25 August 1995. Thought for the Week: "An Awesome Foursome: An important project failed when partners Somebody, Everybody, Anybody and Nobody avoided personal responsibility. Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody argued and resigned because it was Everybody's job. Everybody thought that Anybody could have done it. No one realised that Everybody would not do it. Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done."
Contributed by reader Neil McDonald
PREMIER JEFF KENNETT ENDORSES LORD ACTON
by Eric D. Butler
There is little doubt that Jeff Kennett's thinking has been influenced to some extent by what happened with the new Greater City of Geelong where only one new face emerged at the first elections, this resulting in a Labor Council. Not surprisingly, when Jeff Kennett asked for a show of hands in favour of running Melbourne indefinitely with Government appointed commissioners, a majority of business leaders put their hands up.
In planning for the new Greater Melbourne, with its new boundaries, it has been decided to give business votes twice the value of residents' votes. If business leaders are not capable of finding suitable candidates if elections are held, or are afraid that the growing number of inner-city residents might vote in a Labor dominated council, well may they prefer the Kennett proposal that elections be abolished. It is clear that Jeff Kennett and senior colleagues have been considering for some time the possibility of not restoring any form of representative government for Greater Melbourne. So much for promises made in the past when the amalgamation revolution was first announced.
Jeff Kennett's recent public relations
exercise around rural Victoria was designed to create the
impression that he is concerned about those Victorians who
have suffered the most as a result of his Government's "reforms".
But if the Kennett Government is successful in having Greater
Melbourne administered by its appointed Commissioners, it
will have to accept the responsibility for fully funding the
City instead of unrepresented ratepayers. This would mean
a subsidy from the rest of the State.
Along with the revolutionary transport programme, which I examined last week, it can only increase the tempo of the increasing centralised power in Victoria. If there is one ounce of commonsense left in backbench Liberal and National Party Members in the Victorian Parliament, they should be able to see that what Jeff Kennett and his Big Business advisers are advancing, is a programme of laying the foundations for a complete Monopoly State in the future.
The Fabian Socialists must be delighted, looking forward to the day when they take over the Managerial State bequeathed to them by the Kennett Government. But hopefully, now that Jeff Kennett has shown what the planners envisage for Greater Melbourne, Victorian electors will be galvanised into constructive action well before the next State elections. Is it too much to expect that from among the ranks of those Municipal Councillors "sacked" by the Kennett Government, some will come forward offering to represent disfranchised Victorians.
PREMIER CARR IN HOT ELECTORAL WATER
As a promise to N.S.W. voters before
the last election, Opposition Leader Mr. Bob Carr undertook
to cut the waiting lists for surgery in the N.S.W. public
hospital by half within one year of being elected. If he was
unable to keep this promise, said Mr. Carr, he would resign.
Now, having been elected Premier, Mr. Carr is finding that
halving the hospital waiting lists is not as easy as he had
hoped. He may well have to find ways of evading this particular
promise, and one comedian has already suggested that he might
have to sell half the public hospitals, thus transforming
those waiting lists from public to private hospitals.
A foretaste of Mr. Carr's discomfort concerning broken election promises surfaced last week, when Mr. Carr had to admit that it would be impossible to honour another of his pre-election promises to abolish the tolls on Sydney's M3 and M4 motorways. Since becoming Premier, Mr. Carr has discovered that the contracts with the private companies that helped to build the motorways would be breached by abolishing the tolls. Since some of those contracts run for 20 years, the compensation payments likely to be awarded by the courts could be enormous. There was no alternative but to apologise to the western Sydney public, and admit that the promises were to be broken. Like most political promises, these were piecrust promises, made to be "avoided" when the time came.
QUEEN'S BIRTHDAY OUTRAGE
Mr. Carr again offended monarchists, and military veterans who may not have been strong monarchists by suggesting that the Queen's Birthday holiday should be scrapped, and replaced with a holiday to commemorate "V.P. Day". That the suggestions were made hard on the heels of the "V.P. Day" celebrations has enraged monarchists and veterans alike, as Mr. Carr has clearly manipulated the "Australia Remembers" programme for political purposes. Veterans who fought in the Pacific theatre are also offended that the traditional "V.J. Day" has been replaced with "V.P. Day" saying, "We didn't fight against the "Pacific, we fought the Japanese!"
Carr's suggestion is offensive enough, but as a contribution to the republican campaign, he added the even more offensive comment that "Celebrating the Queen's birthday is anachronistic to the point of being positively nutty". Carr was pointing out that the Queen's birthday doesn't even fall on the date on which the holiday is celebrated. Carr betrays an ignorance of history with his remarks. The "Queen's Birthday" was never intended to be celebration of the birthday of Queen Elizabeth II. It was originally a celebration of King George III's birthday, and became Australia's first public holiday when Governor Arthur Phillip acted to celebrate the King's birthday on June 4th, 1788.
