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11 September 1992. Thought for the Week: "Contemporary man in the Western World is living in an environment which has a mediaeval character. In place of the Dance of Death presented to his ancestors by plague and pestilence, his own Dance of Death is presented to him with its gunmen and its bomb-men. He cannot rely upon his government, to which hitherto he gave his allegiance in return for the protection it formerly gave him, to ensure his safety; for the men who administer that government, through their lack of moral courage and the presence in them of fear, have failed in their societary responsibility. If moral courage is absent in them, why should it be present in him?"
Dr. Walter Henderson, in Conservatism and Society
NO SANCTIONS IN THE 'GLOBAL MARKET'
While Australians generally regard United States Presidential elections as a curiosity that we are mercifully spared, we nevertheless suffer some of the "campaign fall-out". President Bush's boost to the Export Enhancement Programme (E.E.P.) last week comes as a hammer blow to Australian wheat growers, but hardly raised a ripple in the United States campaign. In the U.S. this is just another campaign promise a desperate President using his incumbent's advantage in full in handing out pre-election bribes.
One report from the U.S., however, points out that while it is great electioneering, the United States is not a dictatorship as yet, and the President does not control the Congress. As in Australia, there are divisions of power, which limit Mr. Bush's capacity to do as he chooses. In November, a House of Representatives and half-Senate election will also be held with the Presidential election, and reports indicate that even if Bush wins again, he will still face a Democrat controlled Congress. This means that any spending initiative, like increasing farm subsidies or export handouts, still has to be passed by Congress in order to give effect to Mr. Bush's pre-election largesse.
The Bush announcement also illustrates how the economic rationalists' "global market" will really work. The utopian dreams of fair trade on the level playing field come completely unstuck where the wheat market is concerned. Not only is the grain trade dominated by a small number of private cartels, but it also lends itself as an alternative to the military instrument in international conflict. Even if Australian farmers are the most efficient grain growers in the world, it is obvious that they have no sanctions on the global market. Wheat growers have no option but to trade internationally, and the global market is well out of their control.
Australian National Party Leader, Mr. Fischer,
proposes that Mr. Bush be pressed to give Australian producers access
to U.S. Markets for other products, like beef and sugar. But Mr. Bush's
prime motivation in this trade conflict is not to "teach the Europeans
a lesson", but to get George Bush re-elected. Having offered a bribe
to U.S. wheat growers, he is hardly going to damage the interests of
U.S. cattlemen, or sugar growers!
While the National Party, at their Federal Council
Conference in Canberra, are claiming bitterly about Mr. Bush's agricultural
policies, we could perhaps learn something from them. Mr. Bush is forced
to consider the interests of American growers. The E.E.P. also covers
dairy products and canned fruit U.S. subsidies on both will damage Australian
producers. The first sales of subsidised U.S. canned peaches have been
made on the Japanese market. Australian peach growers attempt to compete
on this market.
HEWSON SUGGESTS WE SURRENDER
THE HEWSON-KEATING SLANGING MATCH
On other issues, like immigration there is little significant difference. Both Parties adhere to the same trade policy of the "level playing field". If anything, the Opposition is more doctrinaire than the Government. More recent polls show, however, that the Opposition has lost significant ground in its ideologically pure position on tariffs, especially when it is made clear that such policy could cost us the remnant of the car industry.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE VICTORIAN ELECTIONS
As we have warned, a number of "Independents" are merely fronts for the main parties, particularly the Labor Party. But the upsurge of electoral support for Independents has all the parties concerned. Former Premier of N.S.W., Mr. Greiner, has warned Victorians against supporting Independents, pointing out that they have been a disruptive influence in N.S.W. It does not appear to have occurred to Mr. Greiner that the electors of N.S.W. did not approve of his style of government. The massive swing against his party in the recent by-election suggested that the Independents in N.S.W. were reflecting the views of the majority of N.S.W. electors when they insisted they could no longer support the Greiner Government.
Some of the Victorian Independent candidates are of high quality, and we would be surprised if after the elections there are not at least a few genuine Independents in both the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council. Parliament will be all the better for a few Independent Members pledged to work for the introduction of the Electors' Veto as early as possible. Actionists should make this a major issue.
Although the polls show that the Jeff Kennett led Coalition has a substantial lead over Labor, it is certain that there is no great enthusiasm for Jeff Kennett. Federal Labor strategists are looking forward to having the Liberal-National Party Coalition in office in Victoria for as long as possible before the Federal elections, confident that Kennett will do no better than Labor, and that support for the Liberals will start to ebb. But our view is that the main result could be further increase in support for Independents. The future is now pregnant with possibilities, which did not exist a few years back. League actionists have played a major role in creating a climate of opinion in support of the concept of electing genuine parliamentary representatives instead of party rubber stamps.
THE OPPOSITION'S G.S.T!
The Opposition stresses that the G.S.T. will be "revenue neutral", which means that the tax slug will remain the same. The G.S.T. is simply another name for the hated V.A.T., which is widely used throughout Europe. It is claimed that this is a "fairer" tax, although the Opposition now concedes that some groups will be offered cash compensation because they will be substantially disadvantaged. The truth is that the G.S.T. is the most savagely efficient tax collecting method known to man. Efficient, that is, for governments, which is obviously why they like it!
As a tax collecting mechanism it is brilliantly successful, but this very feature means that it is much more likely to be used to raise taxes than anything else. The New Zealand experience confirms this; their G.S.T. began at 10%, with promises (cross our hearts hope to die, etc.) that it wouldn't be increased. Within two years, they had jacked it up to l2.5%. A cynical electorate is quite justified in treating such election promises as the simple lies that they often turn out to be.
There are other lessons from the New Zealand
experience. The privatisation of State owned enterprises (S.O.E's.)
leaves many facilities available only on a user-pays basis. The cost
of long distance phone services has escalated. Rural postal delivery
charges have doubled. Such aspects of the free market economy lead to
the charge that remote areas pay much more for communication, effectively
subsidising urban services. The G.S.T. has not improved the N.Z. trade
While the "Fightback/G.S.T." package will mean substantial changes in structure, there is little evidence of permanent taxpayer benefits. That is, the Opposition proposals will change the form, but not necessarily the substance of the economic structure. And it should also be pointed out that, if elected, the Opposition must also get their fightback package through the Senate, in much the same way that Mr. Bush must get his spending proposals through Congress before they go ahead. If the Senate refuses 'Fightback/G.S.T." then a new election is inevitable - almost certainly a double dissolution.
A FEW HOME TRUTHS EMERGE
STRESS ON INTEREST WORSENS RECESSION
from The Age (Melbourne), July 20th
PEOPLE SHOULD HAVE JUST ONE PASSPORTfrom The Age (Melbourne), September 5th
Michelle Grattan (28/8) writes that Mr. Keating has accused Dr. Hewson of 'gross disloyalty' to his country when he travelled abroad. Is this the same Mr. Keating who lambasted our flag while he was in Indonesia earlier this year, breaking a time honoured tradition that domestic policies are never aired abroad?
"It is to be hoped that while the Prime Minister is in Japan this month he does not do too much grovelling and it is certainly hoped that he doesn't raise the issue of the Australian Flag while he has discussions with the Emperor. Come to think of it, perhaps his visit is aimed at selling the rest of Australia to the Japanese. Keating certainly has a hide when he starts accusing other people of disloyalty.
"I noticed in the same edition of The Age a report that some Australians hold dual nationality and that these people could be barred from holding public office. The R.S.L's. attitude is clear on this issue. Either people are Australians or they are not - there should be no such situation as dual nationality.
"People holding passports other than their Australian ones should be given an option: hand back the foreign one and keep their Australian passport or vice versa. If they choose to keep a foreign passport at the expense of one issued to them as an Australian citizen, they should forfeit all their rights as Australians. (Bruce Ruxton, Victorian President, Returned and Services League, Melbourne, Vic.)
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