Write on: Letters to the editor

October 23, 1996

Write on


Norm Dixon's article about Tibet [GLW #248] left me feeling weird. In the seventies it was so difficult to get anyone to be sympathetic to the Tibetans plight. There was so much Chinese propaganda issued to cover their actions. The comfortable Australian masses, Communist or not, blindly accepted "reforms" by China, justifying its brutality with anti-religious reasoning.

Finally now the reports of imprisonment, sterilisation and slaughter of Tibetans are being noticed by the world.

It is easy to categorise and criticise the acceptance of CIA assistance by the Dalai Lama in 1956, in hindsight. At the time, all other nations ignored Tibet's pleas! This man has had 40 years in exile, constantly aware of the chaos and misery enveloping his home and powerless to stop it. I wonder how politically pure anyone could be in his situation.
Diana Palmer
Malvern Vic


Garry Mclennan (Write On, GLW #248) misses my point. The analysis of the last Queensland election shared by the Courier Mail and the West End Neighbourhood News is simply wrong. In my article (GLW #240) I attacked both because they ignored the Labor Party's role in its own defeat saying it lost office because of the Greens' preference policy. This interpretation is untenable — the Coalition obtained 48.99% of the first preference votes against the ALP's 42.89% . Excusing Labor's loss by blaming the Greens merely acts to obscure the real record of Labor while in government.

Garry Mclennan deploys his argument in order to defend the ALP. He accuses the Greens of "crossing class lines" by being considerate of the Coalition's policies. What Garry means by this is that the only class conscious vote to be had in the election was one that supported the ALP.

I strongly disagree. The ALP is as much a party of the ruling class as the Nationals or Liberals are. Surely he doesn't believe that the ALP governed in the interests of working people these last 13 years? Despite, and because of, its formal links with organised labour the party has the nation's corporate boardrooms laughing all the way to the many ALP sponsored banks.

Since the party still pretends to serve the interests of the working class, maybe it's about time we encouraged everyone on the left to catch up with reality. Similarly, the founding charter of the Qld Greens now seems positively ancient given their current preference for electoral pragmatism. In terms of green or left politics, they have both betrayed their proclaimed allegiances. But let's not junk solely on one so as to excuse the other.
Dave Riley
Northgate Qld

Racist violence

The dousing with petrol and setting alight of a young Aboriginal boy is an act of hatred of the worst possible kind — to kill a child because they are Aboriginal. Or Asian. Or Female. And it is the sort of act we are going to see more of — it is exactly the sort of expression that the current "freedom of speech" encourages. It is freedom for bigots, racists and other assorted rednecks to violate the tenuous human rights of "others" — Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islanders, immigrants, gays and lesbians and women.

As long as racists such as Pauline Hanson, John Herron and John Howard are safely cocooned as Federal Ministers we can be assured that most of us will not be able to safely walk the streets — or leave our kids at school. Because these people are implicitly giving permission to carry out these acts of hate. And the bourgeois press is playing right into the artificial debate.

Green Left Weekly has been doing a fantastic job of getting the real story out and exposing these racist bigots for what they are. It is the only tool we have to network across the country and link all the anti-racist campaigns. Whatever is happening in your town, let us all hear about it. We need the inspiration to keep up the fight.
Lara Pullin


Pauline Hanson calls herself a "red-blooded Australian". Doesn't she know that everyone is red-blooded, unless there is something seriously wrong with them?

Then she chides heavily populated countries like Japan, India and China for not taking immigrants: look at the number of inhabitants and the amount of land space!

Agreed, not all Australia is livable in, but if the government had an efficiently planned economy instead of leaving everything to chance in the hands of greedy profiteers, and if it knew how to cope with advancing technology causing job losses, Australia could take a good many refugees and immigrants, and still have room for everyone.
India: Population 750,000,000. Square kilometres 3,174,130.
China: Population 1,055,000,000. Square kilometres 9,596,981.
Japan: Population 121,000,000. Square kilometres 376,200.
Australia: Population 18,000,000. Square kilometres 7,686,300.
Rosemary Evans
St Kilda Vic

Free speech

John Howard's claim that there is free speech abounding since the election is laughable and easy to disprove. Think of one issue that is bipartisan; both the ALP and the Coalition have the same policy. How about we choose the East Timor issue. Is there more written on East Timor, said on East Timor on television, or on radio? I have been trying to get a letter into the papers since March. No luck. Since March the papers have, it seems to me, battened down the hatches and will publish few if any letters about East Timor.

