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7 February 1997. Thought for the Week: "The education we have so far succeeded in giving to the bulk of our citizens has produced a generation of mental slatterns... a great part of the nation subsists in an ignorance more barbarous than that of the dark ages owing to this slatternly habit of illiterate reading. Words are understood in a wholly mistaken sense, statements of fact and opinion are misread and distorted in repetition..."
Dorothy L. Sayers in Preface to The Mind Of The Maker
WORSHIPPING AT THE SHRINE OF THE HOLY DECEIT
by Eric D. Butler
After his visit to the Shrine of International Finance, Wall Street, and his Damascus like conversion to the necessity for the de-regulation of the banking system, Treasurer Paul Keating was anointed by the gurus of financial orthodoxy and became St. Paul - "the world's greatest treasurer". One of his main objectives was to get rid of the "deficit", which in the short term he did - but there was a price to be paid. One was an escalation in the nation's foreign debt. This debt was the result of the International Bankers deciding that Australia was a safe place in which to invest.
In Jeff Kennett's Victoria, which he
has run like a true totalitarian, the defeat of the Labor
Government, which had piled up an increasing deficit in its
desperate attempts to survive, resulted first in Premier Kennett
also discovering a deficit "black hole" which was much bigger
than anticipated. A top priority was to get rid of that deficit.
This has been progressively achieved by a drastic "restructuring"
of Victoria, the imposition of high taxes and charges, and
the selling of public assets. Jeff Kennett now boasts that
he has got the State "in the black", and that its credit rating
has improved with the International Bankers. This means that
his Government can, at least for the time being, borrow from
Confronted with figures demonstrating
that the stringent measures imposed have not reduced the size
of the deficit "black" hole, Federal Treasurer Peter Costello
and his leader John Howard have had to do some double-talking.
Costello pledges his determination to achieve his objective,
but it is going to take a little longer than anticipated.
Head of the Treasury Ted Evans was given a severe "roasting",
but explained that the problem had arisen as a result of a
"missing" $1.5 billion in company tax.
The stark reality is that the projections of the first Howard-Costello budget have proved incorrect. One thing is certain: as a result of what has been revealed, the Government must impose further financial restrictions. But Costello and Howard are taking comfort from the relatively low inflation rate. The programme to force the inflation rate down was first set in place by Treasurer Paul when he spoke of "the depression we had to have".
Financial orthodoxy can offer no alternative
to inflation except that which helps to produce what Australians
are now suffering. Bearing in mind the old adage that there
"are statistics, statistics, and damned lies", irrespective
of what the real inflation rate is, there is no way in which
financial inflation can be "solved" except by a programme
of massive restrictions.
Ever since the start of the industrial revolution, prices have progressively increased. As C.H. Douglas demonstrated beyond all argument, progressive price increases, whatever the rate, are mathematically certain under the present orthodox financial system. Anyone who doubts this should take a few minutes and read a little on Social Credit. Many people are encouraged to see that the well-known Roman Catholic commentator B.A. Santarmaria has, in recent times, been dealing with the problems of finance. He has been dealing with the creation of debt and the cessation of financial credit.
While it is true, as several people have commented to the writer, "Bob Santamaria appears to have moved much closer to Social Credit", it is essential to point out that while the creation of new credits for public and other necessary works would alleviate the present desperate situation, what he is proposing is a variant of the old Keynesian solution to the depression. But Keynes was forced to admit that the inevitable result of such a programme was inflation. The best that Keynes could offer was "controlled inflation".
The true purpose of production is consumption, and the financing of consumption must be seen to be as important as financing production. "Reforming" the tax system, which the Howard Government is moving towards, can only worsen what is happening.
Australia has only had one inflation free era, and that was during and after the Second World War, when a system of Consumer Discounts was operating. Its major weakness was, of course, that the system was financed out of taxation. What is required, among other steps, is a system of consumer discounts financed out of new, debt-free credits. Home keeping allowances for mothers who want to nurture their children, instead of being regimented into the work force, could be financed in the same way. The age of retirement could be reduced with those retiring voluntarily being paid an adequate social dividend.
None of these steps are likely to be undertaken by the Howard Government. It will continue to worship at the Shrine of Financial Orthodoxy. Australia's future depends not upon trying to make the unworkable work, but to stop the worship of Mammon, which mankind was warned about a long time ago. Unfortunately, man is a slow learner and often only takes constructive action when he finds events too much to bear any longer. There is evidence that a growing number are starting to change their thinking.
THE 'ABORIGINAL' BATTERING RAM
by David Thompson
The Aboriginal lawyer, Noel Pearson, immediately seized on this as indicating that Australia was about to wipe out "native title" claims on pastoral leases, but did not want to suffer the embarrassment of being in breach of "human rights" agreements with Europe. Within days the United States human rights report critical of Australian treatment of Aborigines was seized upon by activists like Charles Perkins, who proposes to issue a copy of the report to every United Nations embassy in the world.
