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Christian based service movement warning about threats to rights and freedom irrespective of the label.
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing"
Edmund Burke
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20 December 2002. Thought for the Week: "Now in Jerusalem there was a man named Simeon. He was an upright and devout man; he looked forward to Israel's comforting and the Holy Spirit rested on him...Prompted by the Spirit he came to the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the Law required, he took him into his arms and blessed God; and he said: "Now, Master, you can let your servant go in peace, just as you promised; because my eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared for all the nations to see, a light to enlighten the pagans and the glory of your people Israel."
New Testament, Luke 2

"After the religious fanaticisms are a little dulled it may be possible for the people to understand and rejoice in those two great rituals which have stood for ages to celebrate the polar principles of democracy – baptism and the holy communion of the common bread – the symbol of individuality and the symbol of universality."
"The Affirmative Intellect" by Charles Ferguson, 1901

A blessed and holy Christmas/New Year Season to all our readers


2002 DRAWS TO A TUMULTUOUS END

by Jeremy Lee
It is sobering indeed to look back on the past year, and to realize that in every area there has been a retreat from freedom. The latest election in Victoria has confirmed the dominance of the Labor Party in all States and the Northern Territory. The major Coalition parties at state level seem totally inept, and without any philosophical belief. On the whole they are a jeering, sniping pack, seemingly incapable of doing anything but yapping round the heels of Labor leaders who treat them with good-natured contempt.
Almost anonymous Liberal and National Party leaders are indicative of a lack of stature in their ranks, unable to grasp or articulate the enormous problems in the electorate.

In the Federal sphere the Howard Government is, temporarily, in the ascendancy; but only because the ALP under Simon Crean has decided to abandon its traditional Labor position, turning itself into a pale, pink shadow of the Coalition which so dominates the national headlines. The resignation of Carmen Lawrence from the Labor Shadow Cabinet bodes ill for Crean. Whatever else is said, she has some beliefs of her own, and can only divide the party further until Crean disappears and her own leadership ambitions are realized. Australia might well reflect on the fact that, were it not for refugees and terrorism, we would also have a Labor Government in Canberra, headed by Kim Beazley. The Coalition had its back to the wall until Tampa and the refugee issue came along. Howard seized the chance to whip up a war psychology and play on the fear factor. He had no compunction about using some of Pauline Hanson's policies to get himself, and the motley band of oarsmen in his barge back to land.

With S-11 and Bali on everyone's mind, and a general belief that Howard is a better "crisis" leader than anyone in the Labor Party, few have noticed the ominous corrosion of traditional rights and liberties that have and are being edged into place. They are strikingly similar to the position in the US.
EQUALITY BEFORE THE LAW
Chief among these is the elimination of individual rights to a fair trial and the old principle "innocent until proved guilty".

Laura Tingle, writing in The Australian Financial Review (9/12/02) described it thus: "... In the post-September 11 world, the Howard Government has introduced a legislative agenda that profoundly affects Australian civil liberties. If you're not directly involved in terrorism you might not have taken too much notice of these changes and how they affect the community. Equally, the fear of terrorism may have blunted a philosophical objection to government intervention per se that might otherwise make us object to what has been done .... The major elements of these legislative changes have been: the Security Legislation Amendment (Terrorism) Bill – which has been passed by Parliament with substantial amendments; and the ASIO Legislation Amendment (Terrorism) Bill 2002 – due to be debated in the Senate this week ....

George Williams .... is the Anthony Mason professor and director of the Gilbert & Tobin Centre of Public Law at the University of NSW Faculty of Law. Here is what Williams said about the ASIO Bill in a recent article in The Alternative Law Journal:
"The ASIO Bill is rotten at its core. It would confer unprecedented new powers upon ASIO that could be used against the Australian people by an unscrupulous government. It is unfortunate that it has come to this, but the ASIO Bill would establish part of the apparatus of a police state. It is a law that would not be out of place in former dictatorships such as General Pinochet's Chile. The powers to be given to ASIO may not be used against the Australian people today, or even over the next decade, but we cannot guess at the wisdom and motives of a government or of ASIO in 10, 20 0r even 50 years time."

What prompts such language? The ASIO Bill would give Australia's domestic security organization the right to detain people without charges being laid, or even the possibility they might be laid. People could be held without access to legal advice and without the normal rights to silence and to avoid self-incrimination. For business, that means, for example, if you run a hotel or car-hire business, or worked in a bank, in a travel agency or computer consultancy, you might find yourself hauled in for questioning under warrant, not because you're a terrorist, or knowingly know a terrorist, but because someone who ASIO thinks is a terrorist has been conducting business with you ....

