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Letters to the Editor:
De-industrialisation of Australia
The demise of Australia's merchant shipping industry is another example of the way successive governments are selling out Australia's independence. Many manufacturing industries have closed down, lie idle, are operating at reduced capacity or have been shipped overseas. All this has led to the de- industrialisation of Australia, a situation that should be ringing alarm bells for all Australians. Seafarers have traditionally been a militant section of the trade unions. Their disappearance means a critical weakening of the Australian working class movement in its struggle against capitalist exploitation. From another point of view, the de-industrialisation of Australia and the consequent reduction in the number of workers in society raises a serious problem for the Communist Party, which sees the working class as the main force for social change. It is imperative to arrest this trend. It can be done and in a way that will gain the support not only of the trade union movement, but of the wider Australian community, likewise small capital (including superannuation funds). What is proposed is the establishment of a National Development Fund with the aim of investing in income-producing enterprises, which will not only create jobs but will also arrest the selling out of our independence as a manufacturing nation. One source of capital for this Fund could come from an increase in the capital gains tax to its 1990s' level of 49 cents in the dollar which would raise an extra $17 billion. Other sources available for tapping would be a tightening of tax-avoidance and a reduction in the military budget. At the same time concrete proposals need to be made on where to invest. A high priority should be the establishment of a National Shipping Line. This could be developed as a joint venture between the Government and private Australian capital. Such an enterprise should have seafarers as representatives on the board. This is an important principle. Socialism can't be built successfully unless the working class develops the knowledge and skills needed to run the economy. Workers can gain this experience on the boards of public enterprises. At the same time they would themselves experience the difficulties of managing an enterprise within the framework of a capitalist economic system and see the need for a radical transformation which no amount of preaching can achieve. Bob Saltis
I am confused about the letter of Leon Bringolf in the issue of The Guardian of August 25, (No. 1105). Comparing the Liberal Party and the ALP he says that "only the ALP is looking at fundamental change". You could have fooled me. When has the ALP ever looked at "fundamental change"? He then says that "Fundamental for us is, will (the ALP) move closer or further away from the working class and its allies" and draws the conclusion that "a more conservative ALP leadership will move away from the interests of the working people." Mr Bringolf seems to be confused about the Democrats to — "keep the bastards honest", "keep the bastards happy" or "keep the bastards in". Not much of a choice. However it was the Democrats that moved in the Senate against Australian involvement in any US war against Iraq and, most importantly, came out against the US call for a "pre-emptive strike". If the ALP was really serious it would have supported the resolution but it failed to do so. Everyone knows that the Democrats are a wobbly middle-class party but equally, the ALP is very wobbly in its commitment to the working class. J Ryan
We hear over and over President Bush saying how weapons of mass destruction are not safe in the hands of Mr Saddam Hussein. I would just like to say, why doesn't he ask [the] peoples of Yugoslavia, particularly Serbs, how safe were some of these weapons in the hands of his predecessor. And what about the clean and silent weapon — economic sanctions?! Isn't that mass destructive? G. R.
Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has been quoted as saying he believes the United States legal system would vigorously prosecute any Americans suspected of war crimes. Is he trying to say that he is too young to remember the slap on the wrist given to Lt. William Calley for his crime of slaughtering villagers in Vietnam? If he is, perhaps he is still young enough to volunteer to fight in the war in which he appears so keen to embroil us. Ron Gray
Australian Peace Committee Inc.
(South Australian Branch)
American antagonism to the International Criminal Court is so extreme that it has resorted to blackmailing the international community by threatening to withdraw its military from all UN peace-keeping missions. This behaviour should not surprise us for in 1986 the World Court found in favour of Nicaragua after the US mined Managua Harbour and was found guilty of violating international law — it just snubbed its nose at the judgement. Australia has moved from a no comment position in 1986 to an enthusiastic emulation of the US by rejecting the International Criminal Court and the UN Protocol Against Torture. How very strange that the Howard and Bush Governments hammer the law and order drum at home but barely tickle it internationally! Gareth W R SmithBack to index page
Byron Bay, NSW