Not all tools are members of One Nation/
But all members of One Nation are tools
Any idea that One Nation was simply the ideological equivalent of line dancing was put to rest when their sinister side sunk to the forefront with the launch of their website http://www.muslimterrorists.com
This charming example of what is possible with a bit of HTML, no brains and a bucket load of bigotry was put together by Tony Abbott's one time right hand man David Oldfield. Oldfield, of course, continues to suck on the public teat as a member of the NSW Upper House and this latest stunt is part of his attempt to keep this ratbag outfit in the public eye.
The site starts with the disingenuous proposition that "nearly all terrorists are Muslims", which will be a theological brain widener for members of the Shining Path, Real IRA and the November 17 Movement.
Putting aside the fact that this website doesn't let a scintilla of accuracy stand in the way of a bit of hate mongering they also offer up other juicy gems such as "The biggest mistake a person can make is to think Muslims are people just like us - they are nothing like us".
And they're right. I don't think any of us could kick a football with as much accuracy as Hazem El-Masri. Apart from that, recent scientific studies would seem to indicate that - shock horror - Muslims and Non-Muslims seem to share a remarkably similar amount of DNA. No doubt One Nation will be calling on ASIO to investigate how this dastardly subterfuge has been perpetrated on an unsuspecting public.
These are the same warmongers that want to drown Muslims at sea, and "save" them by bombing the living crap out of them at home.
For a website that seeks to "convert" Muslims it appears distinctly un-Christian in its attitudes. This pathetic effort brings new meanings to the term bizarre, especially when it has a thinly veiled reference to pedophilia and the Prophet Muhommed, and a rather unscientific look at birth defects and the Western suburbs. They may wish to get the log out of their own eye first.
While satire may have died the day Henry Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize, muslimterrorists.com does have all the hallmarks of a good pisstake on a loopy organisation. It would be funny if it wasn't so sad. But what can be expected of an organisation who is running identical twins at the top of their Upper House ticket, along with other members of the same dysfunctional family running in a brace of lower house seats along the NSW North Coast.
Nothing like keeping it in the family, but they should really look at expanding their gene pool, otherwise health complications and birth defects may develop.
This Irony Free Zone reveals that the former Tony Abbott staffer has nothing positive to offer our community and it would do us all a world of good if he crawled back under whatever rock he came out from under to start with.
The only thing they have achieved making the Citizens Electoral Council look vaguely sane.
As the peace movement gathers momentum, Walk Against the War Colation spokesman Bruce Childs says that the staging of violent incidents in marches had long been a tactic to undermine the peace movement.
Childs, a veteran of the Vietnam and anti-nuclear protests, said that previous peace events had been hijacked by individuals, either acting alone or under the instructions of groups hostile to their cause.
"The violent scenes at Thursday's emergency rally were perpetrated by one or two individuals, but overshadowed the actions of 20,000 in the media coverage," Childs says.
"If John Howard isn't paying these people to play up, he should be.
"Neither the organisers nor the overwhelming majority of those taking part in the protest condone these actions. Indeed, violence at a peace rally plays into the hands of those who support War on Iraq.
The Walk Against the War Coalition is calling on those who march on the weekend to keep their eyes out for people acting strangely and inform marshals. "We are also calling on the broader public to view portrayals of violence at peace marches with the scepticism they deserve."
Emergency Appeal Launched
Meanwhile, the ACTU and its overseas aid agency Union Aid Abroad - APHEDA has condemned in the strongest terms the joint military offensive against Iraq.
"The Howard government, acting without the support of the Australian public, has joined a pre-emptive assault on Iraq, even though options for peaceful negotiations for disarmament are not exhausted," said Union Aid Abroad - APHEDA's Executive Officer, Peter Jennings.
"We recognise that Saddam Hussein's regime is a brutal dictatorship, but this war is unlikely to bring real freedom to the Iraqi and Kurdish peoples. We call on the United Nations and the international community to ensure that disarmament occurs peacefully".
Jennings says the victims of the US led war will be the women and children of Iraq. The UN estimates that over 500,000 will be killed or seriously injured in the first few weeks of fighting.
"Without either medicines or electricity, hospitals will be unable to function," he says. "Without electricity, neither the water or sewerage systems will operate - the impact on the civilian population, especially children, of the subsequent diarrhoea, typhoid, cholera and hepatitis will cause even more deaths."
Union Aid Abroad is today launching an emergency appeal for assistance to the innocent Iraqi and Kurdish victims of war. Funds collected will be delivered via Norwegian People's Aid and Swiss Workers Aid, labour movement aid agencies working with workers and their families in Iraq. They are preparing to support camps for people displaced by conflict to the Suleimaniya area in northern Iraq.
To make a tax-deductible donation, please ring:-
1800 888 674 (free-call - business hours) - (02) 9264 9343
Or mail to Union Aid Abroad - APHEDA Level 3, 377 Sussex St, Sydney, 2000
Abbott, however, neglected to mention that fact when he cited productivity comparisons as another reason for “reforming” the industry, just days before the public release of findings from his $60 million Royal Commission.
The Workplace Relations Minister used a specially-commissioned report, prepared by Econotech and accountants Ernst and Young, to continue his running battle with building workers.
Econotech found productivity and labour costs were higher in commercial construction than domestic home building and argued the industry lagged "well behind international best practice".
These findings ran counter to two of very few Royal Commission findings that came down in favour of current construction industry practices.
The Government has repeatedly postponed release of the Royal Commission report on which Abbott is expected launch a legislative assault on the rights of construction industry industry workers.
Union officials rejected Econotech's comparitive modelling as mischevious.
Victorian CFMEU secretary, Martin Kingham, said modelling based on there being no difference between building a house and a 50-storey skyscraper was "mad".
"When was the last time Tony Abbott saw a suburban home site with multiple cranes, lift shafts, kilometres of cables, dozens of equipment movements every hour and hundreds of wokers handling massive amounts of concrete, steel and glass?" Kingham asked.
