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1 October 1993. Thought for the Week: "Power shared is power kept safe ... and that is democracy. The Queen is a symbol of the kind of democratic government we have. She represents authority without power and leadership beyond politics. The Governor General, our Head of State, has authority without the power wielded by the party political system."
Dame Leonie Kramer
OLYMPIC HYPE AND THE REPUBLICAN ISSUE
by Eric D. Butler
What are known as the Modern Olympics were conceived as a means of emulating what the ancient Greeks had attempted, spreading goodwill and friendship among the peoples of the world. Initially it was the European peoples who responded most readily to the idea. Those who have seen the film "The Chariots of Fire", based on the Olympic Games held in Paris after the First World War, will recall how the spirit of courtesy still prevailed at a time before the gross commercialisation of sporting activities had taken its devastating grip. Today's Olympic Games are dominated by power politics and Big Business.
There is no reason to doubt the story that a French delegate to the International Olympic Committee lobbied African nations to support the Chinese bid in exchange for a promise of French trains to China. Nations fighting desperately for "export markets" feel obliged to resort to every possible tactic which will enhance the prospects of exports.
The race issue has also become a major one, with
the IOC votes of African delegates of vital importance. It is argued
that a tour of African States by former Australian Prime Minister Mr.
Gough Whitlam helped to sway some votes in favour of the Sydney bid.
It is clear that there was a powerful international campaign to have
China selected to host the Year 2000 Games, those promoting this campaign
no doubt looking ahead to what they felt would be favours to come.
The Olympic Games are manifesting a new version of the Cold War. The hype generated by the Sydney win has produced some astonishing claims, one being that preparations for the Games in 2000 will play a major part in ending the current depression. This is similar to the recent announcement by Coles-Myer that they are embarking on a major expansion programme, which will require large-scale building activities and an increase in staff. Any short-term benefits will eventually be offset by the crippling effect on thousands of small-scale retailers.
Preparations for the Sydney Games will generate some increased economic activity - financed directly and indirectly by an expansion of debt. There will be no physical difficulties in carrying out a major building programme at Homebush - but probably this will be carried through with some international building consortium, on which either Japan or China is dominant.
Building excellent sporting stadiums is one thing, but while this is being done hospitals are being closed down and existing rail services downgraded, particularly in Victoria. But now comes the news that the Sydney Games could be a stimulus to the building of a fast train service between Melbourne and Sydney, taking in Canberra on the way. Federal Industry Minister Mr. Alan Griffiths is waxing eloquent about the project, which would cost half the existing airfares. But he does caution that the project will only be initiated if it is seen to be "viable".
The Australian rail system should be upgraded quite apart from the Olympic Games. Financing should be undertaken in Australia without any further foreign borrowing. And, as was to be expected, Prime Minister Paul Keating has attempted to jump on the Olympic bandwagon in an attempt to push his Republican cause.
With breathtaking effrontery he has suggested that it would be inappropriate for the Queen to open the Sydney Olympic Games. Mr. Keating is overlooking a major reality: He will be dead politically long before the year 2000. In fact, Paul Keating will be fortunate if he can forestall a Federal Election over the next two years. Backbench restiveness will grow as it becomes clearer that the Federal Labor Party is doomed under Paul Keating. The fact that the Hewson led Opposition offers no genuine alternative cannot alter the reality that the Australian electors have yet to learn that there is no answer to their basic problems within the existing major political parties.
The hype concerning the Sydney Olympic Games will provide an artificial stimulus for a short period. But once the effects of that stimulus wear off, Australians will be facing their moment of truth. For this reason, the expanding work and influence of the Australian League of Rights is needed more than ever.
FISCHER SPEAKS UP AGAIN: WHO IS AN ABORIGINE?
In making comments that he acknowledged were sure to be construed as "extremist and racist", the Leader of the National Party, Mr. Fischer, demonstrated rare political courage when he drew attention to the generosity of Australian taxpayers to Aboriginal Australians. Fischer, who is apparently not particularly concerned with being "politically correct" on many issues (with the exception of finance and trade) began by noting last week that the definition of "Aborigines" is quite generous by some international standards. In taking up the question of just who is entitled to call themselves Aboriginal, Fischer takes up an issue previously only raised by the League of Rights.
In a report in The Australian (24/9/93), Fischer quoted the Commonwealth's official definition: "An Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander is a person of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Island descent who identifies as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, and is accepted as such by the community in which he or she lives." Fischer compares this with standards in North America, which are not imposed by governments, but by the native groups and tribes themselves. "To be a Navajo, for example, you must have one fourth Navajo blood." Cherokees require one-sixteenth Cherokee blood to be eligible for any benefits for native people.
Our own research reveals that requirements for qualification as an Indian vary with different tribes, but frequently include a stated percentage of Indian blood, proof of ancestry, and registration on a base tribal roll, or proof of relationship to someone on the tribal roll. It is not uncommon for litigants to appeal to the courts in cases where individuals of mixed blood claim native status that is rejected by tribes or bands.
In Canada the Federal Government continues to maintain an Indian Register, which confers "Indian status" upon those listed. Under certain conditions, Indians can lose their Indian status in a process called "enfranchisement". A person could be "enfranchised" upon application, if he was "capable of assuming the duties and responsibilities of citizenship" and capable of supporting himself and family. Indians could be excluded from registration if their paternal mother and grandmother were not Indians, and women were excluded if they married a non-Indian. Some of these provisions have been destroyed under the equality segments of Canada's new constitution - the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The new constitution reflects more the United Nations conventions than traditional Common Law.