As Professor Williams says, the Bill, "will bring about a permanent change to law enforcement in Australia, and will entrench the notion that the detention of people who may have useful information is an appropriate tool for the gathering of information about criminal activity. The dangers of such a development in any law and order debate are obvious"....."
REMORSELESS ATTORNEY-GENERAL
Steering these ominous changes into place is Attorney-General Darryl Williams, who has resisted all calls to preserve basic principles in the legal system.

Darryl Williams is currently embroiled in a fresh controversy – that of allegedly 'politicising' future appointment to Australia's High Court, thus endangering the separation of powers. With the impending retirement of Justice Mary Gaudron, the leading article in The Australian Financial Review, 11/12/02, said:
"The Federal Attorney-General, Darryl Williams, confirmed yesterday that he had been conducting secret interviews with potential candidates for the impending vacancy on the High Court bench. His talks breach a long-standing convention aimed at protecting the independence of the judiciary and have raised fears that the government may have used the discussions to test potential High Court judges for their political reliability ...."

It is quite clear that conventions which have allowed the Prime Minister to select the Governor-General, and now seem to be enabling a party politician to dabble in High Court appointments need changing. This was never the intention of the Constitution, which does not even mention the Prime Minister, and was insistent on the division of powers. Getting 'cronies' or sympathizers into high office is a corruption of our traditions, taking us onto the slippery slope of soviet-style politics.


THE BIGGEST SHADOW

Hanging over the western world is the ever-growing threat of depression. Despite all the 'whistling-in-the-dark', the heavyweight economic forecasters are now catching up with reality – and don't like what they see. Max Walsh, writing in The Bulletin, 26/11/02, under the heading INTO THE VALLEY OF DEFLATION, told us over two pages how black things appear. The Federal Reserve (privately-owned) has cut interest rates a dozen times over the last few months, the current rate being 1.25%. This, coupled with the $US trillion plus tax-cut introduced by Bush when he gained office, is supposed to stimulate the frantic, borrowing binge of a 'new recovery'. But the Business Roundtable, representing America's 200 biggest corporations, has reported that 60 per cent of its members will be shedding workers and staff in the coming year, and 80 per cent there will be no new investment in plant and equipment.
The level of debt in the US economy is now so vast, smeared like an over-thick dollop of butter on every slice of economic activity, that people are refusing to borrow more, no matter what the enticement.

Adding to the predicament is the enormous growth in the Chinese economy, which grew 32% this year. It is moving into every area of production, elbowing aside older, more debt-laden and higher-taxed economies: ".... That's why the Business Roundtable is looking to labour shedding. That always causes concern but especially when you have a household sector carrying a historically high level of debt. With low levels of household saving and three years of falling equity prices, the capacity of the US consumer to drive that economic growth is at risk.
"Should the latest initiative on the monetary front fail to achieve traction, then we could see a quite serious retrenchment of the US economy ...."

Peter Hartcher, writing from Washington (The AFR, 9/12/02) provided evidence supporting Walsh's position:
" ... the prices received by US firms overall have declined in each of the past five quarters, the longest run in more than 50 years. For the latest quarter they are down 1.3per cent ...."

This despite the fact that America's money supply has been expanding by 8 per cent year on year. Under orthodox theory, an expanding money supply is supposed to stimulate the economy. But some are only just beginning to see that if the money supply is increased by 8 per cent, while the ensuing borrowing costs increase by, say, 12 per cent, the policy is not the wisest one to follow.

So what happens when printing money no longer entices people to borrow? Hold your hat for a long slide into Depression. And that's where we all are now. Australia has reduced government debt by shoving it on to the private sector, where household debt is rising in leaps and bounds, and is the highest in our history. This, according to Treasurer Costello, who has raised taxation to the highest point in Australia's history, has made us the strongest economy in the world!

So, with the biggest drought in Australia's history, war and terrorism on every horizon, the highest levels of household debt on record, and our welfare agencies facing an ever-growing horde of destitute people who can't afford Christmas dinner, it looks like being a grand festive season. The only bright spot on the horizon is the growing number of aware Australians.
Sooner or later the point comes where we've got to start going upwards.

A Merry Christmas to all readers! And a challenging New Year!