More important, he said, the Minister had "conveniently ignored" his consultant's prediction of a fall in sector employment of between 4% and 5.2% to balance productivity improvements.
On that basis, Kingham said, Abbott's plan would cost up to 1000 construction jobs in Victoria alone.
"The economic gains Abbott wants would go straight into the pockets of developers and leave hundreds of Victorians out of work," he said.
CFMEU national secretary John Sutton said the whole report was "unhelpful".
"The Government paid the Royal Commission 60 million of our money to get the answers it wanted. Unfortunately, for them, it found the industry was very productive so the Minister went out and got another report to say the opposite," Sutton said.
He pointed out that the Royal Commission had also found the less unionised domestic and civil sectors were responsible for a higher percentage of serious accidents than the strongly-unionised commercial area. The Commission's OH&S Discussion Paper noted "noticeably higher rates (of compensation claims)" in the domestic sector and said it was "evident that the civil area causes a greater number of claims per 1000 employees than does other construction work."
Water is the focal point of worldwide protests about the General Agreement on Trade in Services, being thrashed out in complete secrecy and expected to open a range of areas, including film, news media, gas, public transport, electricity and childcare to foreign businesses.
Governments have until March 30 to tell the World Trade Organisation of the services they will put into the mix but unions are insisting on public input.
Negotiations on Round Two of GATS are scheduled to begin later this year, again in secret, with a five-year timeline having been set for eliminating all barriers to the trade in services.
"Our first concern is to do away with the secrecy, to open up the process to state governments, local governments business and all the communities that will be affected," ASU assistant secretary Greg McLean says.
"I know it's a cliché but we really are arguing for fair trade rather than free trade. For the process to be fair people have to be informed and Government has gone out of its way to prevent that happening."
Several ASU workplaces, including Sydney Water, have mounted protests against the secrecy surrounding negotiations.
Water has become an international rallying issue with the Public Service International rallying support around the world.
Its European section will deliver a simple message to the EU to mark World Water Day: "Take water out of GATS. Stop being the handmaidens of a few powerful multinational corporations that are trying to control the world's water services."
The importance of water has been highlighted by commentators from the left and right of the political spectrum who predict it will become more important than oil to international politics of the 21st century.
Existing Australian protections likely to be challenged by GATS include local government control of utilities and public transport; local content regulations affecting broadcasters; cross media and foreign ownership laws; along with Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
Each of the above provisions is considered a restriction on free trade.
Of the original defendants, 23 manufacturers and 27 US-based retailers, only Levis stands outside the settlement to a three-year class action lawsuit due to be signed into effect by a Federal Court judge this week. Levis ceased purchasing garments from Saipan after the lawsuit was filed.
The settlement came after lawyers for thousands of plaintiffs from China and neighbouring Asian states unveiled a horror story of greed and exploitation.
Saipan, in the Northern Mariana group, came under US Commonwealth control after the Second World War. Manufacturers and retailers were attracted because it wasn't covered by US labour codes but they could still sell Saipan-produced goods as US made, avoiding protective tarrifs.
The scenario put forward by plaintiffs is that they had to pay significant significant "recruitment fees", usually $5000 - $10,000, to gain work in Saipan sweatshops. Once there they were indentured, often slept 10-20 to a room, were forcibly prevented from leaving their hostels, worked hundreds of hours of unpaid overtime in cramped, unsafe conditions.
At the basic rate of $3.05 an hour, it was argued, most would need to work 2500 hours before they even paid off their "recruitment fees".
Other specific allegations included...
- "prison-like confinement", in housing secured by guards and surrounded by fences, sometimes topped with razor wire.
- poor food, water and hygeine standards.
- air conditioning often broken or non-existent
- cruel punishments, including one case where workers were forced to remove bolts of cloth from a storage unit so the skin on their backs, arm and legs was burned from contact with metal walls, "making a searing sound like frying meat".
- In 1996, US-based OH&S inspectors visited Saipan and listed 90 violations, including 45 which involved "the risk of serious injury or death".
- Many workers being forced to sign "shadow contracts", curtailing freedom of speech and religion, and denying them the rights to join a trade union.
Previously, a major manufacturer and leading Honk Kong businessman, Willie Tan of Tan Holdings, had been required to pay $9 million in underpaid wages and entitlements.
The current settlement was reached last September with defendents agreeing to put more than $US20 million into an interest bearing account. Within 20 days, plaintiffs were to have issued notices to more than 30,000 current and former Saipan garment workers informing them of the terms of the settlement.
Importantly, settling US retailers have agreed to purchase garments only from factories that adhere to a comprehensive Code of Conduct on labour standards. Part of the settlement money will go towards the establishment of an independent monitoring program for the Saipan garment manufacture.
"The court has paved the way for sweeping reform of America's worst sweatshop", said Al Meyerhoff, a lead attorney for the plaintiffs.
This week's signing off on the Saipan agreement has also been welcomed by union and anti-sweatshop groups which had been joined to the action.
"This case breaks new ground," said Bruce Raynor of US clothing workers union UNITE. "Under this agreement, defendants have established a program that will assure the rights of garment workers and fully protected. This has been a long road but we're pleased it has come to a successful conclusion."
After a sometimes bitter dispute with the Carr Government, the Fire Brigade Employees Union has secured 24-hour Death and Disability Insurance for their members.
The cover, to be enshrined in an award in the NSW Industrial Relations Commission, will recognise the special dangers fire fighters face protecting the community.
Under the deal, fire fighters receive coverage above and beyond that receive by regular public servants, with benefits back-dated to 1997.
FBEU state president Daryl Snow says the deal overcomes the 'market failure' that meant insurance companies would not cover fire fighters because of the huge risks they face.
Snow says the win vindicates the long campaign, which included months of work bans and dozens of stop work meetings.
