, in this case "Australian intervention was the only thing that could stop genocide".

Certainly, Howard may have intervened anyway — once the independence movement was totally crushed. As it was, he dithered enough to ensure that East Timor may be dependent on Western aid for many years.

Nevertheless, intervention did ensure that the independence movement is still intact and that East Timor is still populated. Surely a good thing?

The real art in Marcus' performance, however, is in his blithe willingness to accept the slaughter of innocents for the sake of his own doctrinal purity. Armchair socialism, anyone?

Sean Healy
Darlinghurst NSW


The "Umbrage" letter (GLW #386) criticises and labels as "pure liberalism" the following statement: "Fredman says Australian intervention was the only thing that could stop genocide".

The dimension I would emphasise is Fredman's humanistic attitude behind the phrase "stop genocide". The 20th century has revolutionised the human attitude to violence. Today, the policy of force, territorial claims and seizures, violation of ethnic and human rights, suppression of people's free will are impermissible.

Humankind is breaking away from its long violent past. And this is an irrefutable fact. History is full of ceaseless efforts to contain violence. To hold it within certain limits. To control it and make its impact less destructive.

Social justice and progress are growing into a powerful constructive tendency. At the same time, transforming not only the world, but also the criteria, objectives and character of social development.

Furthermore, century by century, a gradual accumulation of humanistic ideas has taken place, which is now the overwhelming public opinion. Needless to say, that social system which continues to base itself on private property, exploitation and "living-at-the-expense-of-another" is unable to rid itself of violence.

Therefore, the historical accumulation of humanistic ideas and values could not have resulted in anything else but a qualitative leap, an explosion in the dialectics of social violence and humanism. This qualitative leap is socialism.

Hence, what the Communist Party of Great Britain neglected to see is this dimension of Fredman's humanistic attitude: an attitude reflecting the dialectical relationship between humanism and violence and the accumulation of humanism in social history.

Vic Savoulian
Mt Druitt NSW

Nationalise banks

In 1947 the Chifley Labor government announced that it intended to introduce legislation to nationalise the trading banks. The bill to bring this about was strongly opposed by the Liberal and Country Parties.

The bankers challenged its validity before the High Court. The majority judgement was that the legislation was outside the powers of the Commonwealth constitution. On appeal, the judicial committee of the Privy Council upheld this judgement.

The political pendulum has moved so far to the right that ALP leaders are frightened to even mention the idea of bank nationalisation.

The Hawke, Keating and Howard governments have paved the way for the bankers to do what they like. Many banks in both city and country have been closed, and thousands of employees have lost their jobs. The banks have made record profits.

A pamphlet that appears in many banks is entitled "Banking made easy". It really means banking made more profitable at the expense of sacked bank employees and inconvenience to the general public.

Eddie Ward, who was Labor member for East Sydney from 1931 until 1963, wrote a pamphlet entitled "Should the banks or the people rule?" Unfortunately the first part now prevails. Our objective should be the attainment of the second part.

The nationalisation of the banks and other public utilities should provide better and cheaper services for the people and job security for all workers in these occupations.

Bernie Rosen
Strathfield NSW

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