WHY ALL THE FUSS?

by Betty Luks
What an interesting propaganda exercise has overtaken the ethanol 'scandal'. Okay, so the service stations are selling fuel mixed with a higher percentage of ethanol than car manufacturers recommend. It seems the NSW government has been dragging its feet and has not legislated to force petrol companies to stick to the right mix, whereas other state governments have done so. But wait a minute, it was inadvertently revealed on the ABC local morning programme (December 12th, 2002) that car manufacturers are adjusting the engines, for the Brazilian market, to run on 20 per cent ethanol in the mix!

Not once did the talking heads suggest that maybe we should look at a 20 per cent mix and thereby give our struggling cane farmers a chance to survive. If it can be done for Brazil, why not Australia? Not only that, the service stations get the ethanol/fuel mix for a cool thirteen cents cheaper than the mix 'recommended' by the car manufacturers. But no, the 'news' was slanted in such a way as to make us react in anger to the use of the higher percentage of ethanol in the mix, rather than wonder "Well, why don't our Governments promote the greater use of ethanol thus giving our sugar cane growers a bigger slice of the market, and maybe a chance to survive?"

But no, state and federal governments would rather favour the international oil companies – to the detriment of our cane growers. It was a very clever media exercise on behalf of the oil companies.


AMA PONTIFICATING ON ABORIGINALS IS SELF-SERVING

John Fischer, MLC West Australian parliamentarian, has issued a statement claiming "the Australian Medical Association (AMA) can be relied upon to trot out their gross misrepresentations about Aboriginal health on a regular basis. They seem to think that engendering a totally unwarranted sense of guilt in the wider community is going to benefit them, as Government's are pressured into spending yet more money".

He observes it didn't take any research on the part of the AMA to find out the depressing health statistics that they are complaining about, as the information is readily available, but highlights the fact: "What the AMA conspicuously fails to do is to honestly address the reasons why!

Renal failure and motor vehicle accidents have in some communities virtually wiped out entire generations of young men. This is not the result of lack of medical attention but a direct consequence of the chosen lifestyle. The same is true for the very high incidence of adult onset diabetes, which is subsequently responsible for many of the other medical complications that the AMA wrings their hands about."

He exposes the humbug of such 'statistical reporting', "The figures that the AMA used to justify their chicanery about Aboriginal Health funding relate only to funding from the Commonwealth, and in any case, they ignore the fact that many Aboriginal people pursue their health needs in the main stream. In any case the AMA knows that it is the States that bear the biggest burden of health costs. An example was the disproportionate use of dialysis by Aboriginal people. This is a cost born largely by the State Hospital system and does not register as expenditure on Aboriginal health.

The cost of operating the Royal Flying Doctor Service was substantial in providing services to remote communities." He insists it is the States' Hospital and Health Systems that shoulder the heavier responsibilities for providing health services to the Aboriginal communities. "A visit to any one of the hospitals in Kalgoorlie, Port Augusta or Port Hedland, would quickly confirm this," he said.

"The truth is that an enormous disservice was done to Aboriginal people when the policy of separate development was imposed upon them at the insistence of misguided do-gooders that have always dominated the Aboriginal industry," he insisted. "No country in the world spends as much money per capita on its indigenous people as the Australian people for which they are abused by the fat cats of the AMA. They should realise that more money is not the answer. There will be no improvement in the fortunes of Aboriginal people until they are prepared to take responsibility for their own actions and rid themselves of the welfare mentality that is killing them," John Fischer claimed.


A MONSTER OF OBSCENE & GROTESQUE PROPORTIONS

by Harold Pinter – The Bush / Blair Gang from Neil Baird's e-mail
Harold Pinter is a playwright, director, actor, poet and political activist. The following text was first delivered as a speech to an anti-war meeting at the House of Commons. Australians will relate to it if they replace the name of Blair with that of Howard, it will conjure up in their minds a 'vision splendid' of their 'great leader'.

"There's an old story about Oliver Cromwell. After he had taken the Irish town of Drogheda the citizens were brought to the main square. Cromwell announced to his lieutenants: "Right! Kill all the women and rape all the men." One of his aides said: "Excuse me, general. Isn't it the other way around?" A voice from the crowd called out: "Mr. Cromwell knows what he's doing." That voice is the voice of Tony Blair – "Mr. Bush knows what he's doing." The fact is that Mr. Bush and his gang do know what they're doing and Blair, unless he really is the deluded idiot he often appears to be, also knows what they're doing. Bush and company are determined, quite simply, to control the world and the world's resources. And they don't give a damn how many people they murder on the way. And Blair goes along with it. He hasn't the support of the Labour Party, he hasn't the support of the country or of the celebrated 'international community'.