"Our members know this is a fight they won," Snow says. "The Carr Government gave them nothing. "
"From a union perspective, the great thing has been the level of member participation through whole process - we bashed it out of them."
When Australian Gas Technology Services went into liquidation last month it was discovered that no provision had been made to cover the entitlements of specialist gas workers transferred over when the company was privatised in 2000.
Together, they are owed more than $2 million in annual leave, severance and long service entitlements.
When the Kennett regime privatised AGTS it sold at below market valuation on the understanding the purchasing consortium would assume responsibilities for entitlements. However, it now appears, that requirement was not written into sale documents.
The situation also underlines Federal Government's failure to honour its promise to ensure employees don't lose out on entitlements. Its GEARS safety net offers a maximum of eight weeks pay, well shy of the money owed to people whose average length of service is 22 years.
One of their number, Steve Cooper, has done 36 years with the business and is owed $138,000.
In another development, there are also concerns about the safety of AGTS super contributions.
AWU national secretary, Bill Shorten, accused Victoria's former Liberal Government of a "massive blunder - reckless disregard for people who have worked loyally for the people of this state".
He said the AGTS failure highlighted the broader dangers of "senseless privatisation".
Shorten said AGTS employees had been central figures in ensuring the safety of the Victorian gas system through roles from which private enterprise could not easily extract a profit.
"These workers were highly specialised. They helped ensure the safety of our gas system and that it complied with regulations. They did a lot of the measuring, testing and compliance work. When gas leaks were reported they were the ones who investigated," he said.
"There are a lot of contractors in Victoria who do some of their work but none who do all of it."
Shorten called on the state government and major AGTS shareholders - Envestra, Energex, Country Energy Gas and AGL Service Businesses - to make up the $2 million shortfall between them.
His union has held emergency talks with current Victorian Energy and Finance Ministers.
The failure of AGTS comes hard on the heels of Connex washing its hands of Victoria's suburban rail network. Connex said it couldn't make a profit out of the deal negotiated with the Kennett Government and handed the railways back to the state.
The Transport Workers Union is demanding action after 29 vials of an unknown substance were left in public access areas of Qantas' domestic terminal on Thursday night.
The vials were discovered in open cardboard packaging on Friday morning. It was not until 10am that HAZMAT, police and fire brigade offecers quarantined the area and secured the vials.
Transport Workers Union secretary, Tony Sheldon, labelled the incident a "disgrace".
"Qantas has yet to implement a terrorst training and hazard risk identification training package for its workers that was developed for the Sydney Olympic Games," he said. "They continue to sit on their hands and refuse to introduce sophisticated baggagen handling and security systems.
"Given the current international situation, the situation out there is a disgrace."
Sheldon said the TWU had corresponded with Qantas, the Airport Corporation and even the Prime Minister in a bid to have airport security improved.
The latest incident follows the discover of a "bomb-like device" at the Qantas domestic terminal on December 28.
Meanwhile, MEAA is still at loggerheads with the Sydney Opera House over security staffing. The union has been arguing for some time that another four guards are needed to provide adequate protection for the Australian icon.
Last week, two anti-war protestors climbed to the top of the building and painted a giant protest message on one of the Opera House's sails.
The allegation came as electrical workers ended a two-week industrial ceasefire, announcing plans to resume action at more than 100 construction sites across the state, including the Suncorp Stadium redevelopment.
Claims of bugging by the Task Force, headed by controversial Federal policeman Nigel Hadgkiss, have been aired in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Queensland ETU secretary, Dick Williams, confirmed his organisation had had its offices swept for listening devices since a mystery message, advising officials only one person could use the line at a time, began appearing on mobile phone message banks.
He said the sudden appearance of the message, coinciding with the Task Force beefing up its Brisbane office to support employers in the EBA stand-off, was too much of a coincidence.
Williams said that in more than 10 years of mobile phone use neither he nor any of his officials had received the message prior to the Task Force's arrival. Independently, police sources have told Workers Online that Hadgkiss has a long history of relying on communications intercepts.
Williams said he and organiser, Peter Ong, were the first to have calls interrupted by the mystery message. The pair had both been called to give evidence before the Building Industry Royal Commission that led to the Task Force's establishment.
Shortly after, he reported, the number experiencing the interference blew out to five, including Gladstone and Townsville-based organisers. Days later, each of the five was named in employer damages claims arising from the EBA dispute.
During the two week interlude in hostilities, a sixth Brisbane-based official began receiving the unsolicited message.
Williams has renewed his call for a full inquiry into bugging by the Task Force.
The Building Industry Task Force has been advising, and directing according to some, many of the 52 contractors hit by industrial action since the breakdown of Queensland EBA negotiations . Key claims dividing NECA and the ETU include the 36-hour week and wage recognition for increased responsibilities flowing from the new Electrical Safety Act.
On the eve of the State Election, Treasurer Michael Egan has written to rail unions promising to consider an independent report warning the deal could cost NSW half a billion dollars before he makes a final decision.
Under the proposal the Australian Rail Track Corporation would take control of NSW rural rail through a 60-year lease; paying the NSW Government peppercorn rent and undertaking to invest $872 million over the first five years.
But unions fear the Commonwealth would contract out track maintenance to increase profits, undermining safety and leading to the loss of up to 1500 rural jobs.
The report, by BIS Shrapnel, was commissioned by the Labor Council to determine whether the proposal met key public interest benchmarks.
Among the key findings
- the financial viability of the project was 'doubtful' with current costings understated by around $800 million.
- cost projections for track inspection, maintenance and minor works was at least a third below the estimated minimum required.
- the ARTC plan would lead to a substantial decline in employment, changes to manning and employment conditions, a shift from day labour to contract or sub-contracting and "(arguably) potential impacts on safety standards and the performance of the network.
In his letter, Egan denies rumours a deal has already been reached and no decision would be made until the evaluation process is finalised.
