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10 September 1999. Thought for the Week: "Has it
ever struck you as odd, is unfortunate, that today, when
the proportion of literacy throughout western Europe is
higher than it has ever been, people should have become
susceptible to the influence of advertisement and news-propaganda
to an extent hitherto unheard of and imagined? ...Do you
sometimes have an uneasy suspicion that the product of
modern educational methods is less good than he or she
might be at disentangling fact from opinion and the proven
from the plausible?
RECORD AFTER RECORD
by Jeremy Lee
Ian Henderson, in The Australian
(31/8/99), added: "... The burden of servicing both foreign
debt and foreign equity investment continued to climb, with
the former accounting for 6.6 percent of export income in
the June quarter, and the latter accounting for 9.1 percent..."
The Editorial in the same issue was somewhat sombre: "... We should not fall into the complacency that 'she'll be right' and the rest of the world will gladly keep on financing external deficits ... When previously our external deficit has swollen to such proportion, foreign suppliers of capital have taken fright, sending the $A down sharply and interest rates up. Remember the 1986 "banana republic" crisis? .... The millions of novice investors who entered the stock market in the 1990s have yet to experience the stomach-wrenching effect of a sharp fall in the value of their portfolios. They may not be fully aware of the risk that a correction in Wall Street, for example, could suddenly make foreigners less willing to keep financing Australia's balance of payments shortfall...."
VICTORIAN STATE ELECTION
There has been a long-running battle
between the Kennett government and the State's former Auditor-General
Mr. Ches Baragwanath. The latter claimed that secrecy over
many government deals prevented accountable audit. Receiving
Free Speech Victoria's Voltaire Award on August 26th, Mr.
Baragwanath spoke strongly on the need for open government,
including these remarks:
Now another former Victorian staffer, Mr. Stephen Mayne, has called for a Royal Commission into a number of matters he claims were perpetrated by the Kennett Government in its business transactions. The suave and urbane Jeff Kennett appears undismayed. He has instructed all other members of his party to avoid debating Opposition members, or talking to major media outlets. The following assessment, by Victorian Phillip Butler, provides food for thought:
THE PARTY DICTATORSHIP
Many now think that individual MPs are becoming a total inconvenience when it comes to running a "professional" political party machine. They are no longer there to debate the issues and represent their electors. They are simply "numbers" to carry out the orders of party bosses. This has been brought home with a thud.
Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett has decreed that all Liberal MPs and candidates in this election are not to speak to major media outlets or be involved in any type of candidate forums or debates in their constituencies. They may only speak with their local papers. In defending this "gag", Mr. Kennett said he doesn't want candidates running round like "Brown's cows"!
The ALP is no different - although it is getting plenty of mileage out of the Kennett censorship. Opposition leader Steve Bracks - one day after the Kennett 'gag' was announced - sacked two of his pre-selected sitting MPs, replacing them with high-profile candidates. His excuse? "Labor will be taking no passengers. I want the best possible team." (Herald Sun, 1/9/99)
History shows that an all-powerful party relegates the elector into irrelevancy. Both the Communist and Nazi political parties showed this to be so. Consider the latest situation in Venezuela: "Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez yesterday achieved through peaceful means what he attempted to seize militarily in 1992 - absolute control of his country ... Chavez supporter-dominated constitutional assembly yesterday stripped the country's Congress of its remaining authority ... banning any further congressional sessions..." (The Australian, 1/9/99)
While commentators cite the present "turnaround" in Victoria as an improvement on earlier gross mismanagement by Labor, the Kennett Government has become a law unto itself, as rationalists flog off assets to foreign interests. The Coalition - with National Roger Hallam at the Local Government helm - destroyed Victoria's Councils. With the Kennett gag in place, Victorians are now getting a preliminary taste of what could happen Federally if the republic succeeds - a change Jeff Kennett supports. Mr. Kennett's machine controls both Victorian Houses of Parliament.
Victoria is one of only two States where the State Constitution can be changed by politicians without a referendum. Currently, Victorian Liberals could rule without the Nationals: a fact, which has kept the Nationals silent, as their rural constituencies have been assaulted. If National leader Pat McNamara decided it was time his Party took a stand on a few issues, it could claw back some self-respect.
