Write On: Letters to the Editor

November 17, 1993


The Howard government is hiding behind the AWB's company status arguing that it only has remote oversight over its business operations. Although this is a dishonest excuse the disaster would then be the direct result of its failed small government and privatisation philosophy. The remedy here is not to create more wheat export companies but, instead, to bring the AWB back under direct government control.

For the Howard government to argue now that it served the nation because, after all, the AWB managed to sell the wheat, is appalling. At what price to the nation?

Either way this government deserves to be sacked. The mismanagement is gross.

What is the mechanism whereby the parliament can now pass a motion of no confidence in this government and force new elections? What is the Opposition doing to find a majority, either in the House of Representatives or the Senate, to stop this government? Will the ALP reverse its strange opposition to blocking supply? Is it talking to dissident National Party and Liberal Party MPs in country seats whose concern about the wheat scandal rightly must be enormous?

Klaas Woldring
Pearl Beach, NSW


Person A: I'm chronically ill and I want to apply for a disability support pension. Government: We can't just take your word for it. Prove you're sick.

Person B: I'm out of work and I want to apply for the Newstart Allowance. Government: You'll have to show that you've been looking for employment.

Person C: I'm from AWB Ltd and I want to assure you that our organisation hasn't been paying kickbacks in Iraq. Government: That's great, we accept your statement. Of course we never thought you had been.

Brent Howard
Rydalmere, NSW

Mystery nuclear forum

On February 20-21, Sydney's Hilton Hotel was to host the Nuclear Power Options conference.

The conference organisers promised that foreign minister Alexander Downer would give the keynote address and they further promised "announcement on legislative intentions". But according to Downer's office, he has not agreed to speak and repeated requests to remove his name from the conference website (<www.npoforums.org>) and advertising have been ignored by the conference organisers.

With less than a week to go, the conference was rescheduled for late May, ostensibly to "accommodate speaker constraints".

So who are the conference organisers? Hard to say. The website does not say. Repeated requests for information by phone and email have been ignored.

The conference organisers (whoever they are) promise a "vigorous debate", but it is doubtful this will be achieved. The fee to attend the conference is $950. A "sponsorship program" is on offer — gold sponsorship for $35,000, silver for $25,000, bronze for $15,000, and for $9000 you can be a "Speaker Sponsor".

Sounds more like a promotional exercise gone wrong than a forum for vigorous debate.

Jim Green

Government schools

We are shocked to discover that elected activist teachers and classroom teachers are not aware that the Bracks government has an education and training reform (read deform) bill at its second reading stage in the Legislative Assembly.

Those teachers who remember the battles against inspectors in the 1970s and their current dissatisfaction with the VIT should read this bill very carefully and look at the experience of the UK comprehensives that have been "failed" in England and passed over to religious and private corporations to run. This legislation is lumping our state schools in with private schools and selected higher education institutions under a statutory registration authority. This authority has the power to "fail" not just teachers but whole schools if they are so minded. It also has the authority to prevent registration of new state schools.

Victorian teachers should quickly talk to traumatised teachers who have experienced the "failing" of schools in England and start asking their AEU officials why they have not been told about this new legislation.

Wake up state school teachers, it is later than you think! Your schools and your jobs are on the line! For more information, visit <www.adogs.info>

Ray Nilsen
Defence of Government Schools

Free speech

The issue of the cartoon which insulted the Prophet Mohammed and his disciples raises many questions about the reach of civil liberties. Should the votaries of free speech also defend hate speech? Since when does speech, whether written or uttered, translate as injustice? Are words more important than us?

Indeed, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) often defend the Ku Klux Klan, distributors of anti-Semitic literature, and pornographers, child pornographers included, who finance its corrupt take on "freedom". The ACLU fights a fight so superficial in its misinterpretation of what it means to be "left", dismantling nativity scenes at Christmas to display its disgust at the Christian majority, yet then embracing laissez-faire capitalism, defending well-heeled pornographers.

The real left acknowledges "conditions", namely gender, class, race, distort the value so often accorded to choice. Consumers, or advocates of consumers, of "sex" commodities elect to embrace an equally superficial leftism or suspend their leftism, at the expense of working-poor women and children.

Max Kelvin
Grove, Qld

Flag burning

I've never burned a flag. I couldn't see the point in offending one bunch of nationalists. A bonfire of all the world's national flags is more my style. But the timing of this particular outrage by Resistance is perfect. Perhaps the rednecks who've been asking "what's the problem?" about those Mohammed cartoons will get an inkling of how it feels to experience a collective insult.

Anthony Cole
Mount Lawley, WA


Iran has a weapon with a far more crippling potential than any explosive or missile, and it is probably the real reason that the corporatist Bush administration is upping the ante against the Iranians. On March 20 this year, the Iranian government plans to open an oil trading bourse which will allow oil to be sold in euros. This will be the first time since 1944 that there has been any real alternative to the US dollar for purchasing oil. One of the great strengths, if not the defining strength, of the US dollar, is that it has a monopoly on global oil trade.

The Iran bourse may facilitate the rapid ascendancy of the euro as a rival global reserve currency, and the very real possibility is that this will precipitate a recession in the US; a crash in the US stock market. Any US recession will affect the Australian economy; remember Paul Keating's "the recession that we had to have"? Remember the interest rates? It is in the context of these possible developments that t he new IR and sedition laws should be considered. It will be the working class who are expected to obediently clean up the aftermath of the 35-year credit binge the US ruling class has been (and still is) enjoying.

Zane Alcorn
Newcastle, NSW

From Green Left Weekly, March 1, 2006.
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