He says the evaluation will deal with issues such as the impact on job security, maintenance of the rail infrastructure and regional communities in NSW.
"All these matters are captured by the formal assessment criteria developed in direct consultation with the NSW Labor Council and rail unions," he says.
Dorothy Farmer Personnel has put the hard word on nearly 50 women at its call centre in the Ballarat suburb of Wendouree.
The employees, originally hired to work between 8am and 6pm, were given only one week's notice that hours would be extended. At a hastily-arranged stopwork meeting, also attended by supportive Telstra staff, the workers gave Dorothy Famer 24 hours to reconsider its decision.
CPSU organiser, Hayden Jones, lashed the unilateral change to working hours as "harsh and unreasonable".
"A lot of these people are working mums, people with family responsibilities, and many of them travel significant distances to get to work," Jones said. "They have been told - accept these hours or lose your jobs."
Jones said the change to working hours had been made to accommodate Telstra but the telecommunications giant had "basically washed its hands of the matter and said it was up to Dorothy Farmer to sort it out."
The Howard Government has earmarked a site near Woomera for its proposed low-level radioactive waste dump with a final decision expected by the end of the month.
The CFMEU, the union with the most to gain from construction jobs, has slapped a black ban on the proposal and, last week, its action was endorsed by South Australia's peak union body, the United Trades and Labor Council.
State secretary, Janet Giles, said the proposal was adopted unanimously by her council's executive and meant members of 30 affiliated unions would refuse to be involved in constructing the dump.
"We're sick of the Federal Government gtreating South Australia as a wasteland," she said. "Our vote relects the views of the majority of South Australians who don't want the state to become a dumping ground for the country's poison."
The UTLC has committed itself to working alongside traditional owners of the Woomera site, the Kupa Piti Kunga Tjuta people, to prevent the dump going ahead.
South Australia has an unhappy history of radioactive pollution with a Royal Commission finding many Aboriginal people had been seriously affected by radiation poisoning from the Maralinga nuclear weapons testing site.
The new dump is being proposed primarily to dispose of waste from Sydney's Lucas Heights reactor. Environmental groups have raised serious questions about the wisdom of trucking hazardous materials from Sydney to Woomera, especially in an environment of international terrorist threats.
CSL has been under constant fire from Australian maritime unions for sailing former national line vessels under flags of convenience at the loss of hundreds of Australian jobs. Now the boss, Paul Martin, is having his Prime Ministership ambitions undermined by Canadian investigative journalists.
Under-pressure, Martin last week announced he would give up control of his multi-million dollar shipping empire. He had been under sustained pressure since the Ottawa Citizen exposed he had had private briefings about company business affairs while serving as Minister of Finance.
But his plan for distancing himself from CSL, one of the world's major shipping lines, has failed to ease the disquiet. Martin wants to dispose of all his voting shares by passing them on to his three sons.
Since Martin announced his intention to push for the Prime Ministership his business affairs have attracted intense media scrutiny. Conflict of interest allegations were followed by stories revealing his ships had dumped waste water in fishing grounds.
Earlier this month, the Ottawa Citizen announced CSL was under investigation for possible environmental offences after one of its bulk carriers dumped harmful sediment in a bay near prime salmon stocks. Last November the CSL Atlas was fined $125,000 for unlawfully discharing waste off the coast of Nova Scotia.
The fisheries investigation has raised possible environmental conflicts between Martin's business interests and high political office.
Now the Canadian press is running stories that link CSL subsidiaries with Indonesia's discredited Suharto family.
CSL still operates two former ANL vessels, the Pacific and Stadacona, on the Australian coast. Both have been flagged out to the Bahamas, effectively defeating Australian taxation and labour requirements.
Attorneys from Milberg Weiss are meeting with super fund representatives and will deliver twin message to their national conference in Hobart next week. They will tell representatives that by joining actions they could recoup monies lost through US courts and, secondly, that an important element of recent settlements has been commitments to improved standard of corporate governance.
Australian super schemes, doing it tough in the current economic envioronment, have been amongst investors burned by shonky US business, banking and accountanting practices.
Labor Council assistant secretary, Mark Lennon, a trustee of AssetSuper, said he found the Milberg Weiss presentation "very interesting".
"They have secured some major settlements and it is quite likely that one of more Australian schemes will join an action, if only to test the waters," he said.
FairWear coordinator Dez Karlsson is calling on all supporters to lend their brains on Saturday March 29 at the University of Technology, Sydney.
In May of 2002 the NSW Government launched its 'Behind The Label' strategy to address the exploitation of garment workers in the TCF industry.
By October the Australian Retailers Association and the TCFUA had signed off on a National Retailers Ethical Clothing Code of Practice.
Over 30 of the major Australian Retailers have signed this Code including Coles Myer David Jones, Big W and Sussans.
Fair Wear recognises the challenge of making this code have a real and tangible effect for outworkers in this industry.
This is an opportunity to hear about new developments, their impact so far, challenges ahead and brainstorm ways forward for the Fair Wear campaign both locally and internationally.
Speakers Will Include:
- Outworkers who have participated in retraining and accreditation courses.
- Community workers from Asian Women at Work
- Campaign workers from the Fair Wear Campaign
- There will be ample time for questions, feedback and discussion
University of Technology Sydney
Main Tower Building -Opposite Central Station On Broadway
RM 19 LVL 26
For information on the Supporters Day or on the Fair Wear campaign contact Dez Karlsson on 02 9380 9091 or 0403 128 013
Just a little thought about war, democracy and unions that I'd like to share.
John Howard introduced the G.S.T on an election result of 51% a "clear mandate from the people" he said at the time.
About 70% of the population are currently opposed to the coming war, thousands protest almost daily but all this is ignored. So why is this not considered a "mandate from the people"? We all know the answer to that one. What people say dosn't count after you win power.
So how do the people make Canberra listen to them, the ballot box? No. The answer is unions.
