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30 July 1999. Thought for the Week: "There are only two kinds of social structure conceivable - personal government and impersonal government. Preferring personal government, with its tact and flexibility, is called Royalism. Preferring impersonal government, with its dogmas and definitions, is called Republicanism."
G.K. Chesterton - "What's Wrong with the World"?
VICTORIA'S SOCIAL REVOLUTION
by Jeremy Lee
Everyone driving on the network of freeways approaching the city will pay - every vehicle must carry a transponder known as an e-tag, which will trigger a recording in the overhead gantries spanning the freeways. They won't need to stop or slow down. Their accounts will be automatically deducted with the fee. Transurban not only has to build and operate the system for 34 years, but make it viable. But the scheme is running into trouble. Opinion polls already show that 25 per cent of motorists are planning never to use it. There is an increasingly bad press, particularly about the continual postponement of the opening. Transurban has had to triple its budget for 'marketing' the scheme - from $5 million to $15 million.
Confidence has not been boosted by the news that the company looking after the computer side of the operation, Computer Science Corporation, is the same firm, which was responsible for developing the combat computer system on the Collins-class submarines, now a major embarrassment to both Coalition and Labor Governments.
Transurban's own literature is hardly likely to endear it to potential users, as it describes the procedure for defaulters: "Photographs of licence-plate details will identify those who use CityLink without a valid toll account or day pass. Transurban will pass on this information to a government enforcement agency."
SALE OF PUBLIC TRANSPORT
While the $2 billion CityLink project
meanders on with its current problems, the Victorian Government
has just completed the sale of all rolling stock on the railways,
leased out the stations, rail-lines and other assets, as it
contracts out Victoria's entire 1800-kilometre network of
metropolitan and country passenger rail services in a complex
series of deals.
The Australian Financial Review (13/7/99), in a full-page review of the concept, said: ".... Historically, in most States, the Liberal Party has been pro-road while Labor has been pro-public transport. But now Jeff Kennett reckons he can tighten his lock on political power by expanding Melbourne's freeway system with the $2 billion CityLink toll way at the same time as launching a $1 billion plus private sector funded investment in public transport. A born-again public transport advocate, the Victorian Premier waxes lyrical about the changes. Within the next five years, you're going to see the most wonderful change to the quality of public transport in this State that we will have experienced in our lives, and I don't say that lightly'...."
Why do we have a feeling of deja-vu'? Both Benito Mussolini and Adolph Hitler were noted for the excellent transport systems they developed in the thirties. The subsequent price paid in freedom-of-choice was rather high. A few things need answering. Firstly, if the public transport project shifts large numbers away from motorways, the future for CityLink looks bleak. Secondly, when is the massive sell-off of infrastructure - which Victorian taxpayers have paid for - going to result in Victorian taxes being lowered from the highest level in Australia to the lowest?
If Victorians are successfully forced to comply with this scheme in Melbourne, will the automatic toll system be extended to rural cities and towns? Will the major roads throughout the State be leased out to multinationals on the same basis? And finally, what happens if Victorians refuse to co-operate in the electronic fleecing operation?
NOTHING BY HALVES
The United States does nothing by halves.
Its May Current Account Deficit (imports over exports) was
a record, lifting the projected CAD for the year to $US225
billion ($A348 billion). President Clinton, like Australian
politicians, is playing down the deficit, which has been going
on for many years. But a Washington correspondent in The
Australian Financial Review (23/7/99) commented:
Earlier this month a Director of a Capital Management firm, Tim Hughes, wrote in The Australian (3/7/99): "The US economy is looking more like a giant fast money scam.... Twenty years ago Americans spent about $90 of each $100 of disposable income and saved the rest. "Five years ago spending had risen to $95 for each $100 of income. "Data released this week shows that Americans are now spending $101.20 for each $100 of income. In other words, American households, as a whole, are not only no longer saving, but are actually running down their past savings to finance today's consumption.... American households are into debt like never before. The problem is that this is one great big unsustainable merry-go-round for as long as all this remains based on unsustainable consumer savings and debt behaviour, it is nothing more than a giant scam and, like all scams, will eventually be found out. The Fed is continuing to do too little too late "
But when? Picking the bursting of the bubble is a gamble in itself. But there are a few who would know... Readers will quickly realise how similar America's position is to Australia's - both living off debt to consume, while their industries go under. Prime Minister Howard is launching another initiative to attract foreign money into Australia. It is the conditioned reflex of someone too nervous or politically correct to look at an independent use of Australia's constitutional right to run its own money-system.
WHAT OF THE FUTURE?
Veteran economist John Kenneth Galbraith,
in a recent article on the world economy as we approach the
end of the millennium, was guarded in his comments. Like all
economists, Galbraith has often been mistaken in his predictions.