THE PROSPECT OF EXTINCTION
by Alfred King
However, when the celebrity tries to
explain why he is in favour of a republic, only the vaguest,
'feel good' statement is made. Such as the one recently on
"O'Loughlin On Saturday Night": "It's like the baggy green
cap of the Australian cricket team. It about bringing it on
home.... We've grown up and can look after ourselves." This
ABC programme is entirely tax funded.
We've all heard the 'cutting the apron strings' argument ad nauseam. If the self-appointed, self-righteous media elite were sincere in wanting an Australia that is strong and independent and free, they would be raising hell about the following issue. Instead, most newspapers and TV programmes employed the non-coverage method of censorship. The Australian Financial Review carried it as a small story towards the back of the paper.
The Federal Government launched an international legal challenge against Japanese over-fishing of the blue-fin tuna stock off the southern Australian coast. It reported "the Attorney-General, Daryl Williams told an international tribunal for the Law of the Sea in Hamburg that Japanese fishing beyond an agreed quota was endangering the depleted blue-fin stocks and should be halted immediately. The southern blue-fin tuna is one of the word's most valuable fish species, capable of yielding up to $90,000 each at Tokyo's fish markets. An agreed annual cap on the catch of 11,750 tonnes has been in place since 1989, with Japan's fishing fleets permitted 52 percent, Australian fleets 45 percent, with New Zealand taking the rest. But Japan ignored the cap last year harvesting 1,400 tonnes of tuna (worth $60 million) above its quota and has continued to do the same this year.
Canberra has often been accused of pulling its punches in trade related disputes with Japan, and has never launched formal dispute settlement action against Tokyo in the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Earlier this year, Canberra ignominiously backed down from a WTO complaint against Japan's 390 percent tariff on rice imports, after furious protests and veiled threats of commercial repercussions."
How richly has this country of ours been blessed! On top of everything else, we have excellent stocks of one of the world's most valuable fish just off the Tasmanian coastline. These fish are in Australian waters and therefore belong to Australians - right? Wrong! It seems our logic is too simplistic on this one. Japan is thousands of miles away, there are many countries closer to us than Japan, and yet they have the right to take more of these fish that we do! One wonders how we could possibly prostitute ourselves more.
In the liberal free trade doctrine there is nothing that is not for sale. Furthermore, Australia cannot even sort out this simple issue itself. Gentle reader, please raise your hand if your local pollie has asked your permission to take away the sovereignty of Australia over its fishing grounds and give it to an unelected body based in Hamburg? Some would call it treason.
Again we see a vivid illustration of how the surrender of our own interests has been developed to a fine art by our so-called 'leaders'. We can't even use the international court to its full potential, for fear of upsetting those who are already taking advantage of us. Western business schools teach the aim of negotiation to be a win-win situation. Orientals still see the desired outcome to be: we win, you lose, we defeat you. There is no room for anemic, counterproductive liberal thinking in their tactics. That's why Australian coal and iron ore is exported to Japan at rock bottom prices, and then we buy back goods we once made ourselves at premium prices. Every time, without exception, they win and we lose.
Recommended reading: "The Asian Mind Game" by Chin-ning Chu. Available from all League bookstores $23.00 posted.
This book unlocks the hidden agenda of
the Asian business culture. It reveals the Asian mind-set
that influences every aspect of Asian behaviour. It has long
been recognised that the Japanese see free trade doctrine
as something far more for foreigners to practise - but not
for the Japanese to do so. A great deal of publicity has been
given to covert discrimination against manufactured imports
practised by the Japanese. We are the suckers of the global
A SHAMEFUL PIECE OF HISTORY
by Philip Butler
Over the years this publication has been critical of the ruthless and inhuman treatment handed out by the Victorious Allied powers, especially the treatment meted out by the Eisenhower-commanded US armed forces to those who fled westward before the advancing Soviet armies. All too many of these helpless people were forcibly handed back to the Soviets, they were 'repatriated' to the Communist powers from whom they had fled. They knew what their fate would be (the dreaded gulags or the firing squad) and many committed suicide rather than be forcibly returned.
