Peter Boyle

Debra Jopson is an investigative reporter with a conscience and a very good record for exposing the crimes that continue to be committed against Indigenous people of Australia. Her latest expose, in a series of articles in the Sydney Morning Herald on August 21-22, was of a multi-million dollar robbery of funds allocated to address the Third World-like conditions of Indigenous Australians. And who was the robber? The Howard government.
On August 8, I attended a noisy demonstration by trade unionists in Malaysia who were demanding that the government bring in a minimum wage of 900 ringgit (A$300) a month. I had come to the picket with a group of some of the country’s lowest-paid workers — rubber-plantation workers whose ancestors had been brought from India generations ago by the former British colonial rulers as indentured labourers.
For the last week, I’ve woken up each morning at five to join ordinary Hanoi residents exercising in Lenin Park, which surrounds one of several huge lakes in the centre of the city. The first time I went out of curiosity, but it was such a buzz I’ve returned every morning.
It has been 37 years since the Vietnam War ended, but you don’t have to look far to see the scars of that war — people who have lost limbs, people suffering deformities from the extensive use of chemical defoliants such as Agent Orange by the US military.
Australians Brendan Hurst and Justin Saint were recently killed in a roadside attack near Baghdad. They had been working for the Queensland-registered security firm BLP International as contractors training Iraqi police.
I am sure readers would agree that the real swindlers were exposed in the discussion after the much-watched screening of Martin Durkin’s Great Global Warming Swindle on ABC TV last week.
East Timor is holding parliamentary elections on June 30. Many commentators predict former president Xanana Gusmao’s new party, the National Congress for Timorese Reconstruction (CNRT), will form government, ousting the current ruling Fretilin party. However, a new government is unlikely to bring an end to the severe social and economic crisis besetting the country, Tomas Freitas from Luta Hamutuk (“Struggle Together”), a Timorese activist group that monitors the state budget and the petroleum fund (now worth US$1.4 billion), told Green Left Weekly’s Peter Boyle. Freitas is also a member of the Consultative Council on the Petroleum Fund, which is comprised of government and civil society representatives.
Heard the story about the last capitalist on Earth who sold the rope used to hang the second last capitalist? Well, they will try and make a buck from anything.
Ker-ching! $2.5 million from the Business Council of Australia. Ker-ching! $3 million from the Australian Chamber of Commerce. Ker-ching! $1-2 million from the Minerals Council (they’ve got a few billion in spare change). Ker-ching! $3 million from the Master Builders (they swear they don’t swear like those thuggish unionists in the building industry). Ker-ching! $1 million from the National Farmers Federation (“Sorry John, we’re still bleeding from the Patricks’ fiasco and there’s the drought …”). Ker-ching!
“I’m taking control”, said Johnny Howard, with a contrived quiver of righteousness in his voice. His face was set into a familiar pastiche of horror and disgust at the degraded behaviour of lesser beings. He also conveyed a weariness — the weariness of shouldering the “white man’s burden”.
OK, I admit this idea to boost the Green Left Weekly Fighting Fund was inspired (to be honest, stolen) from the recent adventures of one Canape Crusader from Kirribilli: we get 225 people to donate $8000 each to the Green Left Weekly Fighting Fund and, in return, I have them over to my place for drinks and canapes. That should raise enough money to make this column redundant for seven years!
When the Australian Bureau of Statistics released the latest national accounts last week it was revealed that the corporate profit share of all Australian income had risen to 28.1%, well above the long-term average of 20%.
The good news this week is that the Green Left Weekly Fighting Fund has reached a third of the way to its $250,000 target for 2007!
Just a week after Treasurer Peter Costello delivered the federal budget, which contained $31.5 billion in tax cuts over four years among other pre-election bribes, a Newspoll published in the May 15 Australian found that support for Labor had increased to 59% (on a two-party preferred basis) from 57% the previous month. Several other polls have since confirmed this trend.
Tom Lewis, 83, is a long-time Green Left Weekly subscriber in a small town between Bundaberg and Gin Gin, Queensland. His eyesight is rapidly failing and he can no longer read. But last week he renewed his subscription to the paper and made a $100 donation to our fighting fund.
Australia’s top silk and civil rights advocate Julian Burnside QC has suggested introducing a law that makes it an offence for politicians to lie. I don’t know how practical this would be, but imagine if politicians could be forced to tell the truth and ’fess up like the makers of Ribena?

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