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13 June 2003. Thought for the Week: "Why is the Lower, or mass-elected Chamber trying to eliminate the other traditional Powers of the Constitution which limit its power to impose its will on the people? Nobody is afraid that the Monarchy, or the Senate or State Councils in Australia, are aggressive Powers which might establish a tyranny or a dictatorship. On the contrary, they are jeered at as feeble anachronisms, which should be swept away, since they still interfere to a slight extent with the right of the elected Government to exercise absolute power over the people. This is the claim that is being made: that the act of election confers the right of absolute dictatorship, limited only in time by the statutory need to have another election, which, as has occurred again and again can easily be swept away under cover of an 'emergency' by an elected Government which is sufficiently obsessed by its sacred right to govern."
Geoffrey Dobbs in "Responsible Government in a Free Society." 1969
We haven't had anything so puerile since the spat between Natasha Stott-Dispoja and Meg Lees titillated the headline writers for days on end last year. Now it's Howard and Costello, Crean and Beazley - as though the personal vanities of these politicians were more important than the health, safety and prosperity of the nation.
"He who would be greatest among ye, let him be your servant," we were told 2000 years ago. There's not much evidence that anyone heeds such ideas these days. Prime Minister John Howard has decided to stay on indefinitely. He has performed his duties entirely to his own satisfaction. He is at the top of the dunghill at the moment, while Labor grovels at the bottom. If he mistakes the dunghill for a mountain of universal approval, he should remember that the only direction from his current position is down.
The idea that the world - or Australia - owes Peter Costello the top job and international status is far-fetched. For a statesman, personal ambition and aspiration should lag a long way behind the interests of those he is supposed to serve. It has been truly said that the best leader is the most reluctant, having no illusions about his own self-importance.
Some of the reporting has been bizarre.
One is almost too embarrassed to read it. Take, for instance,
the following, under the heading A QUIVER IN THE CORRIDORS
Bear in mind that if the Prime Minister had to leave office tomorrow, there can be no assumption that Mr Costello would succeed him. The prime ministership is not a hereditary title - not yet, anyway. And Howard?
Paul Kelly, in another article, same
issue, asked some pertinent questions:
What can we expect? There seems little
doubt that Beazley will replace a kicking, incompetent Crean.
Beazley is labeled a two-time loser. But people forget that
victory was within his sights at the last election until the
arrival of the Tampa affair gave Howard the straw he was looking
for. Short of a major terrorist incident in Australia, or
another war somewhere or other, the near future will force
the Coalition government to face the mountain of domestic
issues it has sidelined for so long.
FOREIGN DEBT STILL CLIMBINGThe latest figures show Australia's net foreign debt has topped $362 billion - despite the increased value of the Australian dollar as investors have fled the Greenback. - a cool $18,000 for each Australian man, woman and child, or $72,000 for the average family of four. And, we're running record current account deficits. In addition, we have sold billions of dollars worth of Australian assets and real estate.. The overseas debt was $180 billion when the Howard Government came to power.
THE GROWING TAX SCANDAL
We pointed out in a recent On Target that the latest Federal Budget raised the total of direct and indirect taxation to approximately $10,000 per head of population, or $40,000 for the average family of four. On top of this, the States raise their own taxes. The latest Queensland budget adds an extra $5.6 billion to the Federal tax take, or just under $1,500 per head. But Queensland is not the highest taxing State. New South Wales, Victoria, West Australia, South Australia and the ACT all tax their citizens higher than Queensland. Only Tasmania and the Northern Territory have lower per capita taxes.
The per capita average State tax across Australia is $1,892. So between them Federal and State direct and indirect taxes now levy $11,890 for each man, woman and child, or about $47,000 for each four Australians. And they still have to pay their household rates, telephone charges and electricity on top, before beginning to earn a dollar for themselves. Of course, we're all expected to believe that Governments know much better than we do how best to spend our money. They cast their eyes enviously on what little we have left in our pockets. But the overall result of this welfare monopoly is a dislocated and disempowered community, many of whom have lost the art of doing things for themselves, making decisions, exercising choice and responsibility, becoming more and more susceptible to political bribes and manipulation. So more taxes are advocated to hold commissions and inquiries into the stressed behaviour of an ever-growing section of the community - suicides, drug-taking, marriage break-ups, child and spouse abuse, crime, road-rage etc.
