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31 May 1996. Thought for the Week: "Systems were made for men and not men for systems, and the interest of man which is self development, is above all systems, whether theological, political or economic."
C.H. Douglas in Economic Democracy
HOWARD GOVERNMENT SHOWING ITS TRUE COLOURS
by Eric D. Butler
Anyone who objects that this is too harsh a judgment concerning the Howard Government should consider the report that the Howard Government proposes to use the threat of financial sanctions to force Municipal Council amalgamations throughout Australia. Late last week the media carried the report that "Australia's more than 760 local councils have been threatened with possible cuts in Federal funding if significant rationalisation through amalgamation does not occur.
Federal Local Government Minister Warwick
Smith has warned that the Commonwealth may seek to limit funding
to the number of Councils in a particular State" (vide Courier
Mail, May, 1996). Speaking at the Institute of Municipal
Management Conference in Canberra last week, Mr. Warwick Smith
said he had no doubt that much great efficiencies would result
from "fewer but larger" Councils. Mr. Smith said that the
evidence from Victoria was "inconclusive" at this stage, but
indicated "significant economics of scale had resulted from
forced amalgamations of councils in that State".
The Howard Government's programme for Local Government in Australia is a continuation of the programme advanced by the Keating Government. There is little doubt that the statement by Mr. Warwick Smith was written by the same Federal bureaucrats who wrote the Keating Government's different statements. The Howard Government insists that it is just as committed to Australia's "Asian destiny" as was the Keating Government.
Australia's relatively small poultry industry is the latest to be threatened by the programme of economic rationalism. Communist China is starting to flood the Australian market with processed poultry. There is not even a whimper of protest from Federal National Party leader Tim Fischer or his deputy Mr. John Anderson. Both Fischer and Anderson have expressed the view that an Australian Republic is "inevitable." Tim Fischer has distanced himself from the decision by the National Party Speaker of the Queensland Parliament to fly the Union Jack over the Queensland Parliament.
Any who think that the Howard Government is likely to hold up the programme to turn Australia into a Republic should note the views of former N.S.W. Liberal Premier Mr. Nick Greiner. Recently addressing the South Australian Branch of the Republic Movement, Greiner said that, "Far from the Republic being a dead issue with Paul Keating's departure as Prime Minister, he believed that the prospects had improved and we could well enter the next century with an Australian head of State."
Like most shallow republicans, Greiner neglected to point out that Australians already had an Australian head of State. Greiner pointed out that John Howard is committed to a constitutional convention to set in motion a process, which the Republicans are confident, will lead to the establishment of an Australian Republic. Greiner told his South Australian audience that there was widespread support for a Republic among Federal and State leaders of the Liberal Party. He said, "Even in the National Party, individual attitudes were a far cry from the obdurate status quo position seen in public".
With every day that passes, it becomes clearer that the present controllers of the Coalition parties are convinced that these parties can be used to advance the same programme, which Paul Keating was advancing. It is hoped that by the time it dawns on the Australian electors that they had changed little by voting against Paul Keating on March 2nd, it can be argued that what is taking place is "inevitable", and that the only sensible thing to do is to adjust to the inevitable.
The future of Australia now depends upon sufficient Australians freeing themselves from the deadly effects of what in essence is psycho-political warfare. It may prove that the gun legislation debate will bring enough Australians back to reality in time to snap themselves free of what is in effect a philosophy of death and surrender. But time for action is short.
NATIVE TITLE COP-OUT BY HOWARD
by David Thompson
Mr. Howard has been comfortable with the more popular attempt to make the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (A.T.S.I.C.) more accountable, but when it comes to certainty on land title, Mr. Howard has washed his hands. In essence, he is saying, "let the High Court handle it". This is a cowardly irresponsible way of dealing with an issue that has to be faced.
It is not only pastoralists who need to know, for certain, whether Native Title is extinguished by pastoral leases. Others like Local and State Governments and mining interests need to know with whom they are negotiating over land use. Mr. Howard attempts to squirm out of making an unpopular decision on an emotive issue.
It is quite clear what the former Government's intentions were over Native Title. Former Prime Minister Keating, in introducing the Act to Parliament in 1993, said: "validated freehold grants, residential, commercial and pastoral leases....will extinguish native title." Right from the horse's mouth.
But did the legislation actually achieve
this? A superficial reading of it by a layman would assume
Why does Mr. Howard insist that the High Court needs to rule on this? It is now argued that the only certain way to ensure that pastoral leases extinguish native title is to introduce new legislation to that effect. This Mr. Howard has declined to do. Why? Because of the Racial Discrimination Act (1975), which gives effect to a United Nations Convention.
If Mr. Howard was to legislate to ensure
that pastoral leases extinguished Native Title, he has two
Mr. Howard could legislate to alter the Racial Discrimination Act to protect himself from the blank cheque, but this would require a sustained and bruising battle. No politician will willingly touch this Act, for fear of being labeled, by definition, a racist. Mr. Howard does not have the stomach for the battle, so he proposes to palm off his responsibilities to the High Court.
