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4 June 1999. Thought for the Week: "How few men are strong enough to stand against the prevailing currents of opinion. . . . Be prepared to stand up faithfully for Right and Truth, however the wind may blow."
THE GST BETRAYAL - ALL 'BASTARDS' TOGETHER
by David Thompson
In taking a fortnight to negotiate the detail, and accepting a large part of the "credit" for reaching an agreement, Senator Lees has effectively attached the Democrats' name to the GST. If it is introduced, she must bear part of the odor when its effects begin to punish the defenceless.
While it is true that the Democrats went into the last election with a modified policy on the GST - determined not to permit a tax on food - even this was a betrayal of their members' wishes. A ballot of the Democrat membership had previously been held and, as a result of this ballot, the party's policy was to oppose the GST. To permit the passage of this tax as an act of political pragmatism that could place the Democrats right in the 'mainstream' of politics, instead of being in the "fairies at the bottom of the garden" league, is simply to overturn a principle that is reminiscent of Mr. Howard's own "never, ever" promise.
Since the agreement with Mr. Howard last week, many of the media gurus have been heralding Ms. Lees as the leader who has done the impossible: remove the "fairies at the bottom of the garden" image from the Democrats. But is this so? A close examination of just to what Ms. Lees has agreed suggests otherwise. The Democrats' leader has committed her party to agree to permit the GST passage through the Senate on the understanding that Mr. Howard makes several generous concessions. These are in the field of exempting most food from GST, beefing up compensation - especially for pensioners, and essentially maintaining the promised tax cuts. Mr. Howard has promised to meet these demands. "Trust me". But can Mr. Howard make such guarantees? Experience elsewhere suggests he cannot.
While political predictions are notoriously
risky, experience suggests the following:
While Senator Lees may have appeared to have forced "one step backwards" from Mr. Howard and the Treasury, the above four points ensure that the concessions are quite temporary. This is Mr. Howard's "two steps forward", and to believe otherwise is to believe in "fairies at the bottom of the garden". It is just such skullduggery the Senate should be exposing and rejecting.
In reality, Senator Lees has promised to arm the bureaucrats of the Treasury with the new GST, which is like giving the bureaucracy a blank cheque - administrative heaven. It is bureaucratic administration that will undermine any guarantees Mr. Howard has bothered to offer. If he is genuine, why didn't Mr. Howard offer to index the income tax brackets, and protect the integrity of the "tax cuts"? Because Treasury would have been horrified!
In the end, the GST symbolises the totalitarian state. Its adoption means that it is not individual freedom that is most important now, but the interests of Treasury, under the influence of the IMF. Once the GST is introduced, no financial transaction between individuals remains private. The State insists that the individual must account to Treasury, and pay GST, or satisfy the bureaucrats that it does not apply. Why did Senator Lees not follow Brian Harradine's lead, when he announced that the GST was against the interests of Australians? Pure party politics. She saw the chance to re-position the Democrats in the political spectrum. By doing so, she has abandoned the Democrats' stated reason for existing: to "keep the bastards honest". Further, unless there is an internal revolution, she has simply grabbed the chance to join the other "bastards".
THE GLOBAL SEA OF DEBT
by Jeremy Lee
"Queensland has 38,000 officially homeless adults and children. . . . Government figures showed a 12.7% jump in the State's homeless. About 10,000 children (15 and under), 10,500 men, 9,300 women and 7,800 youths (16-24) had no home. Queensland's figure represents about 22% of the 166,000 Australians without a fixed address..."
This followed the 7.30 Report on April 23rd, which recorded almost a quarter-million Australians homeless - in what Australian Treasurer Costello describes as the top economy in the world!
Former Canadian Deputy Prime Minister
Paul Hellyer, in his devastating book STOP! THINK!
highlights the ever-increasing global poverty, quoting from
Susan George's The Debt Boomerang: "..... Every single
month, from the outset of the debt crisis in 1982 until the
end of 1990, debtor countries in the South (i.e. the lesser-developed
nations - ed.) remitted to their creditors in the North an
average $6.5 billion in interest payments alone. If payments
of the principal are included, then debtor countries paid
creditors at a rate of almost $12.5 billion per month - as
much as the entire Third World spends each month on health
Fifty years too late - but better than never - both Catholic and non-Catholic churches are timidly putting their toes into the greatest social issue of our time - world usury. The Concise Oxford Dictionary gives this totally inadequate definition of usury: "Practice of lending money at exorbitant interest, especially at higher interest than is allowed by law ..." In fact, usury is a much wider term than money, referring to any form of unfair gain at another's expense. The Scriptures and the Koran condemn usury, and the Church in its earlier period denounced it severely. Usury was formally banned in Magna Carta.
With the initiation of the Jubilee 2000 project, aimed at getting the Third World Debt written off by 2000, launched by the Evangelical Alliance, the eyes of an indifferent Church have begun to focus on this nation-destroying issue - so far with little result. The Pope has focused attention on the debt issue, and it appears the Catholic Church is a step ahead of the non-Catholic alliance on this one.
The West Australian Catholic paper The
Record (22/4/99) carried this significant news: "At the
end of his traditional Wednesday morning general audience,
John Paul II greeted about 1,000 volunteers from Italian foundations
dedicated to fighting usury. This immoral practice is widespread
in the country, dominated in many fields by the large and
"In early June of 1997, Bishop Tarcisio Bertone, secretary of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said that 'it seems opportune to publish a new encyclical on the subject of usury and on the use of money in general'... During his 1997 address, Bishop Bertone not only denounced the critical aspects of usury, but also 'the problem of loans among States which ends up by creating the problem of international debt'. . . . It has been speculated that the Pope's concern expressed during his audience might indicate his desire for such an encyclical...
