Write on: letters to the editor

Issue 

Freddo Frog charge

A 12-year-old Aboriginal boy in living in Northam in regional Western Australia was charged with stealing a Freddo Frog chocolate. He was told he would face court over this matter. The worse part of this story is that he did not steal the chocolate, a friend of his did and now he is being charged with the offence of stealing.

Anyone in their right state of mind, regardless of race, colour, age, gender would think why is this boy being charged with this ridiculous crime that could be dealt with a cautionary measure.

This incident is just another racist act by our state policing body that chooses to discriminate against and shame our young Aboriginal children. This is a minor offence and this is uncalled for. Shame on WA police and shame on the white racist justice system.

Natasha Moore
Aboriginal Rights Coalition, WA

Balibo

John Pilger says (GLW #815) that a signals intelligence intercept "was not translated and circulated until 3.28pm on October 15 — almost a day after the murders." In fact, that was almost a day before the murders (which occurred on October 16, 1975).

However, assuming that this is a typo, then Pilger's reliance on Ball's book (with Hamish McDonald) is still flawed because, as the NSW coroner heard, Messrs Ball and McDonald "testified that they acknowledged they had been mistaken in suggesting in their book that the signals seen by Cunliffe and Brownbill was one which pre-dated the death of the journalists, however they mentioned they had given Mr Cunliffe the opportunity to review the relevant chapter of their book and that he had not suggested any changes or otherwise indicated that the content was erroneous." (June 1, 2007, Swanwick oral submission)

Ball and McDonald were relying on the best available evidence they had. That's all anyone can be expected to do, and that's why they are indeed renowned.

But once new evidence comes to light, or the old evidence is discredited, one ought to change one's conclusions. I prefer to base my conclusions on the evidence rather than decide on a conclusion in advance of it.

Clinton Fernandes,
Canberra, ACT

The German left

I hope I can put Dave Bell's (WriteOn #818) fears to rest. I certainly haven't forgotten my German history, but should probably proof-read my articles harder.

Dave is, of course, correct: the recent German elections were not the first time a party to the left of the Social-Democratic Party won more than 10%. The sentence in question should have read "It was the first time in modern German history", (that is, since World War II).

Not only did the KPD (Communist Party) win almost 17% in 1932, but the USPD (Independent Social Democratic Party) won a similar vote in June 1920 during the revolutionary struggles that raged across Germany after 1919.

The USPD won 4.9 million votes (17.9 %), compared to the SPD's 5.5 million (21.7%). When you consider the fact that the SPD relied on significant middle class support at the time, the USPD should be considered the major party of the working class at the time.

It also seems appropriate, in light of the recent passing of Marxist author and activist Chris Harman, to recommend what I consider to be his best work — The Lost Revolution: Germany 1918 to 1923. While I disagree with some of Harman's politics, his book is a brilliant account of the SPD's ruthless crushing of what would have been the world's most important revolution.

Duroyan Fertl
Marrickville, NSW

Lowe mistaken on population

I deeply respect the work done by Professor Ian Lowe, particularly his efforts to prompt government to take serious action on climate change. I first encountered his work when a student in environmental studies in the early 1990s.

However, I think his response to criticism on the Australian Conservation Foundation's emphasis on population stabilisation (GLW #817) falls short of the mark.

While a student, I was introduced to the concept of "spaceship Earth". The general idea being that the Earth, and all life on it, is intimately and completely connected as a single biosphere. What ever we do in one part of the world, will ultimately affect the entire planet.

The threat of global warming, where industrialised nations' emissions are causing increased flooding, drought and hurricanes in the Third World is a good example.

It therefore seems like something of a dead-end for Professor Lowe to focus on migration to Australia, as if there were some way that the threat of global warming, or indeed any other serious threat to the biosphere, could be stopped on this island alone.

Ultimately, as a world society, we will all live or die together. There is no Australian solution. "Some business interests" really are to blame, as Professor Lowe insists. But it's not just bushland that's at threat.

Unless and until we take back control of this society from the "profit-driven business interests" that control it, things will continue to go backwards. And there will be even more people — migrants and refugees — desperate to make their way to the relative safe haven of Australia.

Graham Matthews,
Liverpool, NSW