Write On: Letters to the Editor

Issue 

ALP

According to the June 3 Age, the Victorian Labor government is now facing a shortfall of $600 million for schools in needy areas following the decision not to sell Snowy Hydro. But from where is the state government going to get the money from? One obvious avenue is to renege on the shameful proposal to cut the top rate of land tax from 3.5% to 3%. This $200 million gift to the biggest landlords in the state stands in stark contrast to the need to invest in our children and their future.

Landlords are well recognised as the least productive class in society. Perhaps the ALP needs to decide whether it is the Australian Labor Party or the Australian Landlord Party. It will be interesting to see whose interests they end up supporting.

Lev Lafayette
Melbourne

Privatisation

What I can't understand is, how did we become a country that goes to war under false pretences. It is unacceptable that our leaders have all the power and no responsibility. Stating, "We didn't know, we got it wrong, but we'll stick it out anyway", simply will not do. War is too important to get it wrong.

The government has sold us our own public assets, which we bought with our taxed income. Now the proud owners of a tiny piece of one of our country's service providers, we get an insignificant sum of money each year in the form of a dividend, which is taxed. We still have to pay for the service, which has gone up in price to increase returns to you, the investor. While all this is happening, you're still paying tax for the service you now own and pay for. Hey, why pay for something once when you can pay for it three times?!

Call me crazy if I start getting too radical please. I really do want to understand what's going on.

Our reality is not a democracy, rather it is a lobbyocracy. Every day, the average city dweller is fed hundreds of advertisements, exposed to hundreds of brand names and logos. This advertising influences our decisions, which is the whole point of advertising. While we understand this concept on an individual level, most people don't realise the same thing happens to governments, and probably shouldn't.

Our government gets billions of dollars each year from our income tax, and spends it on protecting oil companies while they rob the Middle East, or paying Global Solutions to run concentration camps in our deserts. Think about that next time you travel on a toll road or pay nearly $2 per litre for fuel.

If our governments do not reduce our tax bill every time they privatise and therefore sell off one of our publicly owned service providers, I suggest we all stop paying tax. That way we'd only be paying for things twice.

Richard Davine
St Kilda, Vic [Abridged]

Sustainable economics

Despite the hype on the 10th anniversary of the Howard-Costello government, the future is grim and economic changes must be made. There is a term for the measure of good economics and sustainability. It is a simple concept and is such that even politicians can understand. That it needs to be satisfied should be apparent to all! Why not Howard and Costello?

Economics means management of the home! Do we manage our home such that it falls down around our ears before we have finished with it? Economics is not a given: it is not a religion; it is just a tool to help us manage where we live. The current economic model is not managing our home and real economic reform is required.

The economics of Howard, Costello, Bush, etc., is depleting natural resources at an excessive rate and massively rewarding those who deplete the resource. Future generations will not have oil, soil, air or water of suitable accessibility and quality. Hence, continued use of the current economic model is a death sentence for humanity.

The key to a future is the Produce Use Sustainability Index (PUSI). Put simply, to assess an activity we divide the time to produce the natural resources required by the time we take to use this resource and if the result is greater than one, the activity is unsustainable. This also gives us a figure to feed into the cost of the natural resources to see if we can afford the activity. For example, oil took hundreds of thousands of years to produce and we will use it in hundreds of years. This is not sustainable. Multiply the cost of oil by PUSI and it is costed-out use.

The significant inputs to system Earth are solar radiation and lunar gravity. We have the technologies (and it is imperative) to solve our energy and other requirements from these inputs: photovoltaics, direct solar (absorption air conditioning etc), water-solar-hydrogen-water, etc, etc. If the economics does not support the reality change the economics!

Nuclear energy and carbon sequestration, etc., are unnecessary and wasteful diversions of human and other resources.

Sustainability requires economic reform NOW for humans to live later! The prime minister and the treasurer must apply logic: history is no guide.

Rod Fletcher
Gresford, NSW

Socialist Alliance

In order to extend the influence of the Socialist Alliance and to induce more people to read Green Left Weekly, it is essential to take up their needs.

Quite contrary to the boasting of the Howard conservative government that there is prosperity, the cold facts are many people on small incomes are finding it extremely difficult to rent affordable accommodation.

The rent assistance from Centrelink is inadequate and is a band-aid solution for the unwillingness of the NSW Labor government to construct housing commission accommodation.

The legislation of the Howard government indicates very clearly that its principal concern is looking after the very wealthy. The NSW Labor government has failed dismally to pursue policies on many issues that are the concern of the working class.

For this reason, it is essential to demonstrate to the people what the Socialist Alliance stands for. It is and will continue to be the tribune for the social and political needs of the working class.

Susan Mullen
Belmore, NSW

West Papua

I write to congratulate you on your excellent articles on West Papua and for supporting over time the independence of West Papua as the only solution to end what I term the silent genocide of the indigenous West Papuan people by the Indonesian military in particular. Unfortunately, both Australian major political parties support the integration of West Papua into Indonesia to placate the Indonesian government and corporate interests, even ignoring a Newspoll (as you indicate in your last excellent article in GLW #669) that 76.7% of Australians support self-determination for West Papua and that the policies of the Australian government and ALP enjoy no mass support.

The "silent genocide" of the West Papuan indigenous people is coming from the upper echelons of the Australian government and bureaucracy and corporate interests and the ALP but not from organisations which have direct knowledge of the situation culminating in a Sydney University August 2005 report entitled Genocide in West Papua? I hope that your excellent paper will continue to feature further articles on this important subject, remembering the close proximity of West Papua to Australia and the fact that we have been complicit in the terrible injustices that the indigenous West Papuan people have suffered and continue to suffer.

Steven Staats
East Brunswick, Vic

Nuclear power I

They say we have to go nuclear because fossil fuels create global warming. But if that is the case, then we will be able to do with less power all round and could even go wind or solar, and don't need nuclear power after all! Or is this all too obvious to our politicians and to the nuclear industry to which they have sold their vote?

Peter Gilet
Albany, WA

Nuclear power II

Nuclear power's a loss without huge taxpayer grants, so why's John Howard so keen? Maybe his friends are licking their lips at all that money from you and me. Who cares about more kids with cancer when you can make a buck? Want more info on that? Put "Jean-Francois Viel" and "nuclear" into your computer search engine. Here's a quote from cancer researcher Professor Jean-Francois Viel: "I know better than most how powerful the nuclear lobby is. I have experienced attacks and intimidations at the expense of my professional and family life."

As for cutting greenhouse gases, nuclear's a pricey dud compared to wind, solar and biomass. But what's the key difference? Why of course, it's profits (or rather our money), for the fat cats.

Kim Bax
Cedar Vale, Qld

Policing

Considering that I am not a serial traffic offender, I was rather surprised when last week I was pulled over by two police officers while driving on Springvale Road. Unfortunately, I had forgotten to renew my driver's licence (which had expired about one week prior), and subsequently I was issued with an infringement notice indicating a fine of $262, which although exorbitant, I accept fault.

I did not realise that the law-and-order debate for Victoria's November state election had already commenced. The first order of the day being imprisonment for a second offence of not renewing one's driver's licence. At least that's what the police officer said.

I do not feel that intimidation is necessary in meting out penalties for administrative driving offences (or in any form of police conduct). Such repressive approaches only highlight an abuse of power. Surely the law can be enforced and the public engaged with integrity, dignity and in a less confrontational manner. Arrogant demeanours and de-humanising approaches only breed fear, antagonism and vulnerability, rather than safe and secure communities.

Giota Angelides
Springvale, Vic

From Green Left Weekly, June 21 2006.
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