Of course it is possible to be heard if you have something to say that strikes a chord within the present government. But then, freedom of speech means the freedom to dissent, not the freedom to agree with the powers that be. Hitler and Stalin both allowed that freedom, as does Howard's friend Suharto.
Stephen Langford
Paddington NSW


So the BHP's copper cropper is to be paid for with a whopper chopper of workers' jobs, both in Newcastle, home of steel that saved Australia, and in New Zealand. Will the BHP executives who came the copper cropper get their automatic dollar topper next time?
Denis Kevans
Wentworth Falls NSW

Which BLF?

Michael Bull's article on the battle in the CFMEU (GLW #250) was a welcome addition. Let me make clear a few points:

1. Michael says, "The BLF has a large militant cadre base ... educated in militant union tactics". Maybe in Victoria, but not in WA. Michael's description fits more with the WA CFMEU. The Reynolds WA BLF leadership has always been in the Labor Party's pocket. Many of the gains made by the BLF that Michael refers to were change found in this very pocket.

2. Michael makes valid points about Bill Ethel's history but has a blank on anything the WA CFMEU leadership has done for over 5 years. It's not just the Swan Brewery. While that leadership has made mistakes, it has also provided the only independent (non-Labor) left union leadership in WA, on a range of social and industrial issues.

3. "During the Accord years, a number of trade union leaders, to disguise their lack of fight around 'bread and butter' issues, gave lip service to many progressive local and international causes. Bill Ethel falls into this category", says Michael. Wrong. The Ethel leadership, unlike the CPA influenced unions, did not give "lip service" but fought around such issues. It went up against Labor on important questions and didn't limit the defence of workers to rearguard ("guerilla") industrial fights.

4. The Ethel leadership in the CFMEU in my opinion is still lacking clarity on strategy and tactics, industrially and politically. But Michael seems to think that if you have a blunt pair of scissors to cut paper with you're better off replacing them with a stone. This leadership has maintained a course independent of Laborism without escaping into "militant" syndicalism, which in most cases (with few exceptions like the Victorian BLF) has led straight back into Labor's pocket.
Jorge Jorquera


In Dave Riley's thoughts on television (GLW #249), I was surprised to see his complaint about pictures of carnage just preceding an advertisement about toothpaste. This can only happen with commercial television, and who needs it?

Your program review on the same page covers 13 programs, one is on the ABC and 12 on SBS, a very wise selection. These two stations provide all we need and I have had no need to watch commercial TV for 30 years, and to be harangued by advertisers in my own home is unacceptable.

I was glad that Dave Riley emphasised the pointlessness of cable TV. The equally pointless commercial channels do all they can to draw us back away from books, together with the newspapers also in the hands of Murdoch/Packer and Co. The number of illiterate Australians is likely to sharply increase. Add excessive beer and footy and then while our backs are turned the armaments makers will be scheming to start another war.

The British have been crucified by that vile Thatcher woman, the proponent of war, the cause of mass unemployment, privatisation and crushed Unions. It is happening to us and efforts to tempt us to watch more TV rubbish must be fiercely resisted or the 21st century will see the further entrenchment of Conservative governments and their anti-working class policies.
Norman Taylor
Henley Beach SA

Us and them

An article in the Advertiser dated 5/10/96 reported that the Electricity Trust of South Australia's (ETSA) executive salary bill has almost quadrupled in the past three years to more than $4 million. In three years the number of executives being paid more than $100,000 has trebled from 11 to 36.

This revelation must be viewed by a low morale ETSA work force as a true act of capitalism. Especially considering that since 1989 the work force has been slashed from 6000 to 2736 full-time positions.

Efforts by a depleted ETSA work force in achieving workplace reforms, to enable ETSA to be a competitive player in the National Electricity Grid have seen the "claw of greed" ignore those commitments. The appointment of these executives and their exorbitant salaries, at a time when ETSA is still identifying a surplus of employees through right sizing, is a further kick in the guts to the real achievers and the rewarding to the non achievers.
R.J. O'Loughlin
Torrens Island Power Station

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