How can he justify taking this country into a war nobody wants? He can't. He can only resort to rhetoric, cliché and propaganda. Little did we think when we voted Blair into power that we would come to despise him. The idea that he has influence over Bush is laughable. His supine acceptance of US bullying is pathetic. Bullying is, of course, a time-honoured US tradition.

Addressing the Greek ambassador to the US in 1965, Lyndon Johnson said: "F*** your parliament and your constitution. The US is an elephant. Cyprus is a flea. Greece is a flea. If these two fellows continue itching the elephant they may just get whacked by the elephant's trunk, whacked good." He meant what he said. Shortly afterwards the colonels, supported by the US, took over in Greece and the Greek people spent seven years in hell. As for the US elephant, it has grown to be a monster of grotesque and obscene proportions.

The terrible atrocity in Bali does not alter the facts of the case. The 'special relationship' between the US and the UK has, in the last 12 years, brought about the deaths of thousands upon thousands of people in Iraq, Afghanistan and Serbia. All this in pursuit of the US and UK 'moral crusade' to bring 'peace and stability' to the world!

Babies born with no brain, eyes or genitals
The use of depleted uranium in the Gulf War has been particularly effective. Radiation levels in Iraq are appallingly high. Babies are born with no brain, no eyes, no genitals. Where they do have ears, mouths or rectums, all that issues from these orifices is blood. Blair and Bush are of course totally indifferent to such facts, not forgetting the charming, grinning, beguiling Bill Clinton, who was apparently given a standing ovation at the Labour Party conference. For what? Killing Iraqi children? Or Serbian children?

Bush has said: "We will not allow the world's worst weapons to remain in the hands of the world's worst leaders." Quite right. Look in the mirror chum. That's you. The US is at this moment developing advanced systems of 'weapons of mass destruction', and is prepared to use them where it sees fit. It has walked away from international agreements on biological and chemical weapons, refusing to allow any inspection of its own factories. It is holding hundreds of Afghans prisoner in Guantanamo Bay, allowing them no legal redress despite their being charged with nothing, holding them captive virtually for ever. It is insisting on immunity from the international criminal court, a stance that beggar's belief but which is now supported by the UK. The hypocrisy is breathtaking.
Tony Blair's contemptible subservience to this criminal US regime demeans and dishonours his country."


LETTER TO THE EDITOR

"APES OF THE UNIVERSE" – December 10th, 2002 ...... You, you and YOU - me too... plural Us, are the Apes of the Universe. Daily we read of the world's woes, disagree with what is happening, and yet... do nothing. "Public opinion" comes in innocent wrappings, it can be delivered to your door - or you can have a serve of the electronic kind. Unless you disagree and protest you are prisoners of war. If YOU fail to declare that war with Iraq is out of bounds, you are a traitor. If you feel more secure when Australian Federal police, disguised and armed with powerful weapons, suddenly sledgehammer their way into homes, frightening everybody within the home (then leave without charges or arrests) you are living in a fool's paradise. If you consider these tactics "fair play", then Australia is doomed.

What if protest or resistance occurs? The authorities might think twice about it and the swoop procedure slowed down. Similar thoughts NOT expressed by a letter to the editor, or through talk-back radio will influence no-one else, and are of less value than soapy water leaving a wash trough. I too am part of the problem but not yet part of the solution. When I fail to start a petition insisting I DO NOT support a first strike in Iraq, I have joined the biggest army in the world- the apathyists. Mentally bankrupt, we accept the servings of distorted news with our daily meals.

We read of students burning schools, but fail to see the hidden organisers. They want to wipe out family wealth – but demand someone else pay the higher fees. We express belief in social credit but do not oppose social debt. 'Prosperity' is an iceberg, visible on the surface, but seemingly beyond depth. The visible money system works extremely well, shoppers buy without barter and many still pay using coin tokens and bank notes. Cash registers smile though their operators can only press buttons and not use mental arithmetic. Outside supermarkets lady-drivers step from rugged four-wheel wagons, designed for open spaces and not suburban streets.

A wondrous world produces an abundance of luxuries and most necessities. Despite droughts, fires and floods, products still flow to overfill shop shelves. Shopkeepers are ever eager to sell with tempting signs of "buy now- pay later," "40 per cent off" and "three for the price of two."

