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24 September 1999. Thought for the Week: "A world concerned with values is a very different world from one concerned with virtues... C.S. Lewis saw a similar effect in the change from 'ruler' to 'leader' as the popular name for those in authority or power. We ask of rulers 'justice, incorruption, diligence, perhaps clemency,' but of leaders 'dash, initiative, and (I suppose) what people call 'magnetism' or 'personality'. We see this today in the change in the common vocabulary from 'piety', which requires submission to God, to 'spirituality', which does not, and from 'a book' that has a meaning, to 'a text' in which the reader may find almost anything he wants, and from 'conversion' which assumes the truth is known 'to conversation' which assumes it is yet to be found...' Men do not long continue to think what they have forgotten how to say."
"To See Truly Through a Glass Darkly" by David Mills
VICTORIA BUSH SAVAGES GOVERNMENT
by Philip D. Butler
It is quite obvious that the political mould of voting for mainline political parties has had its day in Australia - Kennett claimed it wouldn't happen in Victoria. We are just so much more sophisticated than those yokels in the "Deep North" State of Queensland where they elect One Nation candidates! However, it could be that the Independents will have the balance of power in the new Victorian Parliament. Just shows what can happen when candidates are prepared to represent their constituents.
Russell Savage, who overcame a required swing of 20% against the Liberals in 1996 to become the Independent, Member for Mildura (the first Independent in Victoria for 30 years), made it clear in this election he was not a "oncer" by increasing his majority, despite the huge sums both the Liberals and Nationals spent in their attempt to unseat him. You see it was one of Jeff's political "friends" Craig Bildstein who had helped oversee the forced amalgamation of municipalities and the finish of the "Vinelander" rail service to Mildura, who Mr. Savage had defeated. You can understand the fear Mr. Savage invokes in all the mainline political parties when he then went and had a talk to Carl Ditterich, one of the all time greats and fearless players of Australian Rules Football - according to Carl on the Footy Show - to run in the neighbouring seat of Swan Hill as an Independent. As we go to press he could, in fact - on preferences - win it from the Nationals.
It is quite obvious that the Liberals will not be able to govern without the support of the Nationals, and could even then require the Independents. This is where the Nationals can make the difference - by showing they are not transparent Liberals, by sitting in the cross benches and insisting that they look after the interests of rural Victoria.
Russell Savage says it best - The Sunday Age (19/9/99): "The message for the Nationals is to get out of the coalition or just give up and become dinosaurs... I am convinced that country people want an advocate. They want members of Parliament that are looking after the interests of the electorate and not a party interest dictated forum in Melbourne. Jeff Kennett is his own worst enemy, and it is important that the coalition gets the message loud and clear."
LOOSING THE DOGS OF WAR
by Jeremy Lee
As the American writer Hiram Johnson said: "The first casualty when war comes is truth". To put it mildly, the Timor peacekeeping venture is a rocky one. About 8,500 troops will establish themselves in the island of Timor - about as close to Australia's northern coastline as the distance from Sydney to Melbourne. Thirteen nations will make up the force, with Australia contributing over 50 percent. Other nations are - Thailand, 1,500 men; Canada, 600; South Korea, 400; Britain, 250 Gurkhas; and also Fiji, the Philippines, Malaysia, Bangladesh, France, Argentina and New Zealand.
Timor itself is some 500kms in length,
with rugged country and high mountain ranges. It is divided
into two - West Timor, under direct Indonesian control, and
the disputed area of the former Portuguese East Timor. There
are some half-million refugees, with 150,000 of these in West
Timor, and a quarter of a million starving in the mountains
of East Timor. There are some 26,000 Indonesian troops in
the disputed territory who, it is hoped, will withdraw, which
merely means shifting from one part of the island to the other.
Participating nations in the peacekeeping force are not as single-minded or squeaky-clean as one might think. For example, Britain has been a major arms supplier to Indonesia. The Australian Financial Review (Weekend, 11-12/9/99) reported: "Britain faces increased pressure to suspend substantial military ties and arms trade with Indonesia after it became clear yesterday that UK-made Hawk jets were still being deployed in East Timor in defiance of undertakings given in London.... Britain is the European Union's largest exporter of arms to Indonesia, although France and Germany are also major suppliers.
