Write On: Letters to the Editor


In defence of civil liberties

Colin Mitchell's article, "Terror trial: criminalising speech", and the column of the Socialist Alliance, "We won't be silenced by terror laws", (both GLW #769), on what has been happening pursuant to Australia's anti-terrorism laws were both excellent and very justified.

Such criticisms are not expressed often enough.

Other examples of injustices could be given apart from those given. In the case of the Americans, think of Guantanamo Bay and torture and rendition: think of David Hicks. Here in Australia, think also of Cornelia Rau, think of Al Kateb, mandatory detention, the Pacific Solution, think of the increasing amount of censorship here in Australia. Australia badly needs a bill of rights.

A journal I subscribe to, The Rationalist, has a headline over an editorial in its last issue headed "Fighting for liberty while losing it", which, quoting Professor George Williams, observes that the Howard government's war on terror has left a terrible legacy; that in the years after September 11, parliament enacted 44 anti-terrorist laws; one new law every seven weeks! and that no other nation comes close in transferring so much power to the executive arm of government at the expense of parliament and the courts.

GLW does not often quote Robert Menzies and the editorial quotes him saying six days after the start of World War II that "the greatest tragedy to overcome a country would be for it to fight a successful war in defence of liberty and lose its own liberty in the process".

Kep Enderby

Balmain, NSW

Free abortion

According to the Socialist Alliance's Gender Agenda, abortion should be "remove[d] from all state Crimes Acts and Health acts" and made "available safely, free of charge and on demand through the public health-care system", while the SA pro-choice fact sheet on its website states "to be really equitable, abortion should be made freely available through publicly funded, dedicated units …".

However, at a recent pro-choice organising meeting in Melbourne, three Socialist Alliance members (two who are also members of the Democratic Socialist Perspective, whose party platform also supports free accessible abortion) spent half an hour arguing it was "tactically" better that the upcoming October 4 rally in support of a women's right to choose at all stages of pregnancy should demand "affordable" abortion (i.e. attract a cost) rather then "free" abortion as this was "where people were at" and would help "broaden" the rally.

Not only did this argued "tactical" orientation
contradict Socialist Alliance's position on abortion but also its long-stated position on the provision of free, universal healthcare.

Has Socialist Alliance (and the DSP) changed its position in support of free abortion or free healthcare? If not, what is the purpose of having such platform positions, if your members are not willing to support or argue for them in public?

Kim Bullimore


Democracy Now

I must write to congratulate Amy Goodman, of Democracy Now, on her winning of the Right Livelihood Award. She and the others in the Democracy Now team are just brilliant. This is real journalism, going to the voices that are kept out of the corporate mainstream. I recommend Democracy Now, a radio and TV show from Pacifica in the US.

And thank you to Radio Skidrow, that puts it on in Sydney 9-10am on weekdays. Radio Skidrow is on 88.9FM.

Of course, Democracy Now is also on the net. Just Google it.

Bravo to Democracy Now on 13 great years. Some of the best people in GLW have also been on Democracy Now … Tariq Ali, John Pilger, Naomi Klein, Arundati Roy. And many grassroots activists who I had not heard of.

And thanks to GLW for the continuing great covers and great coverage.

Stephen Langford

Paddington, NSW