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22 December 1995. Thought for the Week: "If we had not departed so far from the Christian religion we would not think of wine without bread. For they are the two great symbols of the life of man, the meeting place of the material with the spiritual, which cannot exist unless it is founded on wholesome abundance... 'Jesus took bread and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples.... and he took the cup and gave thanks' "
Beatrice M. Palmer
A WORLD OF ABUNDANCE
by Eric D. Butler
The very culture of Western man is being eroded by the stress of a soulless efficiency, which makes genuine conservation increasingly difficult. The "waste society" is not only one in which material things are wasted, but there has been a wasting of the things of the spirit. Instead of Christmas being a time for simple gifts reflecting the original spirit of Christmas, it is now geared to a production system, which desperately seeks to meet the demands of debt finance. While Church leaders verbally complain about the "gross commercialisation" of Christmas they avoid any reference to that blighting influence of debt finance. Christ's warning that it was impossible to worship both God and Mammon is either ignored or misquoted.
It was that great Christian apologist and master of the use of paradox to illuminate truth, G.K. Chesterton, who observed that the plight of the world was the only hope of the world. The plight of the world is the result of man turning his back upon those absolutes, which were the foundations upon which Christian Civilisation was built. But these absolutes still remain and regeneration is possible by returning to them.
A starting point for the regeneration of Christian Civilisation is an acceptance of Truth, of Reality. There must be reassessment of what is called science. The famous and widely respected mathematician and philosopher, Alfred Whitehall, said that Christianity is the mother of science because of "the medieval insistence of the rationality of God". That gave men "the faith in the possibility of science". They could confidently expect to find out about the world by observation and experimentation.
The true scientist does not believe that he is God, creating Truths, but that he is the discoverer of Truths, which already exist. The early scientists had yet another impetus: The Bible taught mankind to have dominion over Nature, which was part of God's creation. They therefore believed that by investigating God's creation, they were doing something worthwhile.
Nature existed to serve the individual. The development of an elevation of Nature into an end in itself is an extension of those Eastern religions, which see creation as an extension of the essence of God. Sir David Kelly, in his classic work The Hungry Sheep, observes that most Eastern religions are religions of pessimism. Eastern religions believe that any examination of Nature is an investigation of God Himself. Or they see Nature as full of gods or spirits, with the result that all investigation is taboo. Stagnation continues.
Christianity teaches that the world was created by a rational God and there is a total break between God and creation, God is infinite, created things are finite. The coming of Christianity gave man a hope and unleashed creativeness in all its forms. It was a religion of hope based not on a blind Faith, but on discovered Truths. The Christmas Season is an appropriate time to contemplate these and associated matters. God's world is one of abundance, material abundance, spiritual abundance, an overflowing abundance of Truth in all its manifestations. Man has yet to discover the full implications of Christ's advice concerning Love.
SEASON'S GREETINGSIn this, the last issue for 1995, we take the opportunity of wishing all our readers and their families a Happy and Holy Christmas. We believe that Australians should be ever grateful for living in a country, which has so much to offer the world. In more ways than one, it is The Lucky Country.
THE INDONESIAN TREATY IN PERSPECTIVE
by David Thompson
The most enduring agreements between nations are obviously those between nations in which the basic social elements are held in common. This is hardly the case with Indonesia. Australia is basically a European country, with English almost exclusively spoken. It is a 'first world' nation with a heritage of representative government with a Christian background made up of a relatively small population in an urbanised setting. By contrast, Indonesia is a military dictatorship in which freedom of the press is unknown. It is an economically poor Muslim nation of about 170 million rural based people of an unmistakably Asian orientation. Our resources are different, our cultures, languages, political systems, climates, and races are all distinctly different. The only thing we have in common with Indonesia is the accident of geographic proximity.
Few Australians remember - if they ever knew - that an earlier Asian agreement in which Australia was involved was the Five Power Defence Arrangement with Malaysia, New Zealand, U.K. and Singapore. This was formed as a result of Indonesia attempting to re-draw its borders with Malaysia, in Indonesia's favour. The purpose of the agreement was to protect Singapore and Malaysia from Indonesia. Since then, Indonesian territorial ambitions have been demonstrated with the Timor annexation. This is still a quite legitimate cause for distrust of the Indonesians.
Quite understandably, the A.L.P. "left" is most uneasy about the new Indonesian treaty. Former Whitlam Minister, Mr. Tom Uren, is scathing about the new relationship. "I see explosive complications for Australia of belligerent Indonesian militants continue their atrocities against the West Irianese, and the future border implications with Papua New Guinea," he said. "My concern relates to the Indonesian Government restricting their citizens' human rights, a free press and free trade unions."
ASIANS DON'T REGARD AUSTRALIA AS 'ASIAN'
While Mr. Keating and Foreign Minister Gareth Evans do all in their power to re-orient Australia as "a part of Asia", our Asian neighbours do not regard Australia as an Asian nation, and never have. This was highlighted by the Malaysian Prime Minister Mr. Mahathir, yet again at the end of the Association of South East Asian Nations Conference last week. Mr. Mahathir said: "There may be a time perhaps when Australia is so identified with Asia that we have to accept it as an East Asian nation But at the moment, Australia forms a continent of its own - the continent of Australasia, so obviously it is not of east Asia...."
