Write on: letters to the editor

September 6, 1995

Write on: letters to the editor

Write on: letters to the editor

CEPU elections
I write to you on behalf of myself and my other comrades who were recently in the middle of our elections when your weekly #198 came out. Our team was opposed by another team and reported by Michael Bramwell, the author of the item headed "CEPU Elections in WA" on page 6.
Michael's article explains that Anthony Benbow and his team are standing for a number of changes within the union. He further claimed that one of their candidates was ruled ineligible because of his unemployment status. This is not a fair or accurate report.
Anthony and his team have every right to nominate and put their case to the unions membership. However, the team I support has some excellent people with a proven track record of activity within the union movement and with human rights and conservation issues. Some of these activities have been reported in your newspaper and other left publications.
If your newspaper is to maintain any credibility within the union movement then a more even handed report should have been presented. I suggest you publish your policy regarding this sort of matter in the future.
I appreciated the recent telephone call from Julia Perkins who offered an apology and invited me to submit a response for the publication. However, a response could only be published after the close of the elections.
Although Michael's article was not critical of our team it certainly inferred they could do a better job, I obviously disagree. Whilst I do not think the article will influence the outcome of our election, the principle is that both sides should have a fair go.
In my view Anthony's behaviour during these elections raises serious questions regarding his credibility and your newspaper has become a party to this.
I am not raising this matter in a threatening way. The Green Left Weekly has a valuable role to play. However, when a mistake is made, it should be admitted and a policy statement published.
W.E. Game
Mount Hawthorn WA
[To reply to the question of our policy: it is to print as much as space allows from those in the green and left spectrum. We do not have a staff of paid journalists, but rely on those involved in a campaign or other activity to write their own reports or at least supply us with the necessary information. Michael Bramwell sent us a report on the team he favoured. Bill Game's team didn't send us even a press release. — Editor.]
Nuclear tests
I am a French tourist visiting Australia. I was in Brisbane when France decided to resume nuclear testing and I felt very ashamed and angry. Angry because there seems to be little an average citizen can do against it. So I went to a rally and delivered a speech to say that many French are very much against nuclear testing and even nuclear energy. But this is not all an issue during our presidential elections. The people were never asked about this crucial choice and there were many huge mobilizations in the late 70s. But militarist lobbies rule the world. Democracy stops where the army interests begin.
It is very interesting for me to read Australian newspapers and to get all Australian's point of view. I'm glad that Australia decided to strengthen sanctions against France. Back in Paris, I will do everything I can to protest! I hope that heaps of ships will go to Mururoa to prevent French army from exploding the bomb.
But there is something that worries me. China and Mururoa are almost at the same distance from Australia, and Chinese nuclear tests are still atmospherical. Let the politicians hear about it! And worst of all, the Australian measures cannot be taken seriously as long as Australia sells the most important ingredient to France: uranium! ...
"If peace is to be secured, truth must be lived collectively by way of politics or individually in simpler, friendlier and more neighbourly aims and relations. We have to learn the art of localizing, nationalizing, and internationalizing neighbourliness" — Wilfred Wellock, Peace News, 18 May 1945.
"Viva la revolution sociale!"
Vincent Berraud
Paris, France
[Edited for length.]
Right on, Kath Gelber. After a recent discussion with young feminists, I wonder whether the discussion of the Garner Affair has overstressed the Eros bit. We came to the conclusion that sexual harassment — in a crowd situation, anyway — has no erotic content but is pure power-play. This certainly is in line with my own experience in corporate conferences etc. where harassment of female house staff is a way of life. Harassment is an end in itself. The purpose is to embarrass the woman; if she were to respond in a sexual way, the harasser would be out of his depth. The same goes for the "Show us your tits" syndrome at cabarets.
To suggest that these situations arise from sexual urges, irrepressible or otherwise, is nonsense. The answer lies in exposure of the harassers by any means available to those harassed, regardless of whether or not they see themselves as victims. I am sure the Ormond college case did more to stop harassment in university circles than a dozen of learned treatises on male sexuality or on limits to feminism. As a Scottish labour leader said about scabs: Moral persuasion is all humbug, nothing persuades like a lick i' the lug.
Not only women will benefit, but with a bit of luck more young men will be freed from the pressure of behaving like "one of the boys". It isn't a question of a victim mentality in women; the macho culture makes victims of us all.
Gerry Harant
Blackburn, VIC
We are seeing in Australia, (UK, France and co.), peacetime legislation that looks very peculiar in a democracy. The Goss Cannabis legislation criminalises almost half of the State's population (CJC figures). How on earth do you criminalise half the population in a democracy? also, why would you?
The Goss criminal code hacks a large chunk out of another of the legs that hold democracy up, by abolishing the right of Jury Trial (for drug and property offenses.)
Media. The Goss Freedom From Information Act, (aimed largely at journalists) raised the same sort of question: what good reason could be there for limiting public access to information in peacetime? (Gareth Evans, currently seen hugging the Indonesians, was recently threatening journalists with seven years for SIO revelations.)
Accountability. The CJC, as a guarantee of Open Government, has been deliberately hamstrung by the Goss regime.

"We" are getting ready to join Asia. Our politicians are required to show a little team spirit before we are accepted. The Army is excited, issuing its own diplomatic statements (congratulating Mantiri) and raiding suburban houses in Sydney (Australian 28/7/95). Its training exercises start to concentrate on civilian control.
Many of the groups marginalised in our society are finding themselves looking at the same thing. It is a strange alliance, that does not yet, realize it is one. Many on the "right" now take "democracy" at least as seriously as the "left".
At the libertarian edge (or centre), the movement between left and right is notorious. It was always a small space because of the Left/Right "two party system".
Goss, like Kennett, (Keating, Major or Clinton) is just a local branch manager for the Global Corporate Theme-Park, where frightened but sedated Prozac-people bounce off the walls of their shopping malls all day, dribbling their money helplessly as they go. Multi-Nationals have got used to a firm grip on the scruff of the public's neck (see Indonesia). I fear it will not (see US/UK/France) be tidy. The ugly chickens are coming home to roost.
John Braby
[Edited for length.]
Roger Clarke (GLW #200) should spare me the lecture. The doctrine of state capitalism permeates the politics of the International Socialist Organisation like a bad smell. It is the ISO's raison d'etre.
While no longer an ISO member Clarke still adheres to their major ideas — the existence of a ruling class in the former USSR and the universal tactic of building rank and file groups in the trade unions — to name but two he owns up to in his letter. I see both these notions as two sides of the same coin that are packaged as essential ingredients of state capitalist doctrine.
The traditional position of international socialism is to apply the same method of analysis to all phenomena — a trade union was treated in the same simplistic way as the Soviet Union because that was what the tendency stood for: as much for a shallow theoretical method as a political line.
The Australian ISO is not now in crisis because the mother lode in Britain ran out of sparkle and suddenly went bad. That's not it at all, Comrade Clarke! Instead - for state caps worldwide, whether they be IS'ers or ex-IS'ers - it's time to take stock because the chickens have come home to roost.
Dave Riley
Northgate QLD

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