However, he offered some points to ponder - The Australian
So can Australia - the richest per capita nation in the world, with one-third of its population below the poverty line! Galbraith carefully evaded the source of a "decent basic income". From taxes paid by those working? That's the basis of the ailing welfare state. It should be provided from the "new money" created each year, which the Trading Banks now unjustly claim as their own. Until an examination is objectively made of this possibility, there are no answers that have not been tried - and failed.
MONEY AT ONE PER CENT
For the past ten years one small section
of the Australian community has been able to borrow money
from the Reserve Bank at one percent interest. It's an intriguing
story, explained by Terry McCrann in The Weekend Australian
The story is interesting. Three entrepreneurial banks - Macquarie, Rothschild and Mace-Westpac - invented what became known as gold loans. They borrowed gold from the Central Bank, which was quite happy for a one-percent-return on gold in its vaults otherwise earning nothing. The borrowers immediately sold the gold on the spot market, invested the proceeds at 18 per cent, and contracted to pay futures prices to miners at a 15 percent premium paying the money to gold-miners who had millions of ounces locked in the ground, but were cash-strapped. The loan was literally to be repaid in gold as it was mined - and paid for at the futures price. As the gold was repaid to the "middle men-banks", they simply replaced what had been taken from the Reserve Bank's vaults, and made a completely no-risk profit on the deal! Everybody - Reserve Bank, private banks and miners - were happy. At the same time, tens of thousands of farmers and small businesses, forced to pay the murderous 18 per cent official interest rate and upwards, went to the wall. If they had got the same one-per cent deal received by Macquarie and the Rothschilds, they'd still be there.
SA MAN BEING INVESTIGATED FOR ALLEGED WAR CRIMES
by Betty Luks
The authorities in Lithuania are reported to have announced a prosecution investigation was under way, based on information gathered by judicial officers and by the Nazi-hunting Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Geneva. If charges are laid the Lithuanian authorities may seek Mr. Gudelis extradition even though under Lithuania's laws a trial can be held in absentia. Australia does not have an extradition arrangement with Lithuania and a spokesman for the Justice Minister, Senator Vanstone, said applications from non-treaty nations were considered on a case-by-case basis.
Reference was made in the news item to the "suspected" war criminals previously charged under the Australian War Crimes Act, Mikolay Berezowsky, Heinrich Wagner and Ivan Polyukhovich. Mr. Berzowsky was charged - but there was "insufficient evidence for a trial"; Mr. Wagner was also charged, but the charges were later withdrawn "because of ill health". Mr. Polyukhovich went to trial, his committal hearing commenced October 28th, 1991, and he was found not guilty in a Supreme Court trial in May 1993. Former Lieutenant-Governor, Sir Walter Crocker, took part in a picket during the early days of the hearing, claiming the case was being driven by hatred and revenge.
In a letter written to the now defunct Adelaide News (19/12/1991), Dr. Fred Toben, now incarcerated in a prison in Mannheim, Germany, awaiting trial for "defaming the memory of the (holocaust) dead" on his website - in Australia - warned, "It seems to me that the trials are being used to embody in our national laws a mind-set which will make it a criminal offence to deny the controversial matter of the Holocaust."
Justice Minister Senator Amanda Vanstone is reported to have said no request for the extradition of Mr. Gudelis has yet been received by her department. Will the Lithuanian/Australian community take up the defence of this 88-year-old Adelaide pensioner? I hope so.
A FIRM APOLOGY TO THE AUSTRALIAN MONARCHIST LEAGUE
In a note from one of the Australian Monarchist League supporters, the League of Rights was taken to task for claiming we were - more or less - the only ones to proudly refer to the Queen and the Crown in the present campaign, "not dodging the issue as it appears other 'Monarchist' groups do." The AML supporter rightly pointed out we were in error and was distressed to read the incorrect statement in our journal. She wrote, "The Australian Monarchist League is putting the Crown and the Monarchy as top priority in the republic campaign. The League of Rights is not the only organisation to openly support the Crown."
WHO'S AFTER GOLD NOW?
There has been enormous speculation why Central Banks such as the Bank of England are suddenly dumping hundreds of tonnes of gold onto the open market. As one writer to The Australian Financial Review (1/7/99) pointed out, current demand for gold worldwide is running at 4,000 tonnes annually, while production is 2,500 tonnes. We don't know the reason for an action, which is artificially depressing gold prices.
We reprint an article faxed by a UK reader,
which appeared in the London Daily Telegraph (21/7/99)
without comment. The article, headed EXTREMISTS RAISE FUNDS
TO REBUILD TEMPLE, was by Ohad Gozani in Tel Aviv:
HAYDEN SAYS MULTICULTURALISM SHOULD BE KILLED STONE DEAD
In a Radio National news item during the week, it was reported former Labor leader and Governor General Bill Hayden said, "multiculturalism should be killed stone dead and that Australia's immigration policy should be reviewed." As we now live with the fruits of the policies his party promoted in the 70s-80s and he can see the results, he has had a change of ideas.