Mahathir said that Australian participation in the east Asian region might come when Australia itself was more Asianised: " possibly with more Asians settling in Australia, maybe the proportion might be 70 percent Asian 30 percent people of Caucasian origin... perhaps that's when there will be no problem at all." In view of the above comments, which are known to reflect widespread Asian views, it is impossible to deny that the Australian Government has deliberately adopted an Asian bias to the immigration intake in recent years. We quite deliberately discriminate against European migrants - particularly those from Britain.
As a pre-election ploy, the Keating Indonesian treaty is something of a master stroke; not because it generates widespread support in Australia, but because it portrays the Prime Minister as a strong leader, prepared to lead rather than tag along, as Mr. Howard has been forced to do. Howard, desperate to appear as pro-Asian as Keating, has abandoned his role as Opposition leader, and has failed to enunciate the discomfort with this treaty that many Australians share. He has again been outmaneuvered by his political master, Paul Keating.
The one person who is still capable of making this Treaty, and the Australian orientation with Asia into an election issue, is Graeme Campbell. He is the only politician who has dared to point out that Australians were not consulted about Asianisation. In retrospect, it is now obvious that even Mr. Keating could see that Campbell had to be dealt with before the treaty was announced if his influence was not to become an embarrassing pre-election catalyst for resentment about Asianisation. In this, Mr. Keating seems to have miscalculated, as the Campbell influence is even stronger following his alienation from the A.L.P.
For Indonesia, the treaty problem provides a diplomatic lifeline in circumstances that were becoming increasingly uncomfortable. The Americans have been vocally critical of the Indonesian annexation of East Timor, particularly in Congress. They have scaled down their involvement in military training for the Indonesian armed forces, until the Indonesian forces are more involved in training with the Australians than any other country. A treaty negotiated with Australia, a "respectable" western U.S. ally, who can still open doors in Washington, is most useful to Indonesia. Apart from this, President Suharto obviously sees Mr. Keating as being good for Asia, and is keen to see him re-elected as a political statesman and strongman.
The great unspoken influence behind the Indonesian treaty is the emerging military presence of China. Although neither Keating nor Evans will admit as much, the Indonesian treaty is the first premium on an insurance policy against growing Chinese influence. The Chinese interest in the Pratley Islands has shaken much of Asia. As China, a traditional land power, increases its maritime capability, the U.S.Japanese alliance becomes increasingly significant. But the stability of American influence in Asia is now doubted, with the failure of the U.S. to successfully resolve the Vietnam War, and American withdrawal from the Philippines. What if America abdicates again when China begins to assert itself'?
Australia's best defence prospects are not with the United States (although the U.S. is invaluable) nor with Indonesia or any other Asian nation. Our best defence prospects begin in Australia. Our defence capability is woeful, because we have permitted it to run down. It must be restored to add military credibility to any sensible diplomatic initiatives we might mount.
If we are (correctly) worried about China, then our best answer after the military priority is to see that we are economically independent from China. Rather than permit Australian industry to be demolished by cheap Chinese labor, we should move to place a priority on enhanced Australian industrial capability. If we depend on Chinese, Malaysian, Filipino or Indonesian imports, then no military effort towards defence is possible anyhow.
KALGOORLIE DUMPING: IT'S HAPPENED BEFORE
(from News Weekly, 16/12/95)
In the 1955 elections, which devastated the Labor Party, Johnson defied the trend and won Kalgoorlie with 61.1% of the vote. In the 1958 elections after Johnson had been refused endorsement, the A.L.P. candidate for Kalgoorlie, Fred Collard, polled only 44.4% of first preference votes, the Democratic Labor Party won 11.9% and contrary to all expectations the seat was won by an unknown Liberal. The same could happen in 1996.
It is worth recalling the treatment meted out to Victor Johnson by the A.L.P. Executive in 1957. Following the disastrous consequences of the split in the Labor Party in 1955, Cyril Chambers, the Member for Adelaide and former Minister for the Army, and Victor Johnson, the Member for Kalgoorlie who had held the Interior portfolio in the Chifley Government, attacked the leadership of Dr. Evatt.
In August 1957, Chambers issued a statement, which said that the Labor Party would not win an election while Dr. Evatt was Leader. Victor Johnson responded to this and the Kalgoorlie Miner of August 14th, 1957, published a front-page article on the affair. Johnson was then 67 and had devoted the greater part of his life to the Labor movement as an organiser and State Secretary of the Australian Workers Union before winning the seat of Kalgoorlie for Labor in 1940.