If this country was still unionised to the extent it was in the past, the collective voice of Australians would be heard in a way that would actully hurt Canberra, and force them to pay attention. There would be so many strikes and work stoppages that they would have to listen or face personal ruin.
The last line in the defence of a democracy is not the army, or the ballot box, or the individual. Instead it is when many individuals form a union and through that union fight in a way that they would be unable to on their own.
A Union in this case can be seen as acting as the conscience of the democratic system.
If my theory is correct then I guess that means as unions lose more of their power and ability to effect change so to will the responsibilities of democracy towards its constituants wane. If you look around you'll see some truth to what I say.
I miss unions
I miss being able to make politicians listen
Guess I'll be missing democracy one day too!
P.S I'm a casual worker and even mentioning the word "union" is a sackable offence where I work. (true!!)
Suppose that means I'm already missing out on democracy.
The Prime Minister's address to the nation was really an argument for Australia to join the anglo-imperialist club.
The Prime Minister in his address to the nation couched the justification for invading Iraq in terms of disarmament and humanitarianism.
His arguments sound unconvincing because they are not the real reasons. But the PM cannot say that Australia's imperialist interests are tied to the victory of US imperialism round the world. He cannot say it is in the interests of Australian capitalism to join the anglo-imperialist club.
So he uses a cloak for his arguments.
Let's examine those arguments.
John Howard says he is concerned for the Iraqi people. If that is the case, why does he lock up people fleeing Saddam's regime? Mr Howard does seem to have had a Pauline conversion on the road to Baghdad. I can for example find no previous references in the 1980s and early 1990s (when Saddam was killing millions as the agent of US interests in the region) by the PM to this apparently newfound concern.
The Prime Minister asserts that Iraq is a rogue state. He does not explain what criteria there are for determining what is a rogue state, or who makes the decision. This is deliberate. It enables the PM to determine a rogue state to be whatever he wants it to be. Normally that will be what the US wants it to be.
The independent application of objective criteria (e.g. a country that consistently defied the UN) might result in "friendly" pro-western dictatorships or even quasi-democracies being labelled a rogue. Israel comes to mind as one possible candidate.
So does Pakistan. A military dictator with nuclear weapons rules that country. Why is Pakistan not a rogue state? Because it is, as the Prime Minister pointed out, our reliable ally in the war on terror. Pakistan of course, with US help, created the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
The logic appears to be that rogue states who are our allies are not rogue states. Go figure.
There is of course one state with weapons of mass destruction which has used them. By any objective criteria the US is a rogue state. That of course doesn't sit too well with the anglo-imperialist club which Howard is signing us up to. So it is the PM who will decide what is a rogue state. That cuts out any nasty implications for our allies.
Of course, Iraq is not the only George Bush identified rogue state. In his axis of evil speech Bush fingered Iran and North Korea as rogue states. Mr Howard might like to tell us if the 250,000 western troops in Iraq will, after they destroy that country and kill tens of thousands of Iraqis, then threaten Iran?
This is not some minor debating point. Howard believes that Australian imperialism is best served by attaching itself to a victorious US imperialism. US imperialism will need to subjugate many states - some of them rogue, some of them not. Bush is about to embark on a permanent war and Howard is joining him. The next target, if North Korea is sorted out, will be Iran.
So Mr Howard, will Australian troops remain in the region to threaten Iran?
The difference in treatment between Iraq and North Korea is also enlightening. The Australian Government argues that the solution to the problem that is North Korea should be arrived at by negotiation. Indeed Australia has been pushing for the US to enter into direct one on one negotiations with North Korea, something the US has so far been reluctant to do.
Rogue states with nuclear weapons are treated to more diplomatic treatment. Iran is learning that lesson.
The Prime Minister argues we must take Iraq's chemical and biological weapons from it. Why? Because it has used them? But that was when Iraq was our ally, and when we supplied the materiel for Saddam. Then we ignored his use of chemical and biological weapons. Governments in the West wanted Iraq to draw with the Iranians. So the lesson from this is that presumably other states can use these weapons if they do so in support of US geo-political interests.
A rational examination of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons would look at the one country which has used or threatened to use all three - the US. Apparently close allies cannot be rogue states.
We ignored Saddam's suppression of his own people after the Gulf War when they rose up against him because we feared the Iraqi people more than the dictator. That is the pointer to the democracy the US will impose on Iraqis after the coming slaughter. It will be a democracy that denies the Kurds and the Shiites any real say in the country because that would be counter to US interests in the region. The US will allow the Turks to enter Northern Iraq and crush the Kurds. American troops may well have to do the job themselves against the Shiites.
Howard is now arguing that rogue states could arm terrorist groups. A simple look at the history of US intervention in South America (to pick one example) would find America guilty of that crime. Apparently close allies cannot be rogue states.
In any event there is no evidence rogue states would arm terrorist groups. Saddam would have been annihilated years ago if he had supplied such weapons to Al-Qaeda or any other group. A real danger is America or its close allies (such as Pakistan) deciding it is in their strategic interests to arm and supply certain groups. Those groups when they come to power may not be reliable allies, as the Taliban shows.
The US determination to invade Iraq is creating an alternative imperialist bloc centred on Germany and France and possibly including China. This is because the war on Iraq is, among other things, about containing Europe and China as economic threats to the US. John Howard has joined us to the US bloc.
The anti-US bloc will begin to build its military stocks to eventually challenge US hegemony around the world. The First World War shows the horror of imperialist competition as it plays itself out militarily.
More immediately invading Iraq may undermine some of the pro-US dictatorships in the Middle East such as Saudi Arabia. It could hasten the delivery of that country to the anti-western Islamists rather than the ambivalent western feudal fundamentalists who presently rule the country.
Invading Iraq will create an army of young wannabe terrorists across the region. This all means that it is the invasion of Iraq which is more likely to result in more anti-US states who will arm what they regard as freedom fighters against Western imperialism.