The Debt Boomerang, Susan George,
1992, Pluto Press, 345 Archway Road, London N6 SAA, ISBN 0
7453 0594 6.
MERGER MANIA CONTINUES
The mania for mergers and acquisitions,
which has changed the shape of the world in the last 20 years,
looks set to continue. In 1998, according to an AAP report
in The Weekend Australian (29-30/5/99), mergers across
the world to the value of $US365 billion (about $US42 million
every 60 minutes throughout the year) took place. There will
be a slight slowing of the process in 1999 due, it is claimed,
to the millennium bug - probably no more than $US300 billion:
"... In line with international trends, it will be another
busy year of merger and acquisition activity in Australia,'
Mr. Hardman (Deloitte consulting partner) said the market
would continue to converge, with a smaller number of players
offering a broader range of products and services..."
FIJI SCRAPS GST ON FOOD
Immediately following the general election in Fiji, which saw former military man Sitiveni Rambuka ousted as Prime Minister, the incoming government has removed the GST on food, and educational and medical suppliers. "...as part of his (Mahendra Chaudhry's) pledge to narrow the gap between the island nation's rich and poor.. ."(The Australian, 28/5/99). Among promises made by the incoming government are the removal of all taxes on food and essential daily items, and a reduction in interest rates on housing loans.
Australians, it seems, will have to
feel the pain of a GST before the savage reaction, which has
occurred in other parts of the world, becomes a reality. Terry
McCrann (The Weekend Australian, 15-16/5/99), reflecting
on the GST marriage between LibNats and Democrats, raised
some interesting thoughts:
We can only add that if Australia is one of the two most "successful" - Heaven help the rest! There are, of course, much better alternatives - the Debits Tax, designed by Toowoomba accountant Ray Webber. The adoption of these would absolve all Australians of personal tax returns, costly book keeping and accounting, and the need for Tax File Numbers! As this last is emerging more and more as an "ersatz" identity number, it is little wonder the Government won't examine these options. They would lessen governmental control and surveillance- which would never do!
DEMOCRATS: MAINTAIN THE PRESSURE
Whatever else is happening with the Australian Democrats, it is clear that there is immense internal dissatisfaction with the Howard-Lees GST deal. There is a clear betrayal of trust here, since a membership ballot of Democrat members to determine their policy on the GST clearly established that the Democrats opposed the GST. This position is to be betrayed, and the door is now opening to the most efficient form of taxation ever devised.
Ah, but it's not as bad as it could have been? What has happened here is that Meg Lees and her colleagues intend delivering a new weapon into the hands of Treasury bureaucrats. (See On Target). Overseas experience shows that it can only get worse. Democrat Senator Stott-Despoja has made it clear that she has philosophical objections to the GST - particularly on books. She may vote against it, as may Senator Bartlett. Who else might jump ship?
The pressure on Democrat Senators to
repudiate Senator Lees' deal with Mr. Howard will be immense.
Our task is to increase that pressure. It is not too late
to do so. It isn't over until the final vote in the Senate.
The defection of a few more Democrat Senators would still
defeat the GST. Those who recall the proposal for the Australia
Card know what needs to be done. Under an avalanche of mail,
the Democrats were forced to reject the Australia Card legislation
in the Senate. The 'planners' were livid; they never knew
what hit them. The Treasury think they have the GST "in the
bag". The only way ahead is to hit the Democrats with another
avalanche of mail - by post, by fax, and by E-mail.
The address for Democrat Senators is simply Parliament House, Canberra, 2601. The names and fax numbers of Democrat Senators presently in the Parliament are as follows: Meg Lees (leader, South Australia): (02) 6277 3996; Natasha Stott Despoja (S.A.): (02) 6277 3235; Vicki Bourne (NSW): (02) 6277 3815; John Woodley (QLD): (02) 6277 3725; Andrew Bartlett (Qld): (02) 6277 3791; Lyn Allison (Vic): (02) 6277 3087; and Andrew Murray (W.A.): (02) 6277 3767.
ILLEGAL CONSTITUTION RELIEVES THE NEED TO PAY TAXES?
Numbers of Australians are being seduced
by the so-called "Murphy Letters" which claim that Australia's
Constitution - and therefore governments, courts and legislation
- are illegal due to a series of legal blunders at the time
of Federation. In consequence, it has been claimed, the valid
requirement to pay taxes cannot be sustained in court.
Dr. David Mitchell, highly qualified
in international law, de-bunked the claims in his paper at
the League's Annual Seminar in October '98. Under the heading
DEATH AND TAXES ARE STILL INEVITABLE, SAYS COMMISSIONER, the
following appeared in The Australian Financial Review
(4/5/99): "Australian tax laws are valid and the Commissioner
of Taxation cannot be prosecuted for war crimes, the tax office
This is hardly likely to deter the fanatical advocates of the argument. By the nature of their case, the very Court, which have made these decisions, have no validity anyhow! One version of the argument suggests that the United Nations has an alternative, internationally recognised Constitution, ready to impose on Australia as soon as the World Court has declared our present Constitution ultra vires. Naturally, the UN alternative will be republican in nature.
|© Published by the Australian League of Rights, P.O. Box 27 Happy Valley, SA 5159|