The August 1999, edition of The Canadian Intelligence Service carries excerpts from a column on the subject by Peter Worthington, a courageous and highly respected Canadian journalist. Worthington's column appeared in the Toronto Sun, 13/7/99, under the heading: Tolstoy: Apologise for Britain's Shame: "In light of Britain's declared determination to bring 'war criminals' to trial for atrocities committed in Kosovo, historian Nikolai Tolstoy has urged in a letter to British foreign Secretary Robin Cook, that Britain formally acknowledge and atone for its 'war crime' of forcibly sending men, women and children back to the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia and certain death after World War II."
Tolstoy has increasingly exposed aspects
of this forced repatriation, a policy, which sent tens of
thousands of Russian prisoners of war, White Russians, Cossacks,
Serbs, Slovenians, Croatians, refugees, women and children
back to virtual execution. He points out that British Governments
pressed for German and Japanese Governments to compensate
British victims of their wartime atrocities, and is now urging
the Blair Government "to make some public attempt to atone
for what happened in May and June of 1945 when British soldiers
in Austria committed savage crimes against Russian soldiers
and civilians." This is especially pertinent in light of Britain's
outrage at atrocities in Kosovo, its demand that perpetrators
be brought to trial, and fresh confirmation of the facts of
forced repatriation after WW II "which no one seriously challenges."
While many believe that the United States were anti-colonial because of their own history, a larger factor was probably their resentment that they had been largely excluded from trading with, and financing, countries of European colonisation. Third world countries with an independent government could be used more in the style of the South American "Banana" republics - their major industries could be dominated by US financial interests, while no direct responsibility or obligation for their broader well-being was incurred.
Because Java was the more fertile populous and advanced island, and provided the inaugural leadership, Indonesia was, and continues as, a Javanese empire. Like other empires, it had an eye to enlarging its borders. While the Dutch had retained the administration of West Irian, this came under armed assault during President John Kennedy's period of office in the US. The Dutch were not up to defending West Irian without assistance. Australia was not prepared to assist without American assistance. President Kennedy, no doubt under pressure from other priorities, looked away from the annexation. The Dutch threw in their hand.
The Melanesians of West Irian are simply one of hundreds of dissimilar peoples (racially, lingually, religiously, culturally, etc.) who live under the Javanese empire. The appeasement of Indonesia succeeded in its main intent of denying the region to communism. It was, however, a close run thing towards the end of President Sukano's tenure, and may well have only been averted by the large American presence in Vietnam during the late sixties and early seventies.
Fears of East Timor becoming a type of "Cuba" to Australia brought Western appeasement of this country's conquest. Indonesia's economic crisis has made it vulnerable to diplomatic pressure, just now, thus their amended conduct towards East Timor.
While our politicians will no doubt always mouth platitudes and reassurances about and to Indonesia, the Australian public might contemplate a few real questions. Will the various peoples ruled by the Javanese always be comfortable, or at least submissive, about it? Will we be likewise, especially given evidence - as we have in West Irian - which the locals may want "out"? Can we be sure that no power will emerge which might provide wherewithal to those who prefer independence from Java? Would some future breakup of the Javanese empire be against Australia's interests? While good relationships with one's neighbours are wonderful, it does beg the question: "Is all carrot and no stick good for any donkey, child or country?"
There has been an atmosphere in Australia, encouraged by our politicians and media that one mustn't speak in this way. Is it time to end this, or at least open the door a smidgen to more realistic public discussion?
RESISTANCE TO MULTINATIONALS GROWING
The latest opinion poll (The Australian,
3/9/99) shows almost half those surveyed opposed to genetically-modified
foods: "... The AC Nielsen survey found 47 percent of Australians
were sceptical about GM foods and would not consume them,
while 28 percent believed in their benefits and would eat
them. "An overwhelming majority of Australians (90 percent)
felt they did not know enough about GM foods and expected
them to be labelled..."
