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9 July 1982. Thought for the Week: Count it the greatest of infamies to prefer life to honour, and lose, for the sake of living, all that makes life worth having.
THE CANBERRA POLITICAL CIRCUS
Will Mr. Bob Hawke displace Mr. Bill Hayden as leader of the Australian Labor Party primarily because sufficient of his political colleagues feel that this would make a Labor victory certain at the next Federal elections? Will Premier Neville Wran move to Canberra in the near future? In a Labor Leadership challenge could deputy leader Bowen emerge as a shock winner? Will Prime Minister Fraser decide on an early election if he feels that he can exploit division in the ALP's ranks on foreign policy or uranium? These and similar questions are being discussed by the media commentators, ever eager to help create "news" so that they can then comment upon it.
In all the welter of speculation, it is conceded that there are no basic policy differences between the politicians. It was the same during the Fraser-Peacock affair. Mr. Peacock had no difference with Mr. Fraser on basic policy. After all, Mr. Peacock had been associated with all policy decisions, including the treacherous betrayal of Rhodesia.
Mr. Peacock said it was impossible to work with Mr. Fraser. But Mr. Peacock will accept a position back in the Fraser Cabinet as soon as this is deemed politically expedient! When the Victorian ALP replaced former leader, Mr. Frank Wilkes, with Mr. John Cain, this was a cynical demonstration of how the party politicians, even those who claim to be Socialist idealists, are more concerned about winning office than about ideology.
Former Labor Minister Mr. Clyde Cameron
has come out in favour of Mr. Hawke leading the ALP into the
next Federal Elections, not because he is against Mr. Bill
Hayden, but because he believes that the public opinion polls
indicate that Mr. Hawke is electorally a bigger "draw" than
Mr. Hayden. The question of policy is ignored. The truth is
that an ALP government under Mr. Hawke would be implementing
basically the same policies, which Mr. Hayden would be implementing.
Mr. Hayden would almost certainly be the Treasurer in a Hawke
Statements by Hawke and Hayden (and other
Labor spokesmen) on finance economics leave no doubt that
an ALP government would pursue, with few variations, the same
policies being implemented by the Fraser government. Electors
should note that as the party political leaders wheel and
deal, they make it clear that they are being completely hypocritical
when they talk about the necessity of longer terms for governments
- allegedly so that there is time for government strategy
to be implemented.
The reaction of that growing concerned minority of electors, who are sickened by the Canberra political circus, must be to cast a responsible vote to strengthen the position of the Senate as a "watchdog", irrespective of who is the next Prime Minister.
ISRAEL'S STRANGE ARMS GAME
An article from The Washington Post
section of The Guardian Weekly (June 6) dealt with
Israel's armaments debt:
Another Washington Post article (The Guardian Weekly, June 20) confirmed the recent Courier-Mail article we quoted recently: "... In the last several weeks, Argentina has received munitions, spare parts, and rockets from Peru and Venezuela, and French made Exocet air-to-surface missiles, probably from Iraq via Libya ... Two Western diplomatic sources also said that Argentina had received 24 American made A-4 Skyhawk fighter bombers from Israel... According to diplomatic sources, Argentina's most important new supplies have been the delivery of Skyhawks from Israel, and two commercial planeloads of arms that have arrived from Libya "
But Argentina is not the only beneficiary of Israel's armament largesse. The Washington Post had reported earlier (G.W. June 6) "Defence Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel said last week that the United States was informed in detail and in advance about his country's undercover supply of military equipment to Iran during its war with Iraq. Mr. Sharon said that despite Washington's neutral stance, no objection was made by ranking U.S. officials. A senior State Department official, informed of Mr. Sharon's comments, said the United States had sought unsuccessfully to discourage the shipments, which Israel has estimated to be worth $27 million..."
The Editorial in the same issue opened up another aspect: "Iran will be in a position within four to six weeks to mount an invasion of Iraq that could have far reaching consequences in the strategic Gulf The situation in the Gulf region is very dicey. Iran is crushing the Iraqi forces that invaded 20 months ago and, while threatening to continue a military and subversive offensive, demanding both the ouster of strong man Saddam Hussein and the payment of $50 billion in reparations.
"We have very unhappy memories of the
Arab-Israeli truce," an Iranian official has told the Wall
Street Journal. "Once you accept a truce, you never get
anywhere with negotiations." But this is only half of it.
The Iranians are now looking a field to the conservative Gulf
Arabs who have been backing Iraq - with an estimated $22 billion
There is, of course, a considerable Soviet presence in Iran, which borders Afghanistan. Over 2,000 Soviet military 'advisers' are reported in the country; which raises the question: Why would Israel be selling arms to Iran (and Argentina), and is she using United States economic aid to build a flourishing arms trade with regimes on which the Soviet Union is casting an ambitious eye?
FARMERS IN THE RED
The two-and-a-half million farmers in the U.S. now have an average debt of $85,000 per farm - a combined total farm debt now exceeding $200 billion. In 1973, $1 of farm income in the U.S. supported $2 of farm debt. Today's figure is $1: $12.
Ralph Whitlock (The Guardian Weekly, June 20, 1982) gave the European counterpart: "A sad little report, recently published by the Milk Marketing Board, provoked for me a degree of nostalgia. The core of it was the fact (no doubt astounding to some) that the average 70 acre dairy farm in Denmark is paying nearly 9,000 pounds ($18,000) a year in interest on borrowed money, leaving a profit of only 443 pounds! Yes, 9,000 pounds for the bank, the mortgage corporation or whatever and only 443 pounds for the farmer! No wonder the report concludes that round 10% of dairy farmers there are facing bankruptcy. I would have expected a higher proportion than that
Here is the author of that Milk Marketing
Board report .. "There is one fundamental lesson we can learn,"
he writes. "There is no way, even with an exceptionally high
technical performance, given existing product prices and interest
rates, that the agricultural industry can service a substantial
dependence on borrowed money
Whitlock concluded: "Am I being naive in sensing deadly danger to a society in which the rewards go not to those who work hard or to those who produce the necessities and luxuries of life, but to those who are expert at the manipulation of money? ..."
Confiscatory interest rates played a major part in the defeat of the Victorian Liberal Government, and will be a vital issue at the next Federal elections. But Federal Treasure John Howard and his "advisers" have now made it certain that interest rates in general will rise again, thus undermining still further the Australian dream of widespread home ownership. Only a major division in the ALP's ranks can save the Fraser government if it continues its policy of high interest rates.
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