Write on: letters to the editor

Issue 

Timor weapons

The Australian government now has clear evidence that the Indonesian army is importing weapons to East Timor to supply the pro-integration militia.

Who will not remember the excuse that was offered for the training of Indonesian Special Forces in Australia? We were told that the Australian army was inculcating Indonesian officers with democratic aspirations. Maybe they were studying market economics.

In the real world, officers of the Indonesian army have monopoly business interests in East Timor. They do not wish to see an act of self-determination in East Timor because of their pecuniary interests.

In Westminster parliaments this is known as a conflict of interest. Arms smuggling is only one of many tactics adopted to protect self interest.

The latest example of a member of the Howard government being caught with a conflict of interest shows that we have little, if anything to teach the Indonesian military — except interrogation techniques.

In fact, Australian foreign policy towards Indonesia and East Timor has been based on a conflict of interest. The Timor Gap treaty is evidence of this.

Willy Bach
Camp Hill Qld

Ruthless budget

People, do not let yourselves sucked in by this meaningless, gutless, sick bloody federal budget. There is nothing in it that is going to benefit the ordinary person in the street, nor the unemployed, nor the person who can see no bloody hope nor the average pensioners, etc, etc.

Norm. Reg. Turner
Davidson NSW

Redistribute their wealth

Kerry Packer is Australia's wealthiest person. Never mind the figure — it's simply unimaginable for us ordinary mortals. And he doesn't pay his tax.

Upon our rapidly growing party's ascension to power in Canberra, it will be proposed that Kerry Packer's assets be liquidated or publicised, and redistributed to the worthy and needy.

Mr Packer will be allowed to retain his most favoured dwelling and a couple of millions. We are not barbarians. Any perceived constitutional impediments can easily be overcome by a simple act of parliament, as recently demonstrated.

As for Rupert Murdoch, we are unequivocally opposed to the Denis Potter option, as expressed in his last interview. Mr Murdoch should also be treated compassionately, and also be allowed to keep one dwelling (as long as it's not in Australia) and a couple of millions.

Alan Lender
Australians Against Further Packerisation

Why NATO?

The heartbreaking events in Yugoslavia, described as "collateral damage" by the forces of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation surely must concern all people.

It is surprising that the American-dominated NATO should be dealing with the situation when I think it would have been more reasonable to have called on the forces of the United Nations to sort out the situation.

The trouble goes back, we are told, to the year 1389. Well we can only hope that protests about "collateral damage" will be enough to bring some sanity into the situation.

Jean Hale
Balmain

Badgerys and Wilton

The Government wants to convince us that Badgerys Creek is the only possible site for Sydney's second airport, despite a flawed process. The draft EIS failed to compare alternative sites (examining only the 'do nothing' option) in clear contravention of the Environment Protection Act and its administrative procedures.

US studies rank airports as one of the largest sources of hydrocarbon emissions. Community groups want an outside-the-basin site, to relocate 5-15% of Sydney's smog away from the air 3.5 million people breathe.

For 15 years the sites of Wilton and Darkes Forest in the near Southern Highlands have been identified. Badgerys was preferred in the 1970s by the Major Airport Needs of Sydney (MANS) study because it was well away from residential development. But the MANS committee recommended that potentially noise-affected areas be protected through land use planning controls - which wasn't done.

Wilton was ranked almost equal to Badgerys in 1984-5 — before residential development came to the boundary of Badgerys. Wilton would affect 14 to 50 times fewer people, as jets departing Badgerys must fly over the half million people in the Liverpool/Fairfield area when expanded from two to four runways.

Wilton is 15km farther than Badgerys by rail (Darkes Forest is less) but Wilton would be two stops away right on the VFT route, whereas Badgerys would be 68km of slow suburban rail network passing through 34 stations. Wilton is right on the SW Freeway with fast connection to the Southern Freeway (F6), whereas all roads around Badgerys already come to a 'first gear crawl' every peak hour.

In the scheme of a $4b project, the extra $9m in site works for Wilton pales into insignificance compared to the human and environmental nightmare that would be Badgerys Creek.

Graeme Harrison
Sydney
[Abridged.]

McLibel fight continues

I gladly continue to support the McLibel Support Campaign. After the important victory by London Greenpeace and the heroic Helen Palmer and Dave Steele the struggle continues.

McDonald's QC's were confident they would squash the defendants within 3-4 weeks and thus force the withdrawal of the damaging forthright leaflet "What's Wrong With McDonald's". So it is useful to recall that it became the longest libel trial in British history costing McDonald's ten million pounds in what amounted to an extensive public tribunal, the DIY victory by the defence cost 35 thousand pounds raised by public donations.

Collusion was proved between the police and McDonald's. October 16 is Worldwide Anti-McDonald's Day. McDonald's have now abandoned efforts to suppress the distribution of the leaflet; 3 million have now been published, it is available in 27 languages, and they have been handed out in solidarity protests all over the world.

Fascinating developments have followed on from the McLibel trial. The defendants are now preparing an application to the House of Lords, and after that will go to the European Court of Human Rights to overturn the UK's oppressive libel laws; an appeal for funds has been launched.

The McLibel 2 are also involved in suing the Metropolitan Police Commissioner claiming damages; police had passed private and in some cases false information about them and other protesters including their home addresses to McDonald's and to investigators hired by McDonald's to infiltrate London Greenpeace.

A superb documentary "McLibel: Two Worlds Collide (53 mins) is available from, London Greenpeace/McLibel Support Campaign, Caledonian Rd, London, N1 9DX, UK. It's a pleasure to keep in touch with them.

Norman Taylor
Henley Beach SA
[Abridged.]

Stringybarks live!

Monbulk's last block of indigenous flora is saved! (Monbulk is east of Melbourne in the Dandenong Ranges.)

After a long battle, Woolworths have decided to follow the interests of the local people and not clear the block for a petrol station. Over 100 stringybark and hickory wattle live on.

What we need now is financial assistance to pay off the $60,000 we owe to Woolworths. (They will pay $30,000 for the block if we make the difference). The block will be rezoned public open space and preserved forever as a sign of the past and hope for the future of Australians and its lovely flora and fauna.

Corporations/individuals/public bodies and groups who are interested in providing assistance to this fund which is under the scrutiny of our Monbolloc Sanctuary Trust Committee (local police, shop-owners, farmers, council) then give us a call on Melbourne 03 97512407 or email to rstephen@green.net.au. We really appreciate any assistance to make the final buy back a quick and easy process.

Robert Stephen
Olinda Vic