The U.S. report cites higher Aboriginal imprisonment rates, inferior access to medical and educational facilities, lower life expectancy rates, high unemployment and "general discrimination" against Aborigines. What are activists like Perkins demanding? Do they want better health, housing and education for disadvantaged Australians? Perhaps they do, but such questions are secondary. The Aboriginal industry is demanding "justice" in the form of native title, and Aboriginal sovereignty.
The refrain is now becoming familiar. Charles Perkins is quoted as saying, "There is no excuse for anyone, white or black to be existing in abject poverty in this country." On Australia Day, Governor General Sir William Deane noted "the appalling state of Aboriginal health, a tragic story of sickness, suffering, dying and death of fellow Australians" There is no disputing that many Aboriginal Australians are seriously disadvantaged. But non-Aboriginal Australians are fully justified in asking what happened to the billions of dollars poured into Aboriginal affairs in the last 20 years?
Given that so much money has been hurled
at the "problem", why are few results evident? The reason
for this is that the funds have been handed over on the basis
of Aboriginal "self-determination". That is, governments who
insist that the funds be administered according to usual accountability
are accused of paternalism. Aboriginal groups insist that
they are capable of administering their own affairs. The waste
has been appalling. ATSIC, the Aboriginal "governing" body,
virtually admits guilt for much of the waste.
The living conditions of Aborigines would improve dramatically if they were treated as people with problems, rather than as cannon fodder in an ideological campaign. But the Aboriginal industry insists that, as an article of ideological faith, their "rights" to land, recognition, and "justice" are essential to Aboriginal well being.
Any suggestion that Aborigines can successfully assimilate into the mainstream of Australian life is greeted with horror. The rejection of assimilation is based on the recognition that it poses a threat to native title, because it destroys the argument that the mystical relationship between Aborigines and their land is essential for their well-being. The truth is that "self-determination" has produced few real benefits for either Aborigines or other Australians. The answer from the Aboriginal industry is that Aborigines need even more "rights" than other Australians, and can lay claim to economic, financial and political privilege on the basis of their race and past "oppression".
Such is not the answer to "reconciliation"
between the two groups. The only answer is to insist that
all disadvantaged Australians should be assisted to improve
their circumstances. If some choose to pursue an Aboriginal
culture, let them do so. Few Aborigines continue to live in
"traditional" lifestyle, and would lose little by "assimilation".
But their cultural masters, the leaders of the Aboriginal
"industry" have much to lose. They risk losing the battering
ram that the Aboriginal activists need to wrest "sovereignty"
from the crown.
ASIAN 'RACISM' AND AUSTRALIA
In December last year, The Advertiser in Adelaide published the results of an "opinion poll" of senior Asian executives' attitudes to Australia following the issue of Pauline Hanson's maiden speech in Parliament. The results showed that 55.8 percent of Asian executives (70 percent in Korea) believed Australians were "racists". What the poll, The Advertiser, and presumably the Far Eastern Economic Review, where the information was first published, all failed to mention is that in Asia "racism" is accepted as almost normal.
Attitudes of racial superiority or inferiority (if that is what "racism" is) are perfectly natural in Asia, and cause long-running conflicts in many Asian countries. Perhaps a primary example of racial/cultural problems is erupting to the north of Australia at present. The world's largest Muslim nation - Indonesia - is presently racked by another of its regular round of serious violence. Last week an ethnic Chinese woman shouted at Muslim youths who were making a noise at a nearby mosque before dawn in the present month of Ramadan. A mob attacked the woman's house, and then began burning churches, buildings and cars, as well as beating ethnic Chinese.
The targets of the attacks, the Indo-Chinese population, are mainly Christian or Buddhist. This ethnic minority settled in Indonesia mainly since World War II, and although the Chinese make up only 4 percent of the Indonesian population, they control more than 80 percent of the nation's wealth, leading to the sort of racial/cultural friction which led to the military coup in Fiji.
On December 6th, The Advertiser
published an illuminating letter from one Denis Dragovic,
from Singapore, who dealt with the issue of Asian "racism".
Noting that most Singaporeans claim that there is no "racism"
in Singapore, Dragovic wrote:
In a self-righteous editorial a few days later, The Advertiser (l0/12/96) announced that "Racism is a cancer and a virus, a cancer which can destroy a society, a virus which can bred genocide..." The (anonymous) author is obviously not about to preach such sentiments in Asia. But has he/she stopped to think about what he/she writes? It does not take a medical genius to conclude that prevention of cancer is much more efficient than attempting to cure it. The prevention of viral infections (or heart disease, etc.) is a far superior answer than treating the victims of disease. If "racism" is a cancer and a virus, then when do we propose to treat it intelligently - prevent it with effective immigration policies?
