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22 October 1999. Thought for the Week: "I have grown past hate and bitterness, I see the world as one: But though I can no longer hate, my son is still my son. All men at God's round table sit, and all men must be fed; but this loaf in my hand, this loaf - is my son's bread."
"Nationality" by Mary Gilmore
DO WE LIVE IN OCCUPIED TERRITORY?
by Tom Fielder
As I walked the streets of Melbourne today, I reminisced about the time I was on leave almost 60 years ago; the streets were thronged with every second person in uniform. Today, there were no uniforms, but every second person did not look like the average "Aussie" I knew all those years ago. I could easily imagine myself in Singapore. Then I read in the daily "Sun", front page: "Alien scam, boat people exploit law... huge numbers of illegal migrants mass in Indonesia." While on page three it was reported: "Victorians sink into poverty."
How long before politicians claim that
we need "an illegal migrant growth industry" to keep the economy
afloat? Perhaps Graeme Campbell was right when Indonesian
military personnel told him: "No, we are not going to invade
Australia, we are only going to send our starving women and
children." Already boats with hidden compartments to hold
1,000 illegal immigrants are being built (Australian,
Further information by the late Dr. Dique
Tape: "Future Trends" - $7.00 posted.
EAST TIMOR TORMENT
by Neil McDonald
In 1995, Indonesia bought the former East German navy's entire 33 ships, plus submarines from Germany. Former Liberal leader John Hewson wrote in The Australian Financial Review (7/9/99): "it will not only cost $300 to $400 million to just deploy the troops to East Timor, but considerably more to sustain them there."
To keep Australian troops in Timor will cost about $2.5M every day. If conflicts and casualties are the result, will Australia fall into the trap of borrowing into bankruptcy? It will take a better treasurer than Peter Costello to balance the budget if skirmishes test Aussie-trained opponents.
ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT TRADE ESCALATING
by Jeremy Lee
Craig, who was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to study illegal immigration, concluded ".... No-one can say we haven't been warned..."
Australia has allocated a further $124 million to beefing up surveillance under Rear-Admiral Russ Shalders, who was seconded to Coastwatch in July. Most will be spent on surveillance equipment in the form of acoustic sensors, satellites, tethered balloons, aircraft and helicopters. The Australian (7/10/99) reported: "...The new Coastwatch director-general concedes that the job will not be easy. Organisers of immigration rackets are becoming increasingly savvy, using purpose-built boats with hidden compartments, sprucing up rusty hulks and changing the way they land their cargo to avoid detection..."
Boat people are not the only, or the chief threat. Tourists overstaying their visas, and colleges providing extended visas for non-existent students - as has recently been discovered - is all part of a major threat to Australia.
GLOBAL INSTITUTIONS UNDER INCREASING FIRE
The amount of intelligent, perceptive criticism of such institutions as the World Trade Organisation and the International Monetary Fund increases day by day. It is the first sign of the pendulum-swing against the World Government view. Over the last few weeks the WTO has imposed fines and ordered tax reforms in a number of countries. Bigger and bigger numbers of lobbyists and lawyers spend more and more finance presenting trade-cases against other countries.
It is quite clear that the right of nations to determine their own trade, wage and tax regimes is being whittled away. Typical is the WTO ruling that the European Union may not maintain a ban on hormone-fed beef from the United States. The full implications of genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) has not appeared before the WTO Star Chamber, but we would bet that free trade will take precedence over free choice when it does.
The IMF, meanwhile, is earning its just
share of criticism. A recent Economist article (syndicated
in The Australian, 24/9/99) included these remarks:
".... The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank stood
unchallenged as the world's top economic doctors. No longer.
After a series of financial crises from South Korea to Brazil
and an economic meltdown in Russia, the consensus has broken
down. Many traditional prescriptions have been discredited
and the doctors are at loggerheads with each other.... The
institutions have become a more explicit tool of western,
and particularly American, foreign policy. Such politicisation,
many feel, threatens their credibility in handing out disinterested
All of which must gratify Malaysia's Dr Mahathir, who thumbed his nose at the IMF and took charge of the nation's economy, with the result it is now the most stable in SE Asia. The single most important step for national economies is to remove from private banks the role of creating new money, returning it to the public sphere on behalf of the people. Pitting nation against nation in a cut-throat competition for exports before a body such as the WTO, in an environment where the world's money systems are privately-controlled and debt-dominated is, as C.H. Douglas once said, a recipe for war.
