The Guardian July 3, 2002

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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 

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 

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 

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 

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

A suspicious old bastard
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 

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 

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 

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 

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 real cause of the refugee crisis
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 

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 Campbell
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