A more rational approach to dealing with terrorism would be to undertake a war on poverty. The incredible amount of arms spending the world, but in particular the US, undertakes could be re-directed to feed, clothe and house the world adequately. Removing poverty is a pre-condition for justice.
Unfortunately a war on poverty is not profitable for US imperialism.
Then there is Palestine. Bush has announced he will release a roadmap for peace when the Palestinians do his bidding and create an alternative focus of power to Arafat. This in reality means a more compliant Palestinian politician.
Given past experience and the timing of this announcement as part of the build up to invading Iraq, the promised roadmap looks to be a subterfuge which will disappear after the killing in Iraq has finished. Even if it does not, how does creating a Palestinian Bantustan satisfy the Palestinian people in their cry for freedom and justice? Any two state solution which does not address the fundamental problem - the dispossession of the Palestinian people - is doomed to failure.
The only solution must be to allow Palestinians to return to Palestine, a democratic and secular Palestine where Jews and Arabs can live in peace. The philosophy of Zionism cannot and will not allow that.
Mr Howard made much of a doctrine which he did not name - pre-emption. Effectively he defended the right of states like the US to attack first to defend themselves against rogue states. This is a dangerous doctrine. Where do we draw the limits? Is it only some states which have the right of pre-emption? Or do all states have that right?
If all states have that right then is Iraq not justified in attacking those countries which presently threaten it? Could North Korea not decide it is in its interests to launch a pre-emptive strike against the US, or Japan, or South Korea?
What Howard really means of course is that the anglo-imperialist club has the right of pre-emption but no one else.
Even the example John Howard cites - of Pearl Harbour - is an illustration of pre-emption. The Japanese decided that the tardy Americans would eventually enter the war on the side of the British Empire. So they decided to pre-empt US attacks by destroying the US navy.
Finally, there is this nonsense about weapons of mass destruction. Apparently these are good things when Christian fundamentalists who won a rigged election have them and threaten to use them but bad when one secular but brutal Arab regime doesn't have them but might eventually if only the crippling UN blockade which has destroyed much of the country is lifted. The anglo-imperialist club and some of its allies can have weapons of mass destruction but not anyone else.
Long live the anglo-imperialist club.
Truth is the first casualty in war. The PM 's speech for war was massive spin, the Emperor's new clothes.
First, what is not admitted is a key reason for the invasion: the US's geo-political interests to dominate the middle-east region and Iraq oil reserves. This was not mentioned. Bush's right wing neo-conservative strategist's assert this as the US's real aim. When they say American involvement in Iraq is "not about oil," they are responding to charges that they are only going after profits for their oil companies. The war is not about revenues from oil - the profits will only be a side-effect. What the war is really about is US economic interests and dominance geo-politically of Iraq and the middle-east. This in their imperial world-view is both non-negotiable and based almost entirely on access to cheap oil. The US has some access to Saudi Arabia oil but they want for the next 30 years is to control access to Iraq's massive oil reserves some 432 billion barrels.
Secondly, the PM did not give convincing reasons under international law to bomb and invade Iraq. Iraq has not attacked Australia and there is no evidence that any attack is imminent. The Security Council did not authorise the use of force against Iraq. Without express authorisation from the Security Council the Australian government is not entitled to use force against Iraq and is in breach of international law.
It is a green light for any country to conduct war unilaterally, outside of the framework of the United Nations role in authorising and limiting the use of force. The dangers with such a move are very serious.
The current law-based international order is replaced with a much more permissive and dangerous environment, where states need only claim that they face an imminent threat to start a unilateral pre-emptive war. With the United States, Australia and UK exercising this "right", on what basis can it be denied to Pakistan, India, Israel, Iran, North Korea, China, Indonesia or indeed any country?
Bush's Military-Industrial Empire is out of control with this pre-emptive attack. Which country is next to be attacked by the US with our PM going along?
Peace is everyone's business. As citizens we have a duty and a Constitutional right to express our political opposition strongly and protest.
I noticed you publication of the 14/03/03 carried numerous letters opposing the righteous was against the Butcher of Baghdad , I thought I might offer a spontaneous dissenting view.
If a group of self centered people in Australia decide that they are discontent with the democratic process and , rather than combining themselves as a group to work together with the rest of the community , in a civilised and acceptable manner , they decide to opt for the easier , quicker - and for some more profitable avenue : the one of physical response terrorism".
This usually begins in a very mild form, one that can be tolerated as long as it is not used against oneself. It usually starts on a one to one basis, then as the tentacles reach out, it claims whole groups of victims, groups with whom the octopus of terrorism claims to have a common goal, and of course the victims agree --through fear! Visualize, if you can: The penalty imposed upon you or your family for not voting for the candidate, of some other person's choice, or for not contributing a portion of your income, to enable this cancer of society to expand. The options are not pleasant, at best the maiming of you and your family, and at worst the murder, of you or your family.
We all perhaps have different values, but it is my belief , that to live in fear without retaliation , then death would be the preferable option. This form of intimidation is only successful on a small scale. To succeed, the intimidation must extend to all who differ from the terrorist. This includes all people with whom the terrorist can find no common goal. A more concentrated effort is required here, as intimidation is not an effective persuader on these people. This is when the ugly head of terrorism, spawned from the putrid heap of human rejects, knocks on the doors of civilized people. We must agree that terrorists are the people that God and man have rejected. The result of terrorism is : After a period of toleration , in the hope that it will go away , the exercising of a basic human right , that is , the right of self-defense , in the pursuance of self-preservation. This is when the insane humor of the world, the world we have created, crudely and rudely intrudes. T!
hese people, who have decided after lengthy provocation, the killing of their families, the destruction of their homes and the pulling down of their established order, to defend their basic rights, are now portrayed as the aggressors! What irony the world displays! Consider these people who have done no wrong in the world, therefore no wrong to mankind. These people have no desire to star on the world stage; they only ask that they be allowed to live in peace, governed by their own democratically elected government. These people have instigated no violence, they have shown no aggression to anyone, other than a righteous and fervent defence of themselves and their families . These people have a right to live in peace, without the threat of violence or terrorism hanging over their heads because of their religious our cultural beliefs.