Miners and graziers have been at the mercy of the High Court before, and they don't like it. Premier Borbidge, however, believes he has a loophole through which Mr. Howard could still squirm. He claims to have received legal advice, which confirms that while the Commonwealth is obliged to pay just compensation under the Constitution, the same did not apply to the States. If the States extinguish Native Title, the States could then legally decide what compensation was payable.
Whatever the legal argument, it is clear that Mr. Howard faces a massive revolt within the Coalition at both Federal and State level over his position on Native Title.
'HOW TO MURDER' TAUGHT AT SCHOOL
The Committee of Ministers examining the portrayal of violence in various forms of electronic media, chaired by the Federal Minister for Communications and the Arts, Mr. Alston, will examine any linkages between violent behaviour and the availability of violent material from media sources. It is alleged that some 2,000 violent or sexually explicit videos were removed from the home of the accused of the Port Arthur massacre. But little attention is given to the State education systems that often actually teach material that could predispose children to premeditated violence on a massive scale.
Mrs. Dianne Teasdale, who has for many years been involved with the Concerned Parents Association, and lectured on matters concerning education, points out that an element in the Victorian school syllabus could help account for a number of mass murders. Julian Knight, convicted of the Hoddle Street murders of 1987, was born in 1968. Frank Vitkovic, convicted of the Queen Street murders in 1987, was born in 1968. Martin Bryant, accused of the Port Arthur killings, was born in 1967. Robert "X", who was apprehended on a tram with a firearm on his way to "take out" the Police at Prahran Central, was born in 1966.
All of the above young men would have
been at school at the time that the "Message Way 1" book was
used as part of the school curriculum for Year Seven English
or Social Studies. This book proposes that children act out
a number of outrageous scenarios, or write essays about them.
It asks the question, "How old do you have to be before you
are ready to kill someone?" It suggests that students "act
out" a situation, in which someone has to be eaten.
As Mrs. Teasdale says, this material is really sick. Did Julian Knight study this at school? Did Martin Bryant study this at school? Did your children study this at school? "Message Way 1" was used from 1977 to at least 1984, and perhaps longer. What might teachers expect such material to do to immature and possibly even unbalanced minds?
Julian Knight was 19 at the time of the Hoddle Street killings, as was Frank Vitkovic. As well as investigating "any linkages between violent behaviour and the availability of violent material from media sources", perhaps Senator Alston should look at school curricula.
ASIAN WARNING TO THE WEST
Malaysian Prime Minister, Mr. Mahathir, offered a sharp criticism to western countries last week for imposing their own values on Asian nations. In view of Mr. Howard's apparent determination to rival the Keating drive to make Australia "a part of Asia", perhaps Australia should thank Mr. Mahathir for the warning.
In particular, Mahathir was pointing out that the West ranked personal freedom above social harmony. Mahathir, who was addressing Pacific-rim corporate and government leaders, cited a 1994 study that found East Asians, whose Confucian traditions place great value on social harmony and filial piety, but are less inclined than Americans to cite free expression and individual success as top priorities.
According to press reports (The Australian, 23/5/96) he also disputed the notion that Western values held universal appeal, and that "Asian values", of which he is a long-time champion, served primarily to justify repressive authoritarian rule. But he also stressed that where Western governments applied economic sanctions on Asian countries where human rights records were poor, Asian nations had never called for sanctions against the West for failing to reform itself according to Asian values and standards.
Those who understand Asia have long warned that Asian standards and norms are different to those in the West. For many years the then Prime Minister of Singapore, Mr. Lee Quan Yew, stressed that Asian emphasis was more on order and discipline than on individual freedom of speech and movement. This is true right throughout the Asian world, from aggressively pro-Western nations like Japan, to the aggressively totalitarian nations like China.
In Asia, totalitarianism is not seen
as the evil that it is in the West. The denial of individual
freedom in the interests of "order" and national "success"
may not be confined to Asia, but Australians who wish to become
"part of' this region must understand that those who live
in Asia subscribe to fundamentally different philosophical
WITHOUT COMMENTThe following item appeared in the Herald-Sun, Melbourne, of May 17th
"Lunch companions of note in Max's restaurant at the Grand Hyatt this week were deposed P.M. Paul Keating and somebody who would probably help him with career choices - Melbourne solicitor of influence Mark Leibler. Mr. Leibler, of course, remains on the board of the troubled Coles Myer group, and is close to the likes of former Coles Myer Chairman Solly Lew and former board member Lindsay Fox. In another era, Mr. Leibler helped Bob Hawke to forge strong links with Melbourne's Jewish community and is a man thought to have discussed such matters as taxation with Federal Treasurers and the like. But what, I wonder, were he and P.J.K. discussing? And what would you have given to have been a poppyseed on a bread roll on that particular table?"
GUN CONTROL ISSUE BOILS ALONG
Far from 'dying down and going away',
the gun control issue continues to intensify. Opponents of
Howard's pre-emptive assault on firearms owners are beginning
to organise. Angry meetings of responsible gun owners in Queensland,
particularly are roasting their M.P's., who themselves have
largely been betrayed by Premier Borbidge and Police Minister
Cooper. Borbidge may not be able to continue as Premier.
Copies of the brochure can be obtained from the League's State Director of Victoria, Terry Rogers, (058) 561315. Photocopy your own, and pass them along. Ask for permission to leave them where people congregate.
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