SIR OTTO NIEMEYER SCHOLARSHIPS
We were intrigued to see advertisements in a number of papers announcing the establishment of The Sir Otto Niemeyer Scholarships by the Australian Centre for Global Finance. Those who have looked at the history of Australia during the 1930s Depression will know about the visit to Australia in 1930 of Sir Otto Niemeyer, accompanied by Professor Theodor Emanuel Guggenheim Gregory of the London School of Economics.
The Melbourne Argus quoted Sir Otto Niemeyer on August 22nd, 1930, as telling a conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers (at a time when Australia was in the worst throes of Depression with many out of work and starving): "...There is also evidence to show that the standard of living in Australia has reached a point which is economically beyond the capacity of the country to bear without a considerable reduction of costs resulting in increased per capita output..."
As a result of Niemeyer's advice, Commonwealth economist Professor Copland forced through the now infamous Premiers' Plan, whereby the already inadequate wages in Australia were cut by 10 per cent! Niemeyer provided the same advice in New Zealand and South America. Imagine such thinking in charge of "global finance"!
MERGERS AND ACQUISITIONS IN EUROPE
There was a time, not so long ago, when we measured the world-wide takeover business in $billions. Now it's $trillions. The Australian Financial Review (6/10/99) reported: ".... Propelled by a surge in merger activity in Europe, worldwide mergers and acquisitions hit a record $US2.2 trillion ($A3.4 trillion) in the first nine months of the year. According to data compiled by Thomson Financial Securities Data, reported merger activity around the world in the first three quarters jumped 16 per cent, far outpacing the $US1.92 trillion recorded in the same period last year "
The figures represent over $A560 for every living person on earth! In nine months!
BETTER LATE THAN NEVER
Who remembers "The Little White Wool
Book"? Compiled by Harry Bethel and Roy Donohoe of Nyngan
in NSW in the late 'sixties, it showed how, with a relatively
small investment, Australia could open up wool processing
industries, going from scouring to top-making and spinning,
in a number of country centres, providing employment and halting
the rural exodus.
Latest news (AFR, 6/10/99) is that a
new wool-scouring venture is opening up in Western Australia,
at Rockingham, south of Fremantle. The Government has kicked
in $13.6 million for a water treatment plant. But who are
the owners? US-based Standard Commercial Corporation (25%)
and France's Compagnic d'Importation de Laines (75%). On the
other hand, Roger Fletcher, who started a sheep fell mongering
business in Dubbo (NSW) in 1987, has developed the operation
right through scouring to top making. Skins are processed
and finished wool ready for spinning is now all handled in
a $200 million-a-year industry that has transformed the town.
We can do it if we want - and if the Government would take
the shackles off our own financial system, instead of relying
exclusively on foreign capital.
SMALL FARMS - BEST WAY TO FEED THE WORLD
"Small farms are more productive than large farms, yet their continued existence is threatened by international trade agreements," according to a study released at a United Nations conference held in the Dutch city of Maastricht. The Institute for Food and Development Policy, also known as "Food First", based in California, and the Transnational Institute, based in the Netherlands, published the study, prepared by agricultural development specialist Dr. Peter Rosset.
Challenging the conventional wisdom that small farms are backward and unproductive, the study shows that small farmers worldwide produce from two to 10 times more per unit than do larger, corporate farmers. "In fact, small farms are 'multi-functional' - more productive, more efficient and contribute more to economic development than do large farms," said Dr. Rosset, executive director of the Institute for Food and Development Policy, and an official delegate to the Maastricht conference, representing the Global Forum on Sustainable Food and Nutritional Security, based in Brazil.
The study showed communities surrounded by populous small farms have healthier economies than do communities surrounded by de-populated, large, mechanised farms. Small farmers take better care of natural resources, including reducing soil erosion, conserving bio-diversity and safeguarding the future sustainability of agricultural production.
Despite more than a century of anti-small farmer policies in country after country, in both industrialised and Third World countries," said Dr. Rosset, "small farmers not only still cling to the soil but continue to be more productive and more efficient than large, agribusiness farming operations. Small farmers offer the best way to feed the world, and the only way to effectively conserve soil resources for future generations."
The World Trade Organisation Agreement on Agriculture, to be negotiated in Seattle, USA, next month is the weapon that could deal the final deathblow to the world's small farmers warns Dr. Rosset. He wants recognition of the true value of small farms and defeat of the American government plans for the Agreement on Agriculture.
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