Non-producers have reached wartime military strength - there are welfarers and retirees, unemployed and bureaucrats galore. Who minds the shops these days? Why casual teenagers and mums do. Internationalists are constantly feuding and sending "armed peacemakers" to extend empires. There are no monetary limits on war weapons, no knock-backs to an order of battle ships, submarines or zoom-struck airplanes. "Cheaper by the dozen" signs are the 'order of the day' and our national debt climbs further.

'Prosperity' is now measured by our soaring financial debt and is cushioned on billowing clouds of make-believe credits. No magician ever fooled an audience with more skill than today's financial witchdoctors. They toil not, neither do they spin, but can produce 'out of nothing,' 'out of nowhere', the credits to achieve anything physically possible.
"Could be," drawls the apathyist, slumping before the T.V., "we'll have to rely on President Bush to fix things... after the first strike on Iraq."
Neil McDonald, Highton, Vic.

Editor's note
Thank you for the letter Neil. You, along with so many other 'old timers' have kept the flame alive for the last fifty or so years.

Our sincerest thanks and our warmest greetings and best wishes for the coming Christmas/New Year Season to you and all those other League stalwarts.


SOUTH AUSTRALIANS – HAVE YOUR SAY!

South Australians, don't forget to send in your submission to the Constitutional Convention. This is a 'once in a lifetime' opportunity to try for CIR for the State of South Australia. At the 2002 South Australian State Election, neither the Liberal nor the Labor party were returned with a majority large enough to form government. The Independent Member for Hammond, Hon. Peter Lewis, agreed to support a government, which promoted open and accountable government and improved the democratic operation of Parliament. As a result of the Compact agreed to, the Rann Labor Government was formed. The Government has approved the establishment of the Constitutional Convention as proposed by Mr. Lewis.

The Constitutional Convention of South Australia is now asking South Australians to have their say on the matter of parliamentary reform. A flier put out by the Committee reminds its readers South Australians can make submissions to: The Constitutional Convention, PO Box 464, Adelaide, SA, 5001, or Phone (08) 8204 1310 or Fax: (08) 8204 1336 or E-mail: convention@agd.sa.gov.au or visit the official Website: www.constitutional .sa.gov.au


BASIC FUND

Generous donations have taken the Basic Fund to $7,820.50. Thank you to those who gave. Please keep the donations coming in, we have a long way to go to reach the target. Don't let us falter, so get behind the appeal and give the League a gift for the Christ-mass.

Website: The website 'hits' look like going up again for the month of December. It is truly amazing the way the numbers are climbing month by month. We will add more features to the website after the Christmas/New Year break. Be encouraged League supporters, 'the word' is going out, 'seeds' are being sown in places we would never have thought possible.


Melbourne Bookshop

MELBOURNE BOOK SHOP TO OPEN SATURDAY 14th & SATURDAY 21st DECEMBER FOR THE CONVENIENCE OF COUNTRY AND CITY FOLK WHO HAPPEN TO BE IN TOWN ON THOSE DAYS. SHOP TIMES ON THOSE SATURDAYS WILL BE from 10am to 3pm.

MELBOURNE BOOK SHOP CHRISTMAS/NEW YEAR ARRANGEMENTS
Supporters please note the following Christmas/New Year arrangements for the Melbourne Office and Book Shop services: The 'Hub' will close from Friday, December 20th, and reopen on Monday, January 13th, 2003. There will be a skeleton staff attending to subscriptions, book orders and messages over that period of time. On Target will also be in recess for the break and will resume in the third week of January 2003.

LEAGUE BOOK SERVICES: Ring your nearest League book service and ask what they recommend for your holiday reading! Phone numbers are listed below.


NEW BOOK

"Latin America: from Colonisation to Globalisation" by Noam Chomsky. As Latin America hovers on the brink of a major social and economic collapse, the Mexican-based professor of sociology, Heinz Dieterich, discusses with the internationally acclaimed philosopher, scholar and political activist Noam Chomsky, some of the principle political events leading up to the present situation. The Guardian, December 2nd, 2002, in a feature article exposed the horrible facts about the situation. Hundreds of children are suffering severe malnutrition (and sometimes dying) because every ounce of food is being exported to pay off the huge foreign debt to the World Bank. This is happening in a country that was once the 'bread basket', the 'grain pool', of that part of the world. Price $25.00 posted.
Order from the Heritage Bookmailing Service, PO Box 163, Chidlow, WA, 6556.
© Published by the Australian League of Rights, P.O. Box 27 Happy Valley, SA 5159