This terrorism must end! Only fools attempt this form of persuasion. Only fools tolerate this form of persuasion. Only fools PERMIT this form of persuasion. For at best, it will only achieve submission, which, like the dandelion plant, when the top is cut off, the root grows deeper and strengthens. At worst the terrorist will attract retaliation from his fellow man, from God and from the universal laws which state that every action creates an equal reaction. This will ensure the destruction, of the perpetrators of these crimes against all humanity, crimes which certain countries not only condone but actually embrace the perpetrators of these crimes and the apologists, for these criminals. Those that do not condemn these crimes against ALL humanity , must therefore condone them , and , in doing so will eventually fall prey to this breed of animal , this animal , that would control by violence , by murder , by intimidation and by terrorism.
It is state sponsored terrorism such as this that is subjecting the minorities in Iraq to an horrendous life style and cycle of institutionalized terror. The world is no longer made up of isolated villages populated by people perceived as Aliens by there neighbors. We are finally responsible for each other, and we are now 'our brother's keeper'
There can be no excuse for insular or the politics of economics preventing us from giving our assistance in freeing the people of Iraq from the bondage of terror imposed upon them by the Butcher of Baghdad.
The sooner that the democracies of this world act in a united manner, and for the benefit of mankind as a whole without consideration of their own avarice then the sooner than we can focus on feeding the starving populations in the many tin pot dictatorships that still proliferate our planet.
Are we destined to repeat the same mistakes until we finally destroy our planet and ourselves?
Older people will remember Munich and the 'Peace in Our Time' message delivered to the people of Britain , the lesson here was the same as today , a mad dog cannot be placated.
I am reminded of the letter Thomas Jefferson wrote to William Smith in 1787 in which he said:
The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
We must act swiftly and with one purpose.
: Brilliant article Leonie Bronstein on Dead Labor.
I feel like i wrote it myself.
Its great to see people finally challenging the view that the Hawke Keating/Goverments were all totally good for workers.I for one would love to hear from either of them that yes Sorry we did make some mistakes. For that has always been the difference between Labor and Liberal that Labor has in the past been able to admit they were wrong on some issues unlike JAH (John Adolf Howard) and his side over the years.Current situations bring this thought to mind.
Not only were the BLF and the Pilots Union killed off and other unions merged or amalgamated into SUPER unions yes SUPER WEAK,but the Nursing Federation was weakened and its great working class warrior Irene Bolger has hardly worked since.
All done under Federal and State governments that called themselves "Labor".
As the leaders of the time still sip their champaigne we workers,and all stewards,activists out here knew and know we were dudded for 13 years + another 7 since.
Keep up the great work,Workers Online.
We would like to see and hear more on this issue.
: This is a message I sent to the liberal party warmongers.. Your thoughts? Support?
Hi there libs
I was just watching the PM on the 7.30 pm say, "its not a question of law, its whether its right or wrong" as he commits to a coalition of three countries (compared with 36 in the gulf war) to attack another.
The other of course being Iraq, another example of US incompetence in Realpolitik. Armed by the US and UK (not Australia), and supported in intelligence and technology by the same two (not Australia) until it all came unstuck in 1990!
Well I put it to you, I do not consider it wrong to smash up one liberal party branch office using a coalition of the willing (moral Australians) for every one body bag that comes back with a murdered Australian inside. In fact I consider it every thinking Australian's duty to do so in order to protect the good name and standing of this country in the world, and to send a message to your most misguided of parties (7 out of 10 Australians think so)
One thing to say, I am glad the PM leads by example because I for one am willing to mirror his determination and for that point his logic in standing up for personal ideals, ahead of the legal approach, which he has now convinced me is of little currency. There are a whole lot more of us too!
Interested to know what you think!
Dr Noel Morris
Of course I don't expect a reply from cowards who are ready to hide behind the body bags of young Australians. But heck may as well give it a go! Shock and Awe away guys
For us voters we have now made up our mind and reached the final days of decision. For more than seven years, many of us citizens have pursued patient and honorable efforts to tolerate your government of lies, deception and corrupt behaviour. Your government pledged to be an honest government and renew people's faith in our democratic system of government as a condition for being elected by us in 1996.
Since then, many of us Australians have engaged in 7 years of patience and tolerance whilst your Ministerial code of conduct became a sham and a political liability. We have accepted dozens of your assurances in parliament that you are acting in our best interests and have given you the benefit of the doubt on a number of occasions. We have voted for you numerous times based on your promises to do the right thing by us and despite your assurances, our good faith has not been returned. Instead we have been given less public services, less share of the wealth we generate and less accountability.
Your government has used diversion tactics, spin and plain lies to deflect attention and manipulate public opinion. It has uniformly defied United Nations resolutions and conventions that ask Australia to be a good global citizen. Over the years, you have derided and undermined those in the public service that have tried to keep your government honest. Honest and genuine efforts to reform your government have been blocked and denied again and again: because we are not dealing with honest men.
"The danger is clear: a prolonged use of your government puts Australians at risk..."
Intelligence gathered by us citizens leaves no doubt that your government continues to deceive the Australian people and that you possess motives that run counter to our interests. Your government has already used weapons of mass propaganda to win elections under false pretences such as the Children Overboard affair. Your government has a history of reckless behaviour driven by self-interest. It has a deep hatred of any nation, group or person at odds with your own ideology. And it has aided, trained and harbored union busting thugs, including operatives of Patricks in the MUA dispute.