"UK exports to Indonesia, which include
Hawk jets, Scimitar armoured combat vehicles, and sniper rifles,
are believed to have totalled $280 million last year. Under
a $600 million contract licensed by the former government,
Indonesia bought 16 jets.
There's an eerie feeling of deja-vu. Are we going to see a repeat of the situation in Vietnam, documented by former Hoover Institute researcher Dr. Anthony Sutton in his explosive book "National Suicide", where American soldiers were being killed by American technology in the hands of the Vietcong? And are we going to see a repeat of the self-defeating "No-win" war, where opposing troops have a safe-haven territory, immune from invasion? Or take Malaysia's stance.
While participating in the international force, the following appeared in The Courier-Mail (1619/99): "Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad has accused Australia of pressuring Indonesia to allow them to lead peacekeepers in East Timor. "He said the force should be led by South-East Asian nations, adding Malaysia was ready to play that role. "'We have given our pledge to Indonesian President B.J. Habibie that if he wants our help we are ready,' Dr. Mahathir said. "'But it is clear that other countries such as Australia are keen to send their soldiers to East Timor. That is their habit. They really love it when they have the chance to pressure their neighbors, to condemn their neighbors. That is their way "
Thus it appears that the token contributions of a number of such countries is little more than 'paperhanging'. In reality, Australia will bear the brunt of the effort, both financially and physically. Former Liberal leader John Hewson, writing in The Australian Financial Review (7/9/99) commented: "...To sustain our contribution to the peace-enforcing efforts for any length of time is likely to go beyond our capabilities. So it will not only cost about $300 million to $400 million to just deploy the troops to East Timor, but considerably more to sustain them there for a significant length of time. And it will not be a short engagement...."
How good are Australian troops? They are among the best trained in the world. But there are not enough of them, and the technological backup is woefully inadequate after years of depleted defence budget allocations. The Weekend Australian (11,12/9/99) said: "...Asked whether Australia had the military capability to intervene unilaterally in East Timor, our leading Defence strategist, Dr. Paul Dibb, says: 'Absolutely not. We currently spend 1.7 percent of gross domestic product on defence. That is the lowest level since the late 1930s. We would have trouble sustaining a brigade for six months in the field of combat.
The contrast with Britain is illuminating. Britain spends 2.9 percent of GDP on defence and it had a credible expeditionary force to send to the Gulf and Kosovo. Australia doesn't have a credible force. "'There are now 26,000 Indonesian troops and police in East Timor. This is more than five times the size of the 4,500 troops slated for Australia's UN contribution "
There is another factor we should remember. With over 80 percent of its population of 211 million who are Muslims, Indonesia is the biggest Islamic nation in the world. It can therefore expect support from a considerable bloc at the UN. Indonesia will be determined that a successful independence movement in East Timor will not fan similar aspirations elsewhere in the archipelago.
A brief article in the Courier-Mail (17/9/99) under the heading MUSLIMS PUSH FOR VOTE said: "Muslim religious leaders in the Indonesian province of Aceh have agreed to push for a referendum on self-determination, reports from Jakarta said yesterday. About 500 Muslim leaders in the Islamic province also warned of further and larger unrest' in Aceh if their call went unanswered." The East Timor referendum has started a chain of events stretching into the future the shape of which may be blacker than anyone believes possible.
Writing of the US defeat in Vietnam,
the famous Field-Marshal Montgomery of Alamein wrote in his
memoirs: "The U.S. has broken the second rule of war. That
is, don't go fighting with your land army on the mainland
MANUFACTURING IN CRISISEmployment in Australia's manufacturing sector has fallen to its lowest level on record as a result of the Asian crisis. 13,000 jobs were lost in the three months to the end of August, taking manufacturing employment to 1.063 million - 3,000 fewer than the last recession and the lowest on record. Since August 1997, when the Asian 'meltdown' started, 76,000 jobs have been lost in the manufacturing sector. Farming, mining and manufacturing are Australia's 'bread-and-butter'. All three are in recession. We can create as many service jobs as bureaucrats can think of, and call it 'growth'. But it is the production of real things that counts in the long run.
