Write on: Letters to the editor

May 17, 2000

Write on: Letters to the editor

Johnny Coward

John Howard is to be applauded for his stance on reconciliation.

Not because an apology is not in order, nor because reconciliation with the traditional owners of this country is not an important (if not the most important) issue for Australia, but because it reveals his true feelings on the issue — and because no apology is better than a fraudulent one.

Here in the Territory, not much has changed with Aboriginal relations in 200 years. On the face of things, Aboriginal people provide tourism dollars and Aboriginal culture is embraced as a "marketable commodity". While there is a dollar to be made, everyone is happy, especially the CLP [Country Liberal Party].

But contrast that with recent reports of abysmal performance in Aboriginal education, and continued poor health and employment statistics. Alcoholism and domestic violence are rife and getting worse, and of course the Stolen Generation "never happened". The genocide continues.

No, John Howard and all his Liberal colleagues will not endorse reconciliation if an apology is due. Why should this or any government feel responsible for the slaughter and dispossession of Aboriginal society? Perhaps they would rather wait until the technology is available to clone Governor Phillip, bring him back to life and put him on trial for crimes against humanity.

Howard is not sorry that the government stands to make millions from uranium mining on Aboriginal land. Senator Hill will make sure of that. He is not sorry that Aboriginal people are incarcerated at a much higher rate than other Australians, Mr Stone will make sure of that.

He is not sorry that countless children were taken from their rightful families and culture and placed into situations of neglect and abuse under "superior" white guardianship. He stands by his conviction.

Good on you, Johnny. You have taken a stand that shows you up for the true man that you are. A coward.

To make the apology would be simple. It might even fool a few people. But I have to say "good for you" when you can stand firm and tell the people of Australia what an ignorant bigot you really are, and be proud of it.

Andy Gough
Rapid Creek NT

Click to end homelessness

A new "free donation" web site (<http://www.bigskysoft.com/homeless>) has been established at which users can click on a "donate" button once per day to help end homelessness.

Advertisers pay half a cent per click to a homeless shelter, at present the Emergency Housing Consortium in San Jose, California which owns a network of shelters in Silicon Valley and the Raphael House in San Francisco, California. Plans are being made to "rotate" the recipient shelter around the world.

There is also a "virtual mall" attached to the site, in which a percentage of sales also goes to the homeless.

Heather Guillen

Don't forget RITA

The interesting article by Doug Lorimer "The movement against the Vietnam War" (GLW, May 3) forgot to mention RITA, the Resistance inside the Armies.

US RITA played an important role in "our" victory, in the victory not only of the Vietnamese, but of the hundreds of thousands of soldiers who, by the war's end, were — if not clearly on the side of the Vietnamese — definitely against "their" enemy, the Green Machine, the US Military. Against their BrAss, their command.

Hundreds of thousands of American Soldiers deserted or openly resisted, FTA'd (Fucked up the Army), from the inside.

Certainly the resistance inside the Australian Army was less extensive, less organised, and above all far less known than in the US military. In Left Face, Soldier Unions and Resistance Movements in Modern Armies we attempted to analyse some of the reasons.

The Australian Army was far smaller — not only (obviously) absolutely, but also relatively to the population. While the US military reached one soldier per 63 civilians, the Australian ration was 1:165.

The proportion of draftees in Australia was 9% in the Vietnam Era military, in the USA 20%. (However, many, sometimes most, American RITAs turned out to be volunteer soldiers).

But perhaps the essential factor was the almost total absence of civilian "peacenik" support for the resisters inside the Australian Army. This problem also initially bedevilled RITA in America, but diminished there as the GI resistance grew and became widely known.

Some Australians did, indeed, support American RITAs. "Sydney FTA" (Fuck the Army) was distributed in Kings Cross to GIs on R&R leave, taken back to Vietnam and even sometimes reached the USA and Europe. Dozens, scores, of American GIs deserted, stayed on in Australia — often with the active help of Australian "peaceniks" (including Jack Mundey's BLF) — preferring, as Marine corporal Doug Beane said, to "make love, not war".

But the lack of support by the peace movement for Australia's own anti-war soldiers should not be forgotten. It should be — for who knows what tomorrow may bring — studied, understood, and perhaps corrected.

Max Watts

GM chance wasted

In the unseemly and obscene haste in which transnational chemical companies are pushing genetically modified (GM) food technology onto a largely non-consenting public, one would think that our community leaders would at least be very suspicious and extremely rigorous in their investigation of such technology, before making decisions to allow it to proceed in their areas.

In view of the fact that even the most basic questions of personal and environmental safety surrounding the use of such technology are yet to be answered, you'd think our elected representatives would go a step further and ban this unwanted technology outright.

No such far-sightedness by the Huon Valley Council, in the south of Tasmania this week! In defeating Councillor Paul Thomas's common sense proposition to make the Huon Valley GM free, the appalling quality of representation by many on this Council has produced an ill-informed decision to proceed with this technology, despite unanswered questions of safety.

A golden opportunity to protect the Huon Valley from this potentially dangerous and deeply unpopular technology has been well and truly botched.

Equally tragic is the fact that, once again, the community has been robbed of the time and breathing space to give informed consent, or otherwise, on what type of industries come to our region. No wonder that scenes of extreme anger from exasperated constituents in the public gallery followed this display of inept decision making.

Neil Cremasco
Judbury Tas

Daylight robbery

The Prime Minister and Treasurer tell us that "no-one will be worse off with the GST". No doubt, tax dodgers, bottom of the harbour merchants and all the other rorters are comforted.

Remember, wage and salary earners have their taxes deducted from their income before they get it. So they are not tax dodgers.

If you buy goods from big firms and have them delivered, you will be charged a delivery fee. This is a cost faced by many people, elderly, mothers with young children and the sick or incapacitated. They buy the goods, pay the service fee and now, because they haven't got a car and can't carry themselves, come 1st July the GST awaits them. Daylight robbery I call it.

First, seriously deal with tax rorting. Suggest that a policy be implemented that if you make your money in Australia, you pay tax at the Australian rate. No claiming your registered office is in Timbuktu and so exempt and so on.

Jean Hale
Balmain NSW

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