The Guardian September 4, 2002

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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 

Bob Saltis
Adelaide, SA

Fundamental change from ALP?
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
Enfield, SA

Safe in whose hands?
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 

And what about the clean and silent weapon  economic sanctions?! Isn't 
that mass destructive?

G. R.
Spearwood, WA

Too young to remember
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 

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)

Law and order
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 

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 

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 Smith
Byron Bay, NSW
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