The danger is clear: a prolonged use of your government puts Australians at risk and could kill the faith millions of people have in our democracy. The people of Australia did nothing to deserve this threat. But we will do everything to defeat it. Instead of drifting along toward tragedy, we will set a course toward regime change and reform. Before the day of horror can come, before it is too late to act, this danger will be removed; at the ballot box.
The people of Australia have the sovereign authority to use its electoral force in assuring its own national security. That duty falls to us, the citizens, by the oath we have sworn, to uphold the principles of democracy and good government. This is an oath we will keep in spades John.
Recognizing the threat to our country, the people of Australia will vote overwhelmingly next election to force you and your coalition from government. This is not a question of authority: it is a question of will.
Your government has not lived up to its responsibilities, so we will rise to ours. In recent days, some members of your party have been doing their part. They have delivered public and private messages urging you to change your ways, so that Australia can start to get itself out of the mess you have put us in. You have thus far refused. All the years of deceit and disingenuous have now reached an end.
You and your coalition must call an election within 48 days. Your refusal to do so will result in your political destruction, commenced at a time of our choosing. For their own safety, all your political cronies should vacate the bureaucracy immediately.
Many Liberal and National party members can hear me tonight and I have a message for them. If we must begin a political campaign, it will be directed against the spineless men who rule your coalition and not against you. As us citizens take away their power, we will deliver the good government you need. We will tear down the apparatus of political patronage and we will help you to build a new Australia that is prosperous and fair.
In a fair Australia, there will be no more fear of your neighbors, no more detention centres, no persecution of unions or marginalised groups, no more contrived events for political propaganda. The little schoolboy tyrant will soon be gone. The day of your liberation is near.
It is too late for you to remain in power. But it is not too late for the coalition to act with honor and protect their government by demanding the peaceful resignation of your Prime Minister. We urge every member of the coalition, do not fight for a dying regime that is not worth your own political life.
And all the political appointees in the public service should listen carefully to this warning. In any conflict, your fate will depend on your action. Do not destroy, siphon off or privatise any public assets, a source of wealth that belongs to the Australian people. Do not obey any command to use lies and deception against the Australian people. Political crimes will be prosecuted. Political criminals will be punished unmercilessly at the ballot box. And it will be no defense to say, "I was just following John's orders."
John, should you choose to be blindly obstinate and ignore our protests, you can be assured that every measure will be taken by the Australian people to remove you. Australians understand the costs of having gutless and dishonest leaders such as you because we have paid for and put up with them in the past.
If you attempt to cling to power, we know you will become desperate and engage in more deceptive and harmful behaviour that puts Australia at risk. The terrorist threat to Australia will be diminished the moment that you and your government are removed from power.
We are a laid back people - yet we're not a dumb people, and we will not be fooled by a political charlatan such as yourself. We are now acting because the risks of inaction would be far greater. In one year, or five years, the power of you and your government to inflict harm on all of us would be multiplied many times over. We choose to meet that threat now, making it known that we are consigning you and your flunkeys to electoral oblivion.
The security of Australia requires the dismissal of the your government at the earliest opportunity.
Unlike you John Howard, we believe the Australian people are deserving of a safe and prosperous future with accountable and honest government.
That is the future we choose. Citizens have a duty to defend our country by uniting against the dishonest that act against our interests for the sake of their own. And soon, as we have done before, Australia and its people will accept that responsibility.
Good night John, and may God save the Liberal Party because the rest of us we will be waiting for you and your pathetic party at the next election with a baseball bat.
Everywhere in middle Australia
(as heard by Mark McGrath whilst having a weird dream)
As we get our nightly fix of the war, more like a video game if you can get past the fact that people die when the fireworks hit their target, an overwhelming sense of doom descends.
It comes from the witnessing of the juggernaut in action; all the divisions of the US Empire combined - the military, the media, the government - to smash the rogue tyrant and give the world a taste of The Way Things Will Be From Now On.
The doctrine of Pre-Emption, risk assessed and addressed by one nation's leaders, will take our world into a new era of domination and subjugation.
There are two scenarios that can now unfold and neither of them are very pretty.
In the first, the USA and its conscripts do not have the quick and decisive victory they expect. Ground fighting leads to casualties among the soldiers and the civilian Iraqis they purport to liberate. Refugees starve on the Iraqi borders; those that remain are cannon fodder.
In the second, the war does go according to the Pentagon's script, Saddam's army is overwhelmed, casualties are kept to minimum and Iraq is 'liberated'. A US regent is put in place and American companies flood in to rebuild the nation's infrastructure.
For those who detest bloodshed this is probably the preferred outcome; but the long-term consequences could be just as damaging.
A quick victory would leave George Dubya vindicated and ready to spread his doctrine of Pre-Emption' to promote American interests everywhere.
In the long run, this scenario scares me more than the current war. A world with one power exerting its will is a recipe for excess.
The United Nations is compromised, perhaps fatally, trampled over by its strongest member; leaving a void in mediating the differences based on culture, affluence and creed that all global conflicts boil down to.
In its absence, it will be American values and American interests that will define what is right and wrong; power will become its own morality. Who will then be the next target: North Korea? Iran? Pakistan? The only certainty is that it will be for Bush's advisers to decide.
And this new dynamic will beggar a response from Europe and China and create its own dynamic of global instability.
Meanwhile, Australia, now linked to the USA to the extent that our Parliament does not even have a say in whether we go to war, will find itself adrift and exposed in its own region.
Those of us marching for peace do not do so in the expectation that our troops will now be sent home or that our misguided leader will reassess his blind adherence to this Extreme White House.
But we must continue to march to indicate to the world that we do not accept that this should be the New World Order. Our presence on the streets sends this message: our government does not speak for us, it does not listen to us and it is barely prepared to talk to us.
Let's pray for a short war; but let us also pray that the doctrine that has brought this war upon us does not become a template for managing all affairs. For if it does, Iraq could be but a brief skirmish in a war that may consume us all.