AUSTRALIA'S TAXPAYERS' $4.lM TO TRAIN INDONESIAN SOLDIERS
The West Australian's "Sunday Times", 12/9/99, reveals the Federal Government has spent more on joint training exercises with Indonesian soldiers than it has promised in aid for East Timor. According to documents released last month by Defence Minister John Moore in Federal Parliament, a total of 42 joint exercises with the Indonesian military were carried out between March 1996 and June 1999. Individual costs ranged from $800,000 to train junior Indonesian officers to $150,000 to teach the Indonesian army better marksmanship skills. Officers who oversaw the carnage in East Timor - such as Major-General Kiki Syahnakri, installed in the territory under the martial law now in place - passed through elite training at Duntroon Military Academy, Canberra.
In the past decade the military exchanges have included the training of an average of 200 militia each year at centres such as the Canungra Land Warfare Centre in Queensland. At present, according to the newspaper report, there are 20 Indonesian soldiers at what the army describes as 'educational institutions' in NSW, Victoria and the Northern Territory. Indonesian military power now outnumbers Australian troops four to one. No mention was made in the weekend papers of the Indonesian soldiers flying in to Perth last weekend. Our contact said it came over the radio just once.
CAN A LEOPARD CHANGE ITS SPOTS?
Labor Candidate Mal McCullough, who campaigned
for the seat of Rodney in the Victorian elections, sent the
following letter to State Director Terry Rogers. It's interesting
the way a time in the wilderness can focus one's thinking
and change attitudes:
On the edge of a deregulated abyss
GRASSROOTS CONCERNby S.J. Lewis, Charleston, South Australia
"As a long-standing dairy farmer, I question the cry to produce more and more milk, with an ever-increasing surplus to be sold on a 'corrupt' world market. "When one suggests you should obtain profitable markets first and then increase production, you are labeled negative, naive and a 'knocker'. "In order to produce more milk, we are advised to borrow more money to buy more land, upgrade our plant and machinery and irrigate more pasture using all the modern technology available to us. "The debts go up and the margin of profit goes down. "I think the money lenders are the chief beneficiaries.
In order to handle this extra milk, the processors build bigger and more 'efficient' factories churning out the surplus for the corrupt 'overseas market'. "Again I believe the money lenders are smiling. The same could be said of the milk hauliers.
"It would be a very interesting experience to establish how many litres of milk are required to service debt throughout the dairy industry. "The Stock Journal (July 22) reported that 300 dairy farmers attended the four Dairy Business Focus Forums held recently throughout the State. If half of these farmers attended the workshops to be held between August and December at a cost of $1500 per farm about $225,000 will be collected by the organisers. "Again, the dairy farmer will not be the main beneficiary. This is my concern as someone who works at the grassroots end of the industry."
SENATE POWERSUnder the above heading the following letter from a Justin O'Brien of Fitzroy, (Vic.), appeared in the "Sydney Morning Herald", 13/9/99:
"Why is it that so much discussion ('Time to review house of review' Sept.11th) fails to adequately consider the simple but fundamental role of the Senate as a brake on executive power?
"Although an improvement on the Westminster system, our system of government still allows for the Prime Minister and the cabinet, that thing not even mentioned in the Constitution, to appoint the governor general, the judiciary and the heads of bureaucracy, while ministers regularly appoint hundreds of positions across the country with very little restraint. Such largesse needs a strong Senate.
"Also proportional representation in the Senate provides for other, powerful voices in parliament, apart from those elected minions of the major parties. Without the checks and balances of a strong Senate, an already powerful executive would be given untrammelled control.
"Australians should rally to defend the Senate in order for the Senate to continue its check on executive power. It's the democratic thing to do."
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