FLAG CAMPAIGN NEEDS CONTINUAL ATTENTION
Every opportunity should be taken by those loyal to the Australian flag to continue to defend it. The proponents of a new flag design continue to plug away at undermining the Australian flag. It is now clear that significant resources are going to be used to subvert the flag, and high-profile people like former N.S.W. Premier Nick Greiner have been enlisted as enthusiastic republicans.
The latest Ausflag design, unfurled with enthusiasm by Greiner and Nick Whitlam, is little better than previous Ausflag designs. In fact, it is considerably worse in some respects. Was Ausflag not aware that the latest offering is remarkably similar to the corporate logo of clothing retailer "Just Jeans"? The suggestion that all that is required to produce a new national flag is to take a successful advertisement for an American design of casual trousers, turn it on its side and add the Southern Cross is thoroughly demeaning. We may as well add baseball caps (worn back-to-front) to our national dress, and call each other "guys" as well.
Nick Greiner's invitation to Aboriginal leaders to take part in designing a new flag in time for the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney is either humbug or sophistry. When challenged to reject the Australian flag as not being representative of Aboriginal people, Christian Aboriginal leader Cedric Jacobs once rather forcefully pointed out that while the Europeans were proud of the three Christian crosses of St. George, St. Andrew and St. Patrick on the flag, the Southern Cross was observed in the night sky over Australia by Aborigines long before the European arrived. The Australian flag symbolises the heritage of all Australians, even those who have arrived from foreign cultures who have now adopted an Australian identity. Those who refuse to do so should be encouraged to find another country with which they feel more comfortable.
PRIVATISATION PERILS IN ADELAIDE
The National Competition Policy, a result of the "Hilmer Report" recommendations, is now under increasing pressure as the effects of deregulation and the sale of public assets begin to take effect. As Mr. B.A. Santamaria points out in his column (Weekend Australian, 1/2/97), it is ludicrous for Australia to remove all tariff barriers and deregulate Australian industries while our trading competitors have not done so. Not only this, but national assets like Telstra, Qantas, the Commonwealth Bank, etc., can only be sold once, but the regular income from these utilities was more than sufficient to pay interest on the debt they are now supposed to liquidate in many cases.
The circumstances surrounding the sell-off of the Adelaide municipal water supply to an Anglo-French company, United Water, has been covered up by the S.A. State Government. Last week the Opposition released secret Government polling results taken in May and September 1996, which indicate that about three quarters of South Australians opposed the proposal. The overwhelming lack of public support, and the deceitfulness of the State's elected representatives could well have repercussions in the coming South Australian election.
The other key industry, which could suffer massive damage in South Australia as the Australian economy is "globalised", is the motor vehicle industry. Senator Robert Hill (S.A.) has called for a slowing down of tariff restructuring down to 5% by 2000, because of the effect this will have on such industries. The facts are that the elimination of tariffs mean that industry leaves Australia. This is not always an overwhelmingly bad thing, but when Australia is unable to produce manufactured goods, which must then be imported, is a form of insanity.
Additional pressure is being brought to bear on the Commonwealth by States like Queensland, which is insisting that the National Competition Policy would need revision if the South Australians can negotiate some latitude for the motor industry, but Queensland is compelled to remove tariffs on products like pineapple juice, sugar, etc. The best answer is to completely revise the policy, and reassess it from the perspective of the Australian national interest. The key factor should be the objective of national economic self-sufficiency.
CASINO-LED RECOVERY PROVES A MIRAGE
The oft-repeated claims from the likes of Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett that casinos were a lucrative tourist attraction has been challenged by independent research. Associate Professor Rob Lynch, of the University of Technology, has claimed that, in fact, casinos are merely another form of taxation - usually competing with other entertainment spending. There is little evidence that the casinos generate increased tourist spending, with the exception of the "high-roller" players, who may be attracted by packages of accommodation, golf, etc., by casinos that can benefit from specially negotiated concessional tax rates. The additional revenue is offset by the tax concessions in any case.
Professor Lynch, of the University's School of Leisure and Tourist Studies, noted that 75 percent of Asian casino customers in 1995 came to the country for a holiday unconnected with gambling. It appears that State governments have been deflecting criticism of the social damage caused by casinos by claiming that foreign patronage more than justifies such damage.
FROM THE PRESSThe Australian, 31/1/97
"Although regretting my foundation membership with the termite-like Ausflag committee, it didn't take me long to appreciate that the Union flag in the canton (top hoist corner) of our Australian flag is the unifying symbol of all those English-speaking peoples who value and believe in the freedom granted to them by constitutional monarchy, representative parliamentary government and the rule of law.
"The beauty, colour, design, function, history, meaning and purpose of our Australian flag make it second to none."
JONATHAN GRAHAM, Double Bay, N.S.W.
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