The issue has become white-hot in the Northern Hemisphere. A report in the UK paper The Guardian (25/8/99) says that Europe's biggest bank, Deutsche Bank, has advised investors to sell their shares in leading companies involved in developing genetically-modified organisms because of consumer resistance. The Bank's report said: "We note that Monsanto has spent more than $US1.5 million to persuade English consumers of the rectitude of their position, but alas, to no avail. Monsanto is little match for Prince Charles, an anti-GMO advocate, when it comes to sensitivity for the English peoples' desires..."
A further report added: "GMOs are being demonised by their opponents. What food manufacturer will 'take a bullet' for GMO corn in the face of such controversy? ... Farmers who planted (Monsanto's) Roundup Ready soya could end up regretting it..."
Since the circulation of the Bank's report, shares in named companies have fallen. In six months Monsanto's stocks had fallen 11 percent, and Delta & Pine, a seed company that owns the terminator gene - which Monsanto is taking over - has lost 18 per cent of its value.
HOSPITALS A HEALTH HAZARD
Adding to the general concern about health matters comes this news (The Weekend Australian, 28-29/8/99): "Almost 100,000 patients admitted to Australian hospitals each year contract fatal or serious infections while in the wards, one of Australia's leading infectious diseases experts has warned. "Director of Canberra Hospital's microbiology and infectious diseases department, Peter Collignon says poor hygiene, the over-use of anti-biotics fostering drug-resistant bacteria, and a lack of isolation wards are turning hospitals into breeding grounds for bacteria and adding millions of dollars to the cost of patient care "
Collignon went on to say the problem was being ignored because relevant data was not being collected. "A lot of problems caused by infection that are very serious are because of what doctors and nurses and the medical system has done to the patient.... Half of all serious infections that occur in hospitals are in the bloodstream and yet we don't collect this information very well.... In Australia there are probably four to five thousand cases of bloodstream poisoning.... More people die of hospital-acquired infections than do of HIV/AIDS...."
DOES WORKING PAY?
A recent report in London's Financial Times dealt with the stress factor of those in employment. Job insecurity was at a 50-year high: "...The most insecure employees are professional staff who used to be the most secure group. Many employees believe their willingness to take on additional responsibilities, work longer hours and work harder has not been adequately rewarded..."
The huge costs of employing someone in the welfare state - payroll taxes, holiday loading, superannuation etc. now far beyond the actual wage paid - forces employers to extract every possible advantage from wage earners. The Australian Financial Review (319/99) confirmed a similar situation in Australia. "The majority of employees are working more than 40 hours a week at the expense of their work performance, family, health and safety, according to the ACTU. Union movement research, aimed at tapping into the issues of the modern workplace through surveys of 10,000 members, suggests Australians are working more than they did a year ago, but feeling less secure, less satisfied, more stressed and unhappy about the balance between work and family...."
In a world where there is fiercer competition for the diminishing number of jobs, the pressure on both employed and unemployed MUST increase. Until it is recognised that the only solution is to introduce a means of income distribution OUTSIDE the employment system, the human catastrophe must continue. Which is why Social Credit is more relevant than ever before.
The "Citizen-Dividend" operating in Alaska (see Jeremy Lee's How Bright The Vision? - available from League bookshops, $12.00 posted) is a starting point worth considering. The diversion of Australia's annual money-creation-increase to such a concept would solve many currently insoluble problems.
TIMOR - ANOTHER KOSOVO?
Indonesia is playing a devious game under international pressure on Timor - in Toynbee's words, "denying with their lips what they're doing with their hands". Any escalation in bloodshed following the referendum will result in a mass exodus of refugees towards Australia.
The Australian Financial Review (3/9/99) reported: "... Dr William Maley, of the Australian Defence Force Academy said.... 'If violence intensifies and pro-independence supporters want to come to Australia because they fear persecution for their political opinions, then they would clearly be legitimate refugees. But if people leaving East Timor were members of pro-militias fearing retribution, then they should be accepted by Jakarta as Indonesian citizens ... "'
What a neat, bureaucratic solution! But who's going to tell the difference? Alexander Downer?
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