He issued a further statement on August 21st. It was a slashing attack on Evatt's leadership. He said, "Evatt started to disintegrate the Labor Party from the time he accepted leadership after the death of Ben Chifley." The public statements of Chambers and Johnson were a damning indictment of the leadership of the Labor Party. It also showed that a totalitarian attitude existed and what would happen in the Parliamentarian Party. At the next Caucus meeting on August 26th, Chambers tabled a resolution of no confidence in Evatt's leadership, which had no chance of success. Neither of Evatt's rivals, his deputy Arthur Calwell nor the ambitious Eddie Ward was prepared to contest the leadership and other members who had previously echoed the same criticism sat shamefully silent.
This remnant of a once great party had
miserably faded to rise against a deranged egotistical leader
whom nearly everyone privately disowned, but against whom
only two would speak publicly. That was later to prove costly.
Graeme Campbell may not be the same sort of Labor man that
Victor Johnson was nor has he fought for the same principles
as Johnson did, but his ruthless dumping by Prime Minister
Keating and the Federal Executive will have similar electoral
consequences for the A.L.P. in Kalgoorlie and elsewhere as
IS SEX WORK A 'REAL JOB'?In the environment of a new world order where 'The Market" is a new type of deity, but recognises no moral distinctions, will it drive us into compulsory employment in places we may never have sought work? The following, from The Sun-Herald (17/12/95), may not be as absurd as it first appears:
"So now Bob Carr's made prostitution legal, does this make it a legitimate job like say 'nursing' or 'panel beating'? "Will school career advisers suggest 'prostitution' as a job option of 16-year-old school leavers? "Will high school students be encouraged to do two weeks work experience in brothels? "Will CES boards advertise 'call girl' positions? "Will Skillshare be offering training to the long term unemployed - our sons, daughters, husbands, wives - in the exciting trade of prostitution? "Will Social Security allowance be cancelled if a person refuses a job in the sex industry? "Will the Workcover authority recognise back injuries, throat infections and venereal diseases as job related industries? "Will condoms be tax deductible? "If it's a 'legitimate occupation' why not?"
(Ken Lambeth, East Lismore)
TIME AGAIN FOR A REAL PEOPLE'S BANK
from The Courier (Ballarat), 7/12
"My wife and I have been exploring retirement
villages in this and other cities. This made us ask what money
value we put on such things as the beauty of walks around
Lake Wendouree, or the Botanical Gardens, or the fact that
Ballarat is rated number one city in Australia for hospitals,
health and aged-care? These are the 'common wealth' of all
who live in Ballarat!
"How many extra billions have Australian
taxpayers paid in interest to banks for subsequent infrastructure
('common wealth') developments like Premier Kennett's freeway-link
project! "Interest in foreign consortiums will be included
in our road tolls, the 'foreign debt truck' will have another
load, our local 'Snowy Mountains' type experts will remain
unemployed, and our Australian sovereignty (control over our
own destiny) will be reduced yet again. It's a mug's game!
"No doubt Don Argus (National Australia
Bank) would call this and your editorial (Courier,
August 29) bank bashing, as he did Treasurer Willis' call
for low cost banking for pensioners (August 30). "And it is,
because banks now assume their position of privileged power
'as of right', and feel free to invest in tax havens off-shore,
subtracting from our 'common wealth'.
"Something much more than a one-off Farm-Hand
is needed. 'Isn't it time for us all to dream again of another
'people's bank'? 'The Constitution provides for it. Members
of all political parties should be asking: 'How can we get
this concept back onto the political agenda?' So many of Australia's
current economic problems could thus be alleviated."
BUSINESS OF CHARITYfrom The Australian, 18/12
'The number of charitable/not-for-profit organisations, both government and non-government, in our midst has reached a staggering level. However, many over the years have turned into multi-million dollar operations, with highly paid executives and staff using the opportunity to build for themselves a comfortable existence through their involvement.
"While there is little doubt that many fill a useful role, experience has shown that some have been self-serving rather than serving those whom they purport to help. All such organisations, I believe, should be required to show they are moving towards eventually eradicating the need for their charity through preventative or remedial means, or show just cause why not. Otherwise their tax-free status should be removed.
"It is always good to remember that the fundamental cause that drove their founders and visionaries was to bring about necessary constructive and lasting change to reach the point of basically doing themselves 'out of a job'. "We would do well to recapture their mission and spirit. Society cannot afford the luxury of not doing so."
(Jim Cummins, Bunbury, W.A.)
CAN'T DISMISS ITfrom The Australian, December 18th
'In the hyperbole and introspection attendance on the memory of November 11, 1975, the position of the ordinary Australian is often overlooked. It is the voter who is superior to Parliament and the executive. Not the reverse! "Every Australian should go to Canberra at least once in their life, climb the grassy incline of Capitol Hill, stand under the flag and above the Houses of the Commonwealth Parliament, and symbolically assert that fact. On November 11, 1975, Sir John Kerr, for all his supposed shortcomings, had the courage to give Australian voters a chance to have their say and exercise that superiority. No matter what politicians and constitutional lawyers argue, ultimately power rests with the people. "Anything less is un-Australian."
(Keith Butler, Lake Placid, Qld.)
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