The mechanism for collecting taxes -
you know, the one Peter Costello has simplified - is a bureaucratic
tyranny in its own right. The Editorial in The Australian
Financial Review (5/6/03) - one of its best - included
One wonders, however, whether complexity and confusion in the tax system is not quite deliberate, providing as it does a means of intimidation and control. If not, who would those like Mr Costello who originally sought public input into ideas for simplifying the taxation system reject ideas such as the debit tax or the two-percent tax? And why doesn't a desperate Labor Party really pick up the issue of taxation?
WHERE ARE THOSE WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION?British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Australian Foreign Minister Alexander ('Eiderdown') Downer must be getting irritated with the oft-repeated question "where are the WMDs?" After all, that's what we went to war about, wasn't it? Now it's all over, we should just get on with life and not rake through past sins and omissions. Both Blair and Downer have emphatically told their critics to "wait and see". They are quire confident, they say, that the WMDs are still waiting to be found - it's only a matter of time. What do they know that the rest of us don't? Have they got it secretly hidden, to throw like dust in the faces of their critics at the right political moment? Or do they think the issue will sink into the memory hole as new global sensations and crises take over the screens and papers of the world?
But there are an awful lot of people who are determined on an answer - or a confession.
THE 'ROAD-MAP' - TO WHERE?
Bush's 'road map' for peace in the Israel-Palestinian
conflict includes the dismantling of a number of illegal settlements
in Palestinian territories, and the establishment of a Palestinian
State by 2005. Anyone who has watched with horror the atrocities
committed by both sides must hope and pray for its success.
But the signs are not good. There have been too many betrayals
in the past, both by Israel and the US.
The Australian (4/6/03) reported
on some of the slogans now appearing in public places in Israel.
Biblical Israel stretched from the Nile to the Euphrates in Iraq. The most militant Zionists believe all this territory is rightfully Israel's. On such intransigence world wars are created. Is the US prepared to stop funding and arming Israel until a just solution has been reached?
W.A. PASTORALISTS AND GRAZIERS WORRIED ABOUT RAIN TAX
According to Peter Trott, journalist for The West Australian newspaper, 17th May 2003, the WA State Government has been accused of secretly planning a "rainfall tax" and other charges which will hit horticulture and force up the price of fruit and vegetables. The Pastoralists and Graziers Association property rights spokesman, Craig Underwood, said he understood there were plans for a set of charges to be imposed on 1st July - including bills for farmers for water collected in their own farm dams.
Mr. Underwood called on the WA Environment Minister, Judy Edwards, to suspend all water user-pays and licence fee proposals, until her agency complied with Federal water reform requirements. He believed proposed new State taxes and controls on water were a bigger threat to rural communities than their loss of the timber industry, and is quoted as saying: "The new water charges will hit small vegetable, fruit and diary farmers hardest because they will be expected to pay the same excessive new charges of their water as the wine-growing and mining industries."
"They will," he said, "be unable to pass on these charges and the impact on their viability, and ultimately on the price of staple fruit and vegetables to city consumers, will be colossal."
Producers were promised exemption for private dam supplies: Water-dependent producers who were initially promised exemption for private dam supplies were now understood to be in line for a new "rainfall tax for water collected on their own property. Scott River Growers Group committee spokesman, Dave Wren, said many growers were concerned that the Water and Rivers Commission had excluded them from the consultative process.
THE TRUTH WILL EMERGE
by Senator Robert Byrd, United States
"Truth, crushed to earth, shall rise
again, - -
"Truth has a way of asserting itself
despite all attempts to obscure it. Distortion only serves
to derail it for a time. No matter to what lengths we humans
may go to obfuscate facts or delude our fellows, truth has
a way of squeezing out through the cracks, eventually. But
the danger is that at some point it may no longer matter.
The danger is that damage is done before the truth is widely
realized. The reality is that, sometimes, it is easier to
ignore uncomfortable facts and go along with whatever distortion
is currently in vogue.
Regarding the situation in Iraq, it appears
to this Senator that the American people may have been lured
into accepting the unprovoked invasion of a sovereign nation,
in violation of long-standing International law, under false
premises. There is ample evidence that the horrific events
of September 11 have been carefully manipulated to switch
public focus from Osama Bin Laden and Al Queda who masterminded
the September 11th attacks, to Saddam Hussein who did not.
The run up to our invasion of Iraq featured the President
and members of his cabinet invoking every frightening image
they could conjure, from mushroom clouds, to buried caches
of germ warfare, to drones poised to deliver germ laden death
in our major cities.
