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Letters to the Editor:
How to make a branch economy
When the Governor of the Reserve Bank publicly states that Australia is not a "branch economy", as he did last week, you just know he's putting a positive spin on a bad situation. After all, he made the statement to a meeting of chief executives of foreign companies operating in Australia! If being a branch economy means having our economic future is decided by a few transnational corporations that have set up shop here, we should ask how this has come about. And thinking about it, I've come up with a few observations. In 2005 the Government, in line with World Trade Organisation agreements, will drop all tariffs protecting Australia's car industry. Remember how the Howard Government enthusiastically supported the car companies attacking steel workers at BHP's plant in Victoria for daring to go on strike to protect their jobs? Well, that self same Government last week told dozens of other countries in the World Trade Organisation who are challenging the US's tariff protection on steel, that Australia won't be supporting them. In March the US announced a 30 percent tariff on all steel products imported into the US. Then there's the privatisation of Telstra. There is currently a bun fight over who owns the information in Telstra's white and yellow pages! A data marketing outfit is in the Federal Court claiming that Telstra is monopolising the directories. We already have foreign telcos in here attached to Telstra's hi tech system like the parasites they are, all courtesy of the Federal Government's deregulation policies. The Government's privatisation of Sydney Airport included a taxpayer-funded subsidy of around $1 billion to pay off the Airport Corporation's debt, a clear case of corporate welfare, all part of the move to the branch economy. The Government is also subsidising the privatised, foreign owned Qantas via a tax fiddle introduced in the last budget, also to the tune of around $1 billion. Even members of the Government are being sold on the open market. Last week Foreign Minister Alexander Downer personally outlined Australia's foreign policies to a group of corporate executives at the Hyatt Hotel in Canberra. The transnational execs paid $3465 per head to hear Downer waffle on about terrorism, why the Kyoto agreement should not be endorsed and how Western nations were wasting their money giving aid to underdeveloped countries. A branch economy? You be the judge! Jo Dunleavy
You can call me a suspicious old bastard. You can call me a paranoid old bugger, and I won't turn a hair (yes I still have hair — perhaps a little thinner though). But I would sooner be thought of like that than at my age be considered naove and gullible. That would mean my life's experiences had taught me nothing! So — what am I suspicious and paranoid about? A series of items that have caught my attention in recent months — and all seem to connect. First in April on a late afternoon Radio National — the only radio program we listen to — an item about a report on the Chinese army — ill-trained, poorly equipped, poor discipline and low morale (in other words, a "pushover"). My suspicious antennae went on the alert! A bit of "kite flying"? Nothing further was heard on this item. A lead balloon? Then in May, same station about the same time, another item. Amnesty International had put out a report that the Chinese Government was massacring hundreds of Chinese workers. Again my suspicious antennae went into overdrive. This didn't sound like the Amnesty International of which I had been a long time supporter. I waited for a rebuttal statement — none came. Instead several days later I received a copy of this report (as a supporter). As I started to read it, it somehow seemed familiar and that's where paranoia comes into it. The report, to me, had not merely the fingerprints but the full handmarks, hallmarks and earmarks (but no Karl Marx) of the CIA. It was a typical piece straight out of the CIA propaganda manual. It even had indications of a coming attempt to disrupt, discredit the Olympics in China. How could we have our athletes competing in stadiums whose walls are stained with the blood of Chinese workers? All this under the name of Amnesty International! If such a massacre occurred, how come the mainstream capitalist press hadn't picked it up and run with it? Waiting to see if the public will accept its sources? As far as I am concerned, that old (not as old as me) saying is still very true — "scratch an anti-communist hard enough and you will discover a fascist". I regret to say it, but in my humble opinion one of two things has happened to Amnesty international, it has either been infiltrated and taken over by the CIA or its directors (whatever) have been "Gorvachev'd" — bought, and he is still collecting — he sure did a good job for them. Yeltsyn was a loss — but "Pollutin" might yet prove equal to Gorby. One more "small" item — from "Global briefs" — the USA was taking contracts for the supply of hundreds of barrels of aviation fuel over the normal supplies for all their bases. It reminds me of a remark I read once about boxing — watch your opponent's feet as much as his eyes — he can be positioning his feet for a knockout punch. Is America positioning its feet (bases) for a try for a knockout? It also renegged on its no first strike nuclear policy! All these pieces that set my suspicious antennae humming like electric light wires in a howling gale. Bert Appleton
Killcare Hts, NSW
The world has millions of refugees and the number is growing by the day. How do we begin to deal with this terrible human tragedy? There are several approaches. Fundamentally the real solution lies in tackling the unequal distribution of wealth brought about the control of natural resources and the domination of the economies of many countries by a handful of big corporations. These exploitation and domination takes the form of indebtedness via IMF and World Bank dictates implemented by governments — compliant or otherwise. These harsh austerity programs, which impoverish the many and enrich the few, open the countries up for the transnationals to plunder. The bullying and bluster we are seeing from US President Bush are the rhetoric of conflict. The threat of war, and economic sanctions and the actual invasion and occupation of non-compliant nations by a few powerful Western countries led by the USA, leads to ongoing conflicts, devastation and impoverishment. These things are the cause of the mass movement of dispossessed people — of the "refugee problem" The Australian Government supports the very policies and actions that are causing the growing crisis. As such it is a contributor to the creation of global human misery. It in fact foresaw this and put in place its anti-refugee laws and opted out of international agreements in anticipation of people coming to our shores seeking sanctuary. This is also why the so-called "debate" over refugees in Australia is an empty sham intended to pull the wool over people's eyes. Lizbeth CampbellBack to index page