Write on: letters to the editor
I am replying to Kevin Parker's letter (GLW #191) in response to an article I wrote (GLW #189) on the Tarkine. The article quoted an activist from the Tarkine Tigers criticising the Wilderness Society for a lack of action. Kevin took issue with this, pointing out the things that TWS is doing.
TWS has worked to promote the Tarkine wilderness as an area worthy of World Heritage status. Putting the issue on the national agenda is important, and there should be more national days of action such as that organised by TWS on May 19. We have to find the ways of keeping up public pressure on governments; we cannot rely on the behind-closed-doors lobbying approach as some in TWS would prefer.
The Tarkine Tigers have had success in highlighting the issue in the public arena by organising vigils and rallies on Parliament House lawns. Resistance and the Environmental Youth Alliance also initiated the World Environment Day Rally on June 3, which focussed on the Tarkine. This was the largest single public action so far in Hobart on the Tarkine issue.
TWS and the Greens have not responded to the proposal, put at World Environment Day, for another public rally.
To save the Tarkine (which we can do) it is important to organise public actions in which everyone can participate. By reaching out to a broader range of people the impact of the campaign is maximised.
[Edited for length]
Your article "Students, staff oppose Nile appointment" (GLW, June 21) reported events surrounding the recent appointment of Fred Nile to the University Council in Wollongong. The article states that the Student Representative Council have been labelled "anti-Christian" for their campaign opposing Mr Nile's appointment and goes on to state that, "Student Life, a prominent Christian group on campus, has countered by organising other Christians to oppose the appointment". This is a hugely inaccurate statement. Student Life is not, as a group, either in favour of Fred Nile's appointment to the University Council or opposed to it.
In talking to Christian students about the appointment, I have encouraged them to listen to the Student Council's perspective, write to Mr Nile for his perspective and make their own, well-informed response.
As with any controversial issue, Student Life has encouraged Christians to be aware of the issues surrounding Mr Nile's appointment and to make a thoughtful response. They have not organised Christians to oppose his appointment. Encouraging people to think does not constitute organising them to support or oppose anything.
[Edited for length.]
I read with some interest and some disbelief your article "Scapegoating migrants for Sydney's sprawl" (GLW #190).
Perhaps I am out of touch with contemporary leftist thinking, this being the first (and last?) time I have bought GLW. However, it seems that you are having a little trouble seeing past the end of your ideological noses. While I wholeheartedly deplore the use of any group as a scapegoat, it is absolutely vital that we do something, anything, to reign in the continued population explosion, not only in Australia, but on our small planet.
One paragraph sums it up, "... Sydney is a rapidly worsening environment and planning disaster. Much of the infrastructure is centuries old and crumbling. Major traffic jams are a daily occurrence. Numerous official reports attest to the extensive pollution of the city's waterways. Air pollution levels are approaching maximum allowable levels under national and international guidelines. This deterioration has occurred as Sydney's population has grown." A strange comment after the opening claim that Malthusian arguments have been discredited.
Australia is being pillaged in the name of "growth". Apart from the obvious greed motivation, there is another reason, we need to feed, clothe and house all the extra people, whether they are born here or overseas. Just yesterday it was announced that the Hawkesbury River basin outside Sydney is already overpopulated causing severe problems for the river, are you proposing we just ignore these and other environmental warnings? Come have a look at the mindless development on the Gold Coast and try telling me it is not because of an increase in population.
If we don't limit our population size, how do you suggest we halt the decline of our environment?
World War II
Rosemary Evans and Dave Lofthouse (GLW, June 7) make some points about my article on the second world war regarding Stalin's foreign and domestic policy. Both raise the Stalin-Hitler pact, signed in 1939, and the purge of the Red Army in 1937.
On the Stalin-Hitler pact, it is undeniable that the Soviet Union signed it in order to prevent immediate war with Nazi Germany. It is similarly undeniable that the pact was only signed after many attempts to sign agreements with France and Britain had failed. In such a context, a treaty aimed at creating a breathing space for the Soviet Union would have been entirely permissible.
But the pact didn't end there. It included a secret protocol which forcibly divided Poland and included the promise that Stalin would not hinder (would in fact aid) that occupation. Additionally, Stalin's government described the German government as "peace-loving".
While a treaty could have been a breathing space, that would have necessitated conscious efforts to prepare for war. The Red Army was completely unprepared, even in spite of very precise intelligence as to the exact time that the invasion was planned. The day of the invasion saw 800 Soviet planes destroyed on the ground.
The purge of the Red Army was in no way aimed at defeating "efforts to weaken the Soviet state from within", nor can it be attributed to the "tense and suspicious environment" of the time. The purge claimed 579 out of 733 Red Army commanders and political commissars, half the total number of regiment commanders, almost all division and brigade commanders and all corps or military district commanders. The purge was clearly aimed at ensuring that the Red Army, just like the Communist Party, was loyal to Stalin himself and had no possibility for independent action.
One of the main points of my article was to explode the myth about Stalin, rather than the Soviet working class, as the victor of the Second World War.
[Edited for length.]
There is one myth about Australia that badly needs debunking. This is the one that goes "Paul Keating is a republican". Let us part the clouds of rhetoric a minute and see what lies beyond. Sometimes old bottles are no longer correctly labelled.
You would certainly not mistake him for your common variety of populist republican. Naturally the PM is not your classical monarchist, loyal to the British Crown, the English royal family and their hereditary line of succession. But there have been other kinds of monarchies.
For a time Ireland was ruled from Tara by the Ard Ri or High King who was merely the chairman of a council of independent provincial kings who often defied him. Though the parallel with the PM's preferred option may not be exact, it is suggestive. Paul Keating is what I would call a romantic monarchist, with his allegiance to the exile Gaelic clans, nostalgically dreaming of misty glens, of Finn MacCool and of the ancient High Kings of Ireland.
What puzzles me though is that if the present day Irish people can manage quite well with a popularly elected President, then just why couldn't we? Do we need paternalistic government? Time to stop being history, time to make history.