Since the war's end, every subsequent revelation which has seemed to refute the previous dire claims of the Bush Administration has been brushed aside. Instead of addressing the contradictory evidence, the White House deftly changes the subject. No weapons of mass destruction have yet turned up, but we are told that they will in time. Perhaps they yet will. But, our costly and destructive bunker busting attack on Iraq seems to have proven, in the main, precisely the opposite of what we were told was the urgent reason to go in.
It seems also to have, for the present, verified the assertions of Hans Blix and the inspection team he led, which President Bush and company so derided. As Blix always said, a lot of time will be needed to find such weapons, if they do, indeed, exist. Meanwhile Bin Laden is still on the loose and Saddam Hussein has come up missing.
The Administration assured the U.S. public and the world, over and over again, that an attack was necessary to protect our people and the world from terrorism. It assiduously worked to alarm the public and blur the faces of Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden until they virtually became one. What has become painfully clear in the aftermath of war is that Iraq was no immediate threat to the U.S. Ravaged by years of sanctions, Iraq did not even lift an airplane against us. Iraq's threatening death-dealing fleet of unmanned drones about which we heard so much morphed into one prototype made of plywood and string. Their missiles proved to be outdated and of limited range. Their army was quickly overwhelmed by our technology and our well trained troops.
Presently our loyal military personnel
continue their mission of diligently searching for WMD. They
have so far turned up only fertilizer, vacuum cleaners, conventional
weapons, and the occasional buried swimming pool. They are
misused on such a mission and they continue to be at grave
risk. But, the Bush team's extensive hype of WMD in Iraq as
justification for a pre-emptive invasion has become more than
embarrassing. It has raised serious questions about prevarication
and the reckless use of power.
What makes me cringe even more is the continued claim that we are "liberators." The facts don't seem to support the label we have so euphemistically attached to ourselves. True, we have unseated a brutal, despicable despot, but "liberation" implies the follow up of freedom, self-determination and a better life for the common people. In fact, if the situation in Iraq is the result of "liberation," we may have set the cause of freedom back 200 years.
Despite our high-blown claims of a better life for the Iraqi people, water is scarce, and often foul, electricity is a sometime thing, food is in short supply, hospitals are stacked with the wounded and maimed, historic treasures of the region and of the Iraqi people have been looted, and nuclear material may have been disseminated to heaven knows where, while U.S. troops, on orders, looked on and guarded the oil supply.
Meanwhile, lucrative contracts to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure and refurbish its oil industry are awarded to Administration cronies, without benefit of competitive bidding, and the U.S. steadfastly resists offers of U.N. assistance to participate. Is there any wonder that the real motives of the U.S. government are the subject of worldwide speculation and mistrust? And in what may be the most damaging development, the U.S. appears to be pushing off Iraq's clamour for self-government. Jay Garner has been summarily replaced, and it is becoming all too clear that the smiling face of the U.S. as liberator is quickly assuming the scowl of an occupier.
The image of the boot on the throat has replaced the beckoning hand of freedom. Chaos and rioting only exacerbate that image, as U.S. soldiers try to sustain order in a land ravaged by poverty and disease. "Regime change" in Iraq has so far meant anarchy, curbed only by an occupying military force and a U.S. administrative presence that is evasive about if and when it intends to depart.
Democracy and Freedom cannot be force fed at the point of an occupier's gun. To think otherwise is folly. One has to stop and ponder. How could we have been so impossibly naive? How could we expect to easily plant a clone of U.S. culture, values, and government in a country so riven with religious, territorial, and tribal rivalries, so suspicious of U.S. motives, and so at odds with the galloping materialism which drives the western-style economies?
As so many warned this Administration
before it launched its misguided war on Iraq, there is evidence
that our crack down in Iraq is likely to convince 1,000 new
Bin Ladens to plan other horrors of the type we have seen
in the past several days. Instead of damaging the terrorists,
we have given them new fuel for their fury. We did not complete
our mission in Afghanistan because we were so eager to attack
Iraq. Now it appears that Al Queda is back with a vengeance.
We have returned to orange alert in the U.S., and we may well
have destabilized the Mideast region, a region we have never
fully understood. We have alienated friends around the globe
with our dissembling and our haughty insistence on punishing
former friends who may not see things quite our way.
I read most recently with amazement our harsh castigation of Turkey, our long-time friend and strategic ally. It is astonishing that our government is berating the new Turkish government for conducting its affairs in accordance with its own Constitution and its democratic institutions. Indeed, we may have sparked a new international arms race as countries move ahead to develop WMD as a last ditch attempt to ward off a possible pre-emptive strike from a newly belligerent U.S. which claims the right to hit where it wants. In fact, there is little to constrain this President. Congress, in what will go down in history as its most unfortunate act, handed away its power to declare war for the foreseeable future and empowered this President to wage war at will.
