Write on: Letters to the editor

Wednesday, August 14, 1996

Write on

Civil liberties

What do gun control and Russell Cooper's proposal for "Youth Curfews" have in common? Gross violations of Civil Liberties. Add to this gross interference with the right to Trial by Jury and the Freedom of Information Act; Gareth Evans threatening journalists with 7 years in jail; Howard threatening $1 million fines for publishing information on our security services; attempts to censor the Internet, and now Borbidge's increased police powers threatening the independence of the judiciary — a rash of manoeuvring and legislation that looks extremely odd in peacetime.

In a letter to the Australian (5/6/96) Jim Cairns revealed that 70% of all company income in this country belongs to 8% of Transnationals. Most of this income goes overseas, hence the increasing "Black Hole".

The safety nets that caught youth, the unemployed, farmers can no longer be afforded. As money gets tighter, governments worldwide fully expect that crime and social dislocation will result. Their answer is to clamp down on the population in anticipation.

In England there is now a riot squad in every medium-sized town. It would make a nonsense of this kind of strategy to allow the population to be as well armed as the riot squad.

Governments cannot suggest other ways by which the civilian population can fend for itself. Tragically the most human answer, that villages, streets and neighbourhoods become socially functional by organising the practical details of their lives themselves, would be seen as an obscure threat by those whose obsession it is to see the threat in the population.

No, I am not a gun owner, but I do have children. The unkindness of this society, which they will inherit tenfold, is not the population, but the deliberate policies of our politicians.
John Braby
Conondale Qld
[Edited for length.]

Union misleadership

As part of the build-up to the July 31 statewide day of action in Victoria, Leigh Hubbard, Secretary of the Trades Hall Council, spoke at a regional meeting of the Australian Education Union at Mill Park.

I asked whether THC and the ACTU was going to limit itself to a token one-day day of action against Howard, as happened when Kennett came to power.

Hubbard replied that "we could never have changed the Kennett legislation" and that the current struggle against the Liberal government's industrial relations legislation "was a political struggle to get the Democrats to live up to their election promise ... if we show enough strength on the one day, then the Howard government wouldn't be game to go to a double dissolution".

He said that he "wouldn't say this to the rank and file but we just want to change five main things in the industrial relations bill because it can't be defeated".

I left the meeting outraged. Workers in Australia are facing the most serious attack in decades, but it seems that the ACTU and THC are happy to let this attack go through, as long as there are a few small amendments. It seems that the habits they learnt when Labor was in power — of acquiescing to attacks on workers — have been carried over to the new government.

We need the trade union movement to plan a campaign to defeat the IR legislation and not just amend it.
Norrian Rundle
Epping NSW
[Edited for length.]

US terrorism

Fact 1: In December 1995, the US congress approves US$20 million for "covert operations" (New World Orderspeak for wholesome US terrorism) against Iran.

Fact 2: In response to the Israeli attack upon a UN post in Lebanon in April that international investigators conclude was overwhelmingly likely to have been deliberate, the US fails to condemn the massacre of 100 civilians.

Fact 3: Some months later, with the pride and joy of the "free world", the Olympic Games, in full swing and Star Spangled Clanger wailing at us between every ad break, the festivities are derailed by what appears to be a home grown terror bombing in Atlanta.

Fact 4: In the very same week, the US president confirms sanctions against companies investing in Iran and Libya because of their alleged — unproven — support of terrorism.

While the dubious ethical character of modern politicians is both well known and indeed well documented, Bill Clinton will go down in history as the President who elevated hypocrisy on the international stage to a veritable art form.

That conclusion disturbs me almost as much as the next fact.

Fact 5: While 3 and 4 are taking place, Australia is crowing about a lovely new defence agreement with the United States that is, magically, going to deliver us from all the threatening nasties that surround us and put us unequivocally on the side of righteousness.

Yankee Doodle agitprop might be a bitch, but all the gold of the Games will never hide the fact that Australia is a mongrel that licks her bum.
Alan Whykes
Wagaman NT

Ode for Amanda

Let's put a Hex on Mad Dame Vain-Stink
So she'll do a turn around and have a decent think think,
Before she takes the unemployed and students to the brink brink.
Robert Wood
Surry Hills NSW


If Sydney's Bishop Clancy is ministering the sacraments to the East Timorese, will he be giving a post-dated general extreme unction to the 100,000 or so East Timorese Catholics killed by the Indonesian Army?
Denis Kevans
Wentworth Falls NSW

Olympics and human rights

The Atlanta Olympics Games Opening and Closing Ceremonies were part of a gigantic propaganda exercise by Atlanta authorities, which was designed to hide the racism and human rights violations which exist in Georgia.

The featuring of Martin Luther King's "Dream" speech and portraying it as "Atlanta's Dream" was pure hypocrisy. This was the city which moved whole communities of African-Americans from the city to the suburbs where they would not be seen by tourists! This is the city where all whites live in the more affluent northern suburbs and where black men are sentenced to death by all-white juries (i.e. legal lynching).

The organisers used a large number of African-Americans in the ceremonies in an effort to convince the world that Atlanta is not racist. These people were truly made use of — especially the black and white children in the Closing Ceremony, who ran into the arena hand-in-hand, again portraying the "Dream". I would hazard a guess that not many of them attend the same schools.

The organisers may think that they pulled the wool over our eyes, but the truth is that they did not!
Stephanie Wilkinson
Seven Hills NSW

Yuppies out!

In GLW #239 your theatre critic recommended a cafe in Newtown.

For the past few years, Newtown has been the victim of what locals call "yuppiefication". Real estate agents and developers have managed to give the area a favourable image. They have encouraged yuppies to move in, as well as businesses that serve them. The cost of living has increased so much that local workers, students and unemployed people are being forced out.

If cafes like this one can rely on trade from outside, locals will have a lot less economic power. This will make it a lot harder to fight back.

If people are going to use the trendier cafes and shops in Newtown, they should know that they're helping to destroy the Newtown community.
James Hutchings
Enmore NSW