When it became a national public holiday, there were very few objections from Republicans, even though it is clearly a celebration of Australia's status as a constitutional monarchy, rather than the birthday of an individual. Premier Carr can be expected to take every opportunity to denigrate the monarchy, and will effectively become an asset to the monarchists as a result.
THE DEMIDENKO AFFAIR GOES BALLISTIC
The pretentious, vainglorious literary world is smarting this week, having been taken for a ride by the young woman known as "Helen Demidenko", the author of The Hand that Signed the Paper. It has now been revealed that "Demidenko" is not of Ukrainian descent, as she had claimed, but English to the bootlaces. Having smothered her with awards, including the Vogel and the most prestigious Miles Franklin Award, Demidenko was feted as a rising literary star, as she still may become, but under a different name.
But what is so startling about authors using pseudonyms? This has been done for centuries, in order to either tease the literary world about the true identity of authors, or to protect the author's privacy. The difference in Demidenko's case is that she claimed to have done her research for the novel among surviving Ukrainian family members, giving the fictional story additional authenticity. So this now leaves the question of where her research material came from for the setting of the novel, in which her fictional characters - Ukrainians - take the opportunity of World War II for revenge against Jewish communists who facilitated the starvation of millions in Stalin's Ukrainian famine of the 1930s.
The Demidenko thesis struck a nerve with the Jewish leadership, who claimed that the circumstances were historically false, and politically outrageous. They claimed that Judaism could not be equated with communism, and that it was false of the leaders of the communist machinery under Stalin to be portrayed as Jewish. But there is also another aspect of this that unsettles the Jewish leadership. Many of the eastern European "ethnic" peoples living in Australia had observed just this phenomena from personal experience living under communism, and are a little distrustful of Australia's ethnic Jewish community.
Demidenko's award winning book has certainly had an impact on the Australian ethnic communities, and there have been calls for the use of the racial hatred legislation to deal with works like Demidenko's book, because it regenerates ancient ethnic hatreds that have historically been glossed over. The fact that Demidenko's version of the Ukrainian history is a little more accurate than that of her critics, although not very politically correct. It has been suggested by the vicious Mr. Gerard Henderson that Demidenko is pushing a "League line" with her work.
The League has small stocks of the Demidenko book for those who wish to assess it for themselves, or refer to Intelligence Survey for the month of July for an extensive report.
NEW BANKING REGULATIONS FOR THE GLOBAL MARKET
The Bank of International Settlements, in Switzerland, has sent what amounts to a directive to the world's central banks, that regulations should now be introduced to force banks to raise additional capital in order to be able to absorb the kind of disaster that befell Barings Bank in Hong Kong. The Barings disaster came about allegedly as a result of junior traders speculating in currency or "derivatives" markets that exposed the bank to significantly increased risks.
Some well-capitalised merchant banks with a long and successful banking history believe that their best defence against exposure to the derivatives market is to keep right out of it. This, of course, was the situation with Australian banks before "deregulation" of banking, and the internationalising of the economy.
It has long been recognised that the international banking industry carries significant additional risks with unpredictable elements such as currency fluctuations. Australia's domestic banks were protected from this when the banking industry was regulated by the Treasury, and by inference, the Australian Parliament. But if the industry is not protected by the Parliament, then "The Market" dictates that it now needs the "protection" of global banking institutions.
Those who scoffed at suggestions of a "new world order" should be invited to explain how this affects Australian sovereignty.
FLAG-BURNING AND POLITICAL PROTEST
Little objection was raised when the French flag was burned in outrage at the resumption of nuclear testing in the Pacific. However, the burning of Chinese flags in front of the Chinese Embassy is apparently a different matter. China, or perhaps Asia, is the flavour of the month, and any offence inflicted on our (very sensitive) Asian brothers is to be deplored.
Following the burning of an Indonesian flag, Indonesian demonstrators retaliated in Indonesia by burning an Australian flag. Senator Ray has suggested that the Australian Parliament should consider legislating against the burning of other nations' flags, as a mark of respect for the sovereignty of other nations. But what about the Australian flag? Will it be similarly protected?
The League stands against the burning of anyone's flag - particularly our own. But it should be remembered that the United States Supreme Court has ruled that laws, which protect flags from ritual burning, are inconsistent with free speech and expression. It is quite clear that if the Aboriginal "flag" or the Israeli, flag were burned in protest, the outrage would be implacable.
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