As if that were not bad enough, members
of Congress are reluctant to ask questions which are begging
to be asked.
We cower in the shadows while false statements proliferate. We accept soft answers and shaky explanations because to demand the truth is hard, or unpopular, or may be politically costly. But, I contend that, through it all, the people know. The American people unfortunately are used to political shading, spin, and the usual chicanery they hear from public officials. They patiently tolerate it up to a point. But there is a line. It may seem to be drawn in invisible ink for a time, but eventually it will appear in dark colors, tinged with anger. When it comes to shedding American blood - - when it comes to wreaking havoc on civilians, on innocent men, women, and children, callous dissembling is not acceptable. Nothing is worth that kind of lie - - not oil, not revenge, not re-election, not somebody's grand pipedream of a democratic domino theory. And mark my words, the calculated intimidation which we see so often of late by the "powers that be" will only keep the loyal opposition quiet for just so long. Because eventually, like it always does, the truth will emerge. And when it does, this house of cards, built of deceit, will fall."
THE PARTIES 'THANK YOU' - ONE AND ALL
Alex Mitchell, the state political editor
of the Sun-Herald (25th May 2003) has blown the lid
off the political parties' outrageous rorting of taxpayers'
money for their electioneering campaigns, the subject of which,
he claims the state MPs refuse to publicly discuss. The ALP
will walk away from the last NSW elections with an extra $4,705,982
- courtesy of the ignorant taxpayers. (Oh! That the poor and
needy should have their snouts in such a trough! Come to think
of it, not just the poor and needy. What about the 'ground
into the dust' worker-taxpayers!)
There is also a little known "Political
Education Fund" (PEF) says Alex Mitchell, which has been helping
to prop-up the state's major parties for the past ten years.
Since the annual PEF payments were introduced in 1993, the
ALP has received $6,457,558, the Liberals $4,635,194 and the
Nationals $1,570,188. The minor parties also put their hands
out for their share of the loot: Democrats $547,742, the Greens
$419,184 and the Christian Democrats (Fred Nile's Group) $222,366.
The money is used by parties to finance their administration,
office management and staff. Over the next four years, the
ALP is entitled to a big rise in its pay-out, which is fifty
cents for every primary vote. Mr. Mitchell says Neville Wran
introduced the PEF scheme for political parties in 1981, claiming
at the time "political parties are the very foundation of
parliamentary democracy" and argued that they deserved public
South Australians take note: The above rorting is all the more reason why the mechanism of CIR in the political process is needed. Peter Lewis MP, the Independent pushing for the right of South Australians to have more say and control in the political decision-making process is quoted as saying "It's piffle that we have to leave the big decisions to Parliament. It's our society and if we believe there are ways of making it more civilised we should talk about it. It's all about the relationship between the People and the Parliament."
BETTY LUKS FOR QUEENSLANDBetty Luks will be taking part in League 'in-house' meetings whilst in Queensland over the next week. Other public meetings have been organised and details are available from Regional Councillors Ken & Judy McFadzen phone: 07 4950 5164
SYDNEY CONSERVATIVE SPEAKERS' CLUBThe next meeting will be held on Wednesday, 25th June 2003. Video Showing on the Big Screen: John Pilger, "Paying the Price, Killing the Children of Iraq" and "War on Iraq". The venue is the Lithuanian Club, 16 East Terrace, Bankstown, where there is ample parking and situated only 600 metres from the Bankstown Railway Station. There are nearby facilities for a meal before the meeting. The cost of attendance is $4.00 per person.
WEST AUSTRALIA STATE WEEKEND
The West Australian State Weekend will be held Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th of August. Make a note in your diaries NOW.
BOOKS: "The Great Harlot" by Peter Lock, "Social Credit" by C.H. Douglas, "Human Ecology & Social Credit" by Michael Lane, "C.H. Douglas" by Anthony Cooney. All books available from League Book Services.
LATEST JEREMY LEE VIDEO PROVING VERY POPULARAt a time of worldwide unrest and disillusion with the vested interests manipulating the lives of ordinary people, the material in Jeremy's video, "Retell the Story!" will prove a bombshell! How can nations, communities and families be so deeply in debt that there is no apparent way out? And, he asks, "Who's the mortgagee?" Send for copies of the video today. Available from all League Book Services for $20 posted.
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