In 1983 he is quoted in the Melbourne Age as believing "we will become not just a multicultural society, which seems to be a soft sort of terminology anyway, we will become a Eurasian society and we will all be better for it".
The League of Rights has consistently challenged the unworkable ideas of these "one-world" idealists and is "demonised" for the stand it takes. Will the likes of Mr. Hayden now offer an apology to us?
WATER AUTHORITY CLAIMS PAYMENT FOR RAIN
The Wimmera-Mallee Water Authority (Victoria) has claimed a $30,000 payment from Stawell district farmer, Mr. Julian Kaye, for water which runs off an eroded paddock - part of his property - into a dam, also on his property. The Authority is claiming an up-front fee of $636 a megalitre and yearly charges of $4 a megalitre for water the farmer pumps from his own dam to provide water for a l0ha section of his own grapevines.
Mr. Kaye said the authority claimed the 45-megalitre dam would trap water destined to flow into its Wimmera River catchment, so it should be compensated. But a defiant Mr. Kaye is refusing to pay, and angry locals have backed his fight, accusing the Water Authority of a "Big Brother" attempt to privatise rain. The farmer said the authority was using him as a guinea pig to test a new interpretation of the Water Act in a bid to raise revenue and to undermine private water rights. In the past a waterway was a river or stream, now, according to the new definition, a waterway is "everything that has water running off it".
The State Government has called for an urgent investigation to resolve the dispute. But Wimmera Mallee Water general manager, John Konings, claims there is evidence of a well-defined depression and gullies on Mr. Kaye's property and, therefore, any rain that washed over the paddocks belonged to the Crown. He said this meant the Authority had the right to impose a licence fee of about $640 a megalitre on water that could be trapped in the dam.
There is unprecedented vineyard development in the region, and this has led to a greater demand for water rights than can be satisfied. The amount of Wimmera River water available is already allocated for use and the Water Authority claims the fee would allow them to improve catchment systems to boost supplies for the region. The local Council's economic manager Ivan Sunidge said the Water Authority's new interpretation of a waterway flies in the face of common law. "Under the new interpretation, every small gully or shallow depression can be classified as a waterway. If you have got a vegetable garden where water pools for a small amount of time, that could be a waterway," he said.
The Sunday Herald Sun (18/7/99) is urging the State Government "to intervene to restore Mr. Kaye's peace of mind and the confidence of an important rural industry". The editorial states that "Water is not free... but (farmers) baulk at the financial consequences of bureaucrats seeking to reinterpret the laws of nature, and water authorities seeking to hijack that which does not belong to them . . . It makes no sense to his neighbours, to the general farming community, nor to distressed bush families who suspect they will soon be slugged for rain running from their roofs to their water tanks... In determining who owns the falling rain, Wimmera-Mallee Water may be better to hire philosophers than lawyers, for its argument so far is extremely wet."
The newspaper is more to the point than it realises, but not necessarily right - first the rain is free. "God sends the rain on the just and the unjust", making use of it is a different matter.
MILLENNIUM BUG NOT THE ONLY SORT
by Geoff Muirden
Free speech on the Internet is essential if what remains of free speech is to be preserved. It has been challenged by governments around the world, but the Internet censorship bill of Richard Alston, which passed on June 30th, is one of the most repressive in the world. The rules of the Broadcasting Services Amendment (Online Services) Act, which comes into effect in Australia January 1st, 2000, centre on ordering Internet Services Providers (ISP's) to take down "indecent or offensive" Websites housed on their servers, and block access to certain domestic or overseas-based content.
The alleged purpose of the Alston bill, to stop pornography on the Net, was a sham from the start; users could quickly move to overseas service providers even if all Australian outlets were eliminated. The real target is "politically incorrect speech". Vague and undefined terms were used in the bill, such as "reasonable adult" (meaning, effectively, politically correct adult) and "community standards", a euphemism for Big Brother control.
Headlines warned the citizens of Melbourne
in June of this year, "The Hooded Face of Hate" had arrived
in Australia in the form of the Ku Klux Klan - and were recruiting
people on the Internet. Under the banner "KKK: Internet Ban
Call" The Age (5/6/99) called for an extension of the
Internet censorship laws, in which Zita Antonias, Race Relations
Commissioner, used almost exactly the same phrase of "community
standards" when reported as saying: "The standards we (note
the royal 'we') set for the general community should be the
same as for the Internet."
The KKK was used as a diversion to deny the central issue of free speech on the Web, which includes, as George Orwell said, "The right to say what others do not wish to hear." This is not the spirit our politicians have followed as we approach the new century. There is not a single word in the Alston Act to guarantee freedom of speech.
The Liberal Party of today would have great difficulty in understanding (let alone acknowledging), the spirit or intent of the Statement of Beliefs issued by their Party in 1949, "We believe in the great human freedoms: to worship; to speak; to choose; to be ambitious; to be independent; to be industrious; to acquire skill; to seek and earn reward." (We Believe: a statement of Liberal Party Beliefs, 1949).
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