Why is definition of aboriginality important? First, as Mr. Fischer points out, big financial benefits are involved. Australia spends an average of $5,000.00 per Aborigine on 250,000 people, some of whom would struggle to meet North American standards of aboriginality. Second, the introduction of native title by the High Court last year opens the way for potentially lucrative land claims by all sorts of people describing themselves as Aborigines, or speaking on behalf of "Aborigines".
In general, Australians are prepared to be generous to those of Aboriginal background who are disadvantaged. But as Fischer also points out, deep resentments are building (beginning in rural areas, where relations with aborigines, are more common) at the perception that aborigines could become the new elite at the expense of others. Fischer should be strongly supported for his comments.
SLIDING TO DESPOTISM
This was an article in the Herald-Sun (Melbourne), 7/9, by Mr. Harry Evans, who is Clerk of the Senate. He warns in this article that the "debate" over a republic (for Australia) risks giving Australians a Federal Government with very dangerous powers. This article is far too long to reprint here; we can only select a short passage for quotation:
"If there is to be an elected head of state, the true republicans could propose that the office be provided with sufficient independence, perhaps by popular election, to provide a balance to an otherwise autocratic Prime Minister. "Significant constitutional changes, such as citizen initiated referendums and recall of members of parliament, may provide further safeguards against government abuses."
COMMENTWithout making a major issue out of it, we warn again of an American based high-powered movement, which specialises in raising funds by a telephone campaign. Several people frankly admit that they have been "caught". The League raises its funds in a completely different way. A Basic Fund is set for the coming year, one which we know is adequate to carry through the planned programme for the year. No exaggerated claims are made. The League's record over many years is clear for all to see.
KEATING LECTURES THE FRENCH
by David Thompson
In the French town of Villers-Bretonneux, where Australian troops suffered enormous losses in participating in perhaps one of the most significant World War I victories, Keating turned to a French parliamentary deputy and asked "Would you have given a guarantee in 1914 that if we fought you'd guarantee not to subsidise agriculture?" It is reported that the French parliamentarian simply shrugged, stunned into an uncharacteristic loss for words. Even the suggestion that Australian lives should have been traded in some "deal" with the French for a mess of agricultural trading pottage is contemptible, and reflects upon Australians poorly.
Mr. Keating's penchant for re-writing history conveniently ignores that it was a Labor Prime Minister, Andrew Fischer, who committed Australia to contribute troops to the British war effort. A significant proportion of those troops would have been rural men - some little more than boys. Is it not possible that the sons of Australian farmers fighting in World War I would have understood, and even approved, a nation like France's attempt to protect its primary producers and rural communities from the madness of "free trade" in the global market?
Perhaps the most contemptible aspect of Mr. Keating's lecture to the French is that he blindly refuses to acknowledge that Australian troops helped to ensure that Frenchmen were free to organise their own internal affairs. If France wishes to preserve a strong rural community with subsidised living standards as a valuable part of the French social structure, that is up to France. The tragedy for all Australians is that Mr. Keating seems to regard the future of Australian rural communities with as much indifference as he does the French!
Australian policy makers might well borrow from French priorities concerning their social objectives. Is it important to have a viable Australian rural community? Or is it more important to submit every social and community objective to the new deity known as The Market?
WISDOM OF ECONOMISTS
from The Australian, September 20th
"Similarly, Mr. Beazley's alleged lament (same report) 'How do we find jobs for people replaced by new systems and new technology?' has questionable meaning. "Surely new systems and technologies also create new industries and markets offering new jobs? Perhaps one problem is the lack of new technologies to help replace matured or maturing industries such as automobiles and computers.
"Jobs cannot be created by throwing money around: wealth, economic growth and employment within the capitalist market system only come from investments which generate profits." (Craig Martin/Quah Kung-Yu, Attarmon, N.S.W.)
WHY THE LACK OF SUPPORT FOR IRVING?
from The Age (Melbourne), September 23rd
"The attempts of Irving's opponents to portray him as grossly incompetent, fanatically fascist or raucously seditious have clearly failed to establish a case. "Is it the weakness of their case that The Age wishes to protect from demolition in fair, open and truly academic debate within its pages? "After all, Irving was not merely praised in the past by men such as Hugh Trevor-Roper, A.J.P. Taylor and Gordon Craig; he has been recently (1993) commended for his reliability in documentation, assiduity, energy and courage by the successful academic historian John Charmley in his 'Churchill: The End of Glory'.
"Why on earth has The Age opposed the Federal Government ban on Irving editorially (13/2), but instituted its own ban on those competent and interested Australians who wish to put Irving's case to their fellow citizens? A more equitable approach to this important and challenging dissident is needed - as well as a vigorous campaign to overturn that Big Brother ban!" (Nigel Jackson, Belgrave, Vic.)
JUDGING OF WAR CRIMES
from The Australian, September 24th
"In the formation of the 'national war crimes tribunal for Yugoslavia' (The Australian, 17/9), we are witnessing another step towards a world tyranny of which the United Nations is the midwife and internationalist consortium or usurers the beneficiaries. "So it is to be 'a Nuremberg-style prosecution' is it? "Well, in that case, justice will certainly not be done. The malpractice of that kangaroo court and associated show trials is well exposed in British jurist F.J.P. Veale's Advance to Barbarism, recently reprinted.
"Australians ought to put themselves in the position of the central European personnel at risk through this latest legalistic scandal. "Imagine! A civil war eventually broke out and extraordinarily brave insurgency (comparable to that in Hungary in 1956) almost brought the internationalists' stooges in Canberra and elsewhere to their knees. "But overseas troops were flown in by the U.N. and the revolt was stamped out. The main leaders and assorted others were then put on trial... "To be judged (on charges of 'war crimes' and so on) by seven judges from, say, India, Russia, Vietnam, New Zealand, Kenya, China and Turkey. Is that what we really want?" (